I should probably start with this to get a few answers I know are coming my way right out of the equation altogether:

  1. No, this isn't the age-old question of "If you could have superpowers...?" but just asking a general question of the single greatest ability for ANYONE to possess.
  2. No, you can't say "Omnipotence" or "Omniscience" or Omnipresence" or "Omni-" anything; that's cheating. Obviously. Also, no Magic--it's too broad a concept, and covers far too much room to classify effectively, and it's kinda invalidated in worlds where EVERYONE has Magic since it's never treated like a superpower in those type of settings.
  3. This is a singular power, and we're going to be taking this in a vacuum and assuming that this singular power, in possession by a random person or other sentient corporeal being, exists exclusively on its own, which takes out all abilities that grant/revoke/boost/weaken/steal/drain/reverse/manipulate/etc. other superpowers.

Here's the groundwork: How would you decide what the best possible superpower is?

  • Is it by the scale your power can reach (affecting everyone in a large city to encompassing entire planets, and even further than that)?
  • The amount of influence your power has/is capable of changing (like, teleporting from your house to the other side of the planet in the blink of an eye)?
  • Is it about the capability it has to destroy? To create? To repair?
  • The learning curve needed to fully utilize and master it (I'd think superhuman strength would be a lot easier to just pick up and learn as opposed to gaining the power to rewrite all of reality down to a subatomic level)?
  • How well it can be used in a fight (like pyrokinesis)? How well it can be used OUT of any confrontation (like super speed), or even how well you can avoid any type of conflict period (like invisibility)?
  • Maybe it's the versatility of how the power can be applied (like telekinesis; you could grab things just out of your reach, manipulate multiple objects at a time, perform surgery, and even flip cars with enough practice)?
  • What about the amount of change created in proximity to the amount of effort output (like waving your hand to cause a house to explode or reducing someone to ashes just by touching them; extremely minimal effort into big change)?

What is the determining factor that would go into deciding what the "Best [Single] Superpower" would be? The one ability that would almost completely invalidate all other superpowers; if not completely unstoppable, then at the very least not easily overcome or very difficult to counter against without careful planning.

TL;DR version: What's the best superpower, and why would be considered THE greatest/most useful/most helpful superpower?

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    $\begingroup$ I think this is just calling for opinions. what is best strongly depends on what problem you are trying to solve: a diamond rigged gold fork will do a poor job at eating a soup just as a carton fork. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica May 2 '19 at 9:10
  • $\begingroup$ It's asking what factors would be applicable in determining what superpower would be the most versatile and most useful. It has nothing to do with opinions because it specifically asks what makes a superpower considered useful and asking why people would want a specific ability? You're talking about something completely situational, and therefore not relevant. $\endgroup$ – anon May 2 '19 at 9:13
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    $\begingroup$ Just a thought, If you take an example of any superhero present out there, you would notice certain common traits like willpower, quick thinking, adaptable to change, etc. If you have the right mix of these, any good power will be good enough. But no one power can be better than another one, as it all depends on the circumstances. A Shark is powerful, but it can't do anything out of the water, similarly, a Lion is useless in an ocean. $\endgroup$ – V.Aggarwal May 2 '19 at 9:31
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    $\begingroup$ The reason @L.Dutch is right is this: what's the most valuable human trait? Intelligence? strength? adaptability? Intelligence is: if you have the time to put it to work. Strength is: if you don't have the time to put intelligence to work. Adaptability is: if you can't control what's happening to you. What you call "situational" our help center calls restrictions & requirements that must be included with your question. You can't judge anything if you don't understand the nature of the test. (A .22 bullet is better than a .50 cal shell - if the test is to hide it in your shoe.) $\endgroup$ – JBH May 2 '19 at 13:44
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    $\begingroup$ Hi, please don't vandalize your own question. If you would like your username removed from the post, please see the instructions in meta.stackexchange.com/q/96732/274942. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 May 3 '19 at 15:54


"Precognition (from the Latin prae-, "before" and cognitio, "acquiring knowledge"), also called prescience, future vision, future sight is a claimed psychic ability to see events in the future"

Basically you can't surprise a precog. They know exactly what you'll do before you know which allows them to plan and test to work out a solution where they win and you lose.

enter image description here Doctor Strange in Avengers looked to the future for a way to beat Thanos. He saw over fourteen million possible futures and the Avengers only won in one possible future. Guess which future came to pass? And this was against someone who could wipe out half of existance just by snapping his fingers.

