Created By: MarqFJA on October 8, 2012 Last Edited By: ArcadesSabboth on December 7, 2012

Multiple Choice Shapeshifting

Character has multiple distinct preset forms/modes.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
A character who has two or more separate "preset" forms, one of which is his "original/default" form, that he either switches between freely, or changes into each one successively over the course the story and in a one-way fashion (i.e. he can't go back to his original form under his own power). The transformation(s) can be voluntary or involuntary.

Note that the forms should be more or less "unique" to the character, so merely being able to use shapeshifting powers to freely impersonate any other person does not count.

Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
  • From Digimon, we have: Imperialdramon and his unnamed normal mode, Fighter Mode and Paladin Mode; and Belphemon and his Rage Mode and Sleep Mode.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
  • In the Ethshar novel Taking Flight, by Lawrence Watt-Evans, Irith is a shapeshifter with 7 different shapes. She can change voluntarily.
  • In J. R. R. Tolkien's Arda (the world of Middle-earth and The Lord of the Rings), the Ainur are angelic beings who by default have no bodies. But they can "clothe" themselves in bodies (called fanar) sort of the way we put on clothes, and these can be absolutely anything they want. It's a significant indication of how far they've Fallen when first the Big Bad Morgoth, and later Sauron, lose this ability and get stuck permanently in hideous, Obviously Evil "dark lord" bodies.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
  • In Werewolf: The Apocalypse there are many races of shapeshifters, all with Voluntary Shapeshifting, and all but werespiders have at least 3 forms: the human form, an animal form, and a large, hybrid war form. Most have in addition a near-human hybrid form and a near-animal hybrid form, while the Ananasi and Kumo (werespiders) have four forms: Homid (human-looking hybrid), Lilian (hybrid war-form), Pithus or Aghora (Giant Spider), and Crawlerling or Thousand Fangs (a swarm of normal-sized Hive Mind spiders). For Garou (werewolves) the five forms are named Homid (human), Glabro (near-human hybrid), Crinos (bipedal hybrid war-form), Hispo (near-wolf hybrid), and Lupus (wolf). A shapeshifter is always born in either the human, animal, or war form, which remains their default throughout life, but they can shift to the other forms at will.
  • In Werewolf: The Forsaken the werewolves (called Forsaken) have 5 formes just as in Apocalypse, in varying degrees of wolf/human. The 3 named in-between forms are Dalu (mostly human), Gauru (halfway) and Urshul (huge wolf).
  • In Exalted most of a Lunar Exalt's very numerous forms are those of specific, individual animals they've eaten. However, a few are specific to themselves: their human form, their totem/spirit form (an animal of some kind), and the in-between forms they can gain by learning Hybrid Body Rearrangement and Deadly Beastman Transformation.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]] [[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
  • El Goonish Shive. Grace can transform into several different forms, including a squirrel and a human being.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
  • In Gargoyles the Third Race (The Fair Folk) and the New Olympian serial killer Proteus are shapeshifters who can look like pretty much anything they want (though Perseus prefers to impersonate others). For example, the Weird Sisters have appeared as young women, creepy old women, creepy little girls, and creepy old gargoyles (they're creepy). Oberon has his usual humanoid form but at one point transmutes it to something resembling diamond, and another time grows taller than the world's highest skyscraper. Word of God is that the Third Race can, in fact, look like anything at all, and don't necessarily have "true forms" at all.
[[/folder]]


