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[[quoteright:350:[[Film/DraculaUntold http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dracula_bat_swarm_transform.png]]]]

A person has just been hit by a [[FrickinLaserBeam laser beam]], or a [[CarFu truck]]. The person doesn't [[ATwinkleInTheSky fly off into space]], though. Instead, he shatters into hundreds of... animals? Which then [[HiveMind flock over in unison]] to a different spot? Then regroups into that person again, whole and unscathed?

Alternatively, the person may not be in imminent danger of being splattered into pieces involuntarily, and merely decide to scatter himself into many many tiny bits which then fly away elsewhere. And even then, the go-elsewhere part is also optional; the person may just scatter into dust lest a truck runs him over.

Most of the time, the person in question has a superpower, or may also be supernatural, or may be in fact TheWormThatWalks.

Unlike in the case of LiterallyShatteredLives, those employing this trope don't die from being shattered. See also PullingThemselvesTogether, which is similar to the second half of this trope, and generally trauma-induced. BlobMonster and ElementalShapeshifter can do something similar to this. Compare also DetachmentCombat if they just detach their body parts rather than breaking down to flying pieces. Related is {{Teleportation}} that employs a method similar to this, i.e breaking the subject into atoms and then reconstructing them in another place; people who have this as an ability might achieve long-distance movement similar to a teleport this way.

Not to be confused with MillionToOneChance.


!!Examples for trauma-induced variants

* This happens with cars in an insurance commercial (Liberty Mutual?) The car would be rear ended, and fly into little pieces, before reforming a short ways away.

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Manga/{{Kinnikuman}}'': When Kinnikuman uses his Megaton Punch to shatter Akuma Shogun's body, it breaks into hundreds of razor-sharp pieces that [[DeathOfAThousandCuts fly though Kinnikuman's body]] before reforming.
* ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'': Itachi Uchiha has a technique that creates a clone of himself that disperses into crows when damaged. But since he often combines it with his illusion techniques it's hard to tell whether he is using a clone or an illusion.
* Movie villain [[RealityWarper Janenmba]] from ''Manga/DragonBallZ'' can teleport around by breaking his body into smaller, squared bricks that reform at the desired location, usually just behind the opponent. However, he cannot attack unless he has completely reformed.
* Snake {{Youkai}} Tayura from ''Manga/UshioAndTora'' usually moves around by transforming his body into a whirlwind of razor-sharp splinters which he can also use to attack in tandem with his partner (a frog youkai)'s OverlyLongTongue.
* Whenever the ''Anime/YuGiOh'' monster Revival Jam gets splattered by an attack, it quickly reforms itself. Marik combines this with the Jam Defender card to ensure that Yugi's attacks only hit Revival Jam, making his other monsters untouchable.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* Gabriel in ''Film/TheProphecy'' series sometimes teleports this way, as when a shot from a gun turns him temporarily into a murder of crows.
* Played in a hilarious fashion in the Disney sequel, ''[[Film/{{Halloweentown}} Halloweentown: Kalabar's Revenge]]''. Sophie and Dylan realize that Alex, believed to be Carl's father, is in fact a golem created from the villain Kalabar to distract Gwen. The golem (wearing a frog costume) eats a fly Sophie conjures with her magic, breaking the illusion. An angry Gwen then blasts him with magic, turning him back into a pile of frogs.

* In Book 14 of ''Literature/LoneWolf'', one boss is an [[NinjaPirateZombieRobot armored, fire-breathing, demonic monkey]]. After it is killed, its corpse turns into a swarm of man-eating insects for you to contend with. Notably, the insects are an illusion. At that point, Lone Wolf has achieved a level of mental discipline that allows him to simply ignore them.

* Jim Butcher's ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'':
** In Dresden's debut short story, Harry and Murphy manage to smash a troll, which breaks into dozens of tiny trolls that escape into a storm drain. Harry notes that supernatural predators will catch most of the little ones before they can reach a threatening size again.
** In ''Literature/SmallFavor'', while the [[VoluntaryShapeshifting shapeshifted form]] of Tessa isn't actually made of bugs, she is a giant preying mantis with little praying mantises instead of blood that fly out when she gets shot.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* In ''Series/{{Smallville}}'', Clark Kent battles a Franchise/SpiderMan-esque villain named Greg Arkin in episode 2. When Greg gets crushed by falling debris, his body breaks up into dozens of beetles.

