This refers to a special ability of someone on a team such as a Five-Man Band who is so specialized as to seem useless in most situations. Usually, it's because the ability has no direct combat capabilities. Sometimes, a power that is more badass on paper can be lame in practice, usually when 1) the power is hard to control, 2) the power's activation/requirement is ridiculously complex and/or the situation where it can be used rarely comes up (see This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman when it does), 3) the user - who normally isn't lame - is facing a problem or is in a situation that their powers can't solve, 4) the user lacks enough ingenuity and creativity to use it, 5) the power has a big tradeoff such that the user cannot use it too often without endangering themselves, 6) the power's effect is too small to be effective.
Good writers can make this work for a character. They may have a power (such as it is), but it's not the real reason they're in the group. Some characters end up being The Heart (the social and moral compass), The Face (diplomat and spokesperson), The Smart Guy, or the Badass Normal. Often, said character is The Captain superpowers would be just a tiny bonus to his real ability — leadership. The Captain tends to be specifically written to have no superpowers, in fact.
Not every character is this lucky. It is a fact of life that leadership tends to favor the badass, even if their level difference has been no fault of the weaker character himself. Soon they will be ignored in favor of other, more interesting characters and eventually people will even question why they are still on the team at all. They may even turn into The Scrappy.
There are a number of ways to fix this. If the character still seems ridiculously underpowered, they can still be Rescued from the Scrappy Heap by giving them additional powers or responsibilities. A common method is to have the character suddenly "evolve" to a higher power level. Weak, but Skilled characters might take advantage of the Required Secondary Powers. Maybe there ARE more potential uses for this power, it's just that the writers have somehow ignored them this far. Sometimes the character will uncover a devastating new use and become the dreaded Lethal Joke Character. Some may try empowering themselves in the same way normal people would (because they're considered as good as Muggles): either by developing mundane combat skills or by using technology or magic trinkets.
Maybe there's a trade-off; for instance, powerful beings tend to look freaky, while those with more subtle powers look normal and are better able to deal with mundane society. The easiest device is to just crank out a good old Plot Tailored to the Party, so that the character can make his seemingly useless superpower seem useful. In fact, characters who do nothing but gripe about their uselessness in battle might be a sign of bad writing. Couldn't they just carry a gun?
Named for an Internet meme, itself referring to Ma-Ti's ring power in Captain Planet and the Planeteers. While the other team members could control the raw elements with visually impressive feats, he could just talk to animals with a Spider-Sense. No doubt it was useful his telepathy bailed them out a lot, as did the ability to get nearby animals to help, and it seemed to ward off the Idiot Ball but it lacked the total elemental "badass" quality of the others. Then there was the fact that the one Big Bad he bothered to use it on was invulnerable to its powers because "You have no heart!", and the other villains never merited an attempt, for some reason. Ironically, since his power involved a form of limited mind-control (humans are still animals), he probably could have been the most devastatingly powerful of all the Planeteers if he weren't a pacifist, something which the show itself acknowledged on at least one occasion. Plus it's hard (but not impossible) to have dramatic tension when the hero can just command the bad guys to shoot themselves in the head.
Often the result of overdoing Cast Speciation. Easier to take in a Heroes Unlimited series, where not every character has to be in every episode. For Video Games, compare Useless Useful Spell, Quirky Bard and Power-Up Letdown; see also Crippling Overspecialization.
Super Zeroes often suffer from this. If they won the Superpower Lottery and still have one of these powers, it's Flight, Strength, Heart. If he's suddenly in a situation where the power is useful all by itself, it's This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman. If he's able to hold his own in a fight through good old training and determination, he Fights Like a Normal. If a god holds a lame domain like the way this trope goes, they're Odd Job Gods.
For the (sometimes classified as elemental) power of Heart (or Love) itself, see The Power of Love and Heart Beat-Down. Compare The Team Normal and Story-Breaker Team-Up. Contrast Heart Is an Awesome Power and Lethal Harmless Powers when these abilities are used more... creatively. See also the Inverse Law of Complexity to Power, which states that the broader a power is the more potent it is (and which often isn't used at the same time as this trope).
- The Firesign Theatre's Captain Equinox, from the album Pink Hotel Burns Down: his powers are unspecified, but true to his name, he is only Captain Equinox twice a year.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! has an assortment of cards like this - some are outdated, others were never good to begin with.
- A prime example is the cycle of Traps that only exist to counter one specific powerful card - Anti Raigeki to Raigeki, White Hole to Dark Hole, Jar Robber to Pot of Greed, Call of the Grave to Monster Reborn, and many others. Most of these cards are limited to one or banned, so even if your opponent has one and it's currently legal, there's no guarantee they'll be using it during the match, much less while you have that Trap out. And there are plenty of cards that can negate any Spell, which makes the entire affair even more pointless.
- Even worse are cards like Senet Switch, which allows you to move one monster to an adjacent space... Something which is practically useless 99% of the time. Even when Link rules made monster placement actually relevant, it still never sees play.
- The ancient Zone Eater and Swordsman from a Distant Land have bottom-tier stats and an effect where a monster that destroyed them by battle is destroyed itself... at the end of the fifth turn after the battle took place. If your opponent's monster is still standing after five turns without having been destroyed or used as material for something else, it either has so many protective effects that this destruction ability will do nothing, or you're so incompetent that it's a wonder you've managed to survive those five turns. And even in its time, Man-Eater Bug (one of the very first effect monsters in the game) did basically the same thing, only it could destroy any monster the moment it was flipped up, while later cards like Yomi Ship, Newdoria, and D.D. Warrior straight-up did the same thing but better.
- A number of Magic: The Gathering cards are so situational as to be useless. One of the best examples of this is the Great Wall enchantment. Landwalk is an ability that renders a creature such that it can't be blocked if it's attacking an opponent who has the correct type of land (swamps for swampwalk, forests for forestwalk and so on). It's usually not that useful itself, since much of the time your opponent won't be playing the right kind of land so the ability does nothing— unless it targets a whole subgroup of lands, like, say, Dryad Sophisticate and her nonbasic landwalknote . The rarest of the basic landwalks is plainswalk, mostly due to Fridge Logic over how you stealthily move through a wide open plain anyway. Not a single card with this ability has ever been considered a threat in any known Magic Metagame. The Great Wall enchantment's sole effect is that it allows creatures with plainswalk to be blocked. At the time of release, only one card (Righteous Avengers, which often lands on worst-card-of-all-time lists itself) had this ability, and it was released in the same set as Great Wall - more than a few people have suggested that it was only created so Great Wall wasn't completely useless.
- Shelkin Brownie negates the "bands with other" ability. There are only six legal cards that provide a "bands with other" ability (none of them even have it themselves), and the ability itself is seen as both kinda bad and incredibly confusing and unintuitive, to the point that the developers have sworn to never use it in a card again.
- Parodied in one arc of Pearls Before Swine, where the crocodiles form a Fantastic Four out of three crocs (since they're bad at math), which consisted of Paper Jam Boy, Stapler Head, and Doorstoppo; their powers are Exactly What They Say On The Tin. Paper Jam Boy then proceeds to be "defeated" by a printer that was out of ink.
- Cartoonist Michael Kupperman parodied this in an issue of Nickelodeon Magazine with such characters as Mannister, the man who could become a bannister (thereby keeping people from falling off the stairs if some villain were to steal the bannister rail for some reason). As noted in his introductory strip, "This ability was useful some of the time, but not most of the time."
- The old What's New? with Phil and Dixie comic strip from Dragon once had an episode about superheroes, which included a panel about the need to have powers that are actually useful: "Gazebo Boy finds his singular power of metamorphosis useless against the evil Termite!"
- Knights of the Dinner Table features an in-universe example of this when the Knights play a variant of their usual superhero-based tabletop game that focuses on this trope. In the first session, Dave's Pot-Lid Boy (power: creative use of kitchen utensils; his lid armor was as strong as Kevlar) and Bob's The Screecher (power: cripplingly-strong nails-on-a-chalkboard power, plus an inability to be touched by human flesh) were soundly defeated by Shrink-Wrap Man, Edward Tire-Iron-Fingers, and the Human Sprinkler (Exactly What It Says on the Tin).
- Potter Puppet Pals in the live show at least. Dumbledore describes the awesome power of:
Dumbledore: ... The spell we know as love.
- Marik from Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series can use his Millennium Rod to control minds. Unfortunately, it only works on people called Steve. Although having people's names legally changed makes them susceptible, as Joey and Tea finds out. This also applies to people whose middle names are Steve, as Marik was able to control Bandit Kieth because his middle name was Steve, and presumably people whose last names are Steve. He also pointed out that, if he felt like it, he could have "Stone Cold" Steve Austin kick your ass.
- Sailor Mercury from Sailor Moon Abridged is not only utterly useless, in one episode she even causes the people to die by using her powers, hence blocking their views and prevent them from fleeing the scenery.
- Kroko gets this in A Posse Ad Esse. While his fellow inmates get things like emotion-controlled weather, limited gravity manipulation and the ability to pause time for 30 seconds, Kroko... can fly seven feet in the air. (Granted, he is 19cm tall, but still.) And he seems to have to constantly flap his arms to maintain this flight.
- Just Check Both:
- Child of the Storm rehabilitates one or two people who have previously lame or underdeveloped powers.
- Sean Cassidy a.k.a. Banshee is mostly famous for screaming at people to knock them down or at the ground to (somehow) fly. The story delves into some of his lesser-known powers and the lesser-known properties of sound — for instance, he's got a powerful Compelling Voice, he controls sound in a small area around him, so he can move in complete silence, he's got a form of superhearing that allows him to use his own footsteps as sonar and he can shatter anything if he hits its resonant frequency. This includes wands, bone and diamond. Fairly formidable, even before you take into account the fact that he's had nearly fifty years to get very, very good with his powers. He's also physically about thirty due to a Noodle Incident involving 'a living island, name of Krakoa' and a badass of note, who's prepared for his powers being nullified by training in hand to hand. Natasha notes that he's a particularly skilled practitioner of Aikido.
- Warren Worthington III a.k.a. Archangel uses the codename of his Superpowered Evil Side (Wisdom theorises that it's a response to his rejection by his family) and possesses deadly sharp metal wings, which are arguably even more dangerous than in canon — they're made of some kind of supernatural/alien metal that means that Warren's speed is not exactly constrained by normal physics (he's seen comfortably breaking Mach 1, maybe even Mach 2, when he really gets going), low level superhuman physical abilities and a Healing Factor that would make Wolverine blink. He's essentially a Living Weapon and is bitterly aware of it.
- Origin Story:
- Louise Fulford, Alex Harris's partner, is a mutant with the power to change her hair color at will. She can change it to any range of color she can imagine, and even can change it to a rainbow-like combination of colors. Alex at one point jokingly assigns her the superhero code name "Lady Clairol." Rather than be embarrassed by this, Louise actually calls herself Lady Clairol at one point as a matter of pride.
