Analysis

Six Overpowered Characters and How to Fix Them

Characters are overpowered for all kinds of reasons, but the effect is always the same. Either the character overcomes challenges way too easily or the author has to insert a massive contrivance to keep the conflict going. Neither outcome is satisfying, so if you ever end up with overpowered characters, it’s important that you know how to fix them. That’s why today we’re looking at some famously overpowered characters and figuring out how they might be rectified. It’s too late for these stories to correct their problems,* but there’s a lot we can learn from them.

Spoiler Notice: Season 4 of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

1. Miroku: InuYasha

Miroku with his blackhole open.

If you grew up watching anime in the ’90s and early ’00s, there’s a good chance you remember Miroku, the monk cursed with a black hole in his hand that will one day consume him.* Technically, it’s called a “wind tunnel” in the show, but either way, it can pull in just about anything Miroku points it at. There’s no way to dodge or evade it, short of holding on for dear life, and since there’s no limit on the black hole’s use, Miroku can easily hoover up anything he doesn’t like.

This is a pretty serious problem, as it means Miroku can defeat nearly any bad guy in the show. Worse, he’s not even the main hero; he’s meant to be an ally at most. At first, the writers try to limit the black hole by establishing that if he uses it too much, the curse will consume him faster. But that kind of far-off problem will always take a back seat to life-threatening battles happening in the present, so it isn’t an effective limit.

Finally, the show just gave up and introduced demonic bees that could clog up the black hole. Why bees? I have no idea. It’s something about them being poisonous, which only raises more questions, since it’s not like the black hole actually opens up inside Miroku. If it did, poison would be the least of his problems. Nevertheless, the writers must have liked this solution because soon they were handing out demon bees to every enemy in the show.

This is a classic problem with overpowered abilities. The story shows us an interesting ability, but then the hero is never allowed to use it properly because if they did, the story would end. It’s obviously contrived, and it robs us of a cool power.

How to Fix It

The big problem with Miroku’s black hole is there’s no way to avoid it, which makes it a very boring power to use in a fight. We could make it weaker, but that wouldn’t solve the problem, as then enemies could just ignore it, which is a pretty lousy ability.

The best solution is actually to invert it. Instead of a black hole that sucks people in, Miroku should have some kind of attack that projects outward. Perhaps his hand is a gateway to the fire plane, or he’s possessed by a lightning demon. If Miroku had a ranged attack, then villains could defend against it the same way they would against any other attack: by dodging or putting up barriers. Stronger enemies would be hurt less, just like they are with other characters.

This way, we can even keep the curse element. If Miroku is connected to the fire plane, then it’ll only be a matter of time until the opening widens enough to consume him in flames.*

2. Barry Allen: The Flash

Barry Allen with and without his mask.

As I’ve covered before, super speed is one of those powers that will break your story if you’re not really careful, but The Flash’s writers apparently didn’t read my post.* Barry is the titular Flash, and his connection to the aptly named “speed force” allows him to break the sound barrier with the greatest of ease.

This immediately creates some problems. If Barry can move that fast, how can any villain survive his attacks? Even if Barry can’t punch anyone without shattering his bones, he should be able to throw rocks like a living machine gun. Or just run around the bad guys with a rope until they’re trussed up for the police.

Of course, superhero stories are notoriously bad at exploring their implications, so let’s look at how Barry actually uses his powers. Mainly, he can easily dodge any attack unless it catches him completely by surprise. Even then, he can sometimes zip out of the way, though it’s a little inconsistent.

This makes it really hard to get invested in Barry’s fights. It feels like he can just dodge forever, no matter how strong his enemy is. At worst, Barry will get a draw. That’s not very exciting, so the writers sometimes have Barry become inexplicably bad at dodging. My favorite example of this is in the episode Tricksters, when a bad guy* slowly reaches over and handcuffs a bomb to Barry’s wrist. I’m pretty sure I could have dodged that.

How to Fix It

This time we don’t have to come up with anything from scratch because The Flash has already provided us with a template: the villain called Peek-a-Boo. She can teleport short distances, which is functionally the same as limited super speed. This enables her to dodge attacks like The Flash, but she still has to think at the same speed as the rest of us, and we don’t have to ask why she doesn’t kill her enemies with thrown rocks.

