Follow TV Tropes


Playing With / Required Secondary Powers

Go To

Basic Trope: A character has a power that requires other, less obvious powers in order to actually work the way it does.

  • Straight: Alice's power is Invisibility. While it's never talked about, she also has a sixth sense that allows her to perceive her surroundings while invisible, since having light pass through her without bouncing off her retinas means that she's blinded when using her powers.
  • Exaggerated: Alice can become invisible. She also has a sixth sense to allow her to "see", an aura that allows her clothes to become invisible too, her symbiotic bacteria can also become invisible and will do so in sync with her, and so on.
  • Advertisement:
  • Downplayed: Alice has a sixth sense that allows her to see while invisible, but she still can't affect her clothes with her powers and must be an Invisible Streaker.
  • Justified: The people who gave Alice her powers made sure to include all the safety measures they could think of, like giving her a way to see while she was invisible.
  • Inverted:
    • Alice has the secondary powers, but not the primary powers they are usually paired with, e.g., a sixth sense without invisibility.
    • Lacking secondary powers leads to some non-obvious but sensible weaknesses. It seems strange at first that Alice gets out of breath quicker when running when she has a Healing Factor and is in great shape. This is confirmed not to be shoddy writing but a result of a higher metabolism increasing both demand for oxygen and overheating more quickly.
  • Advertisement:
  • Subverted: Alice's lack of these is her Logical Weakness — she can't see when invisible because humans don't have a sense that acts like sight but doesn't require light to interact with the person.
  • Double Subverted: Alice is later biologically augmented to gain echolocation abilities, allowing her to tell at least where walls, enemies, and bottomless pits are.
  • Averted: All powers were specifically chosen not to involve any burdens to be compensated for by other powers.
  • Parodied: Alice bumps into and trips over things while invisible, cursing her lack of sight all the while.
  • Zig-Zagged:
    • Alice can turn invisible, but it blinds her. She later gains echolocation abilities, but those require her to let out an audible call, giving away her position. Later, she learns to do it in frequencies that humans can't hear — but dogs can.
    • Advertisement:
    • Alice starts out running out of breath more quickly due to her metabolism. However, it turns out that not having to wait for muscles to heal means she can work out well enough that her body compensates for the breathing problems, leaving her able to keep up so long as she doesn't bulk up too much. However, she still drowns far more quickly since she can't breath under water. Until she later gets a liquid breathing device that nobody else can use safely, due to the lung damage caused by liquids, which she can just heal anyway.
  • Enforced:
    • "A story about a superhero who's useless because of Fridge Logic isn't very fun to read."
    • A Tabletop RPG has required secondary powers for taking more advanced ones in trees to prevent Min-Maxing and logical nonviability and justifies it this way. Taking too high of strength without durability or massive regeneration would mean that the character would have killed themselves using it before starting. Being made of stone without the strength to move at least one ton would result in being effectively paralyzed.
  • Lampshaded: "Oh, so I have a sixth sense. I was wondering how I could see things when light passed through me."
  • Invoked: Bob the Mad Scientist researched the drawbacks to invisibility.
  • Exploited: Alice uses her sixth sense as Heart Is an Awesome Power, since it means she's basically clairvoyant and not at all hindered by the dark.
  • Defied: Bob the Mad Scientist gave Alice her Invisibility as part of an experiment, and he deliberately does not give her any secondary powers so she will find it hard to use her primary power against him.
  • Discussed: "Alice, how do you see things when you're invisible?" "Well, I'm guessing it's a sixth sense, but I never really thought about it before."
  • Conversed: "I wonder what minor power Alice uses to see when she's invisible."
  • Deconstructed: The "required secondary power" is not quite required. For example, Alice is bestowed the power of invisibility without a sixth sense — but rather than moaning that her power is useless, she learns (or already knows) how to navigate while blind.

Back to Required Secondary Powers.
Wait, you're telling me I have to write out the trope name AND put it in CamelCase?

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: