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"Anyone who resists is just a human, and therefore doesn't deserve to live."
Threshold, Dv8 #1

In a world with Differently Powered Individuals, what use are Muggles? We're weak, need protecting, are evolutionary dead ends and are of no real use. Even the Badass Normal on a team of supers can start getting depressed from this, and they are actually useful!

This usually serves as a motivation for individuals and groups who decide to "do something about it" rather than take it lying down.

Option 1: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

Much like a super-power groupie, these people will try to get super powers by mimicking their betters, often at great risk by trying to replicate how heroes get their powers. If enough people get this idea, or the government gets behind it, then it becomes a case of Utopia Justifies the Means. This can include organ theft, free Super Serum, cyber augmentations half off, and in general making Emergency Transformations routine medical procedures. Interestingly, though this group means well, anyone aspiring to power (even if they want to share it) is inevitably misguided if not outright evil, because a muggle should Never Be a Hero. The route of Badass Normal seems to have much better odds, on the other hand.

Option 2: If you can't join 'em, kill 'em!

These people usually come to this conclusion by adding some paranoia (justified or not) to Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke and naturally born supers are out-pacing mundanes. They interpret the "obsolescence" of baseline humans as an edict to kill all mutants/psychics/witches in an "Us or Them" fashion, fearing that supers will either forcibly take over or replace all humans. These types are usually spurred on by the villains attempts to do just that, and end up branding all supers as threats. Previously nice supers, in turn, will interpret this xenophobia as cause to exterminate or enslave all humans... This is usually the fear behind any Super Registration Act. Typically accomplished by calling the Cape Busters.

Whether the story chooses to address the underlying insecurity or not varies. When it does, it usually justifies baseline human's existence with a nice aesop like: our limitations drive us to excel, only humans can truly create, a world of all supers would devolve into planetary civil war (like we normals have done such a good job keeping peace without supers)... or, that we're so fundamentally bad that only a handful should have these powers, if at all. Since super-powered heroes are usually the focus of these stories, it's not rare to see a perfectly sensible initiative by the government to have its own supers, either to stop supervillains or to stop a hero if he should go rogue, turned into paranoid and militant strawmen bent on killing all heroes on the off chance of a super powered Social Darwinist takeover.

Post Cyber Punk stories that include The Singularity often have conflicts between humans and post-humans. Earlier stories had Mutants on higher Evolutionary Levels that likewise were generally incapable of coexisting with their predecessors.

An interesting variation has the supers be vampires, werewolves, aliens, or some other "bad" race... or outright evil race. In which case those wanting power (or unwillingly transformed) are prone to Transhuman Treachery.

Sometimes this trope is unsure what to do with a Badass Normal.

Opposite of Comes Great Responsibility.

Compare What Measure Is a Mook?, Ape Shall Never Kill Ape and Pro-Human Transhuman. A Sub-Trope of Fantastic Racism.

Examples of Muggle Power include:

Anime and Manga

  • The manga eV from James Farr seems to be experimenting with this somewhat. The main character was exposed to a serum that turns her into something approaching theity in terms of power...but only after the previous 77 candidates for receiving the serum had been murdered by fearful religious zealots.
  • Darker than Black shows the few humans aware of Contractors having a "if you can't beat 'em, employ them" attitude, with the majority of the Contractors being aggressively headhunted and employed as human weapons 'special operatives' by various national security agencies like MI 6, the CIA, or by the mysterious criminal 'syndicate' that employs Hei. It eventually turns out that all these agencies are part of a single conspiracy to wipe contractors clean off the face of the Earth. This led to the formation of a La Résistance-style group determined to wall off the Gates so that the Contractor-genocide wouldn't be possible, even though they would have wiped out all of Japan in the process. Hei does not approve of either option.
  • A Certain Magical Index is a more limited example. Academy City is essentially filled with superpowered kids (espers) for purposes on educating and training them on the use of their powers in one centralized location. However, their powers are ranked on a scale of 0 to 5, with level 0s basically being normal humans since their powers are so weak. Level 0s are sometimes considered social outcasts and tend to be bullied by more powerful espers. This leads many level 0s to try and find a way to boost their powers, even if such methods are morally questionable.
    • Explored further in A Certain Scientific Railgun in the Level Upper arc, in which the eponymous Level Upper is making its way into the hands of Level 0s, allowing them to temporarily gain abilities (or increase the level of ability users) at the cost of eventual comatose.
    • It has to be noted, however, that Level 0s are potentially even weaker than normal humans, as they do not possess any esper powers, and are additionally incapable of using magic.
      • Not quite accurate, an esper can increase his level by training (while there are some inherently broken powers, most of the time the level is related to how good/creative a person is at controlling his powers), there are however some people labeled as 0's because their skills simply can't be measured (for example Touma, the main character, whose power is to cancel other's powers and while it is implied that there's a limit to what he can nullify, finding out would kill him since he already counters abilities strong enough to kill a person).
    • Skill-Out is a gang of level 0s who lead attacks on espers. They claim it is for revenge and to defend themselves against the bullying espers, but Touma and other call them out on attacking espers who don't do anything wrong and the occasional muggle bystander.
  • S-Cry-ed, basically the Japanese take on X-Men.
  • Gundam Seed does the second option: there are a group of Naturals (unmodified humans) known as Blue Cosmos who seek to eradicate Coordinators (genetically-enhanced humans) because they believe they're "impure". In fact, Blue Cosmos' motto is "For a Blue And Pure World". Their actions have started two massive wars because of this. Not bad for a group that started out as an environmental protection group!

Comic Books

  • The X-Men are forced to deal with this all the time. If it's not the Brotherhood of Mutants trying to "save mutants" by using terrorism, then it's a radical human group trying to exterminate all mutants, or a radical human group trying to harvest mutant organs or just opportunists wanting to enslave mutants as mindless workers or SuperSoldiers.
    • Before House of M, there was a movement among humans calling themselves the U-Men who believed they could become greater than mutants by harvesting and grafting mutant body parts onto themselves. Among the list of parts taken are the eyes of a kid with x-ray vision, the wings off a flying mutant girl, and even keeping a kid with electric powers imprisoned to use blood transfusions from him to gain powers.
    • The X-Men themselves have flirted with this during the Decimation event. After "M-Day," no more mutants can be born, and the X-Men have dedicated all their resources to finding a way to change that. The thing is, they can still have children, they just won't be mutants. The X-Men see it as heroically striving to prevent the extinction of mutants; in practice, it means they're literally moving heaven and earth to ensure their children won't be born as *gasp* normal humans.
    • This has become a major case of Broken Aesop over the course of the various comics in the X-Men family. A great many storylines have revolved around some awesomely powerful evil mutant(s) openly threatening the world and scaring the heck out of the general population. Sure, the X-teams usually manage to stop whoever it is, but not before the landscape as been chewed up a bit. While the mutants are meant to be seen sympathetically by the readers, given the circumstances humanity's fear of mutants actually seems very rational, in particular since the power level of mutant villains seems to always be increasing.
  • Supreme Power spends several issues with Mark, aka Hyperion, mulling over how he and other supers like the Blur fit inside of normal society's rules. His conclusion? They don't. They are outside the system. The fact that this is dangerously close to the ethos followed by his Evil Counterpart Michael Redstone doesn't seem to occur to him. This line of thought is not helped by the U.S. government setting a trap with six Daisy Cutter bombs in an underground base for fear of him.
  • One of the earlier examples of this trope, Badass Normal Hawkeye decided that a quiver full of trick arrows wasn't enough, and started using Hank Pym's old Giant-Man gear to become the first Goliath. He eventually went back to his Hawkeye persona, but has occasionally donned the Goliath suit on a situational basis.
  • Top Ten takes a rather unique approach to this problem. The Prequel The Forty-Niners explain that after the allies won World War Two, they build a city and relocated all the Superhumans, Badass Normals and Mad Scientists who survived the war there.

Steve "Jetlad" Traynor: Th-This is nuts. Everybody's a science-hero! I mean, this will never work, the government, this whole relocation thing, it's just...
Leni "Sky Witch" Muller: The war's over, mein junge, and now nobody wants us living next door to them.

  • Alan Moore's Miracleman/Marvelman was one of the first to use this trope. The government-created supers turn out to be too powerful for the government's liking, so it tries to kill them all. It doesn't work, and the supers and aliens take over the world for its own good. Eventually, everyone is offered the chance to become superhuman. There is some musing on some fundamental humanity that they have lost in becoming superhuman.
  • PS238 had a government-funded "Project Rainmaker" in its backstory; it was trying to study metahumans to find out what made them different from normal people and possibly use this knowledge for the benefit of the US government. It got wrecked by the metahuman it was experimenting on.
  • The first version was averted with American Dream. She idolized Captain America and decided to ask superheroes for training to become one (of the Badass Normal type). It worked.
  • Zenith uses this extensively in its backstory. In the end, it turns out that the fear was dead-on, and they really did need to Beware the Superman, with a handful of exceptions.
  • Although not really part of this trope, Gwen Stacy, in her introduction into Ultimate Spider-Man, asks this very question, making a Rousing Speech about where the line is drawn on superpowers; how is being able to shoot blasts from your eyes different from having a photographic memory, or being really good at math? The Ultimate Universe is prone to playing this trope straight, as well.
    • Ultimate X-Men has a similar exchange during Brian K. Vaughun's run; as two police officers investigate the murder of a young mutant (probably the Ultimate equivalent of Marrow), one of them makes a comment on the nature of mutants. The other officer says that she was born with a thirteenth rib, and asks if that makes her a mutant.
      • One bit that happened during one X-men storyline where a Mutant Registration Act was being proposed...again...but having Congress stop dead in its tracks in enacting it when they were quietly informed that a significant number of Representatives and Senators themselves were mutants, possessing assorted weak abilities capable of unconsciously influencing people which had, unknowingly, given them the advantage when they'd become politicians.
  • IDW's Transformers series uses this trope as well. When the Decepticons were recouping from Megatron's apparent death, the Autobots were being hunted by Skywatch, a government group that acquired Cybertronian technology. While Skywatch eventually comes on somewhat friendly terms with the Autobots, a new group known as Earth's Children rises up, wishing for the removal of all Transformers, and apparently headed by a really Smug Snake. Who turns out to be a facsimile for Swindle to stir conflict and make a market for him.
  • Some comics in the Marvel Universe speculate Society Is to Blame for Muggle Power. Super-heroes are extraordinary people with amazing abilities and dedicate their lives to improving the world around them, so normal humans feel weak and selfish by comparison. The Kingpin ties this into I Just Want to Be Normal and Tall Poppy Syndrome in "The Reason You Suck" Speech in Ultimate Spider-Man #80.

The Kingpin: They, "society," hate you because they don't want your help. You remind them of how weak-willed and sheep-like and unspecial they are. How gleeful they are, deep down, to be ordinary. They don't want heroes. They don't want special people around them. Because if there are special people and they aren't one of them— well, who wants that? Who wants a constant reminder that they aren't even trying to be special? See, the difference between you and I is that you really are just a child. You benefit from the wide-eyed optimism of youth. I do envy that, somewhat. But... like many of your decisions in life... it's just naive. And I don't envy that harsh cold slap of reality that will come your way soon enough. But I guess it's inevitable. People don't want to be special. I do think that.It is my philosophy. They— people want to be told what to do and how to live and they want men like me to tell them. They want to go to work and do as little as they can possibly get away with, and they want a big cookie at the end of the day for doing it. And they want men like me to give it to them.



  • The Paladins in Jumper seem to be hunting down the eponymous teleporting mutants mostly because they're too powerful to be permitted to exist.
    • It's more that the jumpers are different and different is bad. Those guys need to watch more Sesame Street.
  • Syndrome takes both options in The Incredibles, reacting to what he sees as a snub by his hero for all the wrong reasons. Buddy was endangering himself and Mr. Incredible by being an untrained and self-appointed "sidekick," but Buddy misinterpreted it as being rejected because he had no superpowers. So, when Buddy grows up, he puts all his Gadgeteer Genius ability into making weapons and gear that allows him to be a genuine threat, enacting a vendetta on all super-abled people out of petty revenge, and then saying that he would sell his weaponry openly, making it so "if everyone is super, then no one will be."
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe in general puts a spotlight on this trope in various degrees. What stands out the most, arguably, is found in Captain America: Civil War, given how the gulf between normal humans and superpowered people are among the driving conflicts in the film. A villainous example is also found in Helmut Zemo, a Sokovian spec-ops officer with no powers whatsoever, succeeding in taking down the Avengers where Loki failed.


  • The Dreamers from Eric Nylund's Pawn's Dream treat non-Dreamer human life as pretty much worthless. The hero is lured into their schemes by one of them shooting his co-worker just to get his attention.
  • Much of the conflict in the Wild Cards books revolves around the complex relationship between Aces (the fortunate few with powers but no major deformities), Jokers (those mutated but with little or no powers) and Nats ("Naturals", i.e. Muggles).
  • The Puritan post-apocalyptic society in John Wyndham's The Chrysalids exterminates all mutations on sight... and 99% of them are totally harmless with stuff like 6 toes or blue skin. At the end of the book, their fanatical attitude is used to justify their extermination by a group of genuinely superpowered mutants, and this is treated as a good thing by the book.
    • We must have read different books, because when I read it, that was not treated like a good thing at all, with other mutants showing up and killing all the fanatics. With their helicopter. Yeah.
      • I think he means the people in the helicopter are the genuinely superpowered mutants.
  • The third story in the Infinity's Prism collection of Star Trek novels has an Alternate Universe wherein Khan Noonien Singh won the Eugenics Wars. He then proceeded to create The Empire, which subjugated the rest of the Trek 'verse. The story concerns "Princeps" Julian Bashir of the Defiance (who is also genetically enhanced in the "normal" universe) finding the Botany Bay. In the TOS episode Space Seed, the Bay carried Khan and his followers, but in this universe, it carried regular humans on the run from the Wars. Does What Measure Is a Non Super ensue? Oh, yeah.
  • In the CoDominium universe, the genetically engineered Saurons consider unenhanced humans "cattle".
  • In Nick Kyme's Warhammer 40,000 novel Salamander, the Marines Malevolent express shock that the Salamanders are threatening to fire on fellow Space Marines to protect a few Mechanicus survivors. The Salamanders don't flinch.
  • The House of Night books have Option 2. Churches decide that vampyres are sinners and start killing teachers at Zoey's school. Neferet, the head of the school, decides to wage war against them.
  • Odd John justifies this trope, arguing that superhumans would see ordinary humans the same way we would see most animals. The title character even says that he sees the narrator as a 'pet'. Apparently, none of the superintelligent mutants in the book are animal-rights activists.
  • Most of the conflict in Nancy Kress's "Beggars" trilogy revolves around this trope.
  • Skinned by Robin Wasserman contains A LOT of this, especially the second book Crashed. Lia Kahn gets in a car accident and is uploaded into a new body. Rejected by society, she moves in with rebel Jude and his gang. Jude believes that people, or "orgs", are weak and need their bodies to survive, whereas he, a mech, can do anything. Mechs have ceramic bones and titanium skulls, their bodies heal instantly, and they never tire or need food. All they are required to do is shut down occasionally and back up their memories in case their bodies are destroyed.
  • Worlds of Shadow used the Warhammer 40K approach to psychics. Not because they were actually dangerous, mind you, but because the society that had them considered them "mutant freaks."
  • In Gone (novel), the Human Crew is a group of "normals" who go with option 2.

Live Action TV

  • Heroes has The Company, a group with the ostensibly good goal of keeping tabs on all super powered individuals and helping them cope with their powers to protect the general public and maintain a Masquerade... which, thanks to evil/incompetent bosses, has devolved to the point of doing Bag and Tag's of all heroes they can find with a complimentary mind wipe, and killing those deemed "too dangerous to exist"... unless they're Sylar.
    • And all the villains they have in storage that got released in season 3 as yet another Idiot Plot, despite Company's willingness to kill much more decent people in the pursuit of stability.
    • The Company is only a partial example- while they do have a lot of muggle members, they have plenty of superpowered members too, and are in fact run by a group of superhumans, several of whom are actually pretty sinister.
    • In volume 4 the Company is replaced with a government organization meant to capture all people with abilities - except Nathan, who started it. His claim is that he's doing it because people with abilities are too dangerous to be left running around, which would be more convincing if he didn't target his own well meaning allies and a guy who can breathe underwater. Rather than concentrating his attentions on say, Sylar. Again.
    • Volume 5 flips it around from the other side, with Magneto-esque Big Bad Samuel who doesn't seem to give a damn about the lives of Muggles and periodically secretly arranges their deaths to further his agenda. On the other hand, his agenda seems to be to try to create a sanctuary for superpowered humans to live free of persecution. On the other other hand, doing so seems to involve getting in bed with, you guessed it, Sylar again.
  • The 4400 has Jordan Collier's faction. By the end of the series, he has no problem with mass promicin injections (the chemical that was used to give the 4400 super powers). This might be fine, if it weren't for that 50% casualty rate. Disturbingly enough, he may be right.
  • Painkiller Jane was part of an organization who worked to find and "chip" all Neuros—even the ones who never did anything. Jane is the only superhuman member of the group, and even that's only allowed because she's not technically a Neuro.
    • Jane lampshades the injustice, but can't really do anything about it because she would most likely be executed for disobedience. She was shanghaied into joining the organization because she was seen as useful.
    • Before the series was canceled, it is revealed that chipping a second-generation Neuro like Jane does nothing; at least, it did not work on the Chameleon.
  • In The X-Files, no one even believes mutants and monsters exist (other than those 2 nobodies working out of the basement whom no one takes seriously), and 90% of them are psychotic spree killers who get killed by the end of the episode anyway. This is a damn shame, as they'd be one HELL of an advantage for the Earth Home Team when that Alien Invasion finally hits.
  • On Babylon 5, a lot of mundanes dislike telepaths. Including a group who builds a virus to kill all telepaths. And the Telepath war is a major part of continuity.
    • The Psi Corps Trilogy novels reveal that, when the existence of telepaths became public knowledge, many telepaths were lynched simply for fear of having this ability. This is even after the Pope proclaimed that telepaths are still children of God and should not be harmed, although one Italian mobster does let a card-cheating telepath live because of this in exchange for help in catching other cheaters.
  • An episode of That's So Raven had psychic teens who called it "the Normie Problem". In the end, of course, they learn that the greatest power of all is The Power of Friendship.
  • In Andromeda the Nietzscheans consider humans worthless - and the Knights of Genetic Purity consider the Nietzscheans (and all others with genetic mods) an abomination.
    • Not that this is not entirely unjustified, given that it was the Nietzscheans who were responsible for the fall of the Commonwealth.
      • Except that, according to their ideology, Hunt himself is an abomination, as his mother was a genetically-engineered Heavyworlder.
  • In Star Trek, we had Eugenic Wars between genetically engineered and other humans, leading to genetic augmentation becoming a forbidden technique. They apparently got over this in later years; genetic modification for mundane purposes (correcting congenital defects, for example) is perfectly okay, but physical and mental augmentation is still illegal.
    • In Star Trek: Enterprise, we find out that part of the problem is that the Augment process seems to create musclebound sociopaths. We also discover that the Denobulans used the technology without problems.
    • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Founder Changelings derogatorily call all non-shape-shifters "solids" and struggle to either control or destroy them. This in turn was caused by Changelings being hunted by other species in the past because of their abilities (in "Shadowplay" we see such attitude). Even those Changelings who do not belong to Dominion (like Laas) actually think very little of "solids".
  • The Watcher's Council is basically a group of Muggles who got together and decided that they and they alone were going to be in charge of the fight against evil, and they employ and monitor various agents (the most important of which being the Slayer) in their fight. The fact that most of them are incompetent dullards and piss-poor mages (which still qualifies as Muggledom, as most everyone in the Buffyverse is capable of magic) doesn't seem to occur to anyone until Buffy comes along.
    • Meanwhile, the Initiative is basically a government-run version without the shitty mages. It fails even more than the Watcher's Council, who are destroyed by a single psychotic preacher using a bomb.
  • The Hunters in Highlander the Series are renegade members of The Watchers who want every Immortal dead.
  • One of the conflicts in season 10 of Smallville is the political implications of superpowered individuals, which culminates in Congress passing the Vigilante Registration Act in an emergency session. Of course, the real movers and shakers behind it are Darkseid's followers, who are trying to take the Justice League out of the equation. The act is eventually repealed.

Tabletop Games

  • In Aberrant, Novas refer to non-Nova humans as "baselines", which technically is just a scientific term for their inability to become a Nova, but is treated as derogatory. Baselines usually fall within two camps: adoring fans or xenophobic champions of genetic purity. Since there's actually no way of telling whether a particular human is able to erupt (become a Nova) or not, a small minority try to provoke their eruption in various ways. Since lethal hazards can give you powers to survive those hazards, you can imagine how they go about this.
    • It turns out the Muggles DO have something to fear from the Novas - the use of Quantum powers eventually mutates them into dramatically inhuman Aberrants, who form the primary enemy for its predecessor, Trinity. Oddly enough, the heroes in Trinity are, themselves, no longer Muggles - they're powerful psychics, instead.
  • In the titular continent-sized Monster Town of Mortasheen, humans are treated like lab rats by the mutants and monsters that inhabit the city, sometimes as test subjects, sometimes as pets and sometimes as food. of course, this is slightly subverted by the fact that nobody inside the city is really bothered by this, including the humans themselves, as they see it as "just the way things go". Some humans will even volunteer themselves for experiments in the hopes of getting a more powerful form.
  • Played annoyingly straight in Wraeththu, where the titular magical hermaphrodites have nothing but contempt and genocidal urges towards the surviving humans, even though the Wraeththu are supposed to be the heroes of the setting AND each one was originally human themselves.
    • Oddly, according to those who have read it, the ones who match that description are the villains among the Wraeththu in the original books, and the heroes were a group the RPG doesn't bother giving even a passing mention.
  • Paranoia secret societies include the mutant supremacist group Psion and the mutant-hating group Anti-Mutant.
    • Played for laughs, of course. (The joke being that every person in the setting - other than the theoretically subservient A Is - is a mutant... and everybody seems to know it... except for the all-seeing, all-knowing Computer which designates mutants as inferior, genetically treasonous creatures.)
      • Well, the players know it, the characters don't necessarily. In particular, Anti-Mutant characters may be ignorant or in denial about their own mutant powers.
  • Many Exalts in Exalted are less than careful with normal people in the area surrounding them (in the case of countering third-circle spells, an area totalling roughly nine square miles). The Realm in particular has based its 800-year empire on the idea that Terrestrial Exalted are manifestly superior to mortals. (One of the few exceptions to this kind of thing: Paragon is adamantly pro-mortal because its ruler is a mere enlightened mortal himself, although he's currently a little bitter that with Solar Exaltations flying around he hasn't had a shot at becoming a Twilight Caste yet.)
  • Warhammer 40K doesn't so much use type 2 as it inverts the trope — "psykers" are the ones who're considered tools rather than people. Understandable, since it's best not to get attached to someone who has the potential to accidentally open a gateway to Hell. (this is not exaggeration)

Video Games

  • Taken to every logical conclusion within City of Heroes and City of Villains. While the setting holds enough Heroic Willpower for even the most ridiculous Charles Atlas Superpowers to work, there are still a lot of Muggles. Reactions vary from essentially worshipping Heroes like the Paragon City Civilians do, putting on the kevlar and facing down the super-powered villains like the Paragon City Police, living in terror like Rogue Island civilians, putting on the kevlar and facing down the super-powered heroes for later brainwashing like Malta, or joining the various villain groups for Psycho Serum or protection.
  • Joker invokes this during his degrading of Luna, who walked in at the worst possible time (while Mega Man and Jack Corvus were tangled in combat). Shortly afterwards is the Player Punch - he skips both the steps in the trope description and outright kills her - and then laughs about it. That sound you heard was the harshest plot whiplash in the history of the continuity.

Web Original

  • In the Whateley Universe, there's practically a war going on over this trope. "Humanity First!" is a world-wide grass roots anti-mutant organization (with backing from the richest family on earth), and the more radical members have tracked down and murdered new mutants. "Evolution Rocks" is an underground group of mutants who are basically anti-baseline. America's Department of Paranormal Affairs is having it out with the non-governmental agency the Mutant Commission Office, which may be kidnapping young mutants for experimentation.
  • For the most part, this is avoided in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, even by the villains. Of course, there is a reason why there are so many derogatory slang words for normal humans. "Mere" (as in "merely man"), "flatline", "baseline", and "Norman" (as in "Norman Normal") are just four examples.
    • TAROT funds a lot of anti-superhuman "grassroots" organizations, and bribes politicians worldwide to legally restrict superheroes. The ultimate goal, of course, is to make it harder for the heroes to interfere with their operations, but a side effect is a growing hostility in some quarters between normal human beings and supers.
  • The webcomic PURE by Tiffany Ross (author of Alien Dice an The Cyantian Chronicles) portrayed a socially Darwinistic country where people who don't develop superpowers or genius-level IQs before the age of 18 are euthanized. "Subbers" who get bionics to mimic powers are incinerated on sight.

Western Animation

  • This is touched on in The Incredibles, where super-fanboy and wannabe-hero Buddy Pine has an inferiority complex about his lack of powers, an attitude he projects onto the Supers he meets. (The cruel irony is that Buddy essentially does have a superpower—he's a Gadgeteer Genius—but he never recognizes it as such.)

Buddy: Well, I finally figured out who I am: I am your ward. IncrediBoy!
Mr. Incredible: And now, you have officially carried it too far, Buddy.
Buddy: This is because I don't have powers, isn't it?

    • And Buddy never notices that he nearly gets blown to pieces in his first appearance as Incrediboy. No wonder Mr. Incredible doesn't want a kid sidekick.
    • The special features on the DVD reveal that actually most of the superheroes are mentally unstable, stupid or just ordinary people trying to attain, maintain and deal with fame. Only a few of them are actually more cost-effective/useful than the regular authorities.
  • The second season of Justice League Unlimited dealt with the US government's efforts to build a force capable of stopping the JLU in the event they went rogue. Naturally, they ended up going the route of the Well-Intentioned Extremist and a bit of Jumping Off the Slippery Slope when their efforts included such things as creating Tyke Bomb Super Soldier clones with a shelf life shorter than a decade, trusting Lex Luthor and other super criminals, as well as turning JLU member Captain Atom against Superman. The pilot of JLU specifically said that the non-super Green Arrow was a member specifically to call them on abuses of power.
    • Don't forget that evil psychopathic Supergirl clone, or that 'super soldier' serum that turned the general into a mutant monster, or...
    • The Justice Lords were an example where humans did have something to fear from metahumans. This knowledge is what drove The Question into such a tizzy.
  • Princess from The Powerpuff Girls wanted to be a Powerpuff Girl, but she didn't have any powers, so she got technology that imitated their powers. When the girls still wouldn't let her join the team (primarily because she got in their way), she became a villain, continuing to use powers similar to the Powerpuffs' granted by the tech.
  • Almost completely averted on Avatar: The Last Airbender. Both benders and non-benders are pretty much treated the same, except for situations where the ability to bend would be necessary or useful. Toph does once, however, make the comment that their team consisted of three people (Aang, Katara and herself), because Sokka couldn't bend. When Sokka protests, she amends it to: "Okay, three people plus Sokka".
    • It does go a bit farther than that, though more psychologically — Sokka, for example, seems to feel inferior to his teammates, which is why he Takes a Level In Badass by becoming a sword master. Growing up with Katara (a Bender) probably also explains his general distrust of "magic," as a way of coping with his own inferiority complex.
    • Later played straight in the sequel series, The Legend of Korra, where an anti-bending revolt threatens to tear the metropolis of Republic City apart.
    • Actually, the series takes a fairly realistic approach in that there's no single, over-arching reaction to someone with the power. There's rarely outright oppression simply *because* you're a bender - not counting POW camps the Fire Nation sets up - but individuals range the entire spectrum from awe and wonder, to jealousy and bitterness, to "Meh, so he can punch a fireball."
      • Except that a majority of the major societies we see have benders in charge. The Fire Nation has the royal family and many of the officers seem to be fire benders and the cities of Omashu and Ba Sing Se are governed by an earth bending king and an earth bending secret police respectively. Not much is known about how important water benders were in the North or South tribes and the Air Nomads policy on regular humans is a moot point if almost all of them were air benders.
        • The Earth King of Ba Sing Se is not an Earth Bender. Sokka and Katara's father was the leader of the Southern Tribe and was not a Bender either.
          • Seeing how The Earth King was just a puppet to his Evil Chancellor (an Earth bender) and this bending Secret Police, that may not be the best example.
          • The chief of the Northern Water Tribe apparently wasn't a bender either.
            • The entire council that governs republic city, however, is comprised entirely of benders. The same city where the equalist movement is centered.
  • On Sabrina the Animated Series, Tim the Witch Smeller came to hate witches because of this trope—he grew up mocked for being a Muggle Born of Mages, apparently a unique case in this series.