A less overpowered version of the Flash might have actual teleportation, or he might only be able to use his speed in short bursts. That way he’d have to be tactical about it, rather than just zipping around forever. There could even be a visual indicator of how much speed he has saved up, making it easy for viewers to tell how dangerous a fight is. Perhaps he’s surrounded by golden sparks when he uses his power, and those sparks vanish as his reserves run out.

3. Momo: My Hero Academia

A close up on Momo's face

In the first two seasons of My Hero Academia, there’s a pretty clear gender bias when it comes to the distribution of powers. Nearly all of the strongest abilities go to dudes, from super strength to cryomancy to explosions on demand. However, there’s one major exception: Momo Yaoyorozu, who is actually considered to have the strongest power in the class.

Momo’s ability is to fabricate anything that isn’t alive out of thin air. The only downside is that her creations materialize out of her skin, which is an incredibly transparent attempt to justify her skimpy costume. Gross. That aside, Momo’s ability is so strong, it creates a host of problems. First, why does she even want to be a hero? It seems like she could become absurdly wealthy by creating a bunch of gold or a more practical substance if she wants to serve the public good.

But assuming Momo’s heart is set on battling villainy, she should completely dominate. Remember, she can create anything, including complex machinery. The My Hero setting is full of advanced weapons and armor, so her options are many indeed. She could create a suit of powered armor, or some of those advanced capture-weapons that the pro-heroes have. Heck, she could create a regular gun, and that would be more than enough to stop most villains.

Instead, her most common creation is… a bo staff. In season two, she gets really wild and creates a shield! You might recognize these as objects that just about anyone could get their hands on. She does eventually get a little more creative, making flash grenades and even a cannon at one point, but it’s too late by then. She’s already been through way too many fights where she apparently forgot how her own power worked.

How to Fix It

So long as Momo can create objects from thin air, she’ll have problems. There are just too many things she can do with that ability, especially if she has even a little time to prepare. Worse, this power will always raise questions of why fighting villains is even worth Momo’s time when there are so many better uses for an endless supply of raw material.

That’s why the best way to fix the problem is by giving Momo a different power entirely – something that matches what she does in the show without the story-breaking power of a living replicator.

One good option would be to make her the equivalent of a metalbender from Avatar: The Last Airbender. The most common way Momo uses her power is to generate objects to defend herself or to strike at her enemies, and metalbending could do that handily. Instead of conjuring a shield and staff from nowhere, she could manipulate the metal already present in her environment. As a side benefit, this would kill the idea that she has to have a super revealing costume to use her power.

4. The Princesses: She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

The princesses from She-Ra

The new She-Ra show is a fantastic piece of storytelling, with strong plotting, compelling character arcs, and deep worldbuilding. However, it does have one recurring problem: the heroes are more powerful than the villains.

This isn’t due to a single character, but rather the princesses as a group. Glimmer, probably the weakest of them, can teleport and shoot magic blasts out of her hands. In later seasons, her blasts get stronger and she learns how to cast multiple spells. Then there’s She-Ra herself, who is just a really strong fighter. The remaining three princesses are even stronger. Mermista, Perfuma, and Frosta can all manipulate their chosen elements to both defeat multiple enemies at once and create defensive barriers.

To counter this, the Evil Horde has a bunch of fairly useless soldiers, along with some robots that are either equally useless or only show up for a single episode. Their heavy hitters include Catra, who is pretty agile, and Scorpia, who is pretty strong and has a poison stinger. Finally, Hordak himself is fairly powerful when he’s wearing his armor, but he can be easily defeated by attacking the armor’s vulnerable systems, and he rarely takes the field.

The mismatch is pretty obvious, and so whenever the two sides clash, the princesses almost always emerge victorious. At one point, the heroes spend an entire episode* agonizing over their plan to attack a Horde base, but then they end up winging it and do fine because they can easily overwhelm their enemy with brute strength. This is before we consider the good guys’ secondary combatants like Bow, Spinnerella, and Netossa, all of whom can easily hold their own against the Horde. Our heroes even have foot soldiers of their own.

All this makes it difficult to take the Horde seriously as villains. They’re supposed to be a threat to all of Etheria, but it feels like the princesses could easily defeat them at any time. Unlike most other entries on this list, the writers don’t usually create contrived reasons for the princesses to lose. Instead, they simply clean the Horde’s clock at every meeting, which is even worse.

How to Fix It

She-Ra’s writers are probably aware of this problem, because they take steps to fix it in season four. Their main method is to put the princesses’ friendship in danger, which makes it more difficult for the good guys to act as a team. The writers also have the heroes lose battles offscreen, and even give Hordak a fancy new laser cannon, though he never actually uses it against the princesses.

That’s better than nothing, but it’s definitely patching a hole rather than making an actual repair. The main thing is that the Horde simply needs to be more powerful. This could be done through minions, but that would be really difficult in a show like She-Ra, which likes to treat minions as minor obstacles. Instead, characters like Catra, Scorpia, and even Hordak need a real boost. It wouldn’t hurt to add a few more of them too, especially since this show loves to have bad guys defect to team good.

But that’s only half the equation. For the Horde to be threatening villains, it’s best if they actually win onscreen sometimes. The writers clearly aren’t afraid to make their show dark when necessary, so this wouldn’t be incompatible with She-Ra’s overall mood. The heroes don’t have to lose every time, even a few onscreen victories would do wonders for the Horde. Who knows, maybe we’ll get something like this with Horde Prime in season five.

5. Korra: The Legend of Korra

Korra in the Avatar State

In this world of martial-arts-based elemental magic, most benders can control either air, water, fire, or earth. Not Korra, though. She’s the Avatar, which means she can control all four elements, at least with the proper training. And a good thing, too, since it’s her job to keep the world in balance, which can be quite challenging at times.

Korra’s elemental magic isn’t what makes her overpowered. Rather, it’s the Avatar State, a special power she can use to channel the power of her past lives* to become nearly unstoppable. This problem actually originates in Legend of Korra’s predecessor, The Last Airbender. In that show, we learn that the Avatar State is essentially god mode, allowing the Avatar to defeat the strongest villains or even an entire army.

Last Airbender deals with this problem by saying that its protagonist never got proper training, so he can’t actually control the Avatar State. But that implies that under normal circumstances, an Avatar can control it. At first, Legend of Korra’s explanation is that Korra hasn’t learned how to use the Avatar State at all, but that only lasts until the end of season one. After that, they either make the Avatar State bizarrely weak or just forget that Korra has it. Finally, in season four, Korra’s past trauma makes it impossible for her to use the Avatar State.

That’s not a terrible solution, but it still leaves us with two seasons that had no idea what to do with a character who could become an unstoppable juggernaut at will. At the same time, the Avatar State will continue to be a problem for any other stories set in this universe. Turns out it’s rarely a good idea to introduce an ability so strong that your only option is not letting the characters use it properly.

How to Fix It

In a perfect world, we’d fix this problem in Last Airbender. That show needed a powerful ability that its protagonist couldn’t use at will, something that would illustrate how the Avatar is a reincarnation of every other Avatar before them. My solution to that would be to make the Avatar State something that lets the Avatar access the skills of their past lives, rather than their raw power.

That way, the Avatar State could still be used to get an inexperienced Avatar out of trouble, but it would have a much lower ceiling. A powerful villain could still be threatening, provided they were good enough to defeat whatever past life was channeled through the Avatar State. Eventually, an Avatar wouldn’t need to rely on it anymore, as their own skill meets or exceeds their past lives’.

If changing the canon of Last Airbender isn’t an option, then Korra would need something to limit her use of the Avatar State in seasons two and three. My solution would be to make the Avatar State harmful in some way, so Korra can’t use it too often or for too long. Since season two is about spirit shenanigans anyway, this would fit well. Perhaps some kind of corrupting influence has settled over Korra’s connection to her past lives, something she’d need a season or two to deal with.

6. Thanos: Avengers

Thanos with the gauntlet.

Okay, this one is going to be a problem, but I know we can face it together. All on his own, Thanos is apparently super strong and tough, but with the Infinity Stones, he has a whole bucket load of powers to draw on, so I’m just going to lay them out.

  • Soul Stone: This one doesn’t seem to do anything except cause arguments about whether Thanos can be said to “love” Gamora.
  • Mind Stone: Another stone that doesn’t seem to do anything, or at least nothing Thanos ever uses.
  • Power Stone: Lets him punch even harder than before and gives him a ranged attack.
  • Time Stone: He can reverse the passage of time, but only in isolated areas, and it takes a lot of concentration.
  • Space Stone: Allows Thanos to open portals and either stop or crush anything he can see. (This is how he stops Loki’s knife.)
  • Reality Stone: Grants Thanos total control over reality. He can do whatever he wants, including turn people into slinkies.

This is an absolutely wild assortment of powers. First, we have two stones that don’t do anything, which is pretty disappointing considering what a big deal Thanos made about getting them. Then the Power Stone and Time Stone are mostly fine. Thanos should have a ranged attack if he’s going to fight the Avengers, and limited temporal control isn’t a big deal, since he’s vulnerable when he does it.

The first overpowered entry is the Space Stone. The portals are fine, and they give Thanos a lot of interesting options in combat. But the ranged crush attack is a serious problem. It doesn’t seem to have any limits, and it doesn’t look like it can miss, so we’re left wondering why he doesn’t just use it to deal with all his enemies.

But that’s nothing compared to the Reality Stone. I’m honestly curious who thought this was a good idea. Thanos can literally reshape reality however he likes. He could have turned each and every one of the Avengers into marbles and just taken the remaining stones for himself. Or I guess he could use it once to set up a harsh burn on his daughter’s boyfriend. Either one really.

Thanos is a villain, so he can accommodate more power than a hero, but even villains have limits. He’s so strong that he should end any fight before it starts. The only explanation for why he doesn’t is that he just didn’t feel like it.

How to Fix It

First, we’re actually going to increase the strength of the Soul and Mind Stones. It’s just disappointing that two of the all-powerful Infinity Stones don’t do anything. The Mind stone is easy: he can mind-control people the same way Loki did in The Avengers. This would give Thanos some needed flexibility, even if we limit the effect to being temporary. As a limitation, he would presumably need physical contact.

The Soul Stone is trickier, since most of its conceivable uses would already be covered by the Mind Stone. However, we also see that the Soul Stone is somehow connected to death, so I’d give it the ability to summon ghost-minions. That would give Thanos an incentive to fight in places where there’s been a lot of death, which is cool and creepy. Having more minions would also make it easier for multiple good guys to battle Thanos at once. In the current films, it often looks like the heroes are taking turns to fight him one on one.

The Power and Time Stones can stay just the way they are. They’re good stones. For the Space Stone, let’s take out that insta-kill crush attack. It’s a pain, and Thanos already has a ranged attack from the Power Stone. Instead, Thanos should make more use of his portals. Those could be really useful in combat, but he employs them almost exclusively for fast travel.

Finally, there’s the Reality Stone. The ability to shape reality can stay, but it needs to be way more limited. I would say that he can only alter whatever he can touch, and that it’s a slow process. So he could use the Reality Stone to prepare a battlefield to his liking, but he couldn’t turn all his enemies into slinkies. In battle, if he could get hold of someone, he could also use the Reality Stone to slowly disintegrate them or what have you. That’s powerful, but not story-breaking, since Thanos can already crush nearly anything he gets his hands on.


The more powers you include in your story, the more likely it is that at least one of them will be overpowered. You might notice that every entry on this list comes from stories where powers are super common. The superhero genre alone accounts for half of them. Not only are overpowered abilities more likely in these genres, but they can be especially annoying. Fans of these stories tune in to watch heroes clashing with their supernatural abilities. When those battles are one sided, they aren’t any fun to watch.

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Comments

  1. Jeppsson

    I haven’t seen the show, but seems like Miroku could easily have a palm that sucks without breaking the story. Suppose it didn’t make enemies disappear: they just slammed into his hand. Or maybe it works like the metal-pulling-power in Mistborn, so whether something slams into him, or he flies away and slams into the thing, depends on the thing’s weight.

    This kind of power can be useful, but it’s pretty tricky and complicated to use. You need to be smart about it, and it’s definitely not something that just solves any situation.

  2. Adam Reynolds

    I really like the idea about changing the Avatar State in general, for both Aang and Korra. What would be interesting about using the abilities of past lives is that you also get some of the personality in the process, so if Korra taps into Aang’s airbending she gets the belief in pacifism along with it conflicting with her own more aggressive style. That wouldn’t work with Aang combining with the Ocean spirit, as well as probably a couple of other things like Korra’s spirit bending, but it would otherwise work well enough and keep things more grounded with elemental bending remaining the primary source of magic.

