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Superhero Speciation

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One team, four very different powersets.note 

"Plastic Man's already down there. We don't need two stretchy guys."
Green Lantern to Elongated Man, Justice League, "The Greatest Story Never Told"

In a Super Team the characters have to complement each other. One side effect of this is that, in any group of superheroes, no two of them will have the same power.

When done well, this can be at best unobtrusive. But if the heroes got their powers from a common origin, or if their powers are granted by technology, it may seem very strange or even like a really dumb design decision. After all, The Power of Friendship is nice and all, but it'd be a real shame if the world was destroyed by a fire demon because the hero with the power of Water was out sick that day.

An unfortunate side effect is that if the ensemble is big enough, one of the heroes is going to get shafted, because What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?. Another unfortunate side effect is that if you have to replace someone with a Suspiciously Similar Substitute, unlikely as it may seem, he may have to have the exact same powers as the character he replaces. An extreme case is One Person, One Power, where each super will have exactly one power, different from others (although some of those may be versatile in practice).

This might go no farther than each hero having a unique "special attack" or melee weapon. We aren't meant to worry about the fact that this is a kind of inefficient way to arm your heroes, or about the guy whose weapon sucks. Not many writers can come up with a set of five melee weapons which are all really different from each other, and which are all useful against an equal range of adversaries, after all. Nor can everyone prove that Heart Is an Awesome Power.

Often results in a Plot Tailored to the Party or a Thematic Rogues Gallery so that everyone has something to do.

There are a few caveats:

  • There can be a few common powers everyone has, in addition to their character-specific powers. Most of the Superfriends can fly, for example, and while a team will probably only have one Flying Brick, many Nigh-Invulnerable characters at once can be useful. Additionally, sometimes characters with different primary powers will have similar Required Secondary Powers. And don't forget the Most Common Superpower.
  • You are allowed to have "paired" heroes within the group with the same powers. They can be thought of as a single person for the purposes of speciation (e.g., the Wonder Twins).
  • In some teams, the whole point is that every member has exactly the same power (e.g., the Green Lantern Corps in The DCU). Power speciation obviously doesn't apply in such cases; the focus is instead on personality differences. (Although this can still result in power speciation of a kind, as different personality types apply the same powers differently.)

A big part of the reason that Superman did not work well in an ensemble for most of his history. (However, the comic book title Trinity has managed to turn Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman into a combination Power Trio and íThree Amigos!.)

Sub-trope of Cast Speciation. Contrast Identically Powered Team. A Sixth Ranger is generally exempt. When the link to the elements is done with Elemental Powers, the Classical Elements Ensemble is an example of this.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Corrector Yui, there are eight Corrector Programs, but only four basic Elemental Suits (not counting the specialized ones, which aren't tied to a specific program character but to the human characters). However, even though the ratio means two programs to a suit, depending which program Yui gets the suit from, she'll be able to do different things. In Asamiya Kia's remake of the manga, there are eight basic Elemental Suits.
  • In Mission: Yozakura Family, all of the Yozakuras receive the same training to excel at everything spy-related, from sneaking around to hacking to combat. But each of the Yozakuras has their own specialty, such as Futaba's martial arts and Shinzo's weapons mastery. This is taken even further with their Blooming abilities, which pushes the power of their Superpowerful Genetics to the limit to unlock a unique superpower for them.
  • Played for Laughs in My Hero Academia. Kirishima and Tetsutetsu have pretty much the same power: Instant Armor, the former by making his body as hard as rock, the latter by literally turning to metal. At first they can't stand each other because each feels like the other is stealing his thunder (Kirishima perhaps more so, because Tetsutetsu also has the benefit of a power that looks cooler), but they later become friends because of all the other things they have in common. That said, the pair are in different classes, so this trope is kind of maintained.
  • Naruto may be a special case. Each character has a rather unique special ability, (except Rock Lee) but all are trained in advanced level martial arts, and many of the lead cast (particularly Naruto and Sasuke) focus more on their martial arts powers than their special ability, so there's not much of a "only character X has the power to succeed here" issues. Also, most powers are passed down through families to make sure that the art isn't lost. In case that's not enough, it's a pretty safe bet that Kakashi (Copycat Ninja) or the Hokage knows the technique as well. Some of them are even inherited as a specific bloodline trait.
    • To put it a bit more simply: it's not a case of "everyone only has one power," but "except for a few inherited traits, there's nothing stopping anyone from learning everything but time, effort, and knowing how." Clans/schools/teams that seem to have a "specialty" is usually due to traditions teaching a particular style.
    • A very odd aversion can be seen with the Six Paths of Pain: it gives the user control of six different bodies with their own special powers, but two of those bodies' powers are for interrogation and soul removal, but they work differently (one removes your soul to read your mind, the other removes the souls of people who give false or no information).
  • One Piece has many kinds of power giving Devil Fruits, but there can never be two of the same fruit or people with the same power at the same time (a fruit's current user dying is what lets his/her fruit come back for someone else to use). However there are a few exceptions or semi-exceptions:
    • Though Marine Scientist, Dr. Vegapunk found a way to copy a portion of the light based devil-fruit powers of one of the admirals, and give them to the government's Mecha-Mooks.
    • Gekko Moria and Marshall D. Teach of the Seven Warlords of the Sea. Both have Darkness-based powers but are used in different ways. Gekko Moriah controls shadows as if they are tangible things - he can steal them, eat them, stuff them into stitched up corpses to make zombies, make his own shadow get up, walk around, fight or switch places with himself at will. Blackbeard's powers are themed about a black hole - he can emit black smoke-like substance that swallows things and spews out their broken remains, he has ability to gravitically attract specific targets to himself and his touch nullifies other Devil Fruit powers.
    • Miss Valentine and Machvise both have fruits that alter their own weight, Kilo-Kilo no Mi and Ton-Ton no Mi. Miss Valentine can lower her weight to float with her parasol and then increase it to drop on people. Machvise on the other hand has to get to higher ground without help of his fruit, but his weigh limit for the drops is much higher - by a thousand.
    • Smoker and Caesar both have fruits that allow them to become gaseous, however Caesar's is much more versatile - he can emit poison or remove oxygen from an area around him, while Smoker uses his for dodging and movement while fighting in hand to hand.
    • Portgas D. Ace (and later Sabo) and Charlotte Oven both have fire/heat-based powers, one a Logia and the other a Paramecia, and Marco's Mythical Zoan also has fire projection abilities. The anime adds at least three other people with Paramecia fruits whose powers revolve around heat (in one case as a side-effect of the fruit's real power).
  • Notably averted by the S-Class Heroes in One-Punch Man. Most heroes have overlapping skillsets, being either brawlers, martial artists, or technology-based. Very few have unique abilities - only Tatsumaki, King, Zombieman and Pig God have powers that cannot be replicated by other members of the S-Class to some degree.
  • Tokyo Mew Mew gave each girl both an elemental-themed attack and a special power attached to an emotion that could be used in civilian form (Ichigo could turn into a catgirl, Bu-ling could create giant boulders...), as well as the common power of speaking to their animal.
  • Played with in Sailor Moon, as while they all have increased strength, speed and reaction time, their special attacks are different... For the most part:
    • Both Sailor Mercury and Sailor Neptune have water-based powers. Mercury's, however, are based around water in general (some of her attacks using mist and others ice and snow), while Neptune's are based on the ocean.
    • Sailor Moon, Chibimoon, Venus and Mars have all purification abilities, that work in different ways: Moon and Chibimoon have healing powers that, as a side effect, also purify people from corruption and Demonic Possession, Venus has purification abilities that have limited healing abilities (in that they restore stolen life energy and partially heal damage caused by magical sources), and Mars is a Miko who can use Paper Talismans for exorcisms. Mars' ability is not innate but can be learned, as demonstrated by Venus when Mars got possessed and she felt appropriate to use her own technique to break the possession..
    • Sailor Moon and Sailor Chibimoon have the exact same powerset. Justified, as Sailor Chibimoon is Sailor Moon's Kid from the Future and has inherited her abilities.