* Music/{{Madonna}}'s music video ''Frozen'' has one scene where she seemingly falls over and shatters into crows which then fly away.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'':
** In 4th Edition , the crystalline beings known as the ''Shardmind'' have an ability that lets them separate into individual pieces and reform a short distance away after being successfully attacked.
** From 3.5's ''Fiendish Codex I'', one of twenty random death effects for a demon is for the defeated infernal to collapse into a horde of inch-high duplicates of itself, which fight each other until one remains, which vanishes in a puff of smoke.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/{{Bayonetta}}'', by dodging an attack at the very last second, Bayonetta can [[BatOutOfHell shatter into bats]] upon getting hit, negating the attack and gaining increased amounts of [[BulletTime Witch Time]] in the process. For Jeanne she turns into a [[MacabreMothMotif swarm of moths]], and this is the only way she can get Witch Time normally. [[{{VideoGame/Bayonetta2}} In the sequel]], [[spoiler:[[SecretCharacter Rosa]]]] can also use this ability, turning into a [[BeeAfraid swarm of hornets]].
** This carries into her [[VideoGame/SuperSmashBros4 Smash]] incarnation, too. When she attempts, but just barely fails, to dodge an attack, she bursts into a cloud of bats and reforms at her intended destination, taking reduced damage from the attack and none of the knockback.
* This is an infuriating ability of the [[DemonicSpiders "Golden Knight"]] enemies in ''VideoGame/{{Karnov}}''.
* ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker'' has Jalhalla, boss of the Earth Temple. Killing the smaller parts is what actually harms it, as evidenced by [[EnemyScan its lifebar]].
* Boolossus, the third boss of ''VideoGame/LuigisMansion'', is defeated by luring him into the horn of a nearby ice unicorn statue, causing him to pop into many smaller Boos, which you can then capture.
* This is how the player character "dies"/or just before they die and regroups themselves in ''VideoGame/CatPlanet''.
* ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess'':
** The mini-boss Deathsword (who, as the name suggests, appears to be a lich wielding a large sword) of Arbiter's Grounds disintegrates into a massive swarm of scarabs after being defeated.
** Armogohma, a truly spectacular and terrifying GiantSpider. After you beat her the first time, she disintegrates into an eye with legs and a swarm of smaller spiders, which you have to fight off while [[GoForTheEye going for the eye]].

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/{{Minus}}'': minus in the guise of a fairy godmother once saves a jumper from suicide by making him splatter into smaller copies of himself on impact after he wished it didn't have to end on the way down. He appears to be much happier with his life.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'': At the end of the early short ''Hold Anything'', Bosko falls from a great height and splits into several miniature copies of himself, which do a little dance before merging.
* In the [[WesternAnimation/RogerRabbitShorts Roger Rabbit short]] ''Trail Mix-Up'', Roger is put through a wood shredder and emerges as over a dozen mini-Rogers; all but one of them merge back.
-->'''Roger:''' ''BABY...!''
-->'''Mini-Roger:''' Herman!

!!Examples for at-will variants

* Similar to Emily from ''Movie/CorpseBride'', an earlier ad for the [[Creator/{{Syfy}} Sci Fi Channel]] had a lady transform into a [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiyAoNnZ6B8 swarm of butterflies]].

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In the manga version of ''Manga/{{Guyver}}'', Aptom [[ShapeshifterWeapon converts his own body into]] [[MacrossMissileMassacre Gaster's organic missiles]] to attack an enemy. After Aptom converts himself completely, the manga cuts to a distant rooftop, where it is revealed that while most of the missiles blew up, some of them flew away and recombined into a diminished Aptom.
* Arachne from ''Manga/SoulEater'' hid herself by turning her body into 3000 spiders that spread across the world, and then hid her soul inside a giant Golem.
* Benisato in ''Anime/NinjaScroll'' does have a normal body, but she can use a writhing mass of snakes to hide or [[CombatTentacles fight with]].
* In ''Manga/OnePiece'', Gekko Moriah fights by sending his LivingShadow at his enemies. It can appear as a giant made of shadow, but can also split into many small globes of shadow to protect Moriah, and those globes can then sprout wings and fangs to attack as a swarm.
* In ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' we have Katsuyu, who takes this trope UpToEleven. Not only can she voluntary split into thousands of tiny versions of herself and reform, those who have signed the Slug contract (including Tsunade and Sakura) always summon portions of her. Whereas the Toad and Snake summons have entire families of differently-sized summons, there is only one slug, and she's at least big enough to be summoned at a size equal to other Great Summons, by both Tsunade and Sakura, ''at the same time.''

