"In Mutants and Masterminds the generic terms 'superhuman' and 'super' are used to refer to people with powers. However, that isn't necessarily what everyone in the setting calls them. Some worlds have their own unique names for superhumans, creating a distinct feel and style to the setting. Possibilities include the following: aberrants, aces, alphas, angels, avatars, awakened, capes, chosen, deltas, deviants, elites, exarchs, extraordinaries, freaks, gammas, geeks, gene-freaks, gifted, godlings, Homo Superior, hyper-humans, incredibles, inhumans, inspired, marvels, masks, metas, metahumans, mutants, nephilim, novas, omegas, paragons, paranormals, post-humans, powers, psis, psions, psychics, psykes, seraphim, specials, stalwarts, superlatives, supernaturals, superiors, talents, übermenschen, ultras, unnaturals, unusuals."
— Mutants & Masterminds, Second Edition Core Rules
So, what do you call a superhero? Sure, a lot of individual heroes go by the standard coupling of noun/adjective with gender, or an alias cunningly related to their real name and/or their powers, or just something that sounds nice and somewhat appropriate.
But what do you call all of them? When you think about it, superhero is just a bit... well, overused. And explicitly positive, so it works for neither the evilly-inclined nor anyone whose morality is subtler than "Good" or "Evil". (Not to mention it's trademarked, although there is some legal dispute over that.) So, what do you call a man with Super Strength, Eye Beams, and the ability to belch plasma?
Well, you could be all politically correct and call them a Differently Powered Individual. Or, you could call them any other universal term that's used to label superhumans such as the ones below.
Metahuman is an especially common term, based on its use in The DCU (see below).
On the opposite side, with politically incorrect terms, you've got Fantastic Slurs. See also Not Using the "Z" Word. For Mad Scientist types with a common origin or nature, see Science-Related Memetic Disorder. If they're treated as a minority, they might be asked "Have You Tried Not Being a Monster?".
For another meaning of Differently Powered Individuals, see One Person, One Power. Compare Magic by Any Other Name.
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Anime & Manga
- Darker than Black has a few types:
- Contractors, in reference to the powers they have which they "repay" through Remunerations (rituals that must be done each time they use their powers). That being said, the term also calls to mind contract killing and Private Military Contractors, which are both pretty accurate descriptions of the type of jobs Contractors tend to be involved in.
- Dolls, who have little personal volition and whose powers usually focus on ESP through a chosen medium.
- Moratoria, who have no control over their powers and usually go into trance-like states of destruction.
- Forfeiters, contractors who lost their powers and regained their emotions.
- Gangsta. has the Twilights, a "race" of people who are technically human but are for the most part considered monsters due to their Super Strength, Super Speed, et cetera. The genesis of the Twilight comes from the Psycho Serum Célèbre, a highly addictive drug created a century ago for use in wartime — but when it was found that Twilights had both drastically decreased lifespans compared to normal humans and that the child of any Twilight would almost certainly be born Twilight themselves, the minority group was quickly shafted into becoming a Slave Race for the majority.
- Kinnikuman refers to all those with abilities far beyond those of normal humans as "Chojin."
- Medaka Box: Those with overpowering abilities (such as killing intent, analysis, and super reflexes) are known as Abnormals, which includes the protagonist as well. Later in the story, as more types are introduced (Pluses and Minuses and Not Equals, oh my), they start getting called Skill Holders.
- Mobile Suit Gundam and other entries in the "Universal Century" metaseries has "Newtypes", humans who have adapted to life in space such that they began to develop preternatural abilities. The most common manifestation of these abilities is a heightened sense of spatial awareness that borders on Combat Clairvoyance, an ability that makes Newtypes particularly adept as using fin funnels, as well as empathic and telepathic connections with other Newtypes. Some Newtypes are also capable of psycokinesis, and even full-blown psychic brainwashing.
- My Hero Academia inverts this trope. 80% of the world's population has some sort of superpower (referred In-Universe as "Quirks"), meaning that superpowered individuals are actually the norm. However, not every superpowered individual becomes a superhero, with most of them living ordinary lives. The remaining 20% of the population who have no powers are referred to as being Quirkless.
- An interesting fact that was revealed in the Meta Liberation Arc, is that Quirks originally had a different name. In the past when superpowers first appeared, they were called Meta Abilities. The name, Quirk, wasn't used until much later in history when society began to more openly accept superpowers as the percentage of people with powers started to outnumber the people without powers. The Meta Liberation Army, a longtime group of villains attempting to overthrow the government, are the only ones who still refer to them as Meta Abilities.
- One Piece: Considering the primary origin of superpowers in the series, most people of the type are simply referred to as Devil Fruit users. Individual users are referred to as an "X-person"; Luffy is called a Rubberman, Miss Doublefinger is a Spikewoman, Mr. One is a Blademan (funnily enough, his fruit is the "supa supa" in Japanese, and his secret dream is to be a costumed crusader, so he's a "supa-man"), etc.
- Rebuild World: There are three types of these, all descendants from Transhuman body modifications from the Precursors known as The Old World whose civilization the work is set After the End of.
- Those born with an organic wireless Brain/Computer Interface with the Old World internet amongst other powers Note are Old World Domain Connectors.
- A second type, are those with Super Strength unassisted by equipment or cybernetics. These are known as Superhumans (Chōjin).
- Theres a third type with Sensor Character levels of intuition, but it doesnt seem to be given a specific designation.
- The Reflection those who were affected by the titular Mass Super-Empowering Event are referred to as Reflected.
- Tiger & Bunny has NEXT. The NEXT that put on costumes and fights crime, however, are still called superheroes (or just heroes).
- In Yuki Yuna is a Hero, Magical Girls are "Heroes".
- The Boys calls superheroes "supes".
- In The Golden Age of Comic Books, before the word "superhero" even existed, costumed adventurers both powered and Badass Normal were sometimes, on the rare occasions they were called any collective term, referred to as "mystery men" (or "mystery-men"). This is a common term in Golden Age throwback series, and the source of the title of Mystery Men. It's far more common now in Retcon references to that time than it ever was in the actual Golden Age comics, due to the modern prevalence of the shared universe concept, as opposed to the mostly isolated solo adventures common to the period.
