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Many people feel that the Super Hero is an inherently silly concept. And certainly, many of the genre's conventions — such as the use of strange, skintight costumes, Something Person names, and paper-thin Secret Identity disguises — might look silly in Real Life. However, within their own setting, superheroes are usually accepted and admired.

Most of the time.

Certain characters are so obtuse that even other superheroes view them as — well, dumb. Some people tend to use the derisive name "Super Zeroes" for these.

Most of these characters are intentionally created to be that way. Others end up that way due to later Alternative Character Interpretation. Their purpose is mostly to serve as Plucky Comic Relief, although they can be used in other ways.

There are several types of "super zeroes". There's the character who might actually make a good superhero... if he had anything resembling useful powers or skills. Often their powers will also be (or make them) bizarre or disgusting in appearance. Real heroes will try to dissuade them from fighting crime, but usually they insist on trying anyway, getting themselves (and others) in danger. They usually end up scolded by other heroes and retiring after causing a particularly bad mess, though other times they continue being a thorn on an established hero's side, especially by trying to become that hero's sidekick. Often they inspire pity in fans, and might even become an Ensemble Dark Horse. In such a case, they might actually get better with time, evolving into true heroes. DC Comics' Legion of Substitute Heroes is an example of this type.

Then there's the character who does possess great powers — but happens to personally be such an idiot — or even insane — that he causes trouble anyway. They might even be considered dangerous sometimes. An example would be Marvel's Impossible Man, who can transform into anything and even the Fantastic Four couldn't beat him — but he had the personality of a hyperactive child!

Of course, some characters are both stupid and helpless, just to drive home how wrong it is for them to even attempt to be a hero.

Super Zeroes usually (but not always) look pretty ridiculous too — either their costumes are poorly designed, or they themselves lack the kind of body that makes spandex-wearing superheroes look good. Or both. They are usually the result of a geek trying to live up to his heroic ideals.

A common trope is to feature a story where the "Zero" ends up saving the day despite (or precisely because of) his absurd abilities. Another one is where a proud villain refuses to fight the "hero" for considering him an unworthy foe. If the zero beats him anyway, his shame is even greater.

Yet another trope, though a rarer one, is where the zero gets mistaken for a competent hero by a clueless person. This either ends disastrously, or the zero actually succeeds for once — but with none of his friends at hand to see it happen.

Note that superheroes featured in humorous cartoons or comics do not really fit this trope, as every other character in those is also silly to some degree (though they might think that the superhero characters are dumber than they are).

Note also that this trope applies to many supervillains, especially a Harmless Villain and Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain.

Not to be confused with My Hero, Zero.

Compare Blessed with Suck. Contrast Super Loser, who are characters who gain superpowers... but none of the cool you'd expect comes with the package.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Doctor Slump: Suppaman, a pudgy, dumb, incompetent, violent, mean and revengeful version of Superman and also a Dirty Coward with no real superpowers. He claims to be the Defender of Justice but he's just a nuisance at best and outright villainous at worst. In the village there are also other superhero-wannabe like Bubibinman and Parzan who are just as lame as him.
  • Mister Satan from Dragon Ball Z is a variation; he's not a superhero, but the series stresses how the main characters all outclass him (up to and including a six-year-old kid and his own daughter). And he does get the plot about saving the day against Buu. It should be noted, that Mister Satan is the strongest non-ki user in the world, has won the World Martial Arts Tournament several times over, and is widely popular and celebrated among the population, all through his own hard work. He just happens to share a universe with people who can spam mountain-destroying ki blasts.
  • Played With in My Hero Academia. In a world where Everyone Is a Super, naturally not everybody is going to have a super-awesome power. Or even a good one. But then, not everyone is even trying to be a superhero. Subverted in that there are entire schools dedicated to discovering the true possibilities of one's Quirk, and how best to use it, so people with seemingly worthless powers can prove to be surprisingly effective heroes.
  • One-Punch Man:
    • The majority of C-class heroes fall under this category, many of them being nothing but fodder for the monsters and other villains, as they have no real powers or effective weapons, just weird costumes based on various gimmicks. In fact, the number 1 ranked C-class hero, Mumen Rider, just narrowly avoids falling into this category, as he may not be especially powerful or super competent, but he never gives up and can take quite a beating, and due to these qualities, he actually has a few minor victories under his belt.
    • The Hero Name Victims Association feels that people treat them this way just because of the derogatory hero names that they were assigned by the Hero Association, and if they were just given better names they would be taken seriously. They have a point too, as their leader, Saitama ('Caped Baldy') is the series' protagonist and most powerful hero on the planet.
  • Radar Man from Paranoia Agent is a tragic subversion. Admittedly, he was doing pretty well up until the point he tried attacking Shonen Bat head-on.
  • The Defenders of the Earth in Puni Puni☆Poemi, a group of ineffectual magical girls with lame powers like "conjuring flower petals" and "landing safely from any fall."
  • The Rising of the Shield Hero produces three losers, Ren Amaki, Motoyasu Kitamura and Itsuki Kawasumi. Despite having many advantages the protagonist Naofumi Iwatani lacks, such as powerful magical weapons with actual offensive power note , parties of various specialized fighters, and the backing of the king, they all show themselves to be hilariously incompetent heroes. Their only noticeable accomplishment is defeating the boss of the first wave outside of the audience's view, leaving nothing else but a downright abysmal track record. Not helping their case is Naofumi frequently having to fix the messes they unwittingly make in their little solo adventures, how they proved to be highly ineffective against the boss of the second wave, got curbstomped by Glass in a single move (Naofumi also loses against her, but his defeat is far more dignified), proved to be highly ineffective against the boss of the third wave (and to add insult to the injury, they expected to loot the boss' drops even though they literally did no damage from their attacks to the Wave Boss itself) and got curbstomped by L'Arc in a single move, again. It's no wonder that Glass and L'Arc both see Naofumi as the only one of the four cardinal heroes worthy of any respect.
  • Sailor Moon: Even though the Sailor Guardians are for the most part (fairly) competent when battling bad guys, their immaturity, bickering, and personal desires to grab the spotlight make them fall into bumbling on occasion, still owing to the show's lighthearted and comedic nature. Moon herself tends to get this the worst. Its even lampshaded in an episode, where one of the villains of the season meets the girls and is in utter disbelief as to how his plans get thwarted by them.
  • The Majestic Twelve from Zatch Bell!. They actually do have some pretty cool powers (or at least, some of them do), but they're never seen to do anything particularly useful unless you count Big Boing being funny.

