Created By: Earnest on January 2, 2013 Last Edited By: Earnest on January 29, 2013
Troped

Power Upgrading Deformation

Power boost at the cost of good looks.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Caption: This fairy's tale just got very point-nant.

A Power-Upgrading Deformation will make a character or creature much stronger but also make them look at the least inhuman and at the worst horrendous. Unlike the Psycho Serum where an ugly appearance is a side effect, for the Power-Upgrading Deformation the newly ugly appearance is the source of the enhancement: like sprouting Combat Tentacles, pincers, supermassive muscles, My Brain Is Big, grotesque Cybernetics, etc. Because of this it would technically still be considered a Magic Enhancement or Super Serum and not Psycho Serum.

If the setting has a Bishonen Line, this drug, technology or spell will take the character to just before the return to prettiness (or if already there, start the cycle over). It's also worth noting that protagonists and main villains may get off easy with cool looking alterations that are way more powerful while Mooks and secondary characters aren't so lucky.

The deformation may be a mix of: permanent (requiring a cure to remove) or temporary (granting a Super Mode), and perfectly stable (no more mutations) or continuously changing (risking falling to The Corruption or Power Degeneration). Because its effects are so nasty taking it tends to be treated as a Godzilla Threshold, with only the direst of situations meriting it. Villains like the Mad Scientist and Evilutionary Biologist will delight in kidnapping victims to use this on... usually paired with a Mind-Control Device of course! [[note]](Can't have a Phlebotinum Rebel, now can we?)[[/note]] On the other hand, some villains may take it themselves, become a One-Winged Angel and proclaim A God Am I! Truly, Evil Makes You Monstrous. Mind the Clipped Wing Angel from overdosing.

Compare Dangerous Forbidden Technique, Evolution Powerup and One-Winged Angel. See also Deadly Upgrade.

Anime and Manga

Comic Books

Film

Tabletop RPG
  • Just about every Chaos mutation in Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40K, since these mutations include things like Combat Tentacles, pincers, extra mouths, cancerous growths...
    • In 40K, most augmetics (metal replacement parts, ranging from bionic eyes to replacement arms to Doctor Octopus-style dendrites) are rather crude and ugly (ork versions are even worse). The Adeptus Mechanicus see the replacement of flesh with metal as the ultimate way to better themselves, so naturally they get the worst reactions from normal humans.

Toys
  • In the fifth story line of BIONICLE, the Toa Metru are captured and injected with Hordika venom, which turns them into half-animals. Downplayed in that while greatly increasing their physical strength, it also degrades their elemental abilities to some extent.

Video Games
  • The basis for Splicers in both BioShock games. The use a drug-like genetic modification enabler called ADAM that allows them to use superpowers, but withdrawl disfigures them and drives them insane.
  • This comes up in Deus Ex; some cyborgs dislike the protagonist because they had to sacrifice their ability to look normal (thanks to the fairly obvious nature of their implants) while the protagonist's nanomachine based augments have barely any cosmetic effects (not to mention rendered them obsolete).
  • Bydo-derived Organic Technology from R-Type, under certain circumstances. For example, if the Claw Force is detached from the fighter too long, it temporarily mutates and goes on a rampage.
  • In Digital Devil Saga, everyone infected by the demon virus has access to demon form, which is stronger than human form. Said demon form ranges from looking vaguely humanoid (most of the main characters) to slimes to the worst looking of Shin Megami Tensei demons.

