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Super Loser

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"And you're sure this isn't a fanboy thing? 'Cause I've fought more than a couple of pimply overweight vamps who called themselves Lestat."
Buffy Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Part of the appeal of fiction is the conceit that gaining super powers, becoming a vampire, or generally just making contact with the Masquerade changes an ordinary character into a cool, debonair, threatening, or just generally badass version of themselves. No matter how mundane they were in life, the touch of the supernatural is the great cosmic equalizer.

Yeah. Fiction doesn't always play that way.

Usually getting superpowers or being Cursed with Awesome makes you, well, super or awesome. However, some characters are just so snot-nosedly uncool no amount of undeath, lycanthropy, cyborg implants, or Super Serum can change that. Maybe it's because they're too much of a Jerkass, not assertive enough or maybe they're hopelessly geeky/nerdy/ditzy. In any case, a certain Je ne sais quoi is required, and this character just doesn't have it.

Rather than become a fearsome vampire, they won't even inspire fear in old ladies... who will kick their ass. That gigantic dork who just became a Flying Brick? Far from Superman, or even an Expy, he's just a gigantic dork with heat vision. Kind of like a Law of Conservation for Butt-Monkey status. If they're lucky, they might escape the Pretender Diss.

This trope can apply to characters of any kind, from hero to villainous minion (though not usually villains themselves, unless they're a Harmless Villain or Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain). A Super Loser hero may eventually take a level in badass or become competent in the use of their powers while being, personality-wise, the same loser they were pre-change. Interestingly, this kind of Super Loser can be very endearing. Minor villains and their minions are usually Smug Supers with an overinflated ego, frequently due to a bad case of Transhuman Treachery. Expect the Plucky Comic Relief to take them down most satisfyingly, and force them to help talk about the Big Bad's plan. Naturally, they are often Boisterous Weaklings, when they can't use their powers properly at least.

This trope is easily explained when the transformation is Blessed with Suck, so only characters who were extremely cool beforehand can keep a measure of that afterwards. Sometimes, if this character is from an older franchise and is a member of a Token Minority, they may be a victim of "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny more than anything else - since, compared with other members of their group during their own time, they were amazingly competent.

Since this happens often with vampires, see also/compare Your Vampires Suck. Do not confuse with Super Zeroes, who are merely incompetent or ineffective instead of uncool.

