underway. Taking votes on the name.
Many superheroes, HenshinHeroes
, and other characters who have two or more forms, have some sort of item that they put on, take off, activate, or deactivate in order to transform between their superpowered and mundane forms.
In some cases, a Transformation Trinket
is needed for all changes, and without it, they're stuck with whatever form they happen to be in at the moment. In other cases, an item is put on to change into the superhero and removed to change back into their true form, whether a supersuit that actually gives them their powers
, or an item that is only a Paper-Thin Disguise
or Magic Feather
. If the item is lost, the superhero side of their character may be lost with it.
This trope is about characters for whom their secret identity is merely a facade and their true self is the superhero, and to become their mundane selves, they put something on. Unlike a Power Limiter
, Power Nullifier
, or Restraining Bolt, this is something the character puts on willingly, because it's difficult or impossible to hide behind their Secret Identity
otherwise. In fact, the item is often very precious to the superpowered form, as if it is lost, they will be unable to return to their more human side.
There are at least three subtropes:
- Disguise: The character need the item to appear "normal" to muggles. Without it, The Masquerade is revealed.
- Magic Feather: The item helps them to psychologically "get into character".
- Surpressor: The item physically limits the character. Without it, they cannot take on their human form; with it, their superpowers are unavailable.
Anime and Manga
- In Gunslinger Girl, Claes' glasses serve as a Magic Feather. A cyborg built from a the body of a dying child, she's programmed to kill on command, but as a promise to her former "handler", she avoids showing her violent side while they're on, to the point where she must remove them to be psychologically able to enter combat.
- In Rosario + Vampire, Moka's crucifix. It supresses her primary personality as lethal vampire Lady of War Inner Moka and allows her secondary personality, the ditzy Outer Moka, to appear.
- In Fruits Basket, Kyo has a bracelet that keeps him from transforming into his monstrous true form.
Film - Animated
- In Runaways, Karolina's bracelet. Her Majesdanian form is natural, but she appears human with the bracelet on.
Film - Live Action
- In Megamind, the blue, giant-headed title character wears a watch that makes him look like a normal person, which he uses to get close to the lead female.
- In the short-lived TV series Gemini Man (based loosely on The Invisible Man) the Man in question has a device disguised as a wristwatch that keeps him visible - he can turn it off to go invisible, but he can only do that for 15 minutes a day or he'll die.
- In Booker's Skin Deep series, the medallions are believed to operate in this fashion, meaning that if the owner is separated enough from their medallion, they automatically revert to their mythic-beast form. However, it's not clear whether this in-universe hypothesis is correct.
- In PS238, several of the superpowered children look weird (including Bernard, who is permanently hulked out, and Zodon, who's a cyborg in a floating chair) so when they have to mix with normal children they're given devices that project holographic disguises over them.
- In Girl Genius, Agatha's locket was originally used to keep her Spark down. Later, it becomes a lock to keep The Other from possessing her.
- In X-Men: Evolution, Kurt/Nightcrawler, who looks like a fuzzy blue demon, wears a watch that projects a hologram of a normal human over him.