    Comic Books 
  • Inferior Five: The Inferior Five were forced to become heroes by their super Stage Parents. Team leader Merryman comes from a long line of Badass Normals, but he is a weakling and a fatalist. The Blimp shares his father's ability to fly but did not inherit his super speed, giving him the ability to fly about as fast as he can walk. As he is rather fat, that is not very fast. Awkwardman has incredible strength and can survive indefinitely underwater, but is so clumsy he is more a danger to his friends than his foes. Dumb Bunny is even more powerful than Awkwardman but is so lacking in intelligence she is usually even less helpful. Finally, the White Feather is an ace marksman and glamour photographer... when he is alone, at least; Whenever he even thinks someone else might be around, his skills go to crap and his cowardly streak emerges. When trouble arrives, Police Chief Geronimo will call them on the Lukewarm Line and they will be there to make it worse; they never fail to fail.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes:
    • The Legion of Substitute Heroes from The DCU consists of this, all of them being rejects from the Legion of Super-Heroes. The Subs have varied in terms of effectiveness across continuities, and most of them were rejected on the grounds that they needed more training in order to control their abilities more than because their abilities themselves were useless. Two members, Polar Boy and Night Girl, have since become Legionnaires, though some other members opted to stay in the Subs because they think of each other as a quirky family. Their portrayal in Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes sort of meshes together their previous incarnations by casting them as a team of superhero fan boys and girls who see each other as family and, while they may not have the greatest powers or the greatest control, and may in fact be a little legitimately crazy, are exceedingly reckless enough that you should not underestimate them.
    • Then there's the Legion of Substitute Heroes Auxiliary, made of those "not yet ready for membership in the Substitute Legion". So far, the only members of this group have been Antennae Lad (who picks up radio signals, not all of them from this universe or time period) and Double Header (whose power is that he has two heads and will eventually split into two full people. His heads hate each other).
    • Beyond the Subs, the Legion has always operated on this pretense by introducing numerous reject applicants with ridiculously weak abilities. The Mess was a walking dirt cloud, Eyeful Ethel could just grow extra eyes, and Plaid Lad could just change fabric against his will. Basically, if you're in the 31st Century and you have got what you consider a superpower, you will have tried out for the Legion at least once.
  • Great Lakes Avengers: Most of the members have incredibly lame powers, like Mr. Immortal (immortal but has no other superpowers or any real combat training or even invulnerability, he 'dies' easily then comes back), Big Bertha (supermodel who can turn into a super-strong but incredibly obese version of herself), Doorman (can teleport people... to the other side of a wall he's standing next to, effectively making himself a door), and Squirrel Girl (talks to squirrels). Mind you, Squirrel Girl is either the most dangerous character in The 'Verse or a Running Gag taken too far. Or both. To be fair to the team, Big Bertha's power isn't useless, just not a conventional look (and comes with a disturbing side effect in how she has to get rid of the excess weight when she wants to go back to civilian form)— she is actually really quite strong (at least strong enough to stop a speeding truck with ease), and Immune to Bullets. And they did genuinely save the universe once, although they did it by convincing the villain to commit suicide.
  • Aquaman and Blue Beetle are examples of perfectly good superheroes who gained a reputation as losers with time. When your own sidekick turns out to be a cooler hero than you are, that's a bad sign.
  • Spider-Man:
    • The self-proclaimed Revenge Squad, otherwise known as the Legion of Losers. Mind you, one of them was the Spot, who is often considered a loser but had the ability to create portals that could take him anywhere, which is a pretty dangerous power if he ever figured out how not to be an idiot. Which he did in Amazing Spider-Man #589, where he managed to fight Spider-Man to a stand-still.
    • The Fabulous Frog-Man, sometime-ally of Spider-Man. A pudgy, idealistic young man wearing the super frog suit that originally belonged to his father (the villainous Leap-Frog), he has yet to succeed in his mission to stop crime... on purpose, at least. In his first appearance, Frog-Man defeated the Speed Demon (a super-villain with Super-Speed) by accidentally falling on him and crushing him with his weight. Speed Demon had already managed to fight and defeat Spider-Man and the Human Torch, but turned out to be a Fragile Speedster.
    • Inept as he is, Frog-Man still ranks above his (and Spider-Man's) enemies The Walrus and The White Rabbit. The former is a rather dumb, fat minor villain with the proportional strength, speed and agility of a walrus (which would actually make him less able than a normal human) who can be knocked out by a single finger flick from Spider-Man. The latter is a deranged lunatic obsessed with the works of Lewis Carroll who has a bunch of rabbit- and carrot-themed equipment and vehicles.
    • In the same vein, there was the Spectacular Spider-Kid (now the Steel Spider), a pudgy preteen genius who wears a Spider-Man costume under his (functional) Dr. Octopus work-a-like tentacles. As Steel Spider, he grew up to be legitimately badass, but still distinctly C-list.
    • In The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #247, The Toad, Frog-Man, and The Spectacular Spider-Kid were all vying to become Spider-Man's partner, much to his consternation. In the end the three Super Zeroes form their own super-team, the Misfits.
    • At one point in the early days of Spider-Man's career he joined a team called the Brooklyn Avengers. Since the regular Avengers had just appeared, Spidey assumed the two teams were on the same level. As it turns out, they were not. The Brooklyn Avengers were all people who lived in the same brownstone and got exposed to radioactive bedbug spray when their landlord forgot to tell them the building was being fumigated, and so they got superpowers. Spidey joined them for a few weeks but proved to be the only competent member of the team, growing increasingly frustrated by their blundering until he finally pulled a Rage Quit. He had to frequently change his cell phone number to stop their leader, Psi, from calling him to rejoin.
  • Batman:
    • Killer Moth was defeated by Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) on her first outing.
    • Batman villain Catman. When he was created, he was a campy male version of Catwoman played for laughs. His incompetence led to him becoming a washed-up drunkard Post-Crisis. It was a major embarrassment to the newest ultra-villain team up that was trying to recruit all the world's villains that he refused. By this point though, he had become a Badass Normal living with a pride of lions.
  • The First American, a notably useless and stupid costumed hero created by Alan Moore for his America's Best Comics title Tomorrow Stories. As The Other Wiki says, "Given his incompetence, he demonstrates below average physical abilities." Which is to say, he can perform multiple backflips in rapid succession and knows how to pop a bad guy in the face — he is just really bad at it.
  • Bob Phantom from DC Comics's short-lived Impact Comics line. Not even a hero as such, just a bumbling reporter who figured that dressing up as one would help him get a scoop on the real thing (the Comet, if memory serves) and quite by accident ended up helping save the day.
  • Section 8 from Hitman (1993). The names say it all: Sixpack, Bueno Excellente, the Defenestrator, Dogwelder, Friendly Fire, Jean de Baton-Baton, Phlegmgem and Shakes. There's a reason their team is named after the clause for leaving the Army due to insanity.
    • Dogwelder deserves special mention. Garth Ennis and his friends were in a bar one night and decided to come up with the worst possible superhero. Dogwelder was the first suggestion, and nobody could top it.
    • Bueno Excellente (whose name was inspired by the Spanish subtitles in a porn film, we kid you not) and who owns the "power of perversion" can be pretty scary. Given that Lobo himself once was the victim of his indignities, and chose to leave rather than kill him... though that have might have something to do with the fact it was all filmed, For the galaxy's viewing pleasure.
    • The team gets a few more super losers in their own series: The Grapplah, a loudmouth with a grappling gun; Powertool, an overweight guy with a DIY toolsuit with a drill for a visor; and the eponymous Guts. They manage to be even worse than the original team, given that Powertool accidentally electrocutes himself the first time he turns on his suit and the Grapplah hangs himself with his own rope. The series also shows that the Justice League themselves consider Bueno Excellente The Dreaded because of the aforementioned tape with Lobo.
  • Captain Metropolis in Watchmen was a genuinely competent and respected crimefighter in his early days, with a military mind and a great deal of fighting skill. However, when he tried to form the Crimebusters in the 70s, all that respectability had drained away. He shows up to the meeting visibly overweight, and spends most of it rambling about the evils that he plans to stop: promiscuity, drugs, campus subversion, anti-war demonstrations, and black unrest. Even before the meeting starts breaking down thanks to the Comedian's open insults, it's clear he's making nowhere near as much headway as he'd prefer, and by the end, he's just flat-out whining.
  • DC's Kid Devil was a straight-up super zero way back when he first appeared and tried to become Blue Devil's sidekick. Although being incredibly smart enough at the age of 12 to create a powersuit, he lacked experience and tended to get into trouble (he was pudgy too, like some examples mentioned). Even after being upgraded to a real devil and joining the Teen Titans, it still took him some time to grow out of his super zero reputation, and his issues over his competence and confidence was a major part of his character arc. Kid Devil's super zero status had more or less ended since he changed his codename to Red Devil.
  • Marshal Law features Sorry, the Nearly Man. He was nearly a superhero, you know. A pudgy, fearful moron whose only power is having a gigantic prehensile penis... He starts out as one of the few "heroes" Marshal Law tolerates, primarily because at least Sorry knows he never actually helps anyone. Eventually, though, he becomes a twisted serial killer after being driven mad by his obsession with superheroes.
  • The Golden Age Red Tornado can be considered a subversion. While her costume design (long underwear "tights", saucepan "helmet" and blanket "cape") are obviously intended as a joke, within the context of her original appearances in Sheldon Meyer's Scribbly, she was a very competent Badass Normal hero(ine), highly effective against the street-level racketeers and hoodlums that were her usual opponents. Indeed, a latter-day Justice Society of America adventure has none less than Wonder Woman declaring her "a true Amazon."
  • While the vast majority of (contemporary) heroes from The Tick comics have elements of this, special mention must be made of Hand Grenade Man. "Super-powers? Bah! Who needs 'em? I've got a hand grenade!" He never actually uses it because it's the only one he's got.
  • In-universe, Empowered is seen as this by the public at large, despite having several major victories to her credit. Ocelotina actually is one, being a costumed normal with no powers who uses the look to sell merchandise.
  • When Garth Ennis is the writer, all superheroes are like this due to his unending dislike of superhero comics. Even Superman, the one superhero he likes, isn't completely immune.
  • Ambush Bug lives and breathes this. A legitimately dangerous power without any competence backing it up. Considering he might as well be the Ur Example for Meta Guys...
  • Mind-Grabber Kid (who is in his 30s) is The DCU's premiere super-zero. His only real accomplishment is mildly annoying the Justice League by trying to discredit them due to his jealousy. After that, he's been showing up at superhero fan conventions and doing little else of note. He was one of Booster Gold's pallbearers in 52, though, among such other luminaries as Beefeater, Odd-Man, and the Blimp.
  • Hindsight Lad of the New Warriors starts out like this, takes a brief (not entirely inexplicable) turn for the competent, then ends up outing all his former teammates online during the Civil War.
  • At one point, Doom Patrol member Fever ran into the Purple Purposeless, a superhero who has made it his mission to refuse help to anyone in need. His origin involves serving in The Vietnam War and receiving hay fever from Agent Orange exposure.
  • The eponymous protagonist of Rat-Man is an almost totally useless cretin and coward, whose attempts at being a superhero tend to end with his total humiliation. Keyword: almost. Once in a while he'll pull something worth of actual superheroes, like jumping on the head of a Shadow-possessed villain while being forced on an electric wheelchair (apparently there's the right sequence of commands for that) or summoning freakin' Chuck Norris on a killer robot designed specifically to kill superheroes. Also, Valker treats him with (grudging) respect since he managed to be the only superhero savvy enough to survive a hostile encounter with him: most heroes think he won't shoot or that they can catch bullets with their hands and get killed, but Rat-Man stole his gun.
  • The Trapster, despite being a recurring member of the Frightful Four, is considered a laughing stock by everyone. It all started when he first named himself Paste-Pot-Pete. Breaking in Four Freedoms Plaza in the absence of the Fantastic Four, he got easily captured by their receptionist.
  • Avengers: The Initiative introduced Butterball, a character who is physically invulnerable and has unlimited stamina, but is stuck with the body of an overweight teenager. This meant that he can never grow stronger or faster no matter how much he trains. As insult to injury, his powers also means he has no sense of touch, something he revealed when a teammate offered to have sex with him after she realized that his invulnerability meant that her limited control of her fire powers wouldn't present a risk to him in the middle of a passionate encounter.
  • Many of the heroes in DC One Million who gained superpowers through something a hero or villain from the past DC Universe wore at some point were ineffectual wannabees. In fact, there was one group that explicitly called themselves the "Justice Legion Wanna Bes". Notable examples include Aqua Fresh, Negative Gorilla Queen, and Gunfire One Million who accidentally turned his ass into an explosive and killed himself.
  • Rainbow Raider is a member of The Flash's Rogues Gallery who dates back to the The Silver Age of Comic Books. His gimmick? He's a color-blind would-be artist who uses goggles that, somehow, let him shoot colored beams of light with a variety of effects. When originally he introduced he was actually very effective, but he was so ridiculous that even Geoff Johns, a self-professed Silver Age Ascended Fanboy (note: Despite his silver-age silliness he was from the Bronze Age) who brought back and revamped many of the Flash's other rogues from that era (like The Turtle), couldn't think of anything better to do with him than have him be killed off by a new villain for "being so obnoxious".
    • Later, a team found and divided his gear. They were even more pathetic now they each had a single color to wield. Eventually, during the Blackest Night, they had the brilliant idea of killing themselves to allow the black rings to possess them and thus gain a measure of revenge. However, the black rings only choose people with close attachments to those who have cheated death (heroes, mostly). Ergo, they died for, well, nothing.
  • Crazy Quilt was... a blinded artist that can only see bright colors who used a helmet that shoot colored beams of light. Yes, DC has two of these. He spent a lot of time as a Robin villain and didn't even have Rainbow Raider's period of effectiveness.
  • PS238 is largely a subversion — no matter what powers a meta-prodigy has, the school tries to find some useful way to employ those powers, and they largely succeed.
    • A possible case of this trope being played straight appeared in an early strip, when a mother was trying to pick out a costume for her superpowered son, who turned out to have the ability to animate balloon animals.
    • Atlas is forced to return to his home planet at the same time that another Argonian, Forak, is exiled to Earth, so the government quickly forces him to become the new Atlas. The problem: it turns out that Forak is much weaker, can barely fly without getting sick, and has the personality of a wet noodle. He winds up getting Julie, a seven-year-old with similar powers, to mentor him.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe:
    • Italian stories have the Masked Whitewasher, the superhero alter ego of professional whitewasher Bum Bum Ghigno. While a genuine Badass Normal (he did in fact catch criminals with nothing more than his whitewasher tools), he is also incredibly goof prone, getting into embarrassing situations and ruining his own glory moments. This is part of what ultimately led him to retire for a while (in fact the story of the Masked Whitewasher's first adventure is told by Bum Bum himself when explaining why he retired), as he could not compete with the more ruthless criminals and genuinely superpowered villains that were appearing.
    • The Masked Whitewasher's debut story implies that Duckburg has this as a Cyclic Trope, with some superhero appearing, getting some fame and then having to retire because he cannot keep up, with only Paperinik (who is actually an Unscrupulous Hero) remaining permanently in service (the Red Bat takes long periods of vacations, and Paperinika explicitly retired for a while).
    • Of the heroes mentioned above, Paperinika is genuinely competent, to the point she is the only one as good as Paperinik. The Red Bat, on the other hand, goes on by sheer luck, appearing more competent that he actually is, and weaponizing his innate clumsiness. But then again, his real identity is Fethry Duck.
  • Bailey Hopkins, a.k.a. "X-Ceptional", the protagonist of the miniseries Worst X-Man Ever is a mutant who discovers that he has the mutant power to explode, which would kill him if he were to actually use it. While Forge builds him a suit of Powered Armor, after a cowardly Purifier sues him for "emotional damages" he loses it and gets tossed around various B-lister teams, all of which he fails to fit in due to his lack of any useful skills, inability to stomach extreme violence and general social awkwardness. Eventually, he ends up settling into a team composed of fellow classmates where he is relegated to snack duty.
  • Played with in Dial H for Hero. During the Silver Age, Robby would get really outlandish heroes to work with (A hero whose only "power" was a tank of strange inks, for example), but he'd manage to use them effectively enough to save the day and get respected for it. When he reappeared in H-E-R-O, however, those same heroes were mocked for being too campy to take seriously.
    • Miguel actually runs into a dud during the 2019 revival: Lil' Miguelito's "hero" form is little more than a Muggle kid with a blanket cape and undies.
  • The Boys: Superduper is a team of severely underpowered heroes infiltrated by Hughie, many of which have some kind of ambiguous disorder or are outright mentally disabled. Where pretty much all other supers are smug, entitled, hedonistic assholes (or smug, entitled, hedonistic sociopaths and criminals), Superduper basically goes too far the other way. The only one with real powers is Malchemical (who gets reassigned to them after committing rape by fraud on a teammate's girlfriend).
  • Power & Glory: A-Pex is a National Intelligence Agency agent who was given superpowers. Unfortunately, his neuroticism, extreme mysophobia, and general cowardice make him useless as a superhero, so the NIA has a Badass Normal agent named Michael Gorsky do the actual crime-fighting while A-Pex takes credit.

