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Superpower Silly Putty

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There are characters who gain New Powers as the Plot Demands, and then there are these. One minute, they gain cool fire powers, and the very next, they lose that ability and transform into a Green Lantern Expy, or some weird and wacky powers that they may or may not want or need.

A Sister Trope to Unfazed Everyman. Where an Unfazed Everyman is a normal person surrounded by weirdness, but who stays normal nonetheless, someone who is Superpower Silly Putty is one who is transformed by the weirdness. Numerous times. He never keeps the powers, however; he always manages to lose them just as he is getting used to them. Don't expect him to know exactly how to use them during the duration.

Pretty much a Dead Horse Trope by now, it was used quite frequently in the Silver Age.

A subtrope of Superpowers For A Day.

Not to be confused with Plastic Man, a literal Silly Putty superhero, or Rubber Man, for characters with powers similar to his.


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    Comic Books 
  • The Superman family:
    • Jimmy Olsen, who had (and lost) so many superpowers, there is an entire collection called The Many Transformations of Jimmy Olsen.
    • In the Elseworld story The Nail Jimmy Olsen is the aide of Metropolis Mayor Lex Luthor because he has extensive experience of Meta-Human affairs due to his numerous transformations. Deconstructed when it is revealed that without Superman as his best friend, the transformations have driven him insane. And then Luthor used him as a guinea pig for grafting Kryptonian DNA to a human body. One short With Great Power Comes Great Insanity later and Olsen is the Big Bad, using Luthor as a Brainwashed puppet to bring down anyone who might be a threat to his dream of "New Krypton".
    • One comic (a lead-up to the New Krypton story) suggests Jimmy has had this happen to him so many times that it's made his mind impossible to read. Jimmy himself figures it out while being chased by a mind reading assassin. Long story.
    • And in Countdown to Final Crisis, Jimmy starts cycling through all his powers, and decides now's his moment to become a superhero... Mr. Action.
    • Jimmy's tendency to induce these transformations on himself eventually earned him the "My Brain Says No but My Mouth Says Go" Award in Craig Shutt's final Mopee Awards for the Comics Buyer's Guide.
    • Lana Lang also fell into this a lot in the Silver Age.
    • So did Lois Lane. In fact, the sheer amount of Silver Age Superman stories where either Jimmy, Lois or Lana get superpowers is the most frequent Running Gag in
    • At least Perry White got off scot-free, right? ...Oh.
  • There was a period in the Silver Age when Batman was either getting a superpower or experiencing a bizarre transformation (alien, genie, giant, merman, flat flying disc, etc) every month. It would always Snap Back at the end of the story.
    • It still happens every now and then. There's even an Elseworld based on Bruce Wayne becoming a Green Lantern. (Or a pirate, or a knight...)
    • And according to Grant Morrison, every single wacky Silver Age transformation is now canon. Albeit with most of them retconned into being hallucinations brought about by the sensory deprivation experiment he underwent in "Robin Dies At Dawn!", or by the many chemical weapons Batman's rogues tend to use.
  • Dial H for Hero is built on this trope, with the various runs having the protagonist(s) come in possession of a mysterious artifact that looks a bit like a rotary telephone dial without the phone attached. Pressing a certain sequence on it transforms the user into a "superhero", or at least something with (usually quirky) super powers, for a short period. The original comics would have about three transformations per story: each transformation was usually unique, and the latest transformation would be met with some kind of thought like "I wish I was (some previous transformation) again", because that form would have made solving the problem easy; some of them did occur multiple times over the course of the series, though.

  • In Monster, Monster Dionysus had a near-fatal exposure to basilisk venom, He wakes up with a different superpower - some awesome, some trivial, some cool but flawed - every time he goes to sleep. His skin also turns a different color for each such power, so he can usually tell what ability he'll have by checking if he's blue, green, glowing yellow, etc.

    Western Animation