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  • A common situation with superheroes since the end of the Silver Age. It's resulted in some great stories, but falls flat a lot of the time. The problem being that some of the basic tenets of superheroes, namely the ones that require a greater suspension of disbelief, have to be kept in order for the genre to work.
  • Mark Millar does this a lot:
    • An issue of The Ultimates had Batman clone Nighthawk break his ankle trying to pull off a Dynamic Entry by jumping off a building to attack some mooks. The same issue deconstructs the concept of a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits by showing how badly a group of people (The Defenders), inexperienced at superheroing with the exception of one, perform during their first outing as superheroes.
    • In Ultimate Avengers the Nerd Hulk challenges a vampire named Anthony to a fight. Anthony agrees, and Nerd Hulk decapitates him with one punch. Hulk has Super Strength and doesn't have any reason to hold back against a vampire so...
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    • The same arc has the introduction of the new Daredevil. After Matt Murdock is killed during the events of Ultimatum, Stick lucks out and finds a young boy named Ray Connor, who has gained similar Super Senses after being blinded in an accident. He trains Ray and makes him the new Daredevil, only for Ray to end up overwhelmed and bitten by a swarm of vampires during one of his first superhero outings. A Kid Hero is still just that, a kid, so tossing them into the thick of battle probably isn't the best idea.
    • Old Man Logan revolves around a Legion of Doom wiping out the superheroes with sheer numbers after all the villains are able to finally put aside the personal differences that keep them apart in the mainstream continuity.
    • A similar 'villain army' plot is central to the comic book series Wanted.
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    • Kick-Ass:
    • The second issue of Superior has a kid testing out the superpowers of his favorite Superman Expy. He attempts to use his "super-breath" to put out a house fire, only to demolish the house and spread the fire over a much larger area.
  • The All-New Wolverine storyline "Old Woman Laura" is a contrast to the above Wanted and Old Man Logan storylines. In this future, the villains again tried a mass attack...and were easily defeated as it's impossible to get a few thousand greedy, self-serving, power hungry criminal sociopaths to trust one another enough to form a cohesive unit so the heroes were able to use their superior teamwork and smarts to take them down.
  • Hitman:
    Nat: We keep hittin' Louie's places 'til we got him so pissed his ass goes nuclear. Then, when the dudes got Sean call us an' arrange a meet, we lead Louie's boys onto 'em an' start the mutha of all firefights. In the confusion we get Sean out an' slip away while the S.A.S. an' the mob shoot the hell outta each other. We go home. That about it? [Well] You know how in movies when some dude says "in the confusion"— Like, "In the confusion we gonna rescue the princess, pop a cap in lord Vader an' do a bunch of stuff to mess up his scary-ass death star"— you know why it always works out just like the dude says? 'Cause it's a movie, Tommy. We got two sets of badasses trynna kill us. We bring 'em both together with us in the middle — what's gonna be so confusin' about that?
  • Ultimate X-Men invokes this trope a lot. A major theme in the series is to showcase the X-Men's youth and general lack of experience in working as a superhero team and how said group of inexperienced teenagers would fair in a more real world setting.
    • A mission to rescue the President's kidnapped daughter from the custody of The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants goes horribly wrong very quickly. The X men's lack of experience in working as a team leads to many miscommunications during their fight with the Brotherhood. And then things get really bad when a local militia decides to jump into the fray, resulting in Beast suffering a near fatal injury at the hands of an explosion and Cyclops bleeding out from a gunshot wound. The X-Men are only able to escape thanks to an intervention by Magneto of all people.
    • The climax for the World Tour arc has the reality warping Proteus going on a rampage across Berlin, destroying countless landmarks while massacring thousands of innocent civilians, defeating the X-Men with ease, and severely injuring Iceman— only for his rampage to end abruptly after Colossus crushes him with a car, killing him instantly. However, the fallout resulting from such a destructive battle leads to the X-Men falling out of favor with the general public along with Iceman's parents taking their son out of Xavier's school and suing the professor for willful neglect. All of this combined with the grief for his dead son leads to Xavier suffering a momentary Heroic BSoD.
    • As revealed in the "World Tour" arc, Professor X may be rich, but he's not as rich as Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark, both of whom own companies and use those resources in their crimefighting, so he needs financial backers to help support the X-Men, which were originally the Hellfire Club. When that fell through and after defeating Magneto a second time, S.H.I.E.L.D. took over those duties until the end of Brian K. Vaughan's run, and the Church of Shi'Ar Enlightenment taking over at the start of Robert Kirkman's run.
  • Similarly, the villain in Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers event. Time-traveling jellyfish-totem Gothic Queen versus runaway car. The result is messy but suitably awesome.
  • The plot of Avengers Arena revolves around perennial C-list joke villain Arcade kidnapping a bunch of teen superheroes and forcing them to fight to the death in Murderworld, which he thinks will finally convince people to take him seriously. The followup, Avengers Undercover, reveals that this completely backfired. Not only can Arcade no longer leave Bagalia (since the entire superhero community is now out for his blood), but he's also still considered a joke by his peers. In the eyes of the supervillain community, Arcade now looks like a pathetic loser who had to murder a bunch of kids because he couldn't cut it against experienced heroes like Spider-Man or the X-Men. Even Baron Zemo and the Masters of Evil make it clear they want nothing to do with him, and Zemo flatout tells Arcade that what he accomplished is nothing to brag about.
    Baron Zemo: Tell me...which of your impressive deeds am I meant to respect most? Kidnapping? Child abuse? Inspired video editing?
  • Daredevil in his civilian identity as attorney Matt Murdock makes a point of only ever defending those that, thanks to his Living Lie Detector powers, he knows to be innocent. As such his practice is constantly in danger of shutting down from lack of money, since the majority of criminal defendants are guilty.
    • She-Hulk had that problem as well - as She-Hulk, she would beat up bad guys then, as Jennifer Walters, defend them. She quickly realizes how much trouble that was and changes professions to be a prosecutor.
  • Wolverine's greatest vulnerability is the fact that he can't swim. Having a metal-coated skeleton simply makes his body too dense to float, and drowning is one of the few surefire ways to kill him. There's nothing his healing factor can do if his brain suffocates.
    • Speaking of Wolverine, it was shown that the reason why he got abducted by Weapon X in the first place was because he went binge drinking (even with his healing factor he's not immune to large amounts of alcohol). Sure, he may not have been drunk enough to fall over but the amount of alcohol in his system was enough to dull his normally fast reaction time. By the time he fought back against his abductors he was overwhelmed rather quickly and got cuts, bruises and a dislocated jaw out of it. In a What If? scenario involving Weapon X Logan managed to fight back and successfully flee his would-be abductors because he wasn't as drunk at the time.
    • Many writers ignore this, but Logan's healing factor doesn't protect him from pain; one story showed that Logan feels phantom pains for months after especially bad injuries, but plays it down around others. Another story had him mention the agony of growing new flesh and nerve endings and the constant ache of his adamantium-laced skeleton, and that he's tried everything from acupuncture to alien painkillers to help manage his chronic pain. While thinking this he's preparing to blow himself to get inside a military base (long story), and we see him working himself up for the pain of what's to come.
  • Deathstroke
    • Christopher Priest's run provides a more realistic take on the Healing Factor power seen in a lot of comics. Slade is exposed to radiation during a battle near a nuclear submarine reactor, and begins to go blind as a result. When someone says his regenerative abilities should make that impossible, Tanya Spears points out that his healing factor isn't magic. It can heal damaged and diseased body parts, not grow new organs to replace dead ones.
    • Priest's run also goes to great lengths to subvert and demolish the idea that Deathstroke is a heroic Anti-Hero or Anti-Villain. Even though he has some Pet the Dog moments and it's clear that he deeply loves his children, Slade is still consistently shown to be a horrible, screwed-up person who is incapable of forming healthy human relationships. Wintergreen even lampshades this at one point, saying that while people like to use colorful terms like "anti-hero" to describe him, there's really no way a manipulative killer like Slade could ever be considered a good person.
    • During a drug-fueled rampage, Jericho punches his sister, Rose, in the face while wearing his Ikon Suit. Most superhero stories wouldn't treat this a particularly notable event, but Rose actually ends up in the hospital with a serious skull fracture and is later shown with a number of stitches on her shaved head.
  • During Warren Ellis' Ultimate Fantastic Four run, the team traveled to Denmark to capture Doctor Doom and turn him over to the U.S. military. The story ended with the Danish military not only protecting Doom, but then forcibly ejecting both the Fantastic Four and the American soldiers from their country. Governments don't respond well to foreign groups barging onto their property to take an affluent citizen.
    • Mainstream Doom is protected by a similar case of reality, only he's even better protected since he's the ruler of Latveria. Being in charge of a major, first-world country means that he can cover-up or get away with his attacks on the Fantastic Four pretty easily. Most governments aren't willing to start a war with someone just because they keep harassing four people. That said, this example flouts and ignores international law so much it starts to go in the other direction...
  • Black Panther:
    • This was the basic creative impetus behind Christopher Priest's take on the character. Priest argued that past depictions of the wider world's relation to Wakanda made no sense, as the U.S. would not sit back and let a country that advanced refuse to share its resources and technology, and they certainly wouldn't just allow a place like that to exist without constantly trying to invade it or get spies inside. Black Panther's very presence on U.S. soil often has the government walking on egg shells, since him being part of the Avengers is an international incident waiting to happen. It's also shown that he's viewed as a divisive figure, with some accusing him of being an "Uncle Tom" for palling around with people like the Avengers while refusing to help out the African-American community.
    • Later in Priest's run, the new Black Panther, Kasper Cole, falls from a 62nd floor window after trying to leap onto a helicopter. He attempts to break his fall by clinging to a flagpole, noting that Spider-Man and Daredevil do it all the time, only for the flagpole to snap in half as soon as he grabs it.
    • Instances of this also occurred in Don MacGregor's previous run on the character. It's shown that many people in Wakanda are not happy with the amount of time T'Challa spends with the Avengers, as they believe it's filling his head with western ideas and causing him to neglect his own people. Also, when W'Kabi is hit on the head with the butt of a gun, the injury is so severe that he ends up in a coma and nearly dies, which is NOT the case for a lot of the head injuries seen in fiction.
    • In the same run, a reporter named Kevin Trueblood tries to help out T'Challa by punching a bad guy in the head. Kevin ends up breaking his hand for his troubles, and remarks that punching people always looked so easy on the TV shows he used to watch as a kid.
    Black Panther: You should not hit a man in the side of the head with your fist. The man's head is harder. Remember that!
  • Similarly, in an early issue of New Mutants, Dani Moonstar injures her hand after punching out a pair of Viper's guards. While escaping, she notes that they never show you that part when someone punches a bad guy on TV.
    • This is also used to tragic effect with Cypher's death. During a fight, he tries Taking the Bullet for Rahne, and winds up dying soon after from the resulting gut shot. Rahne, who was in the heat of the moment, didn't even notice what he'd done, actually berated him for getting in the way, and only realized he was dead after the fight was over.
  • Every time Wonder Woman and Batman go up against each other and Batman isn't prepared. These incidents typically end in Batman getting flung off a rooftop or knocked out with a rock, simply because he can't carry weaponry capable of hurting an Implacable Woman like Diana on him all the time, and his agility can only help him so much.
    • Not that Batman is immune to this when it comes to Superman. During "A Death in the Family", he tries to punch Superman without the use of Kryptonite. Superman has to roll with the punch to keep Bruce's arm from being broken, and even then his hand is left aching from the effort, because he decided to punch a man who treats nuclear explosions as a non-threat. During "Hush", with the Kryptonite ring, he still risks breaking his hand and notes he can't give Superman more than a few slugs, because the kevlar in his gloves only provide so much protection against punching an invincible man.
  • Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man has a rare instance of a writer remembering that the Square-Cube Law is a thing. The crossover opens with Superman battling a giant robot, which he notices is equipped with some kind of special gravity device. He soon realizes that the gravity device is what gives the robot its mobility, since the robot would otherwise be too heavy to move on its own. After Superman negates the device's effect by pushing down on the robot from above, the robot quickly collapses through the ground, unable to support its own weight.
