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Playing With / Can't Catch Up

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Basic Trope: Side characters don't have the same level of relative strength as they did earlier in the story.

  • Straight: The hero and their newest allies tend to be stronger than ones they had earlier on.
  • Exaggerated: The hero is a One-Man Army, while their allies are only able to take on a group of enemies through teamwork.
  • Downplayed: The hero is a little stronger than their allies, but not enough they outclass them.
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  • Justified: The Heroic Second Wind, the 11th-Hour Superpower, New Powers as the Plot Demands...
  • Inverted: The hero starts off stronger than his allies, but eventually becomes The Load who could barely make a difference in battle as the story progresses.
  • Subverted: It seems like the hero's allies are about to become irrelevant, but the allies prove to be just as strong as the hero.
  • Double Subverted: ... but the hero was holding back during the fight, as well.
  • Parodied: The hero is a Person of Mass Destruction that can destroy entire planets. Their allies they befriended just a few minutes ago that had the same power level have to gang up just to take on one of the Goombas without dying.
  • Zig Zagged: Characters tend to fluctuate regularly, with some being unable to catch up and others getting a sudden power boost.
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  • Averted: Allies of the hero are regularly shown to be increasing in power along with the hero.
  • Enforced: It's become too troublesome to keep all characters relevant to all fight scenes (actors too expensive, sheer writing convenience etc.), so some of them fall behind so they can stop showing up all the time.
  • Lampshaded: "Let's face it, I could train for a century and I'm still not going to be able to punch boulders in half like our friend does."
  • Invoked: The hero's snivelling cowardly 'ally' jumps on a reason not to have to fight anymore - he's just not going to be able to make that much impact, you know?
  • Exploited: A villain who is tracking the hero's exploits in secret waits before showing himself, because while the hero may be stronger at that point his allies will have fallen behind and the villain will only have to fight two people rather than five.
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  • Defied: The hero's allies, realising that their friend is pulling ahead, go for intensive training and emerge with a Charles Atlas Superpower. Look What I Can Do Now!
  • Discussed: "He's my favourite character - shame he just can't keep pace with the increasingly-powerful enemies."
  • Deconstructed:
    • The difference between levels of power eventually forces the hero to make the weakest party members to leave, lest they get caught outmatched.
    • The allies of the hero start turning to more dangerous powers or techniques to keep up with him/her. Some times with fatal results.
  • Reconstructed:
    • The hero asks the less powerful members of the party to help out with the tasks the more powerful members can't as they would be too focused in the fighting to do them, such as getting civilians out of the crossfire or dealing with mooks that can create fatal distractions.
    • Alternatively, the other members start to specialize in areas that the hero doesn't focus on like group logistics, espionage, machinery or construction.
  • Conversed: "And of course, there's always the guy who tails behind to keep the badass-ness of the hero in context."
  • Implied: "Where's the rest of the group? Weren't you all training for ages?" "Yeah... yeah, we were."
  • Played For Laughs: The hero's ally proudly shows off his latest skill as a result of months of training. The hero congratulates him, and reflects on when he first did that when he was ten.
  • Played For Drama: The secondary characters start to feel useless that they're no longer effective, especially when they used to be, and it makes them depressed and/or drives wedges between old and new party members.

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