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"There's a Super Saiyan Three now?"
—Master Roshi, Dragonball Z

In the endless rounds of My Kung Fu Is Stronger Than Yours, there will eventually come a time when one's self-directed training (or lack thereof) will no longer prove sufficient to the task. The character must then find a Mentors who will help him tap into his inner strength and develop new and more powerful attacks. This invariably requires multiple rounds of Training From Hell, or a difficult quest (which is the same thing disguised as a trip).

This is the usual manner in which a character will learn how to perform Ki Attacks.

Sometimes done in a flashback to surprise the viewer.

Compare So Last Season and Super Empowering. See also Full Potential Upgrade when a character's weapons or tools have to be powered-up along with the character. For their first fight afterwards see Look What I Can Do Now!

Examples of Time to Unlock More True Potential include:


Anime and Manga

  • Both Ranma and Ryoga in Ranma 1/2 turn to the Chinese Amazon matriarch Cologne for advanced training.
  • Dragon Ball and Dragonball Z take this to dizzying levels; anyone more than a century old and not evil will either impart new techniques or glow eerily, increasing the main characters' strength either way.
    • Gohan sorta embodies this trope in the Dragon Ball world since he is the one with the most "hidden powers."
  • Bleach is made of this trope -- Ichigo turning to the Vizard for training as well as Orihime training with Rukia and Chad training with Urahara and Renji are the most standard examples. You could also say that when a Shingami achieves Ban-Kai by training with the spirit of their swords it is a variation of this trope as the sword teaches them how to unlock their true power. Then to defeat Aizen, Ichigo unlocks even more true power by training to learn the Final Getsuga Tensho.
  • Rurouni Kenshin's Kyoto Arc features Kenshin returning to the Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryū master he ran away from years ago, in order to learn the succession technique that will help him defeat the main villain of the arc. This training also features psychological Training From Hell: Kenshin, a pacifist, must kill his master in order to learn the Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki. He doesn't (kill him, that is; though that's only due to his reverse-bladed sword, which did much less lethal injury than if he had used a sharp-edged one, as all his predecessors' did. Even then, the only reason his master didn't die is because one of the stay-pins in the sword's hilt was so loose that the blade was on the verge of falling out).
  • Mahou Sensei Negima: Negi's Training From Hell with Vampire Evangeline, complete with a Year Inside, Hour Outside bottle containing an enchanted resort. This is hardly the only instance, either.
    • He does it again with Jack Rakan, learning Black Magic. And he's going through this again with Pseudo-Eva, to get the Black Magic under control.
  • Naruto has this happen often for the main character, especially in Shippuuden. After he returns from a three-year-long training trip, does some more training, after which he gets to do some extra special training -- and that's when the real training starts.
  • Black Star does this by going to Japan to train after a series of defeats. It works wonders. Maka and Soul, by contrast, have always taken the more direct approach, whereas Kid got his forcibly and briefly unlocked because no time was available.
  • In the anime adaptation for Katekyo Hitman Reborn, the Vongola are sent back to the present twice to go through some trials.
  • Inverted in Kojirō Hyūga's case during the World Youth arc of Captain Tsubasa: until then, he unlocked more potential thanks to his mentor Kozo Kira's help, but in this arc Kira told him he had nothing more Hyūga could learn from him, and that he needed to hone his skills by himself. Cue Hyūga going hermit in the mountains for a Training From Hell session, in which he gained his new destructive Raiju Shoot.
  • Luffy and Zoro of One Piece went off to do this during the two-year Time Skip after the Impel Down arc. Luffy went off to train his Haki with Silvers Raleigh and Zoro went to train with Dracule Mihawk. The other characters went off to either Take Levels of Badass in their own way or on other escapades.
  • Magical Girl example: In Heartcatch Pretty Cure, Tsubomi and friends had to do this twice. The first was after the Desert Generals gained their Deadly Upgrade, and the second was after the Big Bad Dune curbstomped them in a battle.
  • Samurai Deeper Kyo. Oh my God. SO made of it, that they don't even try to make it logic. The protagonist is trapped into the body of his worst enemy, that they both share (long history, read the manga), but he's still strong as hell. Then he is surpassed and taken down... and suddenly he gets up, shouts something like "I remembered how this body fights!" and proceeds to kick his foe's ass. After some point, EVERY fight has this. Every character, sometimes more than once during the same battle if it's a long one, gets another upgrade by The Power of Love, The Power of Friendship, the awakening of their hidden power, the pursue of their true convictions (even when they know that their acts are evil)... Man, even the bad guys get their upgrades this way, during the very same battle that the good guys!

Film

Literature / Gamebooks

  • Lone Wolf of the eponymous gamebook series. Whenever he reaches what is believed to the maximum Kai rank of any given series (Kai, Magnakai, and Kai Grand Master), he sets about mastering the new level's skills, as well as enhancing his repetoire with unrelated combat skills (Magi-Magic and Kai-alchemy, for instance). In normal play, this keeps the reader from merely skating through the books using all of the accrued skills from previous series.

Live Action TV

  • Juken Sentai Gekiranger has this in spades, with the three core Rangers finding three additional masters (one each) to unlock their new weapons and mecha, then three more masters to access their Super Mode. Even the villains get in on the act, with the Big Bad seeking out three of his own masters to train him in the ways of evil. Finally, when the ultimate mecha -- SaiDaiOh -- is found, it sprinkles everyone with Applied Phlebotinum to -- and this is stated -- "unlock their true potential".
    • Its American counterpart, Power Rangers Jungle Fury, kept much of this (the Rhino Steelzord didn't come with any True Potential Fairy Dust™, however, which is just as well - the Rangers didn't seem stronger in later episodes. However, after trying and failing to awaken it, Dai Shi, the bad guy, realized he could now perfectly wield the technique he'd been trying to learn for the past several episodes.)

Mythology

  • Older Than Print: The mythical Celtic hero Cúchulainn's training under the immortal warrior woman Scathach conforms pretty closely to this trope.
  • Ubiquitous in Chinese legends and folklores, to the point that some mythical figures have this as their entire story. The trainer were almost always humans who have transcended human limitations, or outright supernatural beings. Even the Monkey King (of whom Son Goku was loosely based on) had met his matches -- and he used to lead an army that could match the legions of Heavens.

Video Games

  • Claus from Tales of Phantasia never gets any ability aside from making pacts with summons. By the half of the game, you need to gather 4 elementals for him to progress the game. Other summons in the future aside from Origin are totally optional.
  • Link from Zelda II the Adventure of Link learns new magic and sword skills from wise men living in the hidden parts of towns. The Minish Cap also have Link meets multiple mentors that teaches him new sword techniques. And Twilight Princess has Link learn special attacks from the Hero's Shade.
  • Inverted in Inazuma Eleven, where some of the team members rely on finding new techniques from manuals early on too much that the rest has to remind them that they can also win if they try hard on their own.

Web Original

  • Buttlord GT makes fun of Dragonball Z, and contains this gem of a line: "My true power is more true and more powerful than yours!"

Western Animation

  • In Teen Titans, Robin heads to a monastery to get some more martial arts training from "the True Master". But first, he undergoes a Secret Test of Character to see if he is worth training with the True Master. After fighting three or four Guardians and the Student Who Didn't Get It, he only then begins the actual training just as the episode fades to black. The test, which involved chasing after a MacGuffin, was just a lure to get him up the mountain.
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