  • In an issue of Avengers World, Shang-Chi draws strength from the tales of three warriors from Chinese history: A monk who fought off a squad of his emperor's warriors, a lawman who managed to defeat the assassin who poisoned him, and a peasant girl who single-handedly defended her village from a group of bandits. Despite the inspirational nature of the stories, Shang-Chi later notes that they all come with very unfortunate epilogues: The monk died of a broken heart after realizing he'd been betrayed by the emperor, the lawman defeated his attacker but succumbed to the poison while in a hospital bed, and the peasant girl was murdered after the bandits returned and attacked her while she slept.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Famously, when Gwen Stacy was thrown off a bridge and Spider-Man caught her. The sudden stop made her neck break. Word of God says that she was already dead from the shock, and the long fall into the water would have killed her just as well, averting Soft Water too.
    • One Spidey issue had the Vulture try to rob the Daily Bugle. However, he finds that their safe is full of paychecks, and the actual money is in the bank.
    • Also in "Back in Black" storyline, once Peter learns that The Kingpin is the one who hired the assassin that shot his aunt, he goes straight to the prison where the Kingpin is, but the Kingpin already expected that and is prepared to challenge Spider-Man in combat. While the Kingpin has faced Spider-Man before and often battled him to a draw, the problem is that Spidey always holds back in fear of accidentally killing him, but this time, he doesn't! The result: Kingpin is quickly and badly beaten. As it turns out, no matter how skilled hand-to-hand combatant or how strong Kingpin is, challenging someone who is superhumanly strong and agile, has experience in fighting far stronger opponents and is really mad at you can't possibly end well.
    • Because of his superhero activity, Peter Parker has a hard time keeping a regular job or staying current at school, and constantly is hurting for money as a result. Even sales of his photos to the Daily Bugle are subject to the needs of the paper. Peter also has to deal with the emotional stress of being The Un-Favourite in his everyday life and (thanks to J. Jonah Jameson's smear campaign against Spider-Man) as a superhero, as well as caring for his elderly Aunt May (who is vulnerable both because she is old and sickly, and because she is Peter's—and therefore Spider-Man's—closest emotional tie). A lot of Spider-Man's missteps in his early years (bad publicity, failed attempts at networking with other superheroes) are the result of what happens when a young teenager tries to be a superhero without a mentor or anyone else to help him, while also dealing with other stresses mentioned above.
    • Spidey's enemy Sandman has an adoptive daughter named Keemia, who ended up being taken away from him by CPS because of his criminal activities. Evil may have loved ones, but the authorities don't exactly consider the homes of violent criminals to be suitable living conditions for minors.
    • During Mark Millar's run (Man, that guy pops up a lot on this page, huh?), the Vulture manages to capture and unmask Spider-Man. He's instantly outraged to discover that Spider-Man is just some random dude with a generic, untraceable face, rather than a recognizable celebrity like Tony Stark or Steve Rogers. He Lampshades this by saying for all he knows, Spider-Man could just be a gas station employee somewhere. This is also brought up in the first arc of New Avengers after Spidey loses his mask during a massive prison riot. None of the bad guys who see him are actually able to ascertain his identity or track him down, which Peter chalks up to his generic-looking face.
    • During one early issue of David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane's run, Spider-Man is visiting Kansas and meets a local man named Wes who has minor super speed powers. While he's used them occasionally to help with minor natural disturbances, Wes has mainly just tried to live a normal, everyday life with his family and not get into any sort of superheroics. Late in the story Spidey's battling a villain with Powered Armor which is putting him at a notable disadvantage; he notices Wes in the crowd of onlookers and shouts out for his help. Wes considers it for a moment... but he instead freezes on the spot, terrified at the thought of what could happen, especially if some of the other crowdgoers recognize him, which would ruin any sort of normalcy for him and his family. Even if someone received superpowers, that doesn't automatically mean that they would jump at the call, especially if they have zero experience fighting dangerous supervillains out to kill and have something hi-stakes to lose like their family's safety.
    • In Kurt Busiek's Amazing Fantasy midquel miniseries, we get to see the first time Peter ever engaged a group of criminals. He ends up panicking and quietly begging that he doesn't want to die, the same way any young teenager getting shot at would react.
    • The Daily Bugle has spent years slandering Spidey (and sometimes other heroes), calling him a "menace" despite his heroic deeds, and often accusing him of being responsible for criminal acts (leading to the printing of countless retractions as these claims were ultimately proven wrong). In the 2000s, it was shown that this trend has caused the Bugle's credibility and circulation to suffer greatly, to the point where the paper was in serious financial trouble. This forced Jameson to create The Pulse, a new section dedicated solely to superhero coverage, and later, resulted in the Bugle being bought by one of his business rivals.
    • Famously in #12 of Amazing Spider-Man, Peter attempts to fight Doctor Octopus, but he's been infected with a flu virus and has zero strength, which leads to Otto defeating him easily. Super strength may be a great power, but not even that can prevent someone from catching a common sickness.
    • Spider-Man's web shooters' do run out of fluid, usually at the worst possible time. His spider-sense never warns him about this. He carries spare web cartridges in his utility belt, but taking the empty cartridge out and putting a new one in takes time. He also knows he has to reload the other because it's probably almost empty as well. If he uses up all his spare cartridges, it means no webs and he has to do without until he can whip up more web fluid. This was a plot point in the first Secret Wars mini-series. The heroes were on Battleworld so long he ran completely out of webbing. Part of his excitement over getting the new black costume (actually the Venom symbiote) is that it allowed him to shoot webs again.
    • Speaking of the web fluid, when Peter has access to a proper lab with high quality chemicals and equipment, the web fluid is of high quality as well and more versatile. This was easier when he was a high school/college student or when he was a high school teacher. However, if he's broke or doesn't have access to a lab, he can cobble together web fluid in his kitchen with off-the-shelf ingredients (he's joked about making webbing using shaving cream and toothpaste), but the webbing is of lower quality and less versatile. It was during one of these periods that Daredevil commented that his webbing smelled faintly of peanut butter.
    • Early on in Lee-Ditko's Spider-Man, Peter gives Aunt May a blood transfusion. Several issues later, Aunt May ends up in the hospital with radiation sickness from the radioactive particles in Peter's blood.
    • In the "Death of Jean DeWolff" story, Spider-Man gives the Sin-Eater a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown. The next time the Sin-Eater appears, he's a stuttering, limping wreck as a result of the severe injuries he suffered. Adding to Spider-Man's guilt even further, the Sin-Eater's Insanity Defense led to successful psychotherapy, so the Sin-Eater is a genuinely remorseful stuttering, limping wreck.
    • The first issue of Nick Spencer's run on Amazing Spider-Man beats Peter with the Reality Stone... er, stick so hard that it feels more like a Take That! to the last run.
      • In Superior Spider-Man Otto-in-Peter's-body is able to convince a man that the thesis he wrote for his doctorate is a-okay because Peter is Otto's protege. When Peter is confronted again, he doesn't have that backing him and since revealing that Otto took over his body would reveal his identity as Spider-Man, he can't explain anything and he's instantly accused of plagiarism.
      • Because of this, Peter is fired from Daily Bugle: the Bugle is already suffering from low sales due to the fact that Everything Is Online, they don't need a scandal on top of it.
      • Peter's Heel Realization near the end of the book ultimately leads to a Reconstruction of Comes Great Responsibility - the doctorate and everything that came from it never was his and he never should have kept hold of any of it.
    • Ultimate Spider-Man has a lot:
      • In the second arc, Peter is knocked out while trying to take out the Kingpin. Rather than tying him up or killing him, Kingpin has his mask removed to see his face, then has him thrown out a window. This bites Kingpin in the ass later, since he has no idea who Peter Parker is, and so seeing Spider-Man without his mask (and not bothering to take a picture) only leaves him with "white, brown-haired teenager" to go on.
      • Kraven the Hunter was featured on a TV show where he hunted and wrestled wild animals with nothing but his wits and bare hands. When arriving in New York, he announces that for the stunning opener of his new season, he intends to enter the urban jungle and murder Spider-Man.... Unfortunately fighting an intelligent human is far different from a wild animal, especially since this version of Kraven has no super-powers. Peter just dodges him for a while before getting fed up and knocking him unconscious with a single punch. Immediately after Kraven is arrested; while he could make threats on his show and possibly protect it under free speech, once he really tried to attack Spidey for utterly no reason it became illegal.
      • When Peter finally tells Aunt May that he's Spider-Man, she's absolutely furious and kicks him out of the house, all while telling him that he's not her son anymore. It's clear she still loves him and the two later reconcile, but her reaction is probably the same one most people would have upon finding out that someone they trusted has been consistently lying to them for a long period of time about something serious and potentially life-threatening to the entire family.
      • After the Ultimate Clone Saga, Mary Jane is left traumatized and begins having panic attacks. When she later finds out that Norman Osborn (the man who kidnapped her and tried to kill her by throwing her off a bridge) has escaped from prison, she begins screaming and starts running until Peter catches up with her and calms her down. Even though Mary Jane is incredibly brave and always willing to support Peter and do what she can to help save the day, she's still a 15-year-old who has been kidnapped, imperiled and nearly murdered on multiple separate occasions.
      • Likewise, Peter's romantic relationships with MJ and Kitty Pryde often confuse and frustrate him, as he has a hard time dealing with the way they say one thing while meaning something else. Anyone who's had a boyfriend or girlfriend at that age probably remembers that same feeling.
      • Speaking of relationships, Black Cat gets the hots for Spider-Man like in the mainstream universe...until Peter unmasks in front of her and tries to kiss her. She is horrified that Peter is just a teenager, throws up and runs away.
      • A major part of Miles Morales' origin story is that he had a chance to intervene in the final battle between Peter Parker and Norman Osborn, but was too scared to do anything, which resulted in Peter's death. Most untrained 13-year-olds with no crime-fighting experience would probably be similarly terrified by the prospect of fighting a massive supervillain like the Green Goblin.
      • During the final battle between Miles and Venom, the police unload a barrage of gunfire in hopes of stopping the monster, and one of the bullets strikes and kills Rio, Miles' mother. When someone fires a large amount of rounds in a crowded area, bystanders often tend to get hit, unfortunately.
  • In Common Grounds, a fight between a superhero and supervillain ends up killing a civilian caught in the crossfire. The result is both hero and villain getting arrested and sentenced to prison for manslaughter. After they get out, the hero ends up homeless and struggling to find employment, as it's difficult for ex-cons to get jobs.
  • In Über, the American superhuman Colossus goes up against his Nazi counterpart Sieglinde. Colossus hasn't been fully enhanced yet, but he's brave, clever and determined... and the fully-enhanced Sieglinde rips him to pieces in a matter of seconds.
  • This trope occurs frequently in Irredeemable and its sister series Incorruptible.
    • The Plutonian's tragic childhood where he was shuffled and bounced between numerous foster homes was caused by the simple fact that Muggle Foster Parents really wouldn't know how to deal with a kid with superhuman abilities.
    • Another flashback from Plutonian's early teen years showed that he heard his foster mother was about to commit suicide, and got there in a fraction of a second, intending to stop her. But sound takes almost ten seconds to travel two miles. She had already been dead when he heard her.
    • When Plutonian revealed his Secret Identity to his Love Interest, instead of being awestruck by his awesomeness, she's freaked out that he deceived her like that and wants nothing more to do with him.
    • The series' resident Badass Normals are very swiftly killed off by the Plutonian after his Face–Heel Turn. After all, if a Flying Brick with Super Senses who can destroy a full-sized city in less than an afternoon wants you dead, martial arts, nifty gadgets and money won't do jack to save you.
    • Career criminal and major enemy of Plutonian Max Damage resolves to turn over a new leaf after witnessing firsthand the Plutonian's rampage in Sky City. He even goes as far as to torch his wealth and gadgets since it's all in his words blood money. Unfortunately Max not only being a notorious crook for so long but also keeping his pseudonym, appearance, and even sidekick from his life of crime doesn't help to make him more trustworthy in the eyes of not just the public but already established heroes as well. It's not until it looks like he chased Plutonian away from Coalville that he starts to become really accepted by the public. Heel Face Turns flew more smoothly in the Silver Age comics (Hawkeye and Black Widow being key examples), but not anymore after Reality Ensues.
  • One of the most enduring rivalries in Marvel Comics is between Cyclops and Wolverine. Wolverine is a fan-favourite warrior with unbreakable bones, claws and a Healing Factor that makes him nigh-on immortal. Cyclops can blow a hole in a tank by looking at it. Whenever they've actually come to blows, unless the writer is really in Logan's corner, it's ended with Wolverine getting blasted into the horizon.
