Created By: MarqFJA on August 17, 2011 Last Edited By: LanceOmikron on March 13, 2013

Fantastic Species Changing

Complete (and often one-way) change of the biological species of a character.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope

Tags: Needs a Better Title, Needs a Better Description

A character undergoes a complete, usually permanent change from the species/race he was born as into another one, either via supernatural/magical Metamorphosis, Viral Transformation or Brain Uploading (the latter being more common in sci-fi).

Older Than Steam. Compare Trans Nature.

Examples:

General
  • There are innumerable instances in fiction of witches turning people who annoy them into toads.

Anime and Manga

Fan Fiction
  • This is probably the sole basis of The Return. Introduce characters and then see how fast they get converted into Succubae. In-universe The Company has set up a system so mortally wounded agents can be converted to save their lives, but its volunteer only due to it being a one-way trip.

Films
  • Avatar: Happens to the protagonist by the latter parts of the movie.
  • This is the point of the movie The Fly.
  • Disney's The Little Mermaid has the title mermaid undergo a transformation into a human (but losing her voice in the process) as part of her quest to win the prince's heart. In the end, her father turns her human permanently to grant her wish.
  • Film/District9:After being sprayed with a mysterious fluid during a raid on the alien shantytown, Wikus begins transforming into a "prawn" (the colloquial term for the visiting alien species).
  • The Incredible Mr. Limpet: Henry Limpet wishes that he were a fish. When he falls into the ocean, his wish is granted.

Literature

Live-action TV
  • In Babylon 5, the Vorlons have apparently developed a technology to do this, but the transformation process is not 100% complete as the subject retains features of their original appearance and genetics. See here for the before and after images (spoiler!)

Tabletop Games
  • Warhammer Forty Thousand: A mortal Chaos Champion can eventually be "ascended" to full Daemonhood as a Daemon Prince, transforming into a full Daemonic being.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The driudic spell Reincarnation. It resurrects people as... well, if they are lucky, other races of people. If they aren't, as animals.
    • The 4th Edition Underdark rulebook has rules for permanently changing a PC's race to Drow.

Video Games
  • Illidan in Warcraft 3 gets transformed into what is described in-universe as "neither Night Elf, nor Demon, but something more".

Web Comics
  • In Drowtales (according to legend, at least), many fantasy creatures (including not only drow and driders, but also nagas, dragons, and even giant spiders) are descendants of elven races. In a desparate war, it was discovered that they could preserve their mortally wounded by transforming them into monsters, but either could not turn them back or the spell or technology to do so was lost. Over the years, those new races that bred true became less intelligent over the generations, except for the more humanoid ones.

Western Animation
  • In the TV adaptation of Garfield: His 9 Lives, in Garfield's seventh life, the laboratory cat got transformed into a dog after escaping the laboratory while lost in the forest, due to a serum that was injected in him by some scientists as part of an experiment prior to his escape.
Community Feedback Replies: 83
  • August 17, 2011
    randomsurfer
    In Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis Gregor turns into a giant cockroach. That's just the first chapter.
  • August 17, 2011
    jaytee
    Kind of the case in Avatar.

    Also the point of the movie The Fly.
  • August 17, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Web Comics
    • In Drowtales (according to legend, at least), many fantasy creatures (including not only drow and driders, but also nagas, dragons, and even giant spiders) are descendants of elven races. In a desparate war, it was discovered that they could preserve their mortally wounded by transforming them into monsters, but either could not turn them back or the spell or technology to do so was lost. Over the years, those new races that bred true became less intelligent over the generations, except for the more humanoid ones.
    • In Babylon Five, the Vorlons have apparently developed a technology to do this, but the transformation process is not 100% complete as the subject retains features of their old appearance. See here for the before and after images (spoiler!)
  • August 17, 2011
    JoeG
    • There are innumerable instances in fiction of witches turning people who annoy them into toads.
  • August 17, 2011
    Unknown Troper
    better name? "guyver", after the movie "the fly" "transmonstrafied"
  • August 17, 2011
    Kayube
    In Animorphs, the morphing technology is a form of Voluntary Shapeshifting, but if it's used for too long the result is this. One of the main characters gets stuck in the form of a hawk- he later has his powers restored, and can turn back into his human self, but the hawk is still his default form and he eventually comes to identify more with it than his human form.
  • August 17, 2011
    TBTabby
  • August 17, 2011
    MarqFJA
    ^ That could be a Sub Trope of this one.
  • August 17, 2011
    JonnyB
    This is the plot of Edgar Rice Burroughs' The Land That Time Forgot.
  • August 18, 2011
    Dorsk_e2i
    • The Doctor Who story Planet of the Ood has a man turning into an Ood.
  • August 18, 2011
    kjnoren
    We have this: Metamorphosis
  • August 18, 2011
    MarqFJA
    If you had actually bothered reading the OP, you would have noticed that I've already said that this trope is a form of Metamorphosis, and thus technically a Sub Trope. Metamorphosis isn't limited to species changing, anyway.
  • August 18, 2011
    kjnoren
    Correct. But how many of the metamorphoses in Metamorphosis are intra-species?

