"Did you expect me to dodge? How quaint."Cousin to invisibility, intangibility refers to a state where a (usually visible) entity cannot interact physically with other matter. Everything just phases through the affected object. Those questions you have about how this could possibly work? Don't ask them. A truly intangible person would slingshot off the Earth at an extreme velocity at the moment of intangibility (the Earth orbits the Sun at 18.5 miles per second, and the Sun orbits the galactic center at 134 miles per second, and Earth-level gravity only affects objects with mass, which intangible objects do not have by definition). If you decide to ignore that, then you'll have to explain how the intangible person can stay put on the Earth's surface when the planet's own gravity should be constantly drawing him towards the core. How he or she can generate enough friction and mass to remain on the Earth and move around, let alone grip things if the writer is feeling charitable, is also likely to be ignored (occasionally these problems are avoided by also giving the character the ability to fly). Again, don't ask why. Asphyxiation is generally not an issue, potential breathing problems are typically ignored outright. If they're stuck in an intangible state for a while, starving to death usually isn't brought up either. Also, don't expect anyone to know that they shouldn't be able to see anything while intangible, if light passes straight through them, it can't form an image on their retinas. You can forget hearing too, air passing though you means nothing registers on the parts of the inner ear that detect sound waves. Run those same reasons in reverse, and it becomes clear that a truly Intangible Man would be incredibly boring as he could neither interact with the world nor even be detected by it. Fortunately, these pesky real life physics rules tend to be ignored in-story thanks to Rule of Cool. Although the Intangible Man will pass right through walls, chairs, tables and such, he rarely has any problem properly interacting with floors, stairs or any other structures people are meant to walk upon. He may even be able to ride vehicles, with the odds of success rapidly increasing with the size of the vehicle. Anything big enough to walk around inside is quite likely, a ship or spaceship is more or less guaranteed. Note that once we've seen someone walk through the character to establish the parameters of their intangibility, people will go out of their way not to walk through them too often as this is an expensive special effect, it's usually Hand Waved as being an intensely creepy experience to see a living person's insides up close. For a mentor, intangibility is an opportunity. Being a Spirit Advisor or Virtual Ghost lets them accompany the hero into dangerous places without ever being at personal risk. The ability to render oneself intangible at will occasionally turns up as a superpower. Sometimes the power can work selectively on the user's body (allowing him to voluntarily interact with objects while intangible) or extend further from the user's body (allowing him to make other objects and people intangible) Heroes use this ability to save their teammates from danger. Anti-heroes and villains use it to put their hands through people's chests and squeeze their hearts. Again, let's ignore the fact that rendering a part of your body intangible would have the same effect as cutting it off. It is frequently a given that while no one else can touch them, two characters separately rendered intangible by the same process will have no problem interacting with each other. See also Projected Man, Astral Projection and Super Smoke.
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- In this Pepsi commercial, two nerds make themselves intangible and get into all sorts of hijinks. At the very end, they realise they can't even pick up their can of Pepsi anymore.
Anime and Manga
- Choujin Sensen: Kaminashi Akira uses this power to escape from his death penalty in Tokyo's prison.
- Mazinger Z: Mykene War Beast Dante, which appeared in the "Mazinger-Z vs Great General of Darkness" movie, had that ability. When Kouji fought it, Mazinger's weapons went through its body harmlessly.
- Nancy Makuhari and her son Junior from Read or Die have this ability. It's explicitly stated that they can't breathe while phasing.
- Kurau from Kurau Phantom Memory has this power as well - it's one of her more rarely used powers, as it tends to get her noticed more than superhuman strength or even flight.
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, Sein has this ability, allowing her to swim through inorganic material as though they were water.
- Hanyuu from Higurashi: When They Cry until Matsuribayashi-hen.
- Intangibility is the main ability of Noah clan member Tyki Mikk from D Grayman. He uses it to pull your organs out.
- In Naruto Tobi is able to become intangible by using the same space/time manipulation he uses to teleport. The primary weaknesses are that he cannot attack while intangible, he cannot be intangible while teleporting himself or others (and the more he tries to teleport the longer it takes), and he can only stay intangible for five minutes in a row. He found a novel way to get over the first one: by attaching a chain to arm manacles he runs toward people, phases through them when his body would touch them, and then turns solid again just in time for the chain to hit the target.
- His ability is eventually explained as instinctually teleporting the portion of his body that intersects with an attack into an alternate dimension. Kakashi and Naruto exploit this by attacking him in both dimensions at the same time.
- Ryoko of Tenchi Muyo! has been shown to walk through barriers and walls unless they are specifically shielded to prevent her from doing this.
- Sasami even comments on this at one point in an episode with a little ghost girl, who asks if her phasing-through things disturbs Sasami at all.
- A manga series called Tokyo ESP by Hajime Segawa (who created Ga-Rei) features a protagonist, Rinka, who gains this power after a freaky incident involving otherworldly fish and arctic mammals.
- Perrier La Mer of Amuri in Star Ocean has this power (called Infiltration in the show) but cannot fully control it, so she's always passing through other people and solid objects. Her parents took advantage of this by making her the victim of dangerous stage performances like knife-throwing acts and passing giant buzz-saws through her body. None of it caused any physical harm, but she was still deeply traumatized.
- Alucard from Hellsing has this as one of his many, many powers.
- Some users of Logia Devil Fruit in One Piece can do this by transforming into their particular power's element (Ace, God Enel, Admiral Kizaru), becoming immune to most attack. The only way around this is to attack them with an element-specific weakness, or be able to use a form of Haki called the "Color of Armaments", which allows its user to bypass Devil Fruit based defenses.
