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With Great Power Comes Great Perks

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Using telekinesis for truth and justice? Try fashion! note 

"With great power comes great authority, but absolute power rocks absolutely."
Sarda, 8-Bit Theater

In fiction, it's very common that a character's life drastically changes after they get superpowers. The first thing most people do (after dealing with the person bullying them throughout act 1), is strap on their shiniest cape or nicest dog-kicking boots and become the local hero or villain.

Not this character.

When this character gets superpowers, the first thing they do is... not much. They use their powers to marginally improve their lives, and simply do what they feel like. They don't (openly) care about the typical Black-and-White Morality struggle (unless their mother gets kidnapped by the Evil League of Evil, or is staked by the local Knight Templar). Their behavior is probably how most ordinary people would act if they got superpowers. They aren't particularly mean, nor especially kind. They are just ordinary people given extraordinary powers. Often this is how characters in shows on the center of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism act before the plot shows up.

If there are other characters that have chosen to become heroes or villains, they (more often than not) will tell this character that they are either selfish or wasting their potential.

While plot-wise most characters are given superpowers for the purpose of beating up other guys with superpowers, this kind of character (who might use Heart Is an Awesome Power in that case) can be used in Slice of Life situations and make a plot interesting without an antagonist that must be beaten.

Differs from Mundane Utility in that Mundane Utility is where a superpower can be/is used to enhance a character's everyday life, whereas with this trope that's all their powers are used for.

Opposite trope of With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility and With Great Power Comes Great Insanity. Related to Cut Lex Luthor a Check and Chaotic Neutral (they tend to do whatever they want). The more benign Sister Trope to Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers!.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Present Android 18 uses her powers only for personal gain and fun. She more often than not only cares about monetary gain and hardly ever gets involved in the Black-and-White Morality struggle. Future Android 18 is very much evil, taking this trope to a sociopathic extreme. After all, if you can blow up a city with a wave of your hand, you don't need to pay at the clothing store.
    • While only in the anime, Yamcha also uses his superhuman combat training to earn boatloads of cash playing professional baseball, between each crisis. Given his lackluster combat performance aside from early in Dragon Ball, it's pretty much the only effective use of his training he displays. Still pretty stupid though, considering how much more money Mr. Satan makes as the reigning World Martial Arts Champion. Even Yamcha could take him in a fight if he wanted. Ostensibly none of the protagonists do this because they don't want to deal with living in the public eye, but if you are going to be a famous athlete anyways...
  • In The Hero Who Returned Remains the Strongest in the Modern World, Daiki is determined to use the powers he got from saving the other world to make his life easier, initially trying to become a baseball star with his Super-Strength, Super-Speed, and Super-Reflexes. Unfortunately for him, his Sword Arts skill prevents him from using a bat as anything but a sword, so he has given up on his childhood dream of reaching Koshien (the Japanese high school equivalent of the World Series). He doesn't mind at all when Farsight kicks in to give him a good look at Kaguya's breasts though.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, this is Kyoko's attitude after becoming a Magical Girl. Though initially an idealist like Madoka and Sayaka, after her minister father goes Pater Familicide on her family after learning he only had followers because of her wish, she decided to only use her powers for her own benefit.
  • Nao from My-HiME uses her powers as part of her schemes to trap and rob perverts.
  • Flying Witch focuses largely on how the characters use magic to have fun rather than doing anything serious with it.
  • In the world of My Hero Academia, Everyone Is a Super - or, at least, about 80% of the population. However, it's not nearly as common for someone to have really useful superpowers, or for someone to use those powers to become a professional superhero or supervillain. For instance, Izuku's mom, Inko, is a housewife, and as her power is simply to lift small objects without touching them, it's not hard to see why she's content to just use her abilities to pick up her keys.
  • Many Stands in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable are used for benign self-enrichment. For instance, Shigechi uses Harvest to collect loose change all over town, and Tonio uses Pearl Jam to make delicious food that cures illnesses.note 