    Comic Books 
  • In All Fall Down, the Pantheon enjoyed having a well-rounded team of heroes before they lost their powers. So did their nemeses, the Order of Despots.
  • For a time there was an actual rule that the Justice League of America could not admit members with overlapping/similar powers. They abolished this when they finally allowed Hawkman's partner Hawkgirl to join.
  • Established as an official rule of the original Legion of Super-Heroes, which required all members to have an intrinsic and unique superpower. The speciation is not always enforced by the team - see particularly the cases of Lightning Lad and his twin sister Lightning Lass - but duplications do tend to result in the duplicate's powers getting either removed or changed to something else, as when Lightning Lass's electrical powers were changed to mass-reduction powers, turning her into Light Lass.
    • They did try to work within the trope, though. Lightning Lass was added to the team when her brother was believed to be dead. (Since this was the mid-1960's, the modern cynical attitude of "wait a few months and he'll be back" hadn't caught on yet. Lightning Lad's resurrection may indeed be the FIRST character brought back from the grave.) It wasn't until his return that the issue of duplication came up, with the power switch mentioned above.
    • Although the Legion's setting, in which many of the characters come from planets where the whole population shares their superpower, allows for the replacement of one character by another with the same powers in a way that most superteam books don't, such replacement characters seem to fare very badly in the Legion. See particularly the cases of Magno, who caught flak from both the characters of the comic and from its readers for having the same powers as Legion founder Cosmic Boy, and Dream Boy, the unwelcome replacement for Dream Girl.
      • Everyone in the Legion gets a "flight ring" which allows them to fly, in addition to their unique powers. This comes in handy for obvious reasons.
    • Strangely, the Legion broke its own rule several times for characters having the SAME powers as Superman, with no apparent explanation. Such members included: Superboy, Supergirl, Mon-El (who at least lacked Superman's weakness to Kryptonite- but then so do most people), Ultra Boy (who could use only one of his powers at a time- a limitation rather than a power) and Andromeda (same powers as Mon-El.)
      • They did try to explain that, apparently- for example, Ultra Boy's "penetra-vision" could see through lead.
      • In some incarnations, Superboy and/or Superman is the inspiration for the team. Hence the exception for him.
  • Back in the Silver Age, the Martian Manhunter's powers were very similar to Superman's, except that he had a much easier Kryptonite Factor (fire). Post-Crisis, they made him stand out more by stressing his once-rarely-seen shape-shifting and psychic abilities.
  • Jarringly averted in the Wild Storm comic The Monarchy. In the early issues it seemed that every character on the team had the power to fly and shoot energy blasts.
  • Somewhat Deconstructed in PS238Flying Bricks are the most common type of superhero, and as a result, they're seen as generic and unimportant despite how obviously useful they are. Most teams have one, but the "extra" ones wind up scrambling for less impressive jobs. More recently, however, Julie accidentally inspired a bunch of them to form their own superhero team with her as the leader.
  • Shazam!: The Marvel Family (Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr.) are an example of a team whose members have the exact same set of powers. They sometimes join other teams individually, however, usually fitting into this trope when they do. The problem with teaming them up with, say, Superman and not feeling redundant is addressed by emphasizing the magical, god-based nature of their powers. For instance, Superman is vulnerable to magic based attacks and is impressed by how Captain Marvel is far more resistant.
  • Subverted in Wildguard where two of its five members have fire powers, but no-one can fly — or, for that matter, has especially super strength. Cordelia Hardman even lampshades it. Of the fire-powered members, Ignacia discovers the power to more-or-less fly shortly after joining the team, and has greater control over fire than Freezerburn. Freezerburn, meanwhile, also has ice projection powers.
  • A Post-Infinite Crisis variant in The DCU is Wonder Woman in terms of operating methods; while Superman will not kill on general principle and Batman is too worried about Jumping Off the Slippery Slope if he does, Diana is a classically trained Greek warrior who does not feel bound by Thou Shalt Not Kill if the situation demands it.
  • X-Men originally suffered whenever Angel/Archangel was a member, because since his only power was flight, there couldn't be anyone in the team that could fly as well. It quickly went by the wayside as too limiting; Marvel Girl discovered she could levitate, and several of the "All-New All-Different" team could also fly: Polaris, Banshee, Sunfire, and Storm.

    Fairy Tales 

    Fan Works 
  • In Child of the Storm, Harry's friends have this vibe. Harry himself has growing physical capabilities, but usually uses his magic (albeit mostly as Full-Contact Magic, with a specialisation in Playing with Fire that borders on Firebending) and his Psychic Powers, being far more effective from range than up close, though he's also growing into his Flying Brick powers. Carol starts out as The Strategist and a Badass Normal before it's revealed that she's the great-granddaughter of Captain America and the events of chapter 60 gave the Super-Soldier genes the required kick in the pants. Diana's also got Super-Strength, but more emphasis is placed on her Flight and empathic abilities. Jean-Paul's a straight up Fragile Speedster prior to a Speed Force upgrade and Uhtred is a classic Brick and the most physically powerful of the kids (the jury's still out on exactly how strong Diana is, and she'll be Thor class one day, but he's probably stronger than her for the moment).
    • However, this trope looks as if it will be Played With more in the sequel, with Maddie and Clark, one of whom is an even more powerful psychic than Harry and the other a Kryptonian under a yellow sun joining or being destined to join the mix.
  • Invoked in Hellsister Trilogy. The Legion of Super-Heroes need a Kryptonian powerset in the team but they can't bring Superboy in so they summon his cousin instead.
  • Last Child of Krypton's first version invokes this when Neon Genesis Evangelion characters gain powers of heroes of The DCU. Thus, Shinji becomes a Kryptonian, Asuka an Amazon, Rei a biokinetic, Touji a Green Lantern, Kaworu a magic-empowered warrior...
  • In My Huntsman Academia, this is played mostly straight. Semblances are expressions of the power of one's soul and tend to be unique from individual to individual. Some Semblances, like Enji Todoroki's and the Schnee's, can be inherited. One For All is another exception to the rule, as it's passed down from wielder to wielder and can even grant a Broken Soul an Aura.
  • Played straight with the newborn Justice League in Superman of 2499: The Great Confrontation. There's a slight overlap due to the presence of two Kryptonians, but the remaining members are a detective, a warrior and a Green Lantern.
  • In Thousand Shinji, the three main characters have wildly different abilities and fighting styles: Shinji is a staff-wielding tactician with psychic powers, Asuka is a berserk axe-fighter and Rei is a biokinetic.
  • Crossover fanfiction The Vampire of Steel has Buffy -an accomplished fighter with enhanced physical prowess and expertise at demon-fighting- team up with Supergirl -a Flying Brick with basic fighting skills and vulnerability to magical creatures-.
  • In With Strings Attached, the four have very different magic with only occasional overlap, but that's because they were (mostly) empowered by Jeft, who made sure they'd be a good mix.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • Both played straight AND averted in Sky High (2005). Averted in that there are known types of power categories. Many are mentioned as they try to figure out what the main character's power will be. Played straight in that all of the important characters have different powers.
  • Played with in The Suicide Squad: Waller tells Bloodsport that "each member of the team is chosen for his or her own completely unique set of abilities" right before introducing him to Peacemaker, who has an essentially identical skillset (she even uses nigh-identical terms to describe them). Bloodsport calls her out on this and Peacemaker boasts that he's on the team because he does all the same things as Bloodsport but better. This is, as it turns out, foreshadowing: Peacemaker does indeed have a major trait that Bloodsport doesn't, which is extreme loyalty to his country. He's on the team so he can kill anyone who tries to go rogue with the sensitive information they find.

