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"Superman, we are the greatest!"
Muhammad Ali, Superman vs. Muhammad Ali

A character who is designed in their own universe basically needs to be written to be effective against other characters featured in that universe. Generally, your main conflict won't be an eternal war between Super Jesus and his nemesis Bob.

However, a problem occurs once you try a Crossover. If the crossover involves characters who were never created to work together and have an obvious difference in scope or power, you're stuck at trying to make sure each is effective. This usually involves two scenarios where you either nerf the powerful character or boost the "weaker" one, because you get the inevitable "Why are they even useful in this situation?"

Occasionally this fiddling with power levels sticks, and you essentially have a pseudo-Alternate Universe character. Sometimes characters will even get new powers just for balance, but once they go back to their own books these enhanced powers are quickly forgotten.

If this happens often enough, it can create an inflation in Power Levels across the entire fictional universe, and can sometimes push characters into the B- or C-list, as they simply can't compete anymore.

Another way to get around the same problem is to create a Plot Tailored to the Party.

See also Re-Power and Strong as They Need to Be. Compare CCG Importance Dissonance, PVP-Balanced and Popularity Power. Sister Trope to Story-Breaker Team-Up.

Not to be confused with Power Creep, which happens to Games when new additional content is added that over-powers the previous one.

Examples of Power Creep, Power Seep include:


Anime & Manga

  • From Sonic the Hedgehog The Movie, Knuckles the Echidna. In his first game appearance, Knuckles had pretty weak jump height, but could glide through the air. In this OVA, he can jump ridiculously high and hover in mid-air; at times he appears to be flying outright.
    • Still not as hard to believe it as what he did in Sonic 3, in the game's intro Knuckles punched Super Sonic in the face, not only Sonic lost his Super form in just one hit, but the way it was presented made it look like Super Sonic is nothing to Knuckles. We can only take in mind that at the time Sonic Team didn't intended to make Sonic's Super form a powerful state that he turned out to be after the franchise went 3D.
  • A crossover between Fairy Tail and Rave Master handles this by setting up the characters to imply that it's taking place fairly early in both stories, meaning none of the characters are too particularly powerful when they start to fight.

Collectible Card Games


Comic Books

  • This tends to lead to major issues when crossing the Marvel Universe and The DCU. Both companies have their share of characters ranging from Badass Unintentionals to Physical Gods, but the Marvel characters who are the most important in terms of both in-universe esteem and recognition and Real Life Popularity Power tend to be low on power levels in-universe compared to their DC counterparts, like Superman. This tends to lead to huge disproportionate power levels between the universes, at least when using the biggest names between the two, which tends to translate to stories that are mostly buildup to a bigger fight that can be used to muddle the individual fighters. One-on-ones are hit/miss; verses need buildup to get the weaker fighter either up to, or bringing the other down. Team-ups need stories where the more powerful will miss something important and therefore need the other to play the savior/tactician role. Fans are rarely happy with any outcome.
    • Most of Marvel's "Earth based" heroes tend to be a lot weaker than DC's, but Marvel's cosmic cast and pantheons tend to be stronger than DC's, even counting guys from the Vertigo line like the Endless.
    • This is always a problem in Marvel vs. DC crossovers when it comes to Super Speed battles. Marvel speedsters rarely move much faster than the speed of sound, while DC speedsters are usually closer to the speed of light, a difference of six orders of magnitude (the difference between you and a jet is two orders of magnitude). Sometimes this difference is ignored, sometimes it's mocked, and sometimes it's justified.
      • Two recent crossover battles shown between Quicksilver and The Flash were played for the jokes that they were. The only times Quicksilver was able to land a punch were when The Flash turned his back to help innocents and, in the later crossover, when The Flash encountered Quicksilver in the Marvel universe (which apparently has no Speed Force). Sadly, if they had just done the first fight a few years sooner, it would have been an even match (Wally's speed was dropped to Quicksilver level in the years immediately following Crisis on Infinite Earths).
      • There was actually a Shout-Out to the enormous disparity in an issue of Quasar. A cosmic entity had gathered Earth's super-speedsters for a race from Earth to the Moon. At the last minute, all the contestants got blown past by an amnesiac man in a tattered red-and-yellow costume. (This was back when Barry Allen was still dead, after the Crisis on Infinite Earths.)
    • One notorious example of this happened in the Marvel versus DC crossover, where based on a fan poll, Wolverine beat Lobo. Wolverine had bone claws at the time, while Lobo is as powerful as Superman, this should have been impossible. The comic sidestepped the problems by not showing the battle -- in fact the whole thing was less than a page, from the introduction of Lobo to Wolvie standing and dusting off his hands. And all the fighting happened behind a bar. It was later implied in Lobo's own comic that the Main Man was paid under the table to throw the fight.
  • In one issue of Amazing Spider-Man, Spider-Man, who's strong (lifts ten tons) but not one of the big hitters of the Marvel Universe, beat the cosmically powerful Firelord in a hand-to-hand duel. On comic boards this trope is often named Spider-man vs the Firelord.
  • One cross-company crossover between Spider-Man and Superman had Lex Luthor shoot Spidey with a "red-sun energy boost", making Big Blue vulnerable to his touch.
    • This happens a lot to Spider-Man. In preparation for Civil War, he had "The Other" story arc, which tied his powers to a mystical spider-totem. This gave him a major attribute boost and several new powers, ranging from enough speed and strength to catch bullets to spike weapons which protruded from his arms. This was done so that when he became a fugitive at the end of Civil War, he could feasibly fight off (and beat) more powerful heroes like Iron Man. Unfortunately, nobody bothered using Spider-Man's upgrades from "The Other" except Peter David so the storyline might as well not have happened. The only aspect of the story that anyone else bothered using was the Iron Spider costume.
    • The follow up crossover with Superman and Spider-Man is more realistic. Superman brushes off Spider-Man's offers of assistance at first believing that Spidey would just get in the way. Spidey is about to leave also believing he wouldn't be any help to Superman till he remembers that Superman might be flying into a trap and follows after to warn him.
    • And it was Double Subverted when Spider-Man crossed over into the original Marvel Transformers comics for an issue. He did succeed in wrapping Megatron in webbing ... but it only lasted a few seconds before Megatron busted free and swatted him aside like, well, a bug.
    • Another crossover had a Venom/Superman fight in which Venom was smacking Supes around like a ragdoll. Not only is Superman way, way, way above Venom's level, but he also has powers (heat beams and supersonic voice) that are Venom's stated weaknesses. The writer tried to justify this by having Venom exclaim, "I've gone toe-to-toe with the Juggernaut!", which is even harder to believe.
      • Marvel did it right in the first issue of New Avengers when their own Superman stand-in, The Sentry, tore the even more powerful Carnage in two with his bare hands Though Superman would have never acted to this extreme.
      • Venom actually did go toe-to-toe with the Juggernaut, after being powered-up with some unknown substance. Even if under the same conditions, there's no possible way Venom could beat Superman. Though even in Marvel comics they tried to make Venom seem like a credible threat to Ghost Rider, which is laughable given he's weak to heat and Ghost Rider is constantly on fire. Oh, and Venom is Penance stare proof, well because.
      • Superman was temporarily weakened in his own continuity at the time.
    • Marvel vs. DC also had Storm besting Wonder Woman. Storm has a greater attack range, so this might have made sense if they hadn't actually shown her shrugging off a punch from Wonder Woman. (For reference, Storm's pretty toned for a being that's just one step above a baseline human, but Wonder Woman wasn't human to begin with.)
  • Batman has got to be the most notable example. He has appeared for decades simultaneously both in his own magazine, struggling against fairly normal muggers and crooks, and in Justice League of America, battling cosmic foes like Darkseid. This has been dealt with in various ways over the years, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. The default Silver Age solution seemed to be using the Bat-Anti-Cosmically-Powered-Villain Spray, while the default Modern Age solution tends toward emphasizing his willpower and intelligence, often in a Mission Control role.
    • In 2002, it was announced that there was a Batman Vs. Superman film in the works (like most Superman-related projects, it ultimately ended up in Development Hell and was abandoned), which provoked great uproar in the fan community about the inherently one-sided nature of such a conflict. Conan O'Brien put it best, saying "Superman is, well, Superman. He can fly, lift cars, shoot lasers from his eyes, go back in time, all that. Batman... Batman works out a lot."
      • Though in that script, Batman used his Crazy Prepared-ness intelligently, with Kryptonite armor and arrows, and a sonic whistle to paralyze Superman due to the latter's super-hearing.
      • Though in the Batman: Hush comic books, Batman DOES wind up fighting the Man of Steel, who is under Poison Ivy's control due to kryptonite added to her mind-control lipstick. He still might have little chance in a straight fight, but in that story, he does manage to fight off Superman long enough to break him out of the trance. At one point, Batman states that he would have long been dead if Superman hadn't been resisting Ivy's control.
      • A similar thing happens in The Batman, where Supes is again under mind control (this time by Ivy's Mind Control Spores laced with Kryptonite dust). Batman not only cheats, he tries using a chunk of Kryptonite stolen from Lex Luthor, and when that doesn't work, he evens the odds a little by breaking out his Bat-Mecha and is still on the verge of losing, but Robin breaks Superman out of the trance.
      • Batman v. Superman again in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. Justified in that Superman had recently almost died and lampshaded by Batman testing him with a few missiles. Also, Batman uses kryptonite and power gloves and Gotham's entire electrical grid. And the fight's more or less a draw (though the bat would have won).
        • In the end, however, the success rate for Batman's Crazy Prepared-ness depends on a lot of good luck and calculations working out the way he planned it. And Superman is still a guy who can kill you by looking at you. None of the explanations and scenarios laid out by any writer for a Batman victory will be a 100% convincing.
  • This is particularly bad in comics where The Punisher is the central character, especially as of lately. A What If was even written recently where Punisher managed to take out people like Magneto and The Mighty Thor.
    • "Punisher kills the Marvel Universe." On the other end of the scale, he teamed up with Archie.
      • To be fair, when he killed Magneto (and every other mutant in that universe) he did use an atomic bomb. One designed by Doctor Doom, no less, so it was likely designed with just that in mind.
  • Lobo's been mentioned a few times already, but he deserves some special attention. He has a noted knack for being just as powerful as whoever he's fighting. He's gone toe to toe with Superman in the past, but has also lost fights to Batman and other characters. It's to the point that his adaptable nature is actually part of his power set; one of his most notable features is his immune system, making him invulnerable to specific powers after being hurt by them at least once (the most promiment moment is when he's trapped in the body of a 'tweenager version of himself, because after being hit with the spell that de-aged him he immediately became immune to that type of magic, and thus counterspells wouldn't work).
    • Not to mention, while he is invulnerable and immortal, he can still get drunk (at least in earlier appearances, he gets so sloshed that Superman turns it to his advantage in one early battle).
  • In the Alien vs. Predator franchise, the Predators can take out Aliens in hand-to-hand combat with ease. This is strange because they only had one film appearance at the time -- in Predator -- where the monster only fought in hand-to-hand once. While it was certainly strong, it wasn't that impressive, with its unarmed strikes proving to be less than lethal. This is in contrast to the Alien, whose fighting style consists entirely of critically-damaging unarmed strikes. This example is unique because the Alien and Predator monsters arguably began as interestingly balanced -- an unstoppable melee death-machine versus an invisible, cybertribal sniper --, but the Predators were given a large boost to serve the purpose the creators wanted for the comic, that being Anti-Heroism.
  • An interesting example is Hank McCoy, aka The Beast. If you pick up a comic in which he is in the X-Men, the writers tend to focus mostly on his intellect while his actual powers are secondary. When he was a member of the Avengers, his strength and agility were the main focus and his intellect was rarely brought up. This was because the Avengers had plenty of geniuses: Hank Pym, Iron Man, The Vision, Black Panther, etc. and didn't need another. Hank was a Lightning Bruiser so his abilities were bumped up to the point where he was nearly as strong as Iron Man and could move so fast that Captain America had trouble following him. When he went back to the X-Men, there were already a couple strongmen (Colossus and Rogue) and agile people (Nightcrawler, Gambit, Longshot, etc.). Even his animalistic nature was covered by Wolverine. They didn't have any geniuses, though, so Beast became The Smart Guy nearly on the level of Reed Richards.
  • Teen Titans antagonist Deathstroke also suffers from this. He can be portrayed as someone who can hold his own against members of the Justice League, and be able to knock out the Flash, but also struggle against someone like Nightwing.
    • Although, given that Nightwing is essentially Batman-in-waiting, this could be a case of Nightwing rising to the challenge rather than Deathstroke getting a demotion. It also helps that Nightwing is more familiar with Deathstroke than probably any other hero...
    • Nightwing can fight Deathstroke to a standstill because, well, he's been fighting the guy since he was eighteen, and he knows all of Deathstroke's weak spots, not the least of which are his children Joey (who was one of Nightwing's best friends) and Rose (who defected from her father's side because of Nightwing).
    • Also, he's basically the evil Batman (to the point that one popular fan theory for his true nature in the Teen Titans animated series was that Slade really was Batman, testing Robin.) With the wide variety of tools he uses, it's most likely that he simply comes prepared for whatever foe he's facing. Which means he should go after Nightwing when armed for the whole Justice League and kill bird-boy in two seconds flat, but... well, that's not how it works in comicland.
  • This is actually done in-universe in Fables - when Frau Totenkinder faces Baba Yaga, the latter seems confident in her victory, because everybody knows her stories, so her Popularity Power is great. Frau Totenkinder, who is every witch from any classic fairy tale, politely reminds her, that her legend is most popular in Russia. And they are in America, where far more people heard story of Hansel and Gretel - Frau Totenkinder's story - than her's. In Russia Baba Yaga would have won, but in States she is outmatched.


