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Superpowers for a Day

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"Clark, this is so cool! How come you didn't tell me it was like this?"
Lana Lang, Smallville, "Wrath"

A non super-powered character gets superpowers. However, because Status Quo Is God, those powers won't last long and are strictly a one-shot deal. In other words: not only do the superpowers wear off by the end of the episode, but they can never get the powers again. Unless they do using a Recycled Script and/or just because it's fun.

Often happens to the superpowered character's Muggle Best Friend. When this plot is repeatedly recycled with a particular character, see Superpower Silly Putty.

May overlap with Superhero Episode and with Muggle Best Friend. Contrast with Brought Down to Normal. For moments where a character temporarily receives omnipotent powers, see God for a Day. For when a person gains superpowers permanently, see Super-Empowering, Empowered Badass Normal, and Took a Level in Badass.

See also: Sidekick Glass Ceiling.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Ranma ½, Akane (one of the more realistic martial artists) was given powers to match the rest of the cast twice, once with magic noodles (which also caused her to grow whiskers) and once with a magically-super-powered martial arts costume.
  • In an episode of Anpanman, Horrorman manages to obtain Shokupanman's cape (which gives the wearer flight abilities) and attempts to be a hero...all while Shokupanman looks for his cape.
    • There are also a few episodes where Baikinman makes Horrorman superhuman thanks to his machine. However, the catch is that Horrorman can only do some "things" for Bakinman (eg. doing evil deeds).

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Someone to Watch Over Me: In the epilogue, the Butterfly Miraculous is finally put to proper use, watching over Paris and empowering everyday people who need help.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Smallville:
    • Pete Ross got elastic super powers thanks to a chewing gum. Those powers only lasted for one episode.
    • Chloe Sullivan got the power to make everyone tell her the truth. That superpower was killing her. It was removed by the end of the episode. She then got Empathic Healing for a couple of episodes before trading out for Super-Intelligence, then going back to normal.
    • Lana was clairvoyant. In a later episode, Lana temporarily copied Clark's powers. Clark actually had to remove them because Lana was determined to use her powers to get vengeance on Luthor.
    • Clark briefly had "Dead Zone" Vision
    • Lex, Lana and Jonathan were all briefly Flying Speeding Bricks. It cost Jonathan his health and eventually his life.
  • In I Dream of Jeannie, Jeannie temporarily transfers her powers for 24 hours to avoid causing any trouble at the NASA banquet. Tony, not realizing that they were transferred to him, unknowingly causes a lot of chaos at work and ends up transferring them to Dr Bellows.
  • In Lois & Clark, a villain tries to steal Clark's powers but accidentally transfers them to Lois.
    • Several episodes involve people getting Clark's powers after both are struck by lightning. A villainess tries to replicate the process in a lab environment, and ends up succeeding (first turning a mouse into a flying menace for any cat in the city), but Clark ends up depowering her with the same device.
  • Mako Mermaids: An H₂O Adventure: Cam accidentally absorbs water from the Moon Pool, and gains the standard hydrokinetic powers common amongst merfolk as well as Super Swimming Skills. Being who he is, it quickly goes to his head despite everyone from Zac to Erik trying to warn him about unforeseen side effects. Said side effects turn him into a magnet for water, requiring the mermaid trio to extract the Moon Water from him and returning him to normal.
  • The Gilligan's Island gang eats some radioactive vegetables and gets superpowers: super-strength, super-speed, super hearing, etc.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • In "Hide and Q", Riker gets Q-powers.
    • In "The Nth Degree", Barclay gets Q-like super-intelligence — though it's hinted to be somewhat permanent, but it's uncertain how.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • In "Prophecy", Jonas Quinn acquires precognitive abilities. This was the result of a brain tumor (given to him by Nirrti's DNA manipulator), which had to be removed at the end of the episode to save him.
    • Both Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson got powers from Ancient knowledge, which was later removed. O'Neill got super-healing, and Daniel got telekinesis and lightning control.
  • Stargate Atlantis: In "Tao of Rodney", McKay gains super senses, mind reading abilities, telekinesis, and became much smarter as a result of an accidental encounter with an Ancient device. Unfortunately, the machine is designed to induce Ascension meaning that the subject will die if they don't figure out how to Ascend in time.
  • An episode of Dinosaurs has Earl get superpowers from rolling around in toxic waste. His powers include being able to guess weight of any person at a glance, Eye Beams, flight, super-strength, super-toughness, etc. It's all fine and dandy until his Corrupt Corporate Executive boss finds out the truth and forces him to use his powers for the good of the company (as per the "superpower clause" in his contract), meaning to sell cheap household items on infomercials. He refuses to shower, as he's afraid to lose the powers, but does so at the very end, only to realize that the powers are still there.
  • Thanks to a power-transferring meta, Iris from The Flash (2014) gets to experience what it's like to be Barry for an episode. She then gladly gives up the speed back to Barry at the end, as her calling is writing.
  • Inverted in the aptly named Supergirl (2015) episode "Human For a Day", which sees Kara losing her superpowers and having to deal with living as an ordinary human, until she gets them back at the end of the episode.
  • Doctor Who: In "Last of the Time Lords", the Tenth Doctor gets a number of powers for a few minutes by having all the population of Earth concentrate on him at the same exact moment, joined into a single psychic network by the Master's satellites. He reverses his physical age, flies, forms a Deflector Shield around himself, and uses telekinesis to disarm the Master.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "A Penny for Your Thoughts", Hector B. Poole gains the ability to read minds after he pays for his newspaper and the coin lands on its edge. When he returns to the newsstand and buys the late afternoon edition, he tosses another coin and knocks over the first one. As a result, his power disappears as quickly as it came.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985):
    • In "Private Channel", Keith Barnes' Walkman is effected by an electrical discharge after lightning strikes the plane. He soon discovers not only that it allows him to read minds but that a passenger is wearing a bomb vest and plans to blow up the plane. It turns out to be Mr. Williams, who is in the seat beside him. Keith tries in vain to convince Williams not to go through his plan. After Williams reveals that he has a bomb, Keith places the Walkman on him so that he can hear the frightened thoughts of the passengers and crew. As Williams is led away by security, he steps on the Walkman and it is crushed.
    • In "20/20 Vision", Warren Cribbens gains the ability to see into the future when he bumps into Sandy and the right lens of his reading glasses breaks. Later that day, Warren saves Sandy from falling off a ladder and breaking her neck. In the process, the other lens is broken, but Warren assures her that he doesn't need them anymore.

