|Quotes • Headscratchers • Playing With • Useful Notes • Analysis • Image Links • Haiku • Laconic|
So, you somehow managed to get superpowers? Great news, that means you're on the short list to be The Hero, on the hero's team, or at least on the Big Bad's side. Check what power you have to figure out which side you get put on. After all, having superpowers makes you special and noteworthy, right? Clearly sits you up above those silly Muggles who are stuck in The Masquerade, right?
Wait, what Masquerade you ask? Where did you say you came from again? Ohhhhh, sorry, nevermind, turns out where you come from, Everyone's A Super. Nobody cares about boring ol' mundane superpowers when they're handed out like party favors.
Thanks in part to the fact that Most Writers Are Human, typically, stock, unpowered human civilians are considered the "normal", most populous, average bystander of a setting. Where Everyone's A Super, however, the average bystander is a Badass Bystander. Whether it is because you are in a sci-fi setting where everyone is either a cyborg or Super Powered Robot Meter Maid or psychic, or a fantasy world with dragon-taurs walking the sidewalk next to the Child Mage, there is the assumption that not only are superpowers not worth hiding, but that they can be expected of anyone and everything in the setting. As such, anyone with superpowers are just plain not as "special" as they would be in a world with Muggles. Average bystanders will openly use their ice powers as air conditioning.
Sometimes, this is not exactly setting-wide. It can simply be a hidden village of strange superpowered beings that exists with limited access to the "normal" world, and sometimes it is completely divorced from "our world". Regardless, the point is not the fantastic world, but that any superpowers, skills, or abilities that a major character may have are rendered common and unremarkable by the standards of the place they are in.
If a character who is normally special or powerful suddenly stumbles into a place where Everyone's A Super, they may find out they are merely one of The Chosen Many. If the "superpower" is I Know Karate, then Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting.
In serious works, if the hero is lucky, he or she may have some appropriately more epic power than most, otherwise, the heroes may be little more than Action Survivors, even if they have superpowers. Frequently, however, it is used in comic works, where the notion of superpowers are lampooned by just giving them out to everyone until everyone is so special that nobody is special. If the hero is very unlucky, they might have very weak powers, or even be an Un-Sorcerer.
Do note that this isn't for settings where superpowers are unusually common, or where everyone of note has superpowers, but where you could honestly expect unimportant, unnamed characters to whip out superpowers, and where that superpower use is not considered unusual or noteworthy. It does, however, include fantasy settings where everyone possesses a basic capacity for magic, even if they never train in or use it (as mere bystanders could be capable of at least basic magic, and "wizard" might be as common a career choice as "shopkeeper").
Anime and Manga
- Mahou Sensei Negima - Mundus Magicus turns into one of these once the heroes arrive there - especially for those who were previously just Muggles, though the main cast remains leagues more powerful then the average thug in that world.
- Wind A Breath Of Heart - In spite of seeming to be like a normal town, (almost) everyone in the town the story takes place has some kind of special power, often mundane ones, and asking what everyone else's powers are is as common as asking what someone's name is. The reason this is so common becomes a major plot point...
- Tokyo Underground features an entire underground world of psychics.
- After the second season, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha moves away from a certain Insignificant Little Blue Planet and goes to live in Mid-Childa where everyone is a mage like her. All the grunts in the military are equipped with staves to help in casting spells, the Air Force doesn't use planes since they can fly on their own, detectives can Mind Probe criminals to retrieve information, librarians can perform search engine-like scans on thousands of shelves worth of books, Emergency Services are protected with Deflector Shields that keep away heat and smoke and can cast the same shield on victims trapped in a burning building, doctors are equipped with the latest in medical technology and Healing Hands, and students don't need to whisper to each other since they can just use Telepathy.
- In To Aru Majutsu no Index and its spin-off, nearly all of the students from Academy City are undergoing esper training. So it is reasonable to expect unnamed street bullies to have some sort of super power. As one teacher put it, a student not having esper powers is something out of ordinary and worth researching. The Superpower Lottery is very much in effect through, and most of these powers are entirely useless.
