Created By: odafangirl on November 23, 2011 Last Edited By: morenohijazo on December 14, 2015

Mirror Explanation

A is transformed without realizing. A mirror is given to them. Screaming ensues.

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Trope
Alice has been transformed into a giant talking rabbit, and for some reason doesn't realize it. Bob, still in shock, hands Alice a mirror. Alice takes the mirror, and sees her reflection. She sees the rabbit in the glass that moves when she does, and freaks out.

Gromit handed Wallace a mirror when he had Rabbit ears.

Note that any reflective surface can work here, not just mirror.

Compare The Mirror Shows Your True Self (which isn't about transformation) and House of Broken Mirrors (which may happen before or after this). Related to Tomato in the Mirror (that's about realizing that it's been oneself all along, this one is about transformations that have happened as part of the story that do not necessarily mean that it was oneself all along) and Just Woke Upthat Way.


Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • In The Twelve Kingdoms, after Youko is pulled into another world, she undergoes a transformation that is subtle, but apparently significant enough that her schoolmate Yuka doesn't recognize her. When Youko asks what's wrong, Yuka silently pulls out a compact and shows it to her.

Film
  • Subverted example: in the first Fantastic Four movie, the future Human Torch convinces the guy who we know to be the one who turns into The Thing that something terrible and irreversible has happened to his face. He slowly lifts the mirror, and he looks totally normal.
  • In The Emperor's New Groove, Kuzco only sees that he's been transformed into a llama when he rushes to a pond to look at his reflection after seeing that his hand has become a hoof.
  • In Pinocchio, Lampwick doesn't notice that he's turning into a donkey until he starts braying. he then feels his now-furry head, and confirms his suspicions when he looks into a mirror.

Literature
  • In The Chronicles of Narnia, Eustace first discovers his transformation into a dragon upon seeing his reflection in a pool of water.
  • In the book Things Not Seen, he doesn't know that he's become invisible until he doesn't see himself in the mirror.

Live-Action TV
  • In the episode of The X-Files "El Mundo Gira", the Monster of the Week only realizes that he has become this by looking at himself in a mirror.
  • Grimm has Monroe and Rosalee talking about the first time they woged. Rosalee says her first time, she didn't realize she'd changed until her brother showed her a mirror.
  • Quantum Leap:
    • In the first episode, after Sam leaps for the first time his brain is "swiss-cheesed" so he doesn't know who he is or what he's doing there. When he first sees himself in the mirror he jumps back, apparently having a mental image of his face which isn't the face he's looking back at.
    • In the early episode "How the Tess Was Won" Sam is trying to woo a woman named Tess on behalf of the man he leaped into, but ends up losing her to another man. Al suggests that Sam look into a mirror where he sees a hispanic man looking back; Al says that Sam got much further than anyone would have expected (Tess is white, and the story takes place in the 1950s). Evidently Sam never looked into a mirror the entire time he had leaped even though it had been upwards of a week.
    • In one Halloween Episode, Sam looks into the mirror and discovers that he has no reflection.

Video Games
  • This happens to Funguy in Chrono Cross. After he notices the party staring at him, he looks in a nearby pool of water and flips out when he sees that he's become a mushroom.

Web Comics
  • In anti-HEROES, when Aldran resurrects Lana with a scroll of Lifeblood, he tells her she should fix her hair and conjures a mirror. Since Lifeblood scrolls turn the revivee into a vampire, she casts no reflection.
  • While Art of Sequential Art was passed out during holiday merriment, his two flatmates shaved his head in strip #122. A contrite Kat shows him the results in a mirror. Art is shocked at first, then displeased. Strangely, Art's huge eyebrows were left intact.

Western Animation
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Zuko does it to himself. He gets up after his fever for a drink and to wash his face. Only when he looks in the mirror, he sees to his horror that he has become Zuko-as-Aang. It turns out to have been All Just a Dream.
  • A slight variant occurs in the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002) series. After Keldor is transformed into Skeletor, a horrified Evil-Lyn shows him his reflection. Skeletor sees his head is now nothing but a skull.... and starts laughing manically.
  • In the Futurama episode "Spanish Fry", Fry has just had his "human horn" (nose) stolen by alien poachers. Zoidberg agrees to tell him tactfully and promptly shouts "Fry your nose is gone! We know not where it is but on your face it is not!". Bender then shoves a mirror in his face and invokes this trope.
  • The scene from The Simpsons where Lisa gets braces, she's given a mirror and she breaks it. That scene was parodying the Joker scene from the original Batman movie.
  • A Running Gag in Jackie Chan Adventures is for a character to undergo a magical transformation, ask why everyone else is staring, and Uncle to say "Don't look in the mirror!" Naturally, the character immediately does so and freaks out, and Uncle adds "I told you not to look in the mirror!"
  • In the Christmas Episode of Martin Mystery, Diana's ears grow and she doesn't notice, only complaining that everyone's so loud all of a sudden. Martin then holds up a dinner platter to show her what has happened.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls episode "Criss Cross Crisis", Blossom finds out that she's in Miss Bellum's body when Buttercup (in the Professor's body) holds a mirror up to her. Afterward, Bubbles, in the Mayor's body, walks over to the bathroom mirror and has this hilarious Double Take.
    Bubbles: Mayor, what are you doing in our house. I'm not in your house, you're in my body. Oh. (beat; cue Spit Take)
  • Butt Monkey Daffy Duck in his cartoon "Duck Amuck" has his body erased by a devilish artist, then redrawn horribly Off Model. Daffy remarks that he feels strange, but can't pinpoint what's wrong. It's when the artist draws a mirror for him that Daffy sees how hilariously he's been mutated, and rages at the animator.
Community Feedback Replies: 29
  • November 23, 2011
    PapercutChainsaw
    I think it's spelled "explanation".

    I think it's still okay to use Example As A Thesis, but it still needs a better description. You can talk about its relationship to other tropes such as Tomato In The Mirror and Just Woke Upthat Way, for example, or talk about the way this is commonly handled (including first-person variants, use of other reflective objects such as water instead of a mirror, etc). Does it have to involve a character being handed a mirror, or could they just stumble upon it by accident?

    Literature
    • In The Chronicles Of Narnia, Eustace first discovers his transformation into a dragon upon seeing his reflection in a pool of water.
  • November 23, 2011
    condottiera
    In the book Things Not Seen, he doesn't know that he's become invisible until he doesn't see himself in the mirror.
  • November 23, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    • Avatar The Last Airbender: Zuko does it to himself. He gets up after his fever for a drink and to wash his face. Only when he looks in the mirror, he sees to his horror that he has become Zuko-as-Aang. It turns out to have been All Just A Dream.
  • November 23, 2011
    WhoNeedsSleep
    Subverted example: in the first Fantastic Four movie, the future Human Torch convinces the guy who we know to be the one who turns into The Thing that something terrible and irreversible has happened to his face. He slowly lifts the mirror, and he looks totally normal.

    Also, this trope seems really familiar. It may already be listed. Or maybe it's just in a lot of fiction.
  • November 24, 2011
    dalek955
    • In Anti Heroes, when Aldran resurrects Lana with a scroll of Lifeblood, he tells her she should fix her hair and conjures a mirror. Since Lifeblood scrolls turn the revivee into a vampire, she casts no reflection.
  • November 24, 2011
    Darthcaliber
    A slight variant occurs in the 2002 He Man series. After Keldor is transformed into Skeletor, a horrified Evil-Lyn shows him his reflection. Skeletor sees his head is now nothing but a skull.... and starts laughing manically.
  • November 24, 2011
    randomsurfer
  • November 24, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    I don't think it's Tomato In The Mirror because that's about realizing that it's been oneself all along.

    I think this one is about transformations that have happened as part of the story that do not necessarily mean that it was onself all along.
  • November 24, 2011
    Bisected8
  • November 24, 2011
    Genogenesis7
    In The Emperor's New Groove, Kuzco only sees that he's been transformed into a llama when he rushes to a pond to look at his reflection after seeing that his hand has become a hoof.
  • November 24, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    I believe "Mirror Explination" is a mispelling. I think you meant Explanation.

    Namestorming:

    Examples:

    Related Trope:

  • November 24, 2011
    Generality
    • In The Twelve Kingdoms, after Youko is pulled into another world, she undergoes a transformation that is subtle, but apparently significant enough that her schoolmate Yuka doesn't recognize her. When Youko asks what's wrong, Yuka silently pulls out a compact and shows it to her.
  • November 25, 2011
    morenohijazo
    What about that scene from The Simpsons where Lisa gets braces, she's given a mirror ans he breaks it? Oh, and I think that scene was parodying something.
  • November 25, 2011
    Bisected8
    That scene was parodying the Joker scene from the original Batman movie.
  • November 26, 2011
    Stratadrake
    Definitely a trope, but title clearly needs work. Too bad we can't call it Transformation In The Mirror (Bad Snowclone, and it implies the mirror is used for the Transformation Sequence, not the post-sequence realization).

    It may be worth noting that the Missing Supertrope in this case would be the fact that a character who is suddenly transformed into another species may be unaware of this fact and require an external source (mirror, other person) to discover it.
  • November 27, 2011
    fulltimeD
  • November 27, 2011
    Omeganian
    Duck Amuck.

    And this Soviet Cartoon (The Frog Tsarevna), starting with about 4:30
  • November 27, 2011
    Clevomon
    If the character has already begun to suspect something and demands a mirror to make sure, does it still count?
  • June 2, 2013
    TheTitan99
    In the episode of The X Files "El Mundo Gira", the Monster Of The Week only realizes that he has become this by looking at himself in a mirror.
  • June 9, 2013
    polarbear2217
    Frodo Goofball Co TV, you got a few things wrong about the Twilight Zone episode, and I don't think that it counts. The episode in question is called "The Eye of the Beholder"

    Janet is not handed a mirror, she just feels her face. In fact, she refuses a mirror when Dr. Bernardi offers one. So it doesn't fit with this trope.

    The doctors do not wear masks- their faces are hidden in shadow or behind objects before The Reveal.

    It is left up to the viewer whether the doctors are aliens or if it is Earth in the future.

  • June 9, 2013
    eowynjedi
    • This happens to Funguy in Chrono Cross. After he notices the party staring at him, he looks in a nearby pool of water and flips out when he sees that he's become a mushroom.
  • June 9, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    Western Animation
    • A Running Gag in Jackie Chan Adventures is for a character to undergo a magical transformation, ask why everyone else is staring, and Uncle to say "Don't look in the mirror!" Naturally, the character immediately does so and freaks out, and Uncle adds "I told you not to look in the mirror!"
  • December 13, 2015
    Kartoonkid95
    • In Pinocchio, Lampwick doesn't notice that he's turning into a donkey until he starts braying. he then feels his now-furry head, and confirms his suspicions when he looks into a mirror.
    • In the Christmas Episode of Martin Mystery, Diana's ears grow and she doesn't notice, only complaining that everyone's so loud all of a sudden. Martin then holds up a dinner platter to show her what has happened.
    • In The Powerpuff Girls episode "Criss Cross Crisis", Blossom finds out that she's in Miss Bellum's body when Buttercup (in the Professor's body) holds a mirror up to her. Afterward, Bubbles, in the Mayor's body, walks over to the bathroom mirror and has this hilarious Double Take.
      Bubbles: Mayor, what are you doing in our house. I'm not in your house, you're in my body. Oh. (beat; cue Spit Take)
  • December 13, 2015
    DAN004
    Compare The Mirror Shows Your True Self (which isn't about transformation) and House Of Broken Mirrors (which may happen before or after this).
  • December 13, 2015
    BKelly95
    Live Action Television
    • Grimm has Monroe and Rosalee talking about the first time they woged. Rosalee says her first time, she didn't realize she'd changed until her brother showed her a mirror.
  • December 13, 2015
    NoirGrimoir
    I like the suggested of calling it "Mirror Assisted" something. Realization, Demonstration or Explanation are all good.
  • December 13, 2015
    DAN004
    Note that any reflective surface can work here, not just mirror. (I still tell you to keep "mirror" in the title tho.)
  • December 13, 2015
    oneuglybunny
    Webcomics
    • While Art of Sequential Art was passed out during holiday merriment, his two flatmates shaved his head in strip #122. A contrite Kat shows him the results in a mirror. Art is shocked at first, then displeased. Strangely, Art's huge eyebrows were left intact.

    And let me clean up one of Omeganian's examples:

    Western Animation
    • Butt Monkey Daffy Duck in his cartoon "Duck Amuck" has his body erased by a devilish artist, then redrawn horribly Off Model. Daffy remarks that he feels strange, but can't pinpoint what's wrong. It's when the artist draws a mirror for him that Daffy sees how hilariously he's been mutated, and rages at the animator.
  • December 14, 2015
    randomsurfer
    • Quantum Leap:
      • In the first episode, after Sam leaps for the first time his brain is "swiss-cheesed" so he doesn't know who he is or what he's doing there. When he first sees himself in the mirror he jumps back, apparently having a mental image of his face which isn't the face he's looking back at.
      • In the early episode "How the Tess Was Won" Sam is trying to woo a woman named Tess on behalf of the man he leaped into, but ends up losing her to another man. Al suggests that Sam look into a mirror where he sees a hispanic man looking back; Al says that Sam got much further than anyone would have expected (Tess is white, and the story takes place in the 1950s). Evidently Sam never looked into a mirror the entire time he had leaped even though it had been upwards of a week.
      • In one Halloween Episode, Sam looks into the mirror and discovers that he has no reflection.
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