  • Animorphs: The team gains morphing powers at the beginning of the story, but Tobias suffers Mode Lock as a hawk at the end of the first book (which honestly doesn't work out that bad for him, solving his "my legal guardians don't care about me" problems, giving him flight and super-sight, and the only downside is that he can't get new morphs or accompany the team underwater). He eventually gets the ability to acquire new morphs back, but has to remain in a hawk's body.
  • One Isaac Asimov short story "The Secret Sense" had an Earthman gain a Martian sense via a special drug. The effects only lasted for a few minutes and It Only Works Once. However, it arguably wasn't worth it, because as the Martian points out, the Earthman won't be able to experience that sense again. Metaphorically speaking "You entered a normal man! You leave blind-blind-BLIND."
  • In the Relativity story "August Moon", an accident gives skier Augustine Fennis telepathic powers, but also links him mentally with one of the heroes. The upshot is that the hero gains the ability to read Fennis's mind, but only until the end of the story.

  • In one issue of Love and Capes, Crusader's fiancée has a wizard grant her temporary superpowers so she can understand life as a superhero (which is why it is possible. Superpowers take a lot of energy, but apparently The Power of Love is one hell of an energy-source).
    • Her intention was for it to be literally this trope's name - having superpowers for 24 hours. Just after she drinks the triggering potion, she learns the actual time-limit is non-existent. She'll have the powers until she decides she doesn't want them. Which she does, at the end of that story-arc..
  • Issue #8 of Nodwick had Yeagar gaining superpowers due to a stray blob of ink from the artist, but he lost them when they got siphoned off by a super villain and ended up empowering the president of the Henchman's union (a hamster, by the way).
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, Bob once got powers after being exposed to several superhero origins Shout Outs in rapid succession. He tried to become a superhero, but a disastrous attempt at stopping a bank robbery and his powers being transferred to a houseplant put a stop to that.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Pandora poses the question of what would one do if they could transform into whatever or whoever they wanted for a day and multiple people choose being Superman or a Magical Girl.

    Web Original 
  • One of the fictional season two episodes of Challenge of the GoBots that was discussed in Renegade Rhetoric, a Facebook Character Blog for the cartoon's main villain Cy-Kill, was "Go-Girl", where a lab accident gave A.J. Foster super powers. She pursues a career as a superheroine, but eventually gets into trouble when Cy-Kill kidnaps Small Foot and uses the Guardian as leverage to manipulate A.J. into using her powers to commit robberies on Cy-Kill's behalf.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Bugs Bunny short "Super-Rabbit", Bugs gets temporary superpowers from eating super carrots. At the end, he loses or runs out of the carrots and decides to become "a real hero": a US Marine.
  • In the Futurama episode "Less Than Hero", Fry and Leela gain superpowers from a "miracle cream" Zoidberg game them and become super-heroes. (Bender joins them, but he doesn't count, since he already had superpowers on account of being a robot.) When they run out of cream, their superpowers disappear.
  • The Family Guy segment "Super Griffins", as part of "Family Guy Viewer Mail #1".
  • The Simpsons: A nuclear accident turns Homer Simpson into a Hulk-like creature — for about three seconds.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy V", in order to stop the super villain team EVIL, Mermaid Man enlists the help of Spongebob, Patrick, Squidward and Sandy by loaning them the superhero costumes of the original IJLSA, thus temporarily granting them their respective superpowers. Spongebob gains super speed and becomes The Quickster, Squidward gains the power to shoot lava from his head and becomes Captain Magma, Patrick gains super elasticity and becomes The Elastic Waistband, and Sandy gains invisibility and becomes Miss Appear.
  • In the Dexter's Laboratory episode "World's Greatest Mom", Dexter accidentally gives his mom super-powers... for the rest of the episode. Also, in the episode "Don't Be a Hero", Dexter tries out lots of different superpowers in one day.
  • The Jetsons: George Jetson becomes "Super George" when an experiment goes wrong.
  • Applied in The Flintstones when Fred and Barney learn to apply judo-chop powers which allow them to take out armies of giant mooks — but they either somehow forget them by the end of the episode, or else they never encounter any more mooks ever again.
  • In Danny Phantom, Tucker wishes to have ghost powers like Danny and a genie grants the wish. Unfortunately, he becomes evil with said powers and has to be separated from them, resulting in Tuck seeing it manifested as a ghoulish doppelganger before it's sealed away.
  • Happens all the time in The Powerpuff Girls (1998). Princess, Mojo Jojo, the Gangreen Gang, the Mayor, and a group of the girls' classmates all have episodes where they gain superpowers temporarily, usually through Chemical X.
  • In one episode of American Dragon: Jake Long, Spud wants to be normal like his mom. He ends up getting bitten by a magical frog that gives him a frog-like appearance, a long tongue, and the ability to jump very high. At the end of the episode, he gets them removed.
  • The Fairly OddParents!:
    • Timmy wishes for heat vision in a Season 1 episode and simply forgets about it, making a comeback in a far later episode. He presumably still has heat vision, as we never see him wish it away.
    • In "Mighty Mom and Dyno Dad", Timmy wishes that his parents were superheroes. When this results in them neglecting him even more than usual, he decides to wish them back to normal, but finds that they have to give up their powers willingly for that to happen. He achieves this by transforming into the supervillain "Galactimus" and threatening to kill Timmy unless they do so.
    • In "The Big Superhero Wish!", Timmy wishes life were like a comic book, resulting in everyone on Earth getting superpowers. When the obvious problem with everyone getting superpowers becomes apparent, Timmy tries to undo it only to make things worse, thanks to the Nega Chin's interference.
  • This occurs in the Men in Black: The Series episode "The Supermen in Black Syndrome" when an alien Amplifier Artifact grants Jay, Kay and Elle, alongside three alien criminals, superpowers. Kay becomes a super-strong Thing Expy, Elle gets various Eye Beams with different effects, Jay becomes Super Speedy and super-agile, one villain becomes a Human Torch expy, another gets Flight, and the last one can blow himself up at will (reassembling himself immediately afterwards).
  • An episode of Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers concerns Dale getting elastic powers, thanks to a chunk of crystal that broke off a meteorite, and turning into a superhero named "Rubber Bando!" Of course, the crystal is smashed by the end of the episode, rendering it useless.
  • The Smurfs (1981): In the episode "Supersmurf", Brainy gets Superman-like powers through magic in order to get the food that Bigmouth has stolen from the Smurfs back, but the formula only lasts for a few hours.
  • One episode of Sheep in the Big City does this. General Specific acquires superpowers and becomes General Specificman. He still fails to capture Sheep.
  • My Friends Tigger & Pooh: In the special "Super Duper Super Sleuths", a glowing space rock crashes into Rabbit's garden and causes some of his vegetables to grow to giant size. When the Super Sleuths eat the giant vegetables, they gain superpowers (Pooh has super sight, Tigger has super strength, Darby can fly, and Buster can dig at warp speed), and form a superhero team called the Super Duper Super Sleuths. When the rock stops glowing, the vegetables shrink and the Sleuths lose their powers.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: "Power Ponies" has the main cast dive into a comic book, assume the roles of its stars, and all inherit their superpowers (except for Spike, who gets stuck playing the clumsy, powerless comedy relief sidekick). Granted, the characters are already magical, but within the setting of the show, this definitely qualifies.
  • In the Adventure Time episode "Wizard", Finn and Jake learn an assortment of magical spells, ranging from controlling shadows to conjuring mayonnaise. They lose their powers when their wizard robes are accidentally burned off near the end of the episode.
  • In the Kim Possible episode "Go Team Go", a villain tries to steal Hego's Super-Strength, but instead accidentally transfers it to Kim until the power-transfer device is broken.
  • Kaeloo: If anyone gets superpowers, they're likely to lose them by the end of the episode.
    • Halfway through the episode "Let's Play Goodbye, Mr. Cat", Stumpy and Mr. Cat are granted invisibility powers, which they lose by the end of the episode.
    • In Episode 97, Quack Quack gains the power to control people with his voice after he accidentally swallows a spoon. The spoon gets knocked put of him when Mr. Cat gets angry at him and beats him up.
  • The main premise of the first season of The Miniavengers, is a bunch of kids getting temporary superpowers based in their defects, in A Day in the Limelight episodes, in which they learn life lessons before being Brought Down to Normal.
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: One episode has Jimmy, Carl, Sheen, Libby, and Cindy gain superpowers via the Fantastic Four origin story (they flew through a radiation belt in Jimmy's spaceship). Sheen gets super speed, Libby gets invisibility and force fields, Cindy gets flight and super-strength, Carl gets super-burps, and Jimmy turns orange. Jimmy and the others initially think he got no powers, until Cindy pisses him off so much that he accidentally reveals he got The Hulk's powers with The Thing's appearance. Jimmy ends up curing them by the end of the episode because their powers are draining their cells and killing them.
  • The Minimighty Kids: The premise revolves around this. Each episode focuses on a different child with a different problem that somehow alienates them from other kids, only for them to gain superpowers that somehow relate to it.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Sometimes, Ladybug will get a Lucky Charm that indicates she needs to go to Master Fu and choose a Miraculous from his Miracle Box to give to someone to help her and Chat Noir defeat the villain. It's a rule that they must give the Miraculous back when they are done.
  • Atomic Puppet: Happens to Pauline in "Sword Sisters" after she gets her hands on a magic sword and gives herself the alias Sword Sister. Unfortunately for her, With Great Power Comes Great Insanity, and it takes Joey and AP teaming up with the sword's original owner to bring her back to normal.
  • Ben 10:
    • The point of the What If? episode "Gwen 10" is to see what would happen if Gwen received the Omnitrix instead of Ben. Turns out she's way better at using it. Since the episode is non-canon, it doesn't end with Ben getting his powers back; instead Grandpa Max gets the Omnitrix after Gwen loses it.
    • In the Omniverse episode "Outbreak", The Plumbers and their prisoners get spliced with Ben's aliens, resulting in the prisoners causing trouble with their new abilities and the Plumbers to be slowed down by bodies that don't adhere to their combat prowess. It's all undone at the end of the episode.
  • Zig-zagged in the Mighty Mouse episode "Hero For A Day." A rube mouse thinks he can look intimidating after he obtains a Mighty Mouse costume from a costume shop. He is overcome by cats and about to get finished off when the real MM shows up, beats the cats up and lets the rube take credit for it.
  • Once in awhile, somebody besides Popeye will eat his spinach to right a wrong or avert a calamity.
  • In the Aladdin: The Series episode "Power to the Parrot", Genie gives Iago all of his powers for a day to see if he can use his magic more effectively. Turns out giving everyone everything they want has consequences.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Twenty Four Hour Super Power, Powers For A Day, Temporary Super Powers, Temporary Powers


Super Martin

Martin wakes up as a muscular caped superhero with the powers of flight and super-strength and his initial on the front of his red, yellow, and blue costume.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / SupermanSubstitute

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