Please limit examples to in-story applications. Characters who only have the Fanon reputation of being a loser go under Memetic Loser.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Hellsing, the titular organization often has to deal with "lesser" Villain of the Week vampires who see themselves as cool, but are rarely more than a Smug Super who makes short work of some hapless Red Shirt Army only to be quickly cut down by one of the main characters. Ironically, Seras, who plays the Plucky Comic Relief role, is the only vampire character who comes across as legitimately tormented; Alucard is a Psycho for Hire Anti-Hero, and Integra is an Iron Lady. Alucard basically calls several Villain of the Week vampires wimps to their face before killing them. Of course, he's nearly an Eldritch Abomination himself.
  • In the Vampire Hunter D films, only the top-ranking vampires (Magnus, Mier, and Carmilla) come across as suave. Even Lamika is pretty much a Lonely Rich Kid turned Harmless Villain. Rei Ginsei angrily demands Count Lee make him a full vampire; Count Lee just laughs at him.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: In the back story, Homura Akemi is the poster girl of this trope in regards to being a Magical Girl. She was a complete loser in the traditional sense before she became a Magical Girl. After becoming a magical girl, she's very bad at fighting Witches. By the time the story proper starts, she's taken enough levels in badass that finding this out is a major shock.
    • Due to the Darker and Edgier setting, magical girls easily find reasons to hate each other's guts for their fatal flaws: Madoka being a shrinking and self-doubting bystander, Mami being overly sensitive to loneliness, Sayaka being blindly optimistic yet failing to comprehend whatever is going wrong, and Kyouko being a selfish jerk, and ironically, Homura for being a cynical liar. Through and through Tragic Hero stories ensue.
  • Played for Drama in Neon Genesis Evangelion with Shinji Ikari, who's even more of a painfully introverted, slightly unstable train wreck after becoming the chosen pilot of a Humongous Mecha than before. This show being what it is, of course he fails to save the world.
  • Nukesaku from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is a super powered and immortal vampire who is treated like crap due to him being overshadowed by stand users. He is also a coward who has horrible senses of combat and strategy enough to make him a total idiot, just like his name implies.
    • Okuyasu has the power to erase space with his stand, which is mentioned in the show as a really good power, but he's not intelligent enough to use it to its full potential.
    • Hazamada gets a Stand that can transform into other people, force the real deal to copy his Stand's movements as long as it maintains eye contact, and is so good for stealthy assassinations that it gets within striking distance of killing Jotaro. Hazamada himself on the other hand is an whiny, psychotic otaku who actually uses his Stand to do things like gouge his friend's eye out over a disagreement about manga and attempt to use it to rape a girl he had a crush on. Because of what type of guy he is, nobody respects or even likes Hazamada. In fact, his case plays this pretty literally, since while his Stand is transformed into somebody, it starts gradually acting less like him and more like that person, and since pretty much everybody that knows him finds him repulsive, this results in Hazamada being looked down upon and called a creepy loser by the physical embodiment of his own powers.
    • Joshu Higashikata in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: JoJolion gets a very cool and versatile Stand that lets him manifest nuts and bolts onto things to attach or disassemble them, but Joshu himself is a dorky otaku with zero social skills, develops crushes on girls that cross into creepy obsessions complete with violent jealousy toward guys they talk to, and is pretty openly seen as a whiny manchild by his own family, even if they do still care about him. Even his design is basically an outlandish Jojo take on a classic nerd look, with a bowtie, suspenders, and his weird, goofy haircut.
  • This is how Kinnikuman starts; the title character is an Idiot Hero With Bad Publicity who lives in a shack in the playground. His early adventures had him either getting shown up by better heroes, looking like an idiot only getting by through luck, or having his legitimate successes either ignored or rendered meaningless. He's also a coward and a pervert. It's only after he wins the Choujin Olympics that both his reputation and skills rise, but he's still treated as an unreliable annoyance most of the time...
  • One-Punch Man gives us Saitama, who somehow managed to break all the limits of human abilities through casual exercise and determination and became an Invincible Hero (the title refers to his ability to destroy monsters that the Justice League would find problematic with a single (half-assed) punch, he is just that strong). The comedy (and some of the drama) of the story then is that Saitama just doesn't look or act like a proper hero would, being bald, plain-looking and perpetually bored while having very little recognition, many haters and no money. It doesn't help that he seems to have more trouble dealing with everyday annoyances than actual supervillains (ex. A Running Gag is that he has more problems trying to kill a little regular mosquito when he easily destroys a humanoid monster-mutant mosquito earlier in the manga).
  • My Hero Academia:
    • What protagonist Izuku Midoriya needs to grow out of early in the story - being new to his incredible powers, as opposed to his peers having had them their entire lives, he can barely use them in any context without breaking his own bones. Outside of that, he's also a helpless superhero fanboy and socially anxious wreck with zero friends to his name, but his staggering Determinator attitude manages to pull him through.
    • Katsuki Bakugo is this to a lesser extent. Unlike Izuku, he's an extremely competent fighter with an amazing power from the outset, but he's rarely considered a cool guy to hang out with thanks to his incredibly aggressive and confrontational personality (he got completely cut from an one-hour interview because he couldn't give a sensible answer through the entirety of it). As such, he has very few friends and rarely gets taken seriously outside of combat situations.
    • Being one of these was ultimately the Anti-Villain Gentle's Start of Darkness. He does so poorly academically in hero school that he was frequently held back, despite being in a school that wasn't even especially prestigious, he never obtained a provisional hero licence, despite taking the test four times, and the one rescue he attempted he botched so badly that he even injured a different hero who had arrived on the scene to make the same rescue in the process. Faced with toiling in obscurity when his dream was to be a hero worthy of being discussed in history books, he ends up deciding to try his hand at achieving that level of fame with villainy instead. When Izuku fights him, he states that Gentle was the villain that was the hardest for him to face, and it was implied that that was less due to his power and more due to how much of himself Izuku saw in him.
  • Even after gaining the unique power of Anti-Magic after being mocked all his life for his lack of magical power, Asta from Black Clover is pretty much the same immature, simple guy looked down on by nobles for his peasant background.