  • In Uncanny Avengers, Rogue absorbs Wonder Man's fantastic strength during a battle with the Grim Reaper. Unfortunately, she lacks any sort of discipline or training when it comes to these new abilities, so she ends up accidentally killing the villain with a single punch (which is a little weird considering that she had the old Ms. Marvel powers for years, which gave her both super strength and stamina as well as flight, but apparently she's rusty with those powers - apparently she can't absorb the knowledge to use such powers properly, Depending on the Writer).
  • The Runaways at one point have to fight a supervillain barely a week after they last caught him because they stupidly left him tied to a lamppost with a note for the police after the first battle. The guy easily got away the second the Runaways left. This is why most heroes like Spider-Man directly hand over villains to police or at least make sure they're securely trapped before leaving.
    • Their confrontation with The Punisher has this on both sides. At the end of the day they still are just teenagers and get easy intimidated by Frank's reputation, so they just try to flee. But once he has them cornered, Molly takes him down with a single punch, because at the end of the day he is still only human and she has Super Strength.
    • In the 2017 series, Nico, Gert, and Chase's efforts to reunite the team cause havoc in the lives of their teammates, as Molly becomes an outcast at school because the team attacked her best friend's house, Karolina's girlfriend dumps her because she keeps blowing off dates to hang out with her teammates, and Victor is so traumatized from his failed career with the Avengers that he voluntarily had his head separated from his body. When the team finally gets around to finding Klara, she refuses to return, as she's finally living in a stable, safe environment and the Runaways are constantly getting attacked by supervillains.
  • Empowered:
    • Amusingly one of the first times Empowered comes across as actually being badass. She points out, quite effectively, that driving an SUV at 75 miles an hour into a villain's back is much more effective than hitting him with a thrown one at about 5 miles an hour. This allows her to defeat a villain that the entire superhero squad she's a Butt-Monkey for was defeated by. Unfortunately, the car is totaled, leaving her tied up and unable to brag, and her superhero squad walks off, assuming they and the villain knocked each other out. (Forgetting about Empowered in the process.)
    • A super-doctor explains to Emp in no uncertain terms that despite the fact that most heroes have some flavor of Super Toughness, they still have a very high chance of accumulating severe brain damage due to constant low-level head injuries; they are specifically compared to professional athletes and soldiers, who have similar problems. In fact, supers are the only demographic besides infants who suffer from "shaken baby syndrome," due to super-strong enemies throwing them across the city like a ragdoll.
  • In the first Sam and Max comic, they're tied up on top of an active volcano and a husky cult leader intends to kill them. The large amount of heat from the volcano causes the cult leader to spontaneously combust. However, the comic decides to play it off as a Deus ex Machina for the sake of humor.
  • The saga of the ill-fated Freedom Ring:
    • When he first faces the Abomination, Arch-Enemy of the Hulk, Freedom Ring manages to land a few decent blows, before the villain ends the battle with a single punch. It's later stated that were it not for his Reality Warper abilities, Freedom Ring would never have been able to walk again.
    • According to Robert Kirkman, this was the entire point of the character. Unlike the vast majority of teenage superheroes, who tend to get a handle on their powers relatively quickly, Freedom Ring continually messes up, gets his ass kicked, and then dies.
  • In an issue of X-Factor, a group of mercs capture Monet by sneaking up behind her and chloroforming her, since having super strength doesn't affect your respiratory system.
  • This is the central premise of Watchmen: what happens to superheroes when Reality Ensues? What becomes of people who dress up in costumes but 1: They have no proper training or resources, 2: They're all at least a little unbalanced, and 3 (most importantly): They are taking the law into their own hands in a world just as full of political and social complexities as the real world? They die. They go insane (presuming they weren't insane already). Or they become monsters.
    • The Minutemen, a superhero group active from the late 30's to the late 40's, has many of the prejudices of that time period. Hooded Justice is a nazi supporter until the start of the Second World War, Captain Metropolis has racist opinions of black and hispanic people, the Comedian attempts to rape Silk Spectre on the basis that he thought she wanted it because she wore a Stripperific outfit, and Silhouette is thrown out of the group when she's discovered to be a lesbian.
    • The first Nite Owl was a police officer during his day job, so he actually was properly trained and had official authority if he chose to use it. This is why he's the Only Sane Man among either generation of superheroes.
    • In his autobiography, he casually mentions that once the "costumed hero" phase hit its peak, most costumed villains simply gave up entirely or became regular criminals because, honestly, what's the point?
    • In the same autobiography, it's briefly mentioned that all the costumed criminals who didn't give up or move on to less glamorous crimes simply ended up in jail and stayed there. No Cardboard Prisons here.
    • One hero was killed ignobly after his cape got caught in the revolving door at a bank. The robbers then simply walked right up to him and shot him point blank.
    • The first chapter mentions a sadomasochist who enjoyed getting beaten up by Super-heroes, so he'd dress up like a villain and pretend to commit crimes. Unfortunately, the heroes all know each other and gossip about their jobs, so soon enough they all know about him and just do their best to ignore him. He finally makes the mistake of trying this on Sociopathic Hero Rorschach, who simply shoves him down an elevator shaft.
    • Doctor Manhattan takes Laurie to Mars in Chapter IX. She nearly dies of asphyxiation before he remembers that humans need to breathe.
    • After the antagonist reveals his scheme to Nite Owl II and Rorschach, Nite Owl tries to talk him out of it, only for the antagonist to inform him that the only reason he told the pair about it in the first place is because he already set it into motion, and it's too late for them to stop him.
    "Do it"? Dan, I'm not a republic serial villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my masterstroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago.
    • The issue after the one with the above example makes clear that, genius or not, you cannot kill a near-omnipotent being who can walk across the surface of the sun, and literally rebuilt himself after being disintegrated. You can turn the public against him by framing him for spreading cancer, or catch him off-guard by developing a way to block his foresight powers, but you're just as much a threat to his life as a termite would be.
    • For all the effort the antagonist goes through to pull off his plan, it's heavily implied that it will still fail in the long run and the world will be even worse off for it. Especially since Rorschach mailed his journal, which details his investigation into the Comedian's death and the antagonist's involvement in it, to a magazine publisher. After all, there was a good chance he wasn't coming back from the final battle, so what sense would it make not to leave a written account? Even then, there's the possibility that nobody will believe it. The Doomsday Clock Crisis Crossover, which is partially a continuation of this comic, showcases that Ozymandias' efforts only bought the world five years of peace, tops, before people discovered the lie and war exploded again, a hell of a lot worse than before.
  • In one of the Secret Invasion tie-in issues, Shanna the She-Devil tries to mug a female SHIELD agent for her uniform. Unfortunately, the karate chop Shanna uses to knock the woman out (often portrayed as non-lethal in most uses of this trope) ends up accidentally breaking her neck and killing her instantly. However, it turns out the agent was actually a Skrull.
  • Ant-Man: Season One tries to portray the realistic dangers behind an untrained person using Size Shifter powers. For instance, on his first outing, Pym is nearly killed and eaten by a spider.
  • Likewise, when Rita DeMara steals Pym's Yellowjacket suit and shrinks for the first time, she immediately freaks out and has a meltdown from seeing the world from this perspective. She begs The Wasp to return her to normal, and is visibly shaken when she regains her average height. That's probably how most real people would react to shrinking down to the size of an ant, regardless of how cool it looks in movies.
  • As a result of his high exposure to radioactive Kryptonite, Lex Luthor eventually got cancer. Hey—human or superhuman, a radioactive rock is a radioactive rock. The irony is that it was thought to be without any effect on humans, except that Lex was exposed to more Kryptonite than any other human alive. Batman has the sense to carry his tiny piece of Kryptonite in a concealed lead-lined box. Lex, being an arrogant tool, just had to flaunt his Kryptonite on a ring. (Pre-Crisis, however, Kryponite had no effect on anyone but Kryptonians. Somewhat justified as it wasn't radioactive, per se.)
  • Hawkeye
    • The very first issue opens with this. Clint falls from a great height and manages to catch himself with a grappling arrow... but still suffers some pretty severe injuries and ends up in the hospital for six weeks.
      • Similarly, throughout the series Clint is constantly covered in bandages and injuries from his fights, and while a Badass Normal with experience fighting the likes of Ultron and Loki, he often ends up being taken down by mooks when they Zerg Rush him. Of course, it doesn't really matter how badass you are; being hit hurts and you can't always rely on Mook Chivalry.
    • Also, while Clint is definitely badass and capable, it's shown there are certain situations where he's simply outclassed at best, or useless at worst. One issue has him knocked out during a fight with A.I.M., and when he wakes up, he discovers that his teammates Spider-Man and Wolverine have already won the battle without him. An issue set during Hurricane Sandy also mentions that the Avengers sent him home during the storm, as being able to shoot an arrow isn't exactly a useful skill in this situation.
    • In another issue, Kate tapes up and gags Madame Masque and steals her costume. It's shown that she needs to use padding and a wig to complete the disguise, since her body type doesn't really resemble Masque's.
      • The incident with Madame Masque, minor as it was at the time, leads to her becoming Kate's Arch-Enemy and devoting all her time and resources to destroying her as slowly and painfully as possible. Most superhero stories would ignore the fallout of such a minor confrontation, but this one goes to great lengths to show why pissing off a deeply disturbed individual like a costumed supervillain is probably not a good idea.
    • That same story shows the risk of breaking into a room through the window. All of those glass shards lying around hurt.
    • Another issue has Kate having to swim across a flooded street. She dives underwater with her eyes open expecting to be able to see semi-normally like people do in movies. Unfortunately for Kate, movies do that for audience benefit and she quickly realizes her mistake when all she sees is vague blurs and gets bad eye strain. Upon exiting the water she lampshades this trope.
    • More Kate Reality Ensues: When Kate moves to the West Coast, she ends up going against Masque's personal mooks, all by herself. Kate is a seasoned Avenger having worked with the Young Avengers and the main Avengers, and trains regularly with Clint. She's also a rather short, slimly built young woman who generally either fights enemies alongside a team or at least with Clint by her side. Just like Clint, she doesn't escape many fights without a lot of bruises and is quick to succumb to Zerg Rush tactics.
    • In an old Avengers Spotlight story, Clint went up against a local gang. He laughed them off as a threat, but his cop friend informed him that street punks can be just as dangerous as any costumed baddie, since unlike supervillains, gangbangers don't make a habit of announcing their crimes beforehand or taking on opponents one-on-one. Clint finds out this is all too true when the gangbangers lure him into an ambush and riddle him with bullets, which later leads to him adopting an armored costume. This incident provides another Reality Ensues example: Badass Normal or no, all the skills and training in the world won't help you against a hail of gunfire.
    • In the first issue of the Kate Bishop Spin-Off by Kelly Thompson, Kate arrests a cyber-stalker who has been endlessly harassing a lesbian classmate he's in love with. Kate drops the guy off at the local police precinct in the following issue, only to be told that the cops can't take action since his online comments, while disgusting and creepy, aren't actually threats. When she then says she caught the guy trying to take photos of the girl in real life, the detective informs her that it'd be very hard to actually prove that in court. The detective also says that technically, the stalker is the one who has the right to press charges, since as a private investigator (and an unlicensed one at that), Kate had no legal authority to assault or detain him.
  • In general, Trick Arrow-using characters like Hawkeye and Green Arrow tend to rely on Artistic License – Physics, since in the real world, many of the trick arrows in comics would have issues with weight, balance and aerodynamics. In the JLA arc where Connor Hawke joins the team, he attempts to use some of his father's old trick arrows, only to miss many of his shots while complaining about how no sane archer could actually fire them.
