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Talented, but Trained

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When it comes to everyday life, there seem to be two ways to get ahead in life. In one corner, you have those that lack talent or innate ability but manage to achieve their desires and goals through sheer perseverance. In the other, you have the gifted prodigy who uses their boundless talents and skills to conquer any problem they face. Both type of people wow the masses at their amazing abilities, yet both send different types of messages. The first is that anything can be achieved through hard work and determination. The second is that some people are just born with it. How realistic they are most likely depends on personal experiences.

Then there is this kind of person. They have special attributes, be it art, math, or problem-solving, that most probably would kill to have. At the same time, they develop these abilities through research, practice, and failure like an average person. This person is the intermediary between the two extremes and is often viewed as the most grounded in reality. Most people in the world have at least one great quality about them, but for it to be of use to themselves or those around them, he or she must work on it, or else it becomes a total waste.

These kinds of people tend to showcase a certain Aesop — everyone has something in them that must be honed — but isn't necessarily required to be an example. This trope is more about the kind of individual a person is, not an ideal; therefore, it is very much possible for the Talented But Trained to lose out to other kinds of people, because nothing is assured and not everyone is perfect.

While this trope can been seen as harping on just the talented, it examines the workers just as hard. There must be a point to all that practice and training. Wasted effort and time is just as, well, wasteful as sullied talent. Sure enough, if you wind up achieving the impossible, congratulations — "working hard" is your special talent, and you just saw the fruits of your labor.

Sadly, a person who is Talented But Trained can be easily mistaken, both by the audience and other characters, as just working really hard or being extremely talented. This often leads to them facing claims that their talent/power is their only strength, or inspiring unreasonable expectations in others.

Boxing Lessons for Superman is one way for someone to become Talented But Trained. Those Weak, but Skilled also tend to be this, unlike their counterpart. The Perfectionist would love to be this at worst or The Ace at best.

Forms of a trifecta of effort/aptitude combinations with Brilliant, but Lazy (all talent, no effort) and High Hopes, Zero Talent (all effort, no talent). Contrast Underdogs Never Lose, in which the "trained" part trumps all else. Has a mix relationship with Hard Work Hardly Works, as one character will surpass those who don't train as much, but also those who do.

Compare the Japanese Spirit (success goes to the person who has superior talent, training and morals), but success nor a strong moral compass is needed to be an example.

Compare/contrast to Training the Gift of Magic. Sister Trope to Strong and Skilled, the difference being that trope is about a combination of abilities (power and technique) regardless of how they were obtained.


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     Anime and Manga 
  • Chivalry of a Failed Knight has Stella Vermillion, who as a child was Unskilled, but Strong with fire magic to the point of burning herself. Through intense training, she eventually mastered her magic as well as swordplay, allowing her to become a powerful A-ranked Blazer. However, she's frustrated that most people attribute her success solely to talent rather than hard work.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, it's often shown that Gohan has far greater natural potential than his legendary father, Goku, and sure enough he does briefly surpass his dad at the end of the Cell Arc. However, Gohan has a tendency to skip out on training, (Goku lives for challenging fights, and Gohan has nowhere near the same enthusiasm for it) which winds up causing his power and fighting ability to drop considerably by the next arc and cause several other characters to pass him in strength.
    • It was noted in Dragon Ball Super that, had Gohan continued to train consistently up to that point, he would have been undisputedly the strongest fighter in the universe.
  • Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin: Gin the Akita dog is born as naturally stronger and more intelligent than his brothers, but he still has to go through vigorous training to become a skilled bear hound.
  • In My Hero Academia, when one of the school's Big Three, Mirio Togata, does a demonstration for Class 1-A, they all marvel at his strong Quirk. Another Big Three member, Tamaki Amajiki, responds that they're looking at it all wrong and what's really impressive is the carefully honed technique that he uses to take advantage of his powers. Mirio himself then explains the many drawbacks of his Quirk and tells how hard he had to work to make it useful.
  • Seen often in Naruto:
    • The title character at first believes himself a born loser who wants to trump the genius through grit alone. However, the reality complicates things. One, he has a decorated heritage that includes Senju and Uzumaki blood. Two, the most powerful Tailed Beast, other than the Ten Tails itself, was sealed within him at birth. This alone puts him above, say, Rock Lee in the grand scheme of things. That being said, the listed factors were as much or more of a detriment than a help to Naruto in his early days, and he needed to hone the talents he has to eventually earn the respect of his peers.
    • Sasuke's a genius in every sense of the word and has the amazing Kekkei Genkai, the Sharigan, and all of its potent abilities. Yet, he's been training constantly since childhood, and later gets his hands dirty for the sake of getting stronger, including when he defected to Orochimaru's side. It's just that the "Trained" part gets lost in a certain kind of mire.
  • Maka from Soul Eater is shown to be skilled as a Scythe Meister and as an EAT Student, she's a cut above the rest. But there were times where she had to develop her scythe-handling skills by herself because her partner, Soul, used to do all the cool stuff, not her. When she discovers she has a Grigori Soul, it took some time to master, even if it's an innate and rare type of soul. Most importantly, Maka's intelligence is her greatest asset and has several academic feats to her name, like getting 1st on the Super Written Exam, but that doesn't discuss the fact she studied voraciously weeks in advance to make it happen. Fittingly, she strikes the midline between Death the Kid and Black*Star.
  • Rinne Berlinetta from ViVid Strike! was shown to be a naturally gifted athlete but only became a top tier fighter after going through some Training from Hell set up by her coach, Jill Stola. Interesting enough, Jill believed that Hard Work Hardly Works when up against those who were inherently strong or powerful.
  • Deconstructed in Your Lie in April with Kousei. Seeing his incredible natural affinity for the piano, his mother sought to make a professional out of him... and put him through Training from Hell that made him both an unbeatable pianist and horribly traumatised.

     Fan Works 
  • The titular character of Harry Tano is a highly dangerous opponent both because of his natural magical and Force powers, but is Strong and Skilled due to intense training with his adoptive mom, Ahsoka Tano, and sort-of Cool Uncles Sirius and Remus, amongst others.
  • Nimbus Llewelyn, author of Child of the Storm, seems to be quite fond of this trope. Harry is progressing towards it-he's won the Superpower Lottery, but as his powers take a while to come in, he's being trained by the Avengers and given Boxing Lessons for Superman by Sean Cassidy in the first book, and the second book adds to his list of teachers Magneto, Doctor Strange, and Bucky, all of whom mentor him in different skills.
    • He's not the only one, either: Carol is a talented athlete with not-so-latent supersoldier genes, Jean-Paul has Super Speed, Jean Grey has her (duh) Psychic Powers...all of them get training and learn how to use their abilities. The times that someone just tries to blast their way through an enemy with raw force usually do not go well. Just ask Daken.

  • Harry Potter:
    • Inverted by Gilderoy Lockhart, who was apparently intelligent enough to get sorted into the intellectual Ravenclaw House, but in adulthood his magic skills seem to have regressed into near-nothing from disuse (with the exception of Memory Charms, which he uses to follow monster hunters, learn their secrets, then take the credit for their deeds).
    • Dumbledore, The Archmage and Big Good, has not just immense magical power, but is also well over a century old, and has a lot of experience.
  • In His Dark Materials, Xaphania explains Lyra's lost innate alethiometer reading capacities as something which can be permanently regained by a lifetime of learning.
  • In The Black Magician Trilogy, Sonea Invokes this: She has exceptionally powerful magical talent, but devotes herself to training and study in part to defy her aristocrat classmate's prejudice that she's an unsophisticated, Unskilled, but Strong peasant. This is demonstrated in a Wizard Duel that she wins with an extremely complex, technically challenging technique rather than overwhelm her opponent's defenses with raw force.
  • Horace Altman of Ranger's Apprentice is noted to have incredible natural ability as a swordsman, to the point where he can pull off moves completely instinctively, but in the first books, is relatively inexperienced. Training from Sir Rodney, Gilan, Shukin, and years of combat practice against everyone from Gallican bandits to Morgarath, turn him into a Master Swordsman, one of, if not the best in the series.
  • Inigo Montoya of The Princess Bride dedicated himself to learning from every expert with the sword he could in order to be able to kill the six-fingered noble who killed his father, making him an absolute Master Swordsman (though he still loses to the Man in Black).

     Video Games 
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Cordelia from Fire Emblem Awakening would rather be called this than an outright genius. She even lectures to Sumia in one of their supports about limitations.
    • Subaki and Caeldori in Fire Emblem Fates are held as the pinnacle of perfection in the army, yet that disregards the amount of dedication they put into their craft, the latter especially, being a Cordelia Expy.

     Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Most unicorns can only get good at magic that's related to their "special talent", but Twilight Sparkle's special talent is magic itself. On top of that, she's one of the strongest unicorns in the world in terms of raw magical power, rivaling legendary wizards of history despite her young age. In order to realize her potential, Twilight spends a lot of time researching and practicing new spells.
    • Rainbow Dash is a naturally gifted flyer who broke speed records even as a child. She dreams of joining the Wonderbolts (a team of stunt flyers akin to the Real Life Blue Angels), so she practices often to make sure she's good enough to qualify.