- The DCU uses the term "metahumans" to designate humans who gain superpowers through the metagene, a latent gene that is "activated" by stress (for instance, those oh-so-common lab accidents); once activated, it can carry a parent's powers down to his or her child. The DCAU seems to use "metahuman" and "superhero" interchangeably. "Metahuman" is also sometimes used as a DC-equivalent of "mutant"; Some people are just born with an active metagene.
- The "Powers passed to kids" part is an example of Lamarck Was Right, which is sorta-kinda-Truth in Television, in the form of epigenetics.
- Before DC's properties were merged into a shared universe Wonder Woman (1942) called humans with powers like Hypnota and Gail Young new humans.
- PS238 also uses the term "metahuman." The superpowered kids are "metaprodigies".
- In Earth 2, superheroes are often called "wonders" because Wonder Woman was the first hero in this dimension, whereas Superman was the first in the main DCU, ergo "superheroes".
- Warren Ellis is fond of the term "underwear perverts". This extends to all superheroes in his view, not just powered ones. But then, it's Warren Ellis and to him, everything is about sex and corruption. When he's being less (or possibly more) cheeky, he favors the term "enhanciles".
- Empowered uses "posthuman", even though many superheroes are perfectly human there. Empowered also uses "capes" as a general superhuman term (Black Capes and White Capes for villains and heroes, respectively) "superchicas" for female superheroes and "supervill" for supervillains. "Superhero" and "supervillain" are still sometimes used, however.
- The End League calls people with powers "magnificents".
- At least one version of the Legion of Super-Heroes distinguishes between "planetary adapted" (people who have a "superpower" that everyone on their planet can do, like Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl and Mon-El) and "uniques" (people who have acquired powers somehow, like Lightning Lad, Ultra Boy and Chemical King).
- In the universe of Paul Dini's Madame Mirage, all enhanced humans, Mad Scientists, and users of Powered Armor and other exotic technology alike are all called "mega-techs" or just "megas" for short.
- The Marvel Universe takes care to distinguish between "Mutants" (people who develop superpowers through an inherited trait) and "Mutates" (people who gain powers due to exposure of foreign elements), mainly because of the Fantastic Racism against the former (the pejorative term "Mutie" is quite popular among anti-mutant bigots). note
- Ironically, many superhumans are still mistaken for Mutants, with Spider-Man at the top of the list. This actually is a minor plot point in the event House of M, where Spidey is a popular entertainer in an Alternate Universe where Mutants are the majority of the population, because he lied and claimed that he is also a mutant, even though his non-mutant origin is still the same.
- Mutants can further be broken down into Alpha, Beta, and Omega, in reference to how well they can control their power: Alphas are able to turn theirs on or off at will, like Jubilee, Kitty Pryde, or Colossus; while Betas' powers are always active, like Wolverine, Cyclops, or Rogue. Omegas are rare (by which we mean 90% of the main cast are listed as such at one point or another) and are basically some of the most powerful beings in the universe — the prime example of an Omega is Jean/Phoenix. There are also lower Gamma/Delta levels for mutants who just got screwed, like the one whose sole power was a ten-foot neck, and those who didn't get (or lost) the Required Secondary Powers they needed.
- Lampshaded in Peter David's X-Factor run. Strong Guy gets angry at the media's use of "mutant" as a pejorative buzzword, and says they prefer being called "Genetically Challenged, or GeeCees for short." He later tells Havok he did it to divert the reporters' attention, but much to Havok's dismay, the term stuck (at least, during David's run on the book).
- Ultimate Marvel uses "posthuman".
- In The New Universe, "paranormals" is the common term for those altered by a Mass Empowering Event.
- "Costume" is sometimes used as a noun to refer to people who dress up in spandex and fight or cause crime, regardless of whether they have powers or not.
- "Cape" is a similar term in the DCU, and the DCAU gives us the great line, "Uh-oh. Long-johns at 10 o'clock!"
- "Cape" is occasionally used in the MU as well, despite the rarity of Marvel superheroes actually wearing capes. One notable instance in World War Hulk has a soldier reporting into General Thunderbolt Ross that the Hulk is "mixing it up with the last of the Capes", while the Hulk is fighting a team of heroes that don't wear a single cape between them.
- In the New Excalibur series, Pete Wisdom would similarly disparage superhero-types by referring to them "skin-tights".
- In early issues of Daredevil, the title character is referred to as a "costumed adventurer". Of course, the public did not know of Daredevil's blindness, and thus his metahuman senses, so they had no reason not to presume him a "costumed hero" (term used by Max Allan Collins in Amazing Heroes #119) similar to the early Night Raven, the pulp Shadow (who could not "cloud men's minds"), the Spider, the Green Hornet, the Phantom (of Phantom Detective Magazine), etc.
- Marvels coins "the Marvels", which stuck for a while. Marvel 1602 refers to the Elizabethan area as the age of Marvels.
- Runaways once featured an arc where they ended up in 1907, while there they ran across multiple gangs of super-powered teenagers called "wonders". While some of these kids were obviously using magical or mechanically-based powers, a good number were undoubtedly mutants or mutates.
- Those who get powers through Gamma radiation are called "Gamma mutates".
- Marvel also has The Inhumans, who are like Mutants except their powers come from intentional exposure to a substance known as "Terrigen Mist".
- Alan Moore's Miracleman used "Parahuman".
- In the works of Alan Moore's America's Best Comics (ABC) series (Top 10, Promethea, Tom Strong and others), superheroes are referred to as "science heroes" (even the obviously magical ones). This was because the publisher Wildstorm, of which ABC was an imprint, was initially an independent company and therefore restricted from using the term "superhero" the trademark to which DC and Marvel have the joint trademark. By the time that DC acquired Wildstorm (much to Alan's displeasure) the ABC titles were already far enough into their run that "science hero" was retained.
- The Next Men were called, well, Next Men. Those "triggered" into mutation by having sex with Next Men, or being descended from those who did were called Halflings in the future prequel/sequel 2112.