- Slayers has the "anyone can learn basic magic, but not everyone chooses to do so" variant. Notably, the swordsman of the group has a high enough "capacity" to become an incredible mage, but his attention span is too short to remember or focus on the incantations.
- The light novels present it a bit differently with Gourry being a bit smarter than he gives out...But double-subverted, in that his memory is STILL terrible.
- The hidden ninja villages in Naruto are a mix of this and Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting, because they all have Charles Atlas Superpower. Even the youngest children are in training to use Ki Attacks.
- Actually sort of subverted: even among the ninja villages only a relatively small number of the population ever go all the way through the academy to even become low-ranking genin. Though it does seems anyone could potentially use chakra for they various things ninja do.
- Iris Zero takes place in a world where 99% of children are born with an Iris, which allows them to see visual clues. For example, one girl can see a devil tail grow on people when they lie.
- Sometimes the Digimon's World borders on this trope before humans arrive in it. Digimon Adventure and Digimon Tamers added other powerless creatures so they don't count. X-Evolution the best example with no humans or anything comparable to them in sight.
- Apparently, this is what happens on Earth in the Dragon Ball universe, circa Dragon Ball Online. Taking place two hundred years in The Future (well, the future of the DB world anyway), every layperson on Earth has discovered the benefits of Ki thanks to a book written by Badass Bookworm, Son Gohan. Furthermore, Krillin, Tien, and Goten & Trunks have formed their own martial arts schools based on teamwork, Ki manipulation and swordsmanship, respectively. Earthlings are so badass that when The Remnants of Frieza's Planet Trade Organization came to Earth to conquer it at one point, the people of Earth curb-stomped them with little effort. Oh, and did we mention that in this future humans and Saiyans are so genetically linked that humans can become Super Saiyans?!?
- The actual series gives us the Saiyans, who are an entire race of warriors whose weakest members are still far stronger than 99% of the human race.
- Although honestly, almost every alien race we see are stronger than the human race. Even the Martial Pacifist race.
- Normalman (note no capital letter) was the only normal on a world full of supers. (Also the Only Sane Man.)
- Top Ten: Absolutely everyone in Neopolis from bums to tycoons is superhuman: "science hero/villains" with powers, a costume and an alter ego. Aliens, robots, gods, cyborgs, psychics, all present in the crowds. Incidental details include pizza-delivery couriers with super-speed, cab drivers "guided by the universe" and comics such as Businessman.
- In Earth X, everyone's a mutant. That's one way to get rid of that Fantastic Racism.
- That is, until you get a load of the Monster Generation or even the new X-Men, whose mutations are so freakish they're pariahs even in a world full of their own kind.
- In the New Krypton storarc of the Superman stories, New Krypton is a planet on the other side of Earth's sun, sharing its orbit and populated with 100,000 fully powered Kryptonians.
- In an Ultimate Fantastic Four storyline, Reed went back in time and prevented the teleportation experiment by fixing the calibration of the teleporter so that Ben Grimm wouldn't have to be The Thing. The result was an alternate world with this trope thanks to the aliens they encountered on the now successful trip with Grimm being the only normal and quite happy about it. Until it turned out to be the aliens' way of killing the entire human race, and Ben had to fix it.
- House of M is an X-Men story with Scarlet Witch changing the world so that most people were mutants leaving the Muggles as a minority treated somewhat like the disabled.
- PS238 focuses on a school filled with super powered children (and faculty), and the one normal student (Tyler).
