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"There's nothin' like a fistful o' lightnin', now is there?"
Atlas, BioShock
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The use of lightning, huge electrical discharges, and stuff resembling them as a weapon to fry things with. This is one of the most common Elemental Powers and is part of the basic Fire, Ice, Lightning trio. It's also one of the handiest ones around; used for anything and everything that the writers can think of. For why this doesn't work in Real Life, see the analysis page.

Wielders of this power set have an odd tendency to be insane, have blond hair, be black, or some combination of the above.

Related to Blinded by the Light and Ride the Lightning. Someone with this power may be a Technopath or Fast as Lightning as well. Compare Magnetism Manipulation which (sometimes) includes electromagnetism. See Electric Jellyfish, Thunder Beetle and Thunderbird for animals often associated with this power. Contrast An Ice Person, Playing with Fire, and Weather Manipulation for weather controllers who use lightning among other attacks. For other uses of lightning and electricity, see Magical Defibrillator and Electric Torture. For the physics (or lack thereof) behind electrical attacks or weapons, see Chain Lightning, Lightning Gun, and Static Stun Gun.

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Has nothing to do with the United States military rapid dominance doctrine, though came from that name.


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    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: Many Red direct damage spells, starting with the classic Lightning Bolt.
  • Yomi features Grave Stormborne, who mixes lightning attacks in with his martial arts.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Thunder was one of the least impressive types in the early days of the game, though Daemon Summon/Summoned Skull used electricity in the source material. The original "Forbidden Spell" Raigeki is lightning-based, and the type did introduce a few powerful monsters like The Creator and Hamon - Lord of Striking Thunder. But the type itself only began to shine when they introduced Thunder-type archetypes such as the Watts and Batterymen. Then, in 2018, they expanded on Thunder Dragon, one of the oldest and most well-known Thunder monsters, into a full and formidable archetype.

