Ability absorption is the ability to steal the abilities of other evolved humans through physical contact, rendering them powerless.
- Arthur Petrelli naturally possessed this ability.
With this ability, Arthur can remove the ability of another evolved human by touching them. Arthur seems to gain immediate use of the stolen ability such as when he stole Adam Monroe's regeneration power and regenerated the damage to his nervous system and the hole in his throat from the tube placed there. Arthur can take multiple abilities at once from someone who has acquired multiple abilities.
Firm physical contact seems to be necessary for this ability to work. Arthur hugged Peter Petrelli to steal his abilities, and Knox forced Adam to place his hand in Arthur's grasp. However, skin-to-skin contact is apparently not required, as he absorbed Maya Herrera's ability through her hospital gown and Hiro Nakamura ability though his shirt.
When Arthur stole Adam's ability, Adam rapidly died and decomposed due to the loss of the aging-suppression aspect of his abiity--his 400 years of age caught up with him in seconds. Peter suffered to obvious ill effects upon losing his ability, although the process appeared to cause intense pain.
Arthur's use of this ability requires active concentration. He can choose to not steal abilities from an evolved human. Knox's hand brushed against Arthur's, yet no abilities were lost or gained.
According to Arthur, the removal of abilities from a targeted evolved human is permanent, but they can, in fact, be at least partially restored. Matt Parkman, Jr., partially restored Hiro's ability, allowing him to stop time but not teleport, and Peter restored part of his abiity with the formula. Hiro's powers all eventually returned, but due to a brain tumor Hiro developed, he didn't have full control until his tumor was removed, showing that powers stolen can be fully returned.
All of the abilities Arthur stole made him so powerful that even the Haitian was only able to block him for a few minutes before he began to manifest his abilities again. Despite all of the abilities he has at his disposal, however, Arthur's stolen abilities otherwise still have normal limitations. For example, a bullet through the back of his brain was able to kill him like it would anyone with regeneration
Arthur seemingly uses his ability to take the catalyst from Hiro. He later transfers the catalyst into the formula.
- In special feature "The Writers Forum" found on the Season 3 DVD, writers Tim Kring, Adam Armus, and Aron Eli Coleite reveal that Arthur's ability is a more developed form of Peter's empathic mimicry and they are actually different versions of the same ability.
- It is possible that Peter absorbed this ability when he came into contact with his father. However, since he never used the ability, and since there have been other abilities that he was near and never absored, there is no conclusive evidence that Peter actually absorbed this ability.