    That is, you'll take at least 75% of the examples of the current trope, and you haven't given a reason for the split.
  • August 18, 2011
    jaytee
    ^I'm leaning toward agreeing with you on this one. I'll give the OP benefit of the doubt for now though so he can have an opportunity to defend his reasons for splitting.
  • August 18, 2011
    fulltimeD
    Actually, in the Babylon Five example, the technology turned Delenn into a hybrid but turned Sinclair into a full Minbari.
  • August 18, 2011
    fulltimeD
    Geordi and a former crew mate of his were rescued from this fate in an episode of Star Trek The Next Generation where the crew encountered non-sentient humanoid life forms that reproduced by turning aliens into more of their own kind.
  • August 18, 2011
    JoeG
    • The Odyssey: the enchantress Circe turned shipwrecked sailors into various sorts of animals.
  • August 18, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    • Incredibly disturbingly, this happens to the main protagonist, Wikus in District Nine, who changes from a human to an alien prawn because he got some alien phlebotinum in him.
  • August 21, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    • The Graboids' life cycle in Tremors involves so many morphs it would leave any biologist scratching his or her head.
  • August 21, 2011
    randomsurfer
    In one Buffy The Vampire Slayer Giles gets turned into a Fyarl demon. He Gets Better though.
  • August 22, 2011
    Stratadrake
    If I may, this trope has a pre-existing term called simply Transformation. It differs from Shapeshifting because shapeshifting is a special ability, transformation isn't.

    Baleful Polymorph, as currently written, is exclusively about the weaponized use of transformation on others.
  • August 22, 2011
    MarqFJA
    @kjnoren: Metamorphosis is quite broad enough to also include transformations into hybrids of species and trasnformation into nonliving creatures, among other things.

    And fulltimeD incidentally reminded me that not all cases of species-changing are fall under metamorphosis; Brain Uploading can also do it, like in Avatar.
  • August 22, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    Compare Animorphism.
  • August 22, 2011
    jaytee
    ^^But what makes changing into a hybrid species functionally or narratively different from changing into a regular species?
  • August 22, 2011
    octopedingenue
    Supertrope of Humanity Ensues?
  • August 22, 2011
    Stratadrake
    By the way, most supernaturally-triggered transformations are implicitly complete down to one's genetic level: A character transformed into an animal, say, becomes scientifically indistinguishable from a genuine, born-that-way animal; on the other hand, magical analysis may pick up residual energy from the transformation event (leading to the conclusion that the apparent animal really isn't).

