Created By: StFan on June 22, 2014 Last Edited By: StFan on July 6, 2014
Troped

Mote Of Light Shape

A character can turn into a flying ball of light.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
This is one I thought at first to be too niche for a proper trope, but now I see it cropping in plenty of places.

As usual, if you think of a better name or of any improvement to the description, please offer them.


The Ball of Light Transformation is a peculiar form of a Voluntary Shapeshifting, where a character becomes not another creature but a flying orb, mote, speck, flame or tiny star made of light. Size, color and brightness can vary.

Such a form is often invulnerable, light being immaterial, or at the very least very hard to hit thanks to its small size and mobility. Some can even goes through walls, or slip through tiny spaces. Although many will just use this form as an alternate mean of Flight.

This is a power commonly associated with fairies and similar creatures. Can be a variant of Elemental Shapeshifter, with light substituted to other elements.

Contrasting with this transformation as a standard power, it can also be a one-time event when a character is metamorphosed, resurrected, ascended to a higher plane of existence or other life-changing event.

The popularity of this trope in film or live-action TV can be linked to it being a very easy special effect.

Compare with Energy Beings and Ghost Lights, for things that have this shape permanently.


Examples

Films -- Animation
  • The Blue Fairy from Pinocchio first appears as a bright light that looks like a star before taking the form of a beautiful woman. Then she departs in the same way.

Films -- Live-Action
  • Legend. The fairy Oona can change into a small ball of light and fly around. She does so in Darkness' dungeon to escape a prison cell and obtain the key to the cell.

Live-Action TV
  • The hero of Space Sheriff Gavan can transform into a blue ball of light to fly around at his enemies. He once met an opponent with a similar power, and they tussled for a while in the air as blue and red balls of light, respectively.
  • Merlin:
  • From Power Rangers S.P.D., Sam/SPD Omega Ranger can turn into a ball of light from time travel... changing his body into light energy, or somesuch.
  • In Charmed this is an ability of the Whitelighters, called orbing, and their primary means of transportation. Although the "ball" shape is probably based on episode budget, because it isn't used every time. Their transformation looks more like Star Trek teleportation.
  • Babylon 5. "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars" has an individual who's watching the events of the episode do this to reveal that he's in the future, and that humanity has evolved into Energy Beings much like the Vorlons before them.
  • In Stargate SG-1 and the rest of the Stargate-verse, people who Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence take the form not of a ball of light, but of a luminous blob with waving tendrils, sometimes dubbed a "light jellyfish". Ascended Ancients can then take this form at will, but they're pretty much Energy Beings all the time by this point.

Tabletop Games
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • The boggart is the immature form of a will-o'-wisp. It is a Shape Shifter that can change its form between that of a small demihuman/humanoid and that of a will-o'-wisp (ball of light).
    • The Coure Eladrins, fairy-like outsiders from the Chaotic Good planes, can take the shape of an incorporeal ball of light at will. They can also change the amount of light shed, and thus stay discreet if need be.
    • The Tulanis, another variety of Eladrin, can also turn into an incorporeal sphere of rainbow-hued light.

Toys
  • In BIONICLE, Umbra has this ability and uses it offensively.

Video Games
  • Mega Man Zero: Cyber Elves are beings of data that is contained in floating balls of light. The previous hero Mega Man X, now becoming a cyber-elf himself, can take on either this form or a holographic version of himself.
  • Seen in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time when Link uses the Ocarina to warp to the various temples. The Sages also seem to be able to do this as well.

Western Animation

Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • June 22, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    The mythical Wil o' the Wisp is often described as this shape.

    Do you really think the transformation aspect is important? I think just the shape qualifies as a trope.

    Webcomic:
    • Order Of The Stick has archons in the Lawful Good afterlife, who are balls of light that guide their assigned charges up the mountain to Fluffy Cloud Heaven. Roy's is named Roy's Archon.
  • June 22, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    Energy Beings, basically?
  • June 22, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ More of a subtrope/sister trope. Some Energy Beings take a humanoid shape, like a hologram of themselves. Others take on a more fantastical shape (think avatars in MMO games).

    • Mega Man Zero: Cyber Elves are beings of data that is contained in floating balls of light. Our previous hero Mega Man X, now becoming a cyber-elf himself, can take on either this form or a holographic version of himself.

    What about Ball Of Light Lifeform?
  • June 22, 2014
    Larkmarn
    The shape makes it just a form of Energy Beings. but I think the transformation is what makes it notable.

    • In Charmed this is an ability of the Whitelighters, called orbing, and their primary means of transportation.
  • June 22, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    I'm with Larkmarn. if this is to be a Sister Trope it better be just an ability to transform into a light orb.

    Ball Of Light Lifeform is just a wordy But More Specific Energy Beings.
  • June 22, 2014
    Generality
    It seems to be popular in film because it's a super easy special effect.
  • June 22, 2014
    StFan
    Yes, I pondered about the transformation vs. natural form aspect, but as mentioned the later would probably be covered by other tropes already, and thus the examples would end up diluted. It's the fact this shape seem popular as an alternate form that is interesting.

    And Generality has a point, the ease of the special effect certainly has something to do with this.
  • June 23, 2014
    Arivne
    Film
    • Legend. The fairy Oona can change into a small ball of light and fly around. She does so in Darkness' dungeon to escape a prison cell and obtain the key to the cell.
  • June 23, 2014
    StFan
    I'm thinking "Ball of Light Transformation" would be a much better title.
  • June 23, 2014
    UltramarineAlizarin
    Mythology
    • In Japanese folklore, the hitodama is said to be the soul of a deceased person in the form of a floating ball of light.
  • June 23, 2014
    StFan
    That one is already covered by the Ghost Lights trope. As discussed above, creatures for whom this is a natural shape shouldn't be concerned, as it would widen the trope too much, and those are already covered by existing tropes.
  • June 23, 2014
    KZN02
    BIONICLE: Umbra has this ability and uses it offensively.
  • June 23, 2014
    Tallens
    • Seen in The Legend Of Zelda Ocarina Of Time when Link uses the Ocarina to warp to the various temples. The Sages also seem to be able to do this as well.

    • Babylon Five: "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars" has an individual watching the events of the episode do this to reveal that he's in the future, and that humanity has evolved into Energy Beings much like the Vorlons before them.
  • June 24, 2014
    Arivne
    • Examples section formatting
      • Changed media section title(s) to our standard style.
      • Blue Linked media section title(s).
  • June 24, 2014
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Dungeons And Dragons
      • The boggart is the immature form of a will-o-wisp. It is a Shape Shifter that can change its form between that of a small demihuman/humanoid and that of a will-o-wisp (ball of light).
  • June 26, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    +1 to the "transformation" in the name. Thanks for adding Ghost Lights.
  • June 27, 2014
    StFan
    I'm wondering if the shape sometimes taken by the Ancients from Stargate SG 1 could fit. It's not exactly a "ball" and had been described a a "light jellyfish", but it's certainly just one shape among other they can take.
  • June 27, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    The Whitelighters in Charmed don't exactly become tiny stars, either. Their transformation looks more like Star Trek teleportation. The "ball" shape is probably based on episode budget, because it isn't used every time. I'd think that's justification for Tropes Are Flexible.

    On the other hand, when the Ancients are flying around, they've already Ascended To A Higher Plane Of Existence, haven't they?
  • July 6, 2014
    StFan
    Bumping this one. No more examples? Does you guys think it's good for launch (under "Ball of Light Transformation") or does it needs more work?
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=94idaj4s9e976ebbgur2boei&trope=BallOfLightTransformation