    More generally The Legend of Korra is a good example of the problems with power creep in a long running series. One thing that would have been an interesting dilemma is if bending was actually becoming less effective because of the lack of connection with nature, even as newer and better techniques were being developed. It would have also been an interesting problem for a character like Asami to face, trying to get the benefits of industrialization without the downsides of environmental damage or the social problems that it creates(as a side note, the fact that her father was both an industrialist and a supporter of the Equalists made no sense).

  3. Zero

    Momo’s power is not OP, she is also not the strongest in class by a long shot, and this analysis doesn’t make justice to her design+power+personality combination.

    Her power is creating things from her body fat, and she needs to know the exact molecular structure to manage it, she can’t create “power armors”, this is the hero support section’s job. So she has limited material to use and is pretty much doing alchemy, the show also answers several questions about her.

    – How she got in the UA: Recommendation, she might not even want to be a hero, but someone saw potential in her.
    – Why doesn’t she create gold: Her family is rich, so she was taught about supply and demand. That’s why she also doesn’t create her personal belongings, since she could potentially crash the market (Her words).
    – She is the first in class on her exams, but she thinks too much and her judgement in action time is cloudy. This is a plot point on an exam and to get her provisional hero’s license.

    • Cay Reet

      The power to create like this is still overpowered. Nothing keeps a character with this power from researching the structure and build of whatever they want. As long as it exists in that world, as long as they can study it or study its properties, they can also make it. So, yes, if she invests some time, she can make herself an armour, as long as it exists in this world. It doesn’t matter if that is her job or not. A lot of people do things which are not, strictly speaking, their job.

      At the same time the ‘she needs to be almost naked for her powers to work’ bit is suspicious, because it never happens to male characters, only to female ones.

      • Passerby

        She can’t create a full-body armor, because she doesn’t have enough fat in her body. The amount of fat is actually a pretty good limitation, because it’s hard to siddenly change one’s weight, and it’s unhealthy. Since she keeps training, she keeps burning her fat, and burning too much could potentially make her go anemic. She could perhaps make herself an armor piece by piece, if she could design it, but it wouldn’t be much different than getting it from the support section so what’s the point.

        • Pearl Fields

          Even if it isnt much different than getting it from support, its still overpowered. The fact still remains that she is overpowered.

          • Passerby

            She’s not really OP, tho.

          • Cay Reet

            She is. As you said yourself, she needs to know the molecular structure, but then she can create everything non-living. She’s not limited to one kind of material and she can create something bigger by creating it part by part. A character with that power is always overpowered, because they’re far above what someone with more regular powers can hope to achieve.

        • Cay Reet

          What sense does it have to lose body fat through training, if you rely on it for your powers? That would be like an athlete not training at all, because what do they use all the muscle for?

          I did have an idea for a world where magic users burn fat to use their powers, but in my case, they would go in overweight and come out thin as a rail – yes, that’s unhealthy, but so is going into a fight in the first place.

          • Passerby

            She keeps trainig with her power, thus burning fat, that’s what I meant.

      • Zero

        Yes it happens to male. Mirio is a character whose ability is intangibility so clothes, light, oxygen pass trough him. He essentially gets naked to fight if he’s not in his hero suit that was made with his hair over the years, it’s not like she’s naked all the time maybe in the future she will also think of something like that.

        • Cay Reet

          Unfortunately, media has other examples of women in skimpy clothing ‘because they need it to use their powers through their skin’ while men with similar powers get to stay dressed. In addition, if she’s drawing on her fat, which has to pass through the skin anyway, why can’t it just pass through her hands and she can dress normally? The ‘she breathes through her skin’ excuse from MGS makes more sense than that.

          • Oren Ashkenazi

            Just for the record, this is what Mirio’s costume looks like:

            Meanwhile, this is what Momo’s costume looks like:

          • Cay Reet

            Looks very much like expected.

          • SilentReader

            What about the red haired bare-chested guy behind her?

          • Cay Reet

            Borderline case, although male bodies generally aren’t sexualized the same way female bodies are.

          • SilentReader

            But isn’t he sexualized by female viewers? I mean just like the underage girl who is wearing inappropriate clothes for males viewer’s benefit, the red haired boy not wear anything for female viewer’s instead. His power is hardening his body like stone, there is no benefit in not wearing clothes, it will even more beneficial for him if he use the power armor that mentioned above. I cant see any reason why he’s not wearing any clothes if not for female viewer’s gaze

          • Cay Reet

            He’s more sexualized for male viewers.