- Rising Stars uses the term "Specials". In this world, all powered characters got their powers the same way.
- In Erik Larsen's The Savage Dragon, they are called "Freaks".
- Superman/Batman: The artificially-created world of The Maximums uses the term "super-soldier", in contrast to the main DC universe's "meta-human". One can infer that this is in reference to the way most of the Ultimate Marvel universe's heroes resulted from attempts to create super-soldiers, so this Bland-Name Product version uses that term for all superheroes.
- Valiant Comics' blanket term was "Harbingers", a term coined by Villain with Good Publicity Toyo Harada as part of his new humanity philosophy.
- In Watchmen, they are referred to as "costume heroes", "costumed adventurers", "masked avengers" or "masks", which is appropriate, as all but one of them don't have superpowers.
- The WildStorm Universe typically uses the term "post-human"... except for Welcome to Tranquility, which uses "maxis" to describe its aging Golden Age citizens.
- In Gen¹³, the standard phrase used by the Government Conspiracy is SPB, short for "Super Powered Being".
- Stormwatch: Team Achilles also use this term.
- The Authority also used the term "Mask".
- In Gen¹³, the standard phrase used by the Government Conspiracy is SPB, short for "Super Powered Being".
- In Chew, where all the powers are food or eating-related, the setting's blanket term is "food weirdos".
- The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye uses the term Outlier for Cybertronians who exhibit abilities in addition to their natural ability to change forms, like Skids and Trailcutter.
- Child of the Storm has most of its superhumans keep a low profile, even the powerful ones - as Harry notes in chapter 56 of the sequel, the Avengers are very definitely the exception, rather than the rule. However, among those who do know about them, they're broken down as follows:
- 'Magicals' or 'Practitioners' are broad terms for magic users, with those two being broken down into 'Wanded' and 'Wandless'. The latter distinction is more important than it initially seems: 'Wanded' wizards only live for about a century and a half, max, and need their wands to do anything substantive. 'Wandless' wizards have lifespans that vary based on power-level, with weaker ones living about as long as normal. Powerful ones, White Council members, live for at least three centuries, if not four or five, and don't need wands - but they have to develop their own spells, figure out their own unique gifts, and they're Walking Tech Bane. It's compared to being right or left-handed - you're born with it, but with time and training, you can bridge the gap. Both live in communities, though the Wandless tend to be much, much looser than the Wanded (who have actual governments. The Wandless have the White Council, and that's it).
- 'Mutants' are, well, mutants, and sub-divided into the Gamma, Delta, Beta, Alpha, Omega sub-classes based on power by SHIELD (as are all superhumans, it's just most prominent with mutants) - specifically, the kind of area they can affect. There's a degree of sub-division within each class, too - Charles Xavier and Storm are right at the top of Alpha Class (functionally defined as 'not Omega, but so close it hardly makes any difference'), while Cyclops is nearer the bottom of the same. Omega Class (examples including Magneto, Jean, Bobby Drake, and Harry), on the other hand, is pretty much anywhere from 'Continental' to 'Universal', with it being noted In-Universe that the scale was designed before humanity really started encountering potential planet-busters, let alone those higher up the scale, and consequently was adjusted on the fly.
- 'Enhanced' are classed under the same power-scale as Mutants, and vary from Super Soldiers like Captain America, to the likes of the Green Lantern. Essentially, they get powers from the outside, whether it's via a serum, or an artefact.
- The main cast of Holo-Chronicles is comprised of "talents", which are a generalized term for people with any sort of superpower, no matter its origin. Talents have a tendency to possess a multitude of abilities each, from individual skills and such to the somewhat more general "trait" abilities, such as the enhanced physical capabilities of almost anyone carrying the Predator Trait.
- Pokémon Reset Bloodlines has "bloodliners", essentially humans who have Pokémon-related powers and abilities. While their special abilities greatly vary from one individual to another, they all seem to share great physical strength and endurance, bigger resistance to injury and a heightened Healing Factor that allows them to recover from wounds much faster than normal humans.
- With mutants making up at least 1/8th of New York's population in Sacrifice (Ravenshell), various terms are thrown in (but as of yet remain unofficial) when it comes to mutants.
- Donatello briefly calls the new mutant population "Mutant-Americans" when April acknowledges this population boom.
- When Raphael addresses the crowd of mutants, he uses "mutanimals" for animal-based mutants, "mu-plants" for plant-based mutants, and "muchanicals" for machine-based mutants.
Films — Animated
- The Incredibles used the shortened form "Super" for all people with powers. Probably apt, since having powers doesn't necessarily mean you are (or were) a hero. The sequel does use the word "superhero", however.
Films — Live-Action
- Bright: Magic users are called "Brights" in this setting, and they're almost exclusively elves. Human and orc Brights (such as Jirak and Ward) are extremely rare.
- The DC Extended Universe uses "metahuman" as a catch-all term for people with superpowers. It's first introduced by Lex Luthor, who has files on various super-powered individuals, all of whom got their abilities from wildly different sources.
- Freaks (2018): They are formally called Abnormals, or informally called Freaks.
- The Marvel Cinematic Universe eschews the "Mutant" and "Mutate" terminology used by the comics for the term "enhanced individuals". It can refer to humans that were granted superpowers, like The Hulk and Spider-Man, as well as non-humans who have natural powers, like Thor and The Vision. Interestingly, the term seemingly can also refer to Badass Normal or purely tech-based heroes, as Ross calls the Avengers a team of enhanced individuals in Civil War despite the only superpowered members at the time being Captain America, Wanda Maximoff, and The Vision.
- Star Wars uses "Force-sensitive" for its particular brand of space wizards.
- The term Esper (from ESP User) was once used fairly frequently in science fiction to denote someone with Psychic Powers. Such authors as Alfred Bester, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein and Christopher Stasheff have used it in this context. Not to mention those cheerful children in AKIRA.
- In Final Fantasy VI, however, due to loose translation in the English-language version of the game, "Esper" refers to the magic-wielding monsters that can be summoned by players.
