At the end of season 1 of Heroes, disaster is narrowly avoided when Peter Petrelli, who cannot control his acquired power of radioactivity and is about to go nuclear and kill most of the population of New York City, is lifted up bodily by his brother Nathan and flown off into the sky to explode there.

Now, we know that Peter absorbs other people’s abilities, and that flying was the first one he absorbed, from Nathan.

So why was Nathan needed at all here? Peter could fly as well. Why didn’t he just fly off into the thermosphere by himself and explode to his heart’s content without killing his brother in the process?

2 Answers 2


I believe it had been mentioned previously that, having absorbed so many different powers, Peter was having problems controlling all of them at once. The problem seem to get particularly bad once he absorbed Ted's nuclear radiation ability. Note that Ted's power, was shown several times to become a "runaway reaction"; it happened to Peter twice and Ted at least once (in the Bennett house). Unlike most of the other powers Peter had, it took major effort just to stop that nuclear power from growing worse. Peter wasn't able to control that power and use his other powers at the same time.

Earlier in that same episode, we see him nearly go nuclear before passing out; that time, as well, he was struggling just to keep himself from exploding, and it overwhelmed him so badly he was rendered unconscious.

Remember, by that point he had knowingly absorbed at least two other powers that could have saved him: not only Nathan's flying ability, but also Hiro's time and space manipulation. (He also may have been close enough to get DL's phasing ability, but he wouldn't have known it.) But focusing any of his effort on using those abilities would have risked letting the nuclear explosion slip out prematurely.

  • Good point, though he is shown while in the process of going nuclear at the end as being ‘together’ enough to do various other things at the same time. None of those things required using his other powers, however, that’s true. The sense I got was that he had learned to control his powers quite well by this time—except the radiation, which he couldn’t control very well (and presumably also Hiro’s time/space bending, which I don’t recall him even trying to use—three seconds before big badaboom is probably not a good time to start trying!). Jul 7, 2015 at 21:44
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    I think the radiation power was especially problematic: unlike the others, it tended to go off "by itself" and require effort to contain, as opposed to the other powers he had control over that required effort to use.
    – KutuluMike
    Jul 7, 2015 at 21:45
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    It's also important to remember the "panic effect." Just because you can do something while standing alone on a rooftop, doesn't mean you'll be able to reliably do it while freaking out over the possibility of being seconds away from killing millions of people.
    – Nerrolken
    Jul 7, 2015 at 22:16

He was a little bit preoccupied with trying not to explode to think too clearly about the fact that he could also fly. It was taking all of his concentration and self control to contain the blast for as long as he could. Sparing a thought to try and take off would have diverted his attention and very likely would have sent him critical before he could get off the ground.

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