- This is also a part of Perona's Devil Fruit power. The Hollow-Hollow Fruit makes Perona a "Ghost Woman", allowing her to generate and control ghosts that drain positive emotions from people. She can perform Astral Projection, leaving her physical body behind while enabling her own spirit to move freely. She can't make herself tangible without returning to her body, so while she scares Usopp with the threat of 'heart squeezing' mentioned elsewhere on this page, she can't actually do it (her negative hollows also don't work on him because he's already a pessimist).
- Evil Weapon Anubis from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders is an Egyptian sword who's blade can pass through objects to cut an object behind it, as demonstrated soon after its first appearance, when it slices a cow and a man behind it, but only cuts the man.
- The Pillar Men from part 2
- Invoked briefly at the end of episode 4 of Cowboy Bebop ("Gateway Shuffle"). A hyperspace tunnel closes on some terrorists planning to unleash The Plague. A bunch of plague missiles appear out of the closed gate and Faye screams, but the missiles pass through her. Jet patiently explains, "Matter that gets enclosed in hyperspace can be viewed normally by the naked eye. But of course, it can never interact with the matter on this plane of reality."
- Shichino in Charlotte has this ability, although it tires him out easily.
- My Hero Academia features Mirio Togata, a character with this power that more or less adresses all the Fridge Logic brought up in this page's entry. Whenever he activates his ability, he becomes unable to see, hear or breathe, being able to only sense his fall to the Earth's core (because he somehow keeps his mass). The only reasons this power is not considered outright Blessed with Suck is because a) he can turn individual body parts intangible instead of just his entire body and b) he has a specific Required Secondary Power that causes him to instantly eject back up to the surface when he deactivates his intangibility while phasing through a large mass of something (thus, averting Tele-Frag). He has also managed to manipulate this ejecting to be able to essentially move around like if he were teleporting. The only sketchy part is that he's still visible while using his ability (which shouldn't be possible due to light not hitting him), although it's unknown if that's only because of artistic choice from the author's part.
- This is Kitty Pryde's mutant ability. Her ability to not fall through the floor, while not explained well, has nothing to do with the actual, physical floor (which she can pass through if she chooses) and, as such, can be used without a floor. She often walks on air by visualizing an invisible staircase. Later works have treated it as slow flight. This tends not to show up in adaptations.
- Referenced in X-Men: Evolution when a mutant with Your Worst Nightmare power is brought into the mansion and Shadowcat keeps on seeing herself falling into the Earth's Core.
- Joss Whedon created a similar situation in Astonishing X-Men, where Cassandra Nova mindscrewed with Shadowcat and caused her to phase deep into the Earth. He also had Kitty accidentally lose control enough to phase through the floor when she and Peter Rasputin first did the deed, in an amusing display of Power Perversion Potential.
- The villain Shinobi Shaw has the same power. Being a villain, he uses the 'heart squeezing' as his trademark killing move. He also openly admits it can be used for peeping on girls (not that he needs it with his cash)
- Negative Man from the Doom Patrol can leave his body as an energy-form that can control its tangibility.
- In The DCU:
- All natives of the planet Bgztl have voluntary intangibility powers. This is the home planet of Phantom Girl, from the Legion of Super-Heroes. In the Threeboot version it's explained as Bgztl being a planet in another dimension which exists in the same space as Earth and her shifting her mass between our dimension and that one as a unique power. She's visible in both worlds (which gets awkward in the one she's not paying attention to) and is solid and can sense in only one at a time. This solves the floor problem (and causes a new one when someone has to go to the core of a planet) when you realize that she can't avoid the planet by shifting to a dimension with an identical planet in the same place.
- This is one of the powers of The Spectre. In War World Superman tries to punch him and his fist goes right through The Spectre.
- Iron Man enemy and Thunderbolts member The Ghost is an industrial terrorist who uses his own technology to become intangible, invisible, and fly at will.
- He once tricked fellow Iron Man foe Spymaster into accepting one of his intangibility devices, only to take it from him halfway through a wall, killing Spymaster instantly.
- In Dark Horse Comics' Ghost, the title character can make herself intangible (and fly, thus avoiding the floor problem). She has a particularly nasty attack where she would reach into an opponent's chest while intangible, grab his heart, and then become corporeal again. (Why her hand isn't hurt in the process is not explained.)
- The Martian Manhunter has this power, also having flight powers so he doesn't have to worry about falling through the floor.
- Marvel Comics' Doctor Strange can split into an 'ectoplasmic' self and his physical body. The former is intangible, and even could go right through the core of the planet Earth as a shortcut around the surface.
- Marvel Comics' The Vision was a flying android who could shift his molecular density, from intangible to denser-than-diamond. He made frequent use of this power to reach into other beings and dodge attacks.
- This includes phasing while someone is kicking at him... like Batman.
- The Flash can do this for about a few seconds, by "rapidly vibrating his molecules". He hasn't done this trick much since Crisis on Infinite Earths, though.
- Moonstone in Thunderbolts (later the Dark Avengers version of Ms. Marvel) can turn intangible. She has outright flight to deal with the falling-through-the-ground aspect. She doesn't use it much, already being an energy-blasting Flying Brick - in fact, she deliberately never used it while masquerading as the heroic Meteorite, on the grounds it was too distinctive a clue to her real identity.
- Hero Hotline featured Fred, the invisible, intangible man. The problem being that he can't interact with his surroundings at all. It's speculated that Fred isn't real and is just a ploy by super-ventriloquist Voice-Over to pick up two paychecks, but V/O talks to Fred when nobody else is around, so maybe not.
- The Daredevil villain Death-Stalker was trapped in a dimension partially connected to Earth's dimension, and while naturally invisible and immaterial, could become visible and intangible, invisible and tangible, or visible and tangible for a few hours at a time. He also wore gloves that used microwaves to give him a "death grip". He died when he shifted to full tangibility to grasp Daredevil with the gloves, but was halfway through a tombstone; the trauma and shock killed him instantly.
- Blue Fire, from Wham Comics, can become intangible and is covered in blue flames. It was explained that his intangibility was related to force he or another used, the gentler he touched something it could be solid, but a punch would pass through.
- The villain Hood, from Amazing Man Comics, has the powers of intangibility and teleportation. The Amazing Man himself could become intangible when he turned into the Green Mist.
- The Duke of Darkness, from Triple Threat Comics, uses this power to battle villains such as Mr. Slumber.
- Sergeant Spook, from Blue Bolt, has this power as well as invisibility.
- Guardians of the Galaxy has minor villain Brahl, who can turn intangible at will to keep from being hurt. Subverted when he's decked anyway by a hero who's also intangible.
- This is the power of the Fantastic Four villain Red Ghost.
- Supergirl: In a classic story, the titular heroine faces down a mutant super-villain who has multiple powers. The ability to become intangible is one of them.
- In Krypton No More storyline, Superman and Supergirl villain Protector can change the molecular density of his body to turn itself intangible.
Protector: Not so long as I can change the molecular density of my body, Superman! Now you can't touch me... or harm me... But I can harm you!
- New 52 introduces a new Superman villain named Anguish, a woman with this power. Anguish explains that her power comes from altering her body's density, meaning she can also increase it to the point that she's strong and fast enough to kick Superman around. She complains that her power activates automatically, which is useful against sneak-attacks, but not so great when she actually wants someone to touch her. Superman only manages to hit her once, by breaking the ground that she's standing on. In the end, Superman resorts to fixing and returning her beloved mother's locket, at which point she leaves.
- In Krypton No More storyline, Superman and Supergirl villain Protector can change the molecular density of his body to turn itself intangible.
- The Silver Surfer can do this due to his manipulation of molecules but doesn't do it often. His movie counterpart did this quite a bit, particularly in his introductory scene where he phases through buildings, cars, the Human Torch, and even his own board.
- Watchmen has Dr. Manhattan, a being who can control his own molecules as well as those around him. He typically phases through walls without bothering to open doors.
- Sublime of DV8 has control over her density — she can walk through walls or be tougher than diamonds. She mostly goes for the latter choice, being a very talented and skilled hand-to-hand fighter and all.
- Dungeon: The Early Years: Stapanelle is an herb that temporarily allows intangibility while bieng smoked.
- The popular Glee fanfic All The Other Ghosts has main character Kurt (aka The Ghost) who has this power along with invisibility. He can control his intangibility, so that he is simultaneously intangible to one object while being tangible to another, as well as control his tangibility level without becoming completely solid, which is a solution to a lot of the logistical problems. In fact, when a random girl spontaneously gets his powers temporarily, she has no control over them and immediately begins sinking into the floor, forcing The Ghost to use his powers to fish her out of it. He can also make someone else intangible while touching them, something he uses often when handcuffing criminals and putting their handcuffs into the wall so they can't escape. He can also jump out of helicopters, fall right through the ground, use the ground to slow down, and then climb his way out of the cement. Really, he makes good use of his skill. And when he uses his intangibility and his invisibility at the same time? Creepy as hell. His name suits it.
- Shows up in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfics sometimes:
- In Whip And Wing, a supporting character, a unicorn named Silver Trowel, has an enchanted necklace that allows the wearer to pass through walls and avoid injury. It helps save himself and Indiana Jones from a few tight spots. Much more problematic when Trowel pulls a Face–Heel Turn, and Indiana can't catch him. Indy finally kills him by grabbing the necklace, pushing Trowel into a wall, and removing it. This forces Trowel to materialize with his upper body inside the stone, and he suffocates to death.
- Now-teenage Pumpkin Cake can cast intangibility spells in Brother Against Sister, as she did in the episode "Baby Cakes." She mostly uses it for shielding against attacks, or when she and Pound Cake want to get into restricted areas. Later, she finds more uses for the spell, including as a weapon and even a painkiller on one occasion.
- Quizzical: Sweetie Belle's "I Want To Walk Through This Wall" spell makes patches of walls intangible, and if something is inside the intangible portion when the spell is ended, it is cut, as see when Bon Bon "lost the tip of her tail".
- In Wonderful, this is one of the powers of Sophia "Shadow Stalker". In addition, Taylor can use her power to turn everyone wearing her especial Masks intangible.
- The monster in 4DMan was a scientist who acquired this ability. Using this power consumed his life force at an accelerated rate and he had to replenish it by phasing through other living human beings.
- The movie Ghost goes out of its way to show how much effort it takes newly dead Patrick Swayze to move a penny, but he never has the floor problem, nor does he have a problem riding in elevators.
- This and Ghost Dad can mostly handwave the floor problem away because they are actually ghosts, and presumably susceptible to different physics/laws. Or whatever...
- The Bill Cosby movie Ghost Dad has Bill as a ghost who can only interact with the real world if he "concentrates". This results in a scene where his concentration lasts enough for him to pour himself a drink, but when he tries drinking it it goes right though.
- The Twins in The Matrix Reloaded can turn this on and off at will, and use it selectively in fights to dodge attacks. It has the added bonus of healing wounds - several gunshots to the arm can be undone simply by turning intangible and then reverting. Morpheus blowing up their car with them inside it had more of an effect, although whether they survived is left ambiguous.
- In Labyrinth, Jareth phases through Sarah during "Within You".
- In the X-Men films, Kitty Pryde's mutation allows her to do this.