Community Feedback Replies: 36
  • October 10, 2012
    DracMonster
    Possible alternate title: Multiple Choice Shapeshifting (or transformation)
  • October 10, 2012
    MrRuano
    • Pokemon has Deoxys as the posterchild of this trope, with a Default Form, an Attack Form, a Defense Form, and a Speed Form. Which form you get depends on which version Deoxys enters.
      • Darkrai also has an "Origin Form" as a special mode, along side his default "Altered Form".
    • Iron Man has legions of armors in his armory, all with various unique purposes and situations where they would be best utilized.
  • October 10, 2012
    Duncan
    In the Ethshar novel Taking Flight, by Lawrence Watt Evans, Irith is a shapeshifter with 7 different shapes. She can change voluntarily.
  • October 11, 2012
    Arivne
    Web Comics
    • El Goonish Shive. Grace can transform into several different forms, including a squirrel and a human being.
  • October 11, 2012
    Koveras
    • The shapeshifters in the Lyrical Nanoha franchise generally have this. E.g. Yuuno can only alternate between his human form and a ferret. Some can learn additional forms, like Zafira learned the wolf cub form from Arf. The only exception so far has been Due, who can assume any appearance--as long as it is humanoid.
  • October 11, 2012
    Chabal2
    • World Of Warcraft: Druid characters can turn into cats, bears, cheetahs, birds, treants, owlbears and sea lions depending on what the situation requires.
    • Animorphs has this, in that every animal they change into must first be individually "acquired", that is, made physical contact with for a small amount of time. Each Animorph has their preferred combat morph to avert Crippling Overspecialization, but there are some where the same animal was acquired (wolf, dolphin, polar bear...).
  • October 12, 2012
    Arivne
    One of these forms may be a Partial Transformation (second variant): half the creature's Shapeshifter Default Form, half its fully changed form.
  • October 12, 2012
    Stratadrake
    [[quoteblock]]or changes into each one successively over the course the story and in a one-way fashion[[/quoteblock]] I think this needs to be cut out with a spoon. If we interpret it too broadly, then e.g. the evolutions in Pokemon also count (most Pokemon transform to stronger forms as they grow).
  • October 12, 2012
    WeAreAllKosh
    Western Animation

    The character Meatwad of Aqua Teen Hunger Force theoretically can shapeshift to any shape he wants (shape-wise, but the shape is still made of that ground-whatever meat he's made of), but the only shapes he "knows" are that of a hot dog in bun, or an igloo (besides his default meatball shape).
  • October 13, 2012
    TBeholder
    ^^ aye, that be Metamorphosis, not 'shifting.

    So, this covers the area between werewhatevers and freeform polymorph. Needs a little polishing, but looks good.
  • October 13, 2012
    Chabal2
    Animagi in Harry Potter can turn into animals (though it seems to be limited to a single one) that also keeps some kind of identifying mark of its human state.
  • October 14, 2012
    MorganWick
  • November 21, 2012
    Stratadrake
    I have to suggest that this only counts if the character can acquire more than two forms, otherwise there's no "multiple choice", just their 'default' and 'transformed' states.

    So the second Pokemon example (which is actually Giratina, not Darkrai) doesn't count since Giratina only has two forms.

    • Most Transformers have only one alternate mode, but "triple changers" have access to two different vehicle modes, and some individuals have more, like the G1 Decepticon Sixshot who can transform between six modes.
  • November 26, 2012
    Xtifr
    Literature:
    • In the novel Dracula, ol' Drac himself can shift to become a bat or a wolf or a mist.
  • November 26, 2012
    Irrisia
    Never played it so someone needs to confirm, but I think I have an example:

    Werewolf The Apocalypse and Werewolf The Forsaken. You've got human, you've got wolf, then you've got a number of set forms in-between that are varying degrees of wolf/human. Forsaken lists 3 named inbetween forms for Forsaken - Dalu (mostly human), Gauru (halfway) and Urshul (huge wolf).
  • November 27, 2012
    Xtifr
    • Played With in the Robert Sheckley short-story, "Shape". The shapeshifting aliens can take any shape, but to do so is considered blasphemous. The allowed shapes for an individual are determined by their caste and job. Using even minor improvements on an established shape can result in severe punishment. When exceptions are made for the small force assigned to secretly invade Earth, it begins to stir up trouble in the ranks.
  • November 27, 2012
    Chernoskill
    • The 1993 Raven Software game Shadowcaster has a protagonist that can change into a huge cat-like animal, a floating tentacle-wielding gazer, and a dragon, among other forms.
  • November 27, 2012
    McKathlin
    Webcomics
    • The Were in the DMFA world of Furrae have three forms: an anthropomorphic furry form, an animalistic form, and a human form. The first is their default, since it's the form of the world's common beings; humans are so rare that they're the stuff of myth.
  • November 27, 2012
    ArcadesSabboth
    To elaborate on the World of Darkness examples: in Werewolf The Apocalypse there are many races of shapeshifters, all with Voluntary Shapeshifting, and all but werespiders have at least 3 forms: the human form, an animal form, and a large, hybrid war form. Most have in addition a near-human hybrid form and a near-animal hybrid form, while the Ananasi and Kumo (werespiders) have four forms: Homid (human-looking hybrid), Lilian (hybrid war-form), Pithus or Aghora (Giant Spider), and Crawlerling or Thousand Fangs (a swarm of normal-sized Hive Mind spiders). For Garou (werewolves) the five forms are named Homid (human), Glabro (near-human hybrid), Crinos (bipedal hybrid war-form), Hispo (near-wolf hybrid), and Lupus (wolf). A shapeshifter is always born in either the human, animal, or war form, which remains their default throughout life, but they can shift to the other forms at will.

    Other examples:

    • In Gargoyles the Third Race (The Fair Folk) and the New Olympian serial killer Proteus are shapeshifters who can look like pretty much anything they want (though Perseus prefers to impersonate others). For example, the Weird Sisters have appeared as young women, creepy old women, creepy little girls, and creepy old gargoyles (they're creepy). Oberon has his usual humanoid form but at one point transmutes it to something resembling diamond, and another time grows taller than the world's highest skyscraper. Word Of God is that the Third Race can, in fact, look like anything at all, and don't necessarily have "true forms" at all.

    • In JRR Tolkien's Arda (the world of Middle-earth and The Lord Of The Rings), the Ainur are angelic beings older than the universe, who by default have no bodies. But they can "clothe" themselves in bodies (called fanar) sort of the way we put on clothes, and these can be absolutely anything they want. It's a significant indication of how far they've Fallen when first the Big Bad Morgoth, and later Sauron, lose this ability and get stuck permanently in hideous, Obviously Evil "dark lord" bodies.
  • November 27, 2012
    Stratadrake
    I'm not sure whether Werewolf The Apocalypse technically qualifies, as Mix And Match Shapeshifting is an implied secondary feature of certain shapeshifting methods; their human and wolf forms are the ends of a broad spectrum they can assume any point on, rather than specific and discrete 'forms'.
  • November 27, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^^ I don't think either of the other examples fit either, since this is supposed to be about having a limited number of preset shapes.
  • November 28, 2012
    Flee
    Website mascot Zone-Tan from Zone Archive can turn into a small purple tentacle.
  • November 28, 2012
    Stratadrake
    ...and?
  • November 28, 2012
    Chernoskill
    ... and BACK! :D
  • November 28, 2012
    Stratadrake
    ...and?
  • November 28, 2012
    Stratadrake
    (So just in case I'm being too subtle about it, I'm saying it's Not An Example. The character's transformations (Shapeshifter Default Form included) must be limited to three or more discrete forms. Mix And Match Shapeshifting does not count. General "turn into anything" shapeshifting does not count.)
  • November 28, 2012
    ZombieAladdin
    For context, in Ben 10, Ben Tennyson is able to switch between his default human form and initially ten superpowered alien forms, though the number increased as he acquired more data for more species (and, upon old age, will have a number of forms in the quintuple-digits).

    More Pokemon with multiple forms:
    • Castform shifts appearances and type based on the weather, currently having four: Normal weather, sunny, rain, and snow.
    • Burmy, based on a bagworm, will change its coat, and with it its stats and type, based on the materials around it, whether it's forest with the Plant Cloak, mountains or desert with the Sandy Cloak, or urban areas with the Trash Cloak.
    • Rotom can inhabit electrical appliances and take on their native element. Besides its default Ghost-type appearance when not possessing anything, it also has the Grass-type Mow Rotom, the Fire-type Heat Rotom (based on an oven), the Water-type Wash Rotom (based on a washing machine), the Ice-type Frost Rotom (based on a refrigerator), and the Flying-type Fan Rotom.
    • Arceus is ordinarily Normal-type, but it can change into any type in the game and get a Palette Swap by equipping it with a corresponding item.
    • Deerling and Sawsbuck have a form for each season, though they don't control it at will and are merely cosmetic.
    • Kyurem has subpar stats and nothing special when it's by itself, but it can absorb Reshiram to become White Kyurem or Zekrom to become Black Kyurem, gaining Fire or Electric moves, respectively, and gain a big boost in stats.

    And you're not counting anyone who can switch between two forms roughly equally, right? (Cherrim, Shaymin, and Meloetta have exactly two forms, but neither is their default one.)
  • November 28, 2012
    WeAreAllKosh
    Western Animation

    The character Meatwad of Aqua Teen Hunger Force theoretically can shapeshift to any shape he wants (shape-wise, but the shape is still made of that ground-whatever meat he's made of), but the only shapes he "knows" are that of a hot dog in bun, or an igloo (besides his default meatball shape).
  • November 28, 2012
    Stratadrake
    ^^ All but one of those Pokemon aren't technically 'shapeshifting', either in-universe or (especially) in-game:
    • Burmy for just cloaks itself using material from the area it was in. Burmy don't acquire the secondary type, though; female Burmy evolve into Wormadam, which has the secondary typing but can't change their cloak at all (it's become a permanent part of their body).
    • Rotom is an electrical spirit that can inhabit electrical appliances. (Which can't be done mid-battle.)
    • Arceus can't shapeshift, only change its elemental type (and, in the games, outside of battle only; Pokemon can only hold one item at a time, and nobody can steal Plates from Arceus)
    • Deerling and Sawsbuck aren't shapeshifters, it's just that their antlers grow seasonal foliage.
    • Kyurem is an example of a Fusion Dance.

    ^ That is an interesting one, because a character who can theoretically shapeshift into anything but has to specifically "learn" or "acquire" individual discrete forms before they can use them, could still qualify.
  • November 28, 2012
    Irrisia
    Werewolf (as far as I can tell), it's not that they can assume ANY point on the scale, it's that there are 5 distinct forms they can assume that fall on the scale. Technically speaking.

    Speaking purely from a meta viewpoint, this is probably what druids or similar shapeshifting characters in Dungeons And Dragons or Pathfinder will end up being, just because it's easier to stat and play a set number of forms.
  • November 28, 2012
    MorganWick
    ^^ Would Animorphs count, then?
  • November 29, 2012
    Skoinks
    Dragon Age:Origins has ThatOneLevel in Limbo world (the Fade), where your main character can shapeshift between a mouse, a firey skeleton, a stone golem and the series' ghost equivalent.
  • December 5, 2012
    WeAreAllKosh
    In the film Conan The Barbarian, Thulsa Doom changes into a giant snake in one scene. Since we never see him change into anything else, we might assume this is more an alternate form for him rather than one of a free range of shapeshifting options.
  • December 6, 2012
    Stratadrake
    ^ Right. In order to qualify it has to be known (either in concept or execution) that the character has multiple options to change into but not "anything they want". So Animorphs counts since each form must be explicitly acquired before they can use it, while Conan doesn't because he's only ever seen using one form (Scaled Up), not several.
  • December 6, 2012
    MorganWick
    You have no idea how tempted I am to suggest Omnitrix Shapeshifting as a title. I want to make a reference to card games, but the best I'm coming up with is Shapeshifting Poker.
  • December 7, 2012
    MarqFJA
    Since you guys seem to be handling this well in my absence, and already one person has done a good job of keeping it up to date, I declare this draft to be Up For Grabs (though it's technically a moot point). ArcadesSabboth, you can take the lead here; I need to attend to nearly two dozen other drafts, in the meantime.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=ooqkhvltkr9unnx3w20sspdb