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''Comic/BuffyTheVampireSlayer Season 10'': In the second issue, one vampire disperses into a [[BeeAfraid swarm of bees]] to avoid a crossbow bolt from Dawn. Spike deals with the bees using a BoozeFlamethrower.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/CorpseBride'' has Emily dissolve into [[ButterflyOfDeathAndRebirth butterflies by the film's end.]]
* ''Disney/AladdinTheReturnOfJafar'': The Genie and Abu's picnic is attacked by a swarm of spiders that pile together before turning back into Jafar. The bugs weren't his true form, however -- apparently [[ForTheEvulz he just wanted to freak them out]].
* A example in the ''WesternAnimation/DragonHunters'' movie with the "Red Swarm". Constitued of many small red flying creatures (looking like a cross of toad and bat), it can assemble into a large, fire-breathing dragon/ogre. Once, the dragon reconstitutes while the swarm is separated in several places; its head ends up stuck inside a barn, the body outside and one leg farther away, but still mobile and aware of its other body parts.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* The 2010 ''Film/{{Clash of the Titans|2010}}'' has Hades teleport by having demon imps fuse into him (and he can fission into said imps). He also has a "conventional" VillainTeleportation where he appears from what is essentially a shadowy black hole that has sucked up a platoon of Argosian soldiers.
* ''Film/TheLeagueOfExtraordinaryGentlemen'': The vampire [[Literature/{{Dracula}} Mina Harker]] can split up into a swarm of bats at will, travel some distance and reform into a human again.
* ''Film/SnowWhiteAndTheHuntsman'' gives this ability to the Evil Queen, who can disperse into crows.
* Film/LittleNicky once turned into a bunch of spiders to escape an angry mob, then reformed in his apartment.
* In ''Film/BramStokersDracula'', among other transformations, Dracula takes the form of a horde of rats to escape the protagonists.
* After being released from her bonds in ''Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanAtWorldsEnd'', the sea goddess Calypso grows to about 30 feet tall then dissolves in a shower of crabs, to escape into the ocean.
* In the live-action modern version of ''Film/TheSorcerersApprentice'', the villain, Maxim Horvath, first appears as a swarm of cockroaches scurrying out of a matryoshka doll and assembling themselves into a human figure, complete with clothes.
* Upon becoming a vampire, Vlad III, the newly risen Dracula in ''Film/DraculaUntold'', is capable of doing this with bats, and does so very often, both to teleport and in a FlashStep.

* In Creator/TerryPratchett's ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'', a vampire can only change into a single bat if they've been feeding on human blood, since it takes great magical power to change one's body mass in the setting. Belonging to the [[VegetarianVampire beetotaler Black Ribboners]], Lance-Constable Sally von Humpeding, the first vampire to join the Ankh-Morpork City Watch in ''Discworld/{{Thud}}'', turns into a flock of bats. This is theoretically easier than turning into a single bat since you don't have ShapeshifterBaggage problems. What you do have are "keeping track of where they all are" problems and, for female vampires, "making sure two of them carry your clothes for you" problems.
** Despite being very much not Black Ribboners, the Magpyr family transforms into a swarm of hundreds of magpies at the end of ''Discworld/CarpeJugulum'', presumably because [[RuleOfCool it looks cool]].
* In the ''Literature/WildCards'' novels ''Inside Straight'', ''Busted Flush'' and ''Suicide Kings'', Jonathan Hive has the power to turn himself into a swarm of wasps and back again.
* In Creator/StevenErikson's ''Literature/MalazanBookOfTheFallen'', D'ivers are [[VoluntaryShapeshifting shapeshifters]] who can turn and split into several animals of the same species at once, rather that just one. Some of them, like Gryllen or Mogora, can turn into hundreds of rats and spiders, respectively. Mogora in particular ''loves'' collapsing into a heap of spiders only to reassemble into her human form a short distance away and laugh.
* In ''Literature/GoodOmens'' by Creator/NeilGaiman and Creator/TerryPratchett:
** The demon Hastur bursts out of a phone line as a massive wave of maggots and eats a roomful of [[AcceptableTargets telemarketers]].
** Also, Crowley scared the pants off a guy with a form that basically overloaded his brain. Aziraphale thought the maggots were a bit much, but that's angels for you; never appreciate a good maggot form.
* In ''[[Literature/{{Nightside}} Hex and the City]]'', a powerful demon takes the form of a huge swarm of biting flies.
* In ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'' book ''Literature/SkinGame'', the Denarian Tessa (see Trauma section) attacks Harry in a secure bank vault by converting her body mass into a swarm of insects that attacks every inch of his exposed skin while trying to burrow into his orifices, while simultaneously [[MindRape whispering demonically into his mind]].

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* The Locust Undead in ''Series/KamenRiderBlade'' can split himself into multiple smaller locusts to attack the BOARD office before returning to a more humanoid locust form to fight Kenzaki as the titular Kamen Rider Blade.
** A [[BeeAfraid Bee Ganma]] also featured this power in ''Series/KamenRiderGhost'', dissolving into a swarm of bees when attacked.
* The '90s ''Dracula: The Series'' has the vampires break up into swarms of bats when making a quick getaway.
* On ''Series/{{Shadowhunters}}'', the [[DemonLordsAndArchdevils Prince of Hell]] Azazel can evade attacks by dissolving into a swarm of insects and flying away.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}'' has the spell Flight of Separation, which turns the caster into a flock of birds.
* ''TabletopGame/WerewolfTheApocalypse'': The Ananasi, werespiders who, in their animal form, turn into their weight in spiders. Since they can eventually regenerate their entire bodies from even one of those spiders, it makes for a great escape technique.
* In the ''TabletopGame/NewWorldOfDarkness'':
** The Changing Breeds can do this with a specific aspect. Werecrows turn into crows, werebats turn into bats, and werecats turn into a horde of small cats or kittens...
** In ''TabletopGame/VampireTheRequiem'', vampires capable of [[{{Animorphism}} shapeshifting into animals]] can learn to become a swarm of tiny creatures like bats or rats instead. Unlike regular shapeshifting, the experience is confusing enough to leave them slightly deranged for hours afterwards.
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'':
** In 3.5th Edition, the warlock can transform into a cloud of darkness and bats, but given any warlock's extremely limited skillset and how late this comes, nobody ever takes this power.
** What's worse than a druid who can turn into a giant bear and eat you? A druid who can turn into a swarm of 10,000 flesh-eating scarabs and eat you. Plus as a druid with the swarm ability you gain heavy resistance to melee and basic ranged attacks. The flavor art for the 4th edition Primal Swarm druid build depicts one such druid transforming into a bunch of cute, placid ''frogs'', humorously enough.
** Worse, there are some feats and magic items that turn you into a magic, resistant-to-all-damage walking colony of flesh-eating insects.
** The Swarmshifter template from 3.5 allows [=DMs=] to apply this trope to all sorts of monsters.
* The 2nd edition ''TabletopGame/DiscworldRoleplayingGame'' has the Alternate Form: Swarm Body meta-trait to represent Discworld vampires, above.
* ''TabletopGame/BigEyesSmallMouth'' has the Swarm power, which allows its user to transform into a swarm of insects or a flock of birds.