  • Dilbert joined a society dedicated to the preservation of an endangered squirrel. The idea was to tranq the last male and mate it with the last female.note  Dilbert's team get to work, they fire the tranq from the rifle from a few feet away, there's a Reaction Shot of their Oh, Crap! faces, and then one of them points out that, perhaps, they should've used a smaller dart.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender comics:
    • In The Promise, the Fire Nation's colonies in the Earth Kingdom become a major bone of contention. Naturally most of the Earth Kingdom wants that land reclaimed and the Fire Nation citizens gone, but some of those Fire Nation citizens have been living on the land for a century, and many families in the regions can claim descent from both the Fire Nation and the Earth Kingdom, as the two groups have intermarried. It brings up uncomfortable questions about how you'd define such people, (is the earthbending daughter of a man whose family is Fire Nation and a woman from the Earth Kingdom really Fire Nation, even though she's never set foot in the Fire Nation) and whether you might be willing to literally break up families in order to remove the Fire Nation from the Earth Kingdom. This is before we get to the logistical nightmare of moving large populations from the Earth Kingdom colonies to the Fire Nation, which is made up of relatively small clusters of land. When Zuko decides that it's not right to force out colonists who have a history on the land and their intermarried families, a new war almost breaks out. Turns out that that there will be a difficult peace process following a century-long war in which many people died and some land changed hands. Even if both sides are headed by well-intentioned individuals, there remains the potential for conflict to reopen.
    • Also in The Promise, Aang increasingly finds that his past lives aren't all that useful in giving him advice because his situation is so different from theirs. This was shown in the series proper when Aang had to come up with a way to defeat Ozai without resorting to violence as other Avatars had told him he had to do. Roku's belief of strict separation between the Four Nations is simply no longer possible, and listening to Roku nearly causes Aang to make tragic mistakes. This causes him to become alienated from Roku and the rest of his past lives until "The Rift".
    • In both The Promise and much more prominently later in Smoke and Shadow Zuko finds that a rather hefty segment of Fire Nation society preferred Ozai's rule, believing Zuko to be a weak child giving away too much to other nations. No matter how bloody, brutal, or incompetent a dictator may be, there will always be some people who wish for them when they see the alternative as defeat or blows to national pride. Furthermore, Zuko goes back and forth between being an indecisive ruler, (because he fears the angrier, more ruthless side of himself and becoming a dictator like his father and ancestors) and coming down hard on certain elements of the Fire Nation that want an aggressive policy or a return to his father's ways. This causes a lot of discontent, as Zuko is increasingly seen as unable to hold his own against the other Nations but also repressive against his own people. Zuko isn't a perfect leader just because he's a good guy, and he still has to deal with his issues, only now the rest of the country can be effected by it.
    • The Search deals with the hardships of trying to help someone with mental illnesses. It depicts how difficult it really is to try to make a bond with someone you love or care for is suffering heavily from illusions and distress you can't easily help with or talk them out of. Half of the conflicts of the story only arose from Azula's broken mentality focusing on her desire to kill her mother. Worse, it's shown that her schizophrenia and paranoia have rendered her almost impossible to communicate with once she loses control of herself. Not helping is Zuko's own temper and trauma erupting from him at the worst of times (such as when him and his sister squared off at the cliff). We see that Zuko does want to help his sister, but there's a lot of damage done to her (most of which Azula herself doesn't realize was done) that Zuko can't even fathom or help her with. Come Smoke and Shadow, Zuko admits to Ursa that he's at a complete loss as to what will make her happy and doesn't know how to help her.
    • North and South shows that despite similar culture and shared history, the Northern and Southern Water tribes are not one big happy family, and prejudices and other issues exist between the two. (A century of separation and being cut off from each other doesn't help either, as the two tribes have essentially become strangers to each other.) Especially when the South has valuable natural resources that can be exploited and the Northerns feel the South is too ignorant/uncivilized to take advantage of it. The South isn't free of other prejudices against the other nations either, despite being "good guys" in the war.
    • Just because the South united in the war doesn't mean there won't be a falling out and divisions about policy regarding what road to take after the war.
    • Katara imagines she'll go back to the South and find nothing has changed, only to find that everything is changing as the tribe tries to adapt to new post-war circumstances. When she is upset about this and says she expected things to go back to normal with the war over, Sokka points out that nobody in the South still remembers a time before the war, so nobody even knows what normal is anymore. A lot of people, including Katara, are trying to go back to a normal that they don't even know, and may have never existed.
    • Imbalance shows us that not all change is going to be good. Earthen Fire Industries had developed better technology that automated all of the work the benders did. Because of the energy saved on automation, there was no need to keep benders around anymore which means a lot of lay offs. With no other source of work and income, the benders have turned to violence among other benders and especially non-benders to loot money to get by and survive. By the time Aang has arrived in town, the violence has escalated to the point of a potential civil war.
    • Comics of the Korra sequel series have some of these as well. The upcoming book "Ruins of the Empire" will reveal that while the leader of the empire herself willingly surrendered and will repent for her mistakes, her empire that was built on that philosophy and power aren't so willing to give it all up. It will also deal with the consequences of Wu deciding to let individuals run it as a collective democracy as opposed to it's traditional values.
  • Short-lived Marvel hero NFL Superpro's bulletproof costume was built by a brilliant inventor/sports memorabilia collector, who designed it to be the safest and most durable football uniform ever built. When Superpro asks him why every player doesn't have one, the inventor explains that the superstrong materials needed to make it cost millions of dollars, making it totally impractical for mass production.
  • Batman:
    • During the Batman: Hush storyline, at the start of the story Batman's rope for his grappling gun is cut, causing him to fall toward the ground. He manages to grab onto a nearby statue... except that just causes his arm to snap like a twig due to the inertia of the fall. Then the old, worn-out statue breaks under Batman's added weight and Batman plummets into the alley below. He breaks his fall somewhat but still ends up fracturing or breaking half the bones in his body.
    • Batman's darker villains who are understandably Adapted Out of the cartoons (or are severely toned down) are also an aspect of this. Since most of his battles with his enemies are psychological in nature, it was inevitable that he'd eventually go up against some truly disturbed individuals and not just crooks with a quirky gimmick. Mr. Zsasz is a straight-up serial killer, Professor Pyg is a sadistic surgeon whose mooks are mutilated and brainwashed into serving him, Black Mask is a brutal crime boss who delights in Cold-Blooded Torture, etc.
    • Speaking of Black Mask, this trope also applies to his death at the hands of Catwoman. She had him at gunpoint, but by this point he had faced off against most of the Bat Family and expected her to follow the same code against killing as the rest of them. What Mask didn't realize is that Selina had long been The Lancer of Batman's allies and never fully played by his rules, and Mask had tortured her brother-in-law to death and traumatized her sister. So while she doesn't like killing, she had no qualms blowing his head off.
    • Over the years, some of Batman's villains, such as Ra's Al-Ghul, Bane, and The Riddler, have uncovered his Secret Identity as Bruce Wayne. The most common method is using the process of elimination to answer the question Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys? and deducing that, since Batman uses so much expensive gadgetry (the Batsuit, Batmobile, Batarangs, etc.), it is a given that he would NOT be some working-class guy, but rather a very wealthy citizen of Gotham, and Bruce Wayne just so happens to fit that description. This has been done not only to add a sense of tension between Batman and these villains, but also to demonstrate one of the flaws of the Rich Idiot with No Day Job trope: One problem with having a famous Secret Identity and loads of cash to finance a personal war on crime is that not everyone is going to fall for your Obfuscating Stupidity act, especially if you live in a world filled with superhumanly intelligent people.
    • Batman: No Man's Land, on the other hand, shows what happens when your "Rich Idiot" act works too well: After a massive earthquake devastates Gotham, Bruce goes to Washington to convince Congress to send aid to the city, but ultimately fails because his reputation as a vapid celebrity prevents any of the politicians from taking him seriously.
    • Mister Freeze's ice-gun was the Trope Codifier of Harmless Freezing in the Silver Age. Post-Crisis however, Freeze has killed plenty of people using it and whenever Batman and company get hit by, the story tends to make a point about how quickly they have to escape; turning somebody into a block of ice is pretty fatal to say the least.
  • In "Marshal Law Takes Manhattan", a psychotic parody of Daredevil is falling to his death from a skyscraper and manages to grab hold of a flagpole protruding from the building... whereupon the inertia rips his arms off.
  • In Batman: White Knight, Joker is cured of his insanity after Batman force feeds him a random handful of pills, becoming Jack Napier again. This turns to only be temporary and Napier needs to keep taking a replication of that combination of pills to avoid turning back into the Joker. It also sometimes upsets his stomach.
    • Batgirl only wears a Domino Mask instead of a full cowl like most versions of her. Mr. Freeze recognizes her right away he's met her in Bruce Wayne's lab and a domino mask doesn't really hide one's identity.
    • This series does a good job of detailing the kind of problems a vigilante like Batman can cause. Napier claims that Batman's vigilantism is less about justice and more about control, and adds that it's the Dark Knight's way of salvaging what's left of his soul. Another point brought up is the Disproportionate Retribution scenario of the event that cures the Joker. Joker was briefly returning to his days as an annoying prankster, merely skating around Gotham on a scooter and goading Batman into chasing him. Batman, with his military-grade Batmobile and determination to capture Joker before he does any harm, ends up causing more damage than the Joker is. It's even revealed later on that the city diverts three billion dollars a year from flood and hurricane prevention just to repair the damage caused when Batman fights supervillains. And once Batman gets his hands on Joker, the beatdown is as violent as ever, if not more. Again, all the Joker did in the story up to this point was screw around being a nuisance. Batman's response to this gives Gotham a wake-up call and everyone begins questioning the Dark Knight's behavior and how the GCPD enables him.
    • The series as a whole also eschews the franchise's typical conceit that mental illness is in some cases untreatable and makes you a criminal mastermind, impossible to predict, or "super-sane"; instead, Joker's worsening state is shown as a slow downward spiral culminating in a desperate cry for help, and Napier publicly alleges that Arkham Asylum was a derelict piece of property renovated by the rich "gatekeepers" as a place to treat the mentally ill as prisoners instead of patients.
  • In an issue of Superboy from the New 52, Superboy offers to fly a woman home. Shown from Superboy's perspective, it seems to be a normal trip, but when they arrive, the woman throws up and is extremely upset. Superboy then realizes that he flew at super speed without any thought to the fact that people aren't invulnerable or used to such things.
  • A similar scene takes place in Ultimate Comics: Wolverine when Quicksilver grabs onto Jimmy and then runs at superhuman speeds. Quicksilver is protected thanks to his mutation, but the wind speeds tear Jimmy's body to shreds, with only his Healing Factor saving his life.
  • The final run of Punisher MAX shows us exactly what kind of a toll a 30+ year war on the criminal underworld can have on your mind and body. It makes you old, slow, arthritic, unable to shrug off injuries that would barely faze you years before, and that much more prone to slipping up. And the more you slip up, the less intimidating you are to the criminal underworld you hunt.
    • A big emphasis is placed throughout the series on how The Punisher's success rate is at least partly owing to the fact that a majority of those he targets are just low-level hoods and street thugs. Intimidating to the average joe, but completely out of their depth when it comes to actual combat. So in The Slavers, where he attempts to attack what he later realizes are a group of Bosnian war veterans who do know what they're doing, he quickly realizes he's made a mistake and is forced to retreat.
    • In Garth Ennis' first Punisher maxi-series, there's a subplot about a trio of vigilantes who are similar to the Punisher, but with a more realistic slant. Elite is a racist (and borderline Nazi) who primarily kills minority criminals and thinks that people of color are a drain on society. The Holy is a raving lunatic and serial killer who provides a vague justification for his crimes by claiming that he's doing "God's work" and punishing the wicked. Mr. Payback is probably the most likable of the trio, but he's also an idiot without any real military training or combat experience, and as a result, one of his rampages results in an innocent woman getting killed in the crossfire. The message seems to be that real world vigilantes are not as noble or improbably accurate as the Punisher, and that real vigilantism doesn't attract the smartest or most morally upstanding people.
      • In the same story, the previously mentioned "vigilantes" decided to join forces to continue their war on "evil" and get the Punisher to lead them. However, the three all have their own views on who is evil. Elite wants to Kill the Poor, Mr. Payback wants to Kill The Rich, and the Holy wants to Kill Them All. These leads to Elite and Payback arguing and threatening with each other since both are exactly what the other one hates, leaving the Holy as the Only Sane Man of the group. Another issue is that by themselves, they don't know how to develop a crimefighting group and spend most of the time arguing and getting nothing done. On top of that, they just think the Punisher is just going to join their group and lead it, ignoring the possibility that he wants nothing to do with them and that he would much rather want them dead.
