[[quoteright:350:[[Disney/LiloAndStitch http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/stitch_retracts_appendages.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:Experiment 626 changing from alien to [[ClarkKenting "dog"]] in just seconds.]]

ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin. This trope describes one's ability to retract their limbs.

This is an ability common to creatures that possess a protective shell, which can retract their limbs within it as a natural mean of self-defense. Features such as retractable [[WolverineClaws claws]] or teeth are also quite common, although for a more [[NaturalWeapon offensive use]]. More rarely, some creatures will be able to retract their legs or arms inside their body itself; in that case, it will most often be a case of either having BizarreAlienBiology or being an EldritchAbomination.

Aside from those uses, Retractable Appendages can also serve the purpose of camouflage, whether for the purpose of avoiding FantasticRacism or as a way of DressingAsTheEnemy. Most common examples include the fangs of {{vampire}}s, the horns and wings of [[DevilInDisguise demonic beings]], the abnormal features of {{mutant}}s, and the [[SpareBodyParts extra limbs]] of [[AlienAmongUs human-looking aliens]]. When PlayedForLaughs, expect PowerIncontinence to strike, with the character revealing their hidden appendages at the worst possible times, and trying desperately to hide them.

This trope is actually often found in RealLife. Among the most well-known examples are turtles and snails, which are able to retract their limbs within their shells[[note]][[CommonKnowledge Although in reality]], some species of turtles are only able to retract their neck, and some are even unable to retract at all.[[/note]], with the latter also able to retract their eyes and horns inside their body. On the same note, felines, especially cats, are known for their retractable claws. As such, if a fictional creature is based on one of these animals, they will most likely inherit this ability.

Your mileage may vary on whether this ability is to be considered NightmareFuel or [[RuleOfCool Extremely Awesome]] when applied to human beings.

Compare Wolverine Claws and RetractableWeapon. See also TelescopingRobot for the mechanical version of this trope.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Neiz from the DragonBall movie Cooler's Revenge who has the ability to retract his head into his body like that of a turtle.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* [[ComicBook/FantasticFour Mr.Fantastic]] [[RubberMan can retract everything]], turning into a sphere. That is how he survived exposure to space once.

* ''[[Film/InspectorGadget Inspector Gadget 2]]'' has this happen to Gadget when he ducks a punch in the face at a bar.
* In the film ''Film/LiloAndStitch'', Stitch demonstrates this ability when taking refuge in a dog pound as seen above.
* In Film/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy, Zaphod retracts one of his heads into his chest from time to time.
* {{Kaiju}} movies starring {{Gamera}}, the flying turtle. Gamera can retract all four of his legs into his shell, then cause fire to spray out of the holes, allowing him to spin around and fly. He can retract his head into his shell the same way, and often does so while flying.
* Toothless from ''WesternAnimation/HowToTrainYourDragon'' has retractable teeth, hence his name. In the [[WesternAnimation/HowToTrainYourDragon2 sequel]], he is revealed to also have retractable scales along his spine.
* An early Creator/StephenChow movie, ''The Royal Tramp'', involved a battle with the MadeOfIron villain who could even retract his manparts. But Stephen's character, having grown up in a brothel, learned how to counteract this by shoving something up the [[AssShove backdoor.]]
* The electronic devices in ''WesternAnimation/TheBraveLittleToaster'' all have retractable faces, with the exception of Radio, who for some reason actually doesn't have a face.
* The title characters of ''Film/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles1990'' all have the ability to do this. During the final Foot battle of the film, Mikey retracts his head into his shell to keep it from being taken off by a Foot mook's axe. "God, I love being a turtle!"

* Franchise/TheFutureIsWild has the Flish with a retractable second mouth.
** Slickribbons have the Flishes retractability brought UpToEleven.
* In the ''Literature/JamesBond'' book ''Literature/YouOnlyLiveTwice'' Bond visits a Japanese martial arts training facility, where the fighters have been trained to retract their testes, making them invulnerable to a groin attack. You really do this (if you're a male), but to a lesser extent than they show in the book.
* In ''Literature/TheCityAndTheStars'' by Creator/ArthurCClarke, future humanity has been engineered so that male genitalia are stored internally when not in use.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons''. Giant Snapping Turtles are noted as being able to retract their legs and head into their shell, thus improving their armor class.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Sephiroth from ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts'' has a retractable black wing. Implied in the ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' series that his black wing is the same as in Kingdom Hearts.
** Genesis and Angeal from ''VideoGame/CrisisCore'' also have retractable wings.
* ''VideoGame/{{Pokemon}}'':
** Generation V has the golem-like Golurk who is able to fly this way by retracting its arms and legs.
** Any Pokemon with the ability Withdraw.
** Darumaka in battle and in the anime can retract their limbs into their body, giving them the appearance of an egg. This is a reference to Daruma dolls (as their name indicates).
** One of [[OminousOwl Hoothoot's]] legs is retractable.
** Darkrai also has retractable legs.
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIV'', the turtle monster Cagnazzo is a creepy example of this. He can collapse to invulnerable shell form, even though his beefy humanoid arms and legs are clearly too big to fit in his shell.
* [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI Kefka]] from the ''VideoGame/DissidiaFinalFantasy'' series has six retractable wings that only detract when he uses the attack "'''''Havoc Wing'''''".
* Algol from ''[[VideoGame/SoulCalibur Soul Calibur IV]]'' has [[NightmareFuel 3 on each side retractable kraken like clawed fingeresque tentacles that detract from his chest.]]

[[folder:Web Originals]]
* A fun image on Website/{{Neopets}} reveals Cybunnies can retract their heads into their body.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''Disney/LiloAndStitch'' has Stitch with retractable antennae, back spines, claws, and second pair of arms.
** [[WesternAnimation/LiloAndStitchTheSeries Almost all of Stitch's "cousins"]] also have this ability.
* Filburt from ''WesternAnimation/RockosModernLife''. Justified that he is a turtle.
* Gary from ''WesternAnimation/SpongeBobSquarePants'' also justified knowing he's a snail.
** Also happens to Craig Mammalton in the episode "Sun Bleached".
** Also happens to Patrick in the episode "Not Normal".
* WesternAnimation/{{CatDog}} has the titular character retract its body like a snail, there's only one episode where the play it rather... [[NightmareFuel Gruesomely]].
* [[BigBad Shendu]] from ''WesternAnimation/JackieChanAdventures'' normally has arms and legs, but for some reason he actually loses both after being turned into a statue thousands of years ago. He eventually gets his arms and legs back once he's been reverted back from his statue form.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Most species of turtles and tortoises are able to retract their legs and neck inside of their shell.
* Snails can retract their whole body inside their shell. Moreover, they are also able to retract their eyes and horns inside their body.