- A lot of the residents of the homeless camp at which Alex and Louise take shelter fall under this trope. Aaron's power is to see infrared light, Oz can shapeshift, but only to the four primary characters of The Wizard of Oz (Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman, and the Cowardly Lion), without actually gaining any of their abilities. Jan was a teenager with oversized jaw muscles and superhumanly strong teeth. And Debby's skin is translucent. The Avengers these people aren't.
- In Risk It All, some of Ren's less combat-ready skills are at least useful life skills like speaking multiple languages or driving. He struggles to come up with uses for some of the more esoteric skills like Barista, which just makes him an impeccable coffee brewer. The only thing he can come up with is starting a Me Tube channel about brewing coffee for some Prestige.
- Rambar in The Motley Two. As a Homestuck troll, he's got Psychic Powers, but rather than something useful, they just make him into a Fourth-Wall Observer who can hear the mysterious voices that are the readers' suggestions and argue with them.
- In The Eyes Have It, Kurenai Yuuhi has a doujutsu that let's her slightly (1.5x) magnify objects she's looking at. According to her, it's mostly useful for reading fine print.
- Both Xander and The Flash have a secondary power born from "having become one with an aspect of reality" in Crush: the power to sense where breasts are with larger ones being easier to detect. When Batman questions why Flash never mentioned said power, he points out that having breast radar is basically never useful, even in search and rescue operations since it doesn't help him find men (or young girls). Though apparently both Flash and Xander can detect Powergirl anywhere on the planet.
- This Bites!: A Devil Fruit that allows you to turn into a human child would be pretty much useless for anyone. Unless they happen to be an inanimate object, like a ship.
- Discussed in Mortal Man when Barnacle Boy asks SpongeBob to be his sidekick due to his people skills:
"You make people happy. That's your superpower."
"Really? Gosh. That seems kind of cheesy," laughed SpongeBob.
"What do you mean?" scowled Barnacle Boy, standing up straight and placing his hands on his hips indignantly. "I thought you of all people appreciated the power of friendship."
"Oh, I do," assured SpongeBob, "It's just... that's not a real superpower. I can't make water balls or assemble the creatures of the deep."
- Downplayed in Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!. Mashirao Ojiro's Metahuman power just gives him a muscular tail for attack, defense, and mobility. While it's a useful enough power to get him into the most prestigious Hero school in Japan, he complains that it isn't particularly flashy or powerful when compared to other Metahuman powers like Ochako's Gravity Master abilities or Kaminari's Shock and Awe. It doesn't hold a candle to Izuku's "Quirk" either.
- In Atonement, the Travellers have incredibly destructive or fairly useful powers... except for Oliver, who got the power to look attractive to anyone who sees him.
- In Hellsister Trilogy, Supergirl uses super-hypnotism -one of her most undervalued powers- to mesmerize D'reema into speaking the Life Equation and so cancelling out Darkseid's Anti-Life Equation.
- In A Boy, a Girl and a Dog: The Leithian Script, Orome -the God of Hunt- considers the Art of her sister Nessa -the Goddess of Dance- "is a frivolous waste of time". Then Luthien dances Morgoth into unconsciousness, and Nessa proceeds to gloat a lot.
- In Juxtapose, this is Izuku's opinion of his own Quirk, Minor Banishment. He's able to banish anything from existence... but no more than 10 grams at a time. He also has to be touching whatever he wants to banish and he has to have a solid image of the structure of whatever he's banishing in his head. These highly specific conditions made Izuku the laughingstock of his peers and even All Might initially doubts Izuku's prospects of becoming a hero. But he discovers more and more applications for it while attending Yuuei as a general education student, which manages to get him into the Sports Festival after more than a year of Training from Hell to prepare. By the end, he and Hitoshi Shinsou end up winning it despite the presence of powerhouses like Shouto Todoroki.
- In Infinity Crisis, Peter Quill begins to ask Aquaman what kind of power talking to fish is, only for Aquaman to summon a tidal wave that includes a humpback whale squashing several of Thanos's forces.
- Animagus potential is shown to be quite common (between 1/3 and 1/2 of all wizards and witches) in Time and Again but most don't bother to pursue it due to either the fact it takes a couple years to learn or the fact their form isn't terribly useful. Xander never bothered as his form is a spotted hyena and he has some serious trauma related to the animal, while Harry Potter's form is a moth.
- Jaune's father in Professor Arc has a Semblance that tells him when it's going to rain.
- Learning To Be Human: In an omake later declared to be canon, a minor character has one of these. He Triggered due to the stress of being Kaiser's nephew and overshadowed by his uncle, gaining the Stranger power to... have no one be able to remember his first name. Doesn't matter how he tells them or even if he writes it down, nobody retains that information. He's stuck as 'Probably-Francis' after someone decided that he looked like a Francis.
- Thinking In Little Green Boxes: As it turns out, Harry does have a mutant superpower: hair regeneration. He'll never go gray or bald. Learning this is the in-fic explanation as to why Professor X becomes Onslaught.
- In Level Up!, some of the possible Feats members of Izuku's party can get are utterly worthless, such as "whistling" or "double strength bonus when opening jars".
- In Shazam fanfiction Here There Be Monsters, Mister Midnight and Midnight Maid are equipped with several blinding weapons. Ridiculous compared with the Marvel Family's incredible powers or Ibis' sorcery, but effective to disable a Flying Brick with no defense against them.
Mister Midnight and Midnight Maid reached in their belt-pouches and came up with weapons. Chuck's was the blackout device, Joyce held the Torch. She activated hers a second before his and blasted the Poet's eyes with a ray of intense brightness. A second later, Chuck's gimmick projected a cone of blackness, engulfing their foe.
"Confound it!" griped the Poet, floundering about. "They didn't give me a power to deal with this!"
- Brother Bear. The older brothers are mocking the main character for having a "love" totem. It's hard to say if being changed into bear counts as superpower, but it's obviously not natural.
- The Lego Ninjago Movie gives Lloyd a severe downgrade from the series. Whereas his show counterpart possesses the power of energy, which lets him manipulate all four main elements as well as generate his own energy, his movie self instead has the power of "green", which is a seemingly non-existent power. It turns out Green is actually an EmpathicPower that gives Lloyd at least a minor connection to life itself, allowing him to both sense the elemental powers within his friends and redeem both his father and Meowthra
- All of the Mystery Men are D-list superheroes with bizarre powers, ranging from the goofy but cool (Spleen's super farts and Bowler's haunted bowling ball) to the useful but poorly utilized (Blue Raja is so committed to his theme he refuses to use his Improbable Aiming Skills for anything other than forks and Sphinx is more interested in being mysterious than cutting guns in half with his mind) to the "so conditional it's useless" (Invisible Boy can only turn invisible when no one is looking, though it does let him get past cameras, and the level of angry Mr. Furious has to be for his Super Strength to kick in is nigh-unreachable, especially for someone as passive-aggressive as him). Not to mention The Shoveler, a Badass Normal with a relatively lame theme.
- X-Men Film Series:
- X-Men: The Last Stand: Kid Omega's power is retractable spines all over his body. Onscreen, we only see him use them to hug a lady to death. However, it's played like his powers should be at least mildly intimidating to the X-Men, who can regenerate, shoot lighting, etc. Also, when Magneto holds his meeting for mutants, he points out that there are a lot of weak mutants with powers that just make them unusual or have what amounts to aesthetic differences - a lot of them don't have much in the way of powers, but still get singled out for being different at all.
- Discussed in Deadpool 2. While recruiting for his brand new X-Force team, he comes across Domino, who proclaims that her power is "being lucky". Deadpool is annoyed - being lucky isn't a superpower and it certainly isn't cinematic, falling into this trope, while Domino is insistent that it is, falling into the Heart Is an Awesome Power trope. Domino is proven right when her powers ensure that she's the only member of Deadpool's team to survive their first mission besides Deadpool himself, who only lives because of his Healing Factor.
- The Specials features Night Bird. Even though she's applying for a middle-rung superhero team, she's bashful about her own power, which turns out to be laying eggs (and good hearing). She can't talk to birds, either, though they do "have an understanding." At the end of the film she discusses her role in the team's first battle - she hid in a dumpster. She commiserates with Minute Man (pronounced my-noot), who can make himself "minute" in size.
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie: When the Rangers get their new ninja Animal Motifs, Tommy gets Falcon, Rocky gets Ape, Billy gets Wolf, Aisha gets Bear, and Kimberly gets Crane. Adam is less than impressed that he gets a frog.
- Deconstructed in Sky High (2005), where the Fantastic Caste System of Heroes and Sidekicks in the eponymous school is decided by the individual's powers, leading to a clear divide between the "popular kids" and the "outcasts". Moreover, the Start of Darkness for the Big Bad was that she was a Technopath who lived in a time before that power could be realized to its fullest potential, so she was relegated to sidekick, unable to show how powerful she really was. The deciding factor for whether one is a Hero or Sidekick? The coach, based on his first and only impression. More generally, the sidekicks' powers tend to fall under this, with plenty of "heroes" who contribute little.
- In 2006 Israeli movie Giborim Ktanim (Little Heroes), one girl is blessed with the power of being able to hear people from a distance. Sweet.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- Before The Avengers came out, many jokes were directed at the inclusion of Black Widow and Hawkeye because they are the only Badass Normals on a team with far more powerful members. How much this applies in the film is debatable (most of Hawkeye's most effective actions, like a hacking-arrow that shuts down the helicarrier, are done while brainwashed by Loki), but Black Widow makes effective use of psychological warfare.
- The idea that Hawkeye brings nothing of value to the Avengers has been joked about in everything from sitcoms to stand-up comedy.
Patton Oswalt: They have a guy with a bow and arrow. I'm not kidding. What are they, recruiting at sporting good stores? "Hey, you jump rope really fast! How would you like to be an Avenger?"
- Lampshaded throughout Avengers: Age of Ultron, particularly with regards to Hawkeye.
Hawkeye: The city is flying, we're fighting an army of robots, and I have a bow and arrow.
- At one point, Black Widow playfully ribs Hawkeye by saying that he's important because the other Avengers have to work together to humor him into thinking he actually contributes something. She's probably joking (after all, she's not really one to talk).
- Also subverted in Avengers: Age of Ultron which shows that he is a man who never misses, regardless of what he is using. And that he is The Heart of the team, grounding the resident god, supersoldier, rampaging monster, and Billionaire Playboy in reality somewhat by not letting their power go to their heads. He's also the only one to beat both Maximoff twins through his own efforts, whereas none of the other Avengers ever really beat even one on their own (Cap strikes Quicksilver down, but only when he is disoriented).
- Averted and lampshaded in Finding Gaia. A female Green Thumb is generally the least powerful in any group of superbeings, but Anna is legitimately more powerful than Jason, her life-stealing male counterpart.
- Averted in the Circle of Magic series. What kind of lame power is "thread-magic?" While it's not quite as spectacular as, say, Tris' lightning magic, Sandry still uses it to tear several villains apart, escape a kidnapping, and make really durable clothes.
- Some of the magical talents in Piers Anthony's Xanth are so widely useful and powerful that their possessors are known as Magicians and eligible to rule the magical land. And on the other hand are those with the power to make a small colored spot appear on the wall, play a magic flute, or make people in the vicinity age slightly faster. Much is made in the series out of finding real uses for even the feeblest talents, and a lot of crappy powers turn out to be surprisingly powerful, at least when facing the right plots. The spot-on-the-wall talent, for instance, can be used multiple times in order to make pictures, often quite convincing ones. The ability to make people age faster comes in handy when an important character is accidentally exposed to water from the Fountain of Youth and regresses to an infant.
- Tim Burton's Oyster Boy and Other Stories features a whole array of kid heroes with this trope, one being Stain Boy whose only power is to make nasty stains.
- Played with by Brandon Sanderson in Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians. The Smedry family all have magical "talents" that typically sound not just useless, but actively detrimental, but also have some sort of powerful effect. Sometimes the beneficial effects are extensions of the talent, like Grandpa Smedry being late to everything, including being shot or his own death, while others are less directly related, like Sing's ability to fall down, which actually acts as an early warning sign of impending danger.
- The Fingerprints series features characters with a variety of Psychic Powers: some awesome, some... less so. Lampshaded when the main character Rae, who has the ability to read thoughts from fingerprints, tries to fight a villain with a much stronger psychic power, who laughs at the uselessness of Rae's ability.
- In the Apprentice Adept series, the Tan Adept has the totem of the Evil Eye, granting him (later her) the power of mind control — much the same as Lelouch's Geass power, with similar limits (only targets one person at a time, only if they make eye contact, and only works once on the same person). Still sort of nifty, until you realize several of the other Adepts (Blue, Yellow, and Red in particular) could work spells to achieve much the same effect. Along with about a thousand other things which Tan can't do. In Tan's first appearance (Juxtaposition — the last book of the first trilogy), Tan had all the versatility of the other Adepts, limited only by line of sight. Piers Anthony apparently didn't read up on his own creations.
- In A Nightmare on Elm Street: Suffer The Children Freddy gives several teenagers powers, with his plan being to manipulate them into being his servants in the real world. Final Girl Alex gets empathy. She even states near the end of the book that this "power" just sucks compared to the ones her friends got, which included the likes of pyrokinesis, telekinesis and mind control. She tries to find a silver lining by thinking it could at least help her sense Freddy's presence. Reading her mind, his disembodied voice responds with "Don't count on it, bitch."
- In Twilight, some vampires gain genuine supernatural powers, while others just have a natural trait magnified. The latter circumstance tends to suck. Carlisle got stuck with compassion, Esme with The Power of Love, Marcus can see relationships, and Rosalie with beauty. Renesmee can show her own thoughts to people she touches and who can't be blocked out from anyone.
- In Lawrence Watt-Evans' With a Single Spell, the orphaned apprentice's eponymous lone firestarting spell is useless and laughable the entire book, until it plays a deadly role in the end. Also, when the protagonist is trapped in a dead mage's extraplanar castle and is going through all the spellbooks for a means of escape, he casts the badass but extremely lame spell "Jalger's Jar Opener". This spell summons a 9-foot silvery spike-covered demonic entity. To open a jar for you. After which it disappears...
- In Michael Grant's Gone series, a lot of kids who were left in the FAYZ develop superpowers. Some of these are powerful and useful, such as telekinesis, shooting powerful beams of light, Super Speed, or Healing Hands. Others... not so much. Astrid has a vaguely defined ability to sense the "potential" of people. In the second book, Duck has the ability to alter his mass and density. He can use this to sink into the ground, float in the air (just float, since he has no way to propel himself), and that's about it. This is lampshaded when immediately after discovering his power, he says, "I'm a moof with a really sucky power!" That said, at the end of the book Duck uses his power to defeat the Big Bad. By increasing his mass as he drops on said Big Bad, burying himself alive in the process. Yay?
- This trope appears often in William Boniface's The Extraordinary Adventures Of Ordinary Boy kids' novels, set in a city where everyone has super-powers (except for the eponymous protagonist). Said powers range from the typical Flying Brick and Mind Control Stock Superpowers to the less-than-useful — Puddle Boy can create puddles beneath his feet, Melonhead has a melon-shaped head and spits (ordinary) watermelon seeds, and Whistlin' Dixie can whistle any song perfectly.
- The main magic system is allomancy. There are numerous powers, each associated with a metal, and Mistborn are people with all the powers, while those with a single one of the abilities are called Mistings. Obviously Mistborn are much more powerful, but many powers are very handy on their own, like Brass giving Emotion Control, Tin giving super-senses or Pewter enhanced strength and dexterity. Others are pretty unimpressive on their own, like Bronze allowing you to sense other allomancers or Copper allowing you to prevent them from being sensed, or Gold that lets you learn about your past self. While the former two aren't totally useless (being able to find or hide other allomancers does have some value), using gold allomancy is basically just considered a waste of gold as not only is their no real way to benefit, many with the power find it unsettling to use.
- The Sequel Series adds more metals to the mix, which again vary significantly in power. One of the main characters has the ability to create a field around herself that basically put her and anyone else in it in slow motion compared to the outside world. She considers this useless to the point that she hides, it preferring people think she has no power rather than such a useless one, because the only thing it's good for is if you're tired of waiting for something to happen. Of course at the end of the book first, our heroes make a plan involving using her power to stall long enough for The Cavalry to arrive. She does start looking for (and finding) a few other uses for it after this as well.
- Duralumin allows Mistborn to supercharge one of their other powers by using both at the same time. However someone can also be a Misting with just this power which does literally nothing on it's own. Aluminum is arguably even worse, as it just burns away their reserves of metals to no benefit, meaning that it does nothing for Mistings and is generally detrimental to Mistborn. It does have some niche uses, like safely disposing of bad metals (An allomancer can get sick or even die if they burn an impure metal, and some of the allomantic metals are poisonous if not burned off). Word of God also indicates that it could interact with other magic systems in The Cosmere, allowing the user to burn away harmful magical effects, although this hasn't come up thus far.
- In Maximum Ride, while some members of the flock are developing awesome super powers such as super speed or mind control, Iggy gets the ability to feel color and see if everything is white, and Fang has invisibility that only works if he is standing still.
- Lampshaded by Thom Creed and his teammates in Perry Moore's Hero. Thom's powers of healing may be cool and useful, but team medic doesn't appear to be the most glamorous role for an aspiring teenage superhero.
- The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul has a brief appearance by a girl with supernatural knowledge of stock prices... by the time they've already appeared in the newspapers. Since she's reduced to perpetually mumbling stock prices and is confined to a mental institution, this could count as Blessed with Suck.
- In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion, the Powers of the World have different spheres of influence. One has mastery over the sky, one over metals, one over the ocean, etc. Some of the female Vala are lame, though. Nessa is "The Dancer," Vairë weaves, and Vána is the ever young, whose power is the ability to make birds chirp and flowers bloom by her presence. Even one of the Aratar (the most powerful of the Valar) Nienna, is the Vala of Grief and Mourning.
- Deuces in Wild Cards are all about this trope. There's Mr. Rainbow, who can change the color of his skin to any color (solid colors only, no patterns); a woman who can levitate, but only when she's sleeping; and a man who can stick his hand into a tub of water and make it boil in just under 8 minutes.
- Abby Carnelia's one and only magic power lives this trope. The premise is a bunch of kids have very lame, but still magical, powers. Abby can make a hardboiled egg spin if she tugs her ears. Another girl can float about a half inch off the ground. One boy can fog up glass for a second and another can turn white paper gray...and yet, somehow, these all end up saving the day. (Who knew, right?)
- In The Pale King, Claude Sylvanshine has Random Fact Intuition, which is ESP with nothing but useless facts.
- In The Hunger Games, Peeta jokes that the only thing he's really great at is icing cakes; Katniss, understandably, doesn't think that's likely to help him in the arena. In fact it makes him freaking boss at camouflage, which is great news for the Non-Action Guy. In addition he is actually quite strong, even compared to the careers just without any real combat training. Though this is less true In Catching Fire after he has been injured in the first games.
- The Sidekicks series by Dan Danko and Tom Mason parodied this a lot, having such superheroes as Pumpkin Pete (his head is a pumpkin), Exact Change Kid, Spice Girl (she smells nice), Boom Boy (he can blow up...but only once), and Haiku Boy. In fact, when Speedy jokingly asks, "Where's Bar-of-Soap Boy when you really need him?" it turns out there ''was'' a Bar-of-Soap Boy on the team, but he moved away to a place "where it didn't rain so much".
- The first power Michael develops in the Knight and Rogue Series after getting magic are an ability to see magic in nature, while he could already sense it if he was close enough to the magical object, and he treats this like the end of the world. He's even less pleased to discover his ability to make water wetter (let that one sink in) because of what it can do. He only calms down when Fisk points out that, actually, having water that's extra wet isn't really that useful.
- In Kristin Cashore's novels Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue, a "Graceling" (an individual gifted, or cursed, with an unusual/superhuman ability) doesn't automatically know what their Grace is, and has to discover it through experience. Some of these Graces, once identified, turn out to be pretty useless. Among the examples given are the Grace to eat rocks and not get sick, the Grace to open your mouth so wide your face gets turned inside out — good only for grossing people out (Beetlejuice-inspired, perhaps?) and various nice but limited Graces such as knowing exactly what food will satisfy someone at the moment.
- In The Dresden Files lots of people can use magic, it's just that most of them ("minor talents") have very little power, oftentimes so slight that they might not even recognize that it's a magical ability. For example Abby from White Night who is precognitive, but can only see about two seconds into the future, which mostly just makes for very confusing conversations.
- In Witches Abroad, Magrat's magic wand only seems able to turn things into pumpkins (because she doesn't know how to use it). However, she finds some good uses for this as the story progresses, turning it into Heart Is an Awesome Power.
- The main character of The Caster Chronicles, Ethan Wate, is a Wayward — a mortal whose destiny is essentially intertwined with that of a specific Caster. Waywards are also essentially a guide or compass for their Caster, and instinctively know where they need to go and what they need to do, especially when Casters are about as lost as the next person in the room. Needless to say, this only ever comes in handy when all other options have been exhausted. Comes with plenty of Lampshade Hanging that explicitly references Aquaman and his usually useless powers.
- In Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain, Claire's "super-cuteness" powers aren't really all that effective against anyone other than Penny. They're a mild distraction to anyone else.