- In Alterien, Oberon discovers he can phase through matter by touching it. Alteriens do not become intangible. They vibrate the molecules of whatever object they come in physical contact with. In the case of a wall, the wall's molecules would vibrate to the point of becoming intangible. The effect is temporary, ending as soon as they pass through. This ability does not work on iron.
- All spirits and the Aash Ra of Astral Dawn can naturally move through 3-dimensional matter. They can remain geosynchronous with a planet while in an intagible state. This is possible through their higher dimensional states, which are not subject to 3-dimensional physics. For them, walking through walls, other objects and people is as simple as a 3D person or animal walking over a 2-dimensional surface.
- Ghosts in Shaman of the Undead are intangible and can levitate, although "moving Earth" problem is not mentioned. Biter is also intangible when he's personifying Ida's dreams.
- In the Night Watch universe, descending through enough layers of Twilight will turn the Other intangible. The "falling through the floor" problem, however, is not ignored at all - in fact, the very trick is used to climb a tower through the floors in the third book.
- In the Wild Cards universe, Modular Man turns intangible by shifting his mass partly out of this dimension. He also defies gravity by the same method. Both powers are lost when his inventor turns Joker and Mod Man can no longer be repaired.
- The Astronomer also had this as one of his powers. It backfired when he tried to use another one of his powers, a mental shield, to protect from another character's literal Death Glare... and since he could only use one power at a time, and was halfway through a wall...
- Wraith is another character with intangibility who decides to make a living as a Classy Cat-Burglar. However, as she's got maybe a ten pound limit to objects she can carry while phased, she performs her heists in a mask and bikini and focuses on paper goods (such as high-currency bills, bonds, etc.).
- Mackie Messer, aka "Mack the Knife," could vibrate himself at such frequencies as to walk through walls. He didn't seem to have problems with floors.
- In Chris Wooding's novel Storm Thief, there are creatures called revenants, that are totally intangible, and if they touch you you die. They are also invisible, and there are basically only three ways to kill them. The first is to use a specialized weapon called an Aether Cannon, the second is to have a unique golem touch them, and absorb them into himself, and the third involves total destruction of the Chaos Engine, an ancient artifact, and a massive one at that that is next to impossible to destroy.
- This condition was inflicted on an unwitting thief by a cursed amulet in a short story from Tales of Ravenloft. Floors weren't a problem, but eventually the poor guy became so intangible that he completely faded out of the world.
- In The Skinjacker Trilogy by Neal Shusterman, the Afterlights (ghosts) are like this. They can only stand on ground that has "moved on". The requirement to move on is being loved and cherished by many people. If they stand on 'living' ground too long, they will sink into the center of the earth.
- There's a German SF short story out there in which a scientist invents a machine that can turn people intangible for a time and gets blackmailed by a thief who wants to help himself to that power. The thief hasn't thought things through, though, and so when the scientist does grant his wish, he promptly falls through the ground (and presumably his death once the effect wears off again), a fate the scientist only averted during an earlier self-test by keeping his own feet unchanged and solid. In the end he decides that his device is actually rather useless, save possibly as a novel method of execution.
- In Leven Thumps, this is one of the twelve gifts you can receive when you arrive in Foo.
- Death is more than capable of walking through walls. Rather than becoming intangible, he's simply so real that the rest of the universe may as well be made of cobwebs. His granddaughter Susan can do this as well, describing it as walking in the moments when the obstacles don't exist. She doesn't like using it, since she wants to have a normal existence, but it's rather useful, and off putting when she can't use it.
- Ghosts are generally intangible. Or almost so. The mechanics of this are discussed in Wyrd Sisters, where the ghost of the old king observes that of course you have to be able to touch yourself or you'd fall apart, and is able to exert physical force on things with practice and great effort. You can tell that a gag in the Animated Adaptation is a later addition because it features a headless ghost's head being accidentally carried away from its body on a tray, and that just makes no sense after what's been said in the book.
- In Hard Magic, Fades are Magicals with the power of intangibility.
- Dutilleul in Marcel Aymé's Le Passe-Muraille, though this seems limited to walls apparently.
- Klaus from The Milkweed Triptych.
- The Saga of the Noble Dead has the undead wraith Sau'ilahk. He is a powerful sorcerer and can turn solid for brief periods to move physical objects, but is most dangerous in his intangible state: any living thing that passes through him is rapidly drained of life.
- One of the characters in Orson Scott Card's Pathfinder novel can do this. Although it's not really phasing, it is actually a limited form of Time Travel. The character continuously jumps forward in time by seconds/microseconds. And it is painful, and potentially even deadly to actually phase through people/objects.
- In the short story "What Doctor Gottlieb Saw" by Ian Tregillis a Stupid Jetpack Hitler experiment gone wrong causes the subject to fall into the centre of the Earth. His successor in Bitter Seeds has learned to focus his powers to prevent this happening, but he can still only remain intangible as long as his breath of air lasts.
- The spirit haunting a space station in Galaxy of Fear: Ghost of the Jedi glides about and passes right through walls and any other solid object, though he can affect Tash. He feels helpless and like a failure, but makes a decent Spirit Advisor to her.
- In Dennis Wheatley's classic horror story The Ka Of Gifford Hilary, title character Sir Gifford is reduced to total intangibility by a different mechanism where normal physical rules do not apply: the occult. Presumed dead, he is still very much alive and conscious - but his soul has been separated from his body, so he is doomed to walk the world as a living ghost, able to see and hear but not to make contact, except with animals and psychics.
- In The Zombie Knight, reapers get the true, sucky version of intangibility. They can see, fly and keep pace with the Earth, but they can't touch anything or even talk to living people unless they take a human servant.
- Jaspike in Almost Night can phase through objects and people since he is half ghost. He kills several people by phasing through their head and becoming solid again.
- Relg the Ulgo in David Eddings' The Belgariad has this as a special ability, and he uses this to rescue Silk (to the claustrophobe's horror). Any sorcerer also has this as a potential ability, and Belgarath uses this to finish his duel with Zedar the Apostate: phasing them both into solid rock, going deep underground, then letting him go, stuck there while he returned. He specifically noted this to be a Fate Worse Than Death for the following reasons: (1) The victim was himself a sorcerer (thus gifted with eternal life) so couldn't die of natural causes, (2) No other sorcerer could match the particular signature of Belgarath's sorcery so couldn't match the spell to pull him out, and (3) Belgarath himself did this to make him pay for several millennia of evil so felt no inclination to undo it himself.
- In the Boojumverse, certain eldritch creatures such as Cheshires and Bandersnatches are capable of shifting out of phase with this dimension, becoming invisible and intangible to physical beings.
Live Action TV
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: In "The Next Phase", Geordi and Ro Laren were thus afflicted by an experimental Romulan cloaking device which also served as a "phasing device". It made them invisible (but not to each other) and intangible, making them think they had died and were ghosts. The trope is played straight in a number of ways. Geordi and Ro could walk on floors, ride the turbolifts, and of course the Enterprise itself. They could see, hear, and breathe. Trope slightly averted for dramatic purposes in that they couldn't eat or drink, setting a limit on how long they could survive in that state. A Romulan enemy in the same situation was similarly unaffected by the floor, but flew out the walls when pushed. He also sat in a chair, which rocked slightly when he stood (though it is possible that this chair was phased as well). Communicators didn't work, but Geordi's visor and the Romulan's disruptor did. Eventually, they learn by overhearing Data that the matter they pass through leaves a signature, and when Geordi's hand is hit with the beam Data is using to clean the radiation, it becomes slightly "less" substantial: he feels resistance now. Geordi realizes Data's technique can undo the process, so Ro eventually overloads the disruptor, causing a massive burst of the signature. Data orders the room flooded with the radiation, and everyone is stunned to see Geordi and Ro literally rematerialize before their eyes.
- Later it is revealed that the UFP also experimented with such a interphasic cloaking with a ship called the Pegasus (the episode's title). It can render an entire ship both invisible and intangible. but a treaty forbade it and the system was Gone Horribly Wrong. It is heavily implied that transphasic torpedoes work this way to get past defenses.
- The Doctor (not that one) from Star Trek: Voyager can have such effect as he is actually a Projected Man. His predecessors were Professor James Moriarty - a holonovel character who accidentally gained sentience - and the Vegas casino emcee Vic Fontaine, who was created to be so interactive that he surely seemed fully sentient, and was aware of his nature. (Of course, in Star Trek, it seems any hologram will become sentient if left on long enough, given a misworded command, etc. to the point that you gotta wonder why they're still using the things; ethical considerations and the fact that freaking Moriarty will take over your ship makes the fact that holodecks are still a thing most illogical, as a certain oldschool science officer would put it.) But Voyager does explore some of the more moral aspects of a highly-developed holographic intelligence such as the ship's Doctor.
- Stargate SG-1:
- They did this at least three times: A race of highly advanced humans had developed this technology; Daniel was once thus afflicted by a mysterious alien crystal skull; and Carter and Mitchell were placed in an intangible state by a security device belonging to Merlin (secretly an advanced alien).
- The Carter/Mitchell version led to an amusing moment when, after another character walks through both of them, they start poking each other to determine that they are, in fact, tangible to each other.
- They also hung a lampshade on it, when an actress in the Show Within a Show about the Stargate asked why they didn't fall through the floor, and no one had an answer.
- In fact, this gets used so much that SG-1 gets Wrong Genre Savvy about it. In The Road Not Taken, Carter is running experiments on the device that put her and Mitchell out of phase previously. She is transported to an alternate universe and it takes about two weeks for her to figure out how to get back. Meanwhile, her teammates assume the device malfunctioned and she's stuck out of phase so they take turns "keeping her company", ie, talking to an empty room. Meanwhile, in that universe, she uses a similar device, powered by the entirety of the US power grid, to phase the whole planet, protecting it from orbital bombardment.
- There was an episode where Carter, trapped in an Asgard research facility, used the holographic comm system to help O'Neill and Teal'c rescue Thor from a Ha'Tak in orbit. Since the Asgard lack Hard Light technology she was able to distract guards and scout ahead, but proved less useful when they needed someone to rewire doors.
- They did this at least three times: A race of highly advanced humans had developed this technology; Daniel was once thus afflicted by a mysterious alien crystal skull; and Carter and Mitchell were placed in an intangible state by a security device belonging to Merlin (secretly an advanced alien).
- Afflicted Spike after he was brought Back from the Dead. He, however, was a ghost or some other sort of psychic projection, and didn't have to worry about falling through the floor because he was essentially imagining himself wherever he liked.
- Sahjhan from Season 3. For most of his appearances, anyway.
- The Fang Gang are fighting a Monster of the Week with this skill. Fortunately he has to make himself tangible to inflict damage on them, so when they do they cut his head off.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- "Halloween" — Willow the Friendly Ghost, with the same lack of floor issues. This may be because the tv/movie ghosts that form the popular conception usually don't have such issues. Since that was what she was thinking of when picking her costume and the costumes turned you into what you intended them to be, she didn't have those issues either.
- The First Evil, whatever it manifests as. It's a plot point in the middle of the last season that Giles may be the First because he doesn't actually manipulate anything. It eventually lets slip that its real motivation is to assemble a flesh-and-blood body of its own.
