Body Switch Movie: The brain of one character somehow finds itself in the body of another. Requires actors to confront an actor's nightmare, i.e., acting as if they were another actor.
The most benign subtrope of Body Snatcher
: two or more characters swap bodies (or, equally, swap minds) by some form of magic or Applied Phlebotinum
. Typically, a deeper appreciation of the other's life is attained. Named for a novel and movie
about a body swap between a mother and her daughter.
To be really convincing, the actors may have to mimic the body language and speech patterns of the actor they are supposed to have switched with - ie, an older person using very modern language and slouching. This is doubly complicated if they are trying to imperfectly pretend they are the other person.
When this plot is done in animation, usually the voices also switch
as narrative cheat to help younger viewers keep track of who's who. More subtly, it's just the eyes. More serious/action-oriented shows might not do this. The Flip often involves characters of different ages, genders, races, or social classes. Another variation is a protagonist and antagonist switching, which usually involves each trying to undermine the other's organization while simultaneously trying to switch back. Alternatively it may lead to a Heel-Face Turn
. If one or both of the characters have superpowers or other special abilities
, they'll have a lot of trouble figuring their new powers out
A similar idea, with less learning and more evil, is Grand Theft Me
. Compare Personality Swap
, when the characters' personalities are swapped but their minds stay where they are meant to be. It will often involve similar tropes to transformation stories (such as Gender Bender
) as this is essentially two of these in one, with the addition of confusion resulting from the transformations being into other known characters.note
Nearly an Obligatory Joke
in some genres (as in, bound to happen sooner or later in the series, if it's popular enough).
In the more traditional applications of the trope, the reason of the switch is never explained in-universe
. However, the Doylist
reason for any application is often to force the age-old moral
: To better understand others, you must experience life in their shoes.
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Films — Animation
- Happens to Donkey and Puss-n-Boots in Shrek the Third.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- The Mind Switch and True Mind Switch spells. While Mind Switch is only semi-permanent, True Mind Switch is completely permanent and can only be undone by another True Mind Switch.
- Before this, 2nd edition had the "Switch Personality" telepathic science from The Complete Psionic Handbook. It allows the psionicist to switch mind with another creature, but any prolonged use is dangerous, as both bodies tend to degrade when inhabited by the wrong mind.
- The Complete Book of Necromancers also introduced the "Life Force Exchange" spell, which is permanent and can be used on any two creatures (including or not the caster). It is one of two powerful spells allowing aged necromancers to abandon their old body for a new, younger and stronger one.
- This is just one condition that the Alchemist's Apparatus, an evil device found the Ravenloft setting can create. (It can also split one being into two bodies, one good and one evil, or merge two beings into one body.) The only way to reverse any of this device's effects is to use it a second time, and using it at all is incredibly dangerous. (Not only is it prone to blowing up, it tends to drive the victims insane, requiring Ravenloft Powers checks for the user and Madness Checks for the victims. Unfortunately, even when it does blow up, someone always rebuilds it later.)
- The Britanick video "A Monologue for Three" ends with a four-way body swap between Brian, Nick, Danny Pudi, and . . . well, you'll just have to watch it.
- There is a web series made by Three friends from Florida called Freaky Forever. It can be watched here.
- In the LoadingReadyRun video "Brain Transplants Made Easy", Paul does this to everyone just to prove a point. This is taken to the hilarious extremes of Jer getting switched with Dana (a random stranger) and Bill getting switched with Gib (a puppet).
- Noob has a dungeon that will cause an avatar switch between two players after the first boss gets beaten. Voices don't change despite the fact that it would actually make sense.
- When Body Switching Movies Collide is a skit done by the Cracked staff. It starts off when Sam Beckett Leaped into Ellen Cunningham's mind after she switched bodies with Anna. Sam Cunningham, Ellen's dead husband, shows up, explaining how he will possess Sam and have sex with Ellen one last time. Al argues that Sam Cunningham possessing Sam Beckett to have sex with Ellen would result in Anna's body having sex with Helen, who has Anna's mind at the moment. The Ghost Sam leaves in disgust, saying he plans to have sex with someone else. Al reveals that Anna is a secret agent hired for the Stargate project in the Torchwood Institute in Roswell. Trinity, who works for the Millenium Group, shows up in a Slider Hole and explains that the world is a false reality created by sophisticated computers contained within the mind of John Horatio Malkovich. When Sam Beckett asks Al to Leap him out of this madness, Al can't because he's actually a Cylon. It turns out it was all Michael Swaim's dream, and the camera zooms out to reveal that sequence was imagined by Michael looking at his snowglobe.
- In one episode of The Time... Guys, Doc Chronos invents a brain-switching device. Turns out he can only invent time machines.
- In Ducktalez 3, Vegeta pulls a Captain Ginyu on Scrooge McDuck. Vegeta gets Scrooge's art style and Scrooge gets Vegeta's art style. Dewey and Louie immediately wonder why Scrooge looks crappy.
- Scientists have found that by syncing a pair of VR goggles on one person's head with a set of cameras on a mannequin or another person's head, the brain is fooled into believing that they are in the body of the mannequin or the other person. Again, no, seriously.