- The Boogiepop Series uses the term "MPLS" to refer to humans have suddenly gained special abilities. It's not known what MPLS actually means, just that the Towa Organization uses the term for those kinds of individuals.
- The Book of All Hours has the unkin, who can speak the Language of Magic to alter reality in ways that may as well be magic. Reversing entropy is a parlor trick.
- A Certain Magical Index also uses nōryokusha (literally "Ability User") to describe beings who gain supernatural powers by scientific means. The term nōryokusha is commonly translated in the fandom as "Esper"note, and proved to be so popular that Seven Seas Entertainment eventually switched their official translations from the original "Psychic" to "Esper" after lobbying by fans.
- Cradle Series: Those who take in aura, cycle it into madra, and use it for techniques are called "sacred artists," and these practices as a whole are referred to as "the sacred arts." The odd part is that the sacred arts are so varied and useful that everyone practices them. In most places, someone isn't considered a real sacred artist until they hit the Gold stage, which generally happens in their late teens. Therefore, the term "sacred artist" is used broadly in the same way one might use the term "adult."
- In The Curse Workers people with magical powers are commonly called "curse workers" or simply "workers"; the Technobabble term is "hyperbathygammic" or "HBG". "Heebiejeebies" is a somewhat derogatory term derived from the latter. Archaic terms include "theurgists" and "dab hands".
- People with powers fall into several different groups, referred to by different names. The zombie-like screamers are called chorus by the Composer, the singers are called conductors, and the people who are not under the Composer's direct control are called speakers by the general public and directors by the Composer (with those who follow the Composer willingly called renegades or Blackguards, to mirror the Paladins who are the primary group of speakers). The one at the top is simply called the Composer by both sides; it's implied he deliberately seeded that name on the internet beforehand.
- Inverted with the toy maker. There's no general term for the people who use it, though they are referred to whatever culture they belong to, that's more comparable to nationality. People who are not obviously modified are referred to as "baseline".
- There is a portion of humanity in The Empirium Trilogy who are known as elementals, people who have a closer connection to the empirium and thus have power of one of seven elements: light, air, water, earth, fire, shadows, and metal.
- In Fred, The Vampire Accountant, the official government term for any sort of supernatural being is Parahuman. On occasion, Fred will also refer to himself as an Undead-American.
- Graceling Realm has the Gracelings, blessed or cursed with different-colored eyes and a superpower.
- People with innate superpowers are called Magicals or Actives in The Grimnoir Chronicles.
- In Harry Potter, all magically-endowed people are Wizards or Witches. Other terms, like "sorcerer" or "warlock", are occasionally used in passing and usually not expounded upon, though The Tales of Beedle the Bard explains that "warlock" is a title for a very powerful/accomplished wizard, similar to "knight".
- The use of the term "Esper" (see below) in Haruhi Suzumiya is used by Haruhi in the context of "has special powers", although the original meaning of Alfred Bester and those he inspired is generally specific to telepathy or at least Psychic Powers in general. This is the result of an unusual translation convention. The original Japanese uses the far-more-generic "chōnōryokusha", which can be broken down literally into "super ability person".
- The Infected has off-brand mutants called the Infected. The powers come with some mental issues and sometimes physical deformities, so it was studied with pathology in the early days and the name just stuck.
- In The Laundry Files, superpowers (actually the ability to instinctively cast ritual magic, but best that the general public not know that) manifest at various levels of power, generally falling on a normal distribution. Empowered people are referred to by those in the know in terms of standard deviations ("sigma") above the mean, and super-powereds are generally referred to in this way, with a moderately superpowered individual referred to as a "2-sigma" for example.
- Ayize Jama-Barrett's novel The Liminal People has the protagonist referring to himself and other superpowered individuals as "liminal" or existing in a liminal state as they are usually on the fringes of society.
- Mistborn: The Original Trilogy, has Mistings, who can use one Allomantic power, and Mistborn, who can use all of them. Mistings and Mistborn collectively are known as Allomancers. There are also Feruchemists, who can use all Feruchemical powers.
- The sequel series Wax and Wayne adds Ferrings (one Feruchemical power), Twinborn (one Allomantic and one Feruchemical power), and Compounders (a Twinborn who's Allomantic and Feruchemical powers use the same metal). Metalborn is the blanket term for all of the above, although the powers have gotten weaker across generations, such that full powered Mistborn and Feruchemists are extremely rare to the point of being basically nonexistent.
- The New Heroes: The superpower characters are called superhumans.
- The Nightfall books by Mickey Zucker Reichert feature individuals with "natal talents".
- In Night Watch (Series), they are called Others.
- The use of the name Homo Superior goes back at least to the 1930 story Odd John by Olaf Stapledon. It's been used everywhere from pulp sci-fi to Marvel Comics to The Tomorrow People to refer to superhumans as the "next stage of evolution".
- Yet another Brandon work, The Reckoners Trilogy, uses the term "Epics". "Superhero" was hardly appropriate, since very nearly every Epic is irredeemably evil.
- In Relativity, "cape" is a derogatory term for superheroes, mostly used by cops who believe that superheroes should not be "interfering" with police business. (The regular, non-derogatory words used are just "superhero" or "crimefighter".)
- Renegades calls its superhumans "prodigies", though they still use the terms like superhero, supervillain and superpowers (althoug the latter are formally referred to as "prodigious abilities" in official documents).
- In Rumor's Block, super powered individuals are referred to as Walkers due to a peice of viral graffiti that appeared around the time of the first public super hero.
- In Shadow Ops, anyone who can use magic is referred to as a "Latent." Those who choose to not be subject to the Super Registration Act are called "Selfers" for their apparent "selfishness."
- In the Shapeshifter series by Ali Sparkes, superpowered people are dubbed COLAs or Children Of Limitless Ability due to them all being under the age of fifteen.
- In The Stormlight Archive the has Surgebinders, who use Stormlight to Surgebind, each type having access to two of the 10 surges based on which Spren they are bound to. Radiant is also often used, but not strictly correct, as The Knights Radiant were an ancient organization whose members were Surgebinders. While the organization is being re-founded in Modern times, there was a several thousand year gap in the history, and it's entirely possible to become a Surgbinder without joining the Radiants. There's also Lift, who refers to her powers as "being awesome".