    Comic Books 
  • One of the few vampires in the Marvel Universe to keep his old personality after the transformation was a nerdy producer named Harold H. Harold. He was occasionally a serious problem, but that's because he mostly appeared in Howard the Duck.
  • The anthology series Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children has an issue called "Arnold: Confessions of a Blood Junkie". Among other things, the title character is still the same overweight nebbish he was when alive (and is in fact too fat to fly in bat form).
  • Spider-Man:
    • Spider-Man himself is this Depending on the Writer. His Butt-Monkey tendencies as a superhero, not to mention J. Jonah Jameson's editorial vendetta against him, make him seen as the dweeb who swings around in red-and-blue tights. In his civilian identity as Peter Parker, Spider-Man was also a Geek who continually lost out because he had to protect his secret identity, as opposed to a war hero, a millionaire playboy, or a god. Needless to say, some people enforce the "loser" part more than others. He is also seen as Brilliant, but Lazy to boot when people didn't think he took his studies or other commitments seriously. On the other hand, the sheer number of villains he's defeated, the longevity of his career and his versatile power set have all made him one of New York's most feared street-level heroes to many criminals.
    • Mac Gargan. While Spider-Man makes fun of most of his foes while fighting them, the Scorpion has always gotten an extra dose of it. This didn't change at all after Mac got an upgrade when he bonds with the Venom symbiote. He gets no more respect than before from Spider-Man, who states that a loser with a Venom symbiote is still a loser, and that's right after he bonded with it. Furthermore, Gargan was never able to have as much control over the symbiote as any of its other hosts. Lastly, when Gargan joins Norman Osborn's Dark Avengers, he is the butt monkey of the team, inspiring no fear in his non-powered teammate Bullseye and being constantly picked on by Daken. When the team is publicly introduced on television, Spider-Man comments to his New Avengers teammates that he's embarrassed that Mac Gargan is masquerading as Spider-Man because it's "not even the good Venom."
    • Speaking of the symbiote, there's the oft-forgotten second Venom, Angelo Fortunato. Before his Maggia Don father acquired the Venom symbiote for him, he was little more than a timid loser pushed around by everybody, including his own father. After getting the symbiote, he got a boost in confidence, but was ultimately still the same timid loser at heart and he cowardly ran away once he started losing his fight with Spider-Man. Both Peter and the symbiote call him out on how pathetic he is — the latter right before it ditches him mid-leap between buildings.
    • Jason Macendale. He first appeared as Jack O'Lantern, a nonpowered ripoff of the Green Goblin, but later took on the role of the Hobgoblin, another Green Goblin ripoff (the original Hobgoblin having been a very prominent Spider-Man villain). As the Fourth Hobgoblin, Macendale accomplished very little, even after making a Deal with the Devil and becoming a cyborg in an attempt to give himself power. It got so bad that Roderick Kingsley, the original Hobgoblin, came back and killed him, both because He Knows Too Much and because Macendale's repeat failures as Hobgoblin had embarrassed Kingsley.
  • Simpsons Comics had a three-part story (spread over three of their four titles) in which the Rigelian aliens Kang and Kodos turn Itchy and Scratchy from cartoon characters into real beings; Itchy and Scratchy then wreak havoc at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, causing a core explosion that contaminates the entire town with nuclear energy and turns everyone except Bart into a superhero or supervillain. While some of the nuclear-powered alter egos are genuinely menacing, others just Poke the Poodle (the "Mudslinger" attacks people by splattering mud on them), are not as intimidating as they at first seem (Homer becomes a gluttonous green-skinned moron known as "The Ingestible Bulk"), or are just plain pathetic (Bart's grandfather winds up as an elderly vigilante who talks pretty tough, but keeps falling asleep at the most awkward times).
  • Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen has the titular character randomly obtain and lose superpowers, and no matter what he does, every superhero still thinks of him as just a regular guy, and not even a third-rate sidekick.

    Films — Animation 
  • Syndrome from The Incredibles is a terrific villain and a horrible superhero. No matter how many gadgets he has, becoming equal to supers, he is still a loser. For reference, when he shows off in front of civilians after "stopping" the invading Omnidroid, he absentmindedly tosses a tanker he was levitating into the distance while power posing. The rest of his "fight" with the Omnidroid consisted of him getting pimp-slapped into a building and passing out.
  • Titan starts out this way in Megamind, then crosses the Moral Event Horizon into the completely villainous "Tighten", who is a genuine force to be reckoned with.
  • The title character of Disney's Hercules, while being the strongest boy in the world, can't stop himself from accidentally destroying everything in his path and is mocked as a "freak" by the other townspeople. It's not until Phil takes him on as his student that Hercules becomes truly heroic.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Evil Ed from Fright Night (1985) remained a loser after becoming a vampire, incapable of taking down the (at the time) inept Peter Vincent. His death does serve as the film's biggest Tear Jerker, though.
  • Pearl the record keeper from Blade (1998), which causes him to be slightly Unintentionally Sympathetic to some audience members when Eric and Karen blithely fry him with some high-tech weaponry, and Karen coldly justifies this action by saying: "He moved." (Which is itself a cruel irony, since the poor thing was so disgustingly fat that he could barely move!)
  • In The Lost Boys, the coven of vampires might seem "cool" at first, but in the end, only The Man Behind the Man is able to stand up to the Frog brothers, who are hardly top of the line in the world of fictional vampire hunters.
  • In Innocent Blood, the infected gangsters ought to be the ultimate villains you'd Love to Hate — suave mob bosses with supernatural powers — but it's pretty obvious that compared to Marie, they haven't a clue what they're doing.
  • Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger was the endearing kind of these when he was stuck in the USO after getting his powers. Still, it was less an intrinsic trait than the fact that nobody gave him a chance. He was forced to change the situation himself when he went AWOL and rescued 400 people from the bad guys.
  • Played with in Batman Returns: Selina Kyle was a Butt-Monkey before her transformation into Catwoman... and after that, while she did become more assertive and powerful, she still ended up getting pushed around by the film's three male leads — Batman, The Penguin, and her old boss, the man who had tormented her and tried to murder her in the first place. Of course, all Selina ever really craved was not physical strength or athletic ability (although she does receive a little of those gifts) but the courage to stand up to sexist men, which in itself counts for something. She's head and shoulders above any other female character to have appeared in the Batman series up to that time. And it's all ultimately subverted when Selina's suffering renders her heroic: shot four times by her ex-boss, she just sucks up the pain and keeps coming at him till he runs out of bullets; then she lashes them both to an electric generator, electrocutes them both... and survives, leaving her nemesis behind as a charcoaled, steaming, bug-eyed mummy.
  • Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens might seem like yet another badass Sith Lord at first, even if they're called "Knights of Ren" now, and he has the lightsaber and incredibly powerful Force powers. But he turns out to be an insecure Darth Vader wannabe who throws tantrums at failing, angsts about being tempted by the Light Side of the Force, and would just really like to achieve the Evil is Cool trope but knows in his heart that it isn't going to happen. Unlike most villainous examples, being an immature mess doesn't make him any less dangerous.