    Comic Books 
  • Ant-Man: The third Ant-Man, Eric O'Grady. A man of very few morals and willingness to lie, cheat, steal, and manipulate in order to get ahead in life, O'Grady immediately steals the Ant-Man armor for his own selfish plans, which include using his status as a "super-hero" to stalk women and facilitate his thievery.
  • Astro City: The story "On the Sidelines" introduces the Sideliners, superpowered people who don't become heroes or villains, but instead use their powers in their work — e.g. a heat manipulator who's a glassblower, or a super-strong guy who works in construction.
  • ClanDestine: The Destine Clan lives a very wealthy, comfortable lifestyle and stays relatively quiet about their abilities. It's only when the youngest twins decide they want to become heroes that the family is exposed.
  • The Flash: There's a story where a man asks Flash if he ever realized the majority of superpowered individuals became villains instead of heroes, then corrects himself, instead saying they use their powers for their own benefits while living their lives out of the spotlight. Flash realizes that this actually makes a lot of sense.
  • Great Lakes Avengers: Flatman, before he decided that he wanted more from life and became a superhero, made his living as party entertainer / Mr. Fantastic cosplayer. Apparently there is a surprising demand for people who can cosplay as heroes up to and including their powerset in the Marvel universe by rich people, and super-villains (which brings the occupational hazard of being heckled or occasionally outright attacked if the crowd is too unhinged).
  • Locke & Key: This was once the whole point of the Keys: though they were once used as weapons during the American Revolution, they eventually become toys for the Locke family to amuse themselves with, and the attempts to re-weaponize them during the World Wars went so badly that one Locke ancestor altered Keyhouse so that adults can't remember magic, ensuring that the Keys would remain in the hands of innocents. Rendell Locke and his friends used them for nothing but fun, even putting on the best performance of The Tempest his high school had ever seen. Unfortunately, Rendell sought to retain the magic of the Keys after he became an adult, accidentally unleashing one of the entities from behind the Black Door in the process - a threat that returns to haunt the Locke family in the present, forcing Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode Locke to use the Keys to defend themselves alongside their usual Mundane Utility.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Peter Parker, at first, only used his power to get back at his bullies and make money through professional wrestling. It was only after a thief he could have stopped killed his uncle that he named the opposite trope and started using his powers as a superhero.
    • Something akin to this was invoked, however, in a short story about Spider-Man as if Stan Lee had never existed. The moral becomes "With great power comes hot chicks and money from wrestling."
    • This is actually a point in the Alpha storyline: a listless, ordinary teenager is granted superpowers by accident and, instead of being an actual hero, he becomes something of a media darling and a real Jerkass to boot.
    • In a What If? storyline, Spider-Man becomes a celebrity and superstar when he decides that catching the robber (who would otherwise kill Uncle Ben) is a good PR move, and ends up as a successful manager for supercelebrities wanting to jump the same bandwagon. Although this initially ends up benefitting several superpeople (the X-Men are no longer feared or hated), they suffer when serious threats show up, since the "heroes" don't have the training to stand up to them. Spider-Man in this timeline does ultimately become a hero after Daredevil sacrifices his own life to save him.
    • A similar event happened in House of M: Spider-Man was a wealthy and well-loved celebrity until it was revealed on national TV that he wasn't actually a mutant.
  • Savage Avengers: Conan the Barbarian actually calls out Spider-Man when the webslinger lays the "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" spiel on him. Conan gives a scoffing laugh and counters with "Great power comes great rewards!". He then essentially tells Spider-Man that his mantra makes him a fool and worse - an enabler of the "corrupt kings" of this rotted city (New York). Spider-Man's so taken aback by what the Cimmerian says that he could only mount a lame comeback. Conan himself lives by this trope and uses his Cimmerian strength and newly bonded symbiote to earn enough money to get good food, fine drink, and hot women while he waits for a new mission with the Savage Avengers.

