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Superhero Episode

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Even if they already have magical abilities, it's not a real superhero episode unless you're wearing spandex, a mask and the occasional cape.

Fry: When you were a kid, what was your greatest fantasy?
Leela: To have parents.
Fry: Whatever. The correct answer is: To be a superhero! We have superpowers, and we're Americans. Now's our chance!

An episode of a non-superhero show in which the characters temporarily gain superpowers and/or the urge to dress up in colored spandex and fight crime.

The characters in question may normally be non-powered, or they may have already had extraordinary abilities that they've never before referred to as superpowers.

Depending on the nature of the show's universe, this may occur "for real," as a dream or fantasy, or completely out-of-continuity, but in any case it involves familiar characters wearing capes, kicking ass, and going by (possibly parodic) Something Person names.

May include a stock parody fight scene referencing The '60s' Batman (1966) series.

A Sub-Trope of Formula-Breaking Episode. The fanfic equivalent of this trope is the Super Fic, which usually implies a more permanent change in the characters and their setting.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Doraemon: Nobita and The Space Heroes have the gang getting Doraemon's help to shoot their own toku film, where Doraemon then uses his Upgrading Light gadget to give everybody temporary superpowers. And then they're approached by an alien named Aron who's asking for their help to save his world, leading to a lengthy episode where the gang become superheroes (with stock superpowers, like Gian getting Super Strength and Shizuka having Making a Splash abilities) for much of the film. Come by the next film, they're back to their normal Slice of Life selves.
  • Dragon Ball Z's Great Saiyaman, which is Not-So-Ordinary High-School Student Gohan's superhero identity. Played for Laughs, as neither criminals nor cops find his outlandish getup and antics very impressive, and his Paper-Thin Disguise does not fool anyone for long.
  • Fairy Tail had one make where Erza buys an outfit said to belong to a hero of justice. Erza wears it and helping people with ordinary tasks, before learning that the costume had changed her face and voice to a traditional comic heroine.
  • One Piece has a few shorts and one numbered anime episode revolving around "Chopperman", a superhero version of Chopper completely out of continuity, where Chopper plays the eponymous hero, Usopp the Big Bad, Zoro, Sanji, and Robin form the Quirky Miniboss Squad, Nami is Chopper's secretary, and Luffy is a giant sombrero robot.
  • The Pokémon: The Series episode, "The Superhero Secret", has the gang meet an aging Batman Parody called Gligarman.

    Asian Animation 
  • Lamput: "Super Docs" is about Fat Doc and Slim Doc discovering the latter inadvertently brought superhero clothes home from the laundromat by mistake and using their abilities to aid in their chase after Lamput.
  • The Motu Patlu episode "Super Duper Man" is about Motu and Patlu deciding to become superheroes to help the city of Furfuri Nagar. They call themselves Motu Man and Patlu Man and try to stop John the Don from robbing a bank.

    Comic Books 
  • One Alternate Continuity in Archie Comics features the characters as superheroes — Archie is a Superman Substitute named Pureheart the Powerful, Betty is his Distaff Counterpart Superteen, Jughead turns into Captain Hero when he recites an incantation similar to the Green Lantern oath, and Reggie serves as Pureheart's Evil Counterpart Evilheart. Later stories in the series would introduce Miss Vanity (Veronica) and Mighty Moose (Moose).
  • Strangers in Paradise had an out-of-continuity issue in which Francine and Katchoo were superheroes and Freddie a bumbling villain who accidentally destroys the world.
  • The Super Sidekick Sleepover Slaughter arc of Hack/Slash.
  • The "Cape Fear" storyline in Resurrection Man started with Mitch in a virtual world created by his subconscious, in which he was a Silver Age caped superhero, and all the people who had tried to kill him were costumed supervillains. He was still wearing the costume from this scenario when Superman invited him to join the Justice League. He eventually decided it wasn't for him.
  • Quite common in the comics based on The Simpsons. Either using Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl, having Bart be the Bartman character he dressed as in "Three Men and A Comic Book" or comic book within a show character, Radioactive Man. One story even had an Alliance of Alternates between Bartman, Stretch Dude and Cupcake Kid (Pie Man's sidekick from the last scene of "Simple Simpson"), and another had the characters parodying Watchmen.
  • In one issue of Bill & Ted's Excellent Comic Book, the duo get stranded on Hyper-World, an Another Dimension populated by constantly fighting superheroes and villains. They get drafted into the Bright, Upstanding Guys to find their stolen time machine from Dr. Braino
  • Bluntman and Chronic: Was a comic about Jay and Silent Bob as Batman and Robin-style superheroes. It's meant to be the in-universe comic they get written about themselves in Chasing Amy.
  • In the Superteam arc of Fables, Ozma forms a groups of fable superheroes.
  • The Super Ace story in an issue of the Red Dwarf Smegazine had Ace Rimmer visit a universe where the Dwarfers were superheroes living in the city of Smegopolis. In addition to the Flying Brick Super Ace, other characters were Lister as Action Man (a Punisher pastiche with a smiley face instead of a skull), Cat and Kryten as Catman and Robbie, and the floating telepathic head of Professor H.
  • The Futurama story, Son of The Sun is another adventure for the New Justice Team from the "Less Than Hero" episode of the cartoon.
  • The third volume of the Teddy Scares comic by Ape Entertainment had a story titled "Super Cyrus", where Abnormal Cyrus was inspired to become a superhero after reading a Captain Stupendous comic book. His superheroics annoy the hell out of Edwin Morose, Hester Golem, Redmond Gore and Rita Mortis, who decide to get even with Cyrus by forming a supervillain team called the Scare-tastic Four.
  • The fourth volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen focuses on Mina's time on a Super Team called the Seven Stars and what the surviving Old Superheroes are doing in the modern day.
  • Gold Key issue #24 of Scooby-Doo dealt with a comic artist whose creation, a superhero named the Blue Scarab, comes to life and terrorizes him. This was reworked five years later as the debut episode of Scooby and Scrappy Doo.