  • Discworld:
    • Arthur Winkings from Reaper Man, AKA Count Notfaroutoe, is an excellent example of the vampire type. He was a pudgy, middle-aged, average Ankh-Morporkian whose life in the wholesale-fruit industry was interrupted when he inherited a crumbling old castle in Uberwald... and with it, the curse of undeath. His wife Doreen wholeheartedly embraced the upper-crust image of vampirism, despite not being an actual vampire (jokes are made about Arthur being too old to be interested in biting his wife's neck) and not having the figure for the typical revealing vampiress outfit. Arthur, meanwhile, complains a lot about having to wear evening dress all the time, Doreen not letting him bite the necks of young women, and the difficulty of trying to build a dungeon and vault when you live in a row house, not to mention even his bat-form is too fat to fly properly.
    • The vampires in Carpe Jugulum are a subtler example. For all their considerable powers and cunning, they sometimes find that their state has its drawbacks, despite all their efforts to deny it.
      ...Vargo, a lank young man who actually became a vampire because he thought he'd meet interesting girls, or any girls at all, and had been told he looked good in black. And then he'd found that a vampire's interests always centre, sooner or later, on the next meal, and hitherto he'd never really thought of the neck as the most interesting organ a girl could have.
    • Young witches on the Discworld tend to find that being a witch doesn't solve any of the problems they expect it to. Magrat Garlick, Agnes Nitt, and Petulia Gristle all remain fairly un-cool despite their magical talents, although maturity often cures what witch powers won't.
  • In Sukhinov's Tales of Emerald City, there is a tale about a lazy Munchkin Bar, who after finding a magic artefact becomes a king, Magrab... and is as big a loser as he was before.
  • Akar Kessel in The Crystal Shard goes through a From Nobody to Nightmare scenario when he stumbles upon the Crystal Shard and goes from hopeless apprentice wizard to an immensely powerful potential Evil Overlord. He's still an insecure wimp who makes bad strategic decisions to show he's boss, and in the end dies because the Shard decides to rather be buried with him and forgotten for an indefinite time than go on working with him.
  • Discussed in one of the Kitty Norville novels: Kitty holds a call-in session to attempt to take the glamour out of being a werewolf or vampire. One of the callers is a vampire who's in his early twenties and points out that vampirism didn't make him cool or suave or rich, it just meant that he got permanently stuck on night shift at the convenience store he worked for.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Malfoy - He talks a lot of tough talk and is actually a skilled wizard, but he's also a cowardly, narcissistic brat. By the time he joins the Death Eaters, it's hard not to feel sorry for him due to how obviously out of his league he is.
    • Another case would be Peter Pettigrew, who was by far the least impressive among the Marauders, being the short, weak, dumpy tagalong who hung around the other three mostly to shield himself from bullying (and engaging in some along with the others). And while the others had "cool" alternate forms (Remus was a werewolf, James and Sirius were a stag and a huge black hound animagi respectively), Peter's animagus form was a rat. he also turned out to be the morally weakest, as his cowardice and propensity to try and ride on the coattails of more powerful people made him betray James and Lily Potter to Voldemort, causing their deaths, and framing Sirius Black for the deed.
    • Harry learns very late on in the series that Dumbledore at least thinks of himself as this. He tells Harry that since heís so smart and powerful that when he messes up, itís really bad. Harry finds out from his brother that he was responsible for the death of their sister when they were all teenagers. When Harry asks him about it, he straight-up says he hates himself and that in his eyes his brother (who may or may not even know how to read) is a much better man than he ever was because he doesnít live with his head in the clouds.
  • This trope is basically the premise of The Reformed Vampires Support Group, in which being a vampire simply means that you become nocturnal, sickly, depressed and have to farm and eat hamsters or guinea pigs. And take supplements with your guinea pigs so that their non-human blood doesn't kill you.
  • Actually weaponized by C.T. Phipps' The Supervillainy Saga's Gary Karkofsky a.k.a Merciless: The Supervillain without MercyTM. Despite gaining the cloak of a deceased superhero that grants all of the man's powers, Gary remains the same incredible dork that he was in his normal life. This results in him being constantly dismissed, ignored, or belittled by the city's supervillain population. Gary then proves utterly ruthless in his aversion of the Thou Shall Not Kill rule of superheroes. By the sixth book, everyone thinks he's using Obfuscating Stupidity but, no, he really is that lame.
    • The same applies to Peter Stone in the same author's Straight Outta Fangton novel series. Peter is a vampire who literally does work in a convenience store outside of New Detroit. He is not particularly sexy, cool, or rich despite this being very common among vampires. No, it turns out that it is only common among old vampires who are willing to kill or abuse their powers to become rich in the first place. Sadly, Peter is of the Friendly Neighborhood Vampire sort (unless you piss him off).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Being Human
    • George is probably the nerdiest werewolf ever. Plus he's Blessed with Suck, so it didn't make his life any easier, either.
    • In contrast, Tully who is also a werewolf actually manages to carry it off pretty well, managing a raw animal magnetism at times and being very genial. Of course, the show doesn't really like dogs, and he's actually very emotionally scarred over his situation, having lost his family. He's overjoyed to find George, and becomes suicidal over his rejection once George finds out he was the werewolf who turned him.
    • There's also Seth. Even among other vampires he's something of a joke.
    • In fact, it's pretty much a given that almost any vampire in this show, unless he's the Big Bad or part of the show's main trio, is going to be one of these.
  • Buffyverse
    • Most vampires are either badasses or nameless cannon fodder. However, Buffy mentions staking a few pimply teenage vampires who called themselves Lestat.
    • Interestingly, Alternate Universe Willow and Xander, as vampires, are utterly terrifying. Despite them being shy (Willow) and goofy (Xander) in life, the change made them grade A Dragon material. The demon that inhabits vampires had a lot of untapped potential to work with in both. Then you have Harmony, who... well, even demons can't make monsters out of brain-dead mice. Mentioning "Harmony has minions" tends to be met with disbelief and giggles. Rightfully so when you see her in person trying to act evil.
    • Buffy herself was portrayed along these lines in the original 1992 movie (which may or may not be considered reconcilable with the TV series). Ironically, in the very beginning Buffy was very cool (at least, within the sphere of her little high-school world). But once she's informed of her secret abilities, it becomes clear that, for the moment, Buffy is just another mortal with an interesting legacy. She can defend herself handily thanks to her uncanny reflexes, but when it comes to all the other job requirements of being a Slayer she's almost completely inexperienced at combat and has to be patiently shown the ropes by her Watcher, Merrick. To make matters worse, Buffy's habit of devoting a great deal of private time to honing her craft, coupled with her brooding about things to which most teenage girls would hardly give a thought, convinces almost everyone else at Hemery High that she's a weirdo and deserves to be treated with contempt, even to the point where she winds up a wallflower at the very school dance she helped to prepare. Add to all this her recurring fears and self-doubts, as well as her continuing ditziness (although this may well have been Obfuscating Stupidity all along), and the movie Buffy is much more an underdog hero than a superhero.
  • Misfits — a show about five anti-social "ASBO" teens who get magically imbued with superpowers — probably ought to be the poster child for this trope. The protagonists have got to be the biggest bunch of losers and freaks ever to shamble tentatively into the superhero sphere. Never mind the fact that they're all young offenders with a vast array of psychological issues and attitude problems, or indeed that their powers essentially mock them by creating cruel caricatures of their respective weaknesses, flaws and fears; or even that they are basically unable to mitigate or restain the (often unpleasant or disastrous) effects of said powers and have shown remarkably few signs of being able to control them at all. No...they also have to "repay their debt to society" by wearing tacky orange jumpsuits and spending their days picking up litter and washing graffiti from the walls of the urban jungle as part of their community service programme. Surely superheroes are above such things, right? Wrong.
  • Rory from My Babysitter's a Vampire. Being a vampire only got rid of the glasses and the asthma.
  • True Blood features vampires, whose power grows as they become older, though a newborn vampire is still at least ten times faster and stronger than a regular human. But some of them still manage to be this trope:
    • Steve Newlin was wimpy and cowardly as a human and remains so as a vampire, despite his increased physical capabilities.
    • Eddie was a frumpy middle-aged closet case before becoming a vampire... and while he's still frumpy as a vampire, at least he's out of the closet...
  • There was a circus strongman character on the 1980s Disney kids' series Dumbo's Circus named Q.T. Despite his Herculean strength (he could lift a ton of rocks over his head with almost no effort), Q.T. was very shy and naive, even to the point of being a Manchild, and consequently came off as a sort of sympathetic dork.
  • In Kamen Rider Den-O, Ryotaro Nogami is a Born Unlucky Chew Toy. In his very first appearance, he's crashed his bike... up a tree. And then he gets possessed by Imagin spirits that can hijack his body at any time and wreak havoc in his life with their antics. Even as a superhero, he usually gets his butt kicked when he tries fighting on his own, and generally has to cede control of his body to one of the Imagin who actually know what they're doing in combat.

  • Scumspawn in Old Harry's Game is a naive, incompetent demon who isn't really evil, but is too much of an Extreme Doormat to leave Satan's service. Most demons in the show are this, with Satan seeming to be the only one who can tell his arse from his elbow.

    Tabletop Games 
  • White Wolf has this as the default for starting PCs in just about every gameline.
    • The default for Vampire: The Masquerade is for player characters to be this. Yes, you'll get special powers, and are vastly superior to even the greatest of muggles, but you're now caught up in a massive political system where everyone else is much more experienced than you, and every move you make is at the beck and call of beings whose power you could never reach by experience.
    • Promethean: The Created goes one step further: the superpowers come with a side of instinctive revulsion from every living thing on the planet, eventually causing a full-on Hate Plague against you, and your very presence corrupts the earth around you.
    • In Vampire: The Requiem, the Bloodline of the "Players" is a uniquely reviled clique of marginally talented also-rans, many of them Vampire Vannabes in life, who got suckered into undeath by cliches about how cool being a vampire is. Not only do most vampires hold them in absolute contempt, but they have the unique weakness that anyone they target with their Mind Control powers eventually becomes permanently immune to their influence, so not even their enthralled groupies will buy into their self-important mystique for long.

    Video Games 
  • Multi Versus takes Shaggy and gives him incredible superpowers that enable him to fight evenly with Superman. Yet despite the many levels in badass he has taken, for the most part he is still the same sandwich-loving cowardly goofball we all know and love.
  • In South Park: The Fractured but Whole and South Park: Phone Destroyer, Kyle Broflovski's Jewish and Nerdy cousin Kyle Schwartz makes up his own superhero persona. Not only is he just a cheap alternate-universe knockoff of Kyle B.'s hero Human Kite (down to being called "Human Kite from an Alternate Universe"), but he's just as wimpy and useless as his regular self.
  • Merasmus the Magician from Team Fortress 2 is an ancient wizard who is also in deep debt to multiple mafias. None of his magical powers can save him from being evicted from his house, putting up with Soldier as a roommate, being framed for the murder of Tom Jones, being placed at the bottom of the pecking order in prison, or getting out of a cab fare.
  • The Thin Bloods in Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines are freshly-turned vampires with no powers to speak of and no idea what's going on behind the Masquerade. They live under a pier after being run out of town by stronger vampires and can be milked for Videogame Cruelty Potential unless the player takes pity on them.
    • While they're the second most powerful sect in the tabletop game, the Sabbat in Bloodlines is more akin to this, due to their low population in LA. They're largely depicted as lowly, dumb mooks who are barely more threatening than humans, and they take a backseat plotwise to the Camarilla, the Anarchs, and the Kuei-jin. They get a little more threatening once their leader jumps into the fray, but even then, he's barely more than a nuisance in the grand scheme of things.