    • Ennis' Punisher: War Zone mini-series features Tim, the son of the above-mentioned Elite, as the main antagonist. During an attempt to snipe the Punisher from a tree, the boy misses and promptly gets two of his fingers shot off, forcing him to make a hasty retreat. Tim later says that people like Bruce Willis make shrugging off non-fatal gunshot wounds look easy, when in reality, getting shot often causes debilitating pain that makes it difficult to do much of anything, much less continue fighting.
    • Tim's entire arc could be seen as a the more realistic take on the From Nobody to Nightmare trope. Tim is out for vengeance against The Hero and uses his wealth and resources to come up with an elaborate plan to destroy him. However, thanks to his inexperience, he continually makes stupid mistakes, and the Punisher is eventually able to figure out his identity and track him down fairly easily, since a vengeful relative is going to be the prime suspect in a case like this. After all this, the story ends with the Punisher surprising Tim in his home and casually murdering him without much fanfare. No dramatic final showdown or epic last stand with a grandiose speech. Just Tim having an Oh, Crap! reaction and Punisher shooting him in the face.
    • The same mini-series has a scene where Lieutenant Molly von Richthofen is trapped in a house full of Mafia goons. She bursts into the room where the goons are gathered and points her gun at them, giving a Badass Boast and saying they're all under arrest. Smash Cut to Molly's funeral, where the priest says there wasn't much left of her to bury after she was killed in the ensuing hail of gunfire. Thankfully, this turns out to be a Daydream Surprise, and Molly decides to hide rather than confront the goons directly.
    • A mini-series, The Punisher's Arsenal, although being mostly about the Technology and Gun Porn of the many weapons Frank Castle uses during his war on crime, still showcases some small but very important details: in order to maintain his skills sharp, Castle uses a lot of time for training and goes through a lot of rounds in order to familiarize with said weapons' performance when shooting. Also, Dual Wielding isn't easy: he trains a lot, tries to use a lesser-powered gun on his off hand whenever he can, and he makes mention that several Real Life guns are designed with right-handed shooters in mind, and wielding them left-handed means that he has to withstand hot brass flying right into his face. Also, a couple of Cool Guns he exhibits he mentions he will ditch afterward, because they are literally Too Awesome to Use—they had very short production runs or were highly customized right out of the factory, and thus are highly traceable.
    • In the first storyline of the 2000 run of Marvel Knights, the Punisher took on Ulik the Rock Troll. Even Frank's most powerful weapons could do little more than annoy Ulik. When you're fighting someone who regularly goes toe-to-toe with The Mighty Thor, you've got to do a lot better than some fancy guns. The Punisher only survives the battle due to Daredevil bringing Ulik the magical artefact he had been seeking.
    • On that same train of thought, in the 2012 version of 'Punisher: War Zone'', when being hunted by the aforementioned Thor, the Punisher tries to evade him by first blowing him up with a rocket-propelled grenade, and then by leading him into the camp of the Indonesian smugglers that Punisher is currently fighting. The first simply annoys Thor, and the second delays him for all of maybe two seconds. When Punisher defiantly tries to pull an emergency pistol on Thor, the Asgardian Physical God simply lays Punisher out with a single punch.
  • In Forever Evil issue 1, Ultraman pushes the moon into the sun to create a solar eclipse. In Black Manta's Villain's Month issue, Ultraman's act causes tides to go wild; flooding coastal areas. This includes demolishing the graveyard where Black Manta's father is buried, and he's not happy about that.
  • The Superior Foes of Spider-Man viciously subverts the idea of Punisher-style anti-heroes somehow being better at fighting supervillains simply because they're willing to "do what it takes". In the finale Shocker launches the Punisher into the horizon in a single panel. Frank might be The Dreaded but he's still a normal man who found himself up against a guy who could blow apart buildings with a squeeze of his fist. Earlier in the comic the other members of the Sinister Six effortlessly blast their way through the Owl's henchmen, as they're armed with high-tech weapons and superpowers and the mooks are just normal guys. How's a pistol or crowbar supposed to help you against potential lunatics wielding things like sonic gauntlets and super speed?
    • Likewise the story also rather casually destroys the notion of the Lovable Rogue. The Sinister Several, for as lovable or pathetic as they may seem, are ultimately vicious criminals, and rather than stick together they instead backstab each other at almost every turn. The fact that he can't trust the people on his own team because of their greedy opportunism disillusions Shocker greatly.
    • Just because a supervillain may be regarded as a loser out-of-universe or in-universe, doesn't change the fact that they're a supervillain and thus exceedingly dangerous.
  • Supergirl
    • Many Happy Returns: Human Supergirl Linda tries to take the place of the original Girl of Steel to fight the Anti-Monitor and save Kara's life. Unfortunately, Kara can fight that universe-eating Eldritch Abomination because she is all but a Physical God. Linda is human. She hasn't got a prayer, and no amount of determination, willpower, human spirit or preparation time will change that.
    • In Vol 5 story arc "The Way of World", Kara meets a little boy that is dying from cancer and vows to save his life. Kara fails and has to learn that her powers cannot do everything.
    • Similarly, in Young Love Earth-1 Supergirl's Old Flame Dick Malverne dies from cancer, and Linda can do nothing to save him.
  • Superman: The main character by his very nature avoids most of these tropes, but his official authority is often an open question.
    • The Man of Steel averts this by having the mayor of Metropolis (as fallout from a challenge to his authority by Lex Luthor) commission Superman directly as a special deputy, which at least gives Superman jurisdiction within Metropolis city limits.
    • In the earliest Golden Age stories, Superman would take on normal criminals and the corrupt and was more lax with death threats and property damage. However, in Superman in the slums even he's initially stumped as to how to fix juvenile crime in a dilapidated neighborhood since there isn't someone who's directly responsible. Of course he finds the solution and demolishes the neighborhood, after the people evacuate of course, once he learns that the government will build modern housing projects to replace the old buildings, but still.
    • The Final Days of Superman: Several consecutive arcs of him slamming down on the "Deadly Upgrade" button (and one Disney Death, for added seasoning) ends up giving him an incurable, fatal disease... which kills him off for real. Rest In Peace, New 52 Supes.
    • Also New 52 tackles the issue of trying to keep a secret identity in a world where surveillance cameras and smartphones are common place. As a result, one villain manages to put together that Clark is Superman from monitoring footage through Metropolis and attempts to blackmail him into doing his bidding. Lois Lane ultimately tries to end it by going ahead and outing Superman as Clark. Word spreads immediately and people are left wondering if Superman can still be trusted after finding out that he had lied about who he was for years, and on top of that, Supes ends up angry with Lois for releasing the information even though she only did it to save him.
    • For a brief time in 2008 Lana Lang was put in charge of LexCorp following one of Lex's failed schemes forcing him to go on the run. Lana found that despite Luthor's super genius LexCorp was facing bankruptcy. When one of LexCorp's scientists questioned this, saying LexCorp's worth billions, Lana points out "Maybe it would be if your lunatic criminal founder, before wiping out all the goodwill the company had, hadn't funneled most of the corporate assets into crazy boondoggles like secret moonbases and shuttle technology..." and other Superman destroying schemes.
    • Superman (Rebirth) has two instances of that in Imperius Lex story. First one is when Lex Luthor gets abducted and Superman doesn't come to save him - this is because ever since his Heel–Face Turn Luthor has been abusing emergency signals for any excuse to impress Superman. Second are Kalibak's fights with Granny Goodness and Superboy - despite his status as resident subject of The Worf Effect and their as badass grandma and Badass Adorable, their Super Strength is on a comparable level and with that filed more even Granny is an elderly woman and Jon is still a ten-years-old, while Kalibak is an adult man and a seasoned warrior much larger than any of them and very much in shape, so he effortlessly wins both battles. The reason he has a reputation of a loser is that he keeps picking fights with people like Superman or Orion, who are above his weight class.
    • During the Final Crisis - Legion of 3 Worlds, when Superman suggests that they try to redeem Superboy-Prime, his Legion of Super-Heroes teammates think he is crazy for even suggesting it. And there was a problem with his idea, because one, Superboy-Prime was psychotic, and two, he was trying to be a villain. All the other times Superboy-Prime was trying to get back home. By this story he accepts his world is gone, and is trying to be a villain because he found out he is regarded as merely a footnote in Superman's history and ultimately has no impact on history, so resolved to be a villain with more of an impact than any other enemy of Superman. Superman trying to redeem him goes as well as you might expect it to.
  • In the first issue of All-New Ghost Rider, Robbie Reyes tries to stop three gang members from stealing his brother's wheelchair. One of them pulls out a gun. You would expect Robbie to show what a Badass Normal he is, dismantle the thug with the gun and beat them all up. Instead, he stands still and the thugs beat him up and steal both the wheelchair and his shoes. This shows that, despite growing up in a bad neighborhood, Robbie isn't some sort of impossibly tough delinquent, but just a regular guy.
  • A few years ago X-Men character Fantomex saved the world from a monster brainwashing people into worshipping it as their god by revealing he is programmed to be incapable of conceiving anything greater than himself, therefore he cannot believe in any god. A 2014 issue of X-Force reveals that whenever he is outdone at anything, the same ability causes so much cognitive dissonance he ends on the verge of mental breakdown.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW):
  • In FoxTrot, Jason spends the cash prize from a chess tournament on gumballs. The next time he goes to the dentist, he has cavities.
  • Surprisingly enough, the Disney Mouse and Duck Comics tend to do this a lot:
    • On one occasion, Scrooge McDuck and his family ventured into the ruins of an ancient civilization to look for the secrets of their Lost Technology. They find scrolls with all the necessary blueprints and they immediately go home where Scrooge shows them to his engineers... Who proceed to tell him that these designs are nearly identical to their latest project. After all, just because technology is lost, doesn't mean it can't be independently redeveloped later, especially over the course of centuries. Scrooge then destroys the ancient blueprints in anger... And Huey, Dewey and Louie decide not to tell him that he just destroyed ancient documents that prove the high advancement of an ancient civilization that any museum would pay a fortune to purchase.
    • Typically, whenever someone other than Scrooge tries their hand at the "Swim around in money" thing, they just hit their heads while diving onto a pile of metal and fall unconscious, if they're lucky. Coins are very hard, after all. The in-universe explanation for how Scrooge can do it with no ill effect is that he's been diving around in money for so long that his body has just adjusted to it. ("I'll admit, it's a trick!" Scrooge once stated). Granted, this talent has limits. When Scrooge tries it on a giant chest full of silver coins pulled from a sunken shipwreck, he hurts himself because the coins, after centuries in a high-pressure environment, have fused into one solid chunk.
    • The Beagle Boys provide a lot of it:
      • The people of Duckburg often laugh at the Beagle Boys due their repeated failures to rob the Money Bin... not realizing that an independent group of thieves consistently able to pose a serious threat to a fortress defended by incredibly advanced technologies are actually more than formidable at their jobs. Whenever they decide to dedicate themselves to other targets, there's a sudden and unstoppable crime wave that the police simply cannot stop, and more than once Scrooge's business rivals had to beg for his help after the BB started targeting them.
      • A group who dedicates themselves to robbing the Money Bin to the detriment of anything else are incredibly stubborn and determined - hence why they will never use their immense array of technical skills to get honest jobs. They're also the only non-supervillain criminals who still consistently try to fight or run when caught by Paperinik, as they just don't know when to quit.
    • Magica DeSpell is well known in Naples for being a witch, being very attractive, and for living on the Vesuvius. Much to her chagrin, her home is considered a tourist attraction, no matter how many people she turns into frogs for trespassing.
    • Super Goof is Goofy as a Flying Brick. A Klutz with such powers has caused a lot of collateral damage, at least early on.
    • On one occasion, Super Goof was challenged by rival Flying Brick Megatop in a superheroing contest. The challenger was stronger and not a klutz... and had only a couple weeks on the job, and Super Goof outperformed him with ease in all three tasks:
      • When it came to catch two "criminals", Super Goof casually arrived on target with ease while Megatop was still accelerating because Goof knew exactly how much speed he needed and when to start slowing down, and only lost that one because the "criminals", being Emil Eagle's henchmen, were on Megatop's side and managed to distract him.
      • The second contest consisted into putting out a burning building. Megatop used his Super Breath... And not only did it not extinguish the flames, they threatened the watching public on the nearby stand- for all of the second it took to Super Goof to carry them away, as he already knew what would happen.
      • The third contest was an all-out battle. At first Super Goof is overpowered, then some rain gives him a moment to recover and reveals that Megatop is actually a robot... And a quick Punctuated Pounding later, Megatop is decapitated.
    • Mickey is quite the fighter for his small size. As his usual opponent in a scuffle is Pete, who is much taller and tough, it rarely goes well for him.
      • On the other hand, years of getting into fights with Pete mean he's formidable against less tough opponents.
    • Paperinik New Adventures:
      • Before this series, Paperinik started out as a vigilante who avenged himself by committing what were effectively crimes, and never lost his sadistic streak or habit to ignore the rules to do the right thing. With a past like this one, a charismatic and cunning journalist like Angus Fangus can ruin his reputation with ease, and the Time Police, who knows he's a hero, doesn't trust him anyway because they expect him to screw up the space-time continuum by doing anything that he believes is the right thing (and they're right).
      • The job of the Time Police is to prevent alteration to the space-time continuity. This means that not only they won't lift a finger to prevent a cold fusion experiment from going awry and nuking Duckburg, but when it's actually prevented they send an assault squad to cause it anyway, only relenting when attempts at causing it anyway start risking to cause even more alterations.
      • Altering history by changing a single event almost invariably has unforeseen consequences. Examples shown are the Organization sending an operative to kill Paperinik while ruining his reputation spiraling out into the Time Police being disbanded and the Organization being taken over by two artificial intelligences, an attempt at preventing an experiment that could destroy the entire space-time continuum ends up getting it to start earlier so the mysterious saboteurs won't ruin it, Paperinik preventing the destruction of Duckburg apparently gave the Evronians a chance to recover from the destruction of their empire. In the reboot, a group of Evronians stealing a time machine and preventing the founding of their arch-enemies, the Guardians of the Galaxy, causes the Evronian Empire to demilitarize, with the only alteration that does exactly what is supposed to be is Odin Eidolon kidnapping Trip, the son of the Raider, so he won't grow up to be the Organization operative that ruined Paperinik's reputation and nearly killed him, and that's because kidnapping him at the precise time he did got the Raider to abort the mission in which he died to track his son down. In fact time criminals are wary of altering history precisely because they know the risks (even inventing a device to change history without unforeseen consequences for when they decide they have to), as the owner of the time machine stolen by the Evronians gloated about The Butterfly Effect when they found out of the consequences of their actions.
      • The Evronian invasion appears to be prevented entirely by Paperinik. It's later shown that the interstellar empire with vast armies and advanced technology simply has bigger fish to fry (including Xadhoom) and can't spare the resources to assault Earth directly and its massive nuclear arsenal, and all Paperinik is doing is (barely) preventing a sliver of their forces from establishing a bridgehead on a single planet. In fact, in one of the few times the Evronians play for keeps, an antiquated and run down cruiser (by Evronian standards) decimates the full force of Earth's most advanced military, and doesn't finish the job only due to the antimatter alternator breaking down again.
      • The Evronians power many of their machines with emotional energy. This means they have to continuously invade new worlds to keep their civilization running, and even then their energy situation is so desperate that their plan to deal with Xadhoom's vendetta against them is to try and turn her into an energy source.
      • The Evronians are Emotion Eaters who use guns that fully drain the emotions of a victim, turning it in an emotionless slave, but Earthlings are so emotionally rich that a single shot often isn't enough, and they can fully recover if given time. To the Evronians, this means that Earth is a plentiful banquet and an alternative solution to their energy crisis if that aformentioned plan with Xadhoom doesn't work out.
      • When Everett Ducklair invented what would become Paperinik's PKar he made it run on monomethylhydrazine, the same fuel as the Space Shuttle. When Paperinik has to leave the Ducklair Tower and loses One's support, usage of the PKar diminishes because he can't make the fuel at home and doesn't have the kind of support network to buy it. Ultimately Paperinik switches back to the 313-X in the PKNE revival stories, as that one runs on gas.
  • The Marvel NOW relaunch of Uncanny X-Men shows a neat subversion of the typical Fantastic Racism. While mutants are still facing a lot of bigotry, they're getting a lot of support now thanks to the progress made over all the time the X-Men have operated, and while hated by S.H.I.E.L.D. and the other X-Men for nearly taking over the world and killing Xavier while under the influence of the Phoenix Force, Scott Summers/Cyclops is now getting a lot of Hero Worship because of his other actions, namely nearly solving world hunger, stabilizing the climate, and forcing peace between warring nations. As it turns out, it doesn't matter if you're part of a hated minority, when you nearly solve a lot of the world's problems, it nets you some serious brownie points (even if you were possessed by a big scary space bird at the time and your reasons for doing all these good deeds were at best questionable).
  • Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog: For the longest time, there were many factions and individuals that, based on their respective showings, could've defeated Dr. Robotnik/Eggman very easily. In particular, the echidna civilizations would've delivered a Curb-Stomp Battle if they fought him. Instead they allowed him to continue since he wasn't a serious threat to them and he kept the other minor threats under control, even though his schemes have endangered them one way or another and he was aware of them from his time in the royal court of Mobotropolis. He was able to to improve his technology to the point that, with some minor help, he could attack them directly and raze their civilizations to the ground. And now with the reboot, all of these people have been neutralized.
    • Geoffrey St. John is put on trial for his role in enabling Ixis Naugus' rise to power in Acorn and how he apparently was aiding him for years. He's found guilty... only for King Naugus to use his royal authority (and an article of Acorn law) to pardon Geoffrey. There's no way that Naugus WOULDN'T use his newfound position as Acorn's king to keep his loyal servant out of prison. Earlier during Naugus' takeover, Sonic learns that Acorn's council doesn't appreciate Sonic disrespecting their authority no matter what villain is attacking.
    • Due to an unhealthy combination of Hidden Elf Village, Cultural Posturing,Head-in-the-Sand Management,Obstructive Bureaucracy and other hindrances along with Sonic,The Freedom Fighters, Knuckles and the Chaotix doing all the heavy lifting, the end result was Eggman resetting reality twice.
  • In The Beano's 60th anniversary issue, Tim Traveller goes back in time to 1938 to try and get a cheap copy of issue 1. Unfortunately, it turns out they had different money in 1938.
  • In one The Avengers story by Jonathan Hickman a group of supervillains take over a country and then send one of their members to UN to make a case for their new regime to be acknowledged. Because of circumstances he actually had a chance to convince them, when Steve Rogers attacked him. Instead of stopping the villain by beating him, the villains got what they wanted - starting Blood on the Debate Floor makes your side look unreasonable and politicians more likely to side with your opponent.
    • The same group of villains shows up more in his New Avengers run. Their leader Namor gathered them to basically do horrible things for greater good. However, when you have dangerous supervillains and criminals doing things, they tend to go overboard. And the fact that Namor has standards makes them incredibly difficult to control, as the villains aren't afraid of him. Instead it just makes them betray him even quicker than usual.
  • The end of Avengers Disassembled touches on the downside of not having a secret identity when you're a visible public figure. Iron Man announces that thanks to a humiliating incident where Scarlet Witch made him go on a drunken, racist tirade while speaking at the United Nations, his company's finances have taken a huge hit, meaning he can no longer fund the Avengers. As the head of a publicly-traded corporation, someone like Tony Stark needs to make sure he's keeping his shareholders happy so that stock prices don't plummet.
    Tony Stark: Realize that when someone like me has a bad day...like that day...the public humiliation...billions of dollars are lost. Thousands of jobs are lost.
  • In Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1, we have several in the finales of various villains of Earth-40.
    • Doctor Faust uses his high grade of magical prowess to make his way through to fight Doc Fate, and prepares himself for a Wizard Duel. Unfortunately for him, that is all he brought to the table, whereas Doc Fate brought his magical prowess, underhanded tactics, and a gun. He manages to hold off the zombies that come at him with the gun, and summarily defeats Faust with a Groin Attack.
    • Lady Shiva, upon losing her plane, prepares to fight the Blackhawks with her sword, her close combat skills things of legend. Unluckily for her, the Blackhawks have handguns, and prove that bringing a sword may not have been the best idea.
  • During the first arc of Ms. Marvel (2014), Kamala brags about fighting crime in the classic, "politically incorrect" (her words) costume that Carol Danvers used to wear before she became Captain Marvel. She quickly finds out that despite looking cool, heels are not practical to run or fight in, and that Carol's sexy leotard gives epic wedgies. Carol had Required Secondary Powers like flight that dealt with the impracticality of the costume for her and even then she ended up ditching it after a while. Kamala doesn't have those. She switches to a new, more practical suit a short time later.
  • An issue of New Avengers showed a realistic downside of super durability. Luke Cage's incredible durability means that he's extremely hard to injure but also means that if something actually does manage to hurt him, doctors aren't able to operate on him to properly repair internal injuries or even give him a shot; his skin is so strong that scalpels and needles just break when pressed against it. This results in Cage nearly dying from his injuries and spending the next several issues out-of-action as he heals the slow, hard way.
    • Also having a nigh- invulnerable body is meaningless if your foes have knockout gas to take you down.
    • A similar situation occurred in Justice League Europe when Power Girl was seriously injured and required surgery: they had to call in Superman whose heat vision was the only thing that could act as a scalpel.
  • In Flash comics set before the Flash gained a full connection with the Speed Force, he struggled with a bunch of realistic weaknesses caused by his superspeed. His upper limit was about the speed of sound as any faster would tear his body apart, he had to eat constantly (his body now required massive amounts of calories to fuel his enhanced metabolism), and his uniform had to be made of special low friction materials to keep it from being incinerated by his vibrations (and required frequent repairs or replacements). When Flash finally forged a full connection with the Speedforce, he gained all the Required Secondary Powers he needed to make his superspeed completely useful rather than Awesome, but Impractical.
  • Mark Waid's Empire revolves around a Lex Luthor-style supervillain named Golgoth finally managing to unite his fellow supervillains and taking over the world. After he does so, he proceeds to learn the hard way that his supposed allies are far more of a threat to him than the heroes ever were. They all wanted to take over the world to and are all just as amoral as Golgoth, so he's now constantly fighting off rebellions and assassination attempts, all while hopelessly trying to keep his court under control.
  • In Batman Eternal, Commissioner Gordon is framed for a crime he didn't commit. He ends up being denied bail and placed in a maximum security prison while awaiting trial, as he's a known associate of a vigilante with major resources.
  • In The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Nancy instantly sees through Chipmunk Hunk and Koi Boi's Paper Thin Disguises, and recognizes them as her classmates, Tomas and Ken. When Squirrel Girl expresses shock, Nancy asks how could she possibly have fallen for the ruse when all the boys use to hide their identities are Domino Masks. Plus, when your roomie is obsessed with squirrels and then you meet a female superhero who calls herself "Squirrel Girl?" It's easy to make the connection.
  • In the X-Men story God Loves, Man Kills, the villainous Reverend Stryker is preparing to execute Kitty Pryde in public on national television to make his statement against mutantkind... at which point he gets shot and detained by a nearby cop. Mutant bigotry or not, famous televangelist or not, no non-corrupt police officer would let someone shoot an unarmed teenage girl in cold blood.
  • Another X-Men example occurred after the events of Decimation, where a bunch of mutants lost their powers. Due to the inexact nature of the Scarlet Witch's hex power, some mutants kept their primary mutations but lost the Required Secondary Powers that kept reality from ripping them a new one. Amongst other things, we see a bird-like mutant fall to his death because his wings are just a placebo and can't actually support a human being's weight, and a pyrokinetic woman burns herself to death because she was no longer immune to her own flames.
  • The first issue of Captain America: Sam Wilson opens with Sam taking a commercial flight from Arizona to New York, despite being an Avenger. As the issue progresses, it turns out that he has to fly commercial since the Avengers are currently on hard times, meaning that they have to be smart with their money. The Quinjets are so advanced that they require a prohibitively expensive amount of fuel to run, and Sam has already spent so much money on his own crime fighting operation that he doesn't have any cash left over to buy his own plane.
    • In the first issue of All-New, All-Different Avengers, Sam has to buy some Girl Scout cookies, with one seller being black and the other being white. He realizes picking the black kid over the white kid or vice versa would be a PR nightmare, and ends up defusing the situation by tricking the girls into doing a photo op with Iron Man instead. He later says that everything he does is heavily scrutinized and viewed as a racial issue by the press and social media, something that often happens to high profile people of color in real life.