    Comic Strips 

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live Action 

  • In the Skulduggery Pleasant novel, Last Stand Of Dead Men, recurring joke villains, Vaurian Scapegrace and Thrasher become The Dark and Stormy Knight and The Village Idiot. Learning martial arts and trying to protect the town of Roarhaven.
  • The Goosebumps novel, Attack of The Mutant is about a villain from a comic book trying to attack the real world. There would be later be other books in the series with a similar setup, including the Dr. Maniac books and The Wizard of Oooze.
  • Garfield had a series of books called Garfield's Pet Force where Garfield, along with his friends Odie, Nermal, Arlene, and Pooky, turn into superheroes whenever they enter an alternate universe.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Suite Life of Zack & Cody had one as part of a Disney's "Wish Gone Amiss" weekend, aptly named "Super Twins". Zack and Cody have a dream where they become superheroes known, respectively, as Quick Guy and Brain Man, and Mr. Moseby becomes a supervillain known as the Meanager with Arwin and Esteban serving as his minions, respectively known as the Engineer and BellBoy.
  • Harvey from Sabrina the Teenage Witch had this as a B-plot in one episode. He gets hit with a potion to relive his childhood dream - and transforms into the superhero Mighty Teen.
  • Charmed has "Witches in Tights" in the fifth season. A preteen witch is being hunted by a warlock - and uses his magic drawings to turn the sisters into superheroes.
  • Soap opera Guiding Light of all things. There was even a corresponding comic book tie-in to Marvel's Civil War!
  • Superpowers broke out on an episode of Gilligan's Island thanks to a shipment of radioactive vegetables.
  • Stargate SG-1 episode "Upgrades." SG-1 gets superpowers after being guinea pigs for a Tok'ra technology. Their newfound powers cause them to completely lack good judgment, including getting in a bar fight.
  • Dexter had an episode in which Dexter imagined his life as a super hero (or super villain, he wasn't quite sure). As one would imagine, it was done in the same horrifyingly psychotic way as everything else in the show.
  • Sanctuary did it twice, in "Hero" and "Hero 2", with a living suit which gives people superpowers but makes them unstable.
  • Warehouse 13 did it in the episode "Mild Mannered"; given the show's premise it was easy for an artifact to give someone super-powers.
  • Bewitched had the episode "Super Arthur" in which Uncle Arthur turns into Superman after Dr. Bombay gives him a pill.
  • The Monkees turn into "Monkeemen" in a few episodes. While they can fly, the rest of their powers consist of exchanging insults to bruise someone's ego.
  • While Lois & Clark was a superhero series, Lois Lane was most definitely not a superhero — except for one episode where she got Superman's powers and became Ultra Woman.
  • The puppet/animatronics sitcom Dinosaurs had an episode where Earl became Captain Impressive after exposure to toxic waste. Then his boss finds out and then shows him a clause in the contract that grants all superpowers an employee might get to the WESAYSO Corporation. Earl is forced to sell cheaply-made toys in infomercials.
  • One Tree Hill had an episode in season 8 where Haley, Brooke and Quinn pretend to be superheroes.
  • Doctor Who has a Christmas Special called "The Return of Doctor Mysterio", where a New York kid accidentally ingests an alien wish-granting artifact, which, coupled with his obsession with comic books, gives him Flying Brick powers. Year later, the Doctor returns to New York and discovers the existence of the Ghost, a masked superhero clearly based on Superman. The Doctor immediately recognizes him as Grant, the kid he met that night, who works as a mild-mannered nanny for his childhood crush, a reporter with an obsession for the Ghost. While Grant/Ghost isn't mentioned in later episodes, there is a comic book, where the Doctor works with him again.
    • The Second Doctor met a fictional comic book superhero called The Karkus in "The Mind Robber" while in The Land of Fiction, he was from a comic from Zoe's timeline.
  • In the Weird Science episode, "Rock Hard Chett," Chett uses his new invulnerability to become a superhero. When the wish wears off, he gets shot during a bank heist (though Lisa manages to bring him back to life just as quickly). Wyatt suggests just walking away, but Chett goes back in to save the day despite losing his powers. (He manages to talk the robbers down by convincing them their guns have already failed to stop him.)
  • In season 5 of Misfits, Rudy wants to set up a superhero team. In the final episode, Abbey gets stranded a year into the future where Rudy has succeeded but his team murder minor criminals over nothing. When she gets back to her own time, she talks Rudy out of the idea but the main cast discuss the idea of becoming superheroes themselves.
  • One of the possible ideas for a fifth season of Blackadder would have been called Batadder and would have had Blackadder and Baldrick as heroes based on Batman and Robin.
  • The Goosebumps episode Attack of The Mutant, which was based on the book of the same name mentioned above. It even had Adam West Adam Westing as a campy superhero.
  • CSI: Season 15's "Hero to Zero" features a group of vigilantes who dress as superheroes and attempt to thwart muggers and such.
  • CSI: NY: The first victim in Season 2's "Super Men" is a mentally challenged young man named Clark who crawled out of his group home's window at night, changed clothes in a phone booth, saved a man from getting mugged at an ATM, and tried to stop a drug deal in an alley.