- Franco Belgian Comics series Lanfeust has the homeland/world of the titular hero, Troy, where every human has one single magic power thanks to specially-trained Sages "broadcasting" magic energy (which may in fact be more accurately called psychic energy; long story) to the nearby citizenry like mobile power relays. Everyone's powers tend to be public knowledge, and often steer those who have them towards a career path where it will be a useful skill (Lanfeust himself's power is to heat any metal, so he was training to be a smith before the Call to Adventure). However, said powers vary wildly, so it's rather common for people to have a power with exceedingly narrow applications or even a virtually useless one (making farts smell like flowers, anyone?). Although a staple of the series is characters using what they have in novel ways to give themselves an unexpected edge, like the leader of La Résistance (an animal entrails-reading soothsayer) using his abilities to plan and coordinate a much more formidable effort than his Ragtag Bunch of Misfits could muster otherwise, or one of his followers, who relishes the chance to use her power to give horrible heartburns in socially and ethically acceptable ways- to incapacitate enemy Mooks.
- In the Xanth-Expy world of New Zork in With Strings Attached, every person has an Ability or physical mutation graded from F to A-Plus, depending on usefulness.
- The Incredibles: Played with by the villain's objective. "And when I'm old and had my fun, I'll sell my inventions, and EVERYONE can be super. And when everyone is super...heheheh...NO ONE WILL BE." Naturally it's not this goal that makes him a villain, but everything he considers "my fun" before he gets around to it.
- Although, even there, this ultimate goal is still portrayed as something dark and sinister. (No one will be special any more! It will be Dystopia!)
- In the Codex Alera series, all Alerans (the human civilization) possess a degree of Elemental Powers (the protagonist being a notable exception), ranging from peasants who have limited control over one element to godlike high nobility. On the nonhuman side of things, the Marat all have the ability to telepathically bond with an animal (including large, vicious predators), and while only a few of the Canim actually have magic, any one of them is still a seven-to-eight foot tall centuries-old anthropomorphic canine, and therefore plenty Badass enough to hold their own against all the superpowered people running around.
- Everyone in Xanth has a magical talent. The power and usefulness of these talents varies wildly, from entirely pointless to world-changing.
- In The Amazing Adventures Of Ordinary Boy, the eponymous character is the only person in his city without superpowers.
- The wizard world in Harry Potter is one in which everyone has badass magical powers (with the exception of squibs).
Live Action TV
- Monty Python's Flying Circus: Is it a stockbroker? Is it a quantity surveyor? Is it a church warden? No, it's Bicycle Repairman!
- In season 3 of Heroes, Peter is shown a future where a superpower-bestowing serum is readily available to the public.
- Though not to superhero levels, Eureka is based on a town where everyone is super intelligent. Zoey was raised outside, so she has had a normal upbringing and lampshades how different the town being this kind of 'super' several times.
- Seattle becomes this in the finale of The 4400.
- In the setting, Gensokyo, even the common humans are capable of magical powers, and are expected to be more powerful than the common fairies. The heroines are simply the ones with either even greater than normal superpowers, or in Marisa case, someone with normal magical powers who trained and studied really hard to get to where she is.
- There's also the interesting case of Sanae, who used to be revered as a god in the outside world and is believed by some fans to have had a hard time adjusting to this trope's effect when she arrived in Gensokyo.
- Romancing SaGa series game, SaGa Frontier 2 had a world where everyone has magic powers as part of their "anima", or life force. It was a major plot point because Gustav, the heir to the throne, mysteriously did not have magic powers, and was banished from the court for his freakish nature. Most of the Romancing SaGa series will let pretty much anyone use magic, even if they are not particularly good at it, however.
- The Elder Scrolls series (at least, more recent ones) also lets essentially anyone use magic, thanks in part to its very loose class system. In Oblivion, players even start out with a basic attack spell and healing spell before they even get a chance to choose their class, and essentially anyone can just go into a church and get trained in some magic for a fee. Characters who do not use magic simply have chosen to focus on other areas, rather than being incapable of spells.
- Many races also start with free skill points in at least one magical discipline and/or supernatural special abilities which require no training, skill, or even magicka (mana). Even Nords, who are typically big brash warrior-types, can call on magical frost once a day and get skill points in Restoration magic. Your birth sign can grant you further powers, including turning invisible.