    Web Comics 
  • Comic Book SNAFU
    • Akiza Izayoi has incredible Psychic Powers that let her curb-stomp superheroes and demigods. Unfortunately for her, she's an awkward and emotionally unstable young woman who is completely out of her depth. She also can't control her powers and sometimes forgets she has them.
    • Lightbringer fancies himself a superhero, but spends issue two getting insulted and beat up by everyone around him.
  • The vampire Edwin from Sam & Fuzzy.
    • We later get to meet more vampires, where it turns out this is a part of the vampiric condition in the Sam And Fuzzy-verse: All of them suffer from some kind of OCD, phobia or social maladjustment that renders them terribly uncool. While some of their members like Varney are able to present a façade of dignity, most of them can't. In fact, Edwin's later Character Development out of this trope means he got off lightly.
  • Sluggy Freelance
    • Sam; made doubly impressive in that he is the last of the Lysinda Circle vampires, who get a very nice deal compared to most vampires, but he is STILL a pathetic loser.
    • Any inhabitant of the "Dimension of Lame" converted into a demon counts. Transformed into vicious hell-spawn or not, Poke the Poodle level evil is still an order of magnitude viler than anything they can come up with. As one of the actual demons notes: "You turn wussy mortals into demons, you end up with wussy demons."
  • Vilbert von Vampire from 8-Bit Theater, a (surprise surprise) vampire who still lives with his parents and who dabbles in LARPing.
  • Conrad Achenleck from Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name has found being a vampire little more than another set of frustrations, and he was a put-upon sad sack when he was alive.
  • Pat, the reluctant vampire in Sorcery 101. He lost his own sorcery when he died, his vampire powers are almost nil because he would have to become a murderous bastard to develop them, and he hates himself too much to do anything on his own behalf.

    Web Original 
  • This quote taken from the Deviantart page depicting Steve Argyle's artwork for the Magic: The Gathering card Chosen of Markov sums up this trope perfectly (at least as it pertains to vampires):
    You see, this girl has fallen to the oldest ploy in fiction. She wants the handsome, ageless, flowing white haired vampire hunk to take her away from this dreary existence. This he does by not actually changing anything, except that now her same dreary existence will last forever, she has to eat people, and the sun will kill her. So yeah, she's totally making out on this deal.
    • ...And then it gets subverted in the comment of his Deviantart page for the transformed version, Markov's Servant, who having received a combination Fanservice Pack and Evil Makeover as well as a notable increase in power, and seems very pleased with showing off the results.
      I was wrong in my earlier post about her. This is worth it. Apparently getting bitten by Markov is better than having a personal Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, Hollywood personal trainer, Cosmo makeup artist, and desperately lonely Photoshop hermit.

      Evidently vampirism does have its perks.
  • Worm:
    • one of the supervillain gangs of Brockton Bay is The Merchants, led by a meth addict supervillain called Skidmark. Even ignoring the weakness of his superpower (laying an effect on a surface that pushes things in one direction) he's considered a total nobody — as of the start of the story, his gang only 'holds territory' that no-one else is interested in.
    • More pathetic yet are Leet and Uber, a pair of supervillains with a video game schtick. One reason for their lack of success has to do with their rather lackluster powers—Uber can mimic skills at near-master levels of normal humans, while Leet can build gadgets that only work properly once—but a larger reason is that they are just incompetent. There are plenty of characters with lame powers who still manage to be creative and clever with them, but this pair is mocked as being incompetent by pretty much everyone in the story.
  • Splendid from Happy Tree Friends has all the powers of Superman, but he's such an idiot that he invariably kills every single person that he tries to save.
  • The title character of Mr. Deity takes this trope to its Logical Extreme, being such a childish idiot that not even the fact that he's totally omnipotent can prevent him from seeming like a pathetic loser.
  • In one Cyanide and Happiness sketch, we had Shark Rad. A Shark Man superhero that no one could believe was the other Shark Man with with glasses and a moustache. Said shark was a Pushover Parents who's tries in vain to earn the respect of his (human) Bratty Half-Pint son, who idolizes Shark Rad. At the end of the sketch he becomes so desperate for his son to like him he shows up as Shark Rad to his Birthday party and publicly reveals his identity to him, and his son yells at him for making his hero a loser. Then the news dose a report on how Shark Rad is a looser and everyone laughs at him.

