Hybrid Overkill Avoidance
"For years, we've been trying to combine the bloodlines [vampire and werewolf]. And for years, we've failed. It was useless. Even at the cellular level, our species seemed destined to destroy each other."
Everyone likes a Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot
, which is why making a Hybrid Monster
that combines two fantastic creatures into one, like a cyborg-centaur or a demon-elf, is popular in fiction. However, like most good things, it can be a bit overdone. Cyborg-demons are awesome, but a werewolf
/ fish man
? Not so much.
This is especially true when an author wants to conserve as much Willing Suspension of Disbelief
as possible; believe it or not, readers might have trouble swallowing a half fire elemental
/ half vampire
In a game setting, this trope is used to avoid the presence of Ninja Zombie Pirate Robot throwing Competitive Balance right out the window
when you can, within the rules, get any power listed on any species
' charts with limited or no Necessary Drawbacks
. It's essentially a way for the designers or Game masters
to avoid someone making an overpowered Red Mage
. Smart game designers (or ones that have had experience like White Wolf
, makers of The World of Darkness
) have gone the extra mile to explain why such hybrids can't exist.
Inside the story, this is usually justified
(or at least given a half decent Hand Wave
) by having one supernatural/technological/biological "monster" or race be naturally immune
(or violently allergic
) to being hybridized with another. For example, a character who's been changed
into a werewolf can't be mutated
with The Virus
since their Healing Factor
protects them from further mutation. Robots won't become ghosts
because, y'know, no Soulnote
. For whatever reason, in some settings characters can only change into one kind of supernatural critter, or only be one "at a time".
Sometimes, the "immunity" is due to the idea that the character can't be changed from one type of their common category to another, such as zombies and vampires, which are different types of their common category of undead.
And sometimes the offspring only inherits one of their parent's types, or a few, but not all, of either's traits. Subverting this trope is usually a very big deal, it marks the birth
of a powerful and Unique
creature that can upset the Status Quo
thanks to One Hero, Hold the Weaksauce
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Anime and Manga
- In Tokimeki Tonight, protagonist Ranze's father is a vampire and her mother is a werewolf. She's apparently normal, with no traits of either, until she develops retractable fangs and turns into anything she bites with them.
- Normally Yu-Gi-Oh! allows just about any two summoned monsters to be fused together; however there is one interesting case where it's played disturbingly literally in the first tournament. Yugi defeats Kaiba's Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon by fusing his Mammoth Graveyard (an undead type) into it... which, because both are incompatible types, was slowly weakening the resulting fusion and would cause its eventual death. After this, the rule is never referenced again.
- This was, after all, during the the period before the real-life card game, with its fully established rules, had been created. Thus, the manga made up rules as it went along during the first story arc.
- Marvel Zombies:
- Directly averted in the Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot moment, in which Alternate!Morbius exclaims, "I am a VAMPIRE! I am a ZOMBIE! I am a VAMBIE!"
- Werewolf by Night gets infected with the zombie virus, but because his biochemistry changes when he transforms the disease remains limited to his human form. So hitting the human zombie with magically created moonlight gives back a healthy (but feral) Wolf Man.
- The aversion of this is a major plot point in IDW's Crisis Crossover Infestation. A Genre Savvy US government decides the best way to deal with a scientist accidentally opening a portal to a zombie dimension is to send in their vampire agents backed by robots. Unfortunately, this particular zombie outbreak did affect vampires and robots. Oops. Cue one zombie plague spreading to the worlds of Star Trek, G.I. Joe, Ghostbusters, and Transformers. That's right, there were zombie Transformers.
- Averted in one instance in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight: the minor villain Kumiko is a vampire witch.
- In Young All Stars, there's an Axis agent called Sea Wolf, a water-breathing werewolf.
- Exploited in The New Deadwardians, in which the upper class of post-Victorian England protect themselves from a zombie plague by taking "the cure". What is "the cure"? Why, vampirism.
- The Underworld movies have this trope justified through biological incompatibility. Once they find a guy who has the genetic traits allowing for both werewolf and vampire genes, however...
- In some parts of Europe, it was thought at one time that the corpses of werewolves would rise as vampires if they weren't cremated. In other parts, the corpses of dead sinners were said to become blood-drinking wolves at night. In Serbia, werewolves and vampires are collectively referred to as the same creature.
- The hippogryph was considered a mythological creature by the standards of mythological creatures- gryphons (lion-eagle hybrids) eat horses, so the idea of a lion-eagle-horse was deemed completely impossible.
- Zig-Zagged in The Sanguine Chronicles where, like Underworld, being one immunizes you from the other. Marko is, however, a VERY rare aversion.
- Averted in the Xanth series in a several ways:
- To begin with, each succesive human generation has a chance of becoming less human and more magical than the last, evolving into all sorts of humanoid things like goblins, dryads, fairies, and metal-people.
- Any humanoid or human-ish thing can succesfuly hybridize with any other humanoid or human-ish thing.
- Any two species of any sort who simultaneously drink from a love spring will copulate, and will subsequently issue hybrid progeny. (Horse + human = centaur is the usual example given. Squick.)
- The only reason that there are still humans in Xanth at all is that successive waves of immigrants from the mundane world keep coming into Xanth and replenishing the gene pool before it disintegrates.
Live Action Television
- The Jefferson Starships from Supernatural were hybrids of various monsters that have appeared in the series. However, since they were unstable experiments created by Eve, they had all died by the time they were encountered (and named) by Sam and Dean.
- In The Vampire Diaries this has been imposed on Klaus, who is a werewolf vampire. Because the resulting hybrid would be too powerful, witches cursed him to suppress his werewolf side, preventing him from transforming at the full moon. His goal is to break the curse, allowing him to create his own master race.
- Furthermore, a witch who becomes a vampire immediately loses his or her connection to nature and the powers along with it. The in-universe explanation is that vampirism is an abomination against the balance of nature, and in any case a vampire is (un)dead anyway. The meta reason is of course that witches are already super-overpowered and giving them the powers of a vampire on top of that would make them untouchable.
- Vampires in Being Human are unable to feed on and, by extension, turn werewolves because werewolf blood is toxic to them. Werewolves who attack vampires while transformed are more inclined to kill them outright rather than turn them. No explanation has so far been offered as to why vampires and werewolves don't become ghosts, although one ghost has dismissed the idea of werewolf-ghosts as 'ridiculous' without further explanation.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the titular Slayer is considered a human monster (having been infected with demonic power by the Shadowmen, the first Watchers). In one episode, while Sunnydale is caught inside a boys psychic nightmares, Buffy is temporarily turned into a vampire, making her a Slayer/Vampire hybrid and more than twice as strong as either is shown to be separately. However it's left unsure if this could happen in the "normal" course of events in the Slayer 'verse, as most vampires would prefer to kill a Slayer than turn her.
- The World of Darkness games enforce this trope for balance issues. Hypothetically though, any supernatural that can be changed back to human can be turned into another type.
- New World of Darkness:
- Vampires are dead humans resurrected to unlife by an as yet unexplained but likely magical force. Arcadia will not mutate them because, to borrow a line from Doctor Who, they are facts, in the metaphysical sense: they cannot change. They are stuck the way they are, and nothing (about the twisted nature of the Fae realm - let's just ignore the Ordo Dracul for the purposes of this discussion) will ever change that. They were human; they were not created, whether by man or the God-Machine. They already have powers, so the desperation to take up the vigil never comes to them. Only humans can be embraced, not spirits made flesh (which is one explanation as to why some embraces don't work: that might have been a werewolf who hadn't undergone their first change). Having what may very well be a minor god of death living in your soul is one of the best ways to keep yourself from being consigned to unlife, providing you're lucky enough to get one's attention and you're willing to make the deal (In addition, Sin Eaters can innately see the dead and how old someone is [vampires register as dead to these senses], if you're a Vampire and walk past a Krewe of Sin Eaters, they'll know something is up almost automatically and more often then not try to destroy you for being an undead creature who feeds on humanity.). The Rite of Return was last enacted over six thousand years ago, and there's no-one alive who knows how to perform it - not to mention the question of whether it would work on the undead. Lastly, not having the spark of true human life anymore, they can't awaken to true magic.
- Likewise the reverse is true. Only an ordinary mortal human with a human soul can become a Vampire. Even attempting to feed off a supernatural creature, a necessity for the Embrace, will most likely lead to the Vampire getting torn to pieces, magically fried to a cinder, or worse. Like being more prone to raging and giving into the Beast (Werewolf blood), having a bad acid trip (Fey or Mage blood) or other effects.
- Werewolves are spirits of the hunt / of rage / of protection / of death who were forced to take on human forms by way of a curse laid down on their ancestors / god(s). Depends on your interpretation of the "scriptures," really, but the fact is they are physical spirits. They don't die; they ethereally recycle, so to speak. This means they can't be embraced as vampires, nor can they make the bargain to become geists. They are natural occurances, not created beings like Prometheans or demons. They are not human, so they can't become mages, nor can they be altered by a spirit realm like Arcadia, which their supernatural "biology" is already adjusted to (to say nothing of their psychologies, which may be less resilient). As mentioned previously, the Rite of Return is long forgotten, so they can't be transformed into a mummy. And again, no human desperation equals no vigil.
- Vampires, werewolves, Prometheans, changelings, mummies, demons and ghosts can't Awaken as mages because they're not human and/or not alive. Mages who become vampires or ghosts lose their mage-ness in the process.
- Technically, you can make a Promethean out of anything's corpse (if it wasn't a straight-up human, though, it's kind of tricky). But that's exactly what you get — a Promethean. Not a Promethean-werewolf, not a Promethean-mage, not a Promethean-changeling — a Promethean. None of the other powers carry over, because they all went away the first time the body died.
- Prometheans who complete the Pilgrimage can theoretically become vampires or mages. The books advise that you only do this for a very good reason — and the Rule of Cool doesn't qualify. Also, they lose nearly all Promethean abilities upon attaining humanity.
- This is quite a good way to add on a bittersweet ending, a Promethean becomes a human again? Oh, but wait...he's cursed to live among the undead for the rest of his days. It's the sort of thing that should only really be used for the most grimdark of chronicles.
- Also theoretically averted in a sense by any supernaturals who could turn into Hunters and become members of a Conspiracy, where they could then gain Endowments. Of course, if the other Hunters found out who they were, in many groups they'd be on fire in seconds. This only works if A: the DM accepts the letter of the rules and not the spirit invoked by the flavor-and-backstory text, or B: the character has a very short conscription into becoming a Hunter and a somewhat-to-very long transformation into a supernatural which reached the point of no return before the full-fledged-Hunter immunities kicked in.
- Somewhat more averted with the endowments of Task Force Valkyrie: their endowments require a special chip implanted in their agents to function, so if the chip was taken out and implanted in another suitable creature, presumably they could make use of some of their technology as well. And some Endowments, like specially created bullets, don't even need the chip to be used.
- The Old World of Darkness has similar rules to the above to prevent gratuitous crossover:
- Only humans have avatars, so only humans can Awaken to become Mages. Becoming undead of any kind gets rid of the avatar, nixing that option. Shapeshifters were born as shapeshifters, even if they resemble humans or animals at birth, so they lack avatars. When they die they can't go to the same afterlife as human dead, so they can't become wraiths, zombies, or Kindred of the East.
- Shapeshifters can go to the Dark Umbra if they're corruption-tainted and severely unlucky...but they'll be functionally no different from any other human wraith.
- Similarly, only humans are selected for the imbuing, since their entire purpose is to stand on humanity's behalf against the forces of the supernatural. Becoming imbued grants immunity from becoming a supernatural, save in one case: extremist imbued who have given themselves over to the hunt can become servants to demons. By breaking the extremist's will, the demon can take over their body, but the process destroys the extremist's soul, and the newly embodied demon retains none of the extremist's powers save those they themselves granted.
- One exception is a vampire-werewolf hybrid "abomination," extremely tricky but possible. Werewolves are violently allergic to vampire blood so if you try to 'embrace' one, he gets a roll to see if he died peacefully or in horrible pain. Unless they're out of all Willpower, they get to die automatically. A hybrid is created only if you botch that roll. A hybrid does have access to all the powers but has to watch the Karma Meter very carefully - from a spiritual point of view, werewolves and vampires are pretty much opposites (one being a nature spirit that just happens to have flesh while the other is a dead shell with barely any spiritual presence) so straining too far will be detrimental to all spirit-related powers. And they can't learn any new Gifts except from corruption spirits.
- Several other Changing Breeds either can't be embraced, or can't stay that way for long afterwards. Kitsune were-foxes explode in fire if embraced as kind of a Take That to players' obsession with making abominations. Corax were-ravens? They die come dawn no matter WHERE they are. Mokolé were-dinosaurs? They go BALLISTIC the second the embrace starts, and their war form? A dragon/dinosaur which may very well breathe fire and/or glow with sunlight. Then they die. Rokea were-sharks? They become single-minded creatures hungry for blood at any cost - and they prioritize vampire blood over anyone else. Bastet were-cats can be embraced but immediately start losing their Gnosis stat, which cripples their supernatural abilities and erodes their ability to mentally function as anything but near-mindless blood-suckers. Ratkin were-rats are embraced with no less trouble than Garou... except that whatever keeps Vampires from decomposing does not work.
- Another exception is fomori, the fusion of a spirit of corruption with a material host. The most powerful of said spirits can pull it off on a supernatural host, specifically vampires, werewolves and most shifters, mages, and changelings who've forgotten what they are. Long, long ago, the vampire Set spawned the dread Bane Mummies through corrupt magic, and found they had their own agenda; fortunately for everyone else, Set wisely decided not to try again, and no-one else seems capable of it either. Most every other major supernatural is immune, including two of the Changing Breeds: the Corax were-ravens (thanks to their unique creation ritual) and the Nagah were-snakes (since they're a spiritual blind spot). And while being a fomori may offer the occasional benefit, they're far, far outweighed by the downsides.
- Also averted by the infamous Canon Villain Sue Samuel Haight who was a ghoul-werewolf-true mage. Until he died, became a ghost, and was soulforged into an ashtray.
- Some templates in the 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons game can only be applied to specified creature types, or to creatures with specified traits. This restricts some abuses, but an imaginative DM can still do some crazy things.
- Only living things can become undead, so no Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot (flesh golems are constructs, not undead).
- Constructs cannot breed, and thus cannot be half-dragons or any other inherited type.
- Undead are immune to disease, and thus cannot become lycanthropes.
- Undead flesh may not retain all the natural abilities it had in life, and skeletons have no flesh at all.
- Lycanthropes and vampires can only convert humanoids, not animals, constructs, abberations, fey or any variety of dragon (draconic or mind flayer vampires use a different template).
- Lycanthropes can become undead, but most undead types would lose the ability to shapeshift (though vampires do not). It is therefore possible to create a vampire werewolf, but only if you apply the templates in the right order.
- Dragons, celestials, and fiends can breed with just about anything, but only if it's living, and the results of such breeding may not convert well into useful undead.
- It is possible to graft construct parts onto a living creature, but the result becomes a construct and thus no longer counts as living, which restricts the ability to apply other templates, and they do not breed true, if they can breed at all.
- This makes possible the Half-black-dragon, half-iron-golem troll, which is immune to damn near everything, but would require a black dragon (acid-breathing) to breed with a troll (vulnerable only to fire and acid), and the offspring to be converted to a half-golem at great difficulty and expense, probably against its will. Neither the victim nor its parents are likely to be pleased.
- Taking the above Up to Eleven is The Emerald Legion, an attempt at a magical Super Soldier which (among other things) also makes the troll a quasi-Dhampyr and has it bitten by multiple lycanthropes of different species.
- For player characters, the main mitigator is Level Adjustment, a virtual inflation of the character's effective level imposed by most beneficial templates. For example, a half-dragon has an effective level adjustment of +3. A 1st level half-dragon character is thus theoretically as powerful as a 4th level character, and thus not legally playable in a group starting out at any level below 4th (and s/he would start out at only 1st level in one that was). The level adjustments of all templates on a character are additive. Level Adjustment also makes it more difficult for a character grow stronger, as its Effective Character Level (Level Adjustment plus any class levels) is what determines experience gains and the amount of experience needed to level up. As a result, Level Adjustment is actually an even bigger mitigating factor at higher levels, and it can easily get to the point where the bonuses conferred by the template are outweighed by the drawback of slower EXP gain.
- All of which leads to a joke in one of The Order of the Stick comics for Dragon magazine (paper version) about a vampiric half-dragon, half-troll, lycanthropic, fiendish snail. The snail had a challenge rating of 14 (meaning it would be capable of challenging four level 14 characters by itself), despite being small enough to step on. "Tremble at my illogical glory!" indeed.
- In the main webcomic, a vampire cleric is later introduced who mentions that being a vampire (with a whopping +8 level adjustment, and another +1 adjustment as a lizardfolk) makes it difficult for him to find level-appropriate opponents and thus he hasn't gained any relevant amount of EXP in years.
- Exalted has rules to prevent most forms of supernatural mix-and-match. Not only were most non-human races genocided in the Primordial War, but all mortal races have distinctly different souls. Exaltation only works on humans. The main non-human races, Dragon Kings and Mountain Folk, reincarnate upon death, so they can't become ghosts either. On the other hand, Exalted has a remarkably lax definition of "human," so most Wyld Mutants and half-animal Beastmen count and can exalt. God-blooded (people with one human parent and one parent who's a god, elemental, demon, fae, exalt, or ghost) are likewise human enough to exalt, but half-exalts become normal exalted with no special traits, and the other kinds gain new powers painfully slowly after exalting.
- Warhammer has virtually no "hybrid" types (although there were a few in its very earliest editions, which have been scrupulously removed). Elves, Dwarfs, Humans, Ogres, Skaven etc. are separate species and can no more breed with one another than a man can with a horse (and Centaurs are a completely different species again). The Orc races do not reproduce sexually. Daemons do not breed at all. Vampires all began as humans (their curse derives exclusively from human blood) and so on. Indeed, the prevalence of hybrid types in many other famous fantasy universes (especially D&D) is what caused the designers of Warhammer to eschew them entirely. The closest Warhammer gets anymore is certain one-off Chaos mutants, which are simply members of one species with an aesthetic resemblance to another (and this is not dwelt upon anymore, precisely because it might dilute the strong racial archetypes that are being maintained).
- Skaven Rat-Ogres are another possible unnatural version - being crafted from parts of Ogres and Skaven by the frankenstein-esque mad scientists of Clan Moulder. They behave as a completely new (and almost entirely mindless) creature, however.
- The basic, mindless undead can be created from any corpse, if the battlegame's Regiments of Renown are to be considered a canon source — but they're just corpses animated by necromancy and there's isn't much special about them.
- Likewise, species in Warhammer 40,000 are incapable of interbreeding naturally (though in the very first edition there were hints at human-eldar hybrids, which have been zealously purged in the quest to keep the most humanoid of 40k's alien races as alien and inhuman as possible). Some Tyranid organisms do incorporate DNA from other races to achieve certain effects however, like the spore-firing Biovore (Orks) and highly psychic Zoanthropes (Eldar).
- In Machinations of the Space Princess, you get three species-like traits for free (water-borne, cyborg, gaseous mass, and so on). Picking a fourth drops your CHA by an appreciable amount, and a fifth even moreso, because CHA is more a gauge of your relatability than anything else and the more hodge-podge your character is, the harder it is for other species to click with them.
- The Dev Team Thinks of Everything in Creatures 2; It is possible for the cute and fuzzy norns to interbreed with the pesky ettins and grendels if a mod is applied to change breeding behaviors, but the offspring (which will have different body parts from each parent) will almost always die at birth. Averted in Creatures 3, however; there's even a Splicing Machine to force crossbreeding.
- Averted in Paladin's Quest (and the sequel, Lennus II.) There are many sapient races, and they can all interbreed. Hybrids are called Lubbots, and are considered a race of their own because interbreeding is taboo in most societies. There's an entire village of hybrids in one part of the world.
- Becoming a werewolf in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will cure you of vampirism, and give you an immunity to disease that will stop you catching it again.
- Becoming a Volkihar Pure-Blooded Vampire in via Dawnguard will forcibly cure you from Lycanthropy. The primary method of becoming a vampire pre-Dawnguard was to be infected by a vampirism disease. Becoming a Pure-Blooded Vampire however means consuming the blood of another Pure-Blooded Vampire, forcibly "overwriting" Lycanthropy's 100% disease immunity feature. This vampirism can later be overwritten by another dose of werewolf blood offered by Aela. Alternatively, you can take advantage of a nifty exploit that involves having Serana turn you, becoming a werewolf, and immediately becoming re-infected to become a true monster hybrid, and go all Michael Corvin on your enemies.
- The life states in The Sims 3 are deliberately coded to be mutually exclusive, except ghost. Or at least they should.
- Humans in Arcanum are capable of interbreeding with orcs, elves and ogres, resulting in half-orcs, half-elves and half-ogres, because those races are descended from humans who were mutated by exposure to large amounts of magic in the ancient past and share enough human DNA to create viable offspring. The other races in Arcanum (dwarves, gnomes and halflings) have their own family tree and cannot interbreed with humans.
- Averted by AdventureQuest. You can become a werewolf or vampire, and then become a hybrid called a Werepyre. For added fun, Werepyre characters can add Dragon blood to the mix, becoming a monster known as a Dracopyre.
- The vampires in Last Blood are immune to zombie bites, making them unlikely defenders of the remnants of humanity. Of course, that has to do with zombies being created from a starved vampire's bite.
- Rusty and Co. warns about consequences of allowing to multiclass freely in the system that got "monster classes", as the picture above shows. He got worse.
- Zoophobia's Zill is a demon/dragon/chimera-mutt, though the only obvious physical characteristics of these are his retractable wings and snake tail.
- In Skin Deep pretty much any two species can interbreed (using the human-form medallions if necessary), but under normal circumstances the kids will simply be one species or the other.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, the various species of ponies can (apparently) interbreed; however, it seems that crossing pegasi and unicorns results in either pegasi or unicorns, not both, and (allegedly) there are earth ponies who have pegasus and unicorn ancestry, which can come out if two with sufficient ancestry get together. It is unclear whether this dilution of bloodline impacts the potency of the children. Alicorns - ponies with both unicorn horns and pegasus wings, and indeed, typically speaking -larger- versions of each - do not seem to be natural creatures, instead being a sort of Physical God and far more powerful than either pegasi or unicorns. It seems that the status comes with sufficient power, though the exact criteria are unclear. Twilight Sparkle becomes one at the end of the third season, growing a pair of wings.