- There supposedly are normal individuals in Paragon City, but aside from the random invincible pedestrian (and maybe the occasional contact) you'll almost never meet them. This is especially true for anyone in the roleplaying community, unless the character in question is powerless as a gimmick.
- Kingdom of Loathing It's a very minor part of the setting, but your character will do simple magic - things like lighting your way in dark areas, casting a fireball, etc - in a handful of non-combat adventures even if you aren't a spellcasting class. Perhaps not everyone can do magic, but it certainly seems that all Adventurers can.
- In the Star Ocean series most magic users derive their powers from special runes, usually tattooed onto the user. Though more complex ones require training and practice anyone can learn basic spells. Some games represent this in gameplay, with basic attack or support spells as a learnable ability, and others restrict it to the canon magic users.
- Suikoden is a similar but even more extreme case of the magic variant. From the strongest warrior, down to the little girl running a card game on your ship, basically everyone can be expected to be armed with Green Rocks of some kind.
- Happens in World of Warcraft on all but the youngest and emptiest realms. At any given time in the capital cities, level-capped players -- many of them armed with epic gear -- far outnumber both NPCs and leveling characters combined. When enemy players invade the cities, the city guards can't put up much resistance, but anyone can be a Badass Bystander.
- Of course, the only reason enemy players would invade a city in the first place would be to kill its ruler, who happens to be a living (or unliving, in Sylvanas Windrunner's case) example of Asskicking Equals Authority.
- Pokemon Mystery Dungeon uses this trope. The people with no super powers are from different planets or different time periods and they quickly receive powers when they arrive in the main setting. Even Magikarp can hold it's own here.
- Inazuma Eleven, as long as it concerns soccer, even an old hag can create wings if she learns the right skill.
- The Defenders Of Stan has this as a premise. Everyone in the world except Butt Monkey protagonist Stan has super powers, leaving him as the last human on Earth.
- In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, the villainous Super Robot Omega is from one possible future where the metagene, the source of most metahuman powers, has spread to most of humanity. This has basically left the "norms" (as they are called) an ethnic minority who aren't actually oppressed so much as they are treated by the rest of the population with the same arrogant condescension that Real Life minorities were treated during the days of the White Man's Burden.
- In Trinton Chronicles it seems like everybody has some sort of supernatural power, ability, or trait. Some are more powerful than others, but it's so commonplace that if you lack powers, you're more of a freak than if you happen to be born with powers, also magic is a normality and anyone can learn it, like any kind of science, but it takes special people with the drive to do so.
- An episode of Darkwing Duck centered on an entire Planet of Superheroes. There was only one "Normal" in the entire population whose job it was to be rescued by the supers. He eventually rebelled and became their Super Villain instead.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has this in spades. The 3 main pony races are Unicorns with Magic, Pegasi with weather manipulation and flight and Earth Ponies with Super Strength and Green Thumb abilities. Each of them also has a unique talent that they can develop to superhuman levels. Above the ponies are the Alicorns, that have the powers of all three races and are borderline Physical Gods. Other races in the setting include flying Griffons, flying and fire breathing Dragons, super strong Yaks, shapeshifting and flying Changelings and Hippogriffs that can fly and become seaponies at will. While there are a few mundane races in the setting, they are the minority.
- An episode of The Fairly Odd Parents Timmy wishing the world was inhabited by superheroes.
- In the Star Trek the Animated Series episode "The Magicks of Megas-Tu", the title characters all have magical Reality Warper abilities.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, while not everyone is super, in the sense of being able to bend the elements, a large percentage is, maybe around 30 to 60 percent. This means that bending tends to be used not only for cool fight scenes, but to build houses, heat and cool drinks, power steam-punk machines and play games.
- Then there are the Air Nomads, who are the most true to the trope. Because of their spirituality, they were all born airbenders.
- Almost every Transformers setting that doesn't feature humans is an example of this trope, such as Beast Machines.
- ↑ Although, you do need help from the magical dragon Shenron to do so, but still...