- The Temps novels include a man who can turn into a human-sized frog, with all the weaknesses of a frog, but can't swim very well, a man who can channel beer from elsewhere in the pub into his own pint, a woman who spontaneously generates rubbish when she's stressed (although she gets to show that Heart Is an Awesome Power), and a man whose Shock and Awe abilities are limited to very slowly building an electrostatic charge on a person or object, as long as the target isn't earthed.
- In Marcus Sakey's Brilliance Trilogy, about 1% of the population is born with some sort of savant mental ability, for which they face a frankly ludicrous level of discrimination. A handful are quite powerful, like the financial genius who made $300 billion on the stock market, or the Knife Nut assassin who perceives everything 11.2 times slower than everyone else. The vast majority, though, are pretty pointless, such as the guy who's really good as estimating large numbers of objects, such as people in a stadium or jelly beans in a jar. Being able to play any song by ear is considered one of the more powerful abilities.
- Lampshaded in Harry Potter. In the sixth book, Harry learns about the prophecy foretelling he has the power to defeat the Big Bad Voldemort. Throughout the series, Voldemort already made it clear his magical abilities are way above Harry's. And then Dumbledore finally reveals that Harry's power to defeat Voldemort is... his ability to love and care for others. Harry expresses his disappointment about this revelation, treating it as this trope.
- Discussed in Ratburger when Zoe has recently dug through her bedroom wall to escape being grounded and save her pet rat, she ends up covered in dust. When Raj the news agent asks why, she replies that it's Fancy Dress Day at school and she's dressed as a superhero named "Dustgirl" whose superpower is that she's good at doing the dusting.
- In Worm the Superpower Lottery means that some powers have enormous potential while others just don't do that much. Nearly everyones power had at least some sort of way that it could be useful, often far beyond what is expected of them, but there are still a bunch of powers that have extremely limited or specific uses, or are just weaker versions of other other peoples powers. Oliver of the Travelers, for example, has the power to look attractive to anyone who sees him. That's it. It doesn't allow him any sort of super-powered influence, he just looks pretty in any situation. He probably shouldn't have taken only half of that Super Serum though. Of course even his power does end up becoming relevant.
- There are also the "Case 53"'s, people with powers that often come with physical changes ranging from being made of metal to being basically just a head attached to a mass of tentacles. A lot of their abilities are actually very powerful, the problems with them they tend to be either related to control or side effects. They still tend to be the one group of people who really really wish they didn't have powers at all, mostly due to the various side effects of their transformation and of the prejudice they face due to their appearances.
- Comedian David O'Doherty has a song called "Very Mild Superpowers".
O'Doherty: Sometimes when I'm cycling with my headphones on, I know exactly where I'll be at the end of a song.
- The They Might Be Giants song "John Lee, Supertaster" is about the benefits and drawbacks of being a guy with an unusually sensitive sense of taste. The song is based on a real John Lee - the bassist for TMBG collaborators Muckafurgason and the co-creator of Wonder Showzen - who really is a supertaster.
- "Worst Superpower Ever" by The Doubleclicks explores powers like the ability to create an invisible chair or predict people's clothes.
- Stephen Lynch does an Audience Participation Song, Superheroes, where the many of the suggested powers would fit this trope. Such as Valtrex Boynote and Bong Mannote
- Discussed at considerable length in the "Aquatic Justice" episode of Kevin Smith's podcast, which features much maligning of poor Aquaman.
"I mean, does anyone actually choose to be Aquaman? If you could be like, the Flash, would anybody opt for Aquaman?"
- This trope is played with in series 2 episode 4 of Pappy's Flatshare Slamdown, when that episode's Flat Games required the panelists to inhale helium. Josh Widdicombe's voice stayed the same, no matter how much he inhaled, leading him to joke that "when you discover your superpowers, sometimes, it's disappointing".
- The Plumbing the Death Star episode "How Effective is the Suicide Squad?" tests the Squad's mission statement, defeat villains with superpowers, by grading how each individual member would fare against Superman. Of the nine members, seven get less than a one out of ten, because their incredible powers of shooting, boomerangs enthusiasm, sword enthusiasm, acrobatics, climbing, humanity, and ordinary cannibalism don't really mean much against an unkillable flying bullet that can vaporize you with a glance if you're taking him alone. But with the Squad together:
Zammit: Now, they're all gathered there on the lawn of the White House. There's evil Superman coming down like "I'm going to kill the President." They're there in a line; what happens?
George Dimarelos: Okay. Firstly, is Superman concerned?
All: [wild cackling]
- Thunderbirds: Scott and Virgil get to fly planes, Gordon gets a nifty submarine, John is in charge of the spy satellite and Alan gets a spaceship. Sounds like Alan has the plum role, except people getting into trouble in space is a lot rarer than land- or sea-based rescues so Thunderbird 3 gets left gathering dust in the hangar while everyone else goes off on missions.
- BBC radio comedy show The Burkiss Way had a Legion of Super-Heroes sketch where the team are irritated by an applicant trying to claim the ability to stand up from a sitting position as a super-power. ("I can do it quite quickly...") When this fails to impress them, he claims to have the ability to move from place to place at will — by getting on the bus. They try and throw him out, so he reveals he has one last super-power: The ability to stop any comedy programme at will.
Team Leader: Really? Well I don't bel—
- Eighties radio comedy Son of Cliché featured The League of Stupid Heroes, principally Captain Invisible and his trusty sidekick the Seethru Kid. One episode began in the local barbers with a very careful hairdresser demonstrating one of the drawbacks of invisibility.. at the end, Captain Invisible and seethru are both wounded and immobile and trying desperately to get the local police and ambulance service to locate them...
- That Mitchell and Webb Sound - Angel Summoner and the BMX Bandit. One can summon hordes of immensely powerful angels. One rides a BMX. Any guess as to whose power tends to get used?
- There's an archived thread from /tg/ about this. Although, some of the powers listed therein can also tend towards Heart Is an Awesome Power.
- In the League of Intergalactic Cosmic Champions Mr. Obvious had the power to see the obvious!
- A good chunk of the superpowers in Survival of the Fittest Evolution, which include black-mould growing saliva, choking up smoke, transparent skin, regrowing lost teeth, and glow in the dark eyes.
- In the tongue-in-cheek roleplaying game In Nomine Satanis / Magna Veritas (American Tropers might better know its Darker and Edgier remake, In Nomine), character powers are assigned at random from a rather long list. If you're lucky, you can wind up with lightning bolts, holy dancing swords, mind control or even limited time travel. If you're not lucky, you're going to be the guy on the team who can control molluscs, or whose "power" is to have materialized on Earth in the body of a famous rock star (considering most scenarios involve discreet investigations among Muggles, this is all kinds of Blessed with Suck). There's also the unbalance of domain powers, granted by the Archangel/Demon Prince you serve (and by extension, the virtue/sin they embody). Again, some of those are powerful — petrification, turning people into pillars of salt, nightmare curses... but lust demons get Deadly Orgasm, which while somewhat awesome (YMMV) is not exactly useful in a fight. Meanwhile, sloth demons get a power which makes any physical exertion impossible to anyone in a 100m radius... demon included. Not to be outdone in the lameness department, some angels get the power to speed up crop growth.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- The School of Divination gets this treatment sometimes. After all, knowing about stuff doesn't seem to be as cool as throwing fireballs. More experienced players are all too happy to demonstrate how the ability to legitimately metagame beats the ability to set stuff on fire 9 times out of 10. In a little Mythology Gag, in Pathfinder, the Thassilonian Empire utterly dismissed Divination as worthless, instead focusing on the other seven schools instead.
- The Illusion and Enchantment schools, on the other hand, are a weird case of having this viewpoint be enforced. As with Divination, both schools provide spells and effects that are, while not as flashy as blasting someone with Fire, Ice, Lightning, still incredibly powerful. Game-Breaker powerful even. However, whereas Divination slipped under the radar, and continues to bedevil DMs to this day, the designers realized just how powerful a skilled Illusionist or Enchanter could be, and responded by slapping down immunities to these effects on something like 90% of all the creatures in the game. Thusly, an Illusionist or an Enchanter is all but worthless outside of certain very niche campaigns, and every other player perceives the schools as worthless.
- The Entropomancer's capstone ability is to duplicate the effects of the rare artifact, the Talisman of the Sphere. What does it do? It increases your bonus to control a Sphere of Annihilation. Spheres of Annihilation are, if anything, rarer than Talismans, can't be made or bought, and anyone who owns one isn't going to give it to you. If the DM doesn't put a Sphere in the campaign setting, the feature is completely useless, and even if they do, going on a quest to find a Talisman of the Sphere is a lot easier than dumping ten levels in a mediocre class.
- Since the beginning of the game, there have been abilities so utterly minor or inconsequential that players tend to flat-out forget they have them, seemingly just to add flavor or ward off Empty Levels. A good example is the druid ability Resist Nature's Lure, which gives a reasonable bonus to save against the abilities of fey. Sounds useful - but fey are a pretty uncommon creature type (only six in the core 3.x Monster Manual, none of which are particularly strong), and most (not all, but most) of the ones that are out there are relatively benign sorts who aren't going to be attacking you directly. Whole campaigns have ended without the players facing off against fey in battle. And druids have pretty high saves to begin with, so even if they do end up fighting a fey, they might not need the boost. Similarly, the bardsong Countersong allows bards to counter sound-based attacks and effects, but you'd struggle to find something that appliesnote outside of certain other bardsongs, and not even the particularly good ones.
- Slow Fall, a monk ability that lets them grab a nearby surface while falling to slow their descent and negate some level of falling damage. Except the level 1 spell Feather Fall negates all falling damage, affects the whole party, and doesn't need you to be next to anything. Even sillier because Slow Fall scales with level, meaning it takes until level 20 to finally be able to block any amount of falling damage.
- Fifth Edition has worked hard to mostly avert this, but a few instances have still occured. One example is the Forge Domain's Channel Divinity ability. All cleric domains have a unique Channel Divinity power. These range from awesome, like the Life Domain's mass healing ability or the War Domain's huge bonus to an attack roll (that gets activated after you roll the die so you can see whether or not you'll need it), to the situational (the Knowledge Domain's granting of temporary tool proficiency) to the Forge Domain's. The Forge Domain (from the supplement book Xanathar's Guide to Everything) allows you to perform an hour long ritual in which you take some metal and turn it into a metal item. The metal used in the ritual can be any type of metal, it gets transformed in the process, so you could take copper and turn it into a steel sword. However, the process (which is already of limited use to adventurers) has some serious limitations. First, you must provide metal of equal value of the item you're making. Second, there's a cap of 100 gold pieces on the value of the item you're creating. Not a problem for weapons, but it means that you can't get any armor better than something that a starting character would already have. There are very few times when an adventuring party would have call for this ability at all, and the cap on value means that after a few levels that will quickly go from "few" to "none." Really, the most use you could get out of it is if your gear got stolen and you were thrown in prison but the guards didn't bother taking your holy symbol, at which point you could turn the bars in your cell into a morningstar or something. Or do something flavorful but not terribly useful like magically turning some bent nails into a new brass doorknob for the innkeeper. Over all, it's an ability that a normal character could end up never finding a real use for in an entire campaign.
- Pathfinder naturally has many feats, spells, and class features that are excessively situational or simply pointless; some carried over from Dungeons and Dragons, some brand new.
- Several witch hexes fall into this. One grants the ability to sniff out creatures, which would be fine from a flavor and balance perspective, but apparently someone decided that wasn't sufficiently witchy and made it useless with the caveat that it only works on children.
- The baffling Scrollmaster wizard archetype allows wizards to wield magical scrolls as weapons - which are incredibly easy to break, really expensive, and you're a wizard and suck at fighting why don't you just unroll it and read the spell?
- Poisoned Egg is an often-mocked spell which transforms a single whole egg so it contains one dose of an incredibly weak poison for a few minutes - it doesn't even work through consumption, the egg has to be broken and its contents applied to a weapon. It also comes with the odd note that once the spell expires it reverts back to egg, which is harmless unless the poisoned creature is vulnerable to eggs.
- The nerf to the bardsong Fascinate had this effect. In 3.5, it was a rather limited ability (able to shut down a creature's actions as they stop what they're doing and listen to your music, but they have to be within 90 feet and able to see, hear, and listen to you, you can't use it in combat, and any kind of threatening action by you or anyone else ends the effect), but it was counterbalanced by a unique save mechanic that made it almost irresistible in the handful of cases where you could use it. Pathfinder gave it a conventional save mechanic, but failed to change any of its other traits, making it strictly worse than just casting any given enchantment.
- Some examples from the post-modern horror game Unknown Armies:
- One significant magical ritual (that is, an effect of Authentic Thaumaturgy usable only by Adepts, not by normal people unless they HAPPEN to know the incredibly rare and costly Harmonious Alignment minor-charging ritual) is called "Scurvy Livestock". This ultra-rare power, which can be cast ONLY on a full moon night and which requires yellow phlegm from a sick woman with at least one living child, mixed with wine and honey which must be boiled (while saying magic words) in your opponent's field, causes livestock owned by the target to sicken: cows give sour milk, sheep get patchy, and piglets fail to thrive. Some, as the spell notes, will die. The book explains: "Sure, this doesn't seem particularly impressive today. But in the Middle Ages it was one of the all-time greats."
- Iconomancy (magic gained by literally worshiping celebrities) seems built to be absolutely useless. The effects themselves aren't that bad, but getting the charges to use them is ridiculous. Minor charges are simple (a one-hour religious ceremony devoted to whichever celebrity you want to charge from), but significant charges require either discovering something shocking about the celebrity (like finding a gun owned by John Lennon) or radically altering yourself to resemble the celebrity (we're talking plastic surgery-level alteration). And getting a major charge requires being present at the death of someone famous enough to be the subject of Iconomantic ritual - which means getting a major charge for any of the sample celebrities is literally impossible. Magic in Unknown Armies is highly situational in many cases, but Iconomancy has so many restrictions it has to be intentional.
- Mageekians are people who gain subconscious magical power from something they are preoccupied with; these powers are often pretty limited. Examples mentioned in the books include a doll collector whose dolls come alive when she sleeps and a guy who has the power of Compelling Voice but is far too shy to actually use it.
- This can happen if you get the wrong randomly drawn Alpha Mutations in Gamma World. Giant Clown Feet anybody?
- In Warhammer 40,000, Flamers of Tzeentch can breath random 'fires' at enemies. This can result in the target being burned to ashes in seconds, having only their clothes burned off, or being drizzled in a fine mist of red wine (among other things). Pink Horrors of Tzeentch have been noted as finding events like the last two an endless source of humour.
- The obscure RPG Stuperpowers is basically if somebody made a whole game based around this trope (with a dash of This Loser Is You). Its premise is that for every superhero who gets "real" superpowers, there are a dozen more who get such endlessly useful metahuman abilities as making it rain nachos, summoning mariachi bands, turning yourself into modern art, turning things plaid, and moving things with your brain (that is, by having your head actually pop open and your brain physically jump out and manipulate something). Those "dozen more" being the ones run by the players, of course. Meanwhile the characters they're meant to oppose tend to have "real" powers like strength, invisibility and death-beams, even if their concepts are almost as ridiculous as the players'.
- A minor character introduced in The Dresden Files RPG can see through drywall. Nothing else. Just drywall.
- The short play The League of Semi-Superheroes is about a group of heroes each acknowledging the uselessness of their powers as they deal with a financial crisis.
- Gali, a Toa of Water, complained to her trainer that she cannot think of a way to make good use of her Mask of Water Breathing as an offensive or defensive item, especially since the training took place in a desert. Later on, though, she moved to a watery area and also gathered five other masks, so it was all good. Actually, a lot of mask powers in the Bionicle Universe may seem kind of awesome at first, but when you remember that often these are the only masks their user has access to, they may find themselves in hairy situations. Gali is actually a bit luckier than she seems in this regard; as a Toa of Water, water-breathing is essentially a Required Secondary Power for her.
- Toa of Water in general seem to have bad luck with masks. Nokama's mask made her an Omniglot, which, while not useless, required some contriving to run into a situation where it did stuff. Hahli's mask gave her the ability to see supernatural or invisible things, which was similarly sharply limited. Fortunately, she traded up to one that let her copy the abilities of Rahi.
- Bratzillaz dolls all have pretty cool powers according to their advert. Yasmina sees the future, Cloetta has transformation powers, Meygana can fly (and apparently grants wishes), Sashabella communicates with animals, and Jade... fixes broken hearts.
- Captain Novolin's "superpower" is diabetes. No, he doesn't cure diabetes. No, he can't give people diabetes either. He has Type 1 Diabetes, and as an exaggeration of the real-life condition, dies instantly upon either eating too much or when he touches junk food. Other than that, his only other "power" is the ability to jump slightly higher than average- and suddenly, the likes of Ma-Ti and Aquaman don't seem all that bad. You would think that the last person in any position to fight off an invasion of evil sugary donuts would be the one person who dies instantly from just touching them, but there you have it.
- In City of Heroes, the two starting contacts for heroes of the Mutation origin are both also mutants, but their powers aren't exactly super-heroic. One can instantly solve any math problem, the other can see into the infrared and ultraviolet areas of the light spectrum.
- In Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley, Paper Lad from "The Improbable Paper Pals" has the ability to turn himself into different types of paper. Naturally, Smiley and Star mock him for this, and Paper Lad admits he's useless without his partner, Origami Kid.
- Lampshaded in Dragon Quest VI: after a nun states that Lord Zenith's power comes from the hearts of people, Amos wonders if he wouldn't be happier with the power of fire or wind.
- The Forgotten Beasts in Dwarf Fortress will sometimes have one of these. The random nature of their breath attacks means that, while sometimes they have dust that'll cause bleeding on every surface it touches, at other times they'll have a mild numbing vapor, which is essentially a painkiller dust. (Though, even the painkiller dust will wreck the player's day by ruining their framerate.) The web-shooting ability is glitched to complete unusability for Forgotten Beasts.
- Final Fantasy:
- Present in the backstory of Final Fantasy III. The great sage Noah had three immortal students - Doga, Unei, and Xande. He gave Doga incredible magical power. He gave Unei complete control over the world of dreams. He gave Xande... the ability to die. This didn't sit well with Xande, who is responsible for most of the major problems faced in the game in trying to avoid Noah's "gift."
- While other characters in Final Fantasy IV got things like swords, spears, bows, black magic, and axes, Edward's weapon is a harp that shoots lines of music at enemies. His special ability is singing, which often fails to work on regular enemies, while bosses are immune to it.
- In Fire Emblem Awakening Yarne initially finds the his race the Taguel's ability to turn into giant rabbits rather lame compared to the ability of Manaketes such as Nah to turn into dragons, though she manages to convince him that it's useful in its own ways. It proves true in gameplay, with the former filling a semi-viable Fragile Speedster role, while the latter serve as Mighty Glaciers.
- The Interactive Fiction series The Frenetic Five features a group of superheroes in a world where not all powers are awesome. The player character, Improv, has the power of "thinking MacGyver was a rank amateur," (a power which doesn't actually have any effect on the game — the player himself is expected to provide that power in the form of solving puzzles through improvization). His teammates are:
- "Pastiche", each of whose body parts has a different power (her hand, for example, can phase through solid matter, but her Kryptonite Factor is rope and anything wheat-based);
- "Lexicon" knows every word in the English language (Not their meaning, though, as he's not a dictionary);
- "Newsboy" has a mystical ability to receive news headlines remotely;
- "The Clapper" can make objects beep by clapping (in one episode, The Clapper is replaced by Medic Alert, a hero with the power to beep loudly until help arrives).
- The Frenetic Five game series put the players in the shoes of the team's leader, Improv, an unpowered superhero whose main skill the his ability to improvise with objects in his immediate surroundings. The others are Lexicon (granted a superhuman grasp of the English language by a freak tertiary education accident), the Clapper (can make nearby objects beep loudly by clapping while thinking about them), Newsboy (can psychically access any news story from any news source past or present) and Pastiche (has a ridiculous number of superpowers, most fitting this trope, with enough being localized to specific parts of her body to cover them all). The third and final game sees the Clapper go on strike and be replaced by someone who tops them all: Medic Alert, who beeps loudly to alert the authorities in times of danger.
- At the very end of Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, after the final battle, one of the newly empowered beastmen in Belinsk claims to have the power to... calculate compound interest.
"It's remarkably handy, actually."
- The Eyeclops helmet in Kid Chameleon; in an irritatingly Nintendo Hard game, its primary application is to... fire harmless green beams that reveal invisible blocks, which is useless most of the time (as power up blocks are either clearly seen or easily found without the helmet). Its attack function is its crystal power up, which fires a brief white beam of kill energy that only takes off one hit from normal enemies, doesn't damage bosses at all, yet eats gems like candy per use. The only real advantage it gives you over your normal, unpowered self is an extra hit point (which any of the other helmets can get you, themselves). There are actually several levels which make creative use of this helmet, as the blocks the beam reveals form a temporary platform.
- The Sleep power up in the series; all you do with it activated is, well... sleep for a while, not healing or becoming invulnerable or anything, just... sleeping and being a sitting duck. Enemies or powerups that grant Sleep are actually used as obstacles later in the series for just that reason; likewise, it's a Zonk when two or more powers are absorbed at the same time ("Mix"). This was later subverted in one game, where a treasure lets Kirby use Sleep to heal his health bar. In several games, Sleep does give you invulnerability; there was even a level in one game where you had to sleep through a conveyor belt filled with invulnerable spiky enemies to reach a secret door. Although, to be honest, even with the scroll to give it healing abilities, Sleep is still useless. You'd probably be better off with any other healing item.
- The Ghost power up in Squeak Squad. To get this ability, Kirby has to collect the hidden pieces of Ghost Medals, and once he does, the special ghost minibosses will appear in one part of each world; Kirby has to defeat the miniboss to get the power. Once you get it, Ghost Kirby's power is to... possess enemies and move them around to fight other enemies. Only mook-level, not miniboss ones (let alone a proper boss). And the enemies' abilities (not all enemies have a special ability, by the way) are all inferior to the ones Kirby can take normally. Only good if you're just screwing around, not when you're solving puzzles or fighting bosses.
- In The Last Remnant, most (if not all) of the characters that can be recruited into your party have, in addition to their usual complement of standard "RPG Attributes", a single custom attribute which can also increase through combat along with everything else. This attribute can have interesting names such as 'bravery' and 'love', but also non-sequiturs like 'gluttony'. However, they all actually have the exact same use, i.e. they determine that character's Base Reaction Value - which among other things determines how it behaves in combat when you give the "Play it by ear" command (which lets that particular unit/union to choose an appropriate action by itself).
- Mega Man (Classic): Oftentimes, the robot bosses Mega Man would acquire lame copied powers from will naturally have lame powers themselves, and be seen as a joke because of that. Such as Bubble Man, Spring Man or Sheep Man. Downplayed with Top Man; while he's also seen as a joke, at least he handles his Top Spin better than Mega Man does.
- The first Metal Gear Solid game has an example with Decoy Octopus, who can imitate another person perfectly, even down to the blood. While it sounds good and is certainly useful, it just can't compare to the likes of the Fourth Wall-shattering Psychic, the hulking shaman wielding a BFG commonly found on fighter jets, the Cold Sniper skilled enough to hit you in a blizzard, and the clone of the greatest soldier ever who is Made of Frickin' Titanium. He only one-ups the sharpshooting Badass Normal... but who acts mostly behind the scenes instead of in the battlefield.
- In Ōkami, the various deities you get your powers from are the gods of things like fire, restoration, water, etc. The cat, Kabegami, however, is the God of Walls, and while being able to walk up vertical surfaces may seem pretty handy, in practice it's limited to a few very specific paths marked by Kabegami statues and pawprints. The power is mainly only useful for 100% Completion.
- Rebecca Chambers in Resident Evil 0. Though she is technically the main character of the game, Billy is far more useful in combat due to his ability to take more damage. Rebecca's only unique talent is her ability to mix herbs, which is only useful because Billy is the only character in the entire franchise who can't do this. In all the previous Resident Evil games, every playable character had this ability.
- In South Park: The Stick of Truth, Scott Malkinson boasts that he has "the power of diabetes." Unlike the game's other silly superpowers, like the Dovahkiin's Fartillery and the Jew class gaining power through his people's suffering, this confers no benefits. Subverted in the sequel, where Scott, as Captain Diabetes, gains Super Strength by deliberately sending himself into a diabetic shock (though this also comes at the risk of killing him if he doesn't have insulin, a weakness that you help him bypass).
- The gimmick of Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly is that Spyro finds runes throughout the worlds, bring them to the Dragon Spirit and receive a new power. Bianca provides Spyro with the first rune. What does he get? Bubble breath. no, seriously. While it does serve a functional purpose - collecting lost dragonflies - it is a very imprecise tool, making it hard for players to catch them, and it is completely useless against enemies.
- Street Fighter. In exchange for all of Dan Hibiki's inferiorities, he gains an ability unique to him that allows him to... taunt without limit. Other characters can only taunt once per round. Lucky bastard! It got even worse for him. In Capcom Vs SNK 2, taunting charged your opponent's power meter. One of Dan's hypercombos was a non damaging series of rolls while taunting repletedly. Yeah, he could completely drain his power meter and leave himself wide open to an opponent's attack for a very long time... in order to make his opponent more dangerous. Way to go, Dan.
- Superhero League of Hoboken is built on the subversion of this trope. Set in postapocalyptic Hoboken and surroundings, the protagonists are superheroes with... really weird powers. And names. And backgrounds. Such as Captain Excitement, so boring that he can cause animals to fall asleep at will. Treader Man, half man, half boat, who is really good at treading water. Breadbuster, able to vanquish any baked goods. Madame Pepperoni, able to instinctively know the content of any pizza box without looking. (Only pizza boxes, though.) The list goes on. Yet, almost all of them make use of their powers one way or another, either to solve a quest (a hostel is swamped with unfolded road maps; fortunately, Princess Glovebox's power is specifically the ability to handle this), or to assist in combat (causing animals to fall asleep is REALLY useful when you're attacked by Albino Rhinos). In fact, the only hero whose power is NOT useful in some way is Crimson Tape, the main character... and the only one you can't remove from the party. Fortunately, you can give heroes secondary powers to round out the group.
- Touhou contains some of the most horrifically powerful individuals in existence, epic, ancient beings or monumental powerhouses that could obliterate continents or subdue planets. And then there are the... others:
- Rumia, with the power to create darkness around herself that she can't even see out of. While conceivably useful, she's also a complete moron who never uses it for anything interesting.
- Lily White, with the power to announce the arrival of spring.
- The Prismriver sisters can play their instruments without touching them.
- Rinnosuke, with the power to identify the name and purpose of any object without knowing HOW to actually use it.
- Shizuha Aki, the goddess of autumn leaves, has the power to turn leaves red (by painting them manually) and making leaves fall from trees (by violently kicking the tree).
- Renko Usami, who has the power to accurately tell time and location by looking at the night sky, which would be more useful if she didn't live in a future version of the outside world.
- Orin has the ability to carry away corpses. Not to supernaturally gather them or instantly transport them, simply to pick them up and take them away on her cart.
- Wakasagihime becomes stronger in water. And she's still a stage 1 boss. During an incident that empowered the weak.
- The Tsukumo sisters, being personified instruments, have the listed ability of performing without players.
- And then there's Yuuka Kazami who has the power to make flowers bloom and turn towards the sun. Yeeeaaah. She's also older than sin in a setting where non-humans get Stronger with Age, effectively making her the World's Strongest Woman, so that is fun, too.
- In Woodruff and The Schnibble of Azimuth, after you go back in time and save an injured bazouk, a Chinese-stereotype "guru" (whose existence you've caused) will periodically show up and give you such powers as... the ability to control your hair growth. Subverted when Woodruff asks what use these powers are and is told, "Individually, they are useless. But once you have mastered them all, you will gain the ability to levitate!" And indeed, levitation is necessary to complete the game.
- Halloween Otome: When looking at a list of her teammates skills, Emmas is the only one without an impressive list of skills (stating simply, unknown). Mr. Bandages comments on this a few times.
- In Fate/hollow ataraxia, Angra Mainyu's signature ability is Verg Avesta, where he transforms into a wolflike form that reflects the pain of any attacks he takes in that form back at his opponent. Awesome, right? Too bad that it doesn't actually stop Angra himself from taking damage (in fact, he has to be feeling the pain for it to work), nor does the attack actually truly injure the target, meaning the moment Angra isn't in pain or conscious enough to maintain the effect (which can include cases where he dies), his target is completely fine, nor does it help that Angra is a Fragile Speedster who will probably die or at least get knocked out if his opponent gets in a solid enough hit to make Verg Avesta worth it. In games where he's a playable character, it's even funnier, because enemies aren't guaranteed to attack him while Verg Avesta is up, meaning there's a good chance he has to spend all that work building up a Limit Break for nothing. Even he thinks the ability is worthless, not least because using it means exposing himself to injury. That said, it does find some use when he teams up with Bazett, who can finish people off while they're reeling in pain.
- Homestar Runner:
- In the Strong Bad Email "super powers", Strong Bad reveals his secret super-power: removing caps (bottle-caps, beanie caps, etc.) with the power of his mind.
- In the email "lunch special", Bubs reveals that he had the power of flight... but since he gained a lot of weight, he could only float a couple of inches off the ground anyway. And he lost it after Strong Bad tricked him into saying his name backwards minus one B.
- In the email "shapeshifter", Strong Bad remarks that shape-shifting powers tend to come with annoying rules and restrictions. Among the examples he lists are being able to turn into hand-knitted presents from your grandma, balloon animals, or "almost" anyone in the world (as in, about half of another person).
- The Animutation French Erotic Film by Andrew Kepple, where various animutation characters contribute elements and finally "spleen!" — with "What kind of lame-ass power is 'Heart' anyway?" written in the background.
- The flash animation by Egoraptor Girlchan in Paradise!! has Maytag, a woman with a price gun. Nobody seems to see this power as physically dangerous, yet everyone keeps reiterating they have no idea how to beat such a power, and The Green Guy comes to the conclusion he has to use a suicide attack and blow himself up with her.
- Pretty much every Bushido Blaster (except Swirly Glasses) could count. There's the Bushido Blaster who's superpower is lighting himself on fire, and...that's it (he's even defeated by a bucket of water.) He still manages to beat Yusuke, though, thanks to his strategy of attacking everything head-on, and everyone except Kenstar giving up immediately after that. And after that is the artist Bushido Blaster who's superpower is apparently owning a giant pencil (granted, the party fights him in a giant white void that might be linked to his power, but the series doesn't bother to explain anything.)
- DSBT InsaniT: As revealed in the Special Info Episode, Frog's only power is to turn the surrounding area into a grassy plain with a move of the same name...He has yet to use it in the series proper though.
- From Overly Sarcastic Productions' take on Bellerophon:
- The Cyanide & Happiness Show features a group of Captain Planet Expies who all get elemental powers. Naturally, the Ma-Ti Expy gets the power of Monkey. It summons one aging, diabetic monkey who does little more than sit around and doesn't even follow his commands. His time with the power ends a few minutes later when the monkey eats his ring and promptly chokes to death. As consolation, the goddess gives him the power of Heart, which a future short reveals to be the power to give himself a heart attack. (Unfortunately, it's still necessary to summon General Globe, since without it, he has a giant hole in his chest cavity.)
- League of Super Redundant Heroes IS this trope.
- Some, like Buckaress, have no identifiable powers at all, and Good Girl's abilities are... well, we don't know what they are.
- Gyrognome is really good at punching people in the balls. Justified since he's at the perfect height for it.
- Laser Pony can shoot immensely powerful laser beams from his eyes... that he can't aim because the lasers burned out his retinas.
- Subverted by this Buttersafe comic, in which love is the source of energy which powers eye lasers.
- In The B-Movie Comic, Mopey hasn't been a Magical Girl for more than one minute, and she already asks that very question.
- Basilica in Man-Man has possibly the most ludicrous power ever invented. He turns into a basilica, then the resident priest tells you to knock off what you were doing. Worse, other people can trigger the transformation.
- In the Metal Gear Solid parody webcomic The Last Days of FOXHOUND, we have The Chinaman of the Dead Cell unit. In a team consisting of a giant explosives expert, a superb strategist, and a vampire who can see in the dark, run up walls, walk on water and pin people to the ground by their shadows, The Chinaman is... a special effects expert and a navy swimming champion. Who can also hold his breath for a really long time. Did I mention that he's currently stationed in a desert? Because of all this, he ends up trying way too hard.
Chinaman: I know what you're thinking. "What could a navy swimming champion and special effects expert possibly be good for in an anti-terrorist squad? Especially in a desert where there's no water to swim in?"
Raven: You're a navy swimming champion?
Chinaman: And a special effects expert, don't forget that! But I've got news for you Jack — I just spent four hours under the desert sun in a wetsuit! Pretty stupid huh? But I did it to prove I could, and now I'm gonna pass out!
Jackson: It's for the best. He was about thirty seconds from challenging you to a breath holding contest.
- Dead Cell also has "Old Boy", whose "power" is...being a 100+ year old former Nazi General. Why are these two even in the comic you ask? Because they were originally going to appear in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty before being axed and incorporated into other characters (The Chinaman's water running powers were given to Vamp and Old Boy was reworked into The End).
- Parodied in this installment of VG Cats.
- A short arc in the Sluggy Freelance B-Side Comics "Bikini Suicide Frisbee Days" dealt with the main characters getting powers like these. Riff gained the power to make sound effects, Torg gained the "power" of having his life narrated, and Zoe gained the ability/curse to speak a different language each time she opens her mouth (but never English). Gwynn's the only one who got a useful superpower: the power to create an anti-climactic ending, causing all the other useless superpowers to fade away.
- Lampshaded in this strip from Least I Could Do.
- Subverted in this strip from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.
- Apparently the entire point of Irregular Webcomic!'s "Supers" theme. For both heroes and villains.
- This trope is the entire premise of the furry superhero comic Psychic Dyslexia Institute (PDI), where a "psychic dyslexia" is an exceptionally odd superpower; characters include, among many others: a girl who can create completely convincing illusions, but only of clothing; someone who has the power to tell whether or not a building contains cheese; a boy who subconsciously generates a field around him that makes anyone who enters it suddenly feel an irrational overriding hatred towards him, and an anthropomorphic chicken whose eggs glow in the dark. They actually find fairly creative ways to use these abilities, especially with the addition of a team member whose ability is to reverse the ability of any powered character he touches. Pathos, for example, generates a field that makes people become absolutely enraptured towards him while touching Reverso, generally used as an extremely effective distraction.
- Super Temps has this apply to the entire "non-super" civilian populace. Everyone's got a power, just most suck — although some "non-supers" do have Lethal Harmless Powers.
- Gunnerkrigg Court Andrew's etheric ability is to subconsciously impose order, or as Parley puts it, "his super power is to make everything boring!" That being said, it gradually becomes more useful as Andrew becomes more competent at using it and eventually develops into borderline Reality Warping thanks to being able to manipulate probability and subtly produce beneficial results for Andrew and anyone he's close to. His ability just isn't as flashy as, say, Parley's teleportation or Annie's pyrokinesis.
- During the super hero story arc of Dragon Tails, Lemuel's alter ego gained the ability to manipulate emotions and make people happy. Not only did he gain these powers while playing a villain, he couldn't actually stop people from doing things, merely change how they feel about doing those things.
- Noah of A Path to Greater Good has, at the start of the series, the magical power to not see his own reflection.
- In this Dinosaur Comics, T-Rex imagines bizarre superpowers for himself and his friends. "Your super power is shooting sunscreen out of your eyes." "What do yours do? Dribble out salty water, but only when you're sad?"
- Average-Man is the world's most average superhero. He's okay at flying.
- The premise of this Optipess strip.
- Hamsterfall from Bob the Angry Flower. When he wills it, hamsters drop from the sky.
- Also Plantae. He has the power to control plants. In comic books this is typically a reasonable power, but that's because it implicitly gives the plants the ability to move. The only plant that can move in this comic is Bob himself (and possibly Stumpy). Needless to say, the uses of commanding a flower with anger issues are limited.
- Almost the entire cast of Superslackers. For example, Invisible Right Leg Lad's power is having an invisible right leg. One of the few characters with a useful power dies in a somewhat ironic manner exactly two panels after his first appearance.
- Fletcher Apts. Here, Ma-Ti gets an upgrade to his Heart powers. A giant monkeywrench to smash people in the face with.
- In the Midnight Crew Intermission, The Felt are a gang of mobsters specializing in time-related magic. Most of the powers are pretty useful, but a few of them are rather pointless. Sawbuck's power is that whenever he gets hurt, he and everyone around him will jump to a random point in the timeline. Biscuits believes that his "magical" oven can teleport him into the future. He's technically correct, although it only moves at a rate of one second per second, so he's essentially hiding himself in a completely mundane box until the timer rings. It eventually turns out that Biscuits' oven is Bigger on the Inside, and able to ferry the entirety of the Felt around, including Ms. Paint and Arthour the horse butler. So Heart Is an Awesome Power after all. Doze has the power to speed up time around him, giving himself super-slowness, which causes him to be constantly be captured yet practically impossible to interrogate.
- Later subverted when the power of the Hero of Heart is elaborated upon by Calliope, the Guardian's Cherub guide. Apparently Heart is effectively the same as Soul, which, combined with the powers of the Hero's class, makes the often thought innocent fangirl parody Nepeta the Stealer of Souls and Dirk Strider, the Prince of Heart, the Destroyer of Souls. Later he is shown being able to rip the soul from someone's body, which is shown to be excrutiatingly painful for Aranea.
- Bob's power in The Way of the Metagamer is to "fail at building demolition".
- In A Path to Greater Good, Noah's power is the inability to see his own reflection. It later gets upgraded to travelling between two parallel worlds, but he often materialises dozens of feet in the air or surrounded by man-eating dinosaurs.
- Many fans of MegaTokyo initially felt this way when Junpei pointed out that Magical Girls gain their power from love, but... just head over to Heart Is an Awesome Power and you'll get the idea.
- Luke Surl Comics has one more view on Ma-Ti.
- Lampshaded in this Surviving The World strip on superpowers.
- Metaleeto has total power over O-shaped metal. Rings, washers, certain foreign coins, and maybe possibly nuts are completely under his thrall!
- "Heart doesn't win any awards, Reuben, it just tastes of iron... or in Jess' case, cholesterol."
- In Wright as Rayne, Misty Smid's superpower is the ability to sense when people are looking at her and where they're standing. This can make her a decent spy, but it's useless in combat, especially when you consider her best friend is a witch.
- Lampshaded in The Clone Wars Online Web Comic The Valsedian Operation, which features a scene where a washed-out ex-Jedi student (now part of the Agricultural Corps), with extremely limited Force abilities, is working with a competent Clone Captain to hunt an assassin through a city. When the Clone (who is used to working with full-fledged Jedi) asks her if she can sense anything, she replies all she can sense is that there are no plants around. The Clone confidently replies, "Well, think of it as a strength looking for a situation!"
- Terror Island's Obvious Dentist. His power is that everybody knows he's a dentist. He's not, but everyone knows he is all the same.
- El Goonish Shive:
- When Ellen and Elliot start developing magic, Ellen gets the variation of Transformation Ray turning the target into a very impressive human female, the first being a Transformation Ray turning her into the target's clone. Elliot starts off able to transform into a girl, and then develops the ability to turn into any girl and change outfits. The first "really useful" spell he eventually gets is the one turning him into a stock superheroine.
- Some of the other spells and powers of characters count too. Nanase has a disguise spell that only works on her hair and a spell that allows her to exchange a clothing item she's wearing with another clothing item. Sarah almost gets the ability to turn into a guy before she was foiled by her own brain. Susan's only known spell lets her summon magic hammers at any time, but they don't leave any serious injury and are mostly intended for gag purposes. Magus can slightly amplify emotions (This has yet to be of ANY use). And Rhoda and Dex have the powers to, respectively, make things larger and to summon a fairy companion. However, the former ability winds up saving the user's life and the person with the latter ability just wants companionship, so it works out in the end.
- Girl Genius: Krosp I, Emperor of all cats, has the power to command other cats. The intent was to use cats as spies, but unfortunately cats aren't that bright, get distracted easily, and don't understand most of the things humans do. Even if they don't just forget what they're supposed to be doing, the chance of them coming back with any usable information is low, and Krosp was nearly killed off as an embarrassing failed experiment. Later, it turns out that Krosp is actually supposed to command his creator's army of bears.
- Wondermark features "The Adventures of the Superhero Whose Left Ear Is Bulletproof". He got shot once in his left ear and assumed his whole body was bulletproof. His superhero career after that point was very brief.
- In Paranatural, Max gets magnet powers from his possessed bat. It would be pretty cool, except all the enemies in the comic are intangible ghosts and spirits, so throwing around a bunch of metal stuff isn't really as useful as you'd think.
- In a Savage Chickens webcomic strip: "What good is Aquaman, nothing ever happens in the ocean."
- Selan Pike's EvilFTW has a girl who is psychic, but only when it comes to vending machines; all but Selanio, Xeno, Professor Pain, Reza, Damon Lords, and Apogee are Blessed with Suck in some form in this series. One might try to argue that Selan is different — right up until she faints from hypoglycemia. She can't use her powers while tired.
- In Pulse possessors of such powers are classified as E-Class: "A person with unconventional or ineffective powers."
- In Henchgirl, Mary's roommate, Tina, reveals she has the power to make carrots come out of her wrists. Later in the series, she finds out she can animate them.
- Vedika of Sleepless Domain runs afoul of Heartful Punch's rule against people pooping on their own powers when she laments that work in the hospital is about all she's useful for since her power is noncombat. The conversation does not reveal what her power actually is, other than that, despite being useful in a hospital setting, it is not actually healing.
- xkcd has the "Wrong Superhero" Etymology-Man, whose powers are to explain where a word comes from. Of course, this is of no help to the people who summoned him by accident while trying to fight a horde of giant mantises.
- He originally appeared in Etymology-Man, where it is noted that, ironically, even Aquaman would be more useful in those circumstances.
- Learning with Manga! FGO:
- The unnamed FBI agent Assassin's Noble Phantasm creates a folder with all of the target's dirty little secrets, perfect for shaming and blackmailing them. Though this has some applications, it's near-useless for combatting Servants—being figures of myth and history, their secrets and weaknesses are already well-known, using it to identify a Servant is unnecessary when Grand Order is pretty lax about True Names, and most of them would respond to threats of blackmail by simply vaporizing you. It also does nothing to help Assassin's dreadful combat skills.
- The bunnygirl Rider's Noble Phantasm is even sillier - being able to summon reels of every film she ever worked on. As it turns out, though, old-school filmstock is highly flammable, meaning this has at least some applications. She can also create costumes, which are rarely convincing.
- Cornucopia: Many people make fun of Hiccups chosen power: the ability to control paint.
- There's an archived thread from /tg/ about this. Although, some of the powers listed therein can also tend towards Heart Is an Awesome Power
- The web game For the Win lampshades this. The "Pantheon" figure "Heartia" (based on the lesser-known Greek goddess Hestia), pretends to be a Magical Girl with the power of heart. It's revealed at the end of her description that it's all a lie, but she goes along with it because "what kind of power is 'Heart', anyway?!"
- In the online novel Dangerous Lunatics, Victor is a skunk boy who can control his flatulence to a musical degree, among his newfound friends with more traditional superpowers such as super strength, bendiness, speaking to the dead, and immortality. However, later on he finds out he can, in addition, actually blast a veritable tornado of force from his rear, and saves the rest of the team by doing so at a critical moment.
- Whateley Universe: students with weak or highly limited powersets are almost as Blessed with Suck as those with severe GSD, both at school due to the massive power differentials and the large number of bullies, and outside, because of Fantastic Racism against Mutants. While the school does its level best to find Mundane Utility for even the most minor powers, its priority of helping the students survive means that a lot of the time all they can do is teach them to keep their heads down.
- Generator (Jade Sinclair). In a superhero universe, at a Superhero School, Generator has the power to... animate a blanket or a toy for an hour or so. She eventually turns this into Heart Is an Awesome Power.
- On the other hand, plenty of Whateley Academy kids stay lame. Lightweight has the ability to make an object weigh 5 pounds less. Glass has the ability to turn transparent. Not invisible, just transparent. Bluescreen has the ability to mess up some electronics. Hoarder has the powers of... the hamster!
- The entire school club The Underdogs is made of kids in this category. Kamuro can shoot sparks out of her hands. Not lightning blasts or anything dangerous. Just sparks. And don't ask about Miasma.
- Most of the "powers" on The Daily Superpower are pretty lame, alright.
- "Bigfoot footprints"
- "Ability to turn pennies into sushi"
- "Electric fan head"
- The Metokur Chimera as created by former Internet troll site "Metokur" has blue smoke breath and can turn people into "penis-headed monsters" or into inanimate objects by clicking its fingers. The kicker... the chimera doesn't even have a real appearance at all or isn't even a real threat.
- In the web-novel Domina, some of the superpowers are Super Speed, force fields, the ability to manipulate rock and stone, pyrokinesis, and... lie detection. Not even particularly good lie detection, either; half-truths slip right by.
- Hannah, in Heroes Save the World, can make coins disappear in a setting full of more conventionally-scaled powers, like controlling fire or seeing the future.
- Atop the Fourth Wall: Linkara deconstructed the Trope Namer himself in his review of the Captain Planet comic; said deconstruction can be found in the Western Animation section. He also deconstructed this trope as it applies to Aquaman. When the subject came up at one point, he went on a lengthy tract pointing out all of the legitimately badass aspects of Aquaman's character and powers (He's King of the Ocean — the entire thing, 70% of the planet, mind you — and controls the Atlantean's navy, all of the Super Strength, Nigh-Invulnerability, and Super Speed that being able to survive, much less swim really fast, in the crushing depths of the ocean entails, as well as being able to summon the likes of sharks, whales, and Cthulhu to lend a hand if he felt like it), and noting that he is badass in virtually every media in which he appears... with the sole exception of Super Friends (and parodies written by people who seem to only know Aquaman through Super Friends).
- Dr. Horrible's roomie Moist from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog apparently has the power to make things... moist. Lampshaded when he laments that at his most badass he can make people feel like they want to take a shower. A prequel comic actually shows that it's not a superpower so much as a condition he developed when his father bought a plutonium-powered air humidifier to deal with his dry skin.
- The Spoony Experiment:
- Spoony references this trope while decrying the weak plots of the Final Fantasy series. Final Fantasy's plot, about the four elemental orbs: "The only way this plot could be gayer is if there was a fifth orb for Heart!" (Cue Stock Footage from Captain Planet.)
- There's also Terl, who has the ability to intuitively know how high above sea level any location on earth is, and concludes that because of this, people should worship him as a god. When Spoony counters that you could just look it up on Wikipedia, Terl responds "Well, yes. But only a lowly man-animal would need to."
- In the TGWTG Year One Brawl, resident Butt-Monkey Ma-Ti gets his ass handed to him by everyone while shouting "Heart" as his battle cry, then subverted as it suddenly becomes more badass when he repeats while repeatedly firing a gun. "Look out, Ma-Ti is packing heat!" Turned Up to Eleven in Suburban Knights, where heart is the only thing that can beat the evil wizard.
- Freddie Wong brings us Milk Man, whose superpower is vomiting milk. However...
- What the Fuck Is Wrong with You?: Tara has declared herself to have the world's worst superpower in the ability to unwittingly give Nash the perfect segue into the next news story.
- Flander's Company: Most of the time, the candidates Hippolyte receives have the most useless and ridiculous superpowers the writers can imagine.
- Lose-man can absorb the ambient "Lose"... which makes him incredibly unlucky. Sure, when he has absorbed enough, he can release it all at once in a powerful energy blast. This, he can do about... once a month.
- In an episode of the third season, Hippolyte must engage a man saying that he can cause a deluge by dancing wearing a duck rubber ring and a tutu on a techno/space opera remix of the Lake of Swans. Seriously. (Poor Hippolyte lost it...)
- The alternate universe has its own lame applicants too. One seems to think he can become a superhero with the sole power of creating flower bouquets. Hippolyte suggests he should create roses, with lots of thorns, and demonstrates how to use them offensively....
- True Facts about the Cuttlefish: This is ZeFrank's opinion of the cuttlefish's ability to perfectly change color to match its background in complete darkness. Amazing but... in what context would that ever be useful?
- USELESS SUPERPOWERS is a YouTube video highlighting some super heroes with really bad powers, such as Semi-Transparent Man, who can still be seen, and AOL, who can connect to the Internet (eventually).
- Lincoln from The Guards Themselves has the power to spontaneously generate money, No Conservation of Mass. Sounds amazing? Well, he can only generate pennies.
- Quinton Reviews introduces a team of Super Zeroes in his review of Sinister Squad. The most notable is probably Multiplication Man, who has the power to create an exact duplicate of himself with all his memories and powers... and then dying immediately afterward. This does have Heart Is an Awesome Power applications, due to the fact that his powers break conservation of mass or can be used to flood the area with corpses, so he's at least got a leg up on Perfect Sphere Man, whose powers are being a perfect sphere and having crippling depression.
- This guy has super strength. He worked as a smith in England during '70s but he uses it now to... crack nuts with his fingers!
- A documentary aired on the Discovery Channel that examined people with savant syndrome and super-human memory featured a man who, after being struck by a softball at a young age, gained the ability to remember the day of the week and the weather conditions of any date following the incident. His crime-fighting career has yet to take off.
- And just to add insult to injury, mathematician John Conway also had that power, but still was of the world's greatest living mathematicians.
- There is an Urban Legend that Jaqueline Priestman could change TV channels without touching a remote or the TV because her body had a larger than normal voltage. Several equally silly Urban Legends attribute similar powers for similar nonsensical causes to various other people.
- Some people have more taste buds on their tongue than most people, making them "supertasters." Their power is disliking foods that have very strong or lots of different flavours. Alternative forms of these make great sommeliers.
- The Vice President of the United States of America is supposed to be the second most powerful job in the US government, right? But usually the only thing he does that isn't ceremonial is cast tiebreaking votes in the Senate. Unless the top spot suddenly becomes vacant, VP is a pretty powerless position. The office of VP was even used as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians (as the job for handpicked successor at the time was Secretary of State), and quite often the VP was kept in the dark about important things, such as what was going on while the nation was at war. This has seriously backfired a few times, like when the unwanted politician (Theodore Roosevelt) inherited the top job, or when John Tyler suddenly gained it despite only being expected to scoop up southern votes. It's a case of Common Knowledge. The President was never intended to be the "most powerful job in the US government" nor the Vice President be the "second most powerful job." The executive branch was set up to be the weakest branch of the government. The purpose of the executive branch is to enforce the laws. However, Andrew Jackson realized the veto power given to the president when he believes a law is unenforceable was a valuable bargaining chip, which every president has since used to pass their own agendas. The only reason the Vice President's office exists is to create a clear line of succession to a person that has no major duties in the government. That, and protect the space-time continuum. Read the Constitution. The Vice President was, until the passage of the 12th amendment, awarded to the loser of the Presidential election.note The lack of power was by design, in those days. Though by "loser," it was less often the candidate of the opposing party, and instead the candidate of the SAME party. Electors voted for two candidates, and one elector would abstain from voting a second time. Then they realized this was dumb, and changed it so that the Vice President would be on the same ticket of the President. The irony of this is, the House Speaker is third in line for the Presidency, and his job has far more formal responsibilities than the Vice President.
- Two rare diseases, Naegeli syndrome and dermatopathia pigmentosa reticularis, cause people to have no fingerprints. This can cause lifelong problems with background checks and other identification-related tasks.
- Some people who have had their corneas replaced with plastic corneas can see slightly farther into ultraviolet.
- Some women have a genetic mutation that allows them to see a fourth color of light, probably yellow, as it's sensitive to wavelengths between red and green. It gets worse: the way of the mutation that means only women can get the 'power' means their male children run a high risk of colour-blindess.
- A few people, such as the Egyptian-born Hadji Ali, have been "gifted" with a talent for voluntary regurgitation, i.e. the ability to swallow and then upchuck various items and substances at will. About the only use any of them were ever able to make of this admittedly visually impressive ability was a career alongside sword swallowers and the like in circus sideshows—and for best results, not during their dinner shows.
- Pick up the latest copy of the Guinness World Records and turn to the "Human Achievements" section; the record holders there hold records for things that are certainly interesting (like say, wheelbarrow racing, shaving, and riding non-stop on a merry-go-round) but not exactly stuff that looks good on a resume.
- Weapons made to fire exclusively underwater are often the victims of this trope. These weapons were originally intended to combat other divers while underwater, such as divers attempting to arm or disarm explosives on ships, or special forces soldiers infiltrating through waterways. The problem arises that traditional firearms don't work well (or often times, at all) underwater, which means that underwater firearms often need to utilize ammunition and ignition systems that conversely do not work very well on the surface, such as metal darts propelled by compressed air. Because of this, a diver would find themselves in the difficult position of choosing between being defenseless in the water, or defenseless on the surface, or at the very least lugging around an additional bit of weighty equipment you weren't going to see much use out of and can't just throw aside as they are often specialized and expensive. In addition, these weapons are often mechanically complex, cumbersome and operate at such limited ranges you'd be better off with a knife. And because the Cold War never went hot, the threat of combating enemy armed divers has become increasingly unlikely. One of the rare subversions to this trope would be the ASM-DT of Russia, which uses two magazine feed slots to allow an operator to switch between metal darts for underwater and rifle cartridges for surface use.