    Films — Animation 
  • In South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, after Cartman's V-chip gets zapped, he eventually discovers that swearing now lets him generate electricity without causing self-trauma. He uses this against Saddam in Sith/Dragon Ball style.
  • The witch in ParaNorman uses a great deal of lightning when she tries to attack.
  • Brutus from The Secret of NIMH wields a giant freaking halberd that generates electricity.
  • One of the new heroes from Incredibles 2 is Helectrix, who has powers over electricity.
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    Films — Live-Action 
  • One of the spirit-demon guys from Big Trouble in Little China (creatively named "Lightning") used lightning as a weapon.
  • The primary streamthrowers in Ghostbusters (1984). They can burn toilet paper, explode maid's carts, and will cause The End of the World as We Know It if you cross the streams. Oh yeah, and you can snare ghosts with it.
  • The Electric Gremlin from Gremlins 2: The New Batch is a living bolt of lightning that kills people before getting weaponized and used against the other gremlins.
  • Whiplash from Iron Man 2 has two electrified whips which can slice through race cars and actually give Tony (as well as Rhoedy later) a good deal of trouble. Tony uses the experience to put electrical conductors in his suit which proves very useful later when fighting a certain God of Thunder below.
  • The lightning guns used by Zion's forces throughout The Matrix trilogy.
  • Bayverse Jolt has electric whips.
  • Godzilla has been known to electrify and/or magnetize his body on occasion.
    • In King Kong vs. Godzilla, Kong has this, albeit only by touch.
    • King Ghidorah spits gravity beams from his mouths, but with the exception of Keizer Ghidorah the beams look and act like lightning bolts.
    • Megalon can fire a lightning bolt from his horn. Gabara generates electricity from a row of spines on his head and channels it through his hands. Mechagodzilla, Super Mechagodzilla, and Kiryu have at least one electricity-based weapon (a chest blaster, the Shock Anchor, and the Wrist Blades respectively).
    • To an extent in Godzilla (2014). The Mutos are able to emit EMPs thanks to their absorbing of radiation. It doesn't directly harm organic creatures, but the force of their footsteps still creates a powerful shockwave of its own that can send humans flying.
    • Ghidorah from Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) has yellow lightning which he draws from sky, and Goji himself charges his Breath Weapon with lightning at one point.
  • Hocus Pocus: Winifred Sanderson gives Emperor Palpatine a run for his money with her powerful magic lightning.
  • Machete Kills. Machete kills a mook by grabbing him with one hand, then jamming his machete into a fuse box, killing him with the electricity flowing through his own body!
  • Thor from the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the Norse Thunder God, in all his electrified glory. Becomes more adept at it during Thor: Ragnarok, as he realizes that Mjölnir was a focus for his powers, but not the source. Then come Avengers: Infinity War, with Stormbreaker in hand and his newfound focus, Thor easily proves to be Thanos's better and almost single-handedly turns the tide of the battle with his arrival. Captain America also gets granted the shocking powers of Mjölnir in Avengers: Endgame.
  • The eponymous hero in SHAZAM 2019! has this ability and exploits it all the time including charging people's phones and only stops when man's phone explodes. The Big Bad Dr Sivana also has this power, along with the rest of the kids in their adult forms during the Final Battle.
  • Star Wars:
    • Force Lightning is considered one of the more powerful abilities of The Dark Side, though you don't necessarily have to be evil to use it. Doing so is frowned upon, though: a power fueled by anger and aggression is something no Jedi should make a habit of playing around with because using the Force that way leads to This Is Your Brain on Evil.
    • One of R2-D2's gadgets is an arc welder. A particularly hilarious scene involves a droid KO'ing R2 after getting shocked.
  • The Nautilus in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea can electrify its outer hull to administer painful shocks to anything or anyone in contact with it. This capability proves very effective against a tribe of cannibals, but only partially so against a giant squid.
  • In The Running Man, one of the stalkers after Arnold Schwarzenegger is "Dynamo", who can electrocute people using his Lightning Gun.
  • In Pacific Rim, Cherno Alpha apparently has Tesla-powered punches! Also, the Kaiju Leatherback has the ability to unleash electromagnetic pulses.
  • Ares from Wonder Woman (2017) has Lightning powers which took from his father Zeus after killing him, Diana (who is also a child of Zeus) channels the powers through her bracelets after her brother tries frying her and then defeats him with Power of Love.
  • In Wonder Woman 1984 Diana has expanded her Shock and Awe powers to extent where she can literally swing on lighting bolts during a thunder storm.
  • X-Men Film Series:

    Music 
  • Of course, there's AC/DC's classic "Thunderstruck".
  • This appears to be one of the powers of the Tiger Rider from "Tiger Rider vs. the Time Sprinkler!" by The Aquabats!.
    Grab a hold of the lightning bolt
    And you pull down the lightning
    (Ride the lightning!)
  • Bad Company's "Electricland".
  • The Cobra Starship song "The Church of Hot Addiction" has the speaker say "My love is electric".
  • DJ the S' "Disciple of Lightning" is a compilation remix of lightning-based themes from video games.
  • Eddie Grant's hit "Electric Avenue" references this trope indirectly. It's actually about the 1981 Brixton riot, but the street where said riot took place was so named because it was the first market street to be lit by electricity.
  • The Greg Kihn Band has a song, "Jeopardy", that references thunder and lightning in its lyrics.
    Well, you can take it as a warning
    Or take it anyway you like
    It's the lightning, not the thunder
    You never know when it's going to strike
  • Imagine Dragons' "Thunder".
  • Lights: The Darker and Edgier video clip for "Ice" sees this type of element put to good use.
  • Lou Christie's "Lightnin' Strikes".
  • Marcia Griffiths' classic "Electric Boogie", also known as the "Electric Slide". ''It's electric!"
  • Oingo Boingo has a song entitled "Lightning". Since it's implied the singer, Danny Elfman (or rather his stage persona), has been hit by lightning so many times he's lost count, it probably crosses over with Psycho Electro (and explains a lot). He also doubles as an Evil Redhead.
  • Peter Gabriel's "Shock the Monkey" probably counts.
  • Whitney Houston's song "So Emotional" has a line that goes "It's shocking what love can do", implying a connection with electricity.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Gods of thunder and lightning are found in many myths and religions across the world.
    • Older Than Feudalism: Zeus of Greek Mythology is frequently portrayed as flinging thunderbolts.
      • Jupiter, his Roman counterpart, was also a god of thunder (no, they weren't the same). The Romans also had a nocturnal thunder god in Summanus.
    • Thor, the god of thunder, from Norse Mythology.
    • Indra, the king of the Hindu gods (according to the earliest text, anyways), is the god of thunder and lightning.
    • Raijin of the Shinto religion is a monstrous-looking god of thunder and lightning.
      • Susanoo is sometimes associated with thunder and lightning as well.
    • Leigong, the Chinese "lord of thunder", who is also noted for being very ugly. According to Wikipedia, the Chinese have a whole slew of thunder and lightning deities; Leigong is just one of the most prominent. Another prominent one is Leizi, the goddess of lightning.
    • Yoruba religion gives us the fearsome Shango, who is based on a real-life West African king famed for his tempestuous personality.
    • Perun, the chief god of the Slavs. He has some similarities with Thor, which is inescapable due to the fact that they're both reflexes of the Proto-Indo-European thunder god.
    • Tarhunna, the Hittite weather god, was depicted as holding a three-pronged thunderbolt in his hand.
    • Taranis, the Celtic god of thunder. Also related to Perun and Thor.
    • The Maya had Chaac and Yopaat.
    • The Aztec had Xolotl, who was also associated with death and dogs, was hideous, and was essentially Quetzalcoatl's "shadow" self.
    • The Zapotec (another Mesoamerican tribe like the Aztec and Maya) had Cocijo.
  • The mythological variant on the Thunderbird (contrasting with the more down to Earth cryptozoological variant, which is just a very large bird) was said to be capable of shooting lightning from its eyes and occasionally its wings. This makes sense, given its portrayal as a storm maker.
  • The Raiju, or "Thunder Beast", of Japanese mythology was a wolf-like creature said to appear during lightning storms and literally ride the lightning. It is often described as a companion of Raijin.
  • The Mongolian Death Worm is often said to be capable of shooting electric volts that can kill livestock. Most scientists (and even some cryptozoologists) cast doubt on this ability, however.

    Pinballs 

    Podcasts 
  • Shaula the Star from Sequinox can generate electricity.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The Undertaker has the ability to call down lightning from the heavens, though he mostly uses it for dramatic effect and not as an attack. (If he did, his matches would be over rather quickly.)
  • In a storyline where Kane stole Undertaker's powers, Kane blasted a stagehand with lightning and set him on fire.

    Roleplay 
  • Ramthundar of the Avatar Adventures uses lightning as one of his signature abilities.
  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Somewhat inspired by Black Adam, the rambunctious Luna has the power to create, control, and turn into electricity.
    • Josephine can create and manipulate electricity, though it tends to play second fiddle to her primary power of ice manipulation. That said, she can use them in tandem, having the ice work as a conductor to her electricity. Humorously, their shared electrical power leads to Josephine once getting mistaken for Luna.
    • Simon (and his evil personality the Dark Dragon) has control over plasma, which in turn allows him to manipulate electricity and fire.
  • Celestina and Genessa from Fate/Nuovo Guerra have some expertise with this kind of magecraft, particularly the spell Perunic, which creates a large tornado that shoots lightning bolts at the enemy. They also use it to accelerate metal objects magnetically, ala railgun.
  • Electricity is a favorite power in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe. Canadian superhero Acolyte, the villainous Chain Lightning, electrical-powered speedster Lightning Dancer and her identical (and evil) twin Blitz, Chinese hero Voltage, Disney-sponsored hero Big Thunder, Juice, the super-strong Relampago, the Italian super-criminal Dinimo, Russian super-assassin Molnya, Thunderfist, Lightning Rod of the Hyperion Academy, and Cracklin' Rose all possess electrical powers.

    Toys 
  • Zoids has Liger Zero X and Dark Spiner. Liger Zero X has electrified blades that shoot lightning while Dark Spiner fires a burst of electricity that causes other mecha to go into Unstoppable Rages.
  • BIONICLE:
    • Lightning is one of the secondary elements featured. Users of the element include several Toa of Lightning, Tahnok-Kal, and a few Rahkshi species.
    • Toa of Water and Air would work together to create storms, the most obvious effect being the lightning.
    • The Toa Inika were created via special lightning, and as a side effect, their elements became intertwined with electricity. Whenever they shot fire, air, water, stone, ice or rock, they not only burnt, blew away, smashed or froze their target, but also electrocuted them. Their toys had light-up weapons to simulate this. The trope is actually kinda justified for once, in that it's not exactly ordinary lightning. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • The elemental theme of the Electroids from Mixels. They're yellow in color and all have appendages topped with a light purplish-blue that lets them shock. They live in the mountains to be closer to lightning storms, and are all named after their elements: Teslo, Zaptor, and Volectro.

    Visual Novels 
  • Michael Roa Valdamjong from Tsukihime. The original Roa, not the pathetic reincarnated one, and is one of the most powerful mages in the Nasuverse and primarily uses electric magic.
  • Andi "Cat" Kim in Villainous Nights has the power to generate and control electricity. Not only can she use it to fry electronics and as an insta-taser, it makes her conveniently able to no-sell the electrified stun batons that Optimus Mooks wield.
  • Beatrice Waltrud von Kirscheisen from Dies Irae uses lightning as her element. Additionally she is also able to become lightning in order to render herself both intangible and as fast as lighting. Tubal Cain is another character who can use lightning, although the bolts are black with purple/red highlights in his case. This is due to him housing the soul of Beatrice allowing him to use her powers.

    Web Animation 
  • EMP is used twice in Broken Saints. The first time is when the fake Big Bad finds Raimi and Oran and attempts to fry them. The second time occurs when Kamimura severs Oran's chip-implanted hand, freeing him from the pain of the signal, but also triggering the EMP to be fired on the chip's current position the minute the broadcast is over. However, the EMP's limited range allows Kamimura to take the severed hand far from his friends.
  • RWBY: While Nora Valkyrie doesn't actually shoot lightning, she channels electricity into strength and can run at lightning speed. Fittingly, she is rambunctious, weird, hyperactive, and very physically strong. Then there's her story of her Traumatic Superpower Awakening.
    Nora: Got struck by lightning. Didn't die. Crazy Thursday...
  • DSBT InsaniT: Blake has electric powers. Fitting for someone who runs an arcade.
  • Dreamscape: Soya is a very versatile user of this trope. He even states that its not about what your powers are, its how you use them.
    • Vampire Lord can fire black lightning from his hands.
    • Anjren, while in her robot suit, can charge up and fire balls of lightning.
    • Drake can create balls of lightning of various sizes.
    • The yellow fairy of Eleenin's Fire, Ice, Lightning fairy trio has lightning powers.

