"At my most bad-ass, I make people feel like they want to take a shower."
Good writers can make this work for a character. They may have a power (such as it is), but it's not the real reason they're in the group. Some characters end up being The Heart (the social and moral compass), The Face (diplomat and spokesperson), The Smart Guy or the Badass Normal. Often said character is The Captain - superpowers would be just a tiny bonus to his real ability: leadership. The Captain tends to be specifically written to have no superpowers, in fact.
There are a number of ways to fix this. If the character still seems ridiculously underpowered. they can still be Rescued from the Scrappy Heap by giving them additional powers or responsibilities. A common method is to have the the character suddenly "evolve" to a higher power level. Weak, but Skilled characters might take advantage of the Required Secondary Powers. Maybe there ARE more potential uses for this power. it's just that the writers have somehow ignored them this far. Sometimes the character will uncover a devastating new use and become the dreaded Lethal Joke Character. Maybe there's a trade off; for instance, powerful beings tend to look freaky, while those with more subtle powers look normal and are better able to deal with mundane society. The easiest device is to just crank out a good old Plot Tailored to the Party. so that the character can make his seemingly useless superpower seem useful. In fact, characters who do nothing but gripe about their uselessness in battle might be a sign of bad writing. Couldn't they just carry a gun?
Named for an Internet meme. itself referring to Ma-Ti's ring power in Captain Planet and the Planeteers . While the other team members could control the raw elements with visually impressive feats, he could just talk to animals
with a Spider-Sense. No doubt it was useful - his telepathy bailed them out a lot, as did the ability to get nearby animals to help, and it seemed to ward off the Idiot Ball - but it lacked the total elemental "badass" quality of the others. Then there was the fact that the one Big Bad he bothered to use it on was invulnerable to its powers because "You have no heart!", and the other villains never merited an attempt, for some reason. Ironically, since his power involved a form of limited mind-control, he probably could have been the most devastatingly powerful of all the Planeteers if he weren't a pacifist. Plus it's hard (but not impossible ) to have dramatic tension when the hero can just command the bad guys to shoot themselves in the head.
Often the result of overdoing Cast Speciation. Easier to take in a Heroes Unlimited series, where not every character has to be in every episode. For Video Games, compare Quirky Bard and Power-Up Letdown ; see also Crippling Overspecialization.
If they won the Superpower Lottery and still have one of these powers, it's Flight, Strength, Heart. If he's suddenly in a situation where the power is useful all by itself, it's This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman. If he's able to hold his own in a fight through good old training and determination, he Fights Like a Normal.
For the (sometimes classified as elemental ) power of Heart (or Love) itself, see The Power of Love and Heart Beat-Down. Compare The Team Normal and Story-Breaker Team-Up. Contrast Heart Is An Awesome Power and Lethal Harmless Powers when these abilities are used more. creatively. See also the Inverse Law of Complexity to Power. which states that the broader a power is the more potent it is (and which often isn't used at the same time as this trope).