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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps one of the most universal answers. Sadly, being totally precognitif (a.k.a. not limit of time) is 50% of omniscience, in a way: you're exploring all of what is to come. The only things you do not know are in the past (albeit exploring research about the past in the future could yield the answers you seek). So not against the rule of the question, but definitely threading the line :P But you have my +1 $\endgroup$ – Nyakouai May 2 '19 at 14:39
  • $\begingroup$ It's not the same as omniscience as you don't know the all the answers, you just get unlimited attempts to try again if you're wrong. It's like being in a time loop where the same day resets at midnight unless you're happy with the outcome of the day. $\endgroup$ – Thorne May 3 '19 at 1:34
  • $\begingroup$ Trying all the attempt you want is technically a mean to get all the answers. In the fourteen million possible futures, all dictated by his decisions at instant T, he can experiment any line of research in future 1, then any other line in future 2 - capitalizing on what he learned during future 1... And so on in all the futures explored. He could try all social interactions with one person until he roughly figures what that person thinks. With no limit, this exploration expands exponentially with time. So roughly 50% of all time ever (+ research about past). Looks close to omniscience to me. $\endgroup$ – Nyakouai May 3 '19 at 7:28
  • $\begingroup$ The movie Next is actually a good take on a person with a 2 minutes insight, and he is almost impossible to surprise. With the time stone, Dr Strange can go explore freely through time and is basically immortal. Had he not required so much time to parse possibilities, he would have found a way to defeat Thanos on the spot. Precognition is the easiest power to exploit in order to attain omniscience. $\endgroup$ – Nyakouai May 3 '19 at 7:35
  • $\begingroup$ The Jedi can see only a second or two into the future and they can use this to deflect blaster bolts back to the shooter. $\endgroup$ – Thorne May 6 '19 at 11:06

Rock Paper Scissors (Lizard Spock)

Every power is situational, every power has a counter.

You have to class all the powers on your list, e.g. offensive, defensive, creative, destructive. How is it used, how is it countered. Then you run up a case study for each superpower in isolation.

You'll find that the most powerful is a combination of two powers together, though having three would likely be too much for any attempt at balance.

Let's consider a couple of examples.

Charles Xavier, telepathy.

Strength lies in the ability to find, communicate with, and control others. The weakness of his power is that he can be blocked technologically, by a proverbial tinfoil hat. In practice it's only a particularly powerful ability if surrounded by others with power he can use by proxy. Alone he's pretty weak.

Erik Lehnsherr, control of metals

This is a good one, there's always metal lying around in a modern technological society. Usable offensively and defensively, however it's still a modern age power, put him in a plastic box, or a stone age society, and there's not a lot he can do.

In summary, excluding omnipotence as you have, there is no "best" superpower. There is only the best superpower in the situation you have created, given the constraints you're under. If you want to create an interesting story then you have to put your characters with superpowers in situations where those powers don't directly apply. You put Wolverine in a situation he can't punch his way out of, Deadpool in a place where killing everyone isn't actually a valid solution.