    Fan Works 
  • Deliberately exploited in The Secret Return of Alex Mack when Alex's boyfriend Ray is exposed to GC-161 and develops unstable powers. It's too late for the antidote to fully remove the effects, but they're able to use a combination of antidote and more GC-161 to Discard and Draw until he ends up with nothing but a minor muscle enhancement, letting him jump a few inches higher.
  • With This Ring discusses several times how the vast majority of metahumans are less dangerous than a mundane criminal with a gun, leading to high fatality rates for new vigilantes who bite off more than they can chew. The Renegade protagonist has a hard time taking most of Britain's heroes seriously; Sir Cyril is competent, but Convenient Balloon Woman...

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Mystery Men stars a team of superheroes who includes a fairly chill guy with supposed rage-induced super strength, a guy who throws forks and a guy with a shovel. The tryouts feature even more pathetic characters such as the Waffler, The PMS Avenger and Ballerinaman.
  • The Specials, who are explicitly the seventh or eighth guys you call in an emergency.
  • Most of the "Hero Support" students in Sky High (2005) have abysmal powers and the most they can hope to amount to is being a sidekick to another hero.
  • Defendor is about a mentally disturbed man who attempts to be a superhero whose main weapons are jars filled with wasps. Aside from that, he has no other skills and his actions end up getting an undercover cop exposed and killed.
  • The main character of Super is about a man who takes on the identity of "The Crimson Bolt", a guy who beats criminals/jerks bloody with a wrench in a campaign to save his wife from the drug dealer who stole her away from him. He's neither particularly skilled nor strong and it's shown that his campaign for crime is effectively an unhealthy coping mechanism. However by the end after his sidekick dies he violently snaps and is able to single-handedly dispatch the villain's gang, culminating in him stabbing the villain to death in a deranged fury.
  • Kick-Ass starts off as this, being some overly idealistic teen with a stupid costume who managed to gain fame via in-universe Memetic Mutation. However, he eventually is able to Take a Level in Badass with the help of Hit-Girl and ends up a true hero by the end (if still utterly useless in an actual fight).

  • The Pharaoh from Soon I Will Be Invincible is a dumb and unambitious supervillain who is constantly mocked for his cheesy costume and lack of knowledge of topics relating to his supposed origin. However, if he put his mind to it he could be one of the most dangerous villains in the world, as his magic hammer makes him completely invincible.
  • Wild Cards
    • Some people who miraculously drew the "Ace" from the Wild Card virus and gained superpowers without being physically mutated are "deuces", who only got weak or useless powers. In universe, the term was coined by Timothy Wiggins, a.k.a. the Catskills resort novelty singer "Mr. Rainbow", who could change his skin color while singing songs like "Yellow Rose of Texas" on a ukelele. While testifying before Joseph McCarthy, he answers the question "Are you an Ace?" with "If I'm an Ace, I'd hate to see a deuce." note 
    • Bumbling hippie Captain Trips often seems this way — until he calls one of his "friends" out to play.
    • The Projectionist, an actor who had Voluntary Shapeshifting powers, was very much one of these, to the point of calling himself a "deuce," back when he was a throwaway character; later on he Took a Level in Badass, changing his name to Mr. Nobody.
  • This seems to be the point (or one of them, anyway) of Jonathan Lethem's story "Super Goat Man".
  • How to Be a Superhero has several, including Pogo Man, e e cummings man, and Mr. Yoyo.
  • In Zeroes, the Zeroes initially tried training to be a superhero team, but their powers proved to be varying degrees of unhelpful, uncontrollable, and dangerous.
  • The entire point of Playing for Keeps is a band of unlikely and rejected wannabe superheroes working together to accomplish great things.
    • Keepsie's power is that anyone who tries to steal anything from her ends up petrified until she lets them go — not a very versatile power, it seems at first, but it turns out that this also extends to people trying to take her life, making her effectively unkillable and anyone who tries to kill her will instantly find themselves unable to move at all. Later on, when she gets powered up on Zupra Ex, and learns to control her powers, she finds that her power can make her friends unkillable as well, since they're "hers"... and she can even learn to petrify people at will for "breathing her air."
    • Peter can learn things about other people by smelling them. Turns out this means he can not only track people like a bloodhound but also know exactly what they're doing and where they're going, and he can instantly find out anyone's biggest strengths and weaknesses.
    • Michelle's only power is that she can carry any tray, no matter how full it is, without dropping or upsetting it. This means she can carry anything, no matter how big and heavy, as long as it's technically on a tray — and it also gives her lethal aim if throwing the tray like a discus.
    • Ian can send out high-pressure beams of feces from his hands. Extremely gross, but actually a very effective weapon.
    • Alex has Healing Hands, though can only heal one square inch at a time. He still ends up saving the lives of quite a few people with this power.
    • Collette is a Supreme Chef who instinctively knows exactly what kind of food everyone wants. Comes in handy when someone is trying to impersonate one of your friends, because while they may be able to mimic his appearance and voice, they have more trouble mimicking his exact food preferences. Also, it's amazing how useful an intricate knowledge of cooking oil and its boiling point might prove when you're under siege...
  • Played With in The Infected, superheroes were always going to be controversial, because in this setting each is a mutant with a crippling mental illness. Proxy is a fat gamer with the power to take the place of people in mortal peril, but he reinvents himself by training every day past exhaustion and agony. Stasis may be one of the most powerful and dangerous men in the world, but is an Actual Pacifist. Prime looks and acts the part of The Ace, but because of his narcissism is regarded as a self-absorbed twit. Which is a shame because while he is really self-absorbed, he's not stupid by any means. Then there's Team Two, where all the visibly mutated are kept safely out of the public eye...
  • Whateley Universe: A number of these exist, both at Whateley Academy and elsewhere:
    • Bravo (who endlessly tries to be 'Captain Bravo', but is stymied by school rules against using a rank you haven't earned) comes across as a parody of the 'all-American hero', complete with an oversized Lantern Jaw of Justice, awkwardly disproportionate Heroic Build, and a 'costume' consisting of a tee shirt with an ironed-on Chest Insignia, and a safety-pinned cape.
    • Cerebrex desperately wants to be 'Captain Canada', but similarly falls foul of the school rules. Between this insistent naming, his severe psychological problems, and his general ineffectiveness, he is seen as an embarrassment by the other Canadian students.
    • The Crimson Comet! is an enthusiastic wanna-be heroine who is reasonably powerful, but is hyperactive and lacks forward planning skills. To be fair, she's only thirteen.
    • The Mighty Squid is a D-list supervillain ("we'd rank him lower if we could", according to the police apprehending him) who is mostly a threat to himself and his hapless minions.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Making up such superheroes is a regular game on the American version of Whose Line Is It Anyway?
    • It featured on the original British series, too. "It's Ballerina Man!"
  • The old Mexican series El Chapulín Colorado. With his honking horn of justice.
  • Many of the characters on No Heroics, but especially Alex.
  • Seriously, Batman (1966) from the '60s TV show, which has become a sort of non-canon Audience-Alienating Era for the deadly-serious comic books and movies of today. He may be just a Badass Normal, but in truth, Batman's superpower is to have the single greatest example of Camp ever and still be taken seriously enough to help kick off The Dark Age of Comic Books.
  • In the live-action version of The Tick (2001): Arthur (even more so than in the comic or cartoon); Fishboy, Lost Prince of Atlantis; Friendly Fire (not to be confused with the one from The DCU); Tiny Man (kicked out of the League of Super Heroes for not being tiny enough); and Metcalf. Metcalf deserves special mention: like Arthur, he was a DIY superhero, who bought himself a suit and a jetpack. He then got himself curbstomped (literally, according to the pilot), and now needs a machine to poop. Also, arguably Batmanuel.
  • All That
    • One episode features the L.A.M.O.S., a group of superheroes all residing in this trope. There's a guy who can shoot lasers from his fingers that have the intensity of laser pointers, an old guy whose power is being old and a toddler whose power is to toddle.
    • Also from the show, one episode features a mayor auditioning for superheroes for her city only to find a series of this. The one exception is a Flying Brick who is almost chosen, were it not for the fact that he's called "Superty-Duper Man". At the end, she decides to just do the job herself and proceeds to put on a cape and fly through the roof.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look features "Angel Summoner and the BMX Bandit"... no points for guessing which one of the pair falls into right this trope.
  • A short-lived sketch in the first season of Harry Enfield and Chums, titled "The Palace of Righteous Justice", revolved around four heroes who had fairly adequate superpowers, but were absolutely useless at their jobs. Lawman used his "Sword of Dobber" to mindlessly slice things in half, Kometh the Iceman froze anything he could, Fireman set everything around him on fire, and She-Woman-Cat-Type-Thing (supposedly the most powerful of them all) just did ordinary cat stuff, like lick herself.
  • This is the premise of the French series Hero Corp, which begins in a village where retired superheroes with fading or useless powers are sent. For instance, a superhero with the power to project acid with his hands becomes unable to project anything but shampoo, or a mutant who, being half-man half-chicken, has the "power" of having feathers growing from his backside.
  • Captain Nice was an attempt to cash in on the camp superhero craze of the late 60s. Carter Nash was a mild-mannered mama's boy who discovered a secret formula that, when taken, transformed him in an explosive burst of smoke into Captain Nice. His superpowers included superhuman strength, invulnerability and the ability to fly, but he was nervous about doing the latter as he was afraid of heights, and his natural clumsiness was increased exponentially whenever he drank his super serum.
  • LazyTown: In contrast to Sportacus, Robbie Rotten once tried his hand at being a superhero as "Lazycus", with his only notable heroic feats being an attempt at a split. Needless to say, the mayor wasn't exactly impressed.
  • "Mai Dire Grande Fratello" (2001) was an Italian variety show making fun of the local version of Big Brother. One of that year's contestants was nicknamed "Medioman" by the hosts since he represented the perfectly average Italian ("medio" = "average"). Thus the Medioman comedy sketches were born. Medioman is the lamest hero ever, a stereotypical dweeb (glasses, white shirt, mocassins and a home-made cape) whose home life is methodical and unexciting and whose only power was to help housewives solve some incredibly trivial problems (an uncooked meal, a button falling off a blouse, etc.). He still had catchphrases, a sidekick (a dog that never did anything) and even an enemy: an annoying guy who stopped him in his tracks by telling him tedious, long-winded anecdotes and whom Medioman defeats with the incredible power of... insulting him to his face.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The parody RPG Stuper Powers allows you to play a superhero with any of nearly a hundred ridiculous powers, from the weird but useful, like acid blood or the power to channel the strength (and poor command of English) of Swedish pro-wrestler and B-Movie actor Tor Johnson, to the merely weird, like the power to make any band play "Freebird" or the power to turn things plaid. Also the Fridge Squick power that is (are?) prehensile nipples. Weird and creepy when you first hear about it, more and more disturbing the more you think of it...