    Western Animation 
  • Played for Laughs and Refuge in Audacity with Captain Hero from Drawn Together, who takes the Jerkass aspect of this trope to Omnicidal Maniac extremes. He's even referred to in show as "The Lamest Superhero EVER".
  • The Consortium in Generator Rex after each of them gets one of the Meta-Nanite powers and become living robots. Even with their awesome superpowers they are still a bunch of petty middle-aged men with no real clue how to use their powers effectively. They rely entirely on Black Knight's lead to accomplish anything.
  • Get Ace: Even though Ace receives superpowered high-tech braces in the first episode, he's still a geek with a high-pitched voice and a major Butt-Monkey. The fact that the superpowers come in the form of braces only enhances his nerd image.
  • Lilo & Stitch: The Series: Experiment 625, Gantu's wisecracking Bumbling Sidekick, possesses all of Stitch's abilities, but he's so incredibly lazy that he would rather sit around and make sandwiches all day than help Gantu catch the other 624 experiments let loose in Hawaii. In fact, 625 often lets himself get defeated and humiliated by the eponymous heroes as well as other experiments rather than exert himself in any way. This changes in the Grand Finale movie Leroy & Stitch, as he ends up working with Lilo, whose encouragement inspires him to apply himself for once.
  • Lucius Heinous VII from Jimmy Two-Shoes. Word of God is that he's actually an enormously powerful Reality Warper who could remake Miseryville on a whim if he wanted to, but he doesn't use his powers because he wants to prove he can rule without them. Consequently, he comes off as an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain.
  • Doofenshmirtz, the Big Bad of Phineas and Ferb. Like the title characters, he's a scientific genius to the point that he borders on a Reality Warper, but it doesn't do him much good due to his complete lack of any common sense. It doesn't help that he's had an unending string of bad luck literally since the day he was born.
  • The League of Freedom from SuperMansion are a team of superheroes who are nonetheless largely incompetent despite having superpowers or useful skillsets (with the exception of Black Saturn).
  • During the second Halloween Episode of Celebrity Deathmatch, monsters show up hoping to take on any comers. One of them is an awkward, overweight vampire with a crippling stutter. Naturally, he ends up fighting Sarah Michelle Gellar, aka Buffy Summers. Despite his quirks, he wins by sucking out all her blood; he was either prepared for or immune to any anti-vampire weapons Gellar had.
    Vampire: Maybe you've been watching too much TV. Garlic has no effect on me! Except for a little f-f-f-f-flatulence!
  • The Powerpuff Girls (2016) brings us Butterfingers, a "super villain" who is comprised entirely of Butter. His Freudian Excuse is that he always wanted superpowers and that when he finally got them, he ended up with super lame ones due to a freak accident. This drives him to somehow hijack Buttercup's body. At the climax of the episode, Buttercup (Now made entirely of Butter) uses these powers to beat Butterfingers and take her body back. He's legitimately surprised and asks her if she somehow got new powers. She responds "I didn't get new powers. I just figured out how to use yours."
  • Jackie Chan Adventures
    • The Enforcers being this is what causes Drago to dump them after the first episode of his season, instead opting to use the much "funkier" Strikemaster Ice and his gang for minions.
    • This is the secret behind the dark wizard Iso, who spends most of his episode running the J-Team ragged by being almost scarily competent and powerful, even managing to trick them into retrieving the other half of a Bifurcated Weapon that granted him insane magical powers. Iso's real identity, though, is a future version of Jimmy, one of Jade's classmates and a ball of insecurities and fears the adult version actually never got over. Once the good guys know this, toppling the formerly unstoppable villain becomes child's play.
  • A strange case for Modulok, who appeared in both He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and She-Ra: Princess of Power. Despite possessing vast personal power, a genius for science rivalling Man-At-Arms, and a number of feats under his belt (including having managed to actually overpower the normally invincible title heroes), Modulok just seems absolutely incapable of getting any respect from his fellow villains. Hordak demoted him to Horde Chef and Skeletor routinely brushes him off as a wimp.
  • Justice League Unlimited: The start of the second episode of "The Once and Future Thing" seems to make the case that villain Kronos Took a Level in Badass to escape this trope. After all, using his time suit he was able to conquer the future, pillage the past for historic artifacts and even landmarks to add to his collection, punish anyone who tried to cross him (as Chuckles found out), and had even managed to gain the respect (or at least fear) of his domineering wife. But, as said wife points out, a loser can have all the power in the world, he remains a loser. Sure enough the League find Kronos, not sleeping in one of the luxurious temples he's managed to steal as he claims, but in the same western jail cell he'd been kept in for months during the previous episode, lying in the fetal position with his thumb in his mouth for bonus points. He's still not a pushover to take down, but it becomes harder to take his whole Evil Overlord schtick as seriously anymore.
  • Sidekick: Maxum Man may be super-strong and able to fly, but he's too lazy and incompetent to actually be effective as a superhero. His "heroism" mostly consists of letting his sidekicks solve problems he inadvertently created and then taking all the credit afterwards.
  • Dick Dastardly had a perfect 0-34 record on Wacky Races, mainly because he pisses away his leads and invokes Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat. He fared no better on either of his two follow-up shows.