    • The Quinjet issue returns in All-New, All-Different Avengers #4 when a villain starts causing trouble in nearby Atlantic City. Ms. Marvel instantly suggests that they're going to take the Quinjet, but Tony shoots that idea down, pointing out that they have five flyers (him, Sam, Thor, Vision and Nova) and can easily carry the non-flyers (her and Spider-Man)
  • Afterlife with Archie:
    • Everyone (except for Reggie) easily accepts Kevin's sexuality. Nancy is convinced she and Ginger wouldn't be as accepted as a well-off white boy and that's largely why they are closeted.
    • Sabrina ignoring her aunts' warnings and using her magic however she pleases is usually treated lightly in her source series. Normally there are no lasting consequences and she simply gets a minor punishment, if any at all. Here it causes a Zombie Apocalypse and her Aunts respond by turning into horrific monsters and banishing her to purgatory while taking her mouth away so she couldn't plead with them. Moreover, it's revealed that her reckless use of magic summons Cthulhu.
  • Much of the humour of Rat-Man relies on this:
  • Diabolik examples:
    • Kidnappings are almost always incredibly traumatizing, even when the victim knows they'll get out without a scratch.
    • Diabolik is incredibly feared, to the point he earned such fully justified names as King of Terror, Murderer with a Thousand Faces, and many others. When he's arrested, the terror he caused leads to a Kangaroo Court by complete accident, as the judge and the public are terrified and want a scapegoat (even if he's actually guilty) and his court-assigned lawyer too is too scared to do a good job, and he's sentenced to death even if there wasn't enough evidence yet.
      • Also, having a famous criminal being sentenced to death in a Kangaroo Court is liable to be a formidable occasion for activists to demand a retrial to have him sentenced to life in jail... But, considering the evidence that popped up after the trial, the judge refuses.
    • Elisabeth Gay's descent into madness is all about this: spending months with your fiancée, then getting him arrested and finding out he's the King of Terror by accident took a heavy toll on her psyche, and finding out he was about to dump her like all her previous boyfriends pushed her over the edge.
    • Diabolik only uses knives and various gadgets, but finds guns too noisy for his stealthy modus operandi. A man with a gun could easily kill him, and the only reason nobody did it yet is that he's smart enough to know it and make sure nobody gets a clear shot.
    • Diabolik never reuses a gadget or plan, with the only exceptions of his knives, needle launchers for poisoning or putting someone to sleep and his trademark perfect masks. That's because he knows that the next time the police will be ready for it... As shown by the police having the habit of pinching someone's face to check for masks once they found out about them and often wearing protective knife and needle-proof vests and gas masks.
      • Also, the police only recycles their own anti-Diabolik schemes only when they have reason to believe Diabolik didn't realize what happened, as they know that the next time Diabolik will be ready, as shown by the many times Diabolik waltzed though a mask check (always with different tricks of course, as the next time the police will be ready for that one).
    • In a world where only one man can create Latex Perfection, that man is a target for everyone.
  • W.I.T.C.H.:
    • The Guardians of Kandrakar have an easy time against Mooks because of this: their enemies use middle ages meelee weapons, and they wield powerful magic that can strike at distance. For obvious reasons, it's very rare to find a soldier who comes back for a rematch.
    • In a What If? issue they attacked a police van to rescue a friend, thinking it would be no different from the many battles against normal mooks they won, especially as this time it's five of them against two cops... Who have guns. The Guardians are nearly killed.
  • The prologue to Darkseid War opens on a man named Wilson Morgan, who has recently developed electrical abilities after surviving the Amazo Virus. Using his new powers, he sets out to rescue his neighbor's daughter from a kidnapper. The narration notes that in spite of his incredible new abilities, Wilson is still just an overweight laundromat owner who has no combat training or crime-fighting experience to speak of. He rushes in and tries to zap the kidnapper, and is immediately shot to death.
  • The nature of the Tyke Bomb superhero is deconstructed with X-23. The torture, physical and emotional abuse, and Training from Hell it took to turn her into one of the world's most deadly assassins before she was thirteen virtually destroyed her emotionally, leaving her a PTSD-ridden wreck prone to falling into Heroic BSODs at the drop of a hat. Because she was denied the emotional support and socialization a child needs for normal development, she's often lost in social interactions, easily confused by her emotions, and often experiences bouts of severe and possibly suicidal depression. At least one analysis of her character suggests she suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder, and a significant focus of her Character Development has been spent on repairing the damage done to her.
    • Contrasted with her own clone, Gabby. Gabby received much of the same training, but unlike Laura was largely spared from the savage physical and emotional abuse, and had her elder "sisters" to look after her and provide her the parental guidance Laura lacked. So while she's still Wise Beyond Their Years, it's balanced by genuine childish naivete. She still falls directly under this in issue 5 of All-New Wolverine: When attacked by the substantially larger Captain Mooney (a man who has to bend down to be One Head Taller than 5'1" Laura), Gabby jumps on him and delivers a ferocious headbutt in an attempt to stun him. Unfortunately, however well-trained she is Gabby is still a tween even shorter than Laura, and Mooney quickly recovers and effortlessly tosses her aside.
  • Sex Criminals: The Sex Police aren't actually police. On the one hand, this means that they have no real power to arrest anyone or any kind of legal authority, but on the other hand, they're essentially vigilantes who have no reason to play nice and nobody to hold them responsible for anything.
    • When Susie and Jon tell Ana that they're bank robbers, her response is to tell them to get out- after all, they'd just made her an accessory after the fact, why would she want anything more to do with them?
    • Susie and Jon's crime spree gets a lot of people with orgasm-powers very pissed off at them. Sure, their motives might be good, but they're committing crimes, potentially exposing everyone, and they have little if any sense of restraint- they're a disaster waiting to happen.
  • In the Mickey Mouse story "Topolino e il serial-ladro", an FBI agent arrives to help the Mouseton police with a particularly high-profile investigation. When she learns that Mickey is not a police officer, she is shocked that the chief of police would allow a random civilian to participate in the investigation and freely roam the police depot unsupervised. She immediately has him thrown out of the building.
    • One European comic has Mickey face an Imp that is a pretty blatant Expy of Mr. Mxyztplk. The entire story is told by Mickey to his therapist - since Mickey is an everyman in this story, not a superhero, the experience left him traumatized and terrified of the Imp's return.
  • Paper Girls: As part of the Deliberate Values Dissonance pertaining to The '80s setting, Mac smokes constantly, despite being a kid. When her friends time travel to 2016 in a later issue, they find out that Mac ends up dying of leukemia in The '90s, almost certainly brought on by her fondness for cigarettes.
  • The Wicked + The Divine: The power and adoration one gets by becoming a god is enough to convince people to do some very horrible things in order to get the chance to ascend. It convinces two fans to try to kill Lucifer, shooting innocents in the progress, and convinced 1830's Inanna to agree to murder her sister's children in exchange for ascension.
    • Most of the gods are not at all happy with their drastically-reduced lifespan, especially poor Minerva, who's 12.
    • Being a god does not mean that you're above the law, as Lucifer finds out. Also, when Laura/Persephone kills Ananke, the other gods' first thought is how they'll stop her from getting convicted for murder.
    • The gods are all teenagers of various ages who have been given vast amounts of power and adoration, who can do almost whatever they want, and who have to deal with the shock of their new identities, their reduced lifespans and their responsibilities on top of all their other problems and already-existing insecurities. The result? Sure, some of them are nice, but a few are complete douchebags.
    • The gods are viewed as entertainers, and most people consider their original personalities to not really matter. As a result, when Tara tries to play her own songs and recite her own poetry instead of just performing like everyone else, the crowd turns on her and she gets so much hate that she gives up and commits suicide by Ananke.
    • Laura becomes Persephone, achieving her every wish, and then has to watch as Ananke, a woman she trusted, kills Inanna- Laura's good friend- and Laura's entire family. The poor girl is so shocked and traumatised that she does almost nothing for days afterwards.
    • Ananke has known the gods for millennia, is the one who helps them ascend, and is trusted absolutely. So she's in the perfect position to stab them all in the back.
  • In Grimm Fairy Tales, Mercy Dante is a young woman whose parents were killed by a hitman when she was a child. Years later, she tracks down the hitman and finds out that he's retired and now has a young daughter named Trisha. Mercy kidnaps Trisha and then forces her father to watch as she shoots the girl in the head, killing her. When Mercy next appears many issues later, we see that revenge has brought her absolutely no comfort, as she's now wracked with guilt over having slain an innocent child. She ends up being given a second chance after being sent back to the day she killed Trisha, and this time, she opts to let her go.
  • In Dark Horse's Conan the Avenger, the main protagonist's allies attempt to pull some Slave Liberation by assaulting a slave trading hub, killing all slavers and freeing the prisoners. Their glory is short-lived as a massive military force is assembled from warring city-states that joined forces to destroy them, as this attack is a massive disruption to their economy. Trying to go around freeing slaves by kicking ass and taking names like Daenerys Targaryen will only get a massive army breathing down your neck.
  • The "World Engine" story arc Warren Ellis did for The Mighty Thor revolves around a mushroom-addicted college professor named Price, who aims to create a new race of humans by tricking Yggdrasil into thinking that the Earth has been destroyed during Ragnarok. The new humans are eventually hatched...and immediately die, because Yggdrasil had specifically created them to survive in an environment created from the charred remains of Earth, an environment that for obvious reasons, doesn't actually exist. Enchantress points out that if he weren't high on psychedelic mushrooms, Price probably would've noticed this glaring flaw in his plan. The resolution was actually foreshadowed and Lampshaded earlier in the issue, with Price telling Enchantress that exciting, dramatic climaxes don't often happen in real life.
  • Atomic Robo's bread and butter. Take a pulp action trope, apply some reality, then sit back and watch.
  • The comic series Powers is essentially a Police Procedural set in a standard superhero setting, as such, the majority of supervillains shown are relatively realistic criminals with some special powers. As such, most supervillains aren't out to rule the world and most of them don't do anything as grandiose as rob banks; the most dangerous supervillain group isn't a Legion of Doom, but a superpowered equivalent to The Mafia; non-violent villains are held in a minimum security prisons, and some of them are happy to snitch; and many known supervillains walk the streets free because there isn’t sufficient evidence to convict them, or they just haven’t been caught recently.
  • The Walking Dead breathes this trope:
    • A vast majority of attempts to stop a zombie bite from killing a person via amputating the bitten limb has ended with the person dying anyway due to the resulting blood loss or bacterial infection. One of the only times where it did succeed ( With Dale) was only because the infectee was immediately taken to a sterilized environment and had the limb amputated by someone with extensive medical experience.
    • Rick beats Thomas to a pulp in a blind rage when he finds out he's the one who murdered Maggie's sisters. So severely, in fact, that he damages his own hands and knuckles to the point where he is flat-out told he'll never be able to clench his left hand in to a fist again.
    • Gregory's attempt to kill Maggie fail in part due to him simply not giving her a high enough dose of poison to actually kill her.
  • During the Superman "Sacrifice" arc, the brainwashed Superman attacked Batman without warning, believing him to be Darkseid. In a straight up fight, without any prep time, the Badass Normal Batman didn't land any hits and was barely left alive. The only thing that saved his life was that Superman slammed him near the computers, allowing him to activate the Watchtower's security measures and temporarily distract Superman. It was only by the intervention of Wonder Woman that allowed Batman to survive.
  • The Superman Adventures:
    • In one issue, Lois is placed under a trance by a supervillain with mindcontrol powers, and a co-worker with a crush on her discovers this and uses the chance to convince her she's his girlfriend. Superman gets him to realize that what he's doing is wrong and he's ultimately Loving a Shadow, convincing him to release her. Even though he chose to do the right thing in the end, he is not Easily Forgiven by Lois for taking advantage of her while she was under hypnosis, who is understandably angered at his actions, telling him that it will be a while before she can even look at him again.
    • An issue applies this to Krypto the Super Dog when Mr. Mxyzptlk transports him to present day Earth. Krypto develops powers and super senses like his normal comics self, but since he's still an animal and doesn't have the reasoning to properly process all of it like a person would, his heightened senses end up overwhelming him and cause him to go berserk, unintentionally causing destruction all over Metropolis.
  • The premise of Titans Hunt (2015) is that the original founding members of the Teen Titans all had their memories of each other erased. Consequently, it turns out that Mal Duncan, formerly the teenage superhero known as the Herald, has no memory of his powers or ever fighting crime to begin with. When he's attacked by Mammoth, he's completely unprepared and gets his ass kicked. The subsequent Titans ongoing series also reveals that Mal has developed severe PTSD from the incident, as being ambushed and nearly killed by a horrifying monster after years of believing you were just a normal civilian is probably gonna leave some mental scars.
  • The original Mask comics make a big deal of the fact that while whoever wears the titular mask operates under Toon Physics, the same does not extend to anyone else, leading to a large number of grisly deaths as we're shown what really happens when someone gets Squashed Flat or has a hole blown through their chest.
  • Rogue Trooper: While the Genetic Infantry are incredibly skilled and resilient, and have several perks due to their improvements, they are still a light infantry unit. Being ambushed by a conventional unit equipped with better intelligence, good combined arms doctrine, artillery and armor led to what was later known as the Quartz Zone Massacre.
  • In the Star Trek (DC Comics) storyline "Who Killed Captain Kirk?", William Bearclaw is exposed as a Fantastic Racist and, being the last straw, is told by Kirk that he's going to get him transferred to another ship where he won't be trouble for him or others. He attempts to prove his worth by conning a member of a possible suicide mission into swapping with him. He makes it out alive and saves a member of the team in the process... and is chewed out for disobeying a direct order (which was "No, you can't go"). When Kirk fingers him as the culprit to his assassination attempt, no one wants to stand up for him because of his transgressions.
  • In Scooby Apocalypse, a psionic monster tries to make a giant monster body out of all of the mutated demon-creatures in the area. The construct collapses the moment it tries to stand up, Velma noting that it has no skeletal structure to help support it.
  • A one-shot story from The Simpsons comic features Bart, Milouse, Martin, and Ralphie wanting to go to an R-rated movie, but the ticket seller said he could only sell them tickets to a cheesy kids movie. Bart accepts, and he and the rest sneak into the R-rated movie and continue to do so for sometime. Everything goes well until Milhouse revealed their scam, and soon every kid starts buying a ticket to a kiddie film and then sneak into an R-rated one. As a result, mushy kids movies have suddenly become incredibly profitable, and studios react by halting production on films with mature content and crank out the cutesy stuff like there's no tomorrow.
  • Just like with Deathstroke above, Christopher Priest plans to do this a lot to Justice League. The first issue of his run alone takes this approach to Batman's Wolverine Publicity - having multiple solo adventures and leading Justice League, JLA and Gotham Knights has left him exhausted and seriously sleep deprived, which results in him making mistakes that put people at risk.
  • In Dastardly & Muttley real world is being transformed into the one of a cartoon. Toon Physics are treated as Body Horror and behavior out of a Zany Cartoon causes total chaos and panic especially after the president of the United States gets affected.
  • Doomsday Clock applies this to Watchmen. What happens when Ozymandias's grand scheme involving the alien destroying New York and bringing about world peace gets discovered? People flip the fuck out and bring the world to the brink of nuclear war. Also, this goes for Dr. Manhattan leaving that Earth for the DC Universe: he's not staying put to see the world go to shit over this "prank".
    • Rorschach II tries to explain to Batman what is going on and gives him first Rorschach's journal to read. Upon reading, Batman decided that Rorschach is insane and locks him in Arkham Asylum.
  • A major part of Ruins, a two-issue miniseries serving as a dark parody of Marvels, is how the Marvel Universe has become a Crapsack World because of the real-life consequences of the events that created the Marvel Universe's super-powered beings. For instance, exposure to radiation is shown in a more realistic light by having the Kree's attempt at invasion brought to an end by nuclear weapons, with the surviving Kree dying of cancer in a prison camp. Bruce Banner, meanwhile is transformed into a pulsating mass of tumors rather than the Hulk, with Rick Jones having cancer from being so close to Banner when he was exposed to the gamma rays.
  • In her New 52 series, Harley Quinn questions a group of animal rights activists protesting outside a animal shelter if they had considering adoption instead of just protesting. As it turns out, they had and pretty much all of the protesters have adopted several animals each, there are simply a lot of them at the shelter and they can only provide for so many.
  • War Machine
    • The original 90s series has Rhodey deal with murky, volatile situations that the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. can't get involved with due to the political ramifications. After shooting a heinous African dictator in the first arc, War Machine spends the ensuing issues being hounded by the press and the United Nations for violating international law. The incident also serves to widen the rift between Rhodey and Iron Man, who is disgusted by his former best friend's violent and reckless actions.
    • The series also deals with the realities of owning an advanced piece of technology like the War Machine armor. It costs a fortune just to maintain the suit and restock its weaponry, and when it gets damaged, the machinery's complexity means that Rhodey has no way to repair it on his own. A billionaire inventor like Tony Stark can easily solve problems like these, but Rhodey is just a normal guy without a genius IQ or impossibly deep pockets.
  • Injustice 2:
    • Harley Quinn was surprisingly Easily Forgiven by Batman for her actions in the first prequel comic, but the US government haven't forgiven her at all, and send soldiers to apprehend her. Living a life of crime and having been party to the nuking of an entire city is not the sort of thing you can just walk away from, no matter how sincere your reformation. For that matter, the relatives of her direct victims won't forgive her either, such as Pa and Ma Kent for the murders of their daughter-in-law and unborn grandchild, which drove their adopted son to evil.
    • Batman admits to Ted Kord that bringing Superman down didn't make all the world's problems go away, and that some people still support him despite everything he's done and want him to return. This extends to the Amazons, a faction of whom still support Diana and have merely lain in wait for someone like Kara to come along. The Regime may have fallen, but it wasn't pure evil and Batman's continued Failure Hero routine isn't giving its remaining supporters much reason to change their opinions.
    • Without Alfred, Bruce's workplace has become a mess and he himself isn't looking so good. Having lived most of his life with a butler who cleaned up after him and forced him to take care of himself has left him only just functioning without him.
    • Ted Kord ends up going down without much of a fight after the bad guys show up at his door. He's been retired from superheroics for a long time, his costume doesn't fit and he doesn't even have most of his assets on hand. He gets a solid punch in on Deadshot, but one katana to the wrist and it's over. Being a superhero is not like riding a bike.
    • Bringing along a Kid Hero with some truly destructive potential but not yet experienced for a very important mission to rescue your loved ones turns out to have catastrophic consequences, even when you assigned him to stay on guard. When Blue Beetle tries to help his teammates after they were trapped inside Ra's compound, he blasts his way through when the two groups are about to resolve their issues without anymore fighting and his actions escalate to a explosion inside the animal reserve, killing countless endangered species, and making said endangered species officially extinct.
    • As Wildcat found out the hard way, being a Badass Normal doesn't make you immune to firearms and bullets. Bring nothing but your fists against a guy with guns on his back, you're toast. And calling their wielder a Dirty Coward still won't do you jack.
    • Ever since his identity was revealed to the public, Batman can't intimidate anyone with his Death Glare, in-costume or out of it.
    • If you are related to a mass-murdering dictator, there is a great chance you will be subjected to mob scrutiny and violence, no matter if you were personally innocent of any wrong doing. Pa and Ma Kent were evicted from Smallville just because they found and raised the alien child that turned into Superman.
    • After Grodd questions Solovar's authority once too often, the king orders his soldiers to take Grodd to the cells. But instead, they hand Grodd a weapon. As Grodd contemptuously scoffs, he's their direct leader, and Solovar's contradictory nature of hating humans yet allowing humans to be protected guests in Gorilla City has left them no reason to remain loyal to him.
    • In Issue #54, Sinestro tries to pull Soranik's Green Lantern ring off her fingers. It results in her overpowering and knocking him out with a giant punch construct. Turns out trying to take off a GL ring is not as easy as it seems, specially when you are unarmed.
    • In Issue #70, Ra's al Ghul has a moment of compassion after Croc and Orca's wedding and deactivates the explosives on their bodies before wishing them farewell. However, Orca is less than impressed, chews him out for endangering her, her mate and unborn children by blowing up their heads if they step out of line or failed him just before Croc tears out his arm in retaliation. Having one Pet the Dog moment when you are an cruel and heartless individual will not let you get off the hook slightly.
  • The New 52 version of Ocean Master is a Noble Demon with a code of honour, a complicated relationship with Aquaman, a Dark and Troubled Past inclusing Parental Abuse and Parental Abandonment, a humanising love interest and surrogate son, and is contrasted with far more vile villains like Black Manta and Atlan, putting him square in the middle of The Good, the Bad, and the Evil. Obviously he's going to be a long-running Worthy Opponent of Aquaman, a sometime ally, sometime enemy who may even eventually undergo a Heel–Face Turn, right? Well, no.
    He lead an invasion of the surface world that killed thousands, and even though he was tricked into it as part of someone else's evil plan, he still bears responsibility for those deaths. He ends up in Blackgate looking at multiple life sentences if he's lucky, and while he escapes during the Forever Evil event, he can never go back to Atlantis or come out of hiding, since if the superheroes or regular authorities ever get their hands on him, he's going right back. Given how many other sympathetic/morally ambiguous villains are Easily Forgiven or get the Draco in Leather Pants treatment, it's almost shocking to see one face lasting consequences for their actions.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW)
    • Having a Forces-like continuity, the remaining Eggman army are not unified after the disappearance of their leader but they are still causing problems for locals by randomly attacking towns.
    • Tails still has anxiety and concerns over the possibility of losing Sonic after he had traumatically witnessed Sonic being defeated and captured.
  • In the first volume of X-Force, the students of Xavier's school are rebranded into a militant strike force who eventually branch off from the school entirely. This comes back to bite Sunspot much later, as he's a native Brazilian who was in the US on a student visa. Since he's no longer at the school, I.N.S catches up with him and forcefully deports him back to Brazil.
  • The Boys is a massive Deconstruction of the underlying corporate nature of superheroes and the comic book industry, and of the idea of Silver Age-style superheroes existing in real life. The superheroes in this setting were raised from birth with everything handed to them on a silver platter from Vought-American. Because of how Merchandise-Driven superheroes by nature are, spoiling them with all the wealth in the world is pretty much all Vought can do to make sure they don't one day go off the deep end. That being said, the superheroes, as a result of all the power they've been given right from the moment they were born, end up sociopathic, immature, spoiled, and utterly hedonistic—fixated only on their own individual satisfactions without much regard for the innocents whose lives are in their hands. What's even worse is that since superheroes are such a massive investment and turn in extremely huge profits, Vought's management is very much willing to do whatever they deem necessary to ensure their business remains afloat.
    • The events of 9/11 in this setting show exactly what would happen if a Justice League-esque superhero team tried to stop a midair plane hijacking; The Seven had no plan beyond "enter through the forward doors":
    1. When they attempted to board the plane, Lamplighter and Black Noir were knocked out of action within seconds - Lamplighter was maimed and Black Noir fell back to Earth.
    2. When they opened the doors, the plane depressurized from both sides, resulting in the first civilian casualty - a child who was ripped out of his seat.
    3. Jack From Jupiter had a panic attack upon realizing how in over their heads they were and flew off.
    4. The Deep then punched out the cockpit windows, destabilizing the aircraft and filling it with high-speed air.
    5. When Homelander took out the hijackers, he did so so sloppily the instruments needed to fly the plane were covered in their remnants, rendering them unreadable. And even if they hadn't lost Black Noir, who was supposed to actually land the plane, it's later revealed that he never actually learned to fly.
    6. Finally, Homelander made a completely ridiculous attempt to level the diving plane by flying into the tail at top speed. This not only tore the plane in half, but decapitated Mister Marathon.
    7. To add insult to injury, Queen Maeve reduced dozens of passengers to paste flying through them to save herself.
    8. And the ultimate result of all of this? The plane smacked right into the Brooklyn Bridge. As in reality, the terrorists' real target was the South Tower of the World Trade Center, but losing a major connection to the mainland did more damage to New York.
    • All in all, they had absolutely no idea what they were doing. End result; the death of one of their teammates, even more collateral damage than in real life, and the events of the main story.
    The Legend: They ain't trained for this. They ain't practiced. They don't know shit about hijackin', or hostage situations, or how a goddamn plane flies through the air... They ain't even got a plan. They just think—We're The Seven. We're super. We can do this.

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