    Video Games 
  • Wario-Man from WarioWare and Super Smash Bros. Already Played for Laughs in all versions, it comes more under this in WarioWare: Touched! where after a rather silly theme song, flying an inch off the ground and what not, he tries to stop a train and fails miserably (A Twinkle in the Sky). Heck, it's even called "Super Zero" in game! And now the top example of this on the page: in DIY Showcase, he has to open jammed toilet doors for people and fly about an inch off the ground. Though somewhat subverted/averted in Super Smash Bros. Brawl where he is a legitimate Final Smash for Wario, with massively increased power and speed, invulnerability, Elemental Powers and what have you.
  • Superhero League of Hoboken uses this as a premise, featuring the likes of The Crimson Tape (power to create org charts), Tropical Oil Man (raises cholesterol of his opponents), Captain Excitement (puts enemies to sleep) and Mademoiselle Pepperoni (clairvoyance into closed pizza boxes). Subverted in that they actually put those powers to good use: several can be used in combat (putting enemies to sleep or raising their cholesterol levels into the health hazard range, for example) or have beneficial uses outside of combat (Mademoiselle Pepperoni can easily determine if the pizza box contains anything of value or if it's a trap, and Treader Man's ability to tread water really well will open up additional areas). Several quests can only be dealt with by a particular hero. ("A warehouse full of genetically engineered super-spicy jalapeño peppers? This looks like a job for The Iron Tummy!")
  • Fallout 3 has The AntAgonizer and The Mechanist, two crazy losers styling themselves after in-universe comic characters and are constantly battling with each other. While the former is hardly anything to worry about since her power is the ability to control Goddamned Bats in a society where everyone is armed to some extent, the latter is a skilled engineer capable of making Mecha-Mooks that are a bit more troublesome to deal with.
  • Grand Theft Auto V has the Show Within a Show featuring Impotent Rage, a Bourgeois Bohemian and Psychopathic Manchild with Super-Strength (and erectile dysfunction) whose attempts to make the world a better place just make it worse.
  • A subversion occasionally comes up in the more roleplay-oriented crowd in City of Heroes. While it's hard to design a truly useless character from the standpoint of game mechanics, and actual incompetence usually reflects badly on the player, there are a few people clearly trying for the appearance of this trope. Deliberately campy or lame designs, inane, naive or stupid characters, characters bossed around by their minions, and "fake dysfunctional" groups, can in the hands of skilled players make both entertaining company and be impressive to watch.
  • Spandex Force 2: Superhero U has minor character Infinitorax Supreme, whose only superpower is immortality. And it doesn't even come with eternal youth, so when you first meet him he's as physically unimpressive as most old geezers.
  • Cake Mania 4: Main Street has Super Matt, who's allergic to nasturtiums and whose main and apparently only power is a super-sneeze which turns other customers into blocks of ice.
  • Cake Mania 5: Lights, Camera, Action! has Super Cat Lady, who turns other customers into mimes.
    She wasn't first in line when super powers were handed out.
  • The Prism Rangers from the Disgaea series, a Super Sentai knock-off full of friendless losers who are treated as the butt of the joke in every situation. They're also frequently killed in action and replaced by their producers.

    Web Animation 
  • FreedomToons: "You Shouldn't Do That" Man, who tells people not to commit crime instead of actually stopping crime.
  • DR. BEES is an ineffectual superhero whose solution to everything is to release "a large influx of BEES!", which almost always just makes things worse.
  • SuperF*ckers (the Web Animation and the original James Kolchacka comic): Basically, the Teen Titans, if they were all rejected Jersey Shore cast members.
  • X-Ray & Vav, the title characters of their own show, are so incompetent that their first time with actual superpowers by way of Clothes Make the Superman end up being a How Do I Shot Web? so catastrophic that it turns their entire city to ash and labels them as "Super Morons" in the local newspaper.
  • Subverted with Splendid in Happy Tree Friends. He's a horribly incompetent superhero to the point where he invariably kills anyone he tries to help. He's also shown as being quite sociopathic, for instance in "Better Off Bread" where he ignores Giggles falling to her death just so he can make sure he doesn't overcook the titular bread. Despite this, everyone treats him as a genuine hero.
  • From Les Kassos, The I-Men are trying to audition to be accepted by the X-Men, but they all have lame costumes, names, and especially powers. Polystiro is a mutant of class 0.5 with control over Styrofoam. Brise can create small gusts of wind (strong enough to close a window). Graviton experiences 25 times Earth's gravity (which makes him barely able to move). Irrito is a Manchild with the most irritating voice in the world. And finally Pr. Genealogio can read in your family tree. The Professor X and Wolverine parodies aren't impressed, although not-Storm gives them points for trying.

