Nightmare Fuel: 5 Scary Superpowers

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid

To be immortal
Would drive a man insane
Watching all the things you love
Wash away in bloody rain
To be immortal
Is a curse of vanity
Who would dare to bear the burden
Past the end of humanity?

“To be Immortal” by Wake The Ancient

Fiction is stuffed with scary superpowers. Some are amazing. Characters possess unimaginable strength, titanic durability, or superhuman speed. But some powers are worse than others. Some powers are so terrifying that none dare oppose their wielder.

Call it cowardice if you must, but I wouldn’t screw with anyone who had one of these five scary superpowers.

Honorable Mention: Fear Inducement

Best Exemplified by The Scarecrow

Scarecrow:There’s nothing to fear [steps out of shadows] but fear itself.

Batman Begins

The ability to cause fear is the scariest superpower.

The result of striking terror in someone is always the same. The victim screams at their worst fears whether they are the sight of butterflies or the sight of blood and they can be induced by chemistry, magic, or simple intimidation.

Honestly, it feels cheap to have fear inducement lead the list of scariest superpowers. It’s like putting fire powers on a “most combustible powers” list. As bad as unimaginable fear is for the victim, the five scariest superpowers we chose have effects beyond fear.

#5 Necromancy

Best Exemplified by The Black Lantern Corps

Black Lanterns:The Blackest Night falls from the skies
The darkness grows as all light dies
We crave your hearts and your demise
By my black hand – the dead shall rise!

Green Lantern: Blackest Night

Everyone fears death at some time. Sooner or later, your time comes to an end and only a decaying body is left. So naturally one of the scariest superpowers involves summoning dead spirits and animating corpses.

Necromancers have countless macabre monsters at their beck and call. Ghosts bound to their will, legions of skeletal soldiers, ravenous hordes of zombies, and amalgamations of flesh and bone that were never meant to exist in life. Even worse, any foe that a necromancer kills becomes a new subservient weapon. At least necromancers know the importance of recycling.

Necromancy is on our list of scary superpowers and a skele-ton of fun.

#4 Dream Manipulation

Best Exemplified by Freddy Krueger

Freddy: [narrating]“When I was alive, I might have been a little naughty, but after they killed me, I became something much, much worse. The stuff nightmares are made of. The children still feared me, and their fear gave me the power to invade their dreams, and that’s when the fun really began.”

Freddy vs. Jason

Who doesn’t love a good nap? Your mind explores delightful dreams as your body recuperates from the day’s stresses. But then it shifts. The pleasant locales twist, turn, and fill with shadows. You can’t find any exits. And somewhere, something is coming for you. The dream is over. Welcome to your nightmares.

Dream manipulation is a sadist’s wet dream. They can torment victims with inner fears, horrible memories, and whatever they can think of. Some dream manipulators even make injuries suffered in dreams real. You could try to avoid them, but everyone sleeps sooner or later.

Dream manipulation is a scary superpower because you’re never more vulnerable than when you are asleep. Have sweet dreams…while you still can.

#3 Cartoon Physics

Best Exemplified by Judge Doom

Eddie Valiant: Back in those days, me and Teddy liked working Toontown, thought it was a lot of laughs. Anyway, this guy got away with a zillion simoleons. We trailed him to a little dive down on Yukster Street. We went in. Only he got the drop on us, literally. Dropped a piano on us from fifteen stories. Broke my arm, Teddy never made it.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

We all have fond memories of yesteryear’s cartoons. Watching Tom get outwitted and tortured by Jerry, Daffy Duck surviving shotgun blasts to the face, and Bugs Bunny pulling entire armories from Hammerspace. Yeesh, those old cartoons are violent.

Have you ever considered how difficult it would be to stop a cartoon character? Imagine fighting an improv comedian with unlimited resources. Toons are nearly indestructible masters of disguise who can pull out any item they need for a gag and warp reality for the sake of a joke.

Some cartoon characters can even break the fourth wall and notice the audience. Here’s hoping that never happens to our univer- [WHAM] Th-th-th-th-th-that’s all, folks!

#2 Adaptation

Best Exemplified by Doomsday

[Doomsday has survived a nuke]
Swanwick:Every time we hit it, we make it more powerful. We can’t attack.
President:What’re you saying, Calvin?
Swanwick:I’m saying it’s unkillable.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

Whatever does not kill me will only make me stronger.” Nietzsche knew what he was talking about when he wrote that. Everything that lives constantly adapts to whatever happens to them. But what if this trait was taken to the extreme?

Imagine a monster is chasing you. Try to shoot it and the creature’s skin hardens, becoming bulletproof. Fire makes the hide tougher. Try to drown the beast, and it grows gills. You’ll get lightning hurled at you if you electrocute it or see the freak sprout wings to chase you if you escape by plane. Get into a space shuttle and blow up the planet? It still keeps coming, even through the vacuum of space.

No matter what you do, an adaptive monster will never stop coming until you die. That’s why adaptation is one of the scariest superpowers.

#1 Reality Warping

Best Exemplified by The Infinity Gauntlet

Thanos:The Reality Gem… how can one explain the inconceivable? Few rational minds can grasp the myriad actualities possible. Heaven or Hell, mine to choose. Scientific laws are within my power to repeal. Facts lose their meaning because they no longer have to be. I dream, and it will be.

The Thanos Quest

Reality warping is the scariest superpower on this list. That seems obvious when you’re pretty much God.

A reality warper can change the world with a thought. They can set the sky on fire, freeze oceans, or use planets as billiard balls. Try to kill a reality warper and they can turn your weapons into bubbles. Even worse, they could force you to go on a rampage before retconning history so you never existed.

Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet may be the popular examples these days, but reality warpers have shown up in fiction for decades. Twilight Zone fans remember Billy Mumy as an omnipotent child in “It’s A Good Life” while Star Trek aficionados might think of Charlie X or the capricious Q.

What do you think is a scary superpower? Do you think there is something worse that isn’t on the list? Tell us in a comment.

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