Blessed with Suck, Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Cecil Harvey, Emma Frost, Fighting Dracula, Final Fantasy IV, Implied Ability, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Phoenix, Professor X, Sailor Moon, trope, tropes, Tuxedo Mask, Worf Effect, X-Men
You’re a god. You’re powerful enough to palm the sun and the moon. You make the continents quake in fear of you. You have the respect and worship of millions.
You also lose fights very, very easily. Seriously, in the pantheon of gods, you’re the “God of Red Shirts”.
This trope applies to characters who are quite powerful and godlike in their own rights, and yet routinely lose fights in which any of that power is called to bear, often in a surprisingly easy format. These characters are often used as Worf Effects and Fighting Draculas, but so routinely get defeated and trounced that they often only have Informed Ability to give them any credit at all.
This can apply to characters who actually do show off their power from time-to-time and actually do something useful with it, but not often. Their Win-Loss record would be heavily Loss biased, to the point where the viewer, in spite of constant references to the character’s power, doesn’t honestly expect them to ever succeed in a major struggle. The viewer would actually be a bit more surprised if the character did win a fight.
Professor X of “X-Men” – He’s supposedly the most powerful telepath on Earth, and yet he gets captured or disabled a lot. Almost every enemy has figured out a way around his power, including human enemies who have no powers of their own. Ironically, he’s also fairly suspectable to mental manipulation. Another good example would be the first version of Phoenix. In spite of her seemingly limitless psychic power, rewriting her personality was fairly easy for a much lower level telepath like Emma Frost, who really did nothing more than allowed Mastermind to project illusions straight into her brain. Even before that, she routinely lost to relatively wimpy villains, although that was due to a Blessed With Suck, as the Phoenix power in a mortal body was highly unreliable.
Captain Planet of “Captain Planet and the Planeteers” – Sure, he’s got ultimate power of Earth, Wind, Water, Fire, and…Heart…whatever that does…but throw your soda on him and he dies. Exhale your cigarette in his face and he dies. Fling some grime from your car engine on him as he dies. Although Captain Planet routinely beats the bad guy, he also is forced to run off frequently when practically everything on Earth that humans have developed is his “Kryptonite”.
Cecil Harvey of “Final Fantasy IV” – Cecil was first supposed to be a fantastic Dark Knight, and later became a mighty Paladin. In spite of that, he is a chronic failure, unable to protect so much as one damn crystal, having terrible choices in friends (who can beat hin up with ease), getting slapped around by the bad guy after he was already incredibly weakened by a powerful spell, and only surviving because everyone around him continuously commits suicide to allow him to continue. It’s a bit surprising that he was even able to stop the Giant of Bab-Il considering how I had grown used to him screwing up at that point.
Tuxedo Mask of “Sailor Moon” – Worst. Senshi. EVER. Talk about a role reversal. First his only purpose was to be Sailor Moon’s deus ex machina. Then, when the series progressed enough, his only purpose became to be rescued by her, pretty much. Maybe he needs one of those little sailor uniforms and magic wands…
Princess Celestia of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” – You may be a goddess alicorn and manipulate the sun on a daily basis…but you got your ass pwned by a giant bug the one time you could have intervened to save everypony.