aka: Elemental Shapeshifting
"FLAME ON!!"An Elemental Shapeshifter is a Shapeshifting character who can turn into one of the Elements of Nature (typically air, earth, water, and fire, though this might vary according to the work). Depending on the story or situation, the character might be able to only partially change part of himself into the element involved, and may or may not retain his original shape after the change. Often invokes Elemental Baggage. A subtrope of Elemental Powers and Shapeshifting. Super Smoke (the ability to turn into air/smoke), Ride the Lightning and Ball of Light Transformation are subtropes of this. May overlap with An Ice Person, Making a Splash, Made Of Air, Taken for Granite, Wreathed in Flames, and Dishing Out Dirt. Also see Elemental Embodiment.
— The Human Torch, Fantastic Four
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Anime & Manga
- In One Piece, the Logia Devil Fruit users are essentially this. When attacked, their bodies disperse into their element, allowing most physical assaults to pass harmlessly through them.
- Magic Knight Rayearth:
- Juvia from Fairy Tail can transform her body in water.
- Also, Gajeel can turn his limbs into iron weapons.
- In Mahou Sensei Negima!, Negi has Raiten Taisou and Raiten Sousou, and Homura can transform into a fire spirit. Quintum, the Averruncus of Wind has an ability similar to Negi's transformation.
- Levia from Princess Lucia does this primarily to travel through water systems.
- Like Gajeel of Fairy Tail, Diane from The Seven Deadly Sins can transform her body into metal.
- Tessai, one of the Eight Devils of Kimon from Ninja Scroll, can turn his body to stone except for his eyes.
- The Human Torches: Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four, and his predecessor from the Golden Age, an android (ironically not actually human) that due to some accident in his manufacture, catches fire when exposed to oxygen.
- Spider-Man villain Hydro Man can transform all or part of his body into water.
- Similarly, Sandman has the ability to change his body into sand.
- At one point the two got mushed together into a monster called Mud Man.
- Then there's the Golden Age super-hero Hydroman, created by Bill Everett for Eastern Color Printing. He could transform any part of his body into water and control its form and movement.
- Bill Willingham's Elementals had Fathom, who could shoot, control, turn into, or breathe water.
- The Top Cow comic Fathom is about a race of beings with similar powers.
- The DCU villainess New Wave can transform her body into any form of water, including steam and acid rain.
- The X-Men have a decent number:
- Magma can transform into magma and rocks.
- The original X-Man Iceman originally could only cover his body with snow or ice, but he eventually learned to turn his entire body into organic ice.
- Colossus can turn into metal.
- Dust can turn herself into a sandstorm.
- Rockslide and Onyxx are big guys made of rocks.
- In the case of Rockslide, he is actually a psionic entity and is theoretically able to form his golem-like form using any earthen matter, such as rocks, lava, etc.
- Husk can turn into any solid substance, though alternate versions had her able to become liquid as well.
- Stone Boy of the Legion of Super-Heroes is a Substitute Legionnaire who can turn into an immobile statue. However, he manages to use this power effectively anyway.
- Variation: The Avengers villain The Absorbing Man can absorb the properties of various materials just by touching them.
- Volcana, who originated in Secret Wars then became the Molecule Man's girlfriend originally only had a fire form, but then gained a rock form and an ash form which was remarkably like sand.
- Cinder from Titans: Villains for Hire has the ability to transform her body into flame, and has enough control to only transform certain parts. In a somewhat infamous moment, she's introduced in the comic setting a child molester on fire with her vagina.
- One-story Superboy guest character Fluid Man used "a formula of his own creation" to grant himself this "truly bizarre" power.
- The Batman villain Clayface is a walking mountain of mud, and can use his powers for shapeshifting or brute strength. He's one of the few recurring villains Batman admits to being no physical match for. Amusingly, Poison Ivy once defeated him by planting a tree in his body.
- Unusually for a character with this power, Clayface is able to pull off more conventional Shapeshifting, which is justified by the fact his elemental body is made of clay, so he can reshape it and color it to imitate human flesh.
- He was once parodied in the Wanted comic with Shithead, a monster created by mingling the poo of history's 666 evillest people.
- The DC Universe character Metamorpho The Element Man can transform into all chemical elements, including the ones that make up air, water and dirt. He can't directly turn into fire, but he can shift into a highly flammable element.
- The Marvel Universe villain Carl, "Crusher" Creel, also known as the Absorbing Man, is a variant; he usually can't directly shapeshift, but he can change his makeup into other materials by touching them — for example, touch stone and he can become a man of living stone. Fortunately, he's usually A: Dumb Muscle, and B: going up against foes with Super Strength.
- In Keepers of the Elements, the Keepers have this ability, as they can all turn into their Element.
- John in With Strings Attached can turn himself into water, except it traumatizes him to do so, and he changes back as soon as possible. What sort of control he has over himself and water during this time is unknown.
- In the Negima fic Still Waters Book 1, Okochi Akira becomes this in the late chapters as a high powered water elemental.
- David Banner in Hulk, taking elements from the Absorbing Man. After injecting himself with Bruce's reformed DNA, David becomes a very strong and diverse shapeshifter, but he really takes after the elements in the climax, going through electrical, rock, and water-based forms in quick succession.
- The Amos Daragon books also feature this, as the main character is able to become water. At one point a maid unknowingly washed the floor with him.
- Loki from Runemarks can change himself into fire.
- All the sylphs from Let The Sky Fall
- The Earth-Masters and Morgon in The Riddle Master Trilogy.
Live Action TV
- An episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch has Sabrina struggling with trying to learn this technique; it finally clicks for her by the end of the episode in a moment of anger and frustration, and she easily turns into fire, air, water, and earth.
- The Marvel Cinematic Universe tie-in series The Agents Of SHIELD features the aforementioned Absorbing Man, Carl Creel. Here, he gets an intelligence upgrade, being capable of ploys like shifting his body makeup for stealth, most notably when he escapes from custody by absorbing the transparent bullet-proof plastic of his cell, making him effectively invisible, and allowing him to jump a guard who foolishly looks inside to see how he escaped.
- Dungeons & Dragons.
- Genies. Djinni can change into gaseous form and Marids can change into liquid form.
- Elemental Grues. Harginn can change into fire and Varrdig can change into water.
- High level druids can shapeshift into elementals instead of animals.
- Elementals in Changeling: The Lost get access to a Contract that allows them to control an element (surprisingly enough). The highest clause of the Contract allows them to transmute into said element, with certain benefits — insubstantial elements (such as fire, air, and lightning) can only be harmed by certain kinds of damage, whereas substantial elements (such as stone or metal) grant heavy armor and physical bonuses.
- Its predecessor, Changeling The Dreaming, includes the Inanimae, a race of fae born from inanimate objects, whose kiths and powers are based on the elements.
- In Vampire: The Masquerade, the Gangrel's Protean discipline includes turning into earth and mist.
- In Mage: The Awakening, this is doable in a number of ways through adding additional Arcana to the normal Life-based shapeshifting spell. Forces allows the mage to turn into living fire, Death allows turning into Living Shadow, and Matter allows turning to stone or almost any other physical substance.
- In Kameo: Elements of Power, several of Kameo's elemental warrior forms fall under this trope, most notably Rubble (a pile of sentient magnetic rocks) and 40 Below (an ice-man).
- In Super Mario Bros.. 3 and Super Mario 3D Land Mario could turn into a statue with the Tanooki suit. It turned him invincible, and he could kill nearly anything by falling on it.
- Warcraft III's Pandaran's "Storm, Earth, and Fire" ability splits the hero into three different beings, each themed after the particular element.
- In World of Warcraft Mists of Pandaria, Shamans are gaining the ability to become an Ascendant for a short time. Ascendants are living humanoid elementals that were previously restricted to the Twilight's Hammer cultists.
- Arceus in Pokemon Diamond And Pearl can change its element to any of the seventeen types in the game. Granted, Arceus is the god of the Pokémon world...
- Also, some Pokemon in all the games, such as Vaporeon and Grimer and Muk, can learn Acid Armor, in which the user melts in order to raise it's defense.
- Toxic Seahorse in Mega Man X 3 can turn into acid. According to background info, his body is made of a liquid metal-like substance, which allows him to do this.
- Similarly, Heatman in Mega Man 2 also becomes a blazing fireball as he charges you.
- Lampshaded in Legacy of Kain: Defiance. Maybe.
Kain: "These statues were singularly inanimate. I knew better than to assume they would always remain so."
- in Dota 2, Morphling can create copies of other heroes and replace them immediately. With Aghanim's Scepter, Morphling can transform into an allied hero and use all of their abilities excluding their ultimate ability.
- In New Vindicators, the fourth Vindicators team was a group somewhat similar to the Fantastic Four, composed of one guy who covered himself in fire and three shifters-Coach Crag made of rock, Miss Mist (made of air), and Professor Splash (made of water). There are other characters, such as Fathom, who can also turn into water.
- In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, Vulnapyezdka ("Wave Rider" in Russian) can turn into water.
- There was an SCP that could do this with all five (wind and lightning being separate) before it was destroyed.
- Worm has Acidbath, a supervillain who can turn his body into acid.
- Wonder Twin Zan from Superfriends can transform into various forms of water and ice.
- As can Zan's Justice League expy, Downpour.
- In Hanna Barbera's The Impossibles, Fluid Man could change into regular water or vaporize himself into a cloud or a storm.
- In the finale of W.I.T.C.H., the Guardians learn how to transform into each of their respective elements of earth, air, fire, water and lightning. Unfortunately they almost lose themselves to the process and are nearly unable to change back.
- Livewire in Superman: The Animated Series could turn into electricity, and true to name travel through powerlines.
- Birdman episode "Skon of Space". The title villain is a triple threat version of this. He can change himself into fire, water and stone.
- On various occasions, Captain Planet has been seen transforming into water, a flame, and a tree.