  • $\begingroup$ So, you’re basically arguing something like Adaptation or Accelerated Evolution? Something that can allow you to adapt to any scenario thrown your way or react to anything that could be dangerous to you; alright, there’s definitely an argument that can be made for a power like that and the practical applications are certainly innumerable. $\endgroup$ – anon May 2 '19 at 10:15
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    $\begingroup$ @TheMurderofAngelaTyler, one could suggest that the ability to have any power as required is treading dangerously close to omnipotence and against your own rules. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix May 2 '19 at 10:27
  • $\begingroup$ @TheMurderofAngelaTyler it's an extremely specific interpretation (though not wrong) of Separatrix answer. One other reading could be: best super-power is scenarium. Cause Wolverine is rarely put for long in a situation he can't slice in pieces (otherwise, there would not be a story). But I think the first and intended meaning is also the truest. The "best" heavily depends on the context and is therefore subjective and situationnal. (If I did not grossly misunderstood this answer) $\endgroup$ – Nyakouai May 2 '19 at 14:43

This will likely be a very subjective answer, but I would opt for "immortality" in the truest sense of the word - you will neither age and die of old age nor can you be killed by any means.

Basically, this gives you many advantages, the biggest of all: time is not an issue! You have all the time in the world to hone and practice specific talents or skills, research and acquire specific knowledge etc. even without omniscience and omnipotence. You failed something once? You can rise up again and try again - and again - and again.

With time not being an issue, you can accumulate wealth over time and also minions/followers by bribing, regularly paying, employing etc. them in your family business which has being run for generations and inspires loyalty in the children and grand children of your former workers who still work for you.

With all the time in the world at your disposal, you can outlive any opponent who will die sooner or later never mind how powerful his/her abilities might be for the period of their life time. Once they are dead, you are still there and can continue with your plans! This makes immortality stronger on the long run than any other ability which might be available to anyone else.

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    $\begingroup$ Immortals are easy to deal with, just drop them into a black hole. Burying them in a steel box is technically sufficient, but black holes are more permanent. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix May 2 '19 at 9:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Alex2006 Being immortal does not mean immune to danger, If someone is immortal, he can still get hurt. He could be imprisoned in some kind of inescapable prison, He could be beheaded, cut to pieces and left to rot for all eternity. It won't be a very good way to spend immortality. $\endgroup$ – V.Aggarwal May 2 '19 at 9:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Separatrix: Even steel corrodes with time. $\endgroup$ – Alex2006 May 2 '19 at 9:35
  • $\begingroup$ @V.Aggarwal Nonetheless you still have the chance of being put together again with the chances rising the better you prepared for such an event with founding a cult of loyal followers. All other power end with your death. $\endgroup$ – Alex2006 May 2 '19 at 9:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Alex2006, yep, no people, no money, just you, immortal and alone ... forever. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix May 2 '19 at 9:42

It depends on the other powers in the setting.

Powers do not form a linear hierarchy that can be ordered. While it is still possible to still have the most powerful ability defined as "omnipotence" or as a limited version of "can use all powers that are available" (ability to use powers nobody else has is irrelevant) the ordering in general cannot be determined.

I will assume that in addition to omnipotence you would also prefer something more limiting than can copy all other powers.

The next step down is to have a counter against all other powers. You can counter all attacks by any other power. No power can counter all attacks you can make.

This still allows a supreme power that can definitely be said to be more powerful than all other powers but does not require omnipotence.

What it would actually mean would depend on the setting. For example "can control flow of magic" would be a valid counter for all powers using magic. But might be useless against psychic powers. Or it might allow you to create a magic shield that protects against psychic powers.

If your setting has a small number of fairly restricted powers, the supreme power can be fairly limited. A high fantasy with lots of magic and weird abilities would require extremely versatile power.

Some common elements do apply. It needs to have some unique element, to break the rules in some way that other powers cannot, otherwise some other power or combination of powers would be capable of a counter. And it needs to be either extremely versatile or extremely applicable. It either can adapt effectively to work against any other power or it can simply overwhelm any other power. A mix of both works, if all opposing powers are either much weaker or something the power can adapt that works just fine.

If you want to limit this even more you can define specific combinations of powers or circumstances that limit the power. As long as no single power can counter the power, it can still be supreme. Similarly the power can be weak in some some circumstances if that cannot be trivially used against it. Simplest and most universal such limitation is that the user of the power is a single person doing a single thing in a single place. Limiting the ability of the character to know things, do several things at once, or act at distance can realistically limit overpower without endangering the status as the most powerful as long as no power can use these limitations against it.