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Did you know I can create a force field inside someone's body and expand it until they explode?

There's oodles of different kinds of powers, some lethal and some harmless. Having obviously lethal powers has remarkably many downsides. Bad Powers, Bad People means the owners can't use them at all for fear of becoming killers, they tend to miss a lot when aimed at heroes, and they tend to corrupt or slowly kill them anyway. This can make the "wimps" with the power of Heart become surprisingly useful by using their "harmless" powers in surprisingly creative ways.

One of which is using said harmless power in a horrifyingly lethal way.

Turns out the kid with a Green Thumb can make the local flora emit toxic pollen, the Barrier Warrior just needs to tilt her barrier to use it as a knife, or the White Mage with Healing Hands can reverse her ability to rapidly drain Life Energy, or worse, heal too much and give the victim horrible cancer. Other times, the power itself always had the lethal applications, such as Psychic Surgery being used not to take bullets out of a person, but to put them in... by hand. However, the character had a self imposed Drama-Preserving Handicap in the form of Mind Over Manners or Non-Lethal Warfare to avoid becoming a villain.

But eventually, these heroes will face a situation that crosses the Godzilla Threshold. Maybe their life or the life of a loved one is at stake, or a villain just pushed their buttons in the worst possible way and forces them to use lethal force. And then the gloves come off.

It goes without saying that this is Darker and Edgier stuff, and in generally light series a hero forced to use the lethal applications of their abilities will probably enter a Heroic BSOD even if they don't kill an enemy. Some heroes who do a lot of thinking on their powers will usually realize they can do this and get very, very scared of the potential horror should the Instant Allegiance Artifact, Mirror Morality Machine, (or plain old life) make them do a Face Heel Turn. This doesn't mean they won't ever use this potential application; they can use it to threaten enemies as the above quote shows.

This causes a related phenomena -- villains very rarely get the powers that can be abused in this way -- specifically for this reason. When they do, they become Good Powers, Bad People.

Compare Dangerous Forbidden Technique and Required Secondary Powers. May cause viewers to decide that Heart Is an Awesome Power. Contrast the Inverse Law of Complexity to Power.

Examples of Lethal Harmless Powers include:


Anime & Manga

  • In Please Save My Earth Mokuren's Green Thumb powers seem pretty limited to making plants grow or die quicker than normal by her singing. Yeah, it's not instantly lethal to anyone. But killing all the plants on a planet (or even ecosystem) is deadly in the long run. Not to mention that plants growing out of control overnight is pretty scary too. And if you live in a space station with nothin' but vacuum outside...
  • One Piece is made of this. Just one example: Bartholomew Kuma has the power to push. He uses it for pushing people around half the planet, pushing air together to make a bomb or pushing pain away (into other people). In fact, the powers of the devil fruit don't get stronger at all, their users just get more creative with them.
  • Darker Than Black had a teleporter who liked exchanging the positions of random rocks and other people's hearts. The show just generally likes this trope; they even managed to make "make it rain" directly lethal in the second season, when someone with Super Speed got a rather fatal physics lesson.
  • Raquell from Scrapped Princess has plenty of offensive spells, but during one fight in a cave she couldn't use them because she had to use a shield to keep her allies safe. Just as her enemy started mocking her about it she expanded the shield to cover nearly the entire cave. The enemy surrendered just seconds before his head was crushed between the shield and the wall.
  • In Yureka, high-level player Roto knows a low-level shield spell which is too weak to block any of the magic he normally faces. Except that he can still use it to cast offensive spells on himself and deflect them at enemies, and a spell that's already been reflected can't be stopped by any kind of shield...
  • Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure is frequently made of this trope from part 3 on. Seemingly harmless Stand powers, like healing or being able to turn into string, become incredibly lethal in the hands of a Joestar or one of their allies or enemies.
    • Case in point: The Lovers, one of the early tarot-themed Stands. It is microscopic and can only exert force proportional to that. But it can enter people's brains and attack essential neural pathways, causing excruciating pain and disabling damage. And since direct power and range are inversely proportional as a standard rule, its user can stay safely away in the other end of town while this happens.
  • The medical ninjutsu in Naruto can be put to astonishingly lethal uses, like creating a chakra scalpel that cuts right through subcostals and important blood vessels while leaving the skin intact. Even the basic healing touch ability can, if used unskillfully or deliberately wrong, mess up a person's body in unspecified nasty ways, no doubt involving your cytoplasm turning into lethal poison.
    • This is kind of how Gaara's power feels when you try to describe it outside the context of the show. "He has telekinetic control over sand." "Well, that's...kind of useful, I guess, what does he do, make roads in the desert--HOLY SHIT."
    • Similarly to the One Piece example above, Pain's Deva Path's primary ability is to push and pull his targets away or towards him. Its targets include non-concrete objects such as Amaterasu. And at high enough power, it was able to demolish a significant part of Konoha in one blow.
    • The Animal Path Pain, besides summoning enormous monsters that can easily knock down buildings, is rather strategic with where it summons them. In a fight against one of the ANBU ninja, it places a summoning seal on the ninja's stomach, impaling him on the beak of the giant bird that is subsequently summoned.
  • Ronove from Umineko no Naku Koro ni has this kind of power. One of the 72 Great Demons and the butler of the Witch, Beatrice, he has no offensive magic unlike the Witches, Siesta Sisters or Purgatory Stakes. Ronove only has the ability to create impenetrable shields around himself. In Episode 4, he uses this to try to crush his opponent against a wall.
    • Even more impressively, Shannon used this and Loophole Abuse to kill MARIA, the Witch of Origins who could not be targeted by offensive abilities due to her Diplomatic Immunity. She did this by slowly expanding her shield until it crushed her, and her familiar Sakutaro against a barrier MARIA had made.
    • Gaap, another of the 72 Great Demons has the Power to instantly move anything, anywhere using bottomless Holes which can appear absolutely anywhere, but only when humans who do not believe in magic are not looking. Normally used to travel, move corpses and cause general mischief, she used this power in episode 4 of the visual novel to redirect George's deadly Kick Fatality against Gaap and Jessica's unstoppable fist attack against Ronove towards each other. Thus causing the cousins George and Jessica to accidentally kill each other. This was despite the fact that George and Jessica were in completely different areas of the Ushiromiya Mansion at that time.
  • One of the deadlier members of the Noah family in D.Gray-man, Tyki Mikk, has powers similar to Shadowcat mentioned below. Being a villain, he uses them to rip out organs.
  • Bleach: Orihime's shielding powers, given one can split a target in half. In Chapter 449, she revealed she's learned how to use her defensive shield to turn her attacker's power into something that not only turns back onto its originator, but which also detonates on that attacker like a bomb.
  • The only powers bestowed on pre-Groundhog Day Loop Homura from Puella Magi Madoka Magica were a sort of Hammerspace and temporary Time Stop — pretty amazing stuff, but not very useful for giving Dojikko New Meat like her enough direct offensive punch to be useful in combat compared with the other Magical Girls. So, she cobbles together homemade pipe bombs from recipes on the web, to use as improvised grenades stowed in her Hyperspace Arsenal… Then she starts teaching herself how to shoot with guns she stole using her timestop powers… By the finale, she's trained so heavily and stowed away so much firepower, she could shame a small LARGE army.
  • The Law of Ueki is practically made of this trope. The main characters power is to turn garbage into trees, and the villian turns years of his life into bubbles.
  • In Gokukoku No Brynhildr, one character openly asks how someone with the ability to change places with anything could kill someone. The other responds by stating how she could jump off a cliff and switch places with her target so they plummet to the ground.


Comic Books

  • In X-Men, Nightcrawler has mentioned many times that he could use his teleport power to Portal Cut people but he has never done it... at least not in the main continuity.
    • Well, Nightcrawler did do it to a Sentinel once. Of course a Sentinel 1) is a robot, not a person, and 2) has a learning capability so he couldn't do it again.
    • In one alternate continuity story, he ended up taking someone's fingers with him when he jumped.
    • In the Age of Apocalypse storyline, that universe's Nightcrawler teleported Wade's, aka AoA timeline Deadpool head off.
    • There was also one in continuity story where he removed a hi-tech glove off the Red Skull by holding onto it and teleporting...and took all the flesh off the Skull's hand with it leaving nothing but bone.
      • A much simpler, but effective strategy allowed Nightcrawler to defeat Omega Red, who was giving both Wolverine and Colossus a hard time. He simply teleported Omega Red really high up and let him fall to the ground. Take note that Omega Red is functionally Made of Iron; if Nightcrawler did it to someone any less durable...
      • Also since 'porting is usually uncomfortable and nauseating to those not used to it he'll also grab someone and quickly and repeatedly port them until they pass out.
      • It's also been suggested that he could just leave them in the dimension he travels through when he teleports if he bothered to learn how.
  • Once, when Marrow's bone-growing powers were going out of control, Shadowcat used her ability to pass through matter to pull her out of the gnarled mass of bone. Marrow wondered aloud how she could've done it, since the bones were still part of her body, and Shadowcat mentioned that, were she so inclined, she could pluck vital organs out of people's chests.
      • Noting also that Shadowcat, were she so inclined, can also leave a person behind as she's going with them through something solid. She's made the threat various times.
      • In the Magik miniseries, the alternate version of Shadowcat defeats the alternate version of Nightcrawler in a sword fight...by leaving her sword in his leg.
      • Shinobi Shaw is a rare example of villian with such powers - squeezing people's hearts is his signature move.
  • In the Age of Apocalypse Marvel Continuity, fellow teleporter Blink demonstrates what happens if she closes one of her portals while somebody is halfway through. A fairly powerful (and ugly) villain gets literally turned to dust.
  • In New Mutants the character Elixir has the ability to control the biological structures of organic matter. Normally this power manifests as Healing Hands, but he is also capable of using them to deliberately infect people with diseases. He's used this power to outright kill one villain, and gave another an interoperable brain tumor - in the shape of an X.
  • Also in the X-Universe, we have (or, thanks to M-Day, had) Jubilee, who could make pretty little fireworks in the air. She often used it to blind flying enemies, causing them to crash. However, there was a lot of forshadowing indicating that she was actually an inversion - she functionally had The Power of the Sun (indicated as a potential omega class) but a mental block kept her abilities at a relatively harmless level.
    • Similarly, Dazzler originally had the power to convert sound into light. Then it turned out she could focus the lights into lasers. Then it was hinted that, given time, she could reach the point where she could convert any of the fundamental forms of energy into any other, effectively becoming a god.
  • Iceman usually slides around on ice slides, turns into ice, and throws ice spikes at people. When Emma Frost took over his mind, she was able to get him to turn his entire body into water, enter a river, and come out downstream perfectly fine. She also used moisture to make weapons more effectively, and turned Iceman into a gas as well as a liquid. The entire X-Men Gold team wasn't able to stop him. If he gets hurt as ice and turns back to normal, it heals. Bobby has been confirmed as an "Omega-level" mutant, which, while never defined, seems to basically amount to "demigod". If only he wasn't so lazy.
    • In the recent story were he's a teacher at Wolverine's school, Logan asked him to start being serious. He soon delivers - in the form of multiple ice clones.
  • X-men ally Sage's power revolved around helping other mutants control their and strengthen their powers. X-men enemy Fabian Cortez had the same ability, but would push a mutant's power out of control, killing them.
  • One-time X-Man, Dr. Cecilia Reyes initially had a personal forcefield that would protect her from harm (mostly). With a little practice, she discovered she could make the forcefield spikey...
  • In the Troy universe, Cixi learns to use her ability - water temperature control - to cause all blood in a body to boil instantly, described in-universe as lethal even to teleporters. Although prequel issues have shown her to manipulate other body fluids shortly after her powers manifested.
  • Quoted above, Invisible Woman (aka Sue Storm) of the Fantastic Four has the ability to turn invisible and create force-fields. Humble as these abilities appear, Sue is regarded as the most powerful member of the Fantastic Four. She has developed some brilliant applications of her force fields ranging from creating steps to walk on air to massive battering rams. She can, as she stated in the movie, create a force field inside a body and expand it with lethal - and messy - results.
    • In the Marvel Zombies comics, She demonstrated that you kill a zombie by destroying its brain by going Mama Bear on a zombie She-Hulk.
    • Hey, don't forget that her invisibility extends to those around her as well. And while not lethal, she was able to blind a pack of Zombies by making their optic nerves invisible. She also once threatened a classroom full of teenagers that she could make their clothes invisible.
    • In Four, at one point she creates a forcefield surrounding herself and her family, protecting them from the villain. Then she creats another forcefield encompassing her and the villain. Then she starts extending the first forcefield, crushing said villain into the second one until he surrendered.
    • The various lethal uses of her powers can be frequently be seen being used by the Super-Skrull(He has all the powers of the F4). He of course doesn't have Sue's good nature, so he doesn't hold back as much as she does. Also, in the Exiles comic(A book about a reality hopping super hero team), they once visited a reality where Sue was the leader of Hydra amd showed how horrifiying her powers can be.
    • Sue (while evil) also once threatened to kill a man by creating a tiny force field in his carotid artery, which would cause a massive and probably fatal stroke.
  • In the Rising Stars comic, a girl whose power is to psychically manipulate small objects is later shown to have grown to be a traceless government assassin: she simply pinches the victim's carotid artery from a short distance away.
  • In Watchmen, The Comedian at one point uses non-lethal rounds lethally - tasers to the face, shooting someone in the chest with a tear-gas grenade from a few feet away...
  • Ya know Aquaman's power to control fish? Well, it's a stretch, but he can apparently shut down the part of your brain that's the same as a fish's, causing you to become braindead.
  • Batman's love interest Shondra Kinsolving had a low-level healing ability. She once used it to kill her abusive father by healing him to death; her brother, while manipulating her to do something similar to an entire village, explains that she makes people so fit that their hearts explode. He plans to turn Shondra into a WMD, that can kill people from anywhere in the world, and nearly suceeds.
  • Redlance from Elf Quest has the benign power to shape wood and make plants grow. A peaceful sort, he's badly traumatized after he's forced to make thorns sprout from his spear's shaft to pierce the clutching hands of a troll in the heat of battle.
  • Invoked in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Strikes Back. Batman launches a series of strikes to free superheroes who have been imprisoned by Lex Luthor's rogue government. During one of the missions, Batman's narration reads "he could kill us all with a thought; for him, it would be easy." The panels then reveal who he's talking about... and it's Plastic Man.


Fan Works

  • Poke Wars has these aplenty because of the dampener removal. Want an example? Gravity can crush skulls, and String Shot can be honed as thin as Razor Wire.
  • An early chapter of Harry Potter and The Methods of Rationality has Professor Mcgonagall explain to the class the many horrific ways Transformation can be used to harm (intentionally or not), since things eventually return to its normal form, and she forces the students to take an oath to avoid many very specific situations, such as never transforming things into a gas, fluid or ingestable. (Imagine turning a piece of steel into wine, serving it to someone, then waiting for it to turn back...) The fact that such a thing is never mentioned in the original books, and that preteen kids are instead blithely instructed to transform rats into goblets and other experimental cruelties is rather... unsettling.


Film

  • Star Trek VI the Undiscovered Country established that even a phaser on the stun setting can kill if used at close range.
  • In Mystery Men, Dr. Heller (played by none other than Tom Waits) designs only non-lethal weapons. For some reason, a tornado in a can is non-lethal.
  • Azazel in X Men First Class teleports hundreds of feet up with his foes, then teleports back down without them. Gravity does the rest.


Literature

  • In the Temps story "Leaks" by David Langford, the protagonist has the almost-entirely-useless superpower of being able to teleport beer out of other people's glasses into his own. He falls into the hands of a mad scientist who plans to experiment on him to find out if it's possible to extend his power to other beverages in other types of container, and things go very badly for the madguy once it occurs to the protagonist to wonder whether it will also work on bodies and blood.
  • In Tanya Huff's The Quartered Sea, a bard (Benedikt) kills someone by telling the kigh to remove all of the water from her body.
  • Opal Cowan's glassblowing powers can be turned to much more lethal ends in Ixia and Sitia.
  • In the Wild Cards universe, the ace Water Lily can kill by instantly removing all water from a person's body as the lethal form of her water-gathering and minor water control. The ace Bagabond controls small city animals, but can kill via causing traffic accidents or ordering cats and dogs into massive kamikaze attacks.
  • In Elvenblood, male Elves are taught combat magic, but females are taught mostly aesthetic things, such as sculpting flowers into fantastic shapes. One of the females, Sheyrena an Treves, defects to the side of the half-blood Wizards--it later turns out that she can use variants of the 'useless' female magics to make food from leaves in the wilderness, and even stop a heart.
  • In The Black Magician Trilogy, both factions possess some magical techniques which the others do not. The enemy wizards know Black Magic which boosts their power to insane levels. The good guys know... Healing. Turns out that since they didn't realise such magic was possible, the enemy wizards don't know to block it. This allows a protagonist to speed up an enemy wizard's heart until he has a heart attack.
  • In Harry Potter And the Deathly Hallows, Harry's Signature Move Expelliarmus betrayed him because, as Harry pointed out later, using a stunning spell on somebody who's on a broomstick hundreds of feet up in the air would be just as lethal as the "unforgivable" killing curse.
    • Parodied in the Giblets of Fiber storyline in Sluggy Freelance, where it is pointed out that it would be stupid to make the killing curse forbidden when what you really need to do is make all murder illegal, since it can be easily achieved with simple spells and a little creativity.
    • Harry Potter mostly averts this, though. There are a great many spells that are routinely used to destroy, shrink, or splice objects. Would these work on people? We don't know, because no one ever tries. J.K. Rowling wrote it this way because the Killing Curse would be much less impressive if there were dozens of alternatives, but it does leave some Fridge Logic that is never addressed.
      • This could be because nothing is as clean and effective as the killing curse. It's also apparently very easy to do, and it's certainly not a secret technique.
      • Also in a fight against another wizard, one needs to have a curse that's not easily blocked (for example the killing curse is not blockable by regular means), and cannot be stopped by something like a standing shield.
      • There's also the fact that the Ministry of Magic seems to have an easier time tracking which spells are cast by whose wand than determining what the spell was used for (unless there are witnesses to the event). So if they see that someone set off an explosion, they won't know whether they were demolishing a wall or blowing up someone's head, but since the killing curse has no non-violent use, they'll come down pretty hard on anyone who uses it.
      • That being said, James Potter demonstrates how the simple cleaning spell Scourgify can be very unpleasant, by casting it on a young Severus Snape, waterboarding him with soap suds.
  • Larry Niven's Known Space 'verse has what's called the Kzinti Lesson: "The more efficient a reaction drive, the more effective a weapon it makes". It's called that because the supposedly-weaponless, pacifist humans used their light-sail drives (powered by giant lasers) and mass-driver mining tools (fires hyper-velocity ores around the asteroid belt, both burning off the impurities and getting the ore to market) to utter trounce the hyper-militarized Kzinti empire. This theme is repeated in most of the Known Space stories; various harmless tools always seem to have a setting that makes things die horribly. Flashlights with adjustable focuses, starting diffuse as "light a room" and dialing all the way down to "laser beam". Communication lasers that have a setting for communicating with things in orbit, which just so happens to burn holes in anything not in orbit. Disintegrator mining tools, which work just as well on flesh as they do on rocks. Humans never seem to have dedicated weapons, just loads of useful tools that ALSO can kill things.
  • In Neverwhere Door and the rest of her family have the power to open, well, doors or portals between places. While useful, it's not immediately obvious as having offensive capabilities. However, the second time she uses her power, it's to open a "door" in a man's chest. At the end she also opens a door to the furthest place she can imagine, which sucks in Islington, Croup and Vandemar.
  • In the Wheel of Time novels, portals that let you step through space can cut you in half if you accidentally walk into their edges. In earlier novels this is just an unfortunate side effect, but later on characters develop roving gateways that can be swept across battlefields for ludicrous gibs.
    • This is of particular use against Darkspawn, who can't travel through gateways at all so that the whole portal (not just the edge) is deadly. This then leads to piles of inhuman corpses at the other end of the portal.
    • Healing powers can also be used to stop a beating heart and for torture.
  • In The Redemption of Althalus the protagonists have access to a nice house that happens to belong to their Team Mom goddess. Being the home of a major divinity, it can have as many rooms as you need with no concern for spatial physics, and the doors conveniently open anywhere you like. When the war starts, they use it to house their entire army, and use the doors to deploy entire companies behind enemy defense lines. The villains have almost the exact same thing, but their god isn't nearly as cooperative or imaginative.
  • In The Dresden Files, Harry Dresden has a great deal of impressive magical powers, but his skills at quick-and-dirty earth evocation are less than stellar. He can't do much more on the fly than some telekinetic control of metal, like, say, a small ring of keys. Of course, a small ring of keys is a lethal weapon when thrown with proper force, as Lord Raith learns the hard way when his eyes get gouged out.
    • Earlier in the series, Harry also turns an otherwise useless spell, designed to take control of brooms for easy cleaning, and uses them to drive off a horde of poison scorpion golems.
    • Molly Carpenter is incredibly skilled at illusions, which, while extremely useful, aren't really a great combat-oriented power (at least, compared to Harry's massive amounts of fire). That is, until she uses her "One Woman Rave" to disorient and blind enemies and gets them to attack thin air/each other by making it look like she's in a different place than she actually is.
  • In Jim Butcher's other series, the Codex Alera, has powers whose use can be best described as playing with Lego. Even the most combat-oriented elements have non-combat application (inverse) such as using metalcraft to gild, using firecraft to make iceboxes ("coldstones"), earthcraft to mine, and so forth. The "softer" elements, water and wood, are often overlooked, but Tavi figures out that you could use clever applications of water and wood to make cracks in stone and fill them with plants to expand the cracks, and so on, effectively weaponize wear and tear. When it happens it allows a single person to take down walls viewed previously as basically unassailable.
  • In Piers Anthony's Cluster novel Viscous Circle, the Bands stage a mock fight for training in which they inadvertently kill (or possibly drive to suicide) those on the other side of the mock fight by using the light that transmits their emotions between individuals to transmit powerful HATE messages to the Bands on the other side. Afterward, they go through a Heroic BSOD and suicide themselves. It's pretty sad, really.
    • His Xanth series has a few examples, but the most overt is Hugo, who has the power to conjure fruit out of thin air. Sounds unimpressive, but the odd magical biology of Xanth means that one application of this is to conjure hand grenades out of thin air.
  • In the Star Wars novel Red Harvest, a member of the Agricultural Corps (basically where Jedi not good enough to become Knights usually end up) has the ability to communicate with plants. This allows her to kill zombies created by a virus derived from one of her plants by communicating with the plant and convincing it to grow inside the zombies' bodies.
  • In the Nightside series, John Taylor has the power to... find things. He regularly uses this take the bullets out of people's guns. This is useful on its own, but he's also done the same trick with the breath in an enemy's lungs, and has claimed to be able to do it with organs as well.
  • Relg in The Belgariad has the ability to move through solid rock, which is extremely useful for pathfinding or rescue missions, but seems like a non-combat ability - until it turns out that he can also use it to push other people into the rock and leave them there.
  • In Tamora Peirce's Circle of Magic series, many of the ambient mages' powers are like this. The most obvious would be the abilities of 'stitch witches' like Lark and Sandry. They have control over thread. Awww, what a quaint little power. Now, just remember that your clothes are made of thread, and imagine what happens if you get them to squeeze.
    • Sandry's foster brother Briar can also control plants. This works in his favor if someone has an allergy to plants. In one scene, he ties up a girl in roses, which she's allergic to. In another, he attacks someone with thorns. His apprentice also once tears apart an entire palace by growing plants from the inside out.
  • Allomancers in the Mistborn books can have a variety of powers, and while some of them are very flashy (Super Strength, telekinetic metal control), others are relatively nonlethal at first glance (the ability to calm emotions, Super Senses). This does not stop the protagonist from using the former as a downright devastating Emotion Bomb or someone whose only ability is the latter from abusing it until he can predict others' actions from the feel of the air currents as they start to move.
  • The Warhammer 40000 novel Path of the Renegade features and Exodite Eldar worldsinger, who has psychic abilities that allow her to commune with the World Spirit and effectively make her a Friend to All Living Things, allowing her to do things like read emotions, make plants grow and calm down raging beasts. As far as psychic powers in 40k go, that doesn't seem all that impressive. That is, until the end of the novel when she kills a whole bunch of Dark Eldar by using her powers on a deadly virus.


Live Action TV

  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, it took a holodeck-generated character to hit on the obvious use of the holodeck as a tool that can be used to fool someone into thinking they were someplace they weren't and interacting with people who weren't there. But once it was hit on, it was used in several Trek episodes.
    • Also in TNG, Wesley Crusher (of course) devised using the Enterprise main deflector array as a weapon against the Borg. Up til then, it was just the glowing dish on the belly side of the ship. Subsequently, several Trek ships used the deflector in a similar manner. The deflector dish became a go-to solve-everything tool, in fact - pretty much anything can be done by rerouting some Techno Babble through the main deflector. (Mind you, using it as a Wave Motion Gun never does any good...)
      • There's a reason "Bounce a graviton particle beam off the main deflector dish/That's the way we do things lad; we're making shit up as we wish" is part of the chorus for Voltaire's song dedicated to technobabble
  • In Babylon 5, Lyta uses telekinesis to lightly slap a PSI cop (or made him think he was slapped). When the villains start wondering whether she could stop all of them, she blusters and says that she might make a mistake and "accidentally" cause a brain hemorrhage instead.
    • In the first season, Jason Ironheart states that Psi Corps experiments in boosting telekinetic power and refining control could be used to assassinate people by pinching arteries shut.
      • This actually was the goal of the experiment. The Psi Corps needed super-powered "teeks" for their coming war with the "mundanes". Ironheart wanted to use his abilities for more peaceful uses such as generating Deflector Shields for important people. Supposedly, an Ironheart-like telekinetic on an Earth warship would make it impervious to most known weapons.
  • In Misfits the villain of the week gained the power to control dairy based products (or "lactokinesis" as he calls it). You'd be surprised at how many people he can kill or seriously injure with yogurt and cheese, and quite creatively to boot!
  • In a nutshell, this was Emma's story arc in Volume 5 of Heroes.
    • D.L.'s power of selective intangibility allows him to stick a hand in someone and mess around with their organs. He almost kills Niki this way and kills Linderman by sticking his hand through his head.
  • Alphas has Dr. Kerns, who has the Disability Superpower of echolocation. He can also modulate the frequency of it to such a degree to cause extreme and subtle structural damage to a building, and if given time he can enhance it into Make Me Wanna Shout.


Video Games

  • The classic Asteroids clone Maelstrom gives you 3 seconds of free shields at the beginning of every wave. Crafty players can use this time to swing their ships into asteroids for a quicker win.
  • Pretty much all shield-type weapons in Mega Man work this way, wherein contact with the shield damages enemies just as if you shot them, but it's usually an inefficient way to go about it. However, the Water Shield can deliver up to 8 hits this way.
  • Shannon did basically the same thing in EP6 of Umineko no Naku Koro ni against an enemy who was immune to all offensive magic. Shields are defence.
  • Reimu Hakurei of Touhou possesses the ability to fly, which is incredibly lame when considering nearly everyone else in the series can fly on top of whatever power they already possess. Except that Reimu can also, at a whim, fly away from reality, making herself completely invulnerable, and if she didn't place a time limit on it (fighting in Gensoukyou being largely a game) she would never lose.
    • Kogasa Tatara has the power to surprise people, which is unbelievably lame. Except that she managed to surprise the player by reappearing as the Extra Stage midboss, complete with the required massive power boost. While she hasn't done anything else with it yet, fans have logically deduced that, as long as it is surprising enough, she could do almost anything she wants.
      • It can be safely said that few people expected her to appear again in stage 3 of Ten Desires.
  • Several characters in Guardian Heroes have a shield that causes mild harm if touched. The Sky God, however, being enormous, has a huge shield that can kill loads of characters at once by smashing them against the arena boundary, which bounces them back into the shield, etc.
  • The mass effect in, well, Mass Effect can be used to increase or decrease the mass of an object relative to things around it. This can be used to make a spaceship effectively weigh nothing, allowing it to hover in place or travel faster than light. The other common application is to produce high-velocity mass driver weapons or to make torpedoes so massive that kinetic barriers can't stop them from striking their target.
    • Vanguards get the Biotic Charge in the second game. This works by encasing themselves in a shell of biotic energy, lowering their mass, allowing them to propel themselves across the battlefield at the sub-light speeds, before rapidly increasing their mass as they strike their target. Vanguards effectively turn themselves in a human-mass-driver-powered-wrecking-ball.
  • In Team Fortress 2, the Medic's signature weapon, the Medigun, seems harmless enough; it heals teammates and, after a while, it builds up an "Ubercharge" that turns the healing target invulnerable for about five seconds. It's not so harmless when the Medic pops the charge on, say, a Heavy, who can and most likely will mow down more enemies than he could without said invulnerability.
  • In Disgaea 2 Cursed Memories, one of the Dark World maps has a bunch of mages standing on panels with a "reverse damage" effect - any damage-dealing effects they take heals them instead. But the inverse is also true - healing hurts them, and it isn't stopped by the Resistance stat, so even weak heal spells can kill them outright. Since healers are usually held back by their restrictions (they only get a pittance exp from healing, and no mana), this becomes a very potent grinding spot for them.


Web Comics/Web Originals

  • One Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic features a girl who can make puppies appear anywhere. (Hint: "anywhere" includes inside someone's body.)
  • Generator (Jade Sinclair) of the Whateley Universe starts out with the power to cast a copy of her mind into an object and animate it for a little while. This is considered extremely lame by the standards of Super-Hero School Whateley Academy with its powerful mages and Flying Bricks. Then she nails a werewolf to a tree. With railroad spikes.
    • She's actually got one of the most terrifying powers, period. She could animate some wire- hey presto, instant flying strangling cords. By herself, she'd be a brilliant information broker... or assassin... or just about anything.
    • Phase is an Intangible Man. If he goes back to solid when within an object, he disintegrates its mass. He can vary his levels of mass, causing devastating effects.
  • Cale from Darwin's Soldiers can use his electrical powers to fuse dust particles in the air into glass. This does not sound impressive when compared to his other power (electrokinesis). However, this means that he is never unarmed. And he once shredded some terrorists with a swarm of glass daggers .
  • Coatl in Trinton Chronicles has a rather lethal and yet seemingly harmless set of powers; she can boost powers (and thus cause them to go haywire for Superpower Meltdown for villains) or her Healing Hands can be pushed to the extent of causing cancer!
  • In Anachronauts, the human witch Emily enters a magical duel with the Fey Archmage Lilith, in which Lilith's condition, according to the rules, is that each participant can only use one spell. Emily doesn't know any combat spells, and specializes in spells with useful effects such as making a perfect cup of tea. Emily's condition is Heart's Guardian; anyone who cherishes the duelists can stand by them in the fight, which means her friends can join in. Emily dodges the blast of fire Lilith throws at her and uses her friends to gain an advantage, then materializes warm, steaming tea directly into Lilith's lungs. Emily then humiliates her opponent further by saving her life using CPR to get the fluid out of her lungs, putting Lilith in debt to Emily.
    • Emily's real power is that she literally doesn't think like other witches; since magic destroys whatever its written on when cast, and most human mages memorize spells, they just end up going nuts. Also, they're usually taught the standard brute force spells, since the Fairie Summer Court thinks of them as disposable[1]. Emily is/was Cursed with Awesome to be unable to memorize spells, and has to copy them and read them to cast them, retaining her sanity, and prefers utility spells, which means she has to think tactically in a way that tends to elude the other human witches (sanity loss) as well as the elves who trained them (not very creative). Lilith, an elf, was one of the most powerful mages in the world, and her spell was basically just Maximized Fireball.
  • In the Magic: The Gathering webcomics, one scene depicts 3 of the planeswalkers in battle with a horde of nim (aka zombies). Elspeth's ability to fight is fairly obvious, as she is a highly-trained knight and quite adept with a blade. Koth, a geomancer, is also quite nasty in a fight, due to both being built like a rock (literally) and being able to conjure/hurl boulders at his foes at a whim. ...Then we have Venser, effectively the geek of the trio. No weapons, no real fighting skill, and his only ability seems to be teleporting, which may not seem useful against zombies...then he takes hold of two of them, teleports with them a few hundred feet in the air, then immediately 'ports back down without them. Gravity ensues.
  • In the Insane Cafe 3, Nani exploits pepper spray's flammability to set fire to a group of mages.
  • In Homestuck, your powers are determined by your Title, which follows the format "Class of Aspect" (as in Gent of Piss). While the Aspect can be any monosyllabic concept like Mind, Hope, or Heart (most of which sound non-lethal), the actual Class can modify a non-lethal Aspect into a dangerous force. For example, a Prince of Mind would, based on game mechanics, be able to destroy the brains of his enemies and a Knight of Heart would be able to weaponize souls. Inversely, a potentially deadly Aspect, such as Rage or Void, could be turned passive by its class. For example, a Heir of Void would just be able to make things near-impossible to find.


Western Animation

  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, while Waterbending is by no means a harmless power, Evil Mentor Hama teaches Katara the ultimate technique of Waterbending, Bloodbending, via which they could control any living being.
    • Hama also demonstrated that small amounts of water could be obtained from the air or plants. The plants shrivelled and died when water is extracted from them. There is nothing to indicate this wouldn't work on humans.
      • On top of this, it's capable of whipping through metal. We never get to see if it can whip through flesh, but it's not unreasonable to assume that it could.
    • The Movie demonstrated another lethal technique of Waterbending: lifting up an enemy in a sphere of water and holding him there until he drowns.
    • Presumably, Airbenders could bend the air inside someone's lungs and sinuses - which would kill them quickly and messily.
    • And earth-bending could be used to drag someone under ground until they suffocated (as an Earthbender pretended to do to Katara in one episode). Firebending, while certainly dangerous and some of its masters are able to create lightning, is starting to look downright tame in comparison since most of the Lethal Harmless Powers don't require an absolute mastery of the particular bending art.
      • Welll. In an episode is implied that the firebending was way stronger than now, but once they to forget their roots, they became weaker.
  • Another example of water powers that weren't harmless but could have been infinitely worse - Darkwing Duck had a character called The Liquidator, who had apparently complete control of water. He could generate it, boil it, and turn it into "hard water" - a yellow glue-like substance. Luckily for everyone involved, Darkwing Duck was a children's series, so we never got to see what might have happened if Liquidator had decided to turn the water of a living being's body into hard water...
  • Not quite lethal, but far more harmful than it appeared - Ma-Ti from Captain Planet used the power of heart to communicate with animals telepathically. A pretty lame power... until you realise that had he wanted to, he could have easily brainwashed the entire population of Earth.
    • Or simply sent out a pack of tigers to maul the bad guys.
    • In one episode he used it to save the Earth from a Grey Goo scenario by summoning a massive flock of birds to destroy a swarm of genetically modified locust before it could reach the mainland, something the rest of the group couldn't do with their elemental powers.
  • He's dangerous enough already, but in Justice League the Martian Manhunter uses his intangibility offensively at least once - during his rampage through the Suicide Squad, he reaches inside Deadshot's chest and does something to his heart that severely messes him up.
    • He uses this to kill several "White Martians" in the series premiere. They did make him the last of his kind, though.
    • Given that The Flash has superspeed his secondary ability goes mostly unnoticed: he can vibrate at a superhuman speed. Said vibrations create an unstable resonance which can cause things to explode.
      • To say nothing of running several times around the planet in a few seconds to gain enough momentum to punch into submission the Luthor-Brainiac symbiote.
  • Teen Titans: Jinx only ever uses her probability manipulation to make inconvenient things happen around her foes. Fridge Logic sets in realizing that probability manipulation is one step below reality warping on the scale of superpowers: quantum mechanics, and therefore, fundamental forces of nature, is inherently probabilistic, and if something can happen, a probability manipulator can make it happen. That means Jinx could be capable of taking the uranium that exists in any given rock and use it to make a miniature nuke, and because spontaneous fission occurs naturally in small quantities, there are no restrictions on how much uranium she would need to do that. The only limit is how finely she can tune probabilities.
  • In Wolverine and the X-Men, Nightcrawler, who's only mutant power is teleportation, puts it to devastating use against Spiral, by using it to Portal Cut her robotic arms.

Notes

  1. In Star Wars terms, they're effectively the Sith.
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