- In Super Powereds, people with superpowers are called with Supers or Powereds, depending on whether they're able to control their abilities. Both Supers and regular humans look down on Powereds, who make up 3/4 of all individuals with abilities. Technically, the official term for both groups is Variant Human, although it's rarely ever used, except in the name of the agency overseeing them: Department of Variant Human Affairs (DVA).
- The Temps shared world of tongue-in-cheek British superheroics used "paranorm". As well as the accepted and standard term, however, it was also a slur used by All of the Other Reindeer. The powered individuals themselves preferred "Talented".
- Those Who Walk in Darkness and What Fire Cannot Burn by John Ridley call them metanormals.
- In Touch, superpowers are revealed to be magical in origin. While terms like "mage" seem to be preferred by those who have a lineage of special abilities, official government records refer to them as "deviations" and the process of getting them as "deviance."
- The Anne McCaffrey Tower and the Hive novel series, and its prequels, the To Ride Pegasus trilogy, used "Talents" for all those born with Psychic Powers, the first story in that Verse having been written in 1959.
- A handful of the Diné in Trail of Lightning inherit powers based on their parents' clans. Each clan has a specific power ranging from healing and super-speed down to communicating with turkeys.
- Vicious has EOs, or ExtraOrdinaries.
- In Wild Cards, the technical term for someone touched by the xenovirus Takis-A is "metahuman", but it rarely gets used outside of scientific literature, and peoole generally use a Playing Card Motif:
- Aces are the lucky ones who got a useful superpower from their infection. They were originally called exotics.
- Deuces got a lame or useless superpower like changing the shape of their tattoo (Ink) or the ability to smell wild cards (Digger Downs). A character with the ability to set his hands on fire (but without the Required Secondary Power of a fireproof body) and an extremely high bodily temperature claims to be little better than a joker, forced to always have his AC on and sleep in asbestos sheet to prevent accidents.
- Jokers got their appearance mutated by the infection, ranging very minor to full-on Body Horror. However some jokers also got some powers out of the deal and are sometimes referred to as joker-aces. In fact Peregrine, a Winged Humanoid, is considered as an ace by the public, but as a joker by medical science (and herself). The distinction between ace and joker-ace tends to be fuzzy and seems to largely come down to how conventionally attractive an individual is.
- In Worm, people with powers in general are known as "parahumans," while those who put on a costume and try to become a villain or hero are referred to as "capes." Parahumans who use their power exclusively for business or personal reasons, or choose not to use them at all (e.g. Parian, who takes paying jobs animating cloth mascots as promotional stunts) are referred to as "rogues." The term originated when it was assumed that the majority of parahumans would be heroes, thus the negative connotation, but as the total number of parahumans has increased, governments are generally encouraging more parahumans to become rogues and live more or less normal lives. In fact, using one's powers for profit is perfectly legal, and rogues who choose to register themselves may even be provided government assistance in a few different ways.
- There are also a number of classifications like "Mover" or "Blaster", usually followed by a number ranging from roughly 1-10 (there's technically no upper limit, with more powerful abilities being above 10), which are used as a shorthand to explain roughly what type of power a person has and how powerful it is. For example someone who can fly might be a Mover 3, while a teleportation ability might be a Mover 5 or more, depending on it's restrictions. Considering the enormous range of powers that exist in the setting, many parahumans will have ratings in two or more categories, as well as those that don't really fit neatly in any category.
- Xanth has three classes of superpower. Mundane: No magic. Magician: Incredibly powerful magic. The rest of Xanth's inhabitants (with no special name, other than "everybody") each have a magic talent that falls between the two extremes. Those who can do exceedingly minor things like conjuring rotten pineapples or chlorinating water are referred to in A Spell for Chameleon as having "Spot on the Wall"-type talents, from the ultimate example: making a small, colored spot appear on the wall.
- The 4400 refers to the 4,400 people with superpowers as "returnees", due to the way they were abducted from the past and then returned all at once with powers added. Those who acquire their powers in the present day using the Super Serum Promicin are unnamed.
- The term "p-positive" has been used, short for "promicin-positive" with the plural being simply "p-positives".
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. uses the term "Gifted" to describe individuals with superhuman abilities. Word of God states this is because the show can't use the word "Mutant" due to Fox having the rights to the X-Men Film Series. "Enhanced" and "powered people" also get thrown around in the second season, with Simmons actually complaining at one point that categorizing them under a blanket term isn't working because it doesn't differentiate between genetically intrinsic gifts and those gained through outside sources such as experimentation. The issue is further clouded by The Inhumans, who have a genetically intrinsic gift that must be activated by an outside source.
- Alphas, obviously, uses the term alphas.
- Babylon 5 just calls all psychics Telepaths or "Teeps", since that is far and away their most common power. They also refer to the small subset of Telepaths with a telekinetic talent as "Teeks". Among themselves, telepaths refer to normal humans as "Mundanes".
- Birds of Prey (2002) seems to take place in a bizarre version of The DCU where the only superpowered individuals are metahumans, called "metas" for short. note
- The Boys (2019): Super-abled or "supe" for short.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: To the protagonists and magically-inclined people, most non-human supernatural beings are collectively referred to as demons regardless of their moral stance. (Vampires are technically a subset of demons.) The more scientifically-minded Initiative wound up calling them "Hostile Sub-Terrestrials," often abbreviated as "HSTs" or "Hostile Sub-T's."
- In The Crossing, superpowered super humans are called Apex, and they rule over the Commons and plan to genocide them all.
- In Firefly, psychics are informally referred to as "readers." While the term is only used once in the series itself, it's apparently common enough that when Mal says he thinks River is a reader, Zoe immediately responds with "Psychic?"
- The Arrowverse uses "metahumans", just like the comics. The name originated in The Flash (2014) and has since expanded to other shows in the franchise. It was also used by Black Lightning (2018) before that show was officially incorporated into the Arrowverse during the Crisis on Infinite Earths (2019) event. It is a rather broad term that is used for any kind of superpowered human, regardless of how they gained their powers.
