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Required Secondary Powers

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"That's the problem with any individual superpower: without the whole suite, it just sucks. The Flash would liquefy from sheer Gs, and without super agility and strength, Spider-Man's just a guy with sticky ropes."

Okay, so you've got one of those people who's got a "Special Power". But even if you supposedly only have the one ability, if you're going to actually use it for anything, Fridge Logic demands that you have myriad other passive powers in order to make it work the way it usually does. This is sometimes directly referred to and explained, and sometimes not.

Related to Fan Wank, this encompasses all of the powers that are not explicitly stated that would make a power function like it does in the work in question. Often, these powers would be useless outside of allowing the main power to work, but some could have use beyond that.

This only covers if the power in question is not explicitly defined. While Cyclops from the X-Men doesn't hurt his own eyelids with his Eye Beams every time he shuts his eyes, this is defined as an explicit ability of his (and his brother's).

All these tropes are especially good targets for subversion or aversion, because the absence or malfunction of a superhero's Required Secondary Powers creates a dramatically useful limit on their primary powers. A slight lack of these may oftentimes cause a Logical Weakness. Compare Lethal Harmless Powers. Also, many accusations of Misapplied Phlebotinum rely on the assumption that the characters or factions in question have the RSPs needed to pull out all the theoretical potential. One way for people to learn ways to cope with, or even surpass the limits of their powers as outlined by this trope is to take Boxing Lessons for Superman, as the new skills and knowledge they can acquire from such training will let them better understand the scope of their powers and find ways to better control it, or work around said limits of their power.

Savvy use of explicitly stated required secondary powers may result in Exploited Immunity or even Not the Intended Use if it turns out the secondary powers are more useful.

Warning: Exploration of this Trope may result in brain breakage. But you probably have something to counter that, right?

To see the types of powers commonly covered by this trope, you can go to the Analysis page.

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Other Examples:

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  • Liaoyuan Huo of Ravages of Time seems to have a Healing Factor as a required secondary power, because being Nigh-Invulnerable as a result of not being able to feel pain is a pretty terrible "superpower" in real life; just ask any person with leprosy: they can't tell if they've been injured and lose limbs to infection. He is also a Big Eater (despite having no sense of taste) presumably because of all of the calories he's burning in order to recover from injury and pull off all of his insane stunts.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The hero Ural in Bashkir legend definitely has both Super-Strength and the requisite anchoring power. He managed to lift a great big stone (in the challenge to win a princess and a demon-blooded winged steed... devised by said stallion himself), but his brother who tried before him didn't have these secondary powers and ended up buried waist-deep. Before this, a great bull buried himself knee-deep in a futile attempt to lift Ural while he was holding the bull's horns.
  • Russian Mythology and Tales: A similar tale is told about Svyatogor. He boasted that he could turn the entire earth, so he was challenged to lift a bag which later turned out to contain all of its weight. He ended up knee deep in the ground, and (according to some variants) died there. He's also usually portrayed as too heavy for Earth to carry him due to his strength, which is why he usually stays in his mountains and cannot go anywhere else.
  • Classical Mythology:
    • Older Than Feudalism: This trope shows up in with Midas. Wishing that what one touches turns to gold certainly can have some horrible downsides (and economic consequences). The man lacked such necessary powers as "not turning food, water, and people into gold." He didn't turn air into gold, though, nor the contents already in his digestive tract, so he survived just long enough to learn his lesson and beg for a wish reversal.
    • It shows up also with the Cumaean Sibyl and Tithonus who both asked for immortality but both forgot to ask for eternal youth... well, it was Tithonus's lover who asked in his stead but the result was the same: they withered away and in the end only awaited a death which would not come. In a Shout-Out, "Tithonus" is the title of an X-Files episode about a man with immortality, but who's also stuck in middle age forever. He's started to forget parts of his past, like his dead wife's name, and wants only to die. Unlike in the myth, his wish is finally granted.

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Jemimah has the power to remove friction from her feet, allowing her to move around at great speeds. Said power is stated to be sensitive enough to modulate her balance, ensuring she doesn't trip while gliding around. It also protects her from air friction, and from skinning herself if she comes into contact with another object.
    • So that he isn't constantly hurting himself, Simon and the Dark Dragon have an immunity to heat that protects them from the plasma they generate. This proves to be useful when they hitch a ride with Emmanuel, as they're protected from the heat generated by his speed friction.
    • Likewise, Michal is immune to being harmed by the flames that he creates. He also has the minor beneficial power of his clothes remaining intact if he wreathes himself in flames.

