Why We Love (and Hate) Overpowered Characters in Fantasy

In the realm of fantasy, overpowered characters are a common and often controversial trope. These larger-than-life figures possess abilities that far surpass those of their peers, making them virtually unstoppable. But why do authors create such characters, and what are the implications of their existence within a story?

This article will explore the pros and cons of overpowered characters in fantasy, delving into their appeal, the challenges they present, and how they can be improved to create a more engaging narrative.

Definition of overpowered characters in fantasy

Overpowered characters in fantasy are those who possess abilities, skills, or resources that are significantly more potent than those of other characters in the same universe.

These characters often dominate their enemies with ease, overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and wield powers that are beyond the comprehension of mere mortals.

They are often the most powerful characters in the story, and their abilities can make them seem invincible.

Why overpowered characters are a common trope in fantasy

Overpowered characters are a popular trope in fantasy because they offer an enticing escape from reality. These characters embody the ultimate power fantasy, allowing readers to vicariously experience the thrill of being unstoppable and the satisfaction of overcoming impossible odds.

Brief overview of the pros and cons of overpowered characters

While overpowered characters can provide excitement and wish fulfillment, they also come with their share of drawbacks. Their very nature can lead to a lack of tension and conflict, inconsistency in the story, and difficulty in relating to the character. This article will explore these pros and cons in greater detail.

The Pros of Overpowered Characters

The thrill of watching a character dominate their enemies

One of the most appealing aspects of overpowered characters is the sheer exhilaration of watching them dominate their enemies with ease.

These characters can dispatch foes without breaking a sweat, often in spectacular and awe-inspiring ways that leave readers on the edge of their seats.

The satisfaction of seeing a character overcome impossible odds

Overpowered characters in fantasy often find themselves facing seemingly insurmountable challenges, yet they consistently manage to emerge victorious.

This can provide a deep sense of satisfaction for readers, who enjoy seeing their favorite characters triumph against all odds.

The satisfaction of seeing an overpowered character overcome impossible odds can be a major draw for readers, especially if the character is relatable or likable. 

The appeal of a character who can do things we can’t

Overpowered characters possess abilities that go far beyond the realm of human possibility, allowing readers to live vicariously through their exploits.

These characters offer an escape from reality, providing a glimpse into a world where anything is possible.

The Cons of Overpowered Characters

Lack of tension and conflict

One of the primary drawbacks of overpowered characters is that they can sap a story of tension and conflict.

If a character is virtually unbeatable, it’s difficult to create a sense of danger or uncertainty, which can make the narrative feel flat and predictable.

Inconsistency in the story

Overpowered characters can also lead to inconsistency in the story, as authors may struggle to maintain a sense of balance and continuity.

This can result in plot holes, contrived obstacles, and other narrative issues that detract from the overall quality of the story.

Difficulty in relating to the character

Finally, overpowered characters can be difficult for readers to relate to, as their abilities and experiences are so far removed from our own.

This can make it challenging to form an emotional connection with the character, diminishing the impact of their triumphs and struggles.

Examples of Overpowered Characters in Fantasy


Superman is a classic example of an overpowered character, with his incredible strength, speed, invulnerability, and array of other powers.

His near-godlike abilities make him virtually unbeatable, which has led to criticism that his stories lack tension and conflict.

Saitama from One Punch Man

Saitama, the protagonist of the manga and anime series One Punch Man, is a satirical take on the overpowered character trope.

His ability to defeat any enemy with a single punch makes him virtually invincible, but the series uses humor and subversion to explore the challenges and boredom that come with being so powerful.

Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen

Dr. Manhattan, a character from the graphic novel Watchmen, possesses godlike powers, including the ability to manipulate matter, teleport, and see the future. His overwhelming power creates a sense of detachment from humanity, making him an intriguing but difficult-to-relate-to character.

Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings

Gandalf, the wise wizard from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, is another example of an overpowered character.

His vast knowledge, magical abilities, and near-immortality make him a formidable force, but his powers are often tempered by his role as a guide and mentor, rather than a direct combatant.

Harry Potter from Harry Potter

Harry Potter, the titular character of J.K. Rowling’s beloved series, is a more subtle example of an overpowered character.

While he does not possess godlike abilities, he is consistently portrayed as a uniquely powerful wizard, capable of feats that few others can achieve. This can occasionally lead to a lack of tension and conflict in the story, as readers are confident that Harry will ultimately prevail.

How to Fix Overpowered Characters

Limit their powers

One way to address the issues associated with overpowered characters is to limit their powers, either by imposing restrictions on their abilities or by creating more powerful enemies to challenge them.

Give them weaknesses

Another approach is to give overpowered characters weaknesses or vulnerabilities that can be exploited by their enemies. This can create tension and conflict, as readers worry about whether the character will be able to overcome their flaws and succeed.

Introduce challenges that can’t be solved with brute force

Finally, authors can introduce challenges that cannot be solved through sheer power alone. By forcing overpowered characters to rely on their intelligence, resourcefulness, or the help of others, the story can maintain tension and conflict while still showcasing the character’s incredible abilities.


Overpowered characters in fantasy offer a thrilling escape from reality and the satisfaction of seeing characters overcome impossible odds. However, they can also lead to a lack of tension and conflict, inconsistency in the story, and difficulty in relating to the character.

Ultimately, our fascination with overpowered characters stems from their ability to transport us to a world where anything is possible. By striking a balance between showcasing their incredible powers and maintaining tension and conflict, authors can create engaging and compelling stories that captivate readers and leave them craving more.

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