    Likewise, transformations tend to be implicitly permanent events in the first place; except when it's explicitly a temporary enchantment, or something actively reverses/dispels it, it's safe to assume the individual will otherwise remain that way for life.
  • August 23, 2011
    Bisected8
    Also in Warhammer 40 K; Normal Space Marines are so heavily modified that they're technically no longer human.
  • August 23, 2011
    Nndaia
    In Sword Of Truth, this is an option made available to wrongfully accused people who use the services of a Confessor. It apparently lessens their obsession with the Confessor and allows them to at least live their own lives, if not particularly happy ones.
  • August 23, 2011
    cocoy0
    Isn't this similar to polymorph?
  • August 23, 2011
    Stratadrake
    ^ Baleful Polymorph is specifically the weaponized use of transformations.
  • September 6, 2011
    JonnyB
    The trope has changed a bit since I offered The Land That Time Forgot, but it still stands up. The plot of that book (and the film made from it) were that all the creatures on the island were evolving from simpler species to more advanced ones as they moved further inland from the central lake of the island. Thus, Homo Erectus would move inland and become Neanderthal, move further in and become Cro Magnon. Literally their physiology would change.
  • September 18, 2011
    CaveCat
    • In the TV adaptation of Garfield: His 9 Lives, in Garfield's seventh life, the laboratory cat got transformed into a dog after escaping the laboratory while lost in the forest, due to a serum that was injected in him by some scientists as part of an experiment prior to his escape.
  • September 18, 2011
    Koveras
    • The Eclipse virus in the Nanoha Force manga turns humans into Living Weapons made of Un Obtainium within hours after infection. Though they are still humanoid afterwards, they can hardly be considered humans anymore.
  • September 21, 2011
    aurora369
    The driudic spell Reincarnation from Dungeons And Dragons. It resurrects people as... well, if they are lucky, other races of people. If they aren't, as animals.
  • September 22, 2011
    TechUnadept
    Dungeons And Dragons 4th ed. Underdark rulebook has rules for permanently changing a PC's race to Drow.
  • February 11, 2012
    Sailor11sedna
    If Beauty and the Beast or The Little Mermaid count, then is it Older Than Steam?
  • February 12, 2012
    spudwalt
    Does Pokemon count?
  • February 12, 2012
    bwburke94
    Pokemon Mystery Dungeon 1 is this, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon 2 is Baleful Polymorph. I can't say why for spoiler reasons.
  • March 8, 2012
    CrypticMirror
    This is probably the sole basis of The Return. Introduce characters and then see how fast they get converted into Succubae. In-universe The Company has set up a system so mortally wounded agents can be converted to save their lives, but its volunteer only due to it being a one-way trip.

    Is a stock trope in works by Jack L Chalker as this is his Author Appeal and occurs at least once per book, if not more.
  • March 9, 2012
    Stratadrake
    ^^ Actually, it's never specifically explained why the player wound up a Pokemon in PMD 2 -- it's said that the player took a bullet, and was possibly nearly-killed by it, and next thing you know the player's a Pokemon, but that is all.
  • March 9, 2012
    MiinU

    Anime and Manga

    • Bleach: Yoruichi Shihouin has the ability to change to and from a black cat, at will. While in this form, her voice becomes a male's. It's for that reason that most first time readers/viewers were surprised to learn that cat was one of the hottest chicks in anime!

    • Ranma 1/2: Each of the Jusenkyo cursed victims (excluding Ranma) becomes some form of animal when splashed with cold water, and back again when splashed with hot water. This gimmick is used for much of the series' comedy.

    Video games

    • Twilight Princess: Link transforms into the "Sacred Beast" each time, upon entering the Twilight, due to the Triforce's protection. This is also a sign that he's the Chosen Hero.
      • Majora's Mask begins with Link being cursed by Skull Kid, who changes him into a Deku Scrub. Later in the game, he gains the ability to change into a Goron and a Zora as well, using masks.

    • Bloody Roar uses this as its core game mechanic, by allowing its characters to transform into fighting beasts; which increases their base attributes (attk power, defense, speed) and grants them additional powers and abilities. Including the ability to recover health.
  • March 9, 2012
    Xzenu
    Compare Trans Nature
  • March 10, 2012
    Stratadrake
    I still have trouble drawing a line between this and Shape Shifting in general.
  • March 10, 2012
    JonnyB
    I think shapeshifting is taking the form of another type of being, and usually only temporarily, whereas this is permanently becoming another type of being.

    (Also does my Edgar Rice Burroughs example not fit? If so why not?)
  • March 10, 2012
    MiinU
    ^^@Stratadrake - Shape Shifting covers any and everything: including taking the form of other people or inanimate objects. For example: Dakuan (Ninja Scroll) took the form of a tree branch in order to elude an assassin.

    This is specifically for transformations where the character or victim changes species. Further, according to the OP, the change is usually (but not always) permanent.
  • March 10, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Odo (a Shape Shifter whose natural state is a blob of ooze) is punished by his people for killing one of his own by removing his shapeshifting powers, turning him permanantly human, albeit with his old shapeshifter face. Why he's a human and not a Bajoran, since his standard non-ooze facade is in imitation of Bajorans, isn't discussed.
  • March 10, 2012
    CrypticMirror
    I object to the Ranma examples. They don't really become the animal in any meaningful way. They retain their full human intellect (for what that is worth with that lot), drives, motivations, and abilities. Its really no more than a costume. Genma for example is able to continue walking upright as a Panda, Mousse can still fling his weapons as a Duck.
  • March 10, 2012
    Stratadrake
    @Miin: Hmm. Title definitely needs work though -- how about Genetic Transformation?