  • In Forging Hephaestus, the villain apprentices consist of a Wreathed in Flames super-genius (Hephaestus), a girl who shapeshifts into various dragons (Bahamut), a Pest Controller (Pest Control), and a Geometric Magic master (Glyph). The heroic recruits consist of a videogame summoner (Cyber Geek), a Hybrid Monster (Medley), An Ice Person (Cold Shoulder), and a magical magician (Top Hat).
  • Played with in Genome, since the protagonist is selecting a crew for his new ship, so specific skills, suitable for the position, are a must. His employers specify the need for two Master Pilots (enhanced durability, enhanced spatial orientation), so he has to hire a co-pilot. He also needs a Fighter-spesh (Super-Strength, Super-Speed, extra joints), a doctor (she's actually specialized as an alien torturer/executioner), a navigator (this one is a Natural, actually, which is incredibly rare for this job), and an engineer (radiation-resistant skin and hair, retractable genitals, enhanced vision). Said Fighter-spesh actually turns out to be a Secret Agent-spesh, combining the skills of a Fighter-spesh and that of a Hetaera-spesh.
  • In the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, demigods with the same godly parent usually have a couple standard powers among them, but the sequel series, The Heroes of Olympus, started diversifying them. Notably, while Clarisse and Frank are both children of war god Ares/Mars, Clarisse got combat skills as her power, while Frank got tactical thinking. Nico, son of Hades/Pluto, has different death-related powers, but also had some control over the earth. In the sequel series, Nico sticks to his death-related powers because his sister, Hazel, now has power over "all the riches under the earth." This is implied to be justified because Hazel and Frank are children of the Roman aspects of the gods, not the Greek.
  • In Super Powereds: Year 2, the HCP students are split into four teams for the year in order to learn how to work together. It's stated that nearly all Heroes in the world belong to a team. The five Powered-turned-Super protagonists are put together, since few other students want to work with them. For the remaining two slots, the coach asks for volunteers. A number of their friends step up, including the only healer in the class (which surprises everyone, since she'd have her pick of teams due to her unique talent). Mary, the team's leader, uses her Psychic Powers to listen to Nick's suggestions. The first choice of the healer is a no-brainer, but she is surprised at Nick's second choice, although she goes along with it. Nick chooses Alex, who, for the most part, is a weaker version of Mary (although, unlike most other telekinetics, Alex is able to affect energy as well as physical objects). When Mary later questions him about it, he explains that his primary reason wasn't that their team needed another telekinetic/telepath, it's that he didn't want any other team to have a telepath of their own (there are only two in the class). Thus, this gives them an advantage of being able to listen in on the others' strategies, while denying the same possibility to them. Thus, the 7-person team includes two telekinetics/telepaths, a healer, an absorber, a flyer, a Shifter (whose Superpowered Alter Ego has Super-Strength and super-endurance), and a luck manipulator. Only one other team ends up balancing as well between combat-heavy (mostly involving Super-Strength) and support Supers. Of the remaining two teams, one leans heavily towards combat and the other towards "alternative" abilities.
  • In the Wearing the Cape books, the Sentinels' power-sets are extremely diverse, and it is implied that most other Crisis Aid and Intervention teams are as well. The openly stated rationale is that superhuman combat is paper-scissors-rock, so you'd better have a mix on your team to cover any weaknesses. Also, power-duplication doesn't always play well in the media...
  • In Andrea Vernon and the Corporation for UltraHuman Protection, the Bronx CUP heroes consist of King Tiger (human-tiger mutant with Super-Strength and razor-sharp claws), Señora Fuego (Wreathed in Flames), The Big Axe (8-foot tall guy with a big axe that can cut anything), Rabbi Diamond (a diamond-skinned alien with Mind over Matter powers who refuses to work on Shabbat), Lightning Hwang (can turn into lightning and owns Hwang's Hardware Store), Inspector Well Actually (a super genius who can only exhibit hit power when correcting someone), and Kitchen Sink (an ordinary woman in Powered Armor). They also get a supervillain named Permafrost (An Ice Person from Russia) from jail to help out. Later on they add Teleporter Joe (can teleport but only to the northern tip of Roosevelt Island and only when aroused) and Headstart (Super-Speed). Actually, CUP employs dozens of superheroes all over the country, but has to get many of them to the Bronx to fight a global threat.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Possibly more reasonable when dealing with skills rather than powers, though it seems like over time, everyone on the team should get at least a little familiar with their teammates' skills. Visible in The A-Team, Mission: Impossible, etc.
  • Birds of Prey (2002): We are explicitly told that no two metahumans ever have the same power. (Which doesn't explain why Huntress inherited her mother Catwoman's powers...)