- Grimm uses the term "Wesen" (German for "creature" and pronounced with a "v" sound) for humans with a super natural side. Each kind of Wesen has a specific name, usually in faux-German (the original Grimms were German, after all), although a few of the names are in French (e.g. Mauvais Dentes), Russian (e.g. Koschie), Spanish (e.g. El Cucuy), Eastern Maninkakan (e.g. Jinnamuru Xunte), etc.
- In Haven, the Troubled are people who have started to (or always did) display strange powers.
- It is apparently public policy in the real world to refer to the mutants on Heroes as, well, "Heroes". This ignores the ones that are apathetic to the cause of Justice, have their own neutral agendas, are incidental to the plot, or, let's face it, are just plain evil.
- In-show, though, collective terms are rarely used, other than vague terms such as "others like me".
- In the dystopian future where it's common knowledge that there are people with powers, they tend to be referred to as "the special people". The online comics show that it's apparently "The Company"'s policy to describe them as "specials". Danko of Volume 4 used "Specials" at least once.
- Volume 4 seems to have Danko's Cape Busters team refer to them mainly as "individuals with abilities".
- Season 3 supervillain Knox quite straightforwardly refers to people like him as "supers", although he's pretty much alone in doing so.
- The general fan consensus seems to have "evolved humans" being the term of choice, so much so that even NBC's publicity department is using it.
- "Specials" becomes a general term late in Volume 5.
- Heroes Reborn (2015) has "evos", short for "evolved humans".
- The Showa Kamen Riders have "reconstructed humans (kaizo ningen)".
- Mutant X uses the slightly strange term "New Mutants". No mention is ever made of "Old Mutants". Maybe it's to distinguish their differences from actual mutations.
- The Nevers: A random group of people living in the UK given superpowers by an alien ship passing overhead are called "the Touched".
- On the TV version of Painkiller Jane, all those with powers except for the title character are called Neuros, short for Neurological Aberration. That's because Neuros are only the failed stage 1 experiments. Jane is stage 2.
- Sanctuary uses the term "abnormals" for humans with strange qualities. They also use the term to refer to non-human cryptids, such as merpeople and sasquatch. It is not clear whether the term also applies to the non-sentient cryptids — no one has yet used the term directly when talking about a specific non-sentient animal, but Magnus does refer to the Sanctuary's residents collectively as "abnormals".
- Smallville called people with special powers "Meteor Freaks", though "metahuman" came into use for non-Green Rocks empowered superhumans.
- The second pilot of Star Trek: The Original Series used the term "Esper" a few times, referring to those whose ESP ratings were higher than average, normal Human or not. No doubt borrowed the term from Asimov.
- In The Tick (2016), government agency AEGIS has a category system to rank superheroes, therefore everyone uses the term "category" to refer to superhumans.
- The Tomorrow People. It's right there in the name.
- The X-Files often referred to the more human freaks of the week as "mutants", "genetic mutations" or "genetic aberrations".
- In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, while "superheroes" is commonly used to refer to the kids who gained powers (since superhero comics exist in the universe and many of the kids are savvy to them), the other most popular term is "empowered".
- Destine Enormity uses the phrase "Power Users," although its opposite term, "Normals," is more commonly used. They rarely need to talk about Power Users, in much the same way that fish rarely need to talk about water.
- Aberrant uses "novas" (a general pop culture term for superhumans) and "aberrants" (the superhuman equivalent of the N-word).
- The powered beings of the Adventure! game (set decades earlier, when a lesser version of the Aberrant Meta Origin kick-starts a Golden Age) are "stalwarts" or "daredevils". (Daredevils are either Badass Normals or characters with "luck" powers, depending on which sourcebook you read).
- Non-Aberrant Psychics have a separate terminology: they're called "mesmerists" in Adventure!, "psychs" in Aberrant and "psions" in the future setting of Trinity.
- The superhero RPG Brave New World uses the term "deltas" to refer to heroes, as delta represents the process of change in scientific formulae. Particularly powerful "evolved" delta heroes are called "alphas".
- And if some other books ever saw the light, there could be omegas and infinities.
- Chronicles of Darkness is usually all about the monsters, but games often feature unusually powered humans who get their own terminology.
- Promethean: The Created has Demiurges. In short, they're Mad Scientists. In long, they're people who are able to channel Pyros, the Divine Fire, to create life, at the expense of sanity.
- Sin Eaters are humans who came quite literally close to Death's Door, then returned to the mortal coil with powers relating to ghosts.
- Stigmatics are those who can perceive angels, demons, and other parts of the God-Machine.
- Beast: The Primordial gives us Heroes, who were chosen by the Primordial Dream to be the heroes of myth reincarnated, and feel compelled to seek and slay Beasts. Don't let the name fool you, they're jerks.
- From Eclipse Phase, in the wide, weird world(s) of transhumanity, one of the few things that simply refuses to be explained is the Exsurgent virus that came about during The Fall, one of the strangest, most horrible, and most unpredictable weapons created by the Titans. It's so virulent that it can change from computer virus, to biological plague, to nanobot plague, to a sensory stimulus that can subvert the human mind. For a few biological and nanobot strains, they can mutate people into horrible alien creatures; or if you're "lucky," you'll get infected by the Watts-Macleod strain, which turns you into a psychic "async" (named for their asyncronous brainwaves). While the good news is psychic powers, the bad news is that they often suffer mental disease and psychological conditions, psychopathy and feeling a "tremendous presence" being some of the most common. It's not known how asyncs work, but it's thought that their brain is turned into a new kind of wetware device that runs on Sufficiently Advanced Technology.
- The eponymous Exalted are defenders of Creation, and they regularly face: demons from Hell, the legions of the dead, mutant fairy elves from beyond reality, and themselves. Mostly themselves. In the second edition, to hammer the point that they're supes, each type of Exalt has their own Supernatural Martial Arts, called (Exalt-type) Hero-style.
- The Tabletop RPG Godlike and its sequel, Wild Talents, use "talents".
- GURPS Supers uses "supers," naturally enough, throughout the rules, but within the "house setting" of the International Super Teams world, "metahuman" or "meta" is preferred (at least in English-speaking countries; other languages have their own terms).