Film

  • King Kong was enlarged several times his size and given electricity powers to match Godzilla for their crossover fight.
    • Likewise, Godzilla, despite having shrugged off 300,000 volts of electricity in the original Godzilla, King of the Monsters, was shown to be so vulnerable to electricity this time around that he shied away from ordinary power lines. This was most likely meant to make Godzilla particularly at risk from Kong's aforementioned new Lightning Paws.
      • Which was ironically creeped up again in Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, when an electric storm revives the King of the Monsters, and expanded further when Godzilla's beam powers an electric super-weapon in Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster and generating a powerful magnetic field in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla.
    • So in short, Lightning Can Do Anything.
  • In the first Alien vs. Predator movie, one Alien took out two Predators. Some viewers consider this to be retribution for the depiction of the Alien monster in the comics, while others consider it a spiteful blemish on the Predator. See the related example in the comics section above.
    • The second film inverts that change, calling on the comic-book example and reversing the situation in the previous movie.
    • In fact, this franchise in general alters the power scale to suit the needs of the plot and setting, although the Predator almost always gets the better deal. Your Mileage May Vary on this approach, but it does conflict with the Alien movies themselves, invariably making it an example of this trope.
  • In the Kamen Rider Decade movies, all previous Showa and the base form Heisei Riders were placed on a comparable level of power, disregarding previous official stats, even ones presented in the shows themselves that would make some conflicts heavily loopsided. That balance was carried on to later Kamen Rider crossover movies too.
    • Not just the movies. Power was entirely dependent on plot convenience throughout Decade, resulting in Dragons and Big Bads that took the combined effort of multiple Riders in Super Mode in their own series dying against Decade in two seconds, whereas much less powerful characters were almighty if they were more important. Riders were no different. The movies take it Up to Eleven, though: Even if we leave aside the Decade half of Movie Wars 2010 and consider "Decade Fury" a completely new and all-powerful form capable of One Hit KO-ing all other Riders and say he can't normally do that even if he sure looks like normal Decade, there's still Shadow Moon. In Kamen Rider Black, Shadow Moon was evenly matched with the series' one Rider However, in the Decade movies, Shadow Moon was so powerful the combined might of Rising Ultimate Kuuga[2] and Decade[3] couldn't scratch him. Then Kamen Rider Double easily beats him. This should rightfully make Double literally strong enough to destroy the world with one Rider Kick in his base form. Needless to say... he isn't.
    • The next Decade movie has Double's power at sane levels, but its villain gets the Shadow Moon treatment: Doras, like Shadow Moon, was a strong major opponent of the one Super Mode-less Rider in his story, the movie Kamen Rider ZO. Decade's Doras easily clobbered all the main Riders from Kuuga through Kiva plus the Riders original to Decade in their base forms all at once (really think about the best non-Super-Mode Crowning Moment of Awesome material from those series and imagine the kind of power that takes) and they don't beat him until all ten Riders go Super Mode, with Den-O and Kuuga breaking out Super Climax and Rising Ultimate, respectively - their Decade-only supermode-of-a-supermode forms. Once again, when you consider the greatest feats of the Riders, and how dangerous the never-seen maximum power of certain Riders is said to be, if it requires all ten, we're talking Doras going from being almost as strong as one Rider to "god of destruction" territory. Take the movies at face value, and Power Levels in Kamen Rider, from greatest to least, would be as follows: Double with his basic forms > Shadow Moon > Doras > God > Decade and Rising Ultimate Kuuga perhaps tie > Everybody else ever. That is... not reflected in the series, to put it mildly.


Live-Action Television

  • That Mitchell and Webb Look parodies this with Angel Summoner and BMX Bandit. Angel Summoner can summon hordes of invisible, superhuman angels at will. BMX Bandit is very good at BMXing.


Professional Wrestling

  • Happens from time to time in the WWE and other promotions; where characters who are being pushed have power creep, and those who are acting as jobbers have power seep. For instance, the Big Show used to fit the role of the big guy who always lost to up-and-coming stars, then with little explanation, became the man who ended Brock Lesnar's title reign. Often combined with Badass Decay for the people who are jobbing.
    • It's even more funny when the "C-show" ECW was still on. The ECW champion can be treated as a worthy opponent to the other champions or as effective as a jobber, depending on the storyline needs.


Tabletop Games

  • The Old World of Darkness suffered dearly from this trope. Vampire: The Masquerade establishes that vampires are in deep, deep trouble if they encounter werewolves. Guess what? Werewolves are playable (Werewolf: The Apocalypse), and if the games ever cross over the vampires are risking Final Death. Crossovers were a chore to work at the best of times, as the races were on (sometimes radically) different power levels.
    • The New World of Darkness simplifies things to a great extent: every supernatural race possesses a "supernatural tolerance" statistic (Blood Potency, Primal Urge, Gnosis, Azoth, etc.), which provides universal resistance against supernatural attack. Power levels are more streamlined. While this means the werewolves are not nearly as powerful as they once were, given that they're supposed to be besieged on all sides by enemy spirits, it was that or make their adversaries nearly unstoppable (and they usually are anyway).
    • Vampires also got the short end of the straw in the 1st edition of Old World of Darkness, where - since Vampires were counted as not living - Wizards with low levels of Prime and Matter powers could attempt a simple spell to transform even the most powerful of vampires into a lawn chair (or any other non-living thing, but due to an announcement in the book, the Running Gag is lawn chair) without even giving the vampire a saving throw. This was quickly remedied in all later incarnations of World of Darkness.
      • The related cliche was having a mage turn a werewolf's skin to silver, effectively burning himself to death. The original World of Darkness was never meant for crossovers, and certainly wasn't even remotely balanced - in any given meeting of two supernatural species, SOMEONE was getting the short end of the stick. Ironically enough, many older players consider the newer, more generic, better balanced system to be worse simply because it's less realistic. Life really shouldn't be fair, especially when you're living in a Crapsack World.
    • As an amusing example of oWoD's dodgy crossovers and clashing mythologies, vampires, werewolves, Pooka changelings, and mages all had powers which could let them turn into wolves. So what happened if you put one of each on a stage to perform this trick in front of mortal witnesses? The vampire gets the expected mundane reaction, the werewolf drives witnesses into hallucinations and denial, the changeling leaves all but the least banal of viewers remembering it as a vague dream, and the mage explodes because the universe doesn't like people turning into wolves.
    • In addition, the new system explains that Vampires, Mages and Werewolves have very different existences, so having them encounter each other, much less be in direct conflict, is supposed to happen only under very unusual circumstances. Sure, Werewolves can rip just about anything to shreds. But Vampires tend to be both very clever and very patient. Mages are often Crazy Prepared to the extreme (or can use their magic in such a subtle way as to appear they were already crazy prepared).
    • People have also ran Exalted crossovers with oWoD. Solars can radiate sunlight, making for a Curb Stomp Battle with a vampire.
  • Solars Curb Stomp just about everything in their own setting too, given an equal amount of experience points. That's not a bug but a feature, since the default game is about playing a superhuman hero who is invariably the best there is at what she does. However, there are many other playable character types in Exalted, and the difficulty of having a mixed group of player characters without the Solars outshining everyone else is a cause of much aggravation among fans.
  • The Palladium RPG Rifts was notorious for this. In the original book, Cyber-Knights (simply noble humans with cybernetic augmentations and the ability to create a moderately powerful blade of psychic energy) were respectable combatants, and the Glitter Boy was rightly feared as one of the most powerful war machines on the planet. By the time we get to the Phase World supplement, we get Cosmo-Knights, a playable class. These characters could fly through space at translight speed, were nearly invulnerable to non-kinetic energies (and very durable against kinetic ones), and could fire anti-starship level energy blasts.
    • Those particular examples could be justified due to the differences in scale of the respective settings (Post-Apocalyptic North America vs. Intergalactic Space Opera). But then there's the case of the Cyber-Knights' reintroduction in their own self-titled book, where to keep up with the stuff introduced between the main book and then, Cyber-Knights got bumped to nearly Jedi-like levels.
  • Endemic in Star Wars Miniatures, since a player can set any faction from any era against any other and end up more or less balanced, depending solely on your team selection. So weapons were about as effective 4,000 years apart.
  • The Rogue Trader and Deathwatch role-playing games are based on the same rules as those of Dark Heresy, and there are rules for including characters from Dark Heresy in both systems. In the case of Rogue Trader, this involves boosting the characters from Dark Heresy to about 1/3rd of their maximum obtainable power in their home rules system. In the case of Death Watch, it involves boosting said characters to a level more powerful than the core Dark Heresy ruleset has rules for, and using the Ascension splatbook. In both cases the Dark Heresy characters are still overall weaker, but far more customizable and specialized.
    • Essentially, their stats are lower, true, but they tend to have far, far more raw skill and talent due to Dark Heresys very cheap skills and Ascensions cheap paragon talents/skills (essentially a collection of related skills purchased as a package that costs less than the skills combined). And that doesn't count the raw level of influence that these characters can have, which is hard to really quantify. And that doesn't count the Ascended Psychic Powers, which all Ascension classes can get with the right talents... such as being able to control time, or creating a completely and utterly impenetrable barrier able to withstand all types of damage and prevent all creatures from going through it. Even more mundane ones such as bloodboil or the army-destroying Inferno, or being able to utterly crush and banish daemons with a thought. Likely only the Grey Knights in Daemonhunters have more powerful psychic powers.


Video Games

  • Happens in crossover titles in video games as well, as evidenced in Capcom crossover games. This is something of a necessity; how else can one expect Dan or Sakura to fight Spider-Man without a serious upgrade? The concept was (lovingly) mocked in a segment on X-Play where Blair Butler took a look back at the Marvel vs. Capcom series, noting in each game the number of fighters, adding that "none of them would stand a chance against The Hulk"; while not completely true, it gets the point across.
    • It's even worse in the earlier games in the series, where Apocalypse and Onslaught were the final bosses, and yet the likes of Ryu were able to take them down.
    • Of course, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 ups this further with the Final Boss being Galactus.
      • It's on both sides. People like Akuma can smash a mountain are fighting Morrigan and Jedah who are all supernatual beings. The Capcom side is much stronger than fans think, but since many people aren't as familiar with their portrayals they think most are just street level. Even Ryu would put up a fight with a restrained Iron Fist.
      • Discussed in this hilariously uber-nerdy Gamesradar video about how  Capcom overcompensated the power levels of their characters to match the Marvel characters on their character profile pages. "More powerful than people think" my red wagon, if we go by the official standards set down for reading the power charts and these levels are to be believed, Tron Bonne is an omniscient world-consuming Eldritch Abomination who crushes worlds.
        • It seems that the team of the original Marvel vs. Capcom 3 didn't know how the ratings for the Marvel Power Grid should be issued for the Capcom characters, so they've been changed to be more believable in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. For one example, Tron was originally issued a 7 in Intelligence. According to the rating system, a 7 in Intelligence means she's "Omniscient"... ike a all-knowing being. Capcom must have assumed it meant "really smart". Most likely, after reading about the ratings, Tron was issued a 6 in Intelligence (meaning "Super-Genius"), which makes more sense.
        • Considering that many of Capcom's characters seem stronger, this can double as Fridge Brilliance. For example: Ryu can fire a much bigger Shinku Hadoken in comparison to his SF incarnation. See this comparison.
      • Then, there's the inclusion of Dormammu, as a playable character. In his own stories, he could just defeat his foes with magic. It makes it kinda  funny when you see humans like Chris Redfield beat the snot out of a comsic being.
      • Phoenix Wright is now in the games. His ultimate attack? "The real culprit...IS YOU!" In other words, he can defeat a world-destroying horror by providing evidence of guilt and giving it the pointer finger!
    • The presence of Gold Lightan and the PTX-40A Vital Suit from Lost Planet in Tatsunokovs Capcom (both of whom are utterly massive) asked for a massive power creep to Alex (who is a grappler) as performing the Hyper Bomb on them can be translated as grabbing a giant robot's leg and effortlessly slamming him into the ground, including with an airborne drop. It has to be seen to be believed.
      • It has to be expected. The Final Boss is Yami, the God of Darkness, the Big Bad Final Boss of Okami.
      • Also done to especially, especially, especially Frank West. Whereas Alex did get the power creep, he could do that stuff against everybody, from his series or not. Frank, on the other hand, disregarding a few Street Fighter moves and a working Mega Buster, really is just a regular human. In Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, however, he can throw said giants to the other side of the screen, shoot them in to the sky by way of hitting them with a baseball, and can survive the stronger hits of the game, most of which, logically would breark bones. And in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, his arsenal of improvised weaponry (no Mega Buster and shooting people into the sky here) is more than a match for the superpowered beings of the Marvel Universe, and he can still tank hits.
      • Tekkaman Blade gets the short end of the trope. A guy who in his own series tanked a nuke. Note that while this feat is done at the beggining of the series before he even get numerous amount of power ups and his Super Mode.
  • The Final Fight characters such as Cody, Guy and Mai are noticeably more powerful when they appear in Street Fighter games than their own games. Of course if the characters had their Street Fighter abilities in the Final Fight series, the games would be pretty boring.
  • The Alien vs. Predator games -- as with every other kind of media -- are primes examples of this trope. Depending on the game and genre, the abilities of the Aliens and Predators can be vastly different.
    • In every game, Predators are more resilient than Aliens -- despite the fact that Predators have been killed by falling logs and humans in melee combat, while Aliens have survived plasma thruster engines, the vacuum of space and tons of molten lead.
    • In the 1999 and 2010 games by Rebellion, Aliens have an easy time hiding in the shadows, but the 2001 Monolith game removes this ability from them. In addition, it severely neuters the effectiveness of their acid blood, reduces their health and simplifies their behaviour.
    • In the 1999 and 2010 games by Rebellion, the Predator's plasma caster is a lock-on, straight-shooting weapon that has variable degrees of power depending on charge. Monolith's 2001 game added the ability for those plasma blasts to turn in mid air.
    • In the 2001 Monolith game, Aliens dominated in melee combat. In the 1999 Rebellion game, melee combat in multiplayer was almost impossible due to the game speed (except for jousting) and Predators hold a melee advantage in the 2010 game.
    • For the sake of balance, player-controlled humans in the 2010 game can fight off both Aliens and Predators in hand-to-hand combat long enough to set them up for a volley of pulse rifle fire.
      • Another human example: the flamethrower. In the 2001 game, it was incredibly effective against Aliens. In the 1999 and 2010 games, it makes them explode -- eventually. Until then, the Alien will continue trying to kill you -- while on fire.
  • Another crossover example is Jump Super Stars and its sequel. Massive quantities of power boosting must have happened for people like Naruto and Ryotsu (human beings), to fare with people like Goku and Seiya, and just to name a few, but in one way or another all of them are fighters (or are capable of fighting) in their respective series. The worst offenders worth mentioning are the supporting characters, mainly composed of comical/normal characters which in their series are not related to fighting at all. These are sports- or romance-themed, so it's kind of insane seeing cute girls tripping/falling over the aforementioned monsters and hurting them. It reaches plain unfair levels when some are unblackable and hard to dodge.
  • Almost any video game where a Marvel or DC character is in, even fighting games and beat'em ups, in which they can be beaten by the first mook on the first level. Justice League Heroes at least started the game with killer robots, and moved up from there.
    • JL Heroes at least Lampshaded it a bit with Supes' block animation. He sticks out his chest when you hit the button, and of course, enemy attacks do no damage as long as you hold it down.
    • The game based on Superman Returns actually gave Superman the kind of power seen in comics; he was functionally unkillable, it was the city that had the health meter you had to keep track of.
      • Superman: Shadow of Apokalips was very similar. You could be killed, but enemies did relatively little damage and you regenerated health constantly. But the moment a civilian died, you lost the level. In addition, many levels were based around preventing a disaster (sabotaged dam, volcano eruption, etc.), so that the risk from enemies was that they would slow you down rather than any risk that they would kill you.
    • Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is about this, because it brings up the question of who is really getting the creeps and seeps, there's Superman and Wonder Woman on DC's side, and Raiden and Scorpion on the Mortal Kombat side, superhumans and normal humans scattered across both. The final explanation is that the merging of the two worlds causes powers to strengthening some and weakening others. It gets lampshaded when, after The Joker defeats Sonya, Deathstroke asks in bewilderment, "Since when can you beat anybody?!" (The Joker promptly trashes him afterwards and then decides to use his newfound strength to defeat Batman. He does but then forgot the Bat's defining characteristic and got knocked out by a taser.)
      • As for Superman, remember that most of the Mortal Kombat cast are powered by magic - and Superman is weak when it comes to magic (which he remarks after receiving a normal kick from Scorpion in the story). Only Sonya Blade, Kano and Jax as well as the other DC characters barring Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel are non-magical, so only they really need the Hand Wave above to face off effectively against the Man of Steel.
  • The Super Robot Wars games at least partially do this out of necessity. Enemies that can survive an attack from the planet-busting Ideon can die to a missile barrage from a squad of Valkyries.
  • Many of the Disney characters suddenly developed Implausible Fencing Powers, magic, or Kung Fu of some sort to put them on equal combat ground with the main characters of Kingdom Hearts. It's slightly jarring (and very awesome) to see Mickey Mouse with a Yoda-like fighting ability while retaining the personality he's had for the the past 50 or 60 years.
    • Mind, Mickey's always been a badass, most of the shorts he's in where he's depicted this way are just usually shafted with american airings.
  • Super Smash Bros. is an example of most characters in the crossover having their power being taken up several notches. Except for Mewtwo, who is substantially weakened. This is justified in that the characters are supposed to be trophies and not the actual characters.
    • One of the examples of this is Rayquaza, one of the most powerful Pokémon in the series, being beaten by a monkey with a pop-gun.
    • Ike too. His Path of Radiance incarnation can literally kill a small army on his own out of pure unrealistic combat skill. In Brawl, an anorexic plumber with a Tennis racket is too much for him (and everyone else).
    • Also Ganondorf, whose sorcery was replaced with punches and kicks. Powerful punches and kicks, sure, but nothing like what he demonstrated in the The Legend of Zelda series. Worse, one of his taunts in Brawl involves him pulling out a cool-looking sword, only to promptly put it away. The official site tries to justify this by saying that Ganondorf's so confident in his hand-to-hand abilities, he believes he doesn't need the sword. This justification is promptly beaten to death when the King of Evil gets beaten by Jigglypuff. Another taunt, appearing in both Melee and Brawl, has his float in the air for a few seconds, but never in his off-stage recovery does this happen.
    • It isn't just power levels that changes, but size as well, with Kirby and Olimar (eight inches tall and the size of a fifty-cent piece respectively) increased in size. Ridley and Bowser in particular have been resized substantially from some of their original appearances.
      • A lot of attention to detail went into the character's sizes. The characters in Smash Bros. are supposed to be figurines of the actual characters ranging in size from about 3-8 inches tall. Most of the characters stay roughly in the same scale of about one foot to one inch, except where it would make the character so large or small that they would be unplayable (Olimar, Kirby). This is especially noticeable in Brawl's Pikmin stage, Distant Planet, in which the stage is on a 1:1 scale with the Pikmin world, with the inches-tall characters towering over the minuscule Onions and bouncing on the leaves.
    • The Ice Climbers. Everyone else exists in worlds where they could get the abilities or weapons they didn't originally have. Ice Climbers got cool freezing powers just because they were in a crossover.
    • Solid Snake can't even jump in Metal Gear's gameplay, but in Brawl, he can easily jump three times his height and fly with the assistance of a summoned Cypher (his enemies in his games), not to mention perform elegant suplexes, bend his spine almost all the way back... At least they have his normal jump cover a tiny distance, to show him being "realistic".
    • And there's also Ness and Lucas; they don't even have their own movesets in Brawl.
    • Everyone's held to the same swimming/drowning mechanics - even characters who can't swim, or conversely can't drown, such as Sonic and Charizard for the former, and Squirtle for the latter. At least it takes more for Squirtle to drown than for Charizard, but come on!
    • Samus is significantly weakened - she moves very slowly in the air (supposedly this was intentional, albeit via the logic of "her adventures take place in outer space, therefore she gets "floaty" controls because in space there is no gravity!"), and can only fire one blaster shot at a time. At least she does get a melee attack, something sorely lacking from her regular adventures.
    • Think about how chaotic battles would be if the type effectiveness system from the Pokémon games where in the Smash Bros. series. For some examples, Charizard would "faint" the moment he falls into a body of water, Wario's Bite wouldn't cause any damage to Lucario at all, and Jigglypuff would cower in fear from the large assortment of punches, kicks, and throws from the other characters. Luckily for the Pokémon (and their opponents, in some cases), the game mechanics aren't so strict.
      • Actually, it is used for the Pokemon Trainer. Its not at all noticeable with Squirtle (are there even any Grass-like attacks in that game...?) and Charizard (only three water-based attacks in the game, two of them being strictly knockback, the other one exclusive to Blue Pikmin), but it stands out with Ivysaur since there are a fuckton of fire attacks in the game! It doesn't help that Ivysaur is Difficult but Awesome as it is...
  • In the Nasuverse, supposedly even the strongest of the Hero Servants from Fate/stay night are just "1/4th of the power of the vampire Arcueid" from Tsukihime, according to the writers. However, in the fan Crossover Battle Moon Wars, the Servant Saber gets paired with the maid Kohaku, who proceeds to pump Saber up with all kinds of beneficial drugs power-ups to equalize things. This is the only one that's really explained however; Hisui the maid can match vampires as well for some reason.
    • Then there's the fact that Word of God states that any non-dead apostle Tsukihime character would be absolutely obliterated by a Servant. (Except for Aoko.) And even then, the stronger ones, such as Saber, could take down most of them. The villains at least get their power boosts explained...
      • It should be pointed out that when this is against an average Servant with an average noble phantasm. For example, Word of God also stated that Servant Caster could obliterate Aoko. Apparently, ancient witch from the era of gods > sorcery.
      • Said power boost is explained in Melty Blood itself; for some reason the presence of the Tatari/White Len projections is inducing powerups in the lesser characters such as the maids and Miyako. Why isn't exactly clear. In fact, in the Manga, Shiki uses his full killing intent on the maids by accident. His first shock is that his instincts triggered him to do so; his second was that they were fine after.
  • Any Dragon Ball video game that features Yajirobe as a non-Joke Character takes this trope to hilarious excess. He could neither fly nor use Ki Attacks in the show, but in at least one game this is compensated by throwing rocks from nowhere and flying by waving his legs around like he's paddling through water. He also gets Sword Beams in some games.
    • Other non-flight and/or non-ki attack characters in Dragonball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi do this as well, depends of the game. In the first one, everyone flies. in the second one, people who can't fly don't and instead fall down like rocks. In the third game they instead fall down slowly (Which is actually closer to in-series behavior), air jump (This isn't) and you can give them a Potara that allows flying.
    • And in a few where Mister Satan/Hercule makes an appearance, he has a jetpack and explosives.
  • In Little Big Planet's Metal Gear Solid themed expansion pack, Liquid Ocelot's plan is to flood LBP with pointless trophy levels so that he can be loved, and the Metal Gear itself is essentially beaten by a Sackboy with a paintball gun.
  • Danny Phantom always gets the short end of the stick in in the Nicktoons Unite! series. Nicktoons Unite gets around this with a game-long Plot Tailored to the Party (and even then he had to gain his abilities back), but then came Battle for Volcano Island, where he's stuck to throwing punches and shooting energy blasts. This got even worse in Attack of the Toybots which, outside of his Master Model areas, limits him to punching and using a goo gun (but so does everyone else) to the point that freaking Rocko can do as much damage as him. (Though at least that game justifies his weakness: Calamitous somehow managed to neutralise his ghost powers while leeching energy off the Ghost Zone to power his game-long Eternal Engine.) And then in Globs of Doom, he can generate temporary duplicates of himself... via gadgetry from the Hub Level, which is in the universe of Volcano Island. (Meanwhile, Dib developed implausible punching skills.)
  • Dengeki Gakuen RPG: Cross of Venus, being a crossover Action RPG, delivers a nerf bat to everyone and everything from Shakugan no Shana, To Aru Majutsu no Index and Asura Cryin' as well as to that good ol' psycho angel Dokuro-chan, and a buffing to just about everything pertaining to Toradora! (Yes, even Inko, who is a mook) and Kino's Journey. And most of the bosses are Evil Knockoffs of various characters, explaining their weakness (or in a few cases, strength) compared to the people they replicate.
    • At the same time though, it also averts power creeping with three plot characters: Index, Haruka and Misao aren't fighters in their canon and so they are not playable characters despite being in your party; instead, they are support characters who hold the cards usable in battle. They don't even have any in-battle sprites. (And hey, it fits Index's canon role.)
  • One example done due to the affected person being an Early-Bird Cameo Guest Fighter: Just from playing Soulcalibur IV back at its time of release, few would have guessed that Galen Marek is a Person of Mass Destruction in his own universe.
    • Another Soul Calibur example, Kratos is in the PSP version. Naturally he's pretending he can't kill them all with one punch by repeatedly punching them in the face as he did with Hercules and Zeus in God of War III.
  • This does not exist in Gundam Climax UC. If you try to take on Char's Counter Attack stage with a GM, expect the enemy grunts to take several shots before dying. And expect them to take off half your health bar with every shot.
  • It does, however, exist in just about every other Gundam crossover game. Especially noticeable in those that contain the Turn A and Turn X, both of which, canonically speaking, should be able to turn any other mobile suit into dust (literally). Expect to see them beaten by such things as the RX-78-2 or Char's Zaku II.
  • Although the storylines try to keep everything making sense (Yukari was just messing around, Sanae wasn't taking Cirno seriously, etc.), this is a continuous problem in the Touhou fighting Gaiden Games, with all of the playable characters (twenty, as of Hisoutensoku) relatively equal in gameplay despite their gargantuan power differences. The best example of Power Creep is Cirno, a little ice fairy that, while suggested to be fairly powerful for the setting, has to seriously struggle to hold her own against one of the protagonists is a fair fight. And the cast is taken almost entirely from characters on the protagonist's level or higher. On the other end of the scale is Yukari, the boss of the series' only Phantasm stage and generally considered to be the single most powerful character. Nothing stops you from beating up Yukari with Cirno aside from needing to link Hisoutensoku and Hisouten.
    • Then again, justified by the existence of the spellcard system, which forbids them from using their true powers and instead forces them to rely on lesser abilities, balanced against each other. There's still a difference, but with good enough tactics it is possible for weaker characters to win (as evidenced in Imperishable Night, since protagonists are equivalent to level 4 bosses, and they do take down level 6 bosses regularly).
    • Cirno's case is Fridge Brilliance on its own. She controls coldness and we first met her at the Misty Lake as a stage 2 boss and later in a winter land as a stage 1 midboss even. The misty lake is cold, winter wonderland is even colder. Later we fight her in places like a forest, a sunny mountain and a NUCLEAR FUSION REACTOR, all places much warmer. Her Power Level is directly proportional to the warmth around her and besides that she also had some years time to train her abilities.
  • While one could see Cardcaptor Sakura's eponymous character matching the other mages in Magical Battle Arena power-wise, it's a little harder to imagine her being able to take hits as well as renowned members of a multi-dimension spanning police force or veteran adventurers of a fantasy world considering how she kinda has the durablity of an ordinary elementary school student.
  • In Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, Amazing Spider-Man takes out The Juggernaut in a fistfight. It's Handwaved by suggesting that the power of the Tablet Fragment is messing with Juggy's Gem of Cyttorak-given power.
  • Various characters in the Mario and Sonic At The Olympic Games series. For example, in his main series, Sonic the Hedgehog is referred to as "the world's fastest supersonic hedgehog", capable of running above the speed of sound without breaking a sweat. In the Olympic Games series, though he is still one of the fastest characters in terms of top speed, his other attributes are reduced to better balance him with the other characters.
  • The Super Mario Bros. spin-offs have this a lot. In the main series, Yoshi can only run faster than Luigi when someone is riding him. If not, he's just as fast as Mario, which is still Super Speed, but not as fast as Luigi. Mario, in the main series, is perfectly capable of lifting a castle and throwing it to the side, but is the Jack of All Stats in the spin-offs.
  • Defense of the Ancients does this with a lot of the crossover heroes. One of the most notable examples, Lina Inverse, can unmake creation with her Laguna Blade, which only does 1250 damage in-game. (Which, to be fair, is a lot of damage.)
  • In Asura's Wrath, one DLC has Asura facing off against Street Fighter's very own Ryu and Akuma and their respective Super-Powered Evil Side Evil Ryu and Oni. It's a pretty cool idea, except for the fact that, in his own game, Asura is so overwhemlingly strong that's he's above Capcom characters like the Darkstalkers series or the Okami series as one of the strongest characters made with Capcom's name attached to it.
    • In said DLC Ryu survives being punched all the way to the moon from Earth, Evil Ryu moves a mountain sized landmass and the battle with Akuma/Oni destroys the moon!
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha As Portable: The Gears of Destiny threw in various justifications to explain why characters from different currently running installments of the franchise have roughly the same power levels when they shouldn't. Specifically, the Time Travel caused a malfunction on Thoma's Tome of the Silver Cross to explain why he can't just Anti-Magic his way through the unprepared cast, Vivio and Einhart are being greatly assisted by their Devices to explain why they could fly here when they couldn't in their series, and Reinforce Eins is slowly dying by this point to explain the nerfing she got in the game.
  • In the third Warriors Orochi game, Ryu Hayabusa of Ninja Gaiden joins the cast in their quest to defeat the Hydra. He accompanies them as they travel through different moments in time when the Hydra strike desperately trying to discover a way to beat the seemingly unstoppable monster. Thing is though Ryu in his own game series has fought and beaten numerous giant abominations all by himself and the Hydra really shouldn't have been that big a deal for him to handle by his lonesome.

Web Original

  • The inevitable fate of Always-Powerful-On-His-Own-But-Gets-His-Ass-Kicked-In-Crowd-Scenes Boy of the Legion of Net.Heroes.


Western Animation

  • Mostly averted in the Batman/Superman crossover episode "World's Finest." The Joker sets up a kryptonite-filled death trap for Supes and Batman has to race over there to rescue him. Later, Lex Luthor sends a Killer Robot after Bats and all he can do is stall for time until Superman stomps it. Generally Superman used more brute strength while Batman used tactics and gadgets to survive.
    • The DVD Commentary points out that the animators would sometimes let Batman fly to his next destination. He has a cape, and as we all know, anyone with a cape can fly. Naturally those animations had to be redone.
    • Batman himself is the subject of this throughout the DCAU's time line. In BTAS he was actually slowed down by mooks, in The New Batman Adventures he only had to pause for high level super villains, by Justice League he was the most competent member and by JLU he was less of a man and more of a walking Deus Ex Machina.
    • Worth noting the DCAU Superman is at relatively sane levels of power. The kinetic impact of gunfire (from something high-powered like a minigun anyway) and missiles can knock him back, he struggles to pick up particularly heavy objects, his super-speed is somewhat downplayed, he requires a supply of oxygen in space or underwater, etc etc.
    • Justice League makes this trope into an art-form. Obviously, Superman would upstage everyone else due to his powers, while the others are fairly mis-matched; this leaves the writers playing havoc with the power-meter in order to keep all the characters represented evenly. Typically, this takes more than a few contrived situations which play to the weaker character's strengths and the stronger one's weaknesses.
    • The Flash, too. His speed should make him literally untouchable, but he's always being tripped up by people who to him should look like they're moving underwater. For instance, he fought off a alternate-universe Superman by casually dodging punches and then throwing him out a window, only to then be too surprised to dodge when Supes throws a piece of furniture at him from several yards away.
    • Throughout the DCAU, this is Handwaved by some heroes: specifically The Flash and Superman. Flash intentionally seeps speed in races, as in the comics, because "those were for charity". Superman meanwhile takes hits "so the others don't have to." Basically, they aren't trying, even though failure might mean somebody dies. The other heroes, *cough* Martian Manhunter *cough*, have no such excuse.
  • With some of the various "vs" cartoons-- most notably with the "David v. Goliath" type matches-- to prevent outright mis-matches.
  • In Darkwing Duck, The Liquidator had extensive control over water - he could spontaneously generate it, change its temperature, and turn it into "hard water" (a yellow glue-like substance), and his body was entirely fluid. After his one solo appearance, his water temperature changing and hard water abilities vanished and his other abilities were scaled back.
    • In all honesty, they had to. Liquidator's very nature makes him Nigh Invulnerable, barring having his oxygen and hydrogen atoms being separated. And after someone that strong has been defeated once, you'll never see him as the super-being he was before.
      • The lowered powers also dodge a very pesky piece of Fridge Logic, namely that Liquidator could have just boiled Darkwing alive by heating the 70% water content of his body otherwise. Then you wouldn't have much of a show, at least not one Disney would have ever allowed for an afternoon kids' cartoon.
  • In a crossover between the '90s Spider-Man cartoon and X-Men cartoon, this is highlighted in a scene where Spidey winds up fighting Danger Room Sentinels.

 Storm: Power of Lightning, strike again!

Spider-Man: Power of Webshooters, gets real sticky?

Notes

  1. covering the Frieza Saga, with extra characters like Future Trunks
  2. A Decade-original Super Mode on top of the normal Super Mode of Kamen Rider Kuuga that was considered too powerful in its own series, where Kuuga was having to hold himself back to avoid being a Destructive Savior when he got the form before standard Ultimate. If you told anyone in Kuuga proper, including the hero himself, that a "Rising Ultimate Kuuga" was possible, a change of pants would be involved.
  3. Himself Power Creep'd in the movie, having won over every other Rider in the tournament at the beginning, even beating three at once fairly easily. He can't do that in the show.
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