  • Averted in Charmed, towards the end, several characters possessed the powers of telekinesis and teleportation.
  • Marvel Netflix's The Defenders (2017) is a superhero team with two members exhibiting super strength while the remaining two members are martial-artists (although the martial-artists at least have additional powers that set them apart a bit more).
  • The Flash (2014): Team Flash keeps fluctuating, starting with just a speedster and occasionally adding allies, including other speedsters. Season 4 seems to have the highest number of metahumans on the team, including said speedster (Flash), psychic/portal master (Vibe), An Ice Person (Killer Frost), and a Rubber Man (Elongated Man).
  • Heroes:
    • During the first season, several characters in other media adaptations had powers the same or similar to primary characters, although no two characters were shown to have the same power yet in the television series. Except for Peter Petrelli, whose power is that he can manifest other's powers that he comes into contact with (which is virtually the entire cast), and Sylar, who has to examine their brains to do it. In the second season, however, West has the same power as Nathan (flight) and Kensei/ Adam Monroe has the same power as Claire (Healing Factor).
    • Even more are introduced in seasons three and four. Tracy has the ice power, which Sylar had stolen from guy offscreen. Flint has the power of fire like Meridith, though his flames are blue. Matt's father has the same power as his son. Season four had another time traveler, even though he was crippled, and it had a speedster like Daphne.
    • Sylar is revealed to have inherited his power to know things from his own father. When we finally meet his father, it's revealed that he also managed to find a telekinetic (like Sylar) and take his power.
    • Usutu has the same power as Isaac, although he has learned to avoid using drugs. In fact, Hiro keeps calling him "Mr. African Isaac".
  • Averted in Legends of Tomorrow. Firestorm and Heatwave can throw fire blasts (although one is a metahuman and the other uses a high-tech flamethrower). Both Hawkman and Hawkgirl are also on the team, whose abilities are identical, although only Hawkman appears to wield a mace with Hawkgirl preferring to use hand-to-hand combat. Additionally, up to four (well, five, if you count Firestorm as two people) of the "legends" are able to fly: Firestorm (by projecting fire from hands as jets), Atom (using a high-tech suit), Hawkman (wings), and Hawkgirl (wings). From a non-superhero standpoint, there are two scientists on the team: Dr. Martin Stein and Dr. Ray Palmer.
    • Later mitigated by Hawkman's death.
    • Season 2 adds Vixen (animal power) and Steel (Chrome Champion) to the team (but removes the Hawks), while season 3 also adds Isis (Blow You Away) and Kid Flash (Super-Speed), while Firestorm is removed halfway through. Season four replaces Kid Flash with John Constantine (magic).
  • Moon Knight provides a rare example for a single character. In the comics, Moon Knight possesses crescent moon-shaped throwing darts and a pair of truncheons as his primary weapons, but in the show, he mostly uses the darts, while his Mr. Knight personality instead wields the truncheons.
  • Mutant X: There were several broad categories of mutant power, and the team never consisted of more than one member in each category.
    • Lexa and Brennan, both elementals, were briefly on the team at the same time, but most of the time, the trope held true. Their powers were also different enough to maintain the trope in spirit.
    • One of the Big Bads was a Super Prototype with powers from all four categories (feral, elemental, molecular, psionic).
  • Power Rangers and Super Sentai are odd about this, in that they Zig Zag the trope, both averting and playing it straight (Not counting the Law of Chromatic Superiority that gives the Red Ranger bonus gears). Often, all the rangers have the same powers, but with variations. So the red ranger might have a fire attack, blue a water attack, yellow and lightning, etc... But this difference rarely if ever comes into play - there almost never is a Monster of the Week more vulnerable to a specific ranger's powers. Some seasons skip this entirely and the only difference is in the ranger's color.
  • Team Knight Rider: We're eventually told that the team was intentionally composed of complementary abilities, as an earlier attempt to just make one car with all the relevant abilities had ended badly.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Used to a certain point in Jason and the Argonauts. Heracles — god-like strength; Nestor — superhuman vision; Orpheus — Magic Music; etc. The other 39 varied in individual skills and abilities.
  • In Classical Mythology each of the gods, goddesses, spirits, etc have their own sphere of power-Demeter is the goddess of the harvest and has Earth-related powers; Hermes is the patron of anyone who uses the roadsnote , Poseidon is the god of the sea, storms, and horses, and so on. While there is some overlap, such as Demeter and Dionysus both having plant-related powers and Zeus and Poseidon both being able to cause storms, they essentially stick to this.