    If the idea is that it's a transformation/shapeshifting complete down to an individual's cellular/genetic level, that might be worth noting as a type of Shapeshifting, but we have to be careful about the definition and requirements for examples. Namely, don't list examples that are already well-covered by other Shapeshifting subtropes.

    At the risk of not fully reading the draft (and limiting the scope of the trope in the process), I'll suggest that the trope be limited to implications that the transformation is complete down to a genetic level.

    Which, of course, means that Shapeshifting Squick is tangientially related, since if you're now genetically indistinguishable from species X, then....
  • March 12, 2012
    TBeholder
  • March 12, 2012
    Aielyn
    I do think that this does fall under Metamorphosis, but lets suppose that it doesn't. The trope name uses a Loaded Trope Word, but I don't think it uses it correctly. Nothing about this trope requires it to be fantastic in nature. Indeed, the Babylon 5, The Fly, Garfield, and Animorphs examples are all Sci Fi of one sort or another.
  • March 13, 2012
    MorganWick
    This trope is more specific (changing species as opposed to something else) and not always one-way.
  • March 13, 2012
    Aielyn
    A better title and description may help to create a proper distinction... but I think "has to be a change of species" is an arbitrary restriction. If you focus more on the "true transformation" angle - that it's not just a shape change, it's a complete change - it might be distinct enough to be a trope that isn't already covered by one of the other Shapeshifting tropes. Something as simple as Total Transformation could work.

    A notable instance that isn't this trope, but could be mistaken for it, is ordinary gender transformation - that is, where guy turns into female version of guy, or vice versa. In such a case, it's not a total transformation, as they are still mostly who they were before - just with some changes.
  • March 13, 2012
    MarqFJA
    I'd like to note that IMO, the example that best depicts what I had in mind when I thought out this trope, is the Avatar example, where it's a case of Brain Uploading into a artificially-constructed/grown body of an alien species originally for communication purposes, and later made permanent by cutting off the "connection" and killing the original body.
  • March 13, 2012
    Acebrock
    A Dance In The Fire, an in-universe book in The Elder Scrolls reveals that a ceremony that is performed by the Bosmer in times of great danger completely and permanently turns them into ravenous monsters. This is considered the ultimate sacrifice in their society.
  • April 23, 2012
    peccantis
    Webcomics:
    • A staple of Axe Cop. Flute Cop was initially a human, then changed into a dinosaur man, then into a monocerous avocado man, and has now settled as dinoman for his default.
  • April 23, 2012
    chicagomel
    What if it isn't a permenant change? Giles in Buffy The Vampire Slayer 'A New Man' became a Fyarl demon due to a spell, but Buffy made the guy reverse the spell by the end of the ep.
  • April 23, 2012
    zarpaulus
    Web Original
    • One of the three curses afflicting Metamor Keep transforms people into anthropomorphic animals. It was originally intended to change them completely into ordinary dumb beasts but a quick counter-curse lessened the effects.
      • Those with this version of the curse are also capable of transforming completely into animals, in some cases into taurs as well, at will.
    • Numerous examples in the Chakona Space 'verse, for instance Chakat Goldfur's "twin" Goldendale was originally a human who through a Teleporter Accident was transformed into a clone of Goldfur. And the alt-universe The Colony where 500 humans were abducted and transformed into Chakats.
  • November 19, 2012
    MrRuano
    • Mortal Kombat Armageddon justified the transformation of Motaro (and by extension, his entire race) from Centaurs to Minotaurs for the sake of programming by stating that the Shokan cursed them to lose two of their legs. Motaro decides to enter the fray so he could reverse this.
  • November 19, 2012
    ArcadesSabboth
    How does this relate to Baleful Polymorph? This one isn't necessarily baleful, but is there also the distinction that Baleful Polymorph can be temporary?

    In any case, I think this trope should be distinguished by always being permanent, and always affecting the mind or soul of the person, not just their body.