            Women actually look more at a guy’s ass than at a guy’s abs … The guy with the perfect six-pack is a male power fantasy more than a female sexual fantasy.

            Men in a suit are to women what women in lingerie are to men.

          • Jeppsson

            IDK, Cay. I’ve got a bunch of female Facebook friends who occasionally share hot pics of guys, and semi-nude with abs seem to be the go-to image. Girls writing sexy stories on Wattpad often puts semi-nude with abs on the cover. Come to think of it, the girls’ magazines page 3-boys when I was a tween/teen also tended to be semi-nude with abs… Obvs YMMV and people are different and all that, but I’d say “semi-nude with abs” seems to be pretty widely appreciated among straight and bi women.

          • Cay Reet

            I’m not saying it’s ugly, it’s just not as sexual as a woman’s cleavage is for a man.

        • Pearl Fields

          Bro Mirio is fully covered and Creati has her tits out lmaoo

      • Oren Ashkenazi

        For the record, the idea that Momo uses body fat to fuel her power is not mentioned in the first two seasons of the show, nor does it appear that she loses any body fat even when she makes a lot of stuff.

  4. Oren Ashkenazi

    Editor’s note, I’ve removed a comment for insulting the post’s author, which is against our rules.

  5. Erynus

    In the comics, the Soul Gem is a pocket dimension inhabited by souls of dead people that can grant their knowledge to the Gem’s master. Also it has a mind on its own, a mischievous and selfish mind that put all its efforts in twisting the desires of the wielder for the lulz.
    That is why to control the gems you need to have great willpower and focus.
    Comic’s Infinity Stones were more interesting that MCU counterpart and of course they are overpowered, Thanos not so much (even if they want to make it so by randomly beating Galactus, putting him to my eyes at Squirrel Girl level).

  6. SunlessNick

    Re Thanos and the Stones… The Mind Stone can be discounted, at least in the Infinity War version, because it’s the last one he gets hold of – therefore the first thing he’s going to use it for is the Snap itself.

    A limit I could see putting on the Reality Stone is having it only affect the environment – the user can make Knowhere look unattacked or Titan look undestroyed, but it doesn’t bring back the people who were living there as anything but illusions – and not able to reshape living beings.
    That means Thanos would have had to use the Power Stone to put Drax and Mantis down, but that’s easy enough to accomplish.
    Which side of the line Star-Lord’s shot comes on is another question, but the Power Stone could also presumably wreck the gun, or the Space Stone open a portal in front of it.

    Using the Soul Stone to summon the ghosts of his people in the battle on Titan would have been a creepy addition to that battle, and not one he could have been sure of duplicating in Wakanda.

  7. Fujimoto

    A minor correction: it’s not Inuyasha‘s anime writers who came up with Miroku and his powers/weaknesses. It was Rumiko Takahashi, whose work was adapted into an anime. The blame lies with her (as well as Miroku being a sex pest) unless it was her editor who made her add those traits, but it’s unlikely we’ll ever know.

    Of course, the anime writers could have tried to change Miroku for the better, but didn’t.

  8. Zem

    That 1st one is so stupid- you just suggest swapping for another power instead of fixing it. Let’s look at some actual solutions and other fictional examples.
    Jojo’s has Okuyasu who possesses the power “The Hand” (Za Hando!) which banishes things he touches to a place even he doesn’t know. It is part of Okuyasu’s arc that he’s searching for a way to kill his father who’s been turned into an immortal monstrosity to put him out of his mysery. Yet he never puts his power to that end, because of the fact that he does not know what actually happens to the transported objects, are they alive or dead etc. (Okuyasu also notably never uses his power to destroy larger objects or people – he uses it to absorb attacks (like bombs or explosions), to destroy small objects, and even to teleport (by erasing “space” between him and the target), so an effective limit like that can also work great. Okuyasu is a self-admitted idiot, lacking the creativity to utilize his power’s creative potential (effectively GM banning exploits), which balances him as a character further.
    One Piece has Blackbeard with another black hole power. In Blackbeard’s case though, there’s a limit to how long he can hold sucked objects “in” before must spit them out. In one scene he swallows up an entire town, then spits it out as rubble. Second, Blackbeard’s ability does not give him full protection from hazards – if, for example, he tries to swallow up a bonfire, he WILl take damage from it, since he basically redirects every attack onto himself and not all of it is perfectly absorbed.
    The game Planescape:Torment has a quest starting with a player being gifted with a mysterious box. It turns out (when you try to track down previous owners) that this is a cursed item holding a demon that’s been pass around like “hot potato” for some time. The player can resolve the situation by opening the box near a planar portal which sucks the high-level demon it. That’s not the end of the tale however, because the demon will eventually find its way back – but by that time (after countless level-ups) the player will be powerful enough to slay it.
    D&D 5e has the 4th level spell “Banishment” and 9th level spell “Gate”, both with severe limitations (duration, only teleporting to non dangerous planes, etc.)
    So here are my suggested fixes:
    – Assume the characters are honorable. (social/moral cost)
    Really there’s something wrong with your article, assuming that insta-kills are the ultimate goal. Let’s assume that the heroes, logically, are averse to murder or torture. And that their society usually has the same principles. Since the black hole can not be toned down (it has no “stun” or “wound” setting) it would be useless in but very specific situations.
    Should the player suck a live being into it, the GM should make sure that he receives the appropriate social penalty (fear, and infamy) that follows the character
    A dumb player action (hey, wouldn’t it be cool if I 1-hitted that NPC) can be turned into a cool character element as the PC is carrying the regret and fear of using the power on that scale again.
    – You don’t want to lose useful items.
    This can be difficult if one unruly player in control of the power can overwrite the party’s interest on a whim. But assuming the players want to interrogate the captured foes, sell the loot, keep the magic items for themselves etc. an effective disintegration spell that erases everything is going to be lower on the practicality list than one that ends the conflict while also allowing you to reap the rewards afterwards.
    – Teleportation may be temporary and always possible to get back from.
    In D&D a destroyed Bag of Holding “scatters its contents on the Astral Plane”, ie. they are sent to a difficult place but they may still be retrieved. Banished characters may similarly be moved to somewhere and would have to make a journey back.
    Let’s say that things absorbed by Miroku are sent to a pocket dimension “contained” inside his hand. It can be given various features – a spooky alien nature, cold dark interior, even creatures (optional), as well as portals leading back to the “world”. The exact nature of the dark dimension Miroku is connected to can be the topic of entire episodes or arcs (is it created by his magic, is it connected some fundamental universal force (say “the elemental plane of Void”), does it maybe hint at a later villain of the series (like demons or aliens of this dimension coming to destroy everyone).

  9. Matt

    In regards to Thanos, “The only explanation for why he doesn’t [end every fight instantly] is that he just didn’t feel like it.” may very well be the in universe reason. He’s constantly monologing about how much of a hero he is, he has Ebony Maw keep the crowd silent during his speeches, he gloats to Thor before he reverses time, and he fights the hulk with his fists. He clearly cares about showmanship.

  10. Jason

    Agreed. The writing imbalance of Thanos is not the stones but the inability to flesh out a villain’s motives and character motivations as much as necessary to weild that much power, plot, and ensemble hero defeats. He could have used the mind stone to make the entire universe agree with him and WANT the snap, but he obviously wanted to impose the snap on the universe “as it was” and let some weird otherwise natural evolution take place. Which makes no sense, since there was the same amount of life at some point in the past that led to “this” point. In the comics, his motivation made much more “sense”, but it was far too unwieldy for the MCU.

  11. Jason

    If Thanos wasn’t just a sicko that wanted to murder half the universe by imposing his own will after collecting all the most powerful artifacts in the cosmos….why didn’t he just use the gauntlet to increase the universe’s size or resources?

  12. Ken Hughes

    The Avatar State does have a weakness besides control, that was clearly shown at the start of Avatar Season Two (and central to Season Three of Korra). But it’s a hard one to write properly:

    Every time an Avatar uses the Avatar State, they’re endangering the entire Avatar cycle. If an Avatar dies in that state, the link to the past snaps, and there are no more Avatars, ever.

    Since that either happens (and ends the show) or it doesn’t, it’s a hard weakness to use right. Scenes have to be shaped by the hero’s genuine worry that a desperate fight still isn’t big enough to risk the whole power source on — or at least that the situation is too risky. So too many seasons fell back on control issues, or just forgot that the power had limits.

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