- Mutants & Masterminds:
- The "Paragons" setting typically uses "paranormals" to describe people with obvious powers and "stealth paranormals" for those cases where it's hard to tell.
- The Freedom City setting generally uses "metahuman", however this is only in American English. In British English, they're called "powers", hence the UK's Government Agency of Fiction being the Ministry of Powers.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- They're not superheroes by any means, but those poor bastards born with mental powers are called "Psykers."
- They also use "abhumans" for stable human subspecies (like Ratlings and Ogryns). Many in the Imperium simply consider them "mutants" out of prejudice.
- For actual "mutants", most have bodies that are twisted and deviant from the normal humans, most times from circumstances of birth (such as being gestated and born into a heavily polluted area or a poor genetic legacy). Then there are people who become worshipers of Chaos whose bodies twist and change through exposure to Chaotic energies. (These people would more accurately be called "mutates", but the devs missed that one.) Chaos worshipers' twisted bodies are heritable, giving rise to the former kind of mutant, but the progeny will likely be both. The first kind of mutant will often become both, since the Imperium will either kill them on sight or tolerate them as second class citizens, and only just.
- In City of Heroes the super-powerful characters are generally just referred to as heroes or villains. Different factions in the game have different names — among them "capes", "cowls", "cloaks", "masks" (black mask for villains) and "Boy Scouts". The Circle of Thorns, the local sorcerous society, calls them "the Gifted". Arachnos calls their freelance supervillains "Destined Ones" as part of their overarching metaplot, while Malta, the high-tech secret anti-hero conspiracy, refers to them as "metahumans". Otherwise, you'll find people using just about any term on the list.
- Dragon Age:
- Mages, with terms like "apostate" or "hedge witch" for those who live outside the Mutant Draft Board.
- The qunari call all their mages "Saarebas". Given that, in qunari society, your name = your job, this is also the name of all mages. The word literally translates to "dangerous thing".
- Fable refers to all humans with supernatural powers as "Heroes," regardless of whether they are good or evil. They bear more resemblance to ancient Greek heroes who were more interested in fame and glory than the more modern 'good' hero meaning.
- In the Heroes Rise trilogy, they are called Powered.
- The superpowered humans in Infamous are referred to as "Conduits." The gene that marks a human as a Conduit allows one to channel, or be a conduit for, Ray Field Energy and gain superpowers through exposure to it. The Good ending of the second game has Cole destroy all conduits (including himself) in order to save the Muggles of the world while the Evil ending has the reverse happening... At least until Infamous Second Son, which reveals that Conduits survived and are now treated as "Bio-Terrorists" by the Department of Unified Protection.
- In Legacy Of Heroes they are called 'Emergents'.
- Mass Effect:
- People exposed to element zero in utero have a chance of developing gravity-warping powers. They are known as biotics. Justified in that it isn't pure brainpower that lets them perform incredible feats, and several in-universe sources hint that the name was deliberately chosen to keep people from misunderstanding what biotics are capable of (e.g. no mindreading). The Asari complicate matters, as they are all biotics and they do appear able to read minds. This is related to their method of reproduction (synching their nervous system with that of another person), however, and not biotic at all.
- Further complicated by Protheans, who were capable of scanning someone with a touch and transferring memories the same way. This is why their beacons are psychic. They just didn't realize that this ability wouldn't manifest in the next cycle.
- Numan Athletics and its sequel Mach Breakers has the Numan Athletes, of whom are playable characters for their own olympics-like tournament. In the first game, they describe themselves as "modern day supermen".
- The somewhat awkward term "Psychiccer" is used in Psychic Force.
- Control uses "parautilitarians" to describe people who bonded various Objects of Power, granting them supernatural abilities.
- In the Azure Striker Gunvolt Series, superpowers are called "Septima", and the superpowered people are called "Adepts". The terms are different in the Japanese version; both the powers and the people are called "Seventh". In the Japanese version of Luminous Avenger iX, the powers are called "Septima", but the people are called "Septima Holders".
- Amya refers to humans with powers as "spell-touched".
- Bloody Urban uses "Paranormals" as a broad term which includes all manner of supernatural characters, and "Indigos" as a term for humans born with Psychic Powers. (These people have indigo auras, hence the name.)
- Blue Yonder has "capes."
- El Goonish Shive:
- People with magic potential but no magical abilities are Sleeping, people with some magic but no way to get more yet are Dreaming, and people who have gained full access to magic are Awakened. Awakened people who can copy other people's spells (and may or may not be able to gain their own) are wizards, while wizards who have an inherent understanding of magic are seers.
- Uryuom hybrids are called "seyunolu", which is the uryuom word for chimera. That's further split into both lesser and greater seyunolu depending on whether they actually have uryuom DNA.
- Everyday Heroes calls them "supes".
- Inhibit refers to those with superpowers as "variants."
- Mob Psycho 100 uses "chōnōryokusha" interchangeably with the English word "esper" to refer to individuals with supernatural powers. The exception to this is Reigen, who insists he's instead "psychic" ("reinōsha" in Japanese) to dodge any questions Mob has about his complete lack of aura or spiritual energy.
- Paranatural refers to those who draw upon the power of Spirits as Spectrals, with two distinctions depending on how the power is being accessed. Those using objects that have a Spirit possessing them to channel it's powers aren't given a specific name in favour of dubbing these possessed objects Tools, but Spectrals who's bodies are the thing housing a Spirit are referred to as Mediums.
- The Specialists features ubermenschen.
- The Story of Anima calls those can manifest their Anima "Animus".
- Strong Female Protagonist uses "biodynamic" as the technical term for all superpowered people, as well as more specific terms such as "dynamorphic", which refers to people whose physical appearance was permanently changed by their powers. Non-powered people are "chromosomally stable" or "biostatic". There's also the Fantastic Slur "nef", derived from "nephilim".
- In Arrow and Ace, powers are called "talents". Those who use them are called "talent users" though official supers are still known as heroes.
- Artifice Comics uses "Post Moderns".