    Web Comics 
  • Illumina of Sidekick Girl. She can float and glow, but she looks the part and in her Verse, that's what matters. Her boyfriend, Malestrom, is just as bad. But when Val takes over her body via "Freaky Friday" Flip, she shows what Illumina's powers can do in the hands of someone competent (i.e. use her floating powers as a "feather fall" spell and glow bright enough to stun a crowd of mooks into helplessness). Subverted recently when she Took a Level in Badass, as she discovered she had Gravity Master powers while fighting her brother Declan, another Gravity Master.
  • Literally, the Amazing Super Zeroes (unfortunately, no longer updating). A new team of second-rate superheroes is selected on a reality TV show.
  • Channel Ate has a few of these show up from time to time.
  • The Knifeketeer from Basic Instructions suffers from this. His power is his skill with knives, which doesn't sit too well with the other heroes and their Thou Shall Not Kill philosophy, and his sanity and intelligence have been called into question several times.
  • The entire cast of League of Super Redundant Heroes. Particular mention must be made of Lazer Pony, who can fire powerful Frickin' Laser Beams from behind his eyes. Yes — behind. His first use of his powers resulted in permanent blindness. His hero uniform features a set of handlebars on his helmet so that others can aim his beams.
  • Filth Biscuit: In the rewritten version of Cat-Man, the inherently silly hero is made much more cat-like than in the original Golden Age comic, with powers such as napping and licking himself clean.
  • Kong Tower features several of these, being about an apartment building specifically for super-powered individuals. Played With in that while there are a few active heroes with generally useless interpretations of common powers (such as a speedster who can never get traction), the central cast consists of supers who either failed miserably or never even tried being actual heroes, realizing that very low-level telekinesis, just having wings, or being an Anime character do not a superhero make in a world with criminals expecting a Superman Expy.
  • xkcd:
    • This strip is about a version of Superman where the adjective "super" is intended to be just as impressive as it is in the astronomical term "supermoon", meaning not very.
    • Two strips feature the Etymology-Man, whose superpower is to explain the etymology of various words and nothing else.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • Zeroes, NBC's parody of its own Heroes show, is all about hero wannabes with utterly useless talents, who manage only to creep each other out.
  • The French Web series Flander's Company is at the beginning focused on the human resources manager of a society hiring wannabe supervillains. Many of the candidates fall under What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?, but even those with actual potentially-decent superpowers fails in many other ways. At best, the not-utterly-inept ones are fit for the Mooks squad (with a low life expectancy). Some highlights:
    • The most extreme example is certainly Lose-Man. His superpower is to attract and absorb ambient "lose" — meaning at the best of time he's extremely unlucky, and people slap or hit him without even meaning to. Sure, he can release all this energy in a devastating blast... about once a month.
    • Staive is a Cyborg who can move... in slow-motion (parodying The Six Million Dollar Man).
    • Then there's Kevin. He would have a rather decent set of powers — his "groove" is so intense that he can force people into an Involuntary Dance, he can use The Power of Rock to inflict pain, and he's basically immortal, coming back every time he's killed. That should make him a great character, right? Except he's Too Dumb to Live, a Dirty Coward (despite the aforementioned immortality; he's even called on this in-universe), has dubious musical tastes and horrid fashion sense.
    • The Flander's Company is forced to engage some of those Super Zeroes in season 3, amongst them Recycle-Man (a former environmentalist hero who beats up people for not properly recycling), Emo-Man (an archetypal Emo whose superpower is to bleed on his enemies) and Sweaty-Man (a portly man who sweats a lot when nervous, and yes that's his superpower).
  • Linkara has covered so many of these in his reviews, he ended up making a Top 15 List.