- One episode of The X-Files had an escaped convict who had this as a power, as well as the ability to reduce anything he passed through to ash. It's demonstrated with some Technobabble that it's electricity-based and doesn't work against insulating materials, and he's eventually done in when he tries to phase through a speeding car and gets fatally smacked by the glass windshield.
- D. L. Hawkins, from Heroes, has this as his special power. He can use it selectively, allowing him to touch one object while phasing through another, thus providing a handy rationale for the "floor problem". He can also use it in a lethal fashion, such as when he literally rips Linderman's brains out.
- In the short-lived B Sci-Fi show Cleopatra 2525, the 'falling through the floor' problem was averted; the Big Bad revealed it had taken years of research to solve. On the other hand, Hel's father is somehow able to do it without the device and also doesn't have the floor problem.
- Rimmer the hologram on Red Dwarf, until he gets a Hard Light upgrade in season 6.
- Harlan Band of Space Cases had this problem in one episode.
- Subverted in a first season episode of The Mighty Boosh. After Howard is killed (temporarily) he returns to visit Vince as a ghost. Vince is impressed and moves his hand to bash into Howard's chest:
Howard: What are you doing?Vince: I thought like, I would pass right through youHoward: No, I told you, we spent all the budget for effects on your hair.Vince: (turning to look at camera) It is looking good.
- Lampshaded in Blood Ties, where a ghost complains to the main character (and only person that can see him) that how come he can't touch stuff, but he can still sit on a couch.
- Mutant X had Jesse. Unlike most examples of this trope, he could also reverse the process to the point where he was Made of Diamond. He later learns how to make other objects (or parts of them) intangible. This becomes incredibly useful to getting his teammates into locked areas.
- This was Jack's unmorphed ability in Power Rangers S.P.D..
- Many gods in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess will be some combination of invisible to almost everyone and intangible when they appear.
- The mentally-projected hologram of Al on Quantum Leap appeared to have this power, but he wasn't really "there." He was able to give the impression of intangibility to a man who was able to see him in the episode A Little Miracle.
- A natural ability of Dessarians in Tracker was the ability to phase and walk through solid objects.
- The Eureka episode Phased and Confused had this as the intersection of its A and B plots. The mysteriously solid floors became very noticeable when a phased character noisily runs down a short staircase, immediately after not being able to touch things was an obstacle.
- Happens in an episode of The Flash (1990), where a drug dealer forces Barry to inhale a new designer drug. Unlike a normal person, Barry's molecules start vibrating extremely fast, and he ends up walking through a brick wall (but not falling through the floor).
- This also shows up in The Flash (2014). It's something Barry has to learn and doesn't use it much (at first). The Reverse-Flash, however, uses it a lot, including using it to erase hard drives and kill people rather horrifically, then dispose of their bodies. Again, falling through the floor is never even brought up. Ditto Zoom, who really likes killing people by punching through their chests with a vibrating fist. He also saves Caitlin from Killer Frost by running through her. Later on, Barry gets the hang of it and is able to even use it to surprise the Reverse-Flash. Kid Flash takes a while to learn this trick, but finally manages to pull it off in order to neutralize the powers of a metahuman with the Touch of Death. The same episode also has Barry phase an entire train full of people through a barrier. And yes, the train stays on the rails.
- Marillion The Invisible Man. Despite the title, the lyric describes an intangible man.
I will walk stride for stride with youI will try to helpWhen you stumbleYou will stumble through me.
- The The Moody Blues' Epic Rocking anthem Legend Of A Mind is about another way of becoming intangible: dedicated to sixties' drugs guru Dr Timothy Leary, a theme of the song is Astral Projection brought about by (un)wise ingestion of psychotropic pharmaceuticals
- From the BIONICLE universe:
- Tuyet, a Toa of Water, wore a Mask of Intangibility.
- One of the powers potentially available for a Rahkshi (their creators, the Makuta have it by default) is Density Control. This can be used not only for phasing through walls and attacks, but for floating into the air and then dropping with the force of a meteor. Makuta Krika frequently made use of this power after a mutation caused him to lose most of his other abilities. It also lead to his death. When forced out of control, his power turned him so intangible that he simply ceased to exist.
- Wearers of the Kakama Nuva, the enhanced version of the Mask of Speed, can pass through objects and people by vibrating their own molecules very fast.
- SCP Foundation
- SCP-1111 ("The White Dog"). SCP-1111-1 (the title dog) is incorporeal, which is why it is Immune to Bullets.
- SCP-2332 ("Thought Messenger"). Because SCP-2332 is made of light, it can pass through solid objects as long as they're made of a substance permeable to light (i.e. not opaque) such as glass and Plexiglas.
- Subverted in America's Most Haunted; an animated clip shows a ghost getting punched in the fact, causing its teeth to fall out.
- In Mortasheen, the Xenogog has this power, though it can solidify the tips of its needlelike arms to perform "a surgically perfect lobotomy with a single touch"
- In the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering, there are entire races of intangible people (the Dauthi, Soltari, and Thalakos). Their homeplane got caught between Dominaria and Rath and ripped to shreds, leaving the inhabitants as Intangible Men who can pop in and out of reality at will.
- Necron Wraiths do this at will in Warhammer 40,000. The same technology may play a role in the effectiveness of Necron melee weapons against power armor.
- As do the C'tan, the masters of the Necrons.
- In Deadlands: Reloaded, Harrowed get intangibility as an Edge; a power they can turn on and off at will.
- This has its roots in the Classic system, where Ghost (becoming intangible at will) was one of the possible Harrowed powers.
- Dungeons & Dragons has the "incorporeal" subtype, which cleared up a LOT of confusion about intangible beings such as ghosts or 2E Wraithform spellcasters when 3E introduced it to the game.
- 4th Edition splits this in two, with the Insubstantial resistance ability (half damage from all attacks) and Phasing movement ability (the ability to move through solid objects and difficult terrain without penalty, though you still have to occupy an open square when your movement is finished). Some creatures can be Insubstantial without having Phasing and vice versa, though most creatures with one also have the other.
- The "Insubstantial" advantage in GURPS
- Also the Desolidification power in the Hero System. Which works a bit asymmetrically — characters with it can't affect the physical world at all while it's in use unless they buy their relevant powers (such as strength) with a rather expensive advantage, but need to define some reasonably common way(s) in which the physical world can still affect them. They also can walk on solid ground with no problems, but don't automatically get to fly unless they buy that power separately, and may in fact fall through the floor if they don't stop themselves at the price of taking the usual damage from the 'impact'.
- The fourth level of the Insubstantial power in 2E and 3E Mutants & Masterminds grants this power and handwaves the breathing and being able to stand on the floor, although you still face a breathing problem when within solid objects. It's also required that some reasonably common material or effect counters your insubstantiality for game balance purposes. The Permeate movement power is more limited and can only be consciously used to move through barriers.
- All player characters in Anathema can become intangible whenever they want, instantly and at no cost.
- Arduin RPG, The Compleat Arduin Book 2: Resources. The Greater Demon Boak Chaos Hoof can pass through solid objects like a ghost, even while carrying a rider.
- Chaosium's supplement All the Worlds' Monsters Volume III. The Dread is an intangible undead falcon that can fly through solid objects.
- Akuma's float-on-one-knee trick from Street Fighter also turns him intangible so he can zoom around untouchable. If you ever see him doing this trick while tangible though, hit him or get out of the way because you're a second away from the Raging Demon attack.
- Bow's "Out of Sight" ability in Paper Mario turns the player intangible and invisible, but you can't move while using it.
- Boos can turn intangible in Super Mario 64. Mario can do this himself with the Vanish Cap. (Should have been called Intangible Cap.)
- Suika Ibuki has the ability to manipulate her own density at will. An ability she puts to good use as the boss of the franchise's first fighting game. During which, you cannot see either of your life bars. Yep.
- Reimu Hakurei has the ability to float, which seems rather redundant since everyone in Gensokyo can fly. However, it turns out that this ability includes the ability to float away from reality itself, where she becomes completely impossible to touch, making her nothing short of invincible. If it wasn't just for play (with time limit), no one could beat her with any method.
- Final Fantasy VI famously has Intangirs, a kind of untouchable bonus mook, in addition to regular intangibility spells.
- The DS-exclusive Violet Wisp from Sonic Colors turns Sonic into an intangible hedgehog, able to pass through walls.
- Lusternia has Zenos, a particularly creepy example: basically, he's an omnivorous sentient fog. Tales abound of him enveloping whole forests and cities, devouring the inhabitants and leaving only charred wasteland in his wake.
- In Dragon Age II, Fenris has the ability to become partly intangible as a result of having his body forcibly laced with lyrium. Exactly how intangible he can become is unclear; in gameplay terms, his "Lyrium Ghost" mode makes him more resistant (but not immune) to damage, and aside from that he mostly uses the ability to crush people's hearts in their chests.
- Tales of Monkey Island: Subverted at first in Chapter 5, when Guybrush can still touch and pick up the items as a Ghost Pirate in the Crossroads of the afterlife; but when he returns to the living world, it becomes Double Subverted when he tries touching the Cursed Cutlass of Kaflu, only to find that he can't touch it (or any other item) or even pick it up while in the living world (he needs to get back in his own body in order to do that).
- Devil May Cry 3 has The Fallen, angels with the faces of demons who fly through walls, floors and ceilings as easily as they do empty air.
- Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis has Pamela Ibis, a friendly ghost who makes regular use of this in cutscenes. In gameplay, this is also the source of her Physical Immunity skill and her Bear Shift defensive support.
- A very hard to get upgrade of Cloaking in Sword of the Stars, for thirty seconds ships with the module cannot be hit or fire on enemies, but they are visible.
- The "IDSPISPOPD" cheat code allows the player to walk through walls in Doom. Usually, it's handy for getting through the level quicker, but on one occasion in Doom II, there is a special area that can only be accessed with the cheat code.
- The "Become Ethereal" Shout from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim ostensibly gives the player this ability for a period of time. For programming reasons, or else to avoid the endless array of glitches and exploits that would result from letting the player turn intangible, it actually just makes you immune to damage for a bit (or until you cast a spell/use a weapon). It's still quite useful both in combat and for jumping off mountains to get around faster.
- The Void Walker from Nexus Clash has the power to seep through corners in walls and appear in nearby buildings, quite possible appearing in your closet or under your bed.
- Crush Crush: As a hologram, Alpha's intangible, and makes a lot of comments about it, such as in this Friendzoned Chat:
Alpha: So... What does a solid person do for fun? I'm a hologram, so I can't hit a volleyball or eat a falafel.
- Ulkurz from Earthsong
- Geist from the webcomic Heist is a rare case of simultaneous Intangibility and Invisibility. While he doesn't have to worry about falling through floors, there is a two-minute time limit and he can't phase individual body parts.
- One of the standard abilities for Siracs (psionic raccoons) in The Cyantian Chronicles.
- Kira of Breakpoint City has this ability.
- Along with Invisibility, this is one of the main abilities of a fully-realized Void hero in Homestuck. Roxy, the only Void hero known to earn these powers, can currently only use them with the help of the Black Queen's ring, but it's implied that any God Tier Void hero can use them at will.
- Collin of White Dark Life can do not only this, but can invert this trope to walk on intangible objects after the timeskip. Of course, he can turn off his intangibility at will to strike through defences and, say, punch a man in the heart.
- In the The Legion of Nothing Ghost has this power along with Flight and invisiblity.
- In the Whateley Universe Phase (Ayla Goodkind) has the ability to become a number of variants of intangible, most notably fully intangible, nearly-intangible, or super-dense, so he's Nigh Invulnerable. This is supposed to be an extra-dimensional density-changing ability (though according to the school testing wonks, it's not, but the ensuing scientific babble is hard to understand). While intangible (or close to it), he can fly, and at his most dense, he is almost impervious to damage. But when he first manifested as a mutant and got his powers, he couldn't control them and had trouble NOT sinking through the floor, or going super-dense and smashing his bathroom to shards. Or, for that matter, not going intangible and leaving parts of his clothing behind.
How are we going to get those twenty foot sections through a door that’s only six feet wide?”“We’ll get Wraith to make them intangible and just bring them in through the wall,” he snapped.“You trust Wraith to not mess this up?”
- He also has a fun/hilarious Required Secondary Power: if he becomes solid while phased through something, the other object disappears. Forever. This results in lasting Clothing Damage (and, y'know, other damage) if he phases in and out quickly, but turns a scary situation into lots of awesome when he has an I-beam stuck through his chest as part of his Test To Destruction experimentation by his family's anti-mutant science labs.
- While intangibility in general is a fairly uncommon power in this setting, Phase has a form that is particularly rare: the only one other mutant is known to the same variant is Tinsnip, one of the deadliest assassins in the world. This has not helped Ayla's self-loathing at being a mutant or fear of becoming a danger to others at all.
- There is the Wraith, who has the power to make things intangible, as said here:
- Fine Structure has Mitchell Calrus, "The Four-Dimensional Man", who is able to turn intangible at will.
- Mitch is notably not able to breathe while phased and makes use of scuba equipment.
- The Wraith is a mercenary thief from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe. He specializes in getting into places that others cannot get into by way of this power.
- A-GENT 66 can become Intangible at will and pass through various materials. Except lead, for a yet unexplained reason.
- In Worm, Shadow Stalker's shadow form can pass through ordinary obstacles.
- The mercenary villain Watch has, among other powers, the ability to make his hands intangible — and partially unphase them inside people to do damage.
- A dark power in Phaeton, intangibility allows for full transvection when partially inside something, preventing the user from passing through the ground but means that if they don't see something coming it will not pass through them, alternatively it is achieved through tiny short range wormhole generation.
- Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: Voluntary intangibility is an inherent ability of the Tangean people, including ranger Mira Nova. It's more often used to walk through walls and even phase through floors (in-universe it's called "ghosting"), but on a handful of occasions, it's been shown to allow projectiles to pass right through Mira without harming her. On one occasion, she ghosts into Buzz's body. Ew.
- Mind-reading is another, lesser-used, Tangean ability, in which Mira ghosts her hand into the subject's head.
- Batman Beyond: An unscrupulous reporter stole a device that gave him this power so he could spy on anyone he pleased and make a fortune as a celebrity gossip columnist. In the end, he subverted the trend and did suffer the Karmic Death (he not only stole the device, but killed the inventor with a fire he set to cover his tracks) of becoming permanently intangible and falling first through each individual floor of the building he's in, then falling through the basement into the ground, and then, presumably, the Earth's crust all the way to the core. Depending on whether or not heat/gravity has any effect on him, and how long he can survive in an intangible state, it may be a horrific And I Must Scream ending of the kind Beyond loved to spring on the audience.
- Since the intangibility is simply an effect granted by a full-body suit, it's likely that at most he has only three days before he starves/dehydrates to death in the suit, assuming its internal air supply (which you would expect it to have, solving the "how do you breathe" issue) lasts that long.
- The lead character of Danny Phantom has this as part of his ghost powers, as well as flight (solving some problems) and invisibility (introducing new ones).
- Ghostfreak in Ben 10. At one point, someone manages to turn the intangibility off, leaving Ghostfreak stuck in solid form temporarily.
- As well as Big Chill from Ben 10: Alien Force.
- The Venture Bros. has the villain the Intangible Fancy, whose henchmen are all equally intangible.
- In Teen Titans, this is just one of Raven's superpowers.
- Kid Flash is also able to turn intangible by vibrating rapidly, as he does to escape containment by the Hive Five.
- Xiaolin Showdown: SERPENT'S TAIL!! It even becomes a plot point when Wuya combines its effects with the Reversing Mirror to become tangible again. Why this actually brought her back to life instead of just making her a solid ghost is left entirely unexplained, though. The Serpent's Tail later becomes Chase Young's weapon of choice.
- In Legion of Super-Heroes: Phantom Girl has this ability, as apparently does the rest of her planet.
- In Transformers Prime, the Phase Shifter grants its user intangibility. As a nod to Required Secondary Powers, it is explicitly stated to work intuitively, so you don't end up phasing through the floor by accident.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Baby Cakes", Pinkie Pie traps Pumpkin Cake under a wastebasket, but because Pumpkin's magic had just blossomed, she crawls right through it.
- The Phineas and Ferb episode "Just Passing Through" has the boys invent an orb that scrambles the molecules of them and their friends so they can pass through physical objects. Said episode also has a song by the same name.
- Minor character Gypsy from Justice League Unlimited can phase through solid objects. This is drastically different from her comic counterpart, who could turn invisible and cast illusions.
- M.A.S.K. agent Buddie Hawks gains this ability when he uses his Penetrator mask.
- Neutrinos act very much like this, as they can (and do) pass through people, buildings, and even entire planets without interacting with anything in their path. It takes a very sensitive detector in large tanks of very pure water deep underground to detect their presence, and even then the massive burst of neutrinos from a supernova yielded only about 6 confirmed interactions.