    Web Original 
  • This is one of the more common Stock Superpowers in the Whateley Universe. Problems involving Power Incontinence seems common for it, too.
    • Imperious, as befits an avatar (or whatever) of Zeus, can hurl lightning bolts where he wants them to go.
    • Blitz has control over the voltages she generates, but can't project them. The martial arts instructors use her as an object lesson about not grappling someone with unknown powers.
    • Antenna, who can't stop generating incredible amounts of lightning from his body, which arcs all over the place and he has no control over it. When he's outside his room, he has to be in a walker full of gadgets that keep him from electrocuting everyone nearby.
    • Jolt has some control over his electrical powers, but has some difficulty managing his voltage, so he wears a (much less intrusive) monitor to know when to discharge his current.
    • Circuit Breaker is primarily a Technopath, but as a Required Secondary Power she generates and absorbs electricity, though she can't really control it except by discharging the current frequently. Since she can hold a charge in the hundreds of thousands of volts, this makes touching or even approaching her quite dangerous, and she often overloads electronic devices just by being near them. Did we mention that she has severe anger management issues and multiple personality disorder, and that two of those personalities were later transferred into her clone?
  • In Trinton Chronicles, Sabella has the ability to generate electrical blasts and ball lighting. This, merged with her water control, tends to be rather lethal.
  • Protectors of the Plot Continuum: The Mysterious Somebody's]] weapon of choice was blasts of Force Lightning; aside from telekinetically snapping Serna Tjan's neck, it's the only attack he was shown using. Appropriately enough, he ended up Hoist by His Own Petard when Lady Zhevago made him electrocute himself with it.
  • The main hero in Elemental is Michael, an Elemental of lightning. Not only can he launch the bolts from his body, he can also summon them from the clouds above, as well as channel the energy into his sword to create a lightsaber like effect.
  • Several mages, in The Saints, have used lightning attacks.
  • Lightning Dust is effectively a human electric bolt.
  • Heroes Save the World: Ananya Sharma's range is limited to touch. It isn't clear how much she can generate yet, but she's managed to explode a cup of pop so far.
  • SCP Foundation:
  • Mortasheen has Abcoulix, an enormous brain toad created as an organic electrical generator, which can attack by frying people from a distance with an electrical bolt or trying to grapple with them to fry them like an electric chair.

    Web Videos 
  • Skippy Shorts: "Can you stop electrocuting people with your horrible electricity shocking powers?"
  • In Kickassia, both the Nostalgia Critic and Dr. Insano can shoot lightning from their hands. The Critic uses superconductor electromagnetism, while Dr. Insano uses science!
  • The Angry Joe Show: Angry Joe has the ability to use Force Lightning. It is exactly as hammy as you think.
  • The chief weapon of The Mercury Men.
  • Donald of The Platoon Of Power Squadron has this power. He can do lots of stunts, like low-voltage bolts, an electric whip, and a Surge Protector (a.k.a. the Electro Barrier, the Bolt Barrier, and the Shock Shield), a form of impenetrable armour.

    Real Life 
  • In his book Shocking Electricity, Nick Arnold mentions an English woman named Jaqueline Priestman who could change TV channels without touching the device and make outlets explode due to the high voltage in her body. Other records of the similar events happening to other people have been recorded. Persons of such nature call themselves Sliders.
  • There are also people who, while they don't generate electricity, are capable of redirecting it through their bodies without any harm and with some measure of control or otherwise withstand far more electrical current running through them than the normal human. Some theorize it's a genetic ability that allows them much higher resistance to electricity than the average person.
  • (Psycho) electric eels, electric catfish, torpedo rays, and the stargazer fish are able to generate a strong electric current thanks to the help of specialized organs.
  • A common elemental theme for sports teams, most notably the San Diego Chargers and Tampa Bay Lightning, the latter of which later installed its own tesla coils in their stadium because they felt like it. And from the short-lived NFL Europe.... Berlin Thunder.
  • Two men + two Tesla coils + special suits = ELECTRICITY FIGHT! For the sharp eye, one can also spot a Dragon Ball Z-inspired (possibly) "Fusion Dance" at 2 minutes, 13 seconds (2:13) into the video.
  • Nikola Tesla gained a strong reputation thanks to his contributions to radio, X-ray experimentation and magnetic induction.
  • The taser device used by the police sends out massive amounts of electrical voltage to incapacitate and stun a subject, though using it on someone with a medical condition could injure them or even outright kill them. The "Don't tase me, bro!" incident is one example of particularly controversial taser usage.


 

Alternative Title(s): Lightning Powers, Kill It With Lightning, Electrokinesis, Web Original

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Cole MacGrath

The Ray Sphere activates Cole's conduit gene, giving him electric powers.

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