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Shock and Awe

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"There's nothin' like a fistful o' lightnin', now is there?"
Atlas, BioShock

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, hyperactive, have blond hair, be African-American, or some combination of the above. Also not unheard of for the Lightning Bruiser, though that "lightning" is usually a reference to speed.

Related to Blinded by the Light and Ride the Lightning. See also Conspicuous Electric Obstacle when the electricity is used as passive video game hazard or Death Trap. Someone with this power may be a Technopath or Fast as Lightning as well. Compare Magnetism Manipulation which (sometimes) includes electromagnetism. See God of Thunder, Electric Jellyfish, Psycho Electric Eel, 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, Electricity Knocks You Out, Lightning Gun, Static Stun Gun, Shock Stick, Thunder Drum and Thunder Hammer. Combine with an whip and you've got a Lightning Lash. For effect, can sometimes lead to X-Ray Sparks.

Has nothing to do with the trope Chic and Awe or the United States military rapid dominance doctrine, though that's where the name comes from.

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    Films — Animation 
  • Incredibles 2:
    • Jack-Jack can toss out bursts of electric power.
    • One of the heroes introduced in the sequel is He-Lectrix, who has control over electricity.
    • Two minor superheroes who appear in the climax are revealed by source material to actually be named Shock and Awe. Presumably, their powers involved electricity.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: Electric bursts are one of the powers Miles Morales gains as Spider-Man, akin to his comic counterpart.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2: One of the antagonists is Electro, an electrical engineer who gains electrical powers after an industrial accident.
  • One of the spirit-demon guys from Big Trouble in Little China (creatively named "Lightning") used lightning as a weapon.
  • Code 8: Connor Reed has extremely potent electrical powers, which can knock a drone out of mid-air.
  • DC Extended Universe:
  • 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.
  • Ghostbusters (1984).
    • The Ghostbusters' protonic stream throwers primarily throw out positively-charged lightning. It 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. You can snare ghosts with it as well.
    • Gozer can also bust out some mean lightning, as Ray and the others learn the hard way:
      Gozer: Are you a god?
      Ray: Ummm... no?
      Gozer: Then... DIE!
  • 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.
  • Hocus Pocus: Winifred Sanderson gives Emperor Palpatine a run for his money with her powerful magic lightning.
  • Horrorvision: The Cyborg overseeing Horrorvision's original computers displays these powers when he sends a wave of electricity at the man who came into the office with Dez and Bradbury, launching him across the room and leaving a huge wound on his side.
  • 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!
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • 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.
    • Thor 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 lightning guns used by Zion's forces throughout The Matrix trilogy.
  • In Pacific Rim, Cherno Alpha apparently has Tesla-powered punches! Also, the Kaiju Leatherback has the ability to unleash electromagnetic pulses.
  • In The Running Man, one of the stalkers after Arnold Schwarzenegger is "Dynamo", who can electrocute people using his Lightning Gun.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (2020), Sonic's body conducts electricity when he's using his Super-Speed. He produces enough while running to cause a blackout across the entire Pacific Northwest. It's quickly revealed that Sonic has no idea how to control it at first — when he starts sparking and glowing while upset during the highway chase, his reaction is a panicked "Not again!"
  • 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.
  • In the Transformers Film Series, Jolt has electric whips.
  • In Wanda Nevada, the Apache ghost summons lightning bolts to form a ball of light in his hands, which he throws at Wanda and Beau. It explodes in front of them.
  • In The Witch Files, one of the magical powers Brooke develops is the ability to shoot lightning from her fingertips, which she uses in her fight with Claire.
  • X-Men Film Series:

  • Veritas: Main character Gangryong and his presumed dead mentor Lightning Tiger both practice the Enlightenment Of Thunder and Lightning (EOTL) school of martial arts which manifests its users' ki as electricity. In the hands of a master, it's a bit of a Game-Breaker since the electricity can disrupt the ki flow of anyone it hits. Lightning Tiger took it up a notch by reverse engineering Vera's Arts of Heaven's Rich Strength on the spot and combining it with EOTL to call down a bolt of lightning from the sky.

  • 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".

    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.
      • Susano'o is sometimes associated with thunder and lightning as well.
    • Leigong, the Chinese "lord of thunder", 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.


  • Aomon from Binary Break has electrical abilities, namely his Shell Shocker attack.
  • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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 earth, 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.
  • 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.

    Visual Novels 
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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.
  • 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.
    • Kaila and Melinda can send down black bolts of lightning.
    • Dylan's Mechelly can fire beams of lightning from her hands.
  • DSBT InsaniT: Blake has electric powers. Fitting for someone who runs an arcade.
  • 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. Her power awakened in the first place when she was struck by lightning one day.
      Nora: Got struck by lightning. Didn't die. Crazy Thursday...
    • The Four Maidens have the ability to control all elements, but some Maidens favour using lightning in battle. Although Amber used all the elements in battle, she favoured lightning once she was levitating above her opponents. In Volume 5, the Spring Maiden stills a bandit camp by shooting lightning from a clear sky, while early in Volume 8, the Winter Maiden fights the Ace-Ops with wind, lightning and hail.

  • Blood is Mine: The protagonist can use her ability to manipulate biological material to produce bioelectricity. At first, it's barely enough to charge one camera, but after some experiences with Electromagnetic Ghosts and Astral Projection, she can straight-up shoot lightning.

    Web Original 
  • In The Crew of the Copper-Colored Cupids, Lord Nefarious can shoot short, painful blasts of green lightning using his staff. After coming into his power as an evil sorcerer in his own right, his Bastard Understudy Sebastian Steer displays the ability to shoot similar, but more powerful, purple bolts from his bare hands, Palpatine-style, demonstrating how he is in actuality more powerful (and also less controlled) than Nefarious was.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Lightning Dust is effectively a human electric bolt.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Several mages, in The Saints, have used lightning attacks.
  • SCP Foundation:
  • 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.
  • This is one of the more common 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?

    Web Videos 
  • The Angry Joe Show: Angry Joe has the ability to use Force Lightning. It is exactly as hammy as you think.
  • 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 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.
  • Skippy Shorts: "Can you stop electrocuting people with your horrible electricity shocking powers?"
  • Unwanted Houseguest: Downplayed example. There's no indication that the Houseguest can generate electricity on his own, but he is apparently able to channel it without permanent harm. This is how he re-lights Owl Head Lighthouts to defeat the Shadow Demon.

    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.
  • The case of Jacqueline Priestman. A woman from Manchester who after losing her husband, winded up getting an electric static charge in her body which effected all electronic appliances nearby. She later passed this over to her daughter from her second husband.

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


Lament of the Fallen

Mei makes it clear that Kiana's life is more important to her than anything else.

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