Western Animation
  • Kaijudo has the Choten's evolution drug, which transofrms the series' normally one-form Mons into a new, stronger form.
  • Street Sharks has the gene splicing treatment that turns humans into sharks (and sea animals into monsters).
  • Every Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon had the mutagenic ooze which made them more human-like, while also mutating humans into uglier mutants.
  • The splicers in Batman Beyond used genetic engineering to become Half Human Hybrids, which generally while animalistic weren't ugly. When their boss fights Terry, he takes a boat load of them and goes One-Winged Angel... until Terry gives him a second round of drugs which pushes him into Clipped Wing Angel.
Community Feedback Replies: 24
  • January 2, 2013
    dvorak
    Anime Video Games
    • Bydo-derived Organic Technology from R Type, under certain circumstances. For example, if the Claw Force is detached from the fighter too long, it temporarily mutates and goes on a rampage.
  • January 20, 2013
    Bisected8
    • This comes up in Deus Ex; some cyborgs dislike the protagonist because they had to sacrifice their ability to look normal (thanks to the fairly obvious nature of their implants) while the protagonist's nanomachine based augments have barely any cosmetic effects (not to mention rendered them obsolete).
  • January 20, 2013
    Architect
    Anime and Manga
    • The Tavoo/Taboo race in Psyren all have a core known as an Illuminus, which heightens their psionic abilities, but often disfigures them to the point of not even looking human anymore, usually taking on an insectoid appearance instead. The few exceptions are the high-ranking W.I.S.E. members, and several others such as Tatsuo and Alfred.
  • January 20, 2013
    dvorak
    Video Games
  • January 20, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In The New Universe in general and DP7 in particular, the White Event makes people suddenly have power-related mutations, many of which are like this. Moreso minor characters than the main ones, which for all their complaints are really not that bad.
  • January 21, 2013
    Chabal2
    • Just about every Chaos mutation in Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40 K, since these mutations include things like Combat Tentacles, pincers, extra mouths, cancerous growths...
      • In 40K, most augmetics (metal replacement parts, ranging from bionic eyes to replacement arms to Doctor Octopus-style dendrites) are rather crude and ugly (ork versions are even worse). The Adeptus Mechanicus see the replacement of flesh with metal as the ultimate way to better themselves, so naturally they get the worst reactions from normal humans.
  • January 21, 2013
    lakingsif
    • Marvel's Hulk, Dr Banner transforms into and has mega strength.
    • In Pirates Of The Caribbean, Captain Barbosa and his crew are immortal, but have spent so long doing the job that comes with it they've half-morphed into sea creatures.
  • January 21, 2013
    Chabal2
    ^ I think you mean Davy Jones.
  • January 21, 2013
    TrueShadow1
  • January 21, 2013
    m8e
    ^^^ Barbossa and the crew of the Black Pearl where undead because of that Aztec(?) gold curse. Davy Jones and the crew of the Flying Dutchman where the fish people that ignored their job.
  • January 21, 2013
    Architect
    Toys:
    • In the fifth story line of Bionicle, the Toa Metru are captured and injected with Hordika venom, which turns them into half-animals. Downplayed in that while greatly increasing their physical strength, it also degrades their elemental abilities to some extent.
  • January 23, 2013
    Larkmarn
    I think Mutation in the title should be changed to Deformation; Mutation doesn't imply ugliness enough (given the most famous mutants in fiction largely look like pretty people in spandex.
  • January 23, 2013
    Earnest
    ^Point. I was also thinking that with more than a couple of cybernetics examples "Mutation" might not adequately carry that. Everyone Like Power Upgrading Deformation, or are there other suggestions out there?
  • January 26, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^I think the current one sounds good and is self-explanatory. As for another example:

    Anime & Manga:
  • January 26, 2013
    DRCEQ
    • Bleach gives us Ichigo's Hollowfication, as well as the Vizoreds who have similar powers. By tapping into their inner Hollow, they gain immense strength and speed, but have a bone-like demonic looking mask grafted onto their faces in the process. It is only temporary though. The mask can be broken off in battle. It'll eventually crumble away in time. The mask's appearance varies from person to person, but all of them stop looking human.
  • January 26, 2013
    Larkmarn
    I don't think that counts since it's quite temporary and... well, looks pretty awesome.

    Plus, the mask is more like a side-effect, rather than the source of the power. Just... doesn't really fit the spirit of the trope.
  • January 27, 2013
    DRCEQ
    ^ "The deformation may be a mix of: permanent (requiring a cure to remove) or temporary (granting a Super Mode), and perfectly stable (no more mutations) or continuously changing (risking falling to The Corruption or Power Degeneration)."

    Right there in the proposed description. Temporary power ups still count, and whether you think the transformation looks awesome doesn't factor into the fact that they still don't look human anymore.
  • January 27, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ Yes, it is specifically mentioned in the description that "protagonists and main villains may get off easy with cool looking alterations".
  • January 27, 2013
    acrobox
  • January 27, 2013
    Bisected8
    Those sound more like Super Powered Evil Side than this trope (to me at least).
  • January 27, 2013
    acrobox
    Were-Power Up or Were-Power like werewolf or other animalistic transformations. but that may also carrry some evil implications
  • January 27, 2013
    Generality
    Zarbon in Dragonball Z has a powerful second form, but it makes him look fat, so as a matter of vanity he avoids using it.
  • January 28, 2013
    TrueShadow1
    Digital Devil Saga is a video game, not anime
  • January 29, 2013
    DannyVElAcme
    • In the New 52 reboot of Animal Man, Buddy Baker now actually physically changes shape when he uses animal powers. The transformations are NOT pretty.
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