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Growing Muscles Sequence
A sub-trope of Transformation Sequence where increase of muscle mass and definition is prominent. It can be used by a character transforming to his superpowered form, as well as a visual indicator of a Super Mode activating. In either case, those subjected to it are generally expected to possess Super Strength.

The sequence usually consists of close-up shots of various muscle groups, most commonly the biceps, chest and back, growing and becoming more defined. As a result, expect Clothing Damage (with the exception of Magic Pants). The transformation doesn't have to be limited to changes in musculature; for example, a villain can have Spikes of Villainy popping up along the spine of his expanding back. Bulking up is also unexpectedly common in modern werewolf transformations, despite the wolf being an animal generally regarded as lean rather than massive.

Depending on the character and the setting, a Growing Muscles Sequence can be voluntary or involuntary, range from painless to painful to a Body Horror and its end result can run the gamut from having a Heroic Build to being The Grotesque.

Compare Shapeshifting, One-Winged Angel, and Hulking Out. See also Shapeshifter Baggage, Temporary Bulk Change.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Used all the time with various kinds of Super Modes in Dragon Ball.
  • Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star. Whenever he's about to use Hokuto Shinken, he rips up his shirt and makes his jacket slide off his shoulders by sheer muscle expansion while his pants remain unharmed, which essentially makes him the Japanese Hulk.
  • Done in Hunter × Hunter when apparently 12-year old Biscuit Krueger goes from looking a cute schoolgirl to being 10' tall and incredibly ripped.
  • Kid Muscle from Kinnikuman Nisei.
  • In Pokémon, Sawk goes through this when he uses Bulk Up, a move that increases his attack and defense.
  • Kotetsu from Tiger & Bunny, though it turns out it's a cosmetic feature of his original super suit.
  • Younger Toguro from YuYu Hakusho goes through this every time he unleashes a percentage of his full power, assuming ever more ridiculously bulked up forms during the course of the series. A less prominent example from the same series is Byakko, who grows as he absorbs the blows of his opponents, which turns out to be his undoing.
  • In Bleach, Ggio Vega and Poww do this when they decide to unleash their full power. Later on, fullbring forces a yakuza trapped inside a weaponised plushie to go through one of these.
  • Aisha Clan-Clan in Outlaw Star can transform into a more muscular version of herself under a full moon. (And then further into a non-anthropomorphic panther creature.)
  • Sandra Guts from Dirty Pair does this to herself with her own formula called 'Hustle.'
  • The Eclipse Driver Marty of Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force has this as his viralizing ability. He could grow his muscles to increase his strength and toughness, to the point where he becomes immune to physical attacks like bullets. So Arnage switches weapons and pulls out a Wave-Motion Tuning Fork.
  • Downplayed in Toriko; when The Hero, Toriko, powers up for his signature move, the Kugi Punch, he pumps his right arm up and down, making its muscles bigger and bigger, while the rest of his body retains the same muscle mass.
  • Ichiya from Fairy Tail, whenever he uses his Power Perfume.

    Comic Books 
  • The Hulk in all his incarnations. He is, after all, the Trope Namer of the related trope Hulking Out.
  • In The New Universe, David Landers of DP 7 goes through quite painful transformations when he grows muscles, which he has to sustain by being a Big Eater.
  • Patriot of Young Avengers, in the storyline where it's revealed he takes Mutant Growth Hormone. He injects himself with too much, and grows to the size of a truck.
  • Some Marshal Law superheroes "pump ions" to bulk up.
  • This happens to Caitlin Fairchild in the first issue of Gen 13. She goes from short and slender and mousy to tall, ripped and stacked once her powers activate.
  • In his first appearance, Nightwing villain Blockbuster has one of these, turning him into a giant, deformed monster. Unlike most examples, the effect is permanent.
  • Notably averted by Bane in his comic book appearances: Venom makes him veiny, but he stays pretty much the same size. Most adaptations play the trope straight, though, and he's bulked up considerably in the New 52.

    Film 

    Live-Action TV 

    Video Games 
  • Altered Beast has your character undergo two such transformations for the first two Power Ups he collects in a stage. His transformation into a beast once they pick up the third also has elements of this.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum has this happen to a depowered Bane and some of Joker's goons when they get injected with "Titan", a derivative of the Venom normally used by Bane. It almost happens to Batman when he takes the bullet for Commissioner Gordon, but he's able to resist the transformation until he takes an antidote. The Joker, on the other hand...
  • Rick undergoes a pretty gruesome one in the opening cutscene of the updated Splatterhouse.
    Terror Mask: Aw, quit whining. Did I say it was gonna be fun?
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies : The DLC case includes a scene like this when you start closing in on the culprit. Apparently, fish-barrel water buffs you up like nothing else.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • Done in a number of werewolf transformations in animation. Apparently the "were" in "werewolf" is the Anglo-Saxon for "bodybuilder".
  • Bane in Batman: The Animated Series and The Batman.
  • Ben 10: Vilgax in the early seasons had Cybernetic Spikes of Villainy that did this.
  • Raimundo from Xiaolin Showdown had this issue when the Shen Gong Wu kept magnetically pulling towards him, making him increasingly more powerful to the point he was virtually invincible, with Wuya attempting to use him as a vessel for her to defeat the monks.
  • One of the effects of the Super Soldier Serum that created Captain America.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983): Prince Adam's transformation to He-Man usually doesn't involve this, despite the former being an ordinary Eternian and the latter "the most powerful man in the universe". In the first series, this was because He-Man is pretty much Prince Adam with a tan and less clothes on. In the 2002 series a sequence is used for a few episodes in the second season, until He-Man gets his armour.
  • Justice League Unlimited in the episode "The Patriot Act" after a mad general steals super soldier serum and injects himself.
  • A couple of Timmy's wishes in The Fairly OddParents resulted in this.
  • Billy turning back into Ganthar in Martin Mystery.
  • In each episode of The Miniavengers, a kid will pass through a momentary but incredibly exaggerated sequence before getting their superpower, temporarily ending up dozens of times the size of the earth.
  • Popeye, every time he eats his spinach. The change is brief and usually located in the (already abnormally muscular) forearms, sometimes with a superimposed image of a battleship, a cannon, a high-powered turbine or similar imagery.
  • Munya from The Secret Saturdays.
  • The Simpsons: Bart has an Imagine Spot where he's a professional human guinea pig. He takes one sip of Nature's Goodness soda and turns into a deformed monster.
  • Super Duper Sumos is a rare case where the characters are already bulky; what they are gaining in the transformation is definition.
    • The Sumo wrestlers are already big and bulky. The "Sumo Size" transformation is always extra muscle definition.
  • The Totally Spies! episode "The Incredible Bulk" featured a plot involving power bars that would cause anyone who ate them to go through a series of such transformations, until they would finally explode.
  • Prime and Hardcase from Ultraforce. For the former it's a standard transformation sequence, for the latter a permanent change.
  • Happens to Jade from Jackie Chan Adventures in the episode "The Amazing T-Troop" when she uses the ox talisman. Interestingly, while the ox talisman does grant the user the power of super strength, this is the only occurrence where this trope is applied.
  • A sequence depicting this happening is often played when Kaeloo transforms into Bad Kaeloo. The most attention is paid to her buttocks.


Genius BruiserMuscular IndexGym Bunny
Super SmokeShapeshiftingHenshin Hero
The Dangerous Lives of Altar BoysImageSource/Live-Action FilmsDark City
Giant Foot of StompingBigger Is BetterHartman Hips

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