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues features roughly forty children with superpowers, very few of which have overlap. And even those that do tend to have some other power to help differentiate them: Luna, Josephine, and Simon can all control electricity, but Luna can also turn into it, Josephine can also control ice, and Simon can also control fire. This does leave Michal in a little bit of a rut, as he only has fire powers without lightning to back it up like Simon. There are also multiple characters who can heal or are immortal, but their methods are different: Abby has a Wolverine-esque Healing Factor that can heal her injuries or illnesses, Barbra comes back from death and gains an immunity to whatever killed her, whilst Nadine can also resurrect herself but in a new body, akin to Doctor Who.
  • Team Kimba, in the Whateley Universe. They're a pack of high schoolers, rather than an established super-team, but they fit this model. Like the Justice League, they also have a wide range of power levels, ranging from Tennyo (so powerful there's a school rule against attacking her) down to Generator (can animate stuff, and now has regeneration too) and Bladedancer (Badass Normal with magic sword). The team has blasters, a PK superboy, a powerful mage, a Vision-like density-changer, healers, martial artists, and a fake deviser. And there's only seven of them.
    • While Team Kimba has a fairly diverse lineup more or less by "chance," most of the teams in the Whateleyverse—both the school training teams and the professional super teams—are constructed this way intentionally. The philosophy seems to be that you want enough members to have a wide range of powers, but not so many that the group can't be fairly close-knit. Team Kimba is actually the biggest team in Team Tactics, with eight members counting Shroud. Whateleyverse policy on team lineup seems to be at least a brick, a blaster, and a gadgeteer or devisor, with maybe a speedster and a PDP to round things out, plus a couple more. And the more flyers, the better, of course.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Tabletop RPGs frequently dip into this trope for "niche protection" — that is, to try and ensure that no player's character gets overshadowed by another. Thus, duplication of classes/powers/skill sets is often deliberately avoided in a 'balanced' group and an effort may be made to make sure that similar characters are still mechanically different in some meaningful fashion. This is not so much part of the rules of a given game as common practice in actual play.
  • In Sentinels of the Multiverse, this is a deliberate design decision; every hero brings something unique to the table, even when characters fit within particular roles (i.e. Tempest, Ra, and Expatriette are all damage dealers, but each deals damage in a particular way). One villain, Citizen Dawn, also does this, as each of her minions is a unique superhuman with unique effects. That being said, it is entirely possible for the heroes to field an entire team of Legacy, who has the standard issue Flying Brick powerset: Regular Legacy, his daughter Young Legacy, and his father Greatest Legacy. And just to round it out, have them all fight Iron Legacy!

  • Every major Toa team in BIONICLE had only one Toa per element, though some minor Toyless Toyline Characters were on teams with more than one. Also, except for the Toa Mata/Nuva, each Toa had only one Mask of Power, different from all the other ones on the team (and usually previously unseen in the story).

    Video Games 
  • The comic book Super Hero MMORPG City of Heroes even shows some of this with the different Character Archetypes- ideal teams generally have at least one of each, although team structure is flexible enough that that does not always have to be the case by a long shot. One compares typical MMORPG class roles with superhero team roles...
    • Interestingly, this can be subverted as each Archetype can take powersets that use the same power concepts, but with different effects; for instance, a Tanker, Blaster, Scrapper, Defender and Controller can all take fire, ice, lightning, etc powers, but they'll each use them in very different ways. To use fire as an example, a Tanker would cloak himself in flames, a Blaster would launch gouts of fire at enemies, a Scrapper would create a Sword out of fire, a Defender invigorate allies with an inner flame and a Controller would cover the battlefield in smoke and cinders.
    • Also subverted in that while the Hero and Villian archetypes overlap they still have inherent modifiers that affect their play style and team roles. For example:
      • Defenders and Corruptors have mostly the same powers with the main difference being that Defenders have stronger enemy debuffing and team buffing/healing powers while Corruptors have stronger damage output that scales up as enemy health gets lower.
      • Controllers and Dominators both have the same primary ability to control enemies via status effects, however the Controller has enemy debuffing and team buffing/healing as their secondary ability while Dominators have their entire secondary devoted to dealing damage.
      • On the surface Brutes and Tankers may look very much the same, but Tankers have higher base and maximum HP while also being better at holding enemy aggro. On the other hand the Brute, while having the same powers as the Tanker, has the highest maximum damage output of any other archetype.
      • Stalkers and Scrappers are superficially the same, except that Scrappers are straight up melee skirmishers while all Stalkers come with the best stealth ability in the game and the assassination attack. Scrappers also have more HP to compensate.
    • While the ideal team would be a mix of archetypes there are enough different power choices in each that there is nothing stopping players from forming teams entirely made of a single archetype.
  • Can be subverted if you so choose in Dragon Quest VI, where the Job System allows you to keep spells across classes. Meaning that having every character going through the Priest class makes the game a lot easier since you now have four healers instead of one, Martial Artist gives them multi-target spells that cost 0 MP, etc.
  • Averted in Freedom Force due to the sheer number of heroes (and the fact that you can design your own and use them in the game). It starts out this way, though. At first, we only have Minuteman (a Captain America Expy), a Genius Bruiser (he is a nuclear physicist). He is joined by a psychic alien Mentor. Then a fiery Latino named El Diablo joins them with flying and flame-throwing powers. Rounding out the original core team is Man-Bot who is a slow brick. By the end of the game, a good number of heroes can (or can learn to) fly or, at least, hover. Nearly all can do ranged damage of various types. Many have Super-Strength, allowing them to pick up and throw heavy objects. The sequel only increases the number of heroes.
    • It should be noted that Freedom Force also creates speciation by having different damage types. Man-O-War and Microwave both have ranged attacks, but Man-O-War's is an electrical one that has greater effect on electrically-vulnerable foes like robots, while Microwave's radiation beam is most effective on ordinary people. And some characters are resistant to fire or cold damage, etc. It is prohibitively expensive to create a character who is resistant to everything. And there are different types of ranged attack - projectile (what range? propelled straight like an arrow or thrown like a grenade? homing or not? how fast does it move?) and defence (needs to be activated and maintained like a forcefield or always on?). In practice all the supplied Freedom Force characters bring something unique to the table, and it's pretty difficult to design a character who doesn't.
  • In Mega Man X7, after X has a 10-Minute Retirement, Axl takes his place; however, after the right requirements are met, the former can be unlocked for play again. All skills that Axl learns from the Boss are exactly the same set as that of X's, and, seeing as the latter was a complete gamebreaker in that installment, it makes Axl rather useless. X8 rectifies this by having Axl have a different Power Copying skillset from X, some of which are even more useful than X's equivalents (for example, Bound Blaster over Crystal Wall, respectively).
  • Just about every character in the Touhou Project series has a special ability, almost universally summarized in their Character Profiles as "Manipulation of X", yet out of all the games (since the move to Windows, at least), the value of X has yet to repeat.
    • Although the original wording is simply "capable of", so sometimes it's unclear whether the "ability" is their own unique superpower, a species-wide power, or just something that they can do and not a superpower at all. Made even worse in Symposium of Post-Mysticism, where it's revealed that abilities are self-reported by the characters, so they might not be accurate at all. This is evident with several characters, like Mokou, whose stated ability is immortality, but can use fire-based attacks, or Seiga, whose power is "passing through walls", which actually is the power of her hairpin, not herself.
    • Also, groups occasionally have the same ability. And all of the magicians have the same ability (use of magic), differing only in specialty. Then there's the matter of some abilities being functionally the same...
  • In World of Warcraft:
    • During an earlier portion of it's lifespan, the game had a myriad different raid-wide buffs given by different classes, so people were trying to get as many different classes as possible to get all of them - although with raid size being bigger than the amount of classes, there still always was an overlap. In particular, it was a habit to bring a lot of paladins so they could give all their single targeted buffs to everybody without taking way too long at it. On the horde side, it was shamans, who had totems that could greatly boost just one group (out of up to 8) from the whole raid.
    • However, with further streamlining, more classes got more buffs, with more overlapping and pruning of ones that did not fit at all, until we arrive at the current system of just 9 group-buff categories with every class/spec bringing 2-3 of them. In raids, the buff availability is a total not-issue, and even in 5 man groups it's often possible to get all of them.
    • Still played straight in Player Versus Player, due to diminishing returns - if somebody is affected by the same category of debuff several times in a row, each time it becomes shorter, all the way down to 0. So arena groups plan around it by bringing people with different debuff arsenals to inflict upon the enemy. At 2-3 man size PVP groups, availability of general party buffs also may be of some consideration.
  • Averted in Superhero League of Hoboken: Both Treader Man and Captain Cod have the power of Really Good At Treading Water, and many powers can be gained by drinking isotopes, including combat-related ones that are the "mains" for some of your team members. Besides allowing for more combat options, having several water treaders is required for entering flooded areas.

  • Pv P had the Christmas based superteam "The Jingle Force Five" where Jack Frost and Snowman both had cold powers. This leads to them fighting over whose shot took out the evil Kringus.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold has one Cold Opening that featured Plastic Man and Elongated Man going after a criminal while arguing over which one Batman prefers to work with (Elongated Man also makes the "I'm even a detective" argument here). At the end of the segment, Batman gives his opinion: "Between the two of you, I prefer to work alone."
  • Ben from Ben 10 is a one-man example of this, with each of his alien forms having a different power (Fourarms is strong, XLR8 is fast and so on).
    • Ben 10: Alien Force follows this in that even which aliens he has change around and some have the same abilities, they are never on the same set.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: Each Planeteer had a unique power, and some were decidedly more useful than others in certain situations.
  • Justice League averted this when, in one episode, the Elongated Man complained bitterly that, although he had exactly the same powers as Plastic Man and was even an accredited detective, he was still treated as a second-stringer to Plastic Man (who used to be a petty criminal, no less). The quote at the top of this article is what sets off his rant. Interestingly, later in the episode he proved himself when Plastic Man was taken out of action. On the other hand, if Plastic Man was as powerful as he is in the comics, this would have been petty whining.
    • Averted more generally as Superman, Wonder Woman, and The Martian Manhunters were all flying bricks.
      • On the other hand, in a clear example of this trope, Martian Manhunter's Martian-vision and super-speed were removed, and his super strength was downplayed. His more unique powers - telepathy, shape-shifting, and phasing through matter - were emphasized instead.
    • Most of the speciation didn't have to do with super-powers. Hawkgirl was used instead of Hawkman to balance out the gender ratio, the Green Lantern John Stewart was used to add some "color" to the team, and the Flash used was the playful Wally West instead of his more traditionally-heroic predecessors.
    • Superman is rarely shown moving faster than walking speed, presumably so his Superspeed doesn't overshadow The Flash.
  • Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths has Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, and Flash Wally West face their Crime Syndicate counterparts. Martian Manhunter, thinking President Wilson's daughter, Rose, would be targeted, follows her, and foils an attempt on her life. In a light mind-meld we see Rose's mom had in flashback been killed by Ultraman's heat vision. So he fills the need for two heroes (Superman for his Flying Brick role, Batman for his Detective role).
    • Owlman even snarks to Batman for the final battle that Batman couldn't trust anyone else to fight it (though Batman knew how dirty and low he might have to go—and that the others might not—to beat Owlman).
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998) episode "Nuthin' Special" examines and parodies this. To defeat (or rather aid) a flaming Spanish-speaking monster squirrel, Blossom uses her ice breath to extinguish the flames, and Bubbles uses her bilingual talents to communicate with it. Buttercup feels left out as she had no special power to offer in the situation. She spends most of the episode trying to find her own power but Blossom and Bubbles duplicate her time and again. Having had enough, she defiantly sticks her tongue out, curling it as she does. This throws her sisters, as they attempt to curl their tongues (as do everyone else in the city) with no success. Buttercup is overjoyed at this, in spite of everyone—even the narrator—thinking it's stupid.
  • Subverted in Young Justice (2010): Red Arrow is annoyed that he's been "replaced" with Artemis on the Team, even though he turned down their invitation to join. Aqualad points out that they "have no quota on archers," however, and he's still free to join whenever he wants.
    • For that matter, this show's version of the Justice League includes Hawkman and Hawkwoman, plus two Green Lanterns (Hal and John)! Guy Gardner also joins in the second season. They also have four Flying Bricks (Superman, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and Icon - five if you count Martian Manhunter, whose shapeshifting and telepathic abilities are emphasized over strength as in Justice League).
    • Played straight with Miss Martian, who acquires the new power of telekinesis which she uses over super-strength. She does still have super-strength (more than a human, but less than an Atlantean or a Kryptonian), but that's only according to Word of God - it never really shows up in the show.
    • The second season has Nightwing, Robin, and Batgirl (The Smart Guy Badass Normals with gadgets) all on the team, plus Superboy and Wonder Girl in the Flying Brick category. By this point, however, the team has gotten so big that most missions involve smaller groups, usually with a variety of powers / archetypes.
    • One episode also implied that Superman specifically tries to recruit Flying Bricks in the hope that one will turn out to be another Kryptonian.