    Western Animation 
  • Action League NOW!: The League. Their attempts to save people usually fail because they either half-assed it or just didn't think it through, and in some cases they even stay back and watch people get hurt because they don't want to risk their own necks.
  • Ratman, from one of the Justice Friends shorts on Dexter's Laboratory. He eventually earns himself a spot on the Justice Friends... as the team's personal handyman.
  • The Fairly OddParents! has Adam West as "Catman".
  • Darkwing Duck:
    • The eponymous duck himself. Both underpowered and underbrained (most of the time). Justified in that the cartoon is a parody of the superhero genre. Though Darkwing Duck is only underpowered when badly written (but unlucky often).
    • However, even by the standards of this series, there's Comet Guy. He's won the Super Power Lottery, but with those brains it only makes him more dangerously useless. Everyone else on his planet turns out to be the same, except of course Ordinary Guy.
    • And then there's the mutants from the episode "Mutantcy on the Bouncy". The Rubber Chicken is essentially made of stretchy rubber, which is a pretty useful power and is used to defeat the nearly unstoppable villain of the episode by flinging him away like a slingshot, but is in the hands of someone too neurotic to properly use them. The others include a newscaster capable of displaying cold symptoms at will, a cashier with glue powers, and a secretary with the power to turn himself into a banana. The fact that all of them minus the Rubber Chicken get taken out of the final battle within about two seconds (and by themselves, no less) should say something.
  • Teen Titans (2003):
    • Le Blanc lasted all of five seconds against the Titans East, which should come as no surprise given that he's an ordinary jewel thief being thwarted by competent superheroes. That certainly didn't stop him from boasting in prison.
    • In "For Real", Control Freak is angry at "not being on the list" of villains for the Titans East to watch out for (even the Puppet King got on it!). He can actually be a threat with his Reality Warping remote control, but he's also an unambitious Nerd in Evil's Helmet that no one really takes seriously.
    • In season 5, the Brotherhood of Evil managed to defeat almost every superhero, leaving Beast Boy to lead a team of the other surviving members: Pantha (wrestler with Super-Strength), Herald (can create portals by blowing on a horn), Jericho (possesses people), and Más (Super-Speed... while in contact with his brother Menos, who was captured). None of them are useless aside from Más, but Beast Boy says that it's a huge step down from the usual Titans roster.
    • The Denser and Wackier spin-off Teen Titans Go! reimagines the Titans as The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, and focuses on their day-to-day lives as low-tier supers.
  • The Mighty Heroes all seem to fit this bill, always winding up tangled up in a big mess. But then, they stop being zeroes.
  • The Wild CATS Wild Storm had a resident Super Zero in the form of Voodoo, whose ability to spot people possessed by the evil aliens was actually pretty useful, but countered by her lack of the most basic combat skills. She was such a load that she was briefly kicked off the team before a convenient Plot Tailored to the Party reminded everyone that they needed her.
  • Booster Gold is treated like one both in Justice League and Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Though his Justice League Unlimited spotlight episode shows that this is due mostly to his Glory Hound attitude rather than lack of skill. He manages to be heroic in his own right when no-one else in the league is there to see it.
  • The Tick: You might as well say everybody except for Tick, American Maid and Sewer Urchin (And him only when in the sewers).
    • Arthur seems to fit this trope, although this is more evident in the Live-Action, as noted above.
    • And the Batman Parody Fledermaus, who spends most of his time making failed passes at superheroines.
    • The super-team "The Civic-Minded Five" is made up five superheroes of varying levels of competence. Jungle Janet, a Jungle Princess archetype character, is an strong woman and the most conventionally capable of them all. Team leader Four-Legged Man has no superpowers beyond having two pairs of legs, but is brave and a reasonable competent leader. Captain Mucilage uses head and finger-mounted goo blasters to launch a super-sticky chemical adhesive, which is... well, not the greatest superpower, but can be useful (it works for Spider-Man, after all). Then there's Feral Boy, who seems to be just a teenager with the mentality of a pet dog, and the Carpeted Man, who uses a shaggy bodysuit to build up surprisingly powerful static electricity shocks... but who tends to overheat and faint after being out and about for more than a few minutes, because he's going around wearing a shag rug bodysuit. Even his own team-members have called him out on how it's kind of a lame gimmick.
    • Another super-team example is the "Decency Squad", especially Johnny Polite. The Decency Squad was apparently formidable... back in the 1940s. Now they're a bunch of mostly washed-up Old Superheroes stuck in a retirement home. It's a good thing their Arch-Enemy has aged just as badly as them and is only slightly more effective.
    • Naturally, this trope is the foundation for the various throw-away superheroes of "The City" seen throughout the series; some of the more notable examples are Caped Chameleon (who uses a chameleon-themed suit that gives him Wall Crawl and Chameleon Camouflage abilities); Human Bullet (whose only superpower is being shot out of a cannon into crime scenes); Bi-Polar Bear (a guy in a bear costume suffering from bipolar disorder); Bigshot (a The Punisher parody with extreme mental issues); Captain Lemming (who is constantly leaping from high places and hurting himself); and Fishboy, Lost Prince of Atlantis (a timid and nervous Atlantean who is implied to not even be that good at swimming).
    • The Tick teaches a superheroing class full of these; Baby Boomerangutan (a guy in a monkey costume, sans head, who uses baby dolls as boomerang projectiles); The Flying Squirrel (a shy and sheepish woman in a squirrel costume who can talk to squirrels — basically a grown-up and lamer version of Squirrel Girl); Gesundheit (a man allergic to everything with super-powerful sneezes); Mr. Exciting (a really muscular and athletic guy with an incredibly hyperactive and optimistic personality); and Sarcastro (a guy who looks a lot like Fidel Castro and is really, really sarcastic). Ironically, Sarcastro is the only one of the team to flunk the class, mostly because he's a Jerkass who won't stop jeering at his fellow students.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998):
    • An episode with this trope title has the girls decide to adopt identities based on the superheroes in their favorite comics. Blossom becomes Liberty Belle, but since she now drives the "Morality Mobile", she gets stuck in traffic. Bubbles becomes Harmony Bunny who travels by pogo stick and attacks by throwing stickers. Buttercup as Mange won't do anything because of the sunlight. They take an extremely long time to actually get to where a monster is attacking, and their attacks have no effect. The monster eventually gets fed up and tells them to lose the identities.
    • Another episode had a legendary supervillain group come out of retirement, and the girls convincing the heroes who opposed them to do likewise and save the day. The problem being that they're just a bunch of geriatric old men (which is why they got involved in the first place; Blossom refused to attack the elderly villains), and the hero and ex-sidekick spend most of the time arguing with each other. The whole affair ends with all the old characters in the hospital, and everyone glaring at Blossom for her part.
  • South Park:
    • Cartman as "the Coon". He is quickly showed up by Mysterion, and eventually becomes a much more effective villain, even though he still calls himself a hero as he does it.
    • Seaman is treated this way by the rest of the Super Best Friends, though really his only flaw is an Unfortunate Name.
    • Captain Hindsight is an Inversion. His power is Exactly What It Says on the Tin — knowing how to avert a disaster after it already happens. Obviously this is pretty useless in stopping the current problems, but everyone somehow acts like he's going to save the day. (He can also fly, but somehow that never comes up or is deemed useful.)
    • Anyone of Coon and Friends that isn't Mysterion is just a kid in a lame costume. Mint-Berry Crunch in particular is presented as having a really vague and lame gimmick involving mints and berries. Subverted later on as he's revealed to actually have superpowers that prove capable of defeating Cthulhu.
  • The titular team of The Awesomes are a group of D-list superheroes who could be great heroes if they weren't so insane or neurotic. They eventually grow out of this trope and become genuine heroes.
  • Super Bwoing from The Super 6 qualifies as a super zero with his unimpressive physique.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) episode "The Unconvincing Turtle Titan", Michelangelo tries to emulate his hero, Silver Sentry - an archetypal costumed good guy - by making his own costume and calling himself Turtle Titan. Unfortunately, his attempts to do so are, as the episode name suggests, unconvincing, and when the Sentry becomes Brainwashed and Crazy by his foe Dr. Malignus (an archetypal Card-Carrying Villain that guys like him typically fight) Mikey ditches the costume and saves the day (winning his hero's respect) his way, with his Ninjitsu skills.
  • Legion of Super Heroes (2006) has an episode featuring the Legion of Substitute Heroes, mentioned above. Includes Chlorophyll Kid (who can make plants grow to an enormous size, but cannot control them), Porcupine Pete (who can generate and fire sharp growths from his body, but they're not very strong), Infectious Lass (who can manipulate diseases, but cannot inflict anything worse than a cold), Stone Boy (who can turn into Nigh-Invulnerable stone, but cannot move in this form), and Color Kid (who can make anything change color, and nothing else).
  • The League of Super Evil are a villainous variant. They view themselves as the world's greatest super villains, but their evil plots rarely involve anything worse than annoying the neighbours. On the rare occasion that they actually attract the attention of a superhero or other super villain, they find themselves hopelessly outclassed.
    • The show eventually introduced an actual super zero with Justice Gene. The only "hero" (read: a random schmuck in a DIY uniform) who thinks the League Of Super Evil are a genuine threat to mankind. Voltar is actually delighted at this, as it means that somebody finally recognizes him as an bonafide villain.
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
    • Principal Damocles, a big comic book fan, tries to become a costumed hero in the episode "Dark Owl". Unfortunately, he is not a Badass Normal, nor does he have a Miraculous to give him superpowers. Even innocent things like saving a cat in a tree are beyond him, requiring Ladybug and Cat Noir to intervene before he gets hurt. By the end of the episode, he decides to focus on more mundane good-doing like community service, although he still keeps his costume.
    • The titular akuma in "Simpleman" tries to fashion himself as a hero for the children to look up to. However, the fact that he's akumatized combined with his general sub-par performance makes him more zero than hero.
  • The Supernoobs are this mainly because they're a bunch of tweens given supersuits with special abilities and have no idea how to use them all yet. Their trainers aren't much better, what with the baking obsession and phobia of butterflies amongst other things.
  • Captain Hero from Drawn Together is what happens when you combine the powers of Superman with the personality of Master Shake. He's cowardly, selfish, and extremely stupid, and as a result spends more time committing crimes than stopping them.
  • The Venture Bros.: One of the characters in the Terrible Interviewees Montage for the Revenge Society in "Bright Lights, Dean City" is Brick Frog, who appears to be just a guy in a frog costume armed with a satchel of bricks. Despite having no abilities other than "brick-throwing and frog-being", he's shown to be a member of the Guild of Calamitous Intent in later episodes. However, in the Finale Movie "Radiant is the Blood of the Baboon Heart" Brick Frog defects from the GCI to join the new supervillain start-up ARCH and receives far greater tech and resources than he did before, turning him into a credible threat.
  • The titular Koala Man is a overweight middle-aged man who dresses up in a silly costume who annoys the locals of his town through acts of community service, which effectively makes him much closer to real-life superheroes. Unfortunately he lives in the version of Australia that actually lives up to the Death World rep and he mostly saves the day with the help of his family/friends as well as dumb luck.
  • Ratman from Kaeloo is an atrociously bad superhero who somehow manages to make things even worse by attempting to save the day due to a combination of bad luck and sheer stupidity. In one episode a news reporter even mentions that the city's crime rate went up by 400% thanks to Ratman's incompetence.


Video Example(s):


Super Virgin Squad

The Super Virgin Squad are a group of losers with powers who think they can save the world... somehow.

How well does it match the trope?

4.2 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / SuperZeroes

Media sources: