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Unique Protagonist Asset

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"What makes you so special?"
Red Skull to Captain America, Captain America: The First Avenger

Being the protagonist of a story has its perks. You escape all manner of danger however slim your chances, win the love of your life, hang out with some pretty cool people, don't have to answer for most of what you do, achieve your goals simply because Prophecies Are Always Right, and almost always get a Happy Ending.

However, one final perk may be having that one thing that makes you specially enabled in your quest to resolve Conflict, and that is your Unique Protagonist Asset. While the chosen one is a nice trope all on its own, a UPA goes beyond vague concepts like "destiny" and "fate" and provides a logical In-Universe reason why it's our protagonist and not just anybody that saves the day.

It also helps with suspension of disbelief: suddenly, the idea of a group of teenage friends saving the world where militaries and governments fail isn't so ridiculous if you consider the former having knowledge, equipment, training, or powers that simply make them much more capable than the professionals. Why they don't share this knowledge, or try to replicate the equipment, is another issue altogether.

It can be anything. Material objects such as weapons, clothes, or tools count. Knowledge counts. Abilities such as superpowers, Le Parkour, Improbable Aiming Skills, and Implausible Fencing Powers count. Vehicles can count as well, as can any special modifications these vehicles may sport. Literally anything can count as long as it fits these three criteria:

  • The asset must be unique, endowed upon an individual, but there are four exceptions to this rule:
    • The first exception is if the protagonist has the same kind of asset as everyone else, but has a much better version of it than everyone else has, e.g. everyone in the setting is packing heat, but the protagonist has a modern assault rifle while everyone else has muskets.
    • The second exception is when the protagonist has the same kind of asset and to roughly the same degree as many people off-screen, but the story puts them around people who don't have the asset or have it to a lesser degree. See Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond.
    • The third exception is when there are villainous characters who have the same asset; in this case, the UPA isn't universally unique but does make the protagonist exceptional as the only one even capable of realistically competing with the antagonist. Alternately, The Rival or the Evil Counterpart having the asset establishes their credibility and ability to compete with the protagonist.
    • The final exception is when the protagonist and their companions all share an asset, but there are other groups/cast herds/ensembles/bands of characters that don't have anything special about them.
  • The ability must be relevant to the story's Conflict in some way. Puzzle solving skills in a mystery novel are this trope, combat prowess in a romantic comedy is not (at least in general). However, this asset does not necessarily have to directly lead to the conflict's resolution (e.g. the protagonist has a powerful Super Mode that helps out in combat, but the villain is defeated by a Deus ex Machina instead). The ability must also be noticeably demonstrated. Informed Ability, Off Screen Moment Of Awesome, and implied cases are not true examples.
  • The character must be the protagonist, or at the very least one of the primary characters on the protagonist's side. Minor characters do not count. While antagonists may have special assets used to cause conflict in the story, the nature of conflict-causing abilities and the way they are used is often of a different nature than many special assets protagonists have.

Supertrope to One Hero, Hold the Weaksauce, if the asset is significant immunity that other characters lack.

Compare The Gift for when this is a talent. If Mooks have this ability, they would be called Superpowered Mooks. May overlap with Road Runner PC if this ability is superior mobility and the protagonist is in a video game, as well as Protagonist Power-Up Privileges the main character acquires their UPA instead of having it right from the start. Possibly the reason why someone is a Born Winner. Almost every superhero within the context of their own stories has a UPA, although shared universes containing dozens or even hundreds of other supers cast a shadow on this trope as it somewhat violates the third criterion. If The Protagonist is Trapped in Another World, expect them to gain this via New Life in Another World Bonus. In games, this trope may be expressed in a Player-Exclusive Mechanic.

Compare Standardized Leader where the protagonist is rather generic in terms of ability.

This usually comes standard in a Japanese Spirit story.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan:
    • The series is about soldiers, meaning everyone is a member of the Red Shirt Army, but each of the 104th trainee corps members have something special that sets them apart from a mere Red Shirt. The Survey Corps' "Levi Squadron" are all unique too. To give specifics, The Protagonist Eren is The Determinator In a World… where Hope Is Scary, Mikasa has Super-Strength, Armin is The Strategist, and Levi is the World's Best Warrior.
    • Eren also gains the ability to physically transform into a Titan early in the story. This leads the protagonists to making significant discoveries about the nature of Titans in general and gives humanity its first true victory against them in over a century. The uniqueness doesn't last, as not long after the existence of antagonistic Titan Shifters is confirmed. However, Eren's uniqueness is preserved, as it turns out that he possesses two titans: the Attack Titan and the Founding Titan, the latter of which has the power to control all other titans. As Eren lacks royal blood, he needs to be in contact with a Titan Shifter with royal blood to use the Coordinate ability, but his nature as a mundane Eldian also allows him to circumvent the forced pacifism vow instilled into the Founding Titan by a previous user.
  • Bleach:
    • The Thousand-Year Blood War arc reveals that not only was Ichigo Kurosaki's father a Soul Reaper, but his mother, Misaki, was descended from the Quincy and, when his parents met, she was infected by a Hollow created by Aizen. As a result, Ichigo is unique in that he is capable of drawing on the powers of all three of the major factions of Bleach. He defaults to Soul Reaper, he can call upon his Hollow abilities by donning a Hollow mask, and can break through Quincy-made barriers that only other Quincy should be able to break. Neither of Ichigo's younger sisters exhibit these abilities, and only one of them is even sensitive to spiritual happenings.
    • Years before Yhwach's formal appearance in the story he unleashed the Auswählen, an ability that takes the power from any Quincy he deemed unworthy and returns it to himself. He used it to empower himself at the expense of all non-pure blooded Quincy. This killed Uryu Ishida's mother and, by all rights, should have also killed Uryu himself. However, Uryu survived and went on to play a pivotal part in Yhwach's downfall.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, Touma Kamijou has the Imagine Breaker, a right hand that cancels out powers and enchantments, making him able to defeat incredibly powerful characters that no one else can. The light novels establish that there can only be one Imagine Breaker in the entire universe. Two other characters with unique right hands show up, and their abilities are arguably more versatile than Imagine Breaker. However, these two eventually end up losing their right hand/arm and hence having their power weakened/lost entirely. In contrast, Touma's Imagine Breaker is unique in that it always returns to his hand (and regenerates it in the process) no matter what. Furthermore, the loss of Touma's right hand unleashes something incredibly powerful until it regenerates.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: Tanjiro's family regularly practiced a dance known as the Hinokami Kagura, passed down to him by his father. During a do-or-die moment with a powerful demon, Tanjiro manages to use this dance, granting him a power boost on par with the Hashira, the most powerful Demon Slayers. It's later revealed that the Hinokami Kagura is an incomplete version of the Sun Breathing technique, the technique of the original Demon Slayer where all other techniques are derived from. Tanjiro's ancestor memorized Sun Breathing and hid it as a dance to prevent it from being lost to time after Muzan killed every other practitioner. It is also implied that this dance being passed down is the reason why Nezuko develops an immunity to the sun, along with her surviving on sleep instead of eating humans.
  • Early in Dragon Ball, while it is established that martial arts prowess and superhuman physical abilities are not uncommon, for much of Dragon Ball, Goku is one of two known people in the entire world (the other being Master Roshi) who can utilize the powerful ranged energy attack known as the Kamehameha. Goku's physical endurance is also key to his success for much of his childhood, and it is established in the very first Chapter.
  • Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA: Illya and Miyu are Magical Girls, allowing them to enter the Mirror World and engage the Class Cards. It's later revealed that, more than that, the two of them are both Vessels of the Holy Grail, and as such have access to a tremendous amount of magical power that other potential Magical Girls could never gain.
  • Gundam: In several of the series, the protagonist (or protagonist team) is the only one in possession of the eponymous machines, starting from the original Mobile Suit Gundam—often, it is a Super Prototype. Gundam Wing, ∀ Gundam, Gundam 00, and Gundam AGE all follow this pattern.
  • Gems in Land of the Lustrous are remarkably fragile beings that are consistently broken apart due to battle or happenstance. When this happens, and there is not enough of the Gem's original material to use in reassembly, substitutes can be used but only if the substitute material is close enough to the original that the Gems' inclusions will integrate it as part of the body. Phosphophyllite, Phos for short, has the unusual, if not completely unique, ability to be able to integrate replacement material from a wide variety of sources such as agate found inside a fossil or gold and platinum alloy in the winter ice floes. By the time Phos' head is being replaced with another Gem's head entirely, Rutile, who does the repairs, ponders whether they can still be called "Phosphophyllite" anymore.
  • My Hero Academia: Izuku Midoriya, also known as Deku, starts the story as one of a dwindling population of people with no Qurik in a world where Everyone Is a Super. He gets his chance to fulfill his dream of being a professional Hero when All Might, Midoriya's idol, passes his Quirk "One For All" to Midoriya. This itself is unusual, as Quirks are normally genetic in nature and typically derived from one's parents, with occasional mutations into something completely different, but also not entirely unique as the series Greater-Scope Villain, All For One, can steal and transfer Quirks at will and played a role in One For All's creation. All Might also started out Quirkless, the same as Midoriya, and Midoriya is the ninth wielder of the Quirk. What makes Midoriya unique in the setting in general and among the previous holders of One For All in particular is that, by the time it reaches Midoriya, One For All has developed to a point that he can access the Quirks of the previous holders, as well as speak to them through remnants of them stored within One For All along with their Quirks. So where previous holders had increased strength and those with Quirks had them boosted by One For All, Midoriya is the only user capable of using a wide range of abilities and being able to actively call upon guidance from his predecessors in a way none who came before him could. Later on, his quirklessness is revealed to have saved him from an unforeseen consequence of possessing One For All, as any user with an existing quirk would suffer Rapid Aging in a few short years of receiving One For All. All Might was the first to discover this, having himself been quirkless. By Midoriya's time, not only is the number of quirkless people diminished, but One For All has accumulated too much power for even a person without a quirk to use, meaning that Deku is highly likely to be the very last user of One For All.
  • Naruto: The titular character is not just a Jinchuriki, one of nine people with a powerful monster called a Tailed Beast sealed inside him, he's also one to the strongest Beasts, Kurama, the Nine-Tailed Fox.
  • One Piece: Protagonist Monkey D. Luffy is a standout pirate, able to defeat many foes both on and above his weight class in his quest to become King of the Pirates. However, for much of the series he isn't shown to possess any notable attributes other than sharing similar ideals and mannerisms with Gold Roger, the first pirate king. While Luffy is a Rubber Man from eating a Devil Fruit and possesses a form of the aura ability Haki called "The Color of the Conquering King", users of Devil Fruit and Conqueror's Haki become increasingly common the further up the power scale one goes. It is not revealed what truly sets Luffy apart until in the climax of the Wano country arc: the nature of his Devil Fruit. Up until then, it was believed that Luffy's fruit, the Gum-Gum Fruit, belonged to the Paramythia class of Devil Fruits, which is any power that does not fall into the other two types of Devil Fruit, the Animorphism Zoan and Elemental Shapeshifter Logia. When Luffy achieves a power up to his Devil Fruit called Awakening, a conversation taking place elsewhere reveals that Luffy's Fruit is not the Paramythia-type Gum-Gum Fruit at all, but the Zoan-type Human-Human Fruit: Model Nika. Nika was referenced earlier in the arc as a sun god worshipped by slaves. This conversation also calls him a "Warrior of Liberation" who values freedom above all else. The fruit itself is further implied to be a Living MacGuffin, as the World Government has tried and failed for centures to obtain it. This means that Luffy's power was never being a Rubber Man, but being able to transform into a literal god, or something very close to it, and Awakening his Devil Fruit has allowed that full power to be brought to bear.
  • Rebuild World: With Akira, it's at first his rare BioAugmentation wireless Brain/Computer Interface that allows his Virtual Sidekick Alpha to aid him in various ways with her superior detection, Augmented Reality, and People Puppets assistance. From part way through the story, it's also the forgotten quasi-Bullet Time technique Alpha teaches him called compressed time, that other hunters need an extremely harmful stimulant in order to use. It's noted multiple times that neither of those would amount to much if it wasn't for Akira being a Determinator who can power through often Cast From Hitpoints maneuvers that defy sanity.
  • Re:Monster: Rou's Cannibalism Superpower allowing him to copy the powers of those he devours, and eventual ability to fuse those powers (and to gain power by devouring magical items). While reincarnating from another world does provide some basis for organizing his tribal rule-of-the-jungle society into something resembling civilization, there are actually several other reincarnators out there.
  • Sword Art Online: In SAO, Kirito is the only player to acquire the Dual Wielding unique skill, which the system granted to the player with the fastest reaction time. This skill bolstered his already powerful status and had him overshadowing nearly every player. Two swords allowed him to deal double the damage, while they also allowed cross-blocking as a much more efficient defense than one sword. It is what enabled Kirito to solo the Gleam-Eyes boss on his own and what he uses whenever he gets serious. It turns out this was invoked by Kayaba, who decided that whoever obtained the Dual Wielding unique skill would almost certainly be The Hero with the ability to challenge and defeat him.
  • Undead Unluck: Played with when Fuuko begins to understand Soul Power in the Union's fight with Beast. The first Master Rule and source of that power, Soul, has a conversation in which it's revealed that it takes at least two centuries of diligent effort to start to understand soul power, but otherwise almost anyone can do it. The two people who can't are Juiz and Victor, the founders and former leaders of the Union. This is because part of what helps Fuuko, and later Haruka and Top, to understand Soul Power is learning to commune with the past users of their respective powers, but Juiz and Victor were first generation Negators who, for all the time they had from repeating and living through the Eternal Recurrences, respectively, never had predecessors to learn from. In short, Fuuko's becoming leader of the Union and going into the 101st Loop instead of Juiz put her in a position to begin to understand the power that would most likely become a Game Changer when the only other people in a position to do so couldn't, but that power itself is not unique and can be spread to the rest of the Union once it's known.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS, it's established that every Duelist has Skills, which are one-use perks that complement the Duelist's play style or strategy. Playmaker's Skill stands out in its ability to obtain new Link Monsters in the middle of a Duel, which then become physical cards for future use. This makes the reveal that Revolver has the same Skill a lot more impactful.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Equestria Girls: Friendship Souls: Magic is this in general. Thanks to how magic mixes with spiritual powers to awaken, enhance and accelerate its growth exponentially, Sunset Shimmer, the Humane Five, Human Twilight Sparkle, and Adagio Dazzle have managed to awaken their abilities and rapidly climb the power rankings via Next Tier Power-Up and Training from Hell in weeks and months what takes most being decades if not centuries to achieve. All sides of the Soul Reaper/Quincy/Hollow war are aware of this and several have gone out their way to study magic in the hopes of harnessing it for themselves for their own exponential growth and make the "unique protagonist" part null and void with Grogar intent on using it to accelerate Hollow evolution (especially of himself) and Human Starlight Glimmer wanting to use it in her campaign against the Zero Division.
  • Fate Revelation Online: Discussed; as in Nasuverse canon, people are born with an affinity for various elements of either the Western or Eastern arrays. Sometimes, however, people can have a "Rare Element" that does not match any of these, and is often unique. The players semi-jokingly refer to these people as "Protagonists" since it's such a common anime plot for the main character to have some rare special ability. Rosalia mentions that many people have Rare Elements that are too specialized and weird to make good use of; these people usually don't get called Protagonists. Shirou (as in canon) has the Sword element, which is even more useful in a game completely built around swords. Silica has the Beast element, and Illya begins collecting Rare element holders at Kayaba's request.
  • Harry Potter and the Munchkins by Schwepcn has Harry Potter gaining video game powers on his eleventh birthday. In this Alternate Universe, all wizards are players so discussions of maximizing feats and stats are everywhere, but Harry is the only empowered protagonist alive (owls are his Justified Save Points. By keeping his reloading abilities secret he takes Save Scumming to epic levels.
  • The Mission Stays the Same: Gallardi's lasrifle. Nothing special in Warhammer 40,000, but in the Mass Effect setting, where all combat techniques are predicated on the existence of kinetic barriers, a directed-energy weapon that can bypass those barriers becomes a Game-Breaker.

    Film — Animated 
  • In How to Train Your Dragon (2010), Hiccup is the only person riding a Night Fury. No one else has one. In How to Train Your Dragon 2, it's speculated that Toothless may very well be the Last of His Kind, justifying the trope, and in the third movie, it’s revealed that the Night Furies were hunted to near extinction by the Big Bad, confirming it.
  • The Furious Five from Kung Fu Panda subvert this trope, being set up as master martial artists who go out to defeat the movie's villain but suffer a Curb Stomp Cushion. Po, however, plays this trope straight (albeit subtly) in that his special ability is to learn extremely rapidly when food is a motivation. The plot of the third film has him try to use the same methodology to teach the rest of the pandas to fight.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Peter Parker from The Amazing Spider-Man has superpowers, with only the main villain having powers as well.
  • Subverted in A Beautiful Mind. At first, we are made to think John Nash is a genius mathematician who is the only person skilled enough to crack Russian spy codes, but it turns out he's just insane and it is all part of his mental illness. Double subverted when he uses his genius intelligence to realize that his hallucinations are not real, thus curing himself.
  • Captain America: The First Avenger: Steve Rogers is the only super-powered individual in the war, having been given the super-soldier serum designed by Dr. Erskine. (Red Skull took a prototype version, but it had unfortunate side effects.) However, there are two interesting twists to his story.
    • First, he was chosen to receive the formula not because of any particular training or physical trait, but because of his strength of character. Dr. Erskine specifically says he chose Rogers for his moral compass.
      Erskine: This is why you were chosen. Because the strong man who has known power all his life may lose respect for that power, but a weak man knows the value of strength, and knows compassion.
    • Second, Rogers isn't intended to be the only super-soldier, just the first. But after Erskine dies immediately following the administration of the serum, the knowledge of the process dies with him, and Rogers ends up being the sole recipient of the process.
  • Batman throughout the The Dark Knight Trilogy stands out due to his ninja training, martial arts prowess, and gadgets.
  • This happens to William Cage in Edge of Tomorrow- by killing an Alpha Mimic in battle, he gets caught in a time loop, awakening the day before the battle any time he dies, while still retaining all of his memories of events yet to come. Over the course of several time loops, it's up to him to train to be a better soldier and find a way to stop the alien threat.
  • Superman in Man of Steel is the only non-villainous character with superpowers.
  • Neo from the The Matrix is The One, the prophesied quasi-messiah whose ability to control the titular Matrix will lead humanity out of bondage to the machines. However, the sequels complicate this, as while he may be the One, he's not the first One. According to the machines, there needs to be an "anomaly" who will periodically "save" humanity from the Matrix; his very existence is necessary to the functioning of the system. Neo is merely the most recent incarnation of this anomaly.

  • Beast Tamer:
    • Beast Tamers are normally only able to control one single, normal animal at a time. Rein, however, is not only able to tame multiple animals at once but can also form contracts with the Strongest Species, humanoid races with incredible power. Doing so gives Rein their powers via Power Copying, such as Cat Girl Kanade's physical power and dragon girl Tania's magical power. It's implied that all Beast Tamers in Rein's hometown were just as capable, but his village was destroyed when Rein was twelve years old, leaving him the sole survivor.
    • Later in the story, it is suggested by one of the Fairy twins that Rein may not have any upper limit to his potential growth. All mortals in the setting are subject to such a limit, a point at which they can become no stronger no matter what they do. The only known exception to this is the hero Arios, as he's descended from a prior hero who was given the "Limit Breaker" ability by the gods. It is for this reason Arios is considered the only one potentially capable of fighting the Demon Lord. Sora theorizes that Rein's Power Copying may work in much the same way: Offering a way for him to become continually stronger with every contract he forms.
  • Downplayed in Beware of Chicken. The fact that Meiling has medicinal qi is not unique, as just about all healers learn to generate it. What is unique, or at least very rare, is that Meiling's qi is naturally medicinal, instead of needing to be transformed.
  • Circleverse: In the first quartet, the kids' ambient magic and subsequent bond allows them to survive an earthquake, and later deal with various threats — without their ability to combine their magic, Gold Ridge Valley would have burnt to the ground and Rosethorn would be dead, among other things.
  • Cradle Series: Lindon has four of them, contrasting Yerin's Boring, but Practical Magic Knight style, and Eithan's Confusion Fu Skilled And Strong style.
    • First, he has pure madra. This isn't actually unique; every child is born with pure madra. But since it's only useful as Anti-Magic, everyone always quickly gives it up for something else once they reach the rank of Copper (which is generally before they're teenagers). As an adult with pure madra, he has an unexpected trick up his sleeve, and has an advantage in soulsmithing.
    • Second, he split his core in two. On the surface, this is a disadvantage; he has to raise two separate cores instead of one, and all he got was defense against a few extremely rare abilities that target cores. But having a second core means he can fill one of them with a different type of madra and still keep his pure madra in the other one.
    • Third, he walks the Blackflame Path. This is an extremely dangerous Path that built the Blackflame Empire, only for the imperial family to die off on their own as the madra crippled their bodies and minds. But Lindon's overpowered Healing Factor, combined with his ability to switch to a pure core to take the stress off and clean his madra channels, means he can use the Blackflame Path with no danger.
    • Fourth, he's the only known member of his world with a Presence, in this case Dross. Essentially a combat Artificial Intelligence living inside his head, Dross gives Lindon perfect True Sight, Photographic Memory, and reliable (though not perfect) Combat Precognition. This is an item normally exclusive to the Abidan, and Lindon got it by being nice to a literal piece of trash.
  • The Dresden Files: Dresden is a Starborn. It has not yet been revealed exactly what that entails, but it is implied to grant him some kind of power over Outsiders. His mother, a notorious rogue sorceress, deliberately manipulated the circumstances of his birth to ensure he would have this power. It's also implied to be the reason so many of his enemies are interested in getting him on their side.
  • As explained in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the Big Bad Voldemort forged a connection between himself and Harry Potter deeper than any two wizards had ever been connected before; the most prominent of which is the fact that he inadvertently made Harry one of his Soul Jars, giving Harry some of his own abilities.
  • The Licanius Trilogy: Davian's undead state makes him the only person who can safely traverse the Deillanis time rift (the energies of the rift are anathema to life, and would annihilate any living thing on contact).
  • In the Martha Speaks series, Martha is the only dog who is able to speak human language. After adopting Skits, the family feeds him alphabet soup, thinking he'll also begin speaking, but he never says anything humanlike.
  • Temeraire: A lot of things wouldn't happen if Temeraire wasn't a particular breed of Chinese dragon who (a) had a reason to visit China and see how dragons are treated differently elsewhere and (b) was basically a prince. Cue Laurence getting caught up in all sorts of international intrigues and going Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right! as a result of new perspectives.
  • Tortall Universe:
    • Daine of The Immortals has an unprecedented amount of wild magic, allowing her to communicate with (and eventually turn into) just about every animal. This proves to be critical to winning the Immortals War, as animals make great spies and she can communicate with non-humanoid immortals.
    • Beka Cooper can speak to lingering ghosts and hear the sounds that collect in dust spinnersnote  at street corners. This leads directly to the Dogs cracking a decade-old serial murder case in the first book and materially assists her investigations in the next two.
  • In Venus Prime, Sparta was trained from birth and surgically altered to become the epitome of human intelligence and skill.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the 1950s The Adventures of Superman TV series Superman is the only person with superpowers we ever see (and by implication the only one on the entire planet).
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer is gifted with superhuman abilities as a Slayer.
  • In Dollhouse, Echo has something in her spinal fluid that allows her to retain memories from her imprints.
  • GARO: Kami no Kiba ~Jinga~ has Jinga's ability to turn Horrors back into humans- Something which is normally impossible and earns him scrutiny from his fellows. However, this gets deconstructed, as Jinga develops a savior complex that makes him turn away from other Makai Knights, and The Reveal shows that none of the people Jinga thought he was saving were actually saved. They only turned back into humans momentarily. The one behind Jinga's power did it all to toy with him, and to reincarnate, as it was the original Jinga from GARO: Gold Storm Sho.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Most of the Showa series make the asset the protagonist's extensive cybernetic enhancements, or otherwise having been a product of the villainous organization that they then go on to fight, meaning while they're not the only one with powers they're the only good character with powers.
    • In the Heisei and Reiwa eras, the Transformation Trinket tends to be a Clingy MacGuffin, ensuring the protagonist is special by virtue of being the only one who can use it because they touched it first.
    • Kamen Rider Kiva: Wataru is a rare dhampir, giving him the ability to safely use vampiric powers and form contracts with other monster races.
    • Kamen Rider Double: Philip was dunked in a mystical well as a child that gave him access to all of the knowledge in the world. Shotaro, meanwhile, has no asset, which becomes point of contention later in the series when their backer tries to replace him as the left half of Double with someone who does have a special ability she thinks is necessary to defeat the Big Bad.
    • Kamen Rider OOO: A traumatic event in his youth left Eiji with no material desires of any kind, which makes him the only person capable of safely using a belt that grants superpowers but also catastrophically amplifies the user's greed.
    • Kamen Rider Wizard: As the title implies, the title character is a rare natural wizard. He's eventually revealed to actually be quite a puny one, but wizards are so rare that even being a tiny fish makes him look big in this particular pond.
    • Kamen Rider Zi-O: Sougo was born with inherent Time Master powers that have no explanation beyond that it was simply his destiny to be born with them. The story instead focuses on the drama of what his future self did with those powers, and what his current self might do again if he doesn't change his ways.
    • Kamen Rider Revice: The three central protagonists share the unique asset of being half-demons, courtesy of their father.

    Tabletop Games 
  • GURPS has a catchall advantage "Unusual Background" which allows a character to have equipment and/or abilities that are not available to most people in the game setting. The point cost of this advantage enforces the rarity of such special assets, and reflects the extra advantage of having a capability other people can't duplicate and probably aren't prepared to counteract.

    Video Games 
  • In The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, William Carter is the only XCOM agent who can analyze the battlefield in an instant, give orders to the other agents on the fly, and react to enemy actions with nigh-superhuman speed. It's actually an Etherial named Asaru who is controlling Carter like a puppet and using its psychic abilities to augment its chosen human vessel. Near the end of the game, one of three other characters exhibit the same abilities (as Carter forces Asaru to leave him, resulting in Asaru finding another vessel).
  • In Cat Quest II, those with Kingsblood (reincarnations of the first kings) can enter Eldritch Locations and fast-travel through them. Much, much faster than crossing the ocean between countries...fortunately, the kings are not interested in using this power for war.
  • In Conception 2: Children Of The Seven Stars, The Hero has the ability to generate a power ether field. This allows him to lead a team into the Labyrinth to hunt the source of the monsters. Before he was around, the Disciples were forced to wait outside the labyrinths and kill monsters as they came out.
  • Kris, the character the player controls in Deltarune, is the only character that contains a human SOUL. This lets them seal the Dark Fountains that are prophesised to destroy the world.
  • Adam Jensen in Deus Ex: Human Revolution has the dubious privilege of being the human augmentation visionary David Sarif's personal killer cyborg, meaning that he is packed to the teeth (literally) with the most advanced cybertech money can afford, which makes him uniquely suited to deal with the Government Conspiracy targeting Sarif's company. In an optional Sidequest Sidestory, it is revealed to be a consequence of his actual unique asset: a rare genetic condition that suppresses his immune system's rejection of cybernetic enhancements without the need for neuropozyne, which most other cyborgs are effectively addicted to.
  • Devil May Cry:
    • Devil May Cry 4: Being his debut game, Nero is very crucial to the plot. His Devil Bringer arm can do many feats in-game and in cutscenes, but it's just what he needed to ultimately destroy Sanctus and The Savior. Case in point, Dante's endgoal while fighting the latter giant was to jam the Yamato so that Nero could wake up and finish the fight. In the first place, Nero's presence in the Containment Room managed to fix the broken Yamato katana (which the Mad Scientist Agnus couldn't accomplish), because it's revealed later on that Nero is actually a descendant of Sparda.
    • Devil May Cry 5: Each of the three protagonists has a stake involving the plot and the Big Bad which differ from what the other two could bring.
      • V has information regarding the sudden demon invasion in Red Grave City and the Demon King behind it, Urizen. He's the client of the Devil May Cry this time around, urging J.D. Morrison to gather Dante, Lady, Trish and Nero for a mission, while V serves as their guide towards Urizen in the Qliphoth. In the end, it turns out V needed to defeat and land the killing blow on Urizen so that both of them could merge back into a fully-healed Vergil, as he was actually the cast-off humanity of the latter.
      • The game's entire conflict began because Nero had the Yamato inside his Devil Bringer arm, which Vergil had torn off in a flashback to regain the weapon. Nero and V are also the only two heroes who managed to flee in the Prologue, which later on allows them to find or rescue the other three who went missing.
      • Dante is roped into the conflict because V believes that he could defeat Urizen. V is proven right; while Urizen had curb-stomped Dante, Nero, Lady, and Trish for the first half of the game, Dante acquired a Next Tier Power-Up that helps him turn the tide, the Devil Sword Dante and the Sin Devil Trigger were enough to take down the Demon King.
  • The Player Character of Dragon Age: Inquisition is sucked into the Spirit World at the start of the game and branded with a mark that lets them quickly close even the largest breaches between reality and the Fade, which The Legions of Hell are using to invade. Since the Inquisitor is the only one with such power, they are instrumental to defeating the demons. Eventually, they gain the ability to perform a Limit Break that opens a rift to suck demons back into the Fade and does heavy damage to everyone in a certain area.
  • The Hero of Dragon Quest VIII is immune to curses. This allows him to survive the initial curse cast on Castle Trodain, letting him tag along on Trode's journey, leading eventually to the game's resolution. Post-game, it's even revealed that having a curse on him is what let him be immune to further curses.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The series' lore has the concept of "heroes", individuals with a special fate and the ability to rule their own destiny, often being capable of growing far more powerful than other mortals. These heroes are tied to the prophecies of the Elder Scrolls themselves, but are not bound by them. Naturally, the Player Character in each game in the series is considered to be such a "hero", as are many of the Long Dead Badasses mentioned in the lengthy backstory.
    • The Player Character of Skyrim is a Dragonborn, a rare individual who can permanently destroy the otherwise immortal dragons by consuming their souls. Seeing how Skyrim is currently under siege by the dragons, the Dragonborn represents the only hope its inhabitants have of beating them back.
    • The Player Character of Morrowind ends up with immunity to disease as a result of getting more-or-less cured of Corprusnote . For most of the rest of the main quest, this is mainly prophetically important, but towards the end it is pointed out that being immune to Corprus and Blight makes you the perfect person to raid into the Red Mountain region and Dagoth Ur.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VI: The world hasn't seen any Espers since the end of the Magi war. So protagonist Terra Branford's status as a Half-Human Hybrid bridging Espers and humanity is a large part of the plot. The destruction of the Espers takes her focal viewpoint out of the way and Celes takes over as the lead, who is the only other natural mage of the party.
    • Final Fantasy XVI: The world of Valisthea is home to 8 Eikons of extraordinary power whose human Dominants influence shake every corner of the planet. Clive has the unique position of being the Dominant of Ifrit, a never before seen Eikon who can absorb the power of the other Eikons from their Dominants.
  • All the main protagonists of the First Encounter Assault Recon series have a Super-Reflexes power (either from the start or as a Second Hour Superpower) which manifests as a limited ability to enter Bullet Time and is implied to be possible thanks to Psychic Powers. It's also mentioned in the first game's manual that the player character of that game is the only one able to use Guns Akimbo properly because, thanks to those super reflexes, he was specifically trained to do so.
  • In Forbidden Arms, Ichirou wields Mumei, a demonic sword that is powered by Blood Magic.
  • In the world of Genshin Impact control of the elements is given to those with a Vision by the Archons. The protagonist is unique in that they don't need a Vision to use elements and simply synchronizes at Archon statues to use their respective land's element. This gives them a unique ability to traverse Teyvat and meet every Archon.
  • God Hand: the player character Gene has the titular God Hand that gives him the fighting chance against the crooks in the game. Though it's revealed later that one of the bosses, Azel, possesses the other God Hand (the left one, to be specific). Mirror Boss ensues with the two.
  • The Player Character of Granblue Fantasy has their lifeforce linked to Lyria, allowing them to use her power to summon Primal Beasts. If the Player Character dies in battle, the battle can still go on, but you won't be able to use your summons unless they're revived and re-enter battle.
  • Rico in Just Cause has a grappling hook gun, which makes vehicle hijacking easy, enables Rico to reach high places, offers both ranged and melee attack options, and can be combined with a parachute to achieve Not Quite Flight.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, the Jedi Exile is one of the few surviving Jedi and the only one who's actually still Jedi-ing in public rather than hiding or working secretly. This attracts all sorts of enemies, particularly the Big Bad Duumvirate that is the primary threat to the Republic. Also, the Exile draws their Force powers from other people, allowing them to make Force bonds really easily, which means that most of the party is Force-sensitive and thus potential new Jedi.
  • Mari and the Black Tower: Abbie seems to be no different from a regular party member at first due to the class system, but they're the only one who can use the Dispel Miasma skill. This is because they were bioengineered specifically to survive the calamity that destroyed humanity in the future, making them the only one who can stand against the miasma-using enemies of the tower.
  • Venom Snake of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has his prosthetic arm, which can be swapped out with special variants that each give him a different special ability or upgraded to provide benefits like faster sprint speed and improved resistance to critical injuries. The other playable Diamond Dogs units are naturally unable to use Snake's arm abilities and may only bring a single one of the aforementioned benefits each.
  • Faith in Mirror's Edge has Le Parkour on her side, and possibly Super-Strength as well (seeing as how she can take out a fully armored police officer in only a few hits).
  • In the lore for Metroid, Samus Aran is the sole bearer of a Chozo Power Suit that is leaps and bounds better then the Federation and Space Pirate equivalents. The Power Suit's abilities vary game to game, but tends to include being able to interface with Chozo tech and integrate abilities into the Suit, scan enemies and environments for weaknesses, transform into a one meter diameter ball for navigation, and survive contact against the franchise's eponymous Metroids. Most notably, two of Samus' most apocalyptic foes, Dark Samus and the SA-X, managed to steal Samus' Suit and use it against her. Later on in Metroid Fusion the Metroid vaccine she is injected with makes her the only person that can fight the X Parasites. In Metroid Dread this ratchets up and her developing Metroid powers gives her their signature Life Drinker abilities that every game was fought over, likely making her the most dangerous being in existence.
  • In the text-based RPG Mobile Armored Marine, you are the only person with Powered Armor on your mission.
  • In Persona, the player characters from Persona 3 onward have an ability called "The Wild Card" which lets them switch between multiple Personas at will.note  Subverted in Persona 5, when it turns out "Black Mask", The Heavy for the villains, has the same power.
  • The Watcher in Pillars of Eternity has the ability to interact with disembodied souls and others' past incarnations, which they can use to, among other things, obtain the long-forgotten information about an Ancient Conspiracy that had orchestrated the hollowborn plague. It's not a strictly unique ability, but it is rare, and none of the other Watchers encountered are in a position to help.
  • Ironically, despite being regarded as a psychic Child Prodigy, Razputin's unique protagonist asset in Psychonauts aren't his psychic powers at all (which are varied but not terribly rare or uniquely powerful when considered individually), but his acrobatics training—nagivating the Alien Geometries of mental worlds is much easier for an athletic mental gymnast than a Squishy Wizard.
  • John Marston from Red Dead Redemption has Dead Eye Targeting, which slows down time and enables the player to aim and shoot at a practically superhuman level. His son in the epilogue also has this ability.
  • In SaGa Frontier, the majority of main characters have a special edge that's theirs alone and that marks them as the main character of their story. In most cases, if this character can be used in someone else's scenario, they don't get to use their unique gift.
    • Emelia's not especially strong by protagonist standards, but changing her outfit allows her to change what kind of abilities she learns best.
    • Riki is an unusual case. Riki himself doesn't get any unusual powers for a monster. His quest, however, is to gather eight magic rings, and these rings are exceptionally powerful accessories. These are spread across the party, however - he doesn't wear all of them.
    • Blue (or Rouge) can, after their climactic duel, use mutually-exclusive schools of magic, breaking the rules of magic and gaining an entirely new school in the process.
    • Red is a Henshin Hero, able to change into Alkaiser when nobody's looking. In this form, he gets a stat boost, a cool Laser Blade, and several martial arts abilities that can only be used in this form.
    • T260G can swap his core between several different body models, allowing him to act as a carbon copy of any other playable mec in the game (except Leonard). He also can find the Type 8 body later in the game, which is the most powerful mec type in the game. His "normal" form is also special in that it has seven empty slots, allowing for more customization than any other mec.
    • Asellus breaks all the rules, because she can develop her powers both as a human and as a Mystic. This allows her to strengthen her stats through combat and learn combat techniques, but also to use her Mystic Weapons to access monster abilities like a mystic. Most gamebreakingly, when she uses her Mystical Change, the monsters she's absorbed into her weapons add their stats to her human stat block, and her combined stats can easily exceed the Cap, resulting in such insanity as high-level Sword or Fighting techniques doing damage based on a higher Strength than T260G could ever hope for. And yes, she can use her Half-Mystic powers when she teams up with Emelia, though she joins late and the player doesn't have much more time to build her up.
    • Lute, as the main protagonist of the game as a whole, has... nope, nothing. He is, in fact, the second-weakest character in the game at start (only Asellus, at her game-start, is weaker), just a human with low stats and no skills. This is a kind of power in itself, though, as he learns extremely quickly and can be developed however you like, be it as a swordsman, a gun user, a martial artist or even a magician, and he can get most of the available allies in the game who aren't specific to one player's quest.
  • Scarlet Nexus: For the two protagonist who get Another Side, Another Story, Yuito and Kasane, it's their Mind over Matter power Telekinesis, or rather, Gravikenesis, which is essential for Time Travel.
  • The Shadow Hearts series has characters making pacts with demons and dark gods for power regularly. So Protagonist Yuri's ability to fuse with demons to bend them to his will often comes up while dealing with them. A chance encounter with Alice Elliot expands his stable considerably and allows him to fuse with demons outside his original fusion. Later on his ability is crucial to stopping the machinations of Dehuai and Albert Simon by fusing with the Seraphic Radiance to keep it from rampaging and taking the Soul of Amon to stop the Meta-God that Albert summoned.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Every character is noted to be quick on their feet, but Sonic stands above them all as the fastest thing alive. Mildly subverted as Evil Knockoff Metal Sonic can match his speeds unaided, having been built specifically to due so.
  • Star Shift Rebellion: The android Chronus-13 is the protagonist of the game and has the ability to interact with Molarian code. This gives it the ability to control unmanned M1 Antimatter Tanks that the Molarians once used. Said tanks are actually more advanced than the ESA tanks despite coming from an ancient civilization. Later, Chronus downloads all the Molarian digital avatars and uses them to control the Molarian Supercarrier, a powerful ship that can teleport itself and allied ships across great distances.
  • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order: The protagonist Cal Kestis has the unique force power of Attunement, that allows him to read the history of objects and learn from them at a high pace. In game this allows him to gain skills and find objects that would be significantly harder and longer if he had to by trial and error. In-story this makes it so he can learn about the history of his companions and enemies as he journeys.
  • In Sunset Overdrive, it's pretty much stated that the protagonist can do all the things they can do such as physics-defying "parkour" as well as killing monsters and bad guys really well because they're the protagonist of a video game.
  • Super Mario Bros.: Mario was at first distinct due to the fact that he could jump (unlike the Goombas) and could run relatively faster than his enemies.
  • Valkyria Chronicles has the unique powers of the namesake Valkyria given to the female lead Alyssa. Unfortunately for the player her fully equipped form is never available for control. In game this manifests as an uncanny Healing Factor that heals her wounds and buffs her stats in certain conditions. Male lead Welkin has the distinct asset of using a prototype tank that doesn't take any damage from light fire unless to its radiator. A second tank becomes available but is far more fragile.
  • The protagonist of Undertale is the only (still-living) human character among a cast of monsters. This makes them special due to humans in the series having Determination, which manifests in the series as an in-universe Save Scumming ability. The only monster characters who possess Determination are Undyne, who can access it for a Heroic Second Wind but whose body literally melts when she tries to use it, and Flowey, who was the result of experiments to grant monsters Determination, though the process also afflicted him with a Lack of Empathy.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine: Captain Titus has an innate resistance to warpcraft that is never really explained in-game.
  • In Watch_Dogs, the main character has a hacked cell-phone which gives him access to much of the city's infrastructure. While the police can access some of the infrastructure, they cannot control as much and have to call into Mission Control to do it, while you can do it much quicker.
    • Aidan's Bullet Time effect is also unique to him. In-universe, it represents his quick reflexes.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles:
    • In Xenoblade Chronicles 1, Shulk is the wielder of the Monado, the legendary sword of the Bionis. Dunban previously wielded the blade, but could only use it for so long before the Monado rendered his sword arm useless. Shulk can not only use the Monado without trouble, but can utilize all of the Monado's Monado Arts, including the ability to see the future. It also means he's the only party member to reliably harm Mechon as well as empower the party to do so as well. This is all due to Shulk being the host of the Bionis, also known as Zanza. When Zanza gains enough power to not need a host, he takes the Monado with him, along with its powers. Shulk has to make due with Replicas that at least allow him to use the Monado Arts. In the final battle, however, Shulk develops his own Monado—with the ability to see visions—and gains the power to kill a God.
    • In Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Rex resonates with the legendary Aegis, the most powerful Blade in Alrest. The Aegis is actually two personalities, Pyra and Mythra, each with their own abilities and access to the Artifices. When Pyra and Mythra overcome their trauma and properly bond with Rex, they combine to form Pnuema, the original personality of the Aegis, and allow Rex to become the Master Driver, giving him the ability to engage and disengage with any Blade, even those who bonded with other Drivers.
    • In Xenoblade Chronicles 3, the main party are empowered by Ouroboros, freeing them from the Flame Clock and Moebius's tyranny and allowing them to Interlink into more powerful Ouroboros forms and change classes between party members and allies. Noah in particular possesses the Lucky Seven, a mysterious sword powerful enough to cut Flame Clocks, which is a huge boon in his party's quest in fighting Moebius. In Chapter 6, Noah unleashes the Sword of Origin in his Ouroboros form, which is used to fight his Evil Counterpart N and take down Z, the leader of Moebius.

    Visual Novels 
  • Each protagonist in the Ace Attorney series has one of these.
    • Phoenix has the ability to see Psyche-Locks on a person's heart with the Magatama, letting him know if they're hiding something and how well they're hiding it. Theoretically anyone with a Magatama can do this, but putting aside the one time he had to briefly lend it to Edgeworth, Phoenix is the only one we see using it.
    • Apollo can sense a person's nervous habits, letting him act as a Living Lie Detector.
    • Athena has superhuman hearing, which lets her analyse the subtle changes in a witness' tone of voice to pinpoint their emotions.
    • Edgeworth, in his spinoff games, has logic as his "special power".
  • While Ren Fujii from Dies Irae has to play by the rules of Die Ewigkeit like everyone else, what makes him different is that he is a living Ahnenerbe capable of wielding other Ahnenerbe created by Mercurius. That means that while others are only able to use a single relic, he can use multiple at once. This also gives him unrivaled growth, allowing him to gain power far faster than anyone else could ever dream of. And finally, his very first relic is powered by what is basically the soul and curse of a demi-goddess while everyone else are powered by a finite amount of regular human souls. The only thing really holding him back is his lack of experience and understanding of his full toolset as well as the utterly overpowered individuals he has to go up against.
  • In Fate/stay night, Shirou Emiya is by no means a great Magus. However, his ability to replicate swords plays a very large role in the story, varying based on the route; common among all the routes is that his ability allows him to at least temporarily fight the very superhuman Servants head-on, something that even first-rate Magi like Rin can't accomplish. Archer's ability to do the exact same thing tips the audience off to the fact that he is Shrou's Future Badass self.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: Protagonist Allison Wanda Ruth is an ordinary twentysomething from Los Angeles who is given a Key of Kings, a Cosmic Keystone capable of controlling an entire universe and granting its wearer superhuman powers. This puts her in the same club as exactly seven other people in The Multiverse, these being the Big Bad Ensemble of Multiversal Conquerors that rule the cosmos. Allison quickly finds herself in a hostile multiverse with a possibly stolen Cosmic Keystone and a target on her back for a Carnival of Killers who want to steal it from her, an order of Angels who want her 'contained' so her Key can be returned, and seven very angry Physical Gods locked in a Space Cold War upset that the Balance of Power between them have been disrupted. Worse yet, it turns out Allison's Key is The Master Key, which works as a Key of Kings for every one of the 777,777 universes that make up the setting. It was owned by Zoss, first Demiurge and The Conqueror of all creation, and is prophesised to be used by The Chosen One to defeat the Seven... But Allison isn't the boy prophesised to be The Chosen One. In a further twist, it turns out Allison is one of The Chosen Many, each of whom have had The Master Key, but all of them failed The Hero's Journey and their timeline was reset. Zoss giving her the Master Key marked Allison out as the Chosen One of her cycle, and she is set up to be the one who might finally succeed where all the others have failed.

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, the Avatar alone is capable of mastering all four elements. While normal benders can apply principles from the other schools to control their element in interesting ways, they're still limited to that one element.
  • Callum from The Dragon Prince is the only human in the world with a connection to a Primal Source, which gives him the ability to do magic.
  • Jenny of My Life as a Teenage Robot has hundreds of gadgets, weapons and tools within her body at her disposal, something which allows her to consistently foil Vexus' plans. One episode in particular is about Vexus trying to figure out just how Jenny is able to store it all within her body.
  • The heroes of Super Why! help the helpless heroes of other stories through the ability to change stories by directly altering the text of the books they enter.


Video Example(s):


"The Most Ridiculous Power"

As Luffy undergoes an incredible transformation, the Five Elders reveal the true nature of his Devil Fruit.

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