Are you ready?
A character gets hit with a spell, Curse
, or Transformation Ray
, causing an instantaneous and involuntary transformation into a harmless or useless form. This is commonly some sort of animal creature
(whether real or fantastic), though it can also be a plant or a lifeless object. This form will render them unable to pursue their goals, until they can revert to their usual form by some means — they may or may not
lose their voice, or even their mental faculties (in which case someone else will have to seek the cure for them).
Frogs, newts, and toads are so common that they have their own subtrope, Bewitched Amphibians
. Other common choices include mice, chickens, pigs, and sheep.
In role-playing or video games, this is frequently a Standard Status Effect
that will disable or greatly weaken most attacks and magic, but will rarely affect the victim's Hit Points
or armor. People may get turned into toads, but — hot damn — those toads will be Made of Iron
! A notable exception is when insects are involved, in which case the victim is not long for this world.
This is common in fiction, as it's a way for a spellcaster to defeat a foe with magic without simply killing them
. It's also generally less permanent
and more palatable
than actual death. Often requires a hero to find the magic "cure
" to turn his friend back into a person. This can be also be used to show a specific aspect of the character's personality, such as greedy persons turned into pigs, or cowards into chickens
Occasionally in fiction a character may manage to save the day while still under this effect, sometimes through use of the animal form's abilities. This will lead to the Aesop
that it's brains, not strength that's important. Or that courage is more important than size. Or that you can
lay an egg and still feel like a man.
If the transformation is presented to disturb and frighten the viewer, it becomes Transformation Horror
. It will then probably be a Painful Transformation
Whether or not a Baleful Polymorph is effective against a Voluntary Shapeshifter
varies, depending on whether or not it also imposes a Shapeshifter Mode Lock
— otherwise the shapeshifter can just transform themselves back to normal, or at least something else. Thus, it is a subtrope of curses.
Depending on the method, clothing may be transformed as well, or it may not, resulting in Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing
if the characters or audience are aware of this fact, or Empty Piles of Clothing
if they are not. (In either case, naturally, when they get turned back they're going to need those clothes back...
Polymorphing into a nonliving form is much less likely to be played for laughs and much more likely to be permanent.
Can be used as a Karmic Transformation
. Characters transformed this way may also exhibit Morphic Resonance
. See also Emergency Transformation
, Shape Shifter Mashup
and Beauty to Beast
. Compare Taken for Granite
(turning into a statue), Unwilling Roboticisation
(turning from flesh into something mechanical). Compare Spawn Broodling
, in which the "Baleful" part is turned Up to Eleven
. Contrast with Hybrid Overkill Avoidance
, where the subject is immune to further polymorphing because they're already supernatural. Compare Involuntary Shapeshifter
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Anime and Manga
- Magic: The Gathering has a lot of these. Ovinomancer later got a reprint and shout-outs in the Time Spiral block in the form of Ovinize (Transforms target into a sheep) and Pongify (Transforms target into a giant ape). Shadowmoor has Snakeform (Transforms target into a snake). Unglued has Fowl Play(Transforms target into a chicken). Mechanically similar "restraining" cards can instead represent a new state of mind or magical bindings. There are a few cards that turn the target into something non-living. Some polymorphs can be undone (enchantments that can be destroyed), others are permanent (because they remove the original creature from the game and replace it with something else).
- Then there's Mass Polymorph which (at least in terms of flavor) transforms all your creatures into other creatures basically at random.
- When Calvin and Hobbes use the Transmogrifier, like most of their cardboard box technology, it never turns out well. This might be why The Princess and the Frog used the word as well in the above song lyric.
- Calvin was once turned into an owl by the Transmogrifier Gun, but accepted it when he realized that he wouldn't have to go to school. He was actually disappointed when the transmogrification wore off.
- He once used it to turn himself into a tiger, he ended up looking like a shorter Hobbes
- After the Fantastic Four defeat them, three Skrulls offer to turn into something else (and be hypnotised into forgetting their previous lives.) They are turned into cattle and put out to pasture. Which is very creepy after Fridge Logic sets in. In fact, that's not the last we ever hear of the Skrull-cows. The meat they are eventually turned into winds up giving a group of ordinary people superpowers. And cancer.
- In Transfer of Power, The Authority's punishment for the superpowered monster that attacks them (depowered back into a hick) is to take him back home and change him into a flock of chickens. Just as the local bar turns out and the locals decide chickens are acceptable sexual partners. "Do you remember when heroes just used to take bad guys to jail?" (In this case, the reason they didn't is because the hick was empowered by G7. Yes, the seven wealthiest governments in the world. His jail stint would have been shorter than Paris Hilton's.)
- Worse, actually: the locals are actually his brothers, who had just been complaining about a lack of anything to eat.
- In the Buffy comics, Dawn has been turned into a giant (well, at least she got to stomp Tokyo and fight a giant robot version of herself), a centaur (uh, gave Xander a ride...) and a doll.
- In the comic book Fables, the realm Prince Charming came from had its fair share of cursed folks being turned into all sorts of talking animals. Of course, marriage to royalty would reverse the curse. King and Queen Charming disposed of the more troublesome ones by summoning the cook...
- Also, in a slight twist a rabbit named Colonel Thunderfoot is transformed into a human by the angry rabbit mother of a soldier who died after Thunderfoot sent him to battle. The terms of course were that Thunderfoot could only be turned back into a rabbit if he found a doe able to see past his appearance and love him. Judging by the end of the chapter, he is in rather bad luck on that score.
- During the Infinite Crisis tie-in Day of Vengeance, The Spectre turns The Phantom Stranger into a rat, since he wasn't powerful enough to kill him.
- This is The Spectre's general specialty, with origins as a method of getting murder past the Comics Code Authority. Generally, the polymorph is such that the transformed person gets killed or destroyed horribly in such a way as to make ordinary murder seem pleasant... but because it wasn't a human (or, often, a living thing) getting horrifically murdered, its OK!
- In some of the Witch Hazel in Little Lulu, hazel transforms Lulu into various things, such as a cat, a parrot, a monkey, a mermaid, and even a water pipe!
- Before Swing with Scooter turned into an Archie clone, its seventh issue featured a story where Scooter and his friends were turned into anthropomorphic vegetables. Yes.◊
- The mutant Masque of the sewer-dwelling Morlocks can alter the flesh of anyone he touches, in pretty much any way he can imagine; and he has a very twisted imagination.
- Sersi of The Eternals is the Marvel Universe inspiration behind the legend of Circe, and often temporarily transforms her foes into harmless animals.
- Circe the Goddess is a straight-up villain for The DCU and turns her foes into animals. This doesn't stick for Plastic Man, for obvious reasons, but does kinda turn him on.
- All Fall Down: Entertaining children in hospital, the shape-shifter Phylum is permanently trapped in the form of a chimpanzee.
- Exploited by Brian in the Knights of the Dinner Table a few times.
- One Mickey Mouse comic had a witch turn Minnie into a lamb by tricking her into eating an enchanted fig.
- Witch Girls has this occur several times in its comics, notably with Lucinda Nightbane turning a couple of muggers into a frog and fly, and another in which she turns a bully into a two-headed rabbit who she releases into the world to breed.
- The Mighty Thor was turned into a frog on more than one occasion. One time his fellow Avengers were transformed too. Thor groaned "not again..." while Iron Man started freaking out.
- In The Smurfs comic book story "The Little Tree", Lumberjack Smurf finds out that an elf's sister has been turned into an evergreen tree and spares her from being cut down.
- In "Earl of Mar's Daughter", the hero's mother is a "queen o state and wealth" who is so "well skilld in magic spells" that she transformed her son into a dove so that he could fly to distant lands to "charm such maids" as the heroine. In another version, the mighty queen does this to her puny son because he wouldn't obey her.
- In "Brother and Sister", Brother is transformed into a deer by his Wicked Stepmother and can only turn back after her death.
- In "The White Duck", the queen is turned into a white duck, and her children are born as ducklings.
- In "The Greek Princess and the Young Gardener", a fox proves to be the enchanted brother of the Greek Princess. (Note that many other variants of this tale have the fox as a Talking Animal).
- "The Six Swans" were princes changed to that form by their Wicked Stepmother. They could turn back into humans once an evening, but would turn into swans again after a short time.
- "The Lambkin and the Little Fish" were a brother and sister changed to those forms by their Wicked Stepmother.
- In "The Wonderful Birch", after the hero marries the heroine, the Wicked Stepmother turns her into a reindeer and puts her own daughter in her place; a wise woman brings her child to the forest and she turns to a woman to tend it, and her husband burns her skin.
- In the Child Ballad "Tam Lin" (Child #39), Tam Lin is transformed in Fair Janet's arms by The Fair Folk, who want her to let go of him.
- In "The White Bride and the Black One", the Wicked Stepmother turns her stepdaughter into a duck.
- In "The Seven Doves" the heroes are turned to birds by their sister's carelessness; similarly for their mother's in "The Twelve Wild Ducks" and their father's in The Seven Ravens.
- In "Lord Peter", a variant of "Puss in Boots", the cat turns out in the end to be an enchanted princess.
- "Beauty and the Beast" is another example.
- The hero of "East of the Sun and West of the Moon" was made a bear, albeit a Talking Animal, by his Wicked Stepmother (for refusing to marry her daughter and let her become his mother-in-law) and can only take on his human form at night. Similarly with "The Black Bull of Norroway", "The Brown Bear of Norway", "The Enchanted Pig", the dog in "The Daughter of the Skies", and "The White Wolf".
- "Little Bunny Foo-Foo" is threatened with getting turned into a "goon" if he doesn't quit hitting field mice.
- Granted it's a ballet, but Swan Lake (Also adapted as The Swan Princess) is about a princess who becomes a swan during the day due to the spell of a sorcerer.
- In "Iron Hans", Iron Hans turns out to be have been a king, turned into a wild man.
- In "The White Dove", the dove is a kidnapped princess. The witch also tries to hide her from the prince in other shapes.
- In "The Love of Three Oranges", the princess is turned into a canary by the servants who tries to take her place.
- In "The Frog Prince", the prince is turned into a frog before the story.
- In Asbjørnsen and Moe's "The Seven Foals", the foals are the king's transformed sons.
- In the Jackie Chan Adventures fanfiction Queen Of All Oni, a failed spell by Daolon Wong ends up transforming Jade back into her Shadowkhan form, leading to a Face-Heel Turn.
- In the Jackie Chan Adventures and Teen Titans crossover fanfiction A Shadow Of The Titans, a mysterious being (called "The Cackler", according to Word of God) transforms Jade back into her Shadowkhan form and sends her to the TT world (though her morality is unchanged this time round).
- Later, Mumbo turns Jade into a monkey.
- Hobbes is briefly turned into a rabbit by Calvin in order to get Sherman to his house safely in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series.
- In The Blue Blur of Termina, Sonic the Hedgehog was transformed into a Deku Scrub by the Skull Kid.
- In Rise of the Galeforces, Violet Parr, subverts this trope. Specifically, it works two-fold: first, she is turned into a Tyrannosaurus rex by the Big Bad in Chapter 24, and then again in Chapter 29. Both times, she is Genre Savvy enough to realize that she now has the physical power of the (second) greatest carnivore on the planet. In a rare instance when the smarter of the Big Bads is the one who carries the Idiot Ball, Ludlow realizes this fairly quickly, and changes her back into her human form to avoid further trouble, but then the normally Dangerously Genre Savvy Ripper traps her in her dinosaur form indefinitely for his own ends, with disastrous results.
- The PER from The Conversion Bureau use a a potion to forcibly turn people into ponies.
- Tzeentch does this to The Emperor, combined with Gender Bender, at the end of their fight in The God Empress Of Ponykind. The Emperor/Princess Celestia is pissed off at first, but gets used to it after a few years.
- A variant from Generation 2021, Hikaru is forced into a Garchomp costume. A costume that grants him the same powers as a real Garchomp.
- In the Percy Jackson fanfiction Moon Daughter, Annabeth is turned into a grape "with no soul" when she catches Mr. D watching "child pr0n."
- In Knowledge is Power Voldemort gets turned into a squirrel. Yes, a squirrel.
- In Diaries of a Madman, Athena cursed Arachne by transforming her into a spider, in revenge for an insult.
- In Shadowchasers Torment, the Doomdreamer Loreli did this to enemies, former lovers, and even to her own father, usually turning them into cats, keeping a few of them as pets simply to torment them. Nichole fell victim to this too (a "punishment" for breaking into Lorlei's room when the heroes made their final assault on the villain's HQ), but was rescued from the protagonist shortly before the spell became irreversible. (Because Lorlei was Genre Savvy enough to realize that she might accidentally fall victim to the spell herself since she used it so often, she kept a magical curse-breaker hidden in her room, where she cast it often; she was sure to lock up victims in a cage to make sure they couldn't look for it, but never counted on a rescue attempt.)
- The same fate befell Loreli herself at the conclusion; she accepted it as a plea bargain to escape the death penalty and was turned into a cat before being resigned to a private cell at the prison complex. This didn't last long, as she was broken out and cured (against her will, although she didn't have much choice) in Shadowchasers Ascension by the Big Bad of that fic.
- In The Worst Sonic Fanfiction Ever, Sonic, Knuckles and Tails are turned into a salami at one point.
- This trope is one of the key aspects of A New World, A New Way and it's sidestories. Arcues moves a vast majority of the Pokèmon and a handful of humans to Equis, and turns the selected Humans into Pokèmon. Some of the humans don't mind the change though.
- Interlude 9 of My Family And Other Equestrians has Lizzie being turned into a pegasus overnight. The same chapter has Blade Star being involuntarily turned into an alicorn (he was an unicorn before that point). Discord might have something to do with both of these cases, though.
- In the Littlest Pet Shop (2012) fanfic Blythe's Little Problem, Blythe Baxter transforms into a cat and only has four days to turn back to normal before it would become permanent... and then Sue Patterson turns into a ferret.
Films — Animation
- Disney uses this a lot. Beauty and the Beast has the Prince involuntarily transformed into the Beast by the Enchantress, along with the other servants.
- In Cinderella, the mice and dog are turned into the footman and horses. Cinderella III: Twist in Time has the Stepmother steal the Fary Godmother's wand and ultimately turn Anastasia into a copy of Cinderella to steal the Prince away. While Anastasia might have been bullied into agreeing, she still seems rather upset about the whole thing.
- Abu is turned into an elephant and later a wind-up monkey toy.
- Jasmine's tiger is turned into a kitten.
- And inverted when Jafar is turned into a genie, in an itty bitty living space.
- In Alice in Wonderland, the protagonist changes size at alarming rates. While it does happen because she herself consumes various food and drinks, she usually is unaware of the exact effects of the consumption.
- In The Little Mermaid, various merpeople are changed by Ursula into shriveled polyps.
- In The Princess and the Frog, Naveen and Tiana are both involuntarily turned into frogs. (The voodoo man promised "green" in Naveen's future ...)
- In Pinocchio, the wayward boys are turned into donkeys. Bit by bit.
- Brother Bear is based on this trope. Kenai is turned into a bear by the Great Spirit and his recently deceased eldest brother Sitka as punishment for attempting to avenge Sitka by killing the bear. Justified when it turns out to be the mother of a bear cub named Koda.
- The Emperor's New Groove
- In Brave (by Disney subsidiary Pixar), Queen Elinor becomes a bear. And the same fate fell upon a prince who became killer-machine-in-bear-form Mor'du.
- Edmund from Rock-A-Doodle is transformed into a kitten by the evil Duke of Owls, and upon realizing that he's been tranformed, he cries out "Jeepers, I'm all furry!"
Films — Live-Action
- In Time Bandits, the Source of All Evil turns one of the dwarves into a pig.
- The movie Russell is about a man who gets turned into a koala.
- In the original film, Torok transformed the residents of the apartment complex into various magical creatures, judging by Peter's transformation it's quite painful.
- In Troll 2, people get turned into plant things by the goblins. Although if the reactions of one victim are anything to go by, it's not exactly painful.
- The first live-action Guyver movie does this to Mark Hamill's character. Then he dies.
- The film Ladyhawke has a double case of this, orchestrated by an evil priest. Two lovers are cursed so that the man, Etienne Navarre, becomes a wolf by night, and the woman, Isabeau, becomes a hawk by day. They can only both be human at exact sunrise and sunset, but they can never touch.
- In Hocus Pocus, young Binks is turned into a black cat by the three sister witches, and is doomed to live forever with his guilt.
- The hero is promised safe transportation, food, and lodging by a witch. She turns him into a mouse and puts him in a cage with some cheese. As noted in the example in the Literature section, there is a practical reason for the transformation, rather than it just being a curse — the witch didn't want Tristan to take up a lot of space and eat a lot of food.
- Also, Lady Una is turned into a bird and back by the same witch. She seems rather pissed about it.
- Earlier, the villain changes a farmboy into a goat to help pull her carriage. Later, she changes him into a young woman and the (real) goat into a man as a subterfuge. The drawback is that their voices don't change.
- In ''Sinbad' a sorcerer turns Sinbad's friend into a dog.
- This is used as a disturbing visual element in Black Swan, where the protagonist imagines herself morphing into an actual black swan as she struggles psychologically with her role in the ballet. Unless it's really happening...
- In Bedknobs and Broomsticks Miss Price turns several people into rabbits.
- In High School Musical 2, the "Humuhumunukunukuapua'a" skit is about a lonely Hawaiian princess who seeks to break the spell on a prince who's been turned into a fish.
- In the Turkish film Tatlı Cadının Maceraları (Adventures of the Sweet Witch) (based on Bewitched), a magical evil woman promptly transforms a man into a goldfish on a frying pan when he is unresponsive to her advances. He is later rescued by his magical wife.
- In A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Freddy turns Debbie into a giant, helpless cockroach and then crushes her.
- The evil Djinn in Wishmaster does this many times to his victims, with multiple variants. He changes people into trees, brick walls, mannequins, glass doors, crocodiles, a pimple on someone's ass, and many other unpleasantries.
- Maleficent turns the raven Diaval into a man to save him from being beaten to death. When he later pledges his service to her, she changes him into whatever form best suits her needs.
Maleficent: I need a horse...
- In the 2003 TV film Quigley, Archie is turned into the titular Pomeranian after an untimely car crash and is sent back to Earth in his new form in order to prove that he can change his selfish and unforgiving ways.
- Very common in Arabian Nights, where it is typically employed by sorceresses who are either hit upon by men they do not like, or for the purposes of punishing an erstwhile lover they are tired of.
- Example of both kinds are found in the story of King Beder. King Beder is first turned into a bird by Princess Giauhara when he tries to kiss her hand. He is later rescued by another benevolent sorceress queen, but then reaches the city of the formidable Queen Labe. She is so much into this trope that the first thing Beder notices on entering her kingdom is the abnormally large number of donkeys, mules and horses on the streets, who, he later learns, were all her former human lovers whom she had transformed into animals after she tired of them. Beder himself escapes her clutches when he first meets her, by transforming her into a mule with assistance from a magician friend. However, Labe is rescued by her mother, and quickly has her revenge by changing Beder into a "foul bird".
- Another extreme example is found in the Tale of the Younk King of the Black Isles, where the king in the title is transformed into a living sculpture-he is stone from neck downwards- by his adulterous wife as punishment for harming her lover. The queen is not content with merely transforming the king her husband, and goes ahead and makes a display of her magical powers to him by transforming all the inhabitants of his kingdom into fish, color coded by their religion. This whole transfiguration explosion is later discovered when a fisherman tries to catch these fish and finds them to be rather unusually jumpy.
- Taken to an extreme in the story of The Merchant and The Djinn - the titular merchant finds himself having incurred the murderous wrath of the titular Djinn, but is saved at the last moment by the intervention of three completely unrelated travelers who happened to be in that stretch of desert at the time, all of whom are carting around various animals that all happen to be their wives/brothers/relatives who have had bad/foolish experiences with magic and were put under a spell - in something of a parody of this idea. What follows are various stories within stories explaining how each of them suffered this fate, and The Djinn is so amazed by having heard them that he agrees to let the merchant go in exchange for the experience.
- In Roald Dahl's The Witches, the witches' plan to dispose of children is to turn them all into mice.
- And in his The Magic Finger this is the main character's special ability, although it so horrifies her that she never uses it unless she's really annoyed with someone.
- Violet Beauregarde's karmic fate in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a transformation into a giant blueberry, with only her head, hands, and feet showing that she was once human. (This is played up in the 2005 film and 2013 stage musical adaptations, in which her parent figure in each has Skewed Priorities with regards to their concerns for her — in the former, it's that she won't be able to "compete", and the latter, that she can't be a starlet in this form.) At the end of the novel, after all the juice is squeezed out of her, she's Not Quite Back to Normal, as her skin and hair are still blue.
- In The Magic of Oz, a young boy learns to use a very dangerous magic word ("Pyrzqxgl", hard to use because very few can pronounce it) which can turn anything into anything. He learns to pronounce it, and becomes an Unwitting Pawn of the villainous Nome King, who convinces him to use it to wreck havoc in Oz. Naturally, Ozma's protectors try to stop him, until in one scene, he panics and says it dozens of times, transforming nearly the entire cast into various animals - including the Nome King too, who makes the mistake of making him angry. Eventually, the Wizard himself is able to use the word and turn it against them, then trick them into drinking the Water of Oblivion to make them forget the word and return them to a "blank slate". (Which, in the Nome King's case, only stops his evil ways for a short time...)
- In the novels, it's stated that Granny Weatherwax doesn't do this. Instead, she prefers to make people think they're frogs, which takes much less magic, is slightly less cruel, and is a lot more entertaining. The Discworld does, however, contain a few instances of turning people into animals and lots of threatening to turn people into animals. They usually, but not always, get better.
- In Lords and Ladies, Ridcully uses Stacklady's Morphic Resonator to turn a bandit chief into a pumpkin. In accordance with the universal laws of humour, it's still wearing his hat.
- He also turns a particularly annoying complainer into a frog, albeit briefly, in Soul Music.
- Going Postal: "Oh, PLEASE sue the University! We've got PONDS full of people who tried to sue the University!"
- In Sourcery, a University wizard in service to Coin the Sourcerer transforms Lord Vetinari into a small lizard, one of the few times anyone's gotten the better of him.
- In Witches Abroad, Lilith, the quintessential "good witch" gone bad, revisits the Cinderella tale by turning animals into humans and vice versa. When upset at some coachmen getting drunk, she turns them into cockroaches — and steps on them.
- The Librarian of Unseen University is a subversion: he's accidentally turned into an orangutan near the beginning of The Light Fantastic, but he prefers it so much (it's easier to fetch books from on high, for example) he refuses to be transformed back. His morphic field seems to have been permanently affected, as any other time he's transformed, he retains his red-orange orangutan fur. In later novels, his orangutan strength helps save the day.
- And in Equal Rites one silly boy was turned into the "more fitting" form of a piglet.
- In A Hat Full of Sky, Tiffany Aching temporarily gains the ability to transform an arrogant would-be wizard into a frog, though her magic isn't yet powerful enough to violate the conservation of mass, thus necessitating making a giant magical bubble of all the leftover matter from his body next to the frog, which is more horrifying in many ways than the frog-transformation itself.
- The Tiffany books also have the Toad, who was once a lawyer who tried to represent a girl in a Frivolous Lawsuit on a fairy godmother. It was the judge applauding that really got to him, though.
- Neil Gaiman's Stardust:
- A witch turns Tristran into a dormouse to carry him in her cart. In the novel, it's made clear that this isn't actually meant as a curse; it's done for practicality: Tristan takes up a lot less room this way after him arranging for food, bedding and travel. It's also implied that the spell turns you into the animal you are most like. The witch also turns Tristran back once she's given him a ride. OTOH, she does find it amusing.
- The witch earlier turned Tristran's mother into a bird as a punishment.
- Morda inflicts this in Taran Wanderer. Taran resists because he is (unknowingly) carrying Morda's Soul Jar.
- Circe appears in Percy Jackson and the Olympians, turning men into guinea pigs. (They're less difficult to keep than actual pigs).
- The Dresden Files not only consciously avoids using this trope, but the author has actually come up with a plausible reason why most "good" wizards have outlawed the practice.
- Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea makes a spell to shift another person involuntarily rather difficult, and making shifting yourself perfectly easy, but running a very real risk of forgetting how... and why... to shift out of the other form.
- In the Dragaera series, this is Sethra Lavode's favorite method of dealing with obnoxious Dzur heroes. Also, in a Monty Python and the Holy Grail Shout-Out: "She'll turn you into a newt." "I'll get better."
- This happens a number of times in Harry Potter, usually played for laughs. Justified in that one of the classes is Transfiguration, and a lot of students have bad aim. One example is Draco Malfoy, the Amazing Bouncing Ferret, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. "Quidditch Through The Ages" also mentions that after one early match, they had to specifically come up with a rule prohibiting Transfiguring the Keeper into a polecat, although given that the use of several weapons and releasing a swarm of vampire bats were also banned after that match, whether this was intended to prevent the enemy from remaining on their broom or to increase their own team's ability to drop on other players and savage them remains a mystery for the ages.
- In the works of David Eddings:
- In The Belgariad, Polgara uses this twice during the course of the series. She permanently transforms Queen Salmissra into a huge serpent in the original books. (Salmissra comes to appreciate the benefits of the change, and does not want to be returned to her previous form). In the prequel Polgara The Sorceress, she temporarily transforms one of the Cherek kings into a man-sized frog because she thinks a regular Dope Slap won't be enough to get the message across.
- Mentioned in The Malloreon, when Beldin and Belgarath are talking to a sorcerer who hasn't learned the rules. Beldin discourages it, on the grounds that having one annoying person is less tiresome than having a hundred aggravating frogs.
- In Patricia A. McKillip's The Bell at Sealey Head, it turns out that the bell is the enchanted Queen Hydria, and the crows her enchanted knights.
- This is basically the whole premise of Lady: My Life as a Bitch, with the title character (among others) getting accidentally turned into a dog by a tramp.
- This trope is the binding theme of Ovid's Metamorphoses.
- The Harlan Ellison short story "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream". The title really gives it away.
- In Ella Enchanted, Lucinda, a fairy of the gift-bestowing kind, doesn't think through the consequences of her 'gifts'. One of her favourites is turning people into squirrels, and she believes she's doing them a favour until she spends a week as a squirrel herself.
- In one early short story from The Witcher saga by Andrzej Sapkowski, a young knight named Dani is under the spell that turns him into a giant hedgehog at day, and Geralt helps him remove it — the whole story is rather gleeful deconstruction of the classic "Beauty and the Beast" plot. Of course, Dani is a Nilfgaardian prince who later went to become The Emperor Emhyr var Emreis, so it's a hell of a Chekhov's Gun...
- The actual D&D spell has a notable use in RA Salvatore's Exile. As noted under Tabletop Games, the spell gradually takes over the object's mind, which in story terms makes for all kinds of tragedy.
- Ironically enough the novel Polymorph, which is about a literal "baleful polymorph" (e.g. an evil creature which can assume any form) contains no examples of this trope, since it cannot transform others.
- Tom Holt's work both plays this straight and subverts it.
- In Falling Sideways many, many characters get turned into frogs. Or made to think they're frogs. Or made to seem like frogs to others. Or various combinations. Sometimes frogs get turned into people, which, for the powerful, super-intelligent alien frogs in the story actually pretty much counts as this trope. There's a lot of frogs.
- In the J.W. Wells & Co. trilogy, the standard punishment for betraying the firm is being turned into office supplies. You retain some measure of sapience.
- Patricia C. Wrede's Dealing With Dragons:
- It features a spontaneous example when Woraug turns into a toad, having lost the privilege of being a dragon by not acting dragon-like enough.
- In in the later books, it's mentioned that there are countless ways a careless person could be cursed and turned into a flower or animal or rock or something in the Enchanted Forest. When Mendabar and Cimorene get married and they're clearing out a meadow for the occasion, they find and disenchant several kings and princesses. In Calling on Dragons, Cimorene mentions how you have to be careful in the Enchanted Forest, because you could sit or walk on someone important without knowing it. And while it's more of a spell transfer than an actual transformation, we also get the annoying fellow with the long name getting turned into a sky blue, twelve-foot-tall donkey, floating above the ground and with giant wings.
- Kingdoms of Light's Six-Man Band consists of a mage's pets (three cats, a dog, a snake, and a canary), turned into humans by the mage's dying spell. In the end, they are captured by the evil Munderucu and turned back into animals — except that due to character growth, they not only remained sentient, but they became great cats, a huge wolf, a firebird, and a 40-foot python. Oops.
- "Evil" Magician Trent of the Xanth series can transform anything into anything. When he was ousted, rumors spread that he turned his enemies into fish and left them to suffocate on dry land. Trent explains that he did turn some into fish but only in rivers or other bodies of water.
- In Robert E. Howard's "The Tower of the Elephant", Conan the Barbarian remembers that Yara was said to have used a gem to turn a prince into a spider before stepping on him. Not that that will stop him from trying to rob him.
- The Chronicles of Narnia
- Rabadash, the Calormene prince, gets temporarily turned into a donkey, and is warned that it will happen again if he moves more than 10 miles away from the temple of Tashbaan.
- Subverted (unintentionally?) with Eustace Scrubb, who gets turned into a dragon as a punishment. While being a dragon seems awesome, he couldn't talk (and could barely write), couldn't fit on the boat to continue the group's quest (so would have had to spend the rest of his life alone on the island), and was wearing an armlet that was perfectly-sized for his human form but was digging into his foreleg and causing him constant pain as a dragon. And it has the intended result as well, turning him into a much better person in the end.
- There's also the unpleasant schoolchildren towards the end of Prince Caspian, who get turned into pigs.
- Rosemary and Rue begins with Toby being turned into a fish by the Unseelie kidnappers she was tracking, and left in a koi pond at the Golden Gate Park Japanese Garden. It takes fourteen years for the spell to wear off.
- Secret Histories: Wild witch Molly Metcalf admits to once turning a fox hunting party into foxes for a day, feeling it would give the hunters some perspective.
- More than a few Goosebumps books had this as a problem the kid-protagonist had to face, caused either through magic or technology.
- In No Such Thing as a Witch, Nora and Todd find out that if four pieces of their neighbor's magic fudge are eaten together, it can turn you into whatever animal you're thinking of at the time. The first time this happens, it's to Todd and no one was expecting it. Towards the end of the book, Nora deliberately uses it to turn herself into a mouse to sneak into the neighbor's apartment. Todd also turns into a cat a few more times, with one of those times being nearly in front of a health inspector!
- Treasure at the Heart of the Tanglewood is a bit confusing regarding this trope. It's made clear early on that there's something off about the knights who seek the Tanglewood's treasure, and it's eventually revealed that they're all animals, turned human by a sorceress and forced to serve her. Only that's a lie: they were humans the villain turned into animals, and the sorceress turned them human again, and then the villain turned them into animals again.
- A non-animal example occurs in Sideways Stories from Wayside School in which Mrs. Gorf transforms her students into apples.
- This is the plot of Apuleius's The Golden Ass from c. 150 CE, one of the earliest surviving novels.
- In Devon Monk's Dead Iron, Cedar's brother Wil was permanently turned into a wolf — with, fortunately, his own mind — as opposed to Cedar's Involuntary Shapeshifter.
- The first of the Endless Quest pick-a-path books, Dungeon of Dread, was a surprisingly-grim adventure in a dungeon where all the monsters were created by an evil wizard casting this spell on enemies or innocent bystanders. There's nothing you can do to restore the victims, but the villain gets Hoist by His Own Petard, succumbing to this trope in turn, in the best ending.
- The Adventures of Pinocchio: Pinocchio and the other boys who have been lured to Toyland are after a while transformed into donkeys.
- The Saga of Hrolf Kraki: Prince Bjorn is cursed by his sorcerous Wicked Stepmother to transform into a bear.
- Discussed in The Lord of the Rings. Characters believe that the wizard Gandalf might turn Sam into a newt, or Mr. Butterbur into a block of wood. Gandalf might not even have this ability. Sam and Butterbur behave well enough that no transformation is necessary.
- In the ''Mercy Thompson verse, sufficiently powerful Alphas are able to force members of their pack to change to werewolf form. This can be handy for temporarily stopping them in their tracks, as the change generally takes 15+ minutes.
- In Mogworld, there's a bunny morph spell that Jim eventually buys. According to Jim, "It's a combat control strategy that also happens to be incredibly hilarious." It gets deconstructed when he explains that polymorphed rabbits are indestructible, because if you can turn any foe regardless of size, into a small harmless rabbit and instantly kill it there, then there would be no point in buying any other spells.
- In E. D. Baker's The Wide-Awake Princess, a witch tries to turn Annie into a beetle. Annie's immunity to magic causes it to backfire on the witch.
- In Dead Witch Walking, the first novel in The Hollows series, the Big Bad transforms Rachel into a mink and keeps her as a pet for a time.
- In Alethea Kontis's Enchanted, in the Back Story, Jack Jr. was turned into a dog.
- In Josepha Sherman's The Shining Falcon, Finist finds that a wolf really is a transformed man. His girlfriend, angry with him, hadn't really expected it to work.
- In The Cats Of Tanglewood Forest (and the children's picture book it's based on, A Circle Of Cats), the titular cats do this as a way of saving the main character, Lillian Kindred, who had been bitten by a snake, so they turn her into something that's not dying, a kitten. As soon as Lillian wakes up, she sets off to get the spell reversed (as she prefers to be a girl), only the cats are in hiding now as their leader, The Father of Cats, disapproves of them using their magic in such a way.
- In Andre Norton's Dread Companion, Kilda finds that eating the food of the land slowly turns her toward a creature of it, and Oomart too. Fortunately, she has human food, which can turn you back.
- In the short story Lady Into Fox, a dainty elegant woman is turned into a talking fox, and very gradually becomes one mentally. The woman who always wore napkins and fancy etiquette, was now eating live rabbits in the living room. It was never explained why she transformed. But it's assumed that some karmic celestial intervention or God himself was punishing her husband for being a fox hunter.
- Froggy from The Land of Stories is a human that turned into a large frog by a wish. He's actually the missing Charming prince.
- In Susan Dexter's The True Knight, the queen's only son was turned to a swan. Wren and her master were forcibly recruited to retrieve him.
- In one Rainbow Magic book, some goblins get turned into goldfish.
- Hundreds of victims of this effect make up the supporting case of Too Many Curses. They're all very much disappointed when the death of the wizard who transformed them fails to negate this trope.
- Murderess features a race of people known as the Moonfolk, or Lavricenote . They are infertile, and one becomes one of them by transforming under very specific conditions, and it’s implied that it’s not a good thing. Lu almost becomes one herself before ‘Hat Lad’ points it out to her.
- The second book in Betsy Hanes' Bone Chillers series of children's horror novels, "Little Pet Shop of Horrors," dealt with a girl who was transformed into a dog, to be sold by a pet shop. Unlike some fictional transformations, her clothes don't come along for the ride, which creates some momentary awkwardness when she regains her true form.
- How The Marquis Got His Coat Back: Lady Drusilla of the Raven's Court has a habit of turning people who upset her into birds of prey.
- In Sabina Kane: Red-Headed Stepchild the untrained Sabina Kane attempts to cast a spell to banish the demon Giguhl back to his home plane, and accidentally traps him in the form of a hairless cat instead.
- In Bedknob and Broomstick, Miss Price briefly turns Charles into a frog to prove her bona fides as a witch.
- In the Rogue Agent series, Reg has been a bird for centuries when previously, she was the human Queen of Lalapinda. She can't use any of the magical powers she possessed but she can still sense it in a big way.
- In The Clockwork Princess, Benedict Lightwood is gradually driven mad and finally turned into a gigantic serpent-like demon as a result of the demon pox.
- In the infamous children's book Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Sylvester accidentally makes a wish with the pebble that turns him into a rock.
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland features a baby turning into a pig, possibly in accordance with the will of the Duchess, or it might be that Wonderland is the kind of place where babies sometimes spontaneously turn into pigs. In any case, as the baby was previously subject to severe Black Humor abuse from the Duchess and Cook, Alice decides it's better off as a pig and leaves it to its own devices.
Myths & Religion
- Nearly every mythological tradition has examples of the gods turning some unfortunate, or sometimes favoured, human into an animal, demon, angel, plant, or mineral; either permanently or temporarily. Sometimes, even the gods themselves are affected, usually as a punishment inflicted by a more powerful or Trickster deity. This is particularly common in Greco-Roman mythology.
- Older Than Feudalism from Greek Mythology: Circe in The Odyssey takes revenge on Odysseus's men by turning them all into pigs.
- Occurred with considerable frequency in Celtic Mythology, to the point that it's actually difficult to find stories that don't feature at least one instance of it. The Children of Lir were turned into swans, a Welsh king got turned into a boar, Gwydion and Gilfaethwy were stuck spending three years as a breeding pair of animals that changed every year, Oisin's mother was changed into a doe, and so on.
- The Ars Goetia has a particularly scary practitioner in Ose. A conjuror can have Ose transform someone into most anything else. The scariest part: the victim begins thinking that they've always been what they've just been turned into.
- While the cause for the ability varies between versions, the story of King Midas has his touch act like this, turning anything touched into a gold statue. Very unfortunate when his daughter went to hug him. Fortunately for him, not only is this power removed, but the victims were restored.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- Named after the 4th-level baleful polymorph spell, which turns involuntary targets into small, weak animals and can make them lose their minds. Turning them into something that would kill them (a non-lunged fish on land, or a non-flying animal in a situation where only a flying creature has a reasonable chance of survival) makes the spell easier to resist, as though the target instinctively knows what he's being turned into and that the situation is even worse. Though the duration is permanent, the subject gets a second save to retain their mental faculties and their special powers.
- The Book of Vile Darkness has a magic item that gets around this, as it allows single aspects to be changed (also applying a rule that if a creature becomes unfeasible it instantly dies); thus, a lethal change can be made through several otherwise harmless additions, such as giving a flying creature several dozen additional wings.
- There is also polymorph any object, which does Exactly What It Says on the Tin: you can turn pretty much anything into pretty much anything.)
- In the Ravenloft campaign, Yagno Petrovna, the Darklord of G'henna and High Priest of Zhakata has the ability to turn victims into mongrelmen, which he usually does to punish his subjects for heresy or blasphemy. This was one benefit he got from becoming a Darklord; it doesn't work on anyone who does not believe in Zhakata, so Player Characters are usually immune, seeing as nobody except Yagno's own subjects believe in him. (Zhakata isn't real, having been dreamed up in Yagno's insanity.)
- Mage: The Awakening has several spells like this, including one that not only turns the target into an animal but forces them to claw the way out of the excess mass.
- Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000:
- A particularly nightmarish variant of this is a staple of the daemons and sorcerers of Tzeentch. The demon gods grant gifts, usually in the form of mutations. Once you gain enough, there are two options. The first is a good one: badass daemon prince. The second is insanity, many eyes, and general fun and games. You live off grubs and act as cannon fodder. Fun. A common psychic power for Chaos Sorcerers in 40k, the ironically titled "Gift of Chaos", lets them immediately transform anyone, friend or foe, into a Chaos Spawn. Various editions of fantasy have also included various Chaos Magic spells that transform the victim into Chaos Spawn — some Tzeentchian spells instead allow the warlock to turn their victim into a Horror of Tzeentch.
- Of course, the Orks aren't always that much better, given that their stronger Shamans or Weirdboyz have a nasty habit of turning people into Squigs (little bouncy things that are mostly Fungus and Teeth)
- In the Warhammer expansion, Storm of Magic, miscasting while standing atop an Arcane Fulcrum can result in a multitude of destructive and/or amusing effects, one of which turns all wizards on the table into frogs. There's also a Bretonian Cataclysm spell that can do the same thing.
- The Skaven have a spell known as "the Dreaded Thirteenth Spell", castable only by their strongest units (Grey Seers of 4th-level wizardry and Vermin Lords). If it hits, an entire unit of the enemy is turned into Skaven.
- Exalted has Pattern Spider Touch, from the Charcoal March of Spiders Style. It allows a Sidereal to fundamentally alter their opponent in some interesting way. Typically, it's used to punch people in the face and turn them into ducks.
- Witch Girls Adventures allows characters to do this with the Alteration-class spells of Animalize Human or Monsterize Human.
- Super Dungeon Explore has an expansion set Von Drakk Manor including happy looking witches with the ability to turn heroes engaged in combat into Miserable Toads. Far from Miserable, they acquire several defensive abilities and a knack for stealing potions and healing from their foes. They are even reverted with a kiss from a friendly model.
- The "Transformation" trick in Kitsune: Of Foxes and Fools, appears to show the Scumbag Lawyer turned into a toad.
- In John Milton's Comus, the Attendent Spirit speaks of how Circe did this, and Comus after her.
(For most do taste through fond intemperate thirst),
Soon as the potion works, their human count'nance,
The express resemblance of the gods, is changed
Into some brutish form of wolf or bear,
Or ounce or tiger, hog, or bearded goat,
All other parts remaining as they were.
And they, so perfect is their misery,
Not once perceive their foul disfigurement,
But boast themselves more comely than before,
And all their friends and native home forget,
To roll with pleasure in a sensual sty.
- In Richard Wagner's opera Lohengrin, this is what actually happened to Elsa of Brabant's little brother, Duke-Child Gottfried, who was cursed by their Evil Aunt Ortrud. She and her husband Count Telramund framed poor Elsa and accused her of murdering him, which prompted the titular Lohengrin to step in her defense. It turns out that the swan that drove Lohengrin to the bank was the cursed Gottfried; Lohengrin prays to God and manages to undo the magic, then elects the newly-humanized boy as the official Duke before taking off.
- A rare non-animal or object instance of this occured in the Fairly OddParents sequence in Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast, when Cosmo briefly turns Ooblar into a Yolkian Elvis, complete with his personality and mannerisms.
- Metus is changed into a snake in BIONICLE
- Mixels has "murps", a mix gone horribly wrong in some way. Murps still have abilities of the two Mixels that are part of it, but with the catch that the Murp has his own personality with neither of them controlling it and no control of his own powers. Most of the time, they just giggle and let their powers affect them. Some are worthless (like the Flain/Slumbo Murp, which is just a log that does nothing), while others can be very dangerous and only make things worse (like the Scorpi/Glurt one, which encases everything in slime and can cut down trees with its tail).
- Kid Icarus probably did this first by having monsters that can turn you into a mobile eggplant.
- The third game, Kid Icarus: Uprising, introduces Tempura. In addition to making you unable to attack, it also tires you out more easily, and if a Tempura Wizard is present, it will try to eat you for a One-Hit Kill.
- In Shounen Kininden Tsumuji has Tsumuji's younger brother Chijimi getting transformed into a bee.
- Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap (and its Turbo-Grafx 16 variant, Dragon's Curse) revolves around the human protagonist being cursed into various animal forms for defeating the prior game's Big Bad and trying to lift the curse. Each form has its own abilities, strengths, and weaknesses, resulting in a Metroidvania-style progression.
- Final Fantasy games have Pig and Toad transformations. The Pig effect (at least in Final Fantasy IV) does disable all spells... except for Pig. (Which makes sense; otherwise, it's just another Silence with a different curative item.) The Toad effect greatly reduces Attack and Defense and disables all spells except for Toad.
- Casting Toad on your own party helps you pass a couple of obstacles in Final Fantasy III.
- In Final Fantasy I the group of bats found in the Chaos Shrine are actually cursed warriors from Lufenia, who explain to the heroes how to travel back into the past and end the time loop once the Four Fiends are defeated.
- Final Fantasy IV begins with Cecil attacking the village of Mysidia, slaughtering townspeople, and taking their Crystal. When he returns later on, properly contrite, the villagers haven't forgiven him. Unfortunately, Mysidia is the Village of Magic. He gets polymorphed if he talks to the wrong villagers. (The way the spells work means that talking to them again undoes it.)
- The Moogle status in Final Fantasy Adventure works similarly and also appears in the sequel, Secret of Mana. This status disables most actions and reduces defense to 0, which means you can easily be killed in one hit by late-game enemies in both games. In the remake of Adventure, Sword of Mana, the Moogle transformation is instead used as a buff which can be used to become invisible to certain enemies, although it still stops you from attacking.
- Final Fantasy VI had Imp form, which while it didn't reduce your hitpoints or the strength of conventional attacks, it did make it impossible for you to use magic or special character powers. It was more of an annoyance than threat as by the time in the game when enemies start throwing it around you will have many ways to undo the transformation but need a full turn to do it after which you might get Imped again.
- The Imp example is subverted in that there is a series of Imp-specific equipment that can actually allow an Imped character to administer a beatdown.
- In the early versions of the game a certain Good Bad Bug allowed Gau to Rage while Imped. And a certain other Good Bad Bug allowed him to equip a weapon. An fully decked-out Imp Gau was quite a Game Breaker, although it took up one of your Relic slots.
- Cid in Final Fantasy IX is transformed into an oglop (a type of verminous insect) as a punishment for being unfaithful to his wife. Dr Tot claims to have discovered a cure for his condition in an old book... which, when administered, turns Cid into a frog instead.
- In Final Fantasy Tactics, a character whose Bravery goes below 10 becomes a literal chicken. The best way to do this is with Beowulf's aptly named Chicken attack, which reduces a target's bravery by 50. Chickens automatically run away from the action each turn, gaining 1 bravery point until they become human again, and their defense drops drastically.
- There's also Reis, a young woman who was transformed into a dragon after Taking the Bullet for her beloved Beowulf. You can recruit her and change her back, though.
- Additionally, this is useful in the Bonus Dungeon, where treasures are controlled by a Randomly Drops statistic which isn't actually random but rather linked to your Brave stat. The unit that has the highest chance of finding the treasure? Someone who's been chicken'd.
- A good chunk of time in Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light is spent dealing with this. First, Aire gets turned into a cat by some cursed treasure and has to go through several misadventures, teaming up with Brandt and going to Arbor in search of a cure... only for Brandt to be turned into a human topiary because The Fair Folk don't like humans. And the mouse sage you meet in Arbor who helps? He is also one—the Fairy Queen made him a mouse as punishment for accidentally releasing Belephegor.
- The Ghosts N Goblins series traditionally includes enemies that can transform you into something helpless for several seconds. Over the years the forms have included frogs, babies, bees, old men, and
young women young women.
- Each game in the Heretic / Hexen series has a polymorph item. In Heretic, using the 'morph ovum' (an egg) would temporarily turn an enemy into a chicken. The chicken would then attack you, ineffectively. In multiplayer, being hit with this item would reduce your health to 10 and render armor useless. Your only defense is to run; you are harder to hit due to your small size as a chicken, and the effect will wear off in 30 seconds.
- Hexen had the Porkalator, turning enemies into pigs. Certain traps in the game also could turn you into a pig, or by having this item reflected back on you. Some secret passages could only be navigated while in pig form, meaning that transformation is necessary to see all parts of some levels.
- Hexen 2 had the Seal of the Ovinomancer, which turned most monsters into sheep (incredibly tough sheep).
- In Heretic 2 the morph ovum is back, but this time has a chance of turning an enemy (in PVP at least) into a giant chicken with 999 hit points and a deadly attack. This would be a deadly problem if it weren't for the fact that you can hit him with another blast to turn him back into the less dangerous human form.
- In Dungeon Keeper a spell is available that turns creatures into chickens.
- A mainstay of the Ratchet & Clank series are guns that transform enemies into harmless animals if targeted long enough: chickens in the first game, sheep in Going Commando, ducks in Up Your Arsenal, and cows in Size Matters.
- Deadlocked had a weapon mod that could be attached to any weapon you had. So you could use it on your bomb launcher, and turn an entire room-full of enemies into various livestock (which includes pigs, even flying ones) all at once.
- Fully upgraded, many of these weapons turn the resulting animals into ''living bombs''.
- Super Mario RPG has two such effects: Characters can be turned into scarecrows that cannot attack or use items (but can still cast spells) or into mushrooms that can take no actions but slowly recover health (albeit generally not quickly enough to compensate for the damage you take in the meantime).
- This is a tradition of the Warcraft series, with the most popular animal being the sheep. In Warcraft III, using Polymorph on a flying creature (such as a dragon) would turn it into a flying sheep with little stubby bat wings. The Shadow Hunter's "Hex" ability was a hero unit version that turned the target into a randomly selected critter (with different options available for ground, air, amphibious and waterbound foes). Both are temporary and can be dispelled. The lethal variety is relegated to the Goblin Alchemist hero, whose ultimate spell turns the target into gold, thus killing it and adding its value to the player's cashier.
- Warcraft II played this trope straight; the Polymorph spell permanently and irrevocably turns the target into a sheep or other creature (based on the map tileset—a seal on an icepack, for example). These creatures do not retain any of the hit points or abilities of the original unit, and can no longer be controlled by any of the players... virtually making it a One-Hit Kill.
- Even included in the spin-off Game Mod sensation Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars.
- The card game Hearthstone continues this usage with the "Polymorph" card that instantly converts one of your enemy's cards into a sheep you can kill with even the weakest attack card.
- In World of Warcraft, a standard instance tactic is to have the mage (if present) turn one of the mobs into a sheep to keep them out of battle till struck. Plus, Elite Troll mobs of the magic-using type often turn high-threat PCs into frogs for a short period.
- Mages can also turn mobs into Pigs and Turtles, and with the new expansion, Cats, Snakes, Penguins, and Polar Bear Cubs.
- Shamans have the spell Hex which turns the target into a frog for a short time. Unlike mages, they don't have a variety of forms to choose from but the hexxed target can also take some damage without transforming.
- It's worth noting that these effects are all quite pointless on druids, who can break the effects by willfully polymorphing themselves into something else.
- Probably best showcased in the TV spot — in French only — which featured Jean-Claude Van Damme explaining what he liked best about playing ''World of Warcraft'. The French word for sheep is "mouton," in case you were curious.
- The Satyr Zenn Foulhoof gives you a quest to kill various animals for him, which pisses the Nightelves off to no end, who in turn want you to seek redemption by punishing him, by giving him a fruit that turns him into a frog.
- Vertigo in Primal Rage has a Finishing Move that turns the enemy into a cow.
- In Lords Of Magic, the Chaos Mage had the spell Polymorph Self, which turned units (not necessarily the Mage herself) into an elephant or a lion. And then there was Polymorph Other, which would turn the target into a goat, chicken, or goose.
- In NetHack it is possible to transform into almost any monster in the game (sometimes unexpectedly). Without a Ring of Polymorph Control, you have virtually no control over which monster, though — you could wind up a rat (with about five hit points, and all your human clothes and items scattered around you), a dragon (with all your human clothes and armor scattered around you, possibly in pieces), or anything in-between. But at least as a dragon you can fly and blast your enemies with various Breath Weapons, or (if you're female) lay eggs which hatch into tame baby dragons!
- A boss in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne has an attack called Bael's Bane, a Curse attack with 100% accuracy that turns the afflicted into a fly. All their stats are dramatically lowered, their magic spells are reduced to a quarter-strength and worst of all, they become weak to Expel attacks (which the boss uses with alarming regularity). There's no way of curing this until the battle is over. Well, outside of death which is not an option for the hero. Your only hope of survival is to field a team that is immune to Curse attacks.
- Also in the Digital Devil Saga series there is a boss called Bat, whose Atma form is the Mayan bat god Camazotz, that from the second fight on would use a spell called Curse of Zotzilaha, which turns characters into bats. The only differences are that your characters become weak to Force, rather than Expel (and of course, Camazotz abuses Force attacks), and there's no way to avoid it (it does wear off after a few turns, though). Thankfully, in Digital Devil Saga you do NOT get an instant game over if the leader is killed...
- Age of Mythology includes a chapter based on Odysseus's experience at Aeaea, with Circe turning Arkantos and Ajax into boars. They must then gore villagers (the much stronger guards are apparently not hungry) to protect Odysseus and his men until such time as they can be un-piggified. Also, the cheat code "Goatunheim" turns all units into goats.
- In Justice League Heroes, one of Zatana's spells turns enemies into rabbits. They retain their status as enemies, leading to such scenes as Superman frying said rabbits with heatvision.
- In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, touching a certain dungeon enemy will turn Link into a giant pink bunny - still wearing Link's clothes, but unable to use any weapons or items. (Wears off after a minute, but all you can do is run, until then.)
- The same form Link is turned into when he goes into the Dark World without the Moon Pearl.
- In the same game, use of the Quake Medallion will turn all enemies on screen into blobs.
- The Triforce of Power transforms people into creatures reflecting what is in their hearts, for example, the evil and greedy Ganon(dorf) was turned into a anthropomorphic wild boar.
- Majora's Mask begins with Link transformed into a Deku Scrub (essentially a walking plant) by the Skull Kid. One of the first tasks you are given is to find some way to reverse this (and once you do, you can freely transform by donning a mask, though this causes Link to scream in apparent pain).
- In the same game, Kafei is transformed into a child.
- In Twilight Princess, Link spends a large portion of the game trapped in the form of a wolf; later he becomes able to assume the form at will by carrying the curse crystal around with him. In his wolf form, he has no access whatsoever to any of his rather sizeable inventory, including health potions, however he gains several new abilities he can only use in wolf form, and eventually becomes able to switch forms at will.
- Pretty much anything touched by the Twilight becomes polymorphed into a monstrous version of itself. Then there's the Shadow Beasts, which are actually the peaceful Twili people, changed by Zant, and of course Midna, the namesake princess, who was cursed with her implike form also by Zant.
- Although there was that one line in Kakariko: "Those two shadow beasts came and carried her off! And when we went to rescue her, there were three!!"
- In Oracle of Ages, a mini-boss called the Blue Stalfos has the ability to temporarily turn Link into a baby, which greatly slows him down and leaves him unable to use weapons.
- Also in the Oracle games, you can get rings that turn you into monsters, such as a Like-Like and an Octorok.
- Phantom Hourglass has an inversion, as the Ocean King, normally a great whale, has his power sapped by Bellum and spends most of the game as old man Oshus.
- The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap gives you a talking hat◊ as your Exposition Fairy. It turns out he's a Minish wizard and craftsman cursed by the Big Bad.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening Tarin is turned into an anthropomorphic raccoon, though it seemed to have affected him mentally as well since in that form he tricks Link (and gloats about it) while Link tries to enter the woods.
- In God Hand, one of Shannon's more annoying moves in the first encounter with her is the ability to temporarily turn you into a defenseless chihuahua. She usually follows this move up by running toward you and punting you across the circus tent.
- Sierra used this trope a lot in their adventure games, particularly the King's Quest and Quest for Glory series. In Quest for Glory I, for example, Baba Yaga turns the hero into a frog; in Quest for Glory IV, she turns him into a hedgehog. And the only way to get rid of the wizard Manannan in King's Quest III is by secretly putting a magic cookie in his porridge that permanently changes him into a cat.
- Chrono Trigger: In a subversion of sorts, Magus turns the knight Glenn into a frog. A frog the size of a small human, who can still wield a sword and actually seems to have better abilities in this form than as a human and later comes back for revenge. Great job!
- This shows up in Chrono Cross; the party is volunteered for a magic show and turned into housecats. They're supposed to be turned back a few minutes after, but Sneff the magician throws his back out. You're left as cats for a while. This does end up having an effect in a few areas that barred other people from going through ... and let you grab an inventory item too.
- In Wild ARMs 5, the Misery status turns your character into an adorable cat-version of themselves. Oh, and it disables all actions but Move. But it is also adorable.
- Again I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream (the game), failing to beat the malevolent AI with the last character alive results in your character turned into an armless, immobile blob...for all eternity. Which is exactly how the original story ended.
- The whole point of Disgaea 2 is to dispel a region-wide version of this at the source by defeating the Evil Overlord. Future games in the series reveal that it didn't actually work.
- A gameplay example can happen as a result of one of the Dark Sun's effects, which will transform one of your humanoid or unique monster characters into a specific species of monster or a random one, depending on the map. It replaces the character's weapon skills with the skills of the species they transform into, but the special skills the main characters and cameo characters possess are retained, which can result in some hilarity.
- In the Eggerland games (Adventures of Lolo trilogy inclusive), Lolo can use Magic Shots acquired from Heart Framers to transform his enemies into eggs.
- Shiren the Wanderer features this trope a few times - in that "You are what you eat" is taken quite literally. Eating enemy Meat will turn you into that particular enemy. Though your HP and strength remain the same, you will be limited to that particular enemy's attacks and will be unable to use items. You'll also take on said enemy's qualities - some good (able to fire unlimited arrows, will regenerate on death, move at double speed) and some bad (will take heavy damage if hit in the back or side, move at half speed) You can also become immune to every enemy in the game by eating meat that makes you invisible - since no enemy can detect invisible creatures, no one will hit you (though you still may die of hunger.) The enemies are the true victims of this trope, as throwing meat at them will cause them to turn into that particular enemy - without retaining any of their previous stats. Keeping Mamel Meat around to toss at a Death Angel may save your life!
- The witch from Mendel Palace uses her powers of transformation to morph you into one of the dolls from her houses. This turns against her in the Sumo level, as any attempt to try and flip you over will lead your character to counterattack with a sumo stomp and send her flying into the wall.
- Arcanum's polymorph is described to turn the subject into any number of animals, but sheep were the most frequent. Few NPC's had and used this ability, and it was an effective neutralizer for any caster.
- The Arcana Blaze of Gier, the Arcana of Shadow in Arcana Heart, has Gier turning the opponent into a black blob thingie that can only bounce around if it hits.
- In Rogue you can sometimes find a Wand of Polymorph, which turns any monster you zap into another monster of random type. Depending on the RNG, you could indeed get a baleful effect (Dragon into Bat, for instance) ... or you could be toast (Dragon into Jabberwock, which is nearly as bad and now the monster has a free chance to attack).
- Neverwinter Nights 2 features a 'mass fowl' spell, which can lots of enemies into chickens permanently, the verbal component sounds like chicken noises and cruel laughter. A similar 'mass frog' spell can be found in other variants of the D&D system.
- Neverwinter Nights doesn't have it in vanilla, but the PRC as well as some custom haks in certain servers add this spell. It's called indeed Baleful Polymorph and transforms the caster into a chicken. Is one of the cases where the victim is heavily weakened, as he's reduced to a single hit point.
- Lusternia's Wiccan class has Toadcurse, transforming players into an ineffectual (and easily stomped) toad for a period of time. Gods can also reduce players to maggots if sufficiently irked.
- The Elder Scrolls series features the Daedric artifact Wabbajack. A nifty little toy that changes an enemy into something else. Problem is, it's Sheogorath's artifact, so the change is random. You could turn a bandit into a sheep, or a Daedroth... It's more fun than anything else.
- One of the runewords in Diablo II has a chance of turning the user into an undead pigmy skeleton.
- In MapleStory magicians get a skill called Doom, which temporarily turns monsters into snails. They retain the power level of normal snails, but in this game, small is deadly.
- In Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy Daxter is turned from human to ottsel when Jak accidentally knocks him into a vat of Dark Eco. Over time he grows to accept, and even like his new form, because when given the chance to return to normal, he settles for a pair of pants instead.
- In Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, one of the card combinations turns you into a skeleton, a common Castlevania enemy. It had a weak attack and could be killed in one hit, but there was a small chance that it would throw a Big Bone, which could one-hit kill anything (even bosses).
- Lands of Lore II: The Guardians of Destiny has Luther, protagonist and son of the original game's big bad. He's cursed to have uncontrollable transformations between his human form, a hulking beast, and a tiny swift creature. Over the course of the game, he finds a means to control these transformations.
- However, Luther's transformations are anything but baleful. His beast form, while large and slow, grants super-strength, allowing him to push otherwise immovable objects out of the way, while his lizard form grants awesome magical abilities.
- At one point in Ys II, Dalles transforms Adol into a goon (different from the kind achieved by the Transform magic), and he must find a cure.
- In Achaea, one of the ultimate punishments the gods can use on mortals is "shrubbing" - turning you into a shrubbery. For all but the most foul offences, you will eventually get better.
- Elves could use the "Polymorph Other" spells in Capcom's Dungeons & Dragons arcade games. It basically functioned as a Smart Bomb since the cute bunnies and frogs couldn't do anything to you and bounced off the screen.
- Probably counts. In Bayonetta the final boss will throw spiral-galaxy shaped discs at the title character. If she is struck, she turns into a defenseless—and so slow that she might as well be motionless—child.
- Star Ocean: Till the End of Time has a number of mook-class enemies called 'Masques' which possess the "Vegiform" and "Cutey Pie" special attacks. These attacks temporarily change the target into a vegetable or a pastry, respectively. The target of the attack is rendered immobile and helpless while in this form.
- In each game of the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series, you play as a human who's been transformed into a Pokemon. It's subverted in that their new form is far more suited to saving the world than that of a human's, though. It's revealed have been willful in Rescue Team, and unintentional in Explorers.
- In the last dungeon in Golden Sun: The Lost Age, you encounter and battle two Flame Dragons. Surprise, they were your Fire Clan antagonists, and being transformed against their will like this has drained so much energy that they're freezing to death (averting the Never Say "Die" variant of this trope). And then you learn the hard way that the Wise One's "miracle" to stop you was turning your parents into a dragon and forcing you to fight it. The party finds out that even if they refused to fight the dragon or had lost the battle, their transformed parents would have died anyway because they used up so much energy maintaining their dragon form.
- Happened also in the first game, when trying to cut down the guardian of the forest got the people of Kolima (and all non-Adepts who went to rescue them) cursed into trees.
- In Portal 2, GLaDOS becomes a non-magical variant when Wheatley converts her main core into a potato battery.
- Sonson in Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age Of Heroes can turn her opponents into fruit, and then she eats them.
- In NieR it turns out that all the Grimoire were originally humans who learned magic, and were forced into those forms to serve Project Gestalt.
- In Solatorobo, Nero and Blanck turn into Caninu when The Order is given. Considering they considered themselves so much better than everyone else, the transformation upsets them greatly. Red himself is also transformed into his human Trance body, but he's less upset about the transformation and more upset about the mind control that comes with it.
- Fantasy Quest: A dog turns out to be a man stricken with a curse, which makes you feel bad for having tried to play fetch with him before.
- League of Legends' Lulu loves to leverage her powers of legerdemain against her litigants. Alliteration aside, she turns her opponents into small woodland creatures.
- In Guild Wars 2, there is the elite Mesmer spell Moa Morph, which turns the target enemy into a Chocobo-like Moa for ten seconds. While not entirely defenseless (the pecks and kicks deal moderate amounts of damage), it greatly reduces the threat the target presents.
- In Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, one of the Masked Gentleman's Dark Miracles was turning people into horses.
- In the Sega Master System version of Dynamite Dux, the human Michael is turned into the duck Bin by Achacha.
- In Dota2, the this is the effect of the spell "Hex". The heroes Lion and Shadow Shaman have it, with the former's turning people into frogs and the latter's turning them into chickens. The item "Scythe of Vyse" turns people into pigs (Sheep in the original DoTA, leading to the nickname "Sheepstick").
- In Dragon Quest VIII the main plot is about the heroes chasing after a rogue magician/jester who turned King Trode into an troll like creature, and his daughter Princess Media into a horse. Also... a man transformed into a short green creature chasing after a magic user with long silvery hair as well as being designed by Akira Toriyama. Sound familiar?
- Done twice in the Wario Land series. In Wario Land 3, the entire population of the Music Box world was turned into the monsters Wario beats up throughout the game by Rudy the Clown. In Wario Land 4, Princess Shokora was transformed into the Black Cat by the Golden Diva after she lost in a magic duel. In both cases, the transformations happen before the events of the games, and are undone when Wario kicks the Big Bads' asses.
- In Entomorph: Plague of the Darkfall the ruling class of an island kingdom are transforming commoners into giant insects to make them better workers and soldiers and more obedient. The hero fighting them ends up transforming himself too, because human body is too weak. The ultimate reveal is that the source of the transformative "juice" is the queen, transformed by a cursed scarab, planted by an agent of the setting's Biggest Bad. She will help the hero to kill herself and neutralize the scarab, but still will fight him ferociously.
- In Robopon, Princess Darcy is imprisoned in a mirror, and her sprite 'becomes' the mirror until she's rescued—though oddly, there are no mirror-based Robopon.
- Klonoa: Leorina's transformation into a giant robotic chicken-thing is imposed on her by the Bigger Bad.
- In Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time, the Wizard Zombie from the Dark Ages can turn your plants into sheep, making them unable to do anything. Thankfully, the spell is broken when the Wizard is killed.
- Dink Smallwood mods:
- In Legend of the Duck a man banished from his home village for a year was turned into a duck as part of the punishment. Unfortunately the wizard who did it lost track of him, which is why the victim asks Dink for help nine years later.
- In Prophecy of the Ancients an entire village was transformed into farm animals. They change back automatically once Dink beats the relevant boss.
- In Quel the local people were all transformed into pigs - and vice versa.
- The Crow People of Monument Valley are this. Ida too, as a result of stealing the Sacred Geometry.
- In Konami Krazy Racers, there's a power-up that acts just like the lightning power-up from Mario Kart. But instead of shrinking, it turns all racers but the user into pigs, slowing them and prevents them from using items. However, you can still get morphed into a pig if you are in the way or too close to the lightning zap.
- In Walt Disney World Quest: Magical Racing Tour, an item allows the user to turn all the other racers into frogs. Morphed racers can only hop at the speed of hopping frogs and unable to use items but in water-themed courses, they can still swim at reduced speed.
- In The Gamers Alliance, the scheming mage Shyralis accidentally activates a curse which turns her into a goat while the Great War rages on. Hilarity Ensues.
- Thanks to DovSherman at DeviantArt, Mary Sue-ification now works like this too.
- In The Adventures of The League of S.T.E.A.M. episode "Prehistoric Peril!", the bad guy turns an henchman who've failed him into a white mouse, which scrambles out of the pile of clothes.
- SCP-2950: It's just a chair. Nothing world-ending about it at all. Trust us. It is actually an anomaly that takes the form of whatever the majority of people think it is. A book describing it as an extremely dangerous monster used to mean that it was a monster, but after figuring out the true nature of the object, the Foundation wrote a fake document claiming it was an extremely comfortable metal chair and spread information of it among their members in order to turn the monster into said chair.
- The Most Stupid Deaths In Super Mario 64 seems to enjoy this trope:
- At the end of episode 1, Mario transforms the brackets guy into a Kirby lookalike.
- Also, when Mario is turned into a Goomba, and then a ghost.
- And when Clone 4 uses the Cursed Key of Peachium, he turnes into a peach clone.
- In Moonflowers,, Ned Song is kidnapped and turned into a white wolf by the Hunter, The Fair Folk leader of The Wild Hunt, and is unwittingly adopted by his own daughter Alima. The curse means he can't communicate with anyone living or the Irish gods trying to help him out, and it also makes humans mistake him for a wolfdog instead of a full-blooded wolf. Ned can't do much of anything as Alima's pet, but by the twentieth chapter he makes a deal with a spirit to kill the Hunter.
- Dexter's Laboratory has a direct American Werewolf parody called "The Laughing" (a reference to the werewolf movie The Howling) where Dexter becomes a "were-clown" after being bitten by a pair of dentures belonging to a clown performing at Deedee's birthday.
- Parodied in an episode of Futurama titled "The Honking", which had Bender turning into a psycho werecar in one scene. But after a while he kind of gets used to it and it begins to actually feel quite nice.
- Gargoyles, "Metamorphosis". Elisa's younger brother gets transformed into a gargoyle-ish monster, and the only scientist who understood the process is killed. The episode ends with our cool veteran cop, Elisa, crying uncontrollably at the fate of her brother.
- The subversion of this trope would be when the transformed hero is just as or even more effective in their new form, like that episode of Powerpuff Girls where Mojo turns them into dogs, but they manage to beat him anyway because...they're dogs with really sharp teeth and human intelligence.
- And the trope is actually averted in the sequel to that episode, in which Mojo tries the exact same scheme. He tells the girls that he has studied the last time extensively, and has taken special precautions, including not turning the girls into dogs. Too bad he missed the fact that, untransformed, they're superpowered girls, and are free to beat him up in the usual fashion.
- Happens to Wonder Woman in the Justice League Unlimited episode "This Little Piggy". She still has her bracers, at least. Still, Batman's reaction was...nonplussed◊. They then made a toy of Batman walking a pig. Why, nobody will ever know.
- In one episode, The Tick gets turned into a two-headed bluebird who can only speak in High School French and lays chocolate eggs. Let me say that again. The Tick gets turned into a two-headed bluebird who can only speak in High School French and lays chocolate eggs.
- The Mad Scientist kid responsible for this had used his transforming machine for other purposes, like turning his entire PE class and coach into an ant colony (still doing the same climbing and running drills within their little ant farm, of course). When Arthur attempts to use the machine to turn the Tick back into his normal form, he struggles with the dizzying array of controls, turning the Tick into a blue dog, a blue sock, a blue houseplant, etc. before he finally notices the giant red button labeled "NORMAL" slightly to his right.
- Partially subverted when The Tick rhapsodizes about how one can lay an egg and still feel like a man and protects his egg. Later turned in to squick when the egg is broken and he eats the chocolate.
- Kim Possible was cursed with transforming into a monkey, but she got better (at the very last second).
- The Monkey Talisman in Jackie Chan Adventures has the power to turn anything into any animal (and only animals; Jade found that part out the hard way when she tried to change a log into a death ray and got a manta ray instead).
- There was also the Monkey King, an ancient mystical creature trapped as a puppet who turned people into puppets whenever someone pulled his leg. His first appearance features Jackie falling for it though Jade hits him with the Rat Talisman, letting him go around and eventually change himself back, while the second episode had a hapless construction worker fall victim to his curse.
- During the season 1 finale fight against Shendu, Jackie stole the power of the Monkey Talisman and turned Shendu into a rabbit. Unfortunately Shendu still had enough remaining powers to be a Killer Rabbit, and promptly beat up Jackie and changed himself back into his demon dragon form.
- The obligatory appearance by Circe in the ongoing cartoon of Disney's Hercules featured the personality polymorph, complete with Icarus, the resident weirdo, becoming a platypus.
- One Episode of Teen Titans has the team transformed into various animals such as a bear, cat, monkey, rabbit and... a lamp? (Beast Boy had pointed out to the suddenly nonplussed villain how he transforms into animals already, so the villain had to pick something else. Even then, Beast Boy could still shapeshift, but only into various types of objects.)
- Starfire being turned into a cat may have been a Mythology Gag. In an issue of the comics the team was "de-evolved", and Starfire became a cat like creature.
- A Time Travel episode of DuckTales included a meeting with Circe, who, of course, turned Scrooge into a pig. A Carl Barks comic also had Magica use Circe's wand to turn Scrooge's nephews into animals to blackmail him for his Number One Dime.
- Metus being turned into a snake by the Ignika in BIONICLE: The Legend Reborn.
- In the rebooted series of Yoohoo and Friends it is the central theme with polluting corporate executives being turned into cute, cuddly animals by Father Time and sent on missions to fix up the environmental damage they have caused.
- A few times in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. In a flashback, Twilight's Power Incontinence turns her parents into potted plants. In "Too Many Pinkie Pies", people keep interrupting her as she's practicing her Apples to Oranges spell, resulting in unfortunate orange/animal hybrids of a bird and a frog when her aim is thrown off.
- This becomes a story point in the first season of Winx Club, where Mirta is turned into a pumpkin halfway through by Icy for both foiling her plan to break Bloom's mind and making an illusion so terrifying that it scares Darcy and Stormy and keeps them from killing the other Winx. The rest of the season contains several references to Flora trying to figure out how to change Mirta back; she manages to do so in the second-to-last episode, though she plays it up as being very difficult to do.
- Later on Miss Faragonda is turned into a tree, but she gets better.
- This is Krudsky's major form of attack once he gains magical powers in Scooby-Doo! and the Goblin King. He turns Gribbles into a rabbit, Velma into a werewolf, Fred into a vampire, Daphne into a witch and the Goblin King into a goose. Additionally, Shaggy and Scooby are turned into a snail and a mouse by the witches in the Dead Bogs.
- In another Scooby-Doo film, Scooby-Doo! and the Reluctant Werewolf, Shaggy spends the majority of the movie as the werewolf in question.
- In Barbie In A Mermaid Tale 2, the big bad, Eris, is given legs instead of a mermaid tail—her worst nightmare.
- The fate of many an individual unlucky enough to cross paths with the Magic Man of Adventure Time.
- Besides a few times when humans have been turned into frogs, The Smurfs episode "The Noble Stag" has one instance where their friend King Gerard has been turned into a black stag by his cousin Malcolm the Mean, who desired to take over the throne.
- In Over the Garden Wall, Beatrice was originally a human, but she and her whole family were turned into bluebirds when she tried to throw a rock at one.
- German comedian Otto once told the story of Susi Sorglos, whose hairdryer claimed to be a transformed prince. This turned out to be a lie, it was actually a transformed razor.