- The ASH universe refers to the most powerful as Supernaturals and the lesser lights as Supernormals.
- Referred to as "Atypicals" in The Bright Sessions.
- The Descendants sees the news media and most mature people using 'prelate' instead of superhero while the younger generation calls a spade a spade.
- It also uses the word 'psychic' to describe everyone with superpowers, whether that accurately describes their powers or not. The word 'descendant' is starting to displace that, though, now that the origins of their powers are confirmed.
- Enter the Farside has two types of superpowered individuals: 'Farborn' are born randomly with unique abilities and are identified by unusual events happening at the moment of their birth. 'Fargraced' are people who are unfortunate enough to randomly slip through a crack in reality and enter the Farside, usually coming back as a gibbering, crying wreck with special powers.
- For even more classifications, people who work for the NFU (National Farside Unit) are known as 'Agents', whilst people that don't that aren't criminals are known as 'Independent Operatives'.
- In Epithet Erased around one in every five people is Inscribed with an Epithet, granting them special powers.
- Magic, Metahumans, Martians and Mushroom Clouds: An Alternate Cold War: As shown in the title, this timeline uses the term "metahuman" for people with powers, though it's noted that other terms are used by different nations at different points.
- In The New Humans, the official term used by many Commonwealth governments is "demi-humans". Lawrence finds this insulting and prefers "new humans" or "posthumans". "Supers" is a common shorthand slang.
- In New Vindicators, the superhumans are called Super Powered Beings ("speeb" is an insulting term), with further sub groups. Those who have psionic powers (that any human can potentially unlock) are called Espers, while the majority are called Neo-Sapiens. The Neos are descended from Biblical Nephilim, the children of fallen angels and humans, and Nephilim are still around, though few know of them as a distinct group.
- The Omega Universe calls them ... well, omegas.
- There aren't a whole lot of superheroes in the SCP Foundation, but Dr. Clef runs through the gamut of those who can shape reality:
"Reality Benders. Type Greens. Mary Sues. Bixbies, Shapers, Wizards, Gods, Devils, Outside Observers, call them what you will, these are the guys that change reality based on perception and willpower."
- Anomaly and Anomalous are used to describe the category of SCP objects in general and is the only official term used to describe the objects in general. As such, human (or human-like) SCPs are described as anomalous. Likewise, individuals affected by an SCP to have unusual properties are described as, simply, 'affected' or 'anomalous', with anomalous being used when the effect seems to be long-term and stable, in which case the individual will receive a number designation based on what affected them, or in rare cases, a new SCP.
- The Global Occult Coalition, which is one of the SCP Foundation's rival organizations, classifies anomalous humanoids with color codes. For example, a Type Green is a Reality Warper, Type Blue is a Thaumatologist, and Type Black is a Demi-Deity. More code words are listed on this page.
- Another word used in the Foundationverse is Anartist, a portmanteau of anomalous and artist. They are people who create Anomalous Art. Anartists may possibly be Type Greens or Type Blues.
- Stone Burners makes use of both superhumans, metahumans, and parahumans.
- In Super Stories, the narrator Veldron refers to such people as superhumans, but this may not be universal — the superpowered police force is called the Metapatrol, for instance.
- In the Whateley Universe, most of them are "mutants", unless they're being called names by someone who doesn't like them: "Gene filth", "gene deviant", and so on. There are also various other types of 'Empowered' who are not mutants: these range from "Imbued" (empowered by a supernatural being, similar to Shazam! or Moon Knight), "Dynahosts" (an external spirit being called a 'dynamorph' bonding with you), "Augmented" (someone put through a Super Soldier process or similar empowering procedure), "Espers" (non-mutant psychics), "Exaltations" (empowerment through another super's powers, usually temporarily), "Schimmlehorn Scientists" (Mad Scientists who have The Spark of Genius which warps reality to fit their theories), or "Origins" (Pretty much anything else, with the causal event sometimes called a "Batson Factor" when no one understands how it happened). There are also "mages" who are skilled in the use of magic but not because of a mutation, and also various supernatural entities such as Faerie (who may be mutants whose power is 'turn into a Fae', or else ancient hold-overs of the bygone 'Five-Fold Court' that ruled Atlantis), spirits, gods (of various flavors, including Olympian, Egyptian, Japanese, and Lovecraftian), and werewolves. All of that is before even getting into the elaborate jargon which experts use to categorize them by power (especially the mutants, thanks mostly to Whateley Academy itself) or power source, with terms such as 'Warper', 'PK Brick', 'Manifestor', 'Energizer', and 'Avatar' getting bandied about. They all still get lumped together as 'superheroes' and 'supervillains' by most people, though.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, the ability to control one of the four elements is called "bending". Bending is common but not universal amongst people in the world, and the four different bending styles are divided between four major ethnic/national/genetic groups. The Avatar is one person reincarnated in each generation who has the power to bend all four elements (and also a fifth element ability) and is born in a cyclical movement between the four primary bending groups. Aang, the Avatar during The Last Airbender is...well an Airbender. His predecessor was the Firebender Roku and his successor and protagonist of her own show is the Waterbender Korra.
- The term E.V.O. (Exponentially Variegated Organism) in Generator Rex is used to describe any living being with active nanites. Unlike other examples, due to there being potentially active nanites all over the world, the term can apply to anything alive. During the course of the show; humans, animals, plants, fungi, virus and even aliens have become E.V.O.s due to the nanites.
- Static Shock uses "Bang Baby" to describe humans mutated by the industrial gas explosion known as the "Big Bang" and Static himself considers the term mutant to be degrading (Take That!, X-Men). Eventually, they settle on 'metahuman' as more non-Big Bang supers started showing up (and when the show became a more established part of the DCAU).
- The protagonists of W.I.T.C.H. are called "Guardians", not Magical Girls.
- Young Justice (2010) uses the term "Metahuman" to describe people born with superhuman abilities. There's even a Meta-Gene that factors heavily into the second season. True to DC form, the application of the term is somewhat inconsistent, usually applying to Meta-Gene bearers but also occasionally used for all superheroes and villains, as well as the genetically engineered, alien-hybrid Genomorphs.