    Fan Works 
  • The Beatles practically define this trope in With Strings Attached. After they get empowered, all they want to do is play with their magic, and they could have happily spent the rest of the book doing so (with a side trip to rescue Lyndess), except that the C'hovite gods decided to put them to use.
    • The Keys Stand Alone is about their struggle not to be heroes in a situation that tries to force this role on them, and they complain that all this adventuring nonsense doesn't give them a chance to do what they really want to do, which is have more fun and explore their powers further. George in particular has done a lot of reading and wants to become everything he can before his ring stops working permanently.
  • In Amazing Fantasy, Peter Parker wanted to monetize his powers at first, much like in the comics. He's stunned when he realizes that Izuku wants to be a superhero solely to help others rather than pursue fame and fortune.
  • Rainbow Toes, an Outsiders fanfic that was removed from the internet years ago, had Ponyboy Curtis fall into this trope after a case of hereditary Clownification made him into a permaclown with Reality Warping magical powers. After getting over the initial shock, he quickly found the perks of his situation and proceeded to just goof off.

    Films — Animation 
  • When Makoto in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time discovers that she has the ability to, well, leap backward in time, she uses it almost entirely for things like singing karaoke for ten straight hours and having a dinner she likes instead of one she doesn't. On the other hand, the more significant the change she makes to the timeline, the more it tends to backfire on her dramatically. Both of the two other characters in the film who have experience with time travel separately say that it's a good thing that she used the ability almost exclusively for small things.
  • In Turning Red, Mei uses her panda transformation power mostly to raise money for herself and her friends to go to a concert.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bruce Almighty: This pretty much sums up Bruce's first week as God, which involves getting himself his dream job, turning his run-down car into a Saleen S7, and giving his girlfriend a series of uncontrollable spontaneous orgasms. "Great Perks" indeed.
  • In Jumper, the main character spends the time between finding out he has powers and the plot jumping around, seeing the world, and occasionally leaving IOUs in emptied bank vaults (but with the serious intention of one day paying them back).
  • In What Women Want, the main character got the power to read minds thanks to getting electrocuted while drunkenly crossdressing. He uses these powers to improve himself on dates (and give at least one lady some mind-blowing sex), to bond with his daughter, and manipulate women. He also uses it to be better at his job, by stealing ideas from his boss and female coworkers.
  • In Mystery Men, it's heavily implied that Captain Amazing became a millionaire after becoming a hero thanks to, basically, being a walking advertising board (imagine a NASCAR racer fighting crime). His problems at the beginning of the movie stem from waning interest in his heroic persona, meaning the companies are about to cut funding, ending his rich lifestyle. It is also mentioned he is a successful lawyer, so if anything may have merely wanted the attention.
  • Chronicle features this in spades; after three high-school guys are given telekinetic powers by a mysterious artifact hidden at the bottom of a crater, they mainly use their newfound abilities to waste time in increasingly spectacular ways, from playing pranks on customers at a department store to playing football several thousand feet off the ground. Unfortunately, a very nasty combination of Abusive Parents and bullying at school eventually turns one of them into a supervillain.
  • Hancock is this from the start and for most of the movie until Ray finally convinces him to use his powers for good as a superhero.
  • In X-Men: Days of Future Past Quicksilver uses his super-speed for shits, giggles, and petty larceny.
  • In The Covenant, the four boys descended from the Salem witches don't really do much with their powers, except freak out some cops with a flying car, manifest a gust of air to get a panty shot from a girl at the bar, and other pointless things. Slightly justified in that, after their 18th birthday, magic becomes Cast from Lifespan. They've known all their lives that magic is incredibly addictive, which has already led to the protagonist's father looking 90 and hooked up to life support despite being in his 40s. Using magic to solve other people's problems would probably result in a very short life.
  • In Doctor Strange (2016), Strange isn't much interested in putting his powers to any serious use until he literally has no other choice; until then, he masters the art of opening teleportation portals by stealing books from the library and uses his astral projection to read said books while his physical body sleeps. Granted, he's still a student at the time, but the prospect of fighting interdimensional threats definitely doesn't appeal to him when it's brought up - he originally was only interested in magic in the hopes of finding a way of regaining the fine dexterity necessary to go back to being a (very highly paid) surgeon again.