    Lastly, there are examples in Classical Mythology of the gods turning people into animals, permanently. They're probably listed (if at all) under Baleful Polymorph. But do they belong here also/instead?
  • November 19, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Baleful Polymorph is about it being used as (for lack of a better term) a weapon.
  • November 19, 2012
    WeAreAllKosh
    Film

    District 9--After being sprayed with a mysterious fluid during a raid on the alien shantytown, Wikus begins transforming into a "prawn" (the colloquial term for the visiting alien species).
  • November 20, 2012
    polarbear2217
    May cause Body Horror
  • November 21, 2012
    Stratadrake
    You know what? I'm going to make the radical suggestion that we're totally overthinking this.

    What I see here boils straight down to "Transformation: A complete change from one biologic species into another. Super Trope to many." Then Shape Shifting is logically "Transformation as a character's special power or ability".

  • November 21, 2012
    MorganWick
    ^What if you're transforming within the same species?
  • November 21, 2012
    Duncan
    In one of the Spellsinger books, Jon-Tom (whose Magic Music is frequently unreliable) accidentally turns all his Funny Animal friends into humans, then fixes it, though turns himself to a chimpanzee in the process, then straightens everything out.
  • November 21, 2012
    Stratadrake
    ^^ Point, but it's no worse off than the current working title/definition.
  • November 22, 2012
    Arivne
    May involve a Slow Transformation. Many of the examples on that page are this trope as well.

    Tabletop Games
    • Dark Conspiracy. The Darktek supplement had Empathic Viral Mutators, a virus that could change the victim into another species over a period of 48 hours.
  • November 22, 2012
    justanid
    If it's a sub trope to Metamorphosis, why are Voluntary Shapeshifters included? If that was removed, I could see it being something like Transmigration Transformation.
  • November 22, 2012
    Stratadrake
    I agree. I hate to suggest that makes this one unsalvageable, but....
  • November 23, 2012
    zarpaulus
    I notice it has been a while since the main article was updated.

    ^^ Yeah I think we should restrict it to permanent transformations, or at least ones that require a great deal of difficulty to reverse. From what I've seen Voluntary Shapeshifting generally doesn't change genetics (all the non-humans taking human form to have sex with humans and produce Half Human Hybrid offspring for example).
  • November 25, 2012
    Arivne
    Comic Books
    • Marvel Universe. Prince Gofern of the Laxidazian race met some Laxidazian Trolls, drank their liquor and was changed into a troll himself. He took the name Pip.
  • December 4, 2012
    zarpaulus
  • December 4, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Disagree on that.
  • December 4, 2012
    chicagomel
    There's Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, where the main character is stuck as a Pokemon for the entire game. And in at least one of the games, even though he/she returns to human form, they go back to being a Pokemon come the end.
  • December 4, 2012
    Stratadrake
    ^ In the first game, the main character is in the process of being teleported back out of the Pokemon world when they will themselves to be taken back, and they are. They are never actually returned to their original human form.
  • December 7, 2012
    MarqFJA
    Agree with Stratadrake on not launching this yet. Also, Stratadrake, if you want you can take over from here.
  • March 3, 2013
    LanceOmikron
    This trope seems to mainly concern permanent/semi-permanent changes, so I removed any references/examples of characters that can transform back-and-forth either at will or with a simple condition.
  • March 3, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Newspaper Comics
    • The 1 March 2010 Dilbert comic shows Asok being changed into a goat from the neck up. Two days later, he's restored by being repeatedly smacked by Alice. Ow.

    Western Animation
    • Ferngully The Last Rainforest has the fairy Crysta shrink human Zack by accident. While attempting to undo this change, Zack mutates into quite a few species, some never before seen. Batty Koda aptly calls these haphazard results "Darwin's grab bag."
  • March 3, 2013
    zarpaulus
    Might want to add some of the newer examples too.
  • March 5, 2013
    Arivne
    Film
  • March 5, 2013
    KZN02
    Not sure if this counts ...

    BIONICLE: the enlarged Fenrakk Spider Vezon rode on transformed into the Kardas Dragon after falling into lava.
  • March 5, 2013
    Stratadrake
    If I may repeat my earlier proposal, what about simply having a trope for Transformation as a Super Trope? Such a broad thing that you pretty much can't have specific examples because most of them are already covered by subtropes. The only problem -- how and whether it's worth drawing a hard line between it and the Shapeshifting page (which, note, also has no in-page examples).
  • March 13, 2013
    MarqFJA
    ^ That is a good question. Where to bring this up, though?
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=lalmtsm7hmrfnz7z69cr0hrt