    Music Videos 
  • Eminem's video of Without Me has him as Rap Boy. In a costume identical to Robin's but with a backwards E instead of an R on it. He goes on a quest to stop a child from playing a Parental Advisory Eminem CD.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Lynda Carter episode of The Muppet Show was a tribute to Lynda's role in the Wonder Woman TV show. Miss Piggy played the title role in a sketch called "Wonder Pig" ("Wonder Pig?" Lynda repeats, bemused) while some of the other Muppets try to become superheroes themselves by wearing gaudy costumes and reading from an instruction book, "Invincibility Made Easy". Hilarity Ensues as the 'apprentice superheroes' (as Kermit calls them) bungle about trying to emulate common superpowers.
  • In the Dinosaurs episode, "Earl, Don't Be A Hero", Earl gets a promotion to toxic waste supervisor at the WeSaySo corporation. Exposure to toxic waste gives Earl the abilities to fly, have heat vision, and accurately guess peoples' weight. Earl becomes a superhero named Captain Impressive and earns the respect of Baby. When B.P. Richfield finds out about Earl's superpowers, he points out that Earl's employment contract he signed (which he was told he didn't have to read) states that if any employee obtains superpowers, the heroes will become the property of WeSaySo, and Earl is forced into putting promoting the company as Captain Impressive over saving the world. Richfield makes Earl the host of a home shopping show that sells dangerous products associated with Captain Impressive. When Baby calls in to order a dangerous product, Earl reveals his identity, gives up being a superhero and takes a shower. In the end, Earl explains to Baby that parents are real heroes, because even though they don't have super powers, they do a lot of hard work to care for their kids.

  • Monster High had a superhero-themed line of dolls dubbed "Power Ghouls", which saw several Monster High students don costumes and fight crime using both the abilities they already had as monsters and newly-acquired powers. The line-up consisted of Clawdeen (as Wonder Wolf, who used a shield a la Captain America), Spectra (as Polterghoul, who got Mind over Matter abilities), Frankie (as Voltageous, whose existing Shock and Awe powers were greatly boosted), and Toralei (as Cat Tastrophe, the team's Empowered Badass Normal nemesis). There were also two "unofficial" additions to the line-up that were made San Diego Comic-Con exclusives: Ghoulia (cosplaying as the In-Universe comic character Dead Fast, and who served as the Big Good in tie-in material) and Wydowna (as Webarella, who was tricked into helping Cat Tastrophe before ultimately becoming a solo hero).

    Video Games 
  • In Castle Cats, the annual "Call of Heroes" event involves the characters dressing up in hero/villain costumes and behaving as such.

    Web Animation 
  • One episode of Let's Go! Tamagotchi is about Chamametchi being asked to watch over the house when her mother goes away. She opens her calculator and transforms Magical Girl-style into "Chama Girl" to save the town, and her brother Mametchi, from a giant Beartchi. This is All Just a Dream, though.

  • Bronze Skin Inc. : In chapter 4, One of the giantesses and one of the employees has a superhero identity, in addition to the Marvires having a super villain identity.
  • The Snowsong (a.k.a. Supergreg) arc in Dominic Deegan.
  • The superhero arc in Arthur, King of Time and Space. Arthur Pendragon is Kingman! Lancelot DuLac is White Night! Gawaine Orkney is Sun Man!
  • In El Goonish Shive, Tedd has an Imagine Spot that he and the other main characters are superheros when Elliot tells him the bank's being robbed in this Guest Comic strip. Much later Elliot does get a spell that makes him a superheroine but is nothing like how Tedd imagines him.
  • In a strip from The Petri Dish, Thaddeus accidentally gives himself superpowers, including super-strength and super farts. He gets given a superhero name (just an exclamation point) and a rubber suit, but his powers go away before he can become a superhero.


Video Example(s):


Super Mouth

A freak storm gives all the students at Bridgeton Middle School super powers.

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