  • The Faust legend, and how it's depicted in Doctor Faustus is all about this, and would qualify as a darker take on this. After making his Deal with the Devil, Faust behaves in a quite similar manner to Bruce Almighty and uses his power to pull pranks and satisfy his whims of the moment. While this kind of thing makes the audience laugh, it amounts to him wasting the true potential of the deal and he ends up eternally damned without a lot to show for it. And also there are his apprentices, who use his magic books for even wackier shenanigans.
  • In Wearing the Cape even the superheroes are working for big paychecks, and the more successful ones are idolized, with their own merchandise lines, fan clubs, even TV shows fictionalizing their adventures. This doesn't mean they're all in it for the perks—just that a superhero career can be financially remunerative. The trope name is also used as an epigram for a chapter, along with the original.
  • In The Scent Of Magic by Cliff McNish, when one girl gets magic all she does is read a book by the light of her spells shining from her eyes.
  • In Murderess, Lu enjoys the newfound powers she gains after crossing into Greywall’d.
  • In April Daniels's Nemesis Series, this is a frequent occurrence. Broadly speaking, only people who engage in "caping" (outright super-heroics) refer to their gifts as superpowers. The rest lead normal lives and enjoy the perks their "special abilities" grant them.
  • In Worm, rogues are loosely defined as parahumans who are neither heroes nor villains and generally either use their powers to turn a legal profit or just ignore their powers and try to live normally.
  • While Super Powereds mostly focuses on those who've taken the alternative viewpoint, it's shown that there are many Supers who choose to live an ordinary life. This is never shown as being wrong of them.
  • In A Gift From Earth the hero discovers his psychic powers; he can control people's pupil sizes, making them lose interest and overlook him when he shrinks their glance. He uses his powers to lead a revolution, in the course of which he loses his virginity- in the dark. At the end, he realizes in his nervousness about sex he had previously made girls ignore him. However, he sees his power can also be used to expand pupils, making him an object of fascination to women.
  • The Chronicles Of Alice: Alice starts to have this attitude toward her magic once she starts to use it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • At the start of No Ordinary Family, only the father wants to be a superhero. The mother uses her Super-Speed to get her chores done and is more interested in the scientific implications. The son uses his super learning to get good grades in school and the daughter uses her telepathy to find out if a guy is a jerk.
  • Using magic for personal gain or other petty reasons was usually looked down upon or outright forbidden on Charmed and Sabrina the Teenage Witch (though in the former, it became a Mundane Utility).
  • This is the essential concept of Misfits. Of course, a lot of characters have powers that aren't especially useful in making their lives better, but the ones that do only really use them for this.
  • Both the titular character and Luke Cage in Netflix's Jessica Jones (2015) are variations on this at the start of the series; Luke only uses his indestructible body to break up fights in his bar, and Jessica, who has quit trying to be a hero mainly puts her super-strength to use by breaking locks and holding cars back while working as a PI/summons server.
    • Kilgrave is a more sinister version; his power would make him a world-class threat if he could be bothered to use it, but he has no interests beyond his own hedonism (though he uses and discards people with no thought whatsoever in the pursuit of his whims), and becoming Jessica's nemesis is more about him being a Stalker with a Crush than the usual good vs evil battle.
    • In his own series, Luke Cage starts out uninterested in being a hero and uses his immense strength mainly to move furniture.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider Double: Many Dopants of the fortnight start out wanting to use their new abilities for petty tasks, such as a stage magician using Invisible to improve her act or a group of kids using Bird to take turns flying around the city. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of becoming a Dopant is an increasingly volatile temper, so they often don't stay harmless for long.
    • Kamen Rider Gaim starts out trying to use his new superpowers this way, but it turns out that the ability to turn into a fruit-themed samurai is completely useless outside of combat, and in fact Hilarity Ensues whenever he tries to use it to enhance his daily life.
    • Kamen Rider Zi-O: Another Wizard uses the stolen abilities of Kamen Rider Wizard, which grant him real magic, to be a stage magician for a small theater for seven years. He only becomes a threat when he finds out that his efforts to keep the theater open and impress its owner were all for nothing.

