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Playing With / Magic Feather

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Basic Trope: A supposedly magic MacGuffin that ends up being a placebo.

  • Straight: Alice is a talented magic user, owing to her powerful magic wand. When the wand breaks, she discovers that she can cast magic anyway - it was with her all along.
  • Exaggerated: Alice is a talented magic user - with an arsenal of nuclear missiles. When she runs out, she realizes that she was nuking people and the missiles were just for show.
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  • Downplayed: Alice's magic is weaker without her wand, but she can still use it.
  • Justified:
    • Alice needed the confidence, so her mentor told her that the wand was the source of her power.
    • Low self-esteem plagues Alice, so she is given something that they can "rely" on, allowing her to use her own power despite the issue.
    • Alice's mentor deliberately gave her the "wand" to use so when the Big Bad stole it to disarm her, she wouldn't be defenseless.
    • The wand is a smaller point to focus on visually, so it helps get Alice to start using her abilities more effectively, like a crosshair.
  • Inverted:
    • Alice always carries an old wand with her, she thinks it's just an useless relic. It turns out it is a powerful weapon.
    • Alice believes her inability to use magic is caused by a curse, but when she finally fulfills the condition to break said curse, she discovers she was actually just a Muggle Born of Mages, and the "curse" was a misunderstanding or a lie to make her feel better about it.
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    • Alice believes the collar that Emperor Evulz put on her is a power limiter. However it is actually the source of her power.
  • Subverted: It turns out the wand really was the source of her power...
  • Double Subverted: ...however, she became so proficient in magic because of the wand that she ended up not needing it anyway.
  • Parodied:
    • The magical item is a painfully obvious placebo - something like a hairpin.
    • The placebo is a music Placebo.
  • Zig Zagged: So the wand really is the source of her power...but she gained enough magic experience to not need it...however, that magic power is limited and she needs the wand to cast magic without limits.
    • The wand is magic - but its magic is specifically only increase confidence. However confidence is known to help impose one's will on reality. Alice thinks she no longer needs it only to find herself weak in a moment of crisis.
  • Averted: Alice knows from the outset that she already has the power inside her.
  • Enforced: "What flaw can we give our hero? ...Lack of confidence, and she has to use a wand when she doesn't need to? Love it!"
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  • Lampshaded: "You mean my wand is useless?"
  • Invoked: Alice's mentor, seeing that she lacks confidence, gives her the wand and tells her it's the key to her power.
  • Exploited: The Big Bad distracts Alice by stealing her useless wand.
  • Defied: Alice figures out early on that the wand is just for show, and rejects it.
  • Discussed: "Who's going to bet that if we were to take her wand, it's just going to wind up being some magical 'you didn't need the magical wand and you had the power inside you' thing".
  • Conversed: ???
  • Implied: Alice is seen waving a wand, but never mentions it. When she loses her wand, she can still cast spells.
  • Deconstructed:
  • Reconstructed:
    • Alice gets over the realization and gains confidence.
    • Like in Cyanide & Happiness, people really like it when they're told that it really was them...when it's on the line of, say, steroids.
  • Played For Laughs: "Forget the wand, Alice! It's just a fancy looking stick! I found it in a Cracker Jack box! The magic is inside you!" Cue Alice using her magic to give the Big Bad a One-Hit KO.
  • Played For Drama: Alice's wand is destroyed at a crucial moment with her friends' lives at stake, feeling powerless to stop the enemy. Suddenly, her magic powers activate on their own, making her see a vision how the wand was merely a tool to help her learn how to keep them under control. While she's never used her power without the wand, time is of the essence. Now she'll see what she's really capable of.
  • Played For Terror: The destruction of Alice's wand hits her Rage Breaking Point and she discovers that "the power was always within her" when she goes on a Carrie-esque rampage.
  • Plotted A Good Waste: Alice develops such a dependency on the wand that she never develops the "magic is within her" resolution. When the wand is inevitably destroyed, she needs to be given another "magic feather" to function at 100%, once she performs the required action sequence in which she applies other skills to save the day.

I know you thought you needed things like sleep or a social life to be a troper, but in reality, those things were just a Magic Feather. The power to edit tropes was with you all along.

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