* Toys/{{Bionicle}} has Zaktan, whose body is [[TheWormThatWalks composed of millions of microscopic organisms]] called protodites. His power was first triggered involuntarily when he was blasted by EyeBeams that were supposed to disintegrate him--which they did, technically. But since then, he's been able to do it any time he wants.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/LinksCrossbowTraining'': After it's outer layer of armor is knocked off, the Darknut demonstrates the ability to dissolve into thousands of flies and reform at will. Although this allows him to teleport around the room and avoid Link's attacks, it also reveals his weakness: [[spoiler: there are three white flies among the black ones, and if they are destroyed the Darknut can be killed in his humanoid form]].
* A variation is the central ability of the Yellow Devil and its many, many successors throughout the ''Franchise/MegaMan'' franchise.
* This tactic is imitated by the Dragon Devil in ''VideoGame/IWannaBeTheGuy''.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Bayonetta}}'', Umbra Witches can do this as a part of their {{Animorphism}} Shapeshifting powers, disintegrating into a swarm of small flying creatures (like bats, moths or hornets) to dodge attacks and reform elsewhere.
* ''Franchise/{{Castlevania}}'':
** {{Dracula}} occasionally {{teleport|spam}}s this way. Being the good ol' Drac, he becomes a mass of bats. Curiously, the ability was first seen in [[VideoGame/CastlevaniaIIIDraculasCurse an NES-era boss fight]] with {{Alucard}}, who uses Drac's classic pattern from the other games.
** Some games also give this ability to the Phantom Bat. Similarly, ''VideoGame/SuperCastlevaniaIV'' gives this ability to the mummy boss, Akmodan II, who teleports as a stream of loose bandages.
** In ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaLordsOfShadow2'', [[VillainProtagonist Dracula]] can do this with a plague of rats when hiding in shadows, and [[{{Deuteragonist}} Alucard]] can teleport himself with a swarm of bats.
* Nevan from ''VideoGame/DevilMayCry'' teleports across her room (read: battle arena) by dissolving into bats.
* Being Western-inspired vampires (as opposed to [[ChineseVampire more conventional Eastern vampires]]), ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'''s Remilia and Flandre Scarlet are able to turn into and reform from a swarm of bats. Interestingly, Flandre's bats have normal wings, even though she herself has bizarre metal/crystal wings.
* The fire elemental boss from ''VideoGame/{{Cadash}}'' looks like a big demon standing still in a pit of fire, that shatters in a multitude of fireballs before reforming into another fire pit.
* One of the new Taken in ''VideoGame/AlanWake's American Nightmare'', the Birdman, turns into a flock of crows at will, but doesn't have the darkness shield of vanilla Taken.
* In ''VideoGame/AliceMadnessReturns'' Alice gains the ability to briefly turn into the swarm of butterflies to get back from BottomlessPits or just FlashStep around.
* This is Kain's favorite method of transportation in ''VideoGame/LegacyOfKain: Blood Omen'' and ''Defiance''. Being a vampire he transforms into a flock of bats.
* Vagullion, the WarmUpBoss from ''VideoGame/{{Ys}} Origin'', will sometimes transform into a flock of bats and fly toward the player to attack. After taking enough damage, it splits into two beings, both of which use the swarming attack.
* In ''VideoGame/TheDishwasher: Vampire Smile'', Yuki gains the ability to dodge attacks by instantly shredding herself into a full body version of PinkMist then reforming elsewhere.
* [[VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiSuperstarSaga Cackletta]] and [[VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiDreamTeam Antasma]] of the ''VideoGame/MarioAndLuigi'' series are both capable of splitting into a cloud of {{bat|OutOfHell}}s and rushing the brothers. Notably, in the case of the latter, jumping on and destroying the individual bats will deduct from his HP when he reforms.
* ''VideoGame/{{Darkstalkers}}'' succubi/incubi make their clothes out of souls, which manifest as bats. They can occasionally turn themselves into bats, as well.
* Beelzebub in ''VideoGame/LaMulana'' alternates between being a swarm of flies, being more-or-less normal humanoid, and being one giant fly.
* The Ultimate form of the ShapeShifter mage subclass in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' is a swarm of bees. Taking a master level in Shapeshifter turns them into parasitic insects.
* In ''VideoGame/BioshockInfinite'', members of the Order of the Raven are able to transform into a murder of crows.
* Vampire Lords in ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'' can turn into bursts of bats to travel short distances.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Awesomenauts}}'', Ix the Interloper can avoid attacks by splitting his body into many smaller crystals

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/GastroPhobia'', Krphxyzwlps the Neitherbeast is a shapeshifter who can take many forms, but always with the same total mass. This can include several humans, or in one case a swarm of mice to slip through a small hole.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The ''WesternAnimation/StaticShock'' show has a TheWormThatWalks villain that is a swarm of locusts merging into a giant anthropomorphic locust.
* The series finale of ''WesternAnimation/KassaiAndLeuk'' shows [[spoiler:two of the setting's gods]] turning into flocks of birds.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Slime molds break apart into individual amoeba-like cells that forage for microscopic food, then merge together into much larger [[TheWormThatWalks colony organisms]] that ooze around, feeding on decomposing plant matter as they prepare to reproduce.