  • Plumbing the Death Star: One of the suggestions in "Who's the Best Disney Business Princess?" is to have Elsa use her ice magic to run an ice cream shop. She can not only make the ice cream herself, but she can also create ice Golems to serve the ice cream without having to pay wages.

  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Rose encourages Sebastian to use his newfound superpowers for good. Her definition of 'good' is helping her cheat on the final exams.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Aberrant, this is essentially what every nova does with their newfound powers. Granted, there are a few who use their powers in the classical superhero way, but even then they only do it for the fame or the money.
  • Likewise, in the Paragons setting for Mutants & Masterminds, you'll get just as many heroes who use their powers for personal fun times as do for altruistic aims. One sample NPC is Gourmand, who has the ability to teleport anywhere on Earth... and uses it to visit her favorite out-of-the-way restaurants across the globe (the fact that she has Immunities to gastric distress and weight gain help).

  • In Agents of the Realm, the first thing Norah does after the transformation is appreciating the dress that comes with it.
  • An unnamed super in Grrl Power uses his ferrokinesis to gather up gold from so deep underground that miners would never gain access to it and make himself filthy rich. ARCHON keeps him under supervision for obvious reasons, but he's smart enough to not cause hyperinflation so they mostly leave him alone.
  • Jupiter-Men: In stark contrast to Quintin's belief in With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility, Jackie would much rather use her Super-Strength for things like tipping over vending machines to get free snacks or pulling pranks on others. While Quintin is eager to help more people, Jackie believes they shouldn't make a habit of vigilantism despite how much fun she had stopping a mugging.
  • Pretty much the whole point of minus. The title character is basically a Physical God, but only uses her Reality Warper powers to have fun. Justified in that she is an immature child, and doesn't have any ambitions or long-term plans.
  • In Spinnerette, Sahira uses her powers to take care of minor chores, such as doing the cleaning with six hands at once. Spinnerette herself does this as well, but that's in addition to fighting crime.
  • The Five Best Possible Uses for Telekinesis.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes:
    • Zig-zagged with Hank Pym, who is able to control ants, become a giant and shrink down to ant-size... and uses them For Science! until his girlfriend Janet Van Dine/The Wasp convinces him to become more proactive.
    • Subverted by Wasp. She starts out following this pattern, then got bored and decided to convince Hank Pym that they should become superheroes.
  • In The Simpsons, there is a Treehouse of Horror episode where both Lisa and Bart get superpowers. After getting his powers Bart declared "I must only use this powers to annoy!" He becomes a superhero to annoy bad guys.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, as shown in the page image. Admittedly, it must be hard to sew when you don't have hands. It overlaps with Mundane Utility as ponies with cutie marks fully utilize their special talents or powers in their everyday tasks and telekinesis seems to be the one universal capability possessed by all Equestrian unicorns. The show is also consistent in depicting unicorn telekinesis as being fairly "weak", good only for small- or medium-sized objects at close range, and nowhere close to Dark Phoenix power levels... Except for Twilight Sparkle, who's explicitly a considerable outlier in-universe and has also spent most of her life honing her magical abilities to the exclusion of much else. Rarity (pictured) has been seen to shift around a few hundred pounds in various objects simultaneously, but that was in a musical number and may not be "canon" as such. Besides, she's also had years of practice.

Alternative Title(s): Comes Great Perks, Just For The Perks