    • Matoran already have weak element-based abilities (heat and cold resistance for fire and ice elementals, bigger lung capacity and a knack for swimming for water elementals, strength and enhanced eye sight for earth elementals, etc.) before they become Toa and gain actual Elemental Powers. In a Toa state, their secondary powers also increase drastically. The same goes for other elemental-powered species, like the Skakdi.
    • Though some early material like comics implied certain Toa's elemental powers were tied to their environment (such as Gali needing moisture in the air to create a flood), later canon explained that Toa didn't merely manipulate but could create their own elements out of nothing — the only limit was their elemental energy level, as it could deplete if used too much and slowly recharge over time. As such, they also had the power to drain elements from the environment to speed up the refill process.
    • The Rahi-Nui was defeated because the Toa Metru realized that it lacked a certain required power: it had the ability to change its size but not its mass. By making it lose control of its size, it grew so large that it evaporated from the loss of density.
    • The shapeshifting Krakha has Power Copying on top of it but averts How Do I Shot Web? by also gaining some of the memories of those she copies so she can get a grasp on how their powers work.
    • Makuta are likewise shape-shifters but they can also reach out with a shadow hand and consume other beings to gain mass and shift into a larger form. They can then discharge this mass if they want to turn into something smaller. There is a setback, though. They merge not only with their victims' bodies but also their minds, which can be troublesome if their victim had a strong will or if a Makuta consumed too many people at once.
  • Mixels shows off some characters that actually lack these powers, and end up affecting their own abilities thanks to this:
    • Lunk and Slumbo, being ice-based Mixels, have a low base temperature and live in a frozen wasteland. As a result, they are both horribly slow and lethargic.
    • Balk uses his head like a rubber mallet to defend himself. Unfortunately, this does not translate to the inside of his head, and he has brain damage as a result.
    • Chomly is a living trash compacter that eats anything he can find and his mouth is not made for chewing properly. One of his upper teeth is now replaced with a gold one.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • It's explained that the Freelancers' AI granted them these needed for individual armor abilities. When Griff tried out the Super-Speed armor ability without an AI, everything, including his mental processes and metabolism, was sped up, and he ran straight into a wall because he had no way of knowing when to slow down.
    • This is actually averted in the PSA Upgrading, when Caboose gets his armor stuck in invisibility mode.
      Church: Don't worry, Caboose, I'm sure when the game comes out there'll be a way to shut it off.
      Caboose: Good. I need sleep.
      Sarge: Sleep? When that game comes out, I won't sleep for a week!
      Church: Yeah, no, it's not that, it's just that he's having trouble sleeping because he can see through his eyelids now.
      Sarge: Oh. That's creepy.
    • Agent Washington mentions an incident where Agent Utah activated a force field, and almost suffocated to death before he could turn it off. The incident is in a deleted scene.
  • RWBY:
    • As revealed in "Downfall," Nora may be able to absorb electricity to boost her physical strength, but that doesn't mean being electrocuted doesn't hurt; when Hazel grabs her and tries to fry her brains out with lightning Dust, she screams in pain before getting enough power to toss him off.
    • It's mentioned several times that Jaune has surprisingly large Aura reserves for someone with no training whatsoever. Eventually, he discovers his Semblance allows him to transfer his Aura to others in order to restore their own Aura reserves and boost the power of their Semblances. He wonders if the reason he has so much Aura was simply that he needed a lot of Aura to spare in order for his Semblance to be at all useful.
    • Hazel Rainart fights by jabbing raw Dust crystals into his body, which increases his physical strength and gives him Elemental Powers. The only way he can fight like this without collapsing in pain is that his semblance, "Numbing Agent", makes him Feel No Pain.
    • Upon using the Relic of Knowledge to summon Jinn, who can answer any three questions every hundred years, time is stopped to give the summoner time to decide their question and give Jinn the ability to deliver the knowledge they seek uninterrupted. Ruby exploits this in the Volume 6 finale, summoning Jinn without asking a question to give her enough time to psyche herself up to use her Silver-Eye Powers. Jinn tells her that she won't allow this kind of Loophole Abuse again, but does admit it was clever.
    • Harriet is shown to have heightened reflexes to help her control her Semblance The fact that Ruby lacks such reflexes despite seemingly also having a speed Semblance is a hint that her Semblance is something else entirely
    • In the non-canon spinoff RWBY Chibi, Jaune finds and decides to play with Team RWBY's weapons. He can't hold Crescent Rose properly (and it's noted in the main series that Ruby and her uncle Qrow are the only two who have the skill to use scythe weapons) and he's blown away by an accidental discharge of Ember Celica, showing that he lacks the body strength to not get blow away by arm-mounted shotguns.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Digital Series: Starting with Legend of Everfree, Rainbow Dash gains Super-Speed, leading to a few Too Fast to Stop incidents.
    • Considering the speed at which she can slam into things without getting severely wounded — including the lockers at CHS, leaving an imprint of her body — her Super-Speed must also give her a modicum of invulnerability. If the short "Super Squad Goals" is reliable, this invulnerability stops as soon as she ceases using her magic, since she's easily knocked out by a door opening into her face.
    • The speed at which she runs should cause all sorts of trouble with friction and air pressure, and not just to her. Rainbow can run through buildings, around people, and outrace cars. All of these things would cause extraordinary damage, according to the laws of physics. Doesn't seem to matter, though.
  • Deconstructed horrifically in the Society of Virtue episode "Blood Rain", the Zan expy turns back to normal after part of him evaporates leading to him missing a chunk of the torso and the rest falling down as, well... you read the title.

    Web Videos 
  • Drawfee: Poked fun of this in one of their "super power roulette" and point out that without healing factor, some degrees of body manipulation or means to grow more bones, the ability of "Projecting bone bullet" will be extremely painful, impossibly visceral, and leave the user in the state of a useless sack of meat after excessive use.
  • Greg And Lou: "Wolverine's Claws Suck" has Greg and Lou going to a doctor so they can get mutant powers like Wolverine. The doctor points out Wolverine actually has two powers: his adamantium claws and his mutant healing, and they only have enough money to get one apiece. They choose the claws… and soon find out claws that slice through your skin aren't fun to use if you can't heal from the gashes swiftly, with horrifically messy results.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Required Secondary Power


Claws or Healing

...Should have gone with the Mutant Healing.

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