Sir Bedevere: How do you know that she is a witch?
Sir Bedevere: A newt?
Almost the first thing that everybody knows
about Wizards and Witches
is that they turn people into amphibians
. It's usually Frogs and Toads
, with the occasional salamander or newt (possibly for use in potions
), but your results may vary. It's their standard party trick, the sorcerous equivalent of pulling a rabbit out of a hat
. This is so well-known that anybody faced with a Wicked Witch
is likely to beg her not to do this, at which point she'll probably do something much worse instead.
Currently, this has become a partially Discredited Trope
, and when faced with the stereotype, magic-users are more likely to irritably explain that turning people into frogs is impractical with so many other spells at hand. However, they're still quite likely to do it if it becomes convenient.
Whether the victim turns back when the spellcaster dies
varies. A common variant, with reference to the tale of The Frog Prince
, is that the spell can be broken by True Love's Kiss
. Subversions usually opt for a mouse rather than an amphibian, playing on the association of witches and cats
Subtrope of Baleful Polymorph
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Anime and Manga
- During the Simonson era of The Mighty Thor, there's a classic storyline in which Loki has Thor turned into a frog to keep him out of the way of Loki's latest scheme. Thor eventually gets hold of his magic hammer again, which as usual transforms himn into an armored, muscular, six-foot-plus heroic figure — who is still a frog. (This led to a cover which asked the question, "What do you call a six-foot-six fighting-mad frog?" Open the comic and the first page, in huge letters, answers, "SIR!") The spell is only broken after Thor confronts Loki.
- In a digital prequel to the Avengers vs. Pet Avengers storyline, Fin Fang Foom turns Thor into a frog again, along with Captain America and Iron Man. Thor actually facepalms while Tony freaks out. Bucky, oddly enough, was rather calm about it and his frog form even kept his bionic arm.
Film - Live Action
- In O Brother, Where Art Thou?, a retelling of The Odyssey, Delmar is at one point convinced the three "sirens" (seductive washerwomen) have done this to Pete. In fact, they've turned him in to the authorities.
- During the "burning the witch" scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Sir Bedevere is suspicious of the peasant who claims the accused witch turned him into a newt, as referenced in the page quote.
Film - Animated
- The Frog Prince is probably the Trope Codifier.
- Whenever the various sorcerers of the Belgariad are in trouble, the first thing nearby muggles suggest is that they transform the enemy into something harmless, usually with a mystical hand gesture. Polgara once turned a Cherek king into a man-sized frog so that he would take her seriously.
- Witches and Wizards alike in the Discworld can do this, but tend not to because it takes a lot of effort. Granny Weatherwax, particularly, prefers to simply make the victim think they've been transformed, which is technically less cruel but a lot more entertaining.
- Morwen, the resident good witch in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, is offended at the suggestion, although she considers doing it to Arona Vamist because he irritates her so much. Her cats encourage it as they want something to play with.
- In The Lord of the Rings, when Sam is caught eavesdropping on Frodo and Gandalf's conversation about the One Ring, he begs the wizard not to turn him into "anything unnatural", and Frodo insists it'll be a warty toad if Sam doesn't keep his mouth shut. Since it's a fairly low-magic setting, by modern fantasy considerations, it's unlikely that Gandalf could actually do it if he wanted to.
- In Tom Holt's Falling Sideways, intelligent alien frogs who came to Earth long ago have the power to make themselves seem human, and to make humans appear and act like frogs. The prince isn't really a frog, but the princess is!
- In The Dresden Files, Harry Dresden has jokingly threatened to turn people into toads. Though it's an empty threat as unwilling transformations are against the White Council's laws.
- In Pamela Dean's Secret Country books, a character uses "Shan can turn you into a toad!" as an expression of annoyance, referring to a legendary wizard named Shan.
- In A Bad Spell For The Worst Witch, Mildred tells Sybil and Clarice that she thinks Miss Hardbroom did this to a girl who became the frog she's seen in the school pond. Later in the book, Ethel turns Mildred into a frog. Whilst in her frog form, Mildred meets the frog in the pond who it turns out is a wizard who got into a fight with another wizard and ended up stuck as a frog when the latter cast a spell on him.
- In Yendi, it's mentioned that Sethra Lavode, one of the world's most powerful sorcerers, sometimes turns intruders into jhegaala. The jhegaala is an animal that metamorphoses repeatedly in its life, but resembles a toad at one of its life-stages. Also, the Sorceress in Green threatens to turn Vlad into a newt in the same novel; his retort is a Shout-Out to Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
- Zigzagged in Dungeon of Dread, a pick-a-path book based on the D&D game. The Evil Sorcerer turns innocent villagers into animals, including one who became a toad ... not a helpless one, as this trope usually features, but a giant toad large and fierce enough to guard his lair.
- In Charmed Life, Gwendolen turns one of the maids into a toad, having previously claimed that her bulging eyes make her look like one already.
- Gogu the frog AKA Costi in Juliet Marillier's novel Wildwood Dancing.
- In The Runaway Princess, a witch routinely turns princes who come to bother her into frogs. Although she's perfectly willing to turn them back into princes, most of them prefer to stay as frogs.
- Subverted in the King's Quest Tie-In Novel King's Quest: The Floating Castle. A witch turns Prince Alexander into a frog against his will, but he later realizes it was so he could more easily sneak into the Evil Sorceror's castle he needed to infiltrate, then simply get turned back by a kiss from a captive princess also within and finish his mission from there.
- In Wen Spencer's Tinker, there is talk of elves able to turn people to frogs.
- In John Moore's The Unhandsome Prince, the prince has been turned into a frog, but when the beautiful maiden rescues him with a kiss, she's not pleased with her prize.
- In Alethea Kontis's Enchanted, Sunday meets a talking frog who's this in the forest.
- In Patricia C. Wrede's Mairelon the Magician, the lower-class slang for wizard is "frog-maker." At the end, Mairelon says he'll turn his brother into a frog for a few minutes if it would make him feel better, but he'd rather not.
- Discussed in A Song of Ice and Fire when the young sellsword known as Frog reveals himself to be Prince Quentyn Martell. The Prince Charming scenario is then horribly deconstructed when (after being spurned by the Princess) he goes to tame the dragon and gets crispy-fried and takes three days to die from horrific burns.
- Zibella in The Ancestral Trail turns the Trio into frogs in one issue. Fortunately, the counter-spell happened to be that day's prophecy.
- One early Dilbert arc has him dating a witch who turns him into a frog to get rid of an annoying fly.
- Forgotten Realms got some of this:
- From the introduction of Volo's Guide to All Things Magical, 2 ed. —
Elminster: To readers who trust in the sword or the dagger and hope to find in these pages a guide to how to lay mages low, I tender the following piece of very good advice: "Wizards? Avoid 'em. Life's better when ye're not a frog." That anonymous trail saying of the Sword Coast lands has been around a long, long time, but it is best never forgotten—if ye take my point.
- Used as a Noodle Incident in Elminster at the Magefair by Ed Greenwood.
"Why, Dhaerivus, I recall my first magefair!" He nodded in reflection and added dryly, "Ye made a most fetching toad."
- Supplement Pages from the Mages. During the course of a feud between the wizards Phelpar of Rassatan and Selvar of Taruin, Phelpar turned Selvar into a frog. Selvar had to hop many miles to reach a cave where he had hidden a cache of magic that could return him to normal.
- In the 5th and 6th editions of Champions, the superheroine Witchcraft is built as a standard superhero-mage ... but has a spell to turn people into frogs. One of the "cure" conditions is even being kissed.
- Magic: The Gathering includes a "Turn to Frog" card:
Target creature loses all abilities and becomes a 1/1 blue Frog until end of turn.
- Exalted has a high-level Martial Arts skill that lets the user do this as one of the possible effects and it is very popular in Memetic Mutation to turn people into ducks using it.
- Talisman has several things that can temporarily turn the player into a frog, at which point he loses all his equipment and companions and is almost helpless for a couple of turns.
- In Ow, my sanity, the Sleeper of N'kai turns men into frogs.
- In The Dementia Of Magic, Stephanie turned Simon into a giant frog.
- Happens to Nodwick a lot. In one stand-alone comic, it happened to Nodwick, Yeagar, and Artax when they got into a witch's apple tree, and Piffany had to take them to a princess for hire to kiss them and change them back. (Her fee was rather steep.)
- The Simpsons: An Inversion in the Treehouse of Horror parody of Harry Potter: students are expected to turn frogs (presumably of original frog descent) into princes.
- In the old The Legend of Zelda cartoon, there's an episode where Ganon turns Link into a frog.
- Rocky and Bullwinkle:
- In a Fractured Fairy Tale, a princess finds a prince who has been turned into a frog. He wants her to kiss him to turn him back into a prince but she refuses. "A talking frog! I'll make a fortune!"
- Another episode inverted the idea. Due to a shortage of Princes to turn into frogs a witch finds a frog and turns him into a prince.
- In an episode of Gotham Girls, Zatanna turns three men into toads. The other spells she casts wear off quickly; it's not clear whether this one will wear off, but since they were as clear as the format would allow in their intention to rape her, it's not a pressing concern.
- In one episode of Ultimate Spider-Man, Loki turns Thor into a frog so he won't interfere with his Frost Giant invasion of Earth. He's not as strong as he once was, but he still has power over Mjolnir and human speech in this state. At one point, one member of Spidey's team suggests that White Tiger (the only girl of the group) kiss "The Frog Prince", an idea she immediately dismisses. Spidey gets Thor back to normal by tricking the Trickster God himself- he points out that nobody would be impressed by a god killing a frog, and reverting Thor gives him the opportunity to kick Loki's ass.
- The Smurfs had a few princes turned into frogs, twice by sorcerers and once by Hogatha the witch. One prince-turned-frog was Prince Theodore, whose human appearance was switched with that of a frog by Morlock the wizard who sought to control the prince's kingdom by using the frog-in-prince-form as his lackey.
- In "The Good, The Bad, And The Smurfy", a king and his court were turned into frogs by a treacherous sorcerer, whom himself was turned into a frog by Papa Smurf.
- In an alternate ending for "The Lure Of The Orb" which was shown in markets outside the United States, Papa Smurf altered Jokey's surprise so that it turned Allura into a frog.
- A Honey Half-Witch cartoon involves Honey helping out a talking frog who claims to have been a king cursed by a wicked witch. She eventually gets him back to normal, but it turns out by "king", he meant "king of the beasts"... as in, he becomes a ferocious lion who tries to eat Honey.