"I do not have puppet cancer!"Periodically, perhaps in a program, a perplexing and perhaps preposterous plot passes. A person - powerful protagonist or pitiless profligate - perchance permutes into a precious and precocious puppet. Please prevent picking on their peculiarities or partaking in putting your paw up their posterior, per their penchant for punishing poor pillocks with pugnacity and punches. A possible Pernicious Polymorph. Please parallel with Pestiferous Pieces of Plywood. Or perhaps People Puppets. Translation of Alliteration Here
— Puppet Angel, Angel
Precedents of this paradigm:
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Anime and Manga
- Happens to Akane in Ranma ˝, both in the OVA "Ranma, Look at Me" and in the ending of the Manga.
- Happens in the second Vampire Princess Miyu OAV, where the Shinma Miyu has to fight is an Uncanny Valley Girl who transforms the students of a prestigious Kyoto private school into mannequins. And falls in love with one of them, so to prevent the Star-Crossed Lovers situation, she turns him into a Shinma. At the guy's request, because he falls for her as well even after finding out who she truly is.
- Sabrina from Pokémon used her psychic powers to transform people into dolls while suffering from Literal Split Personality.
- Anya of Karin is fond of taking people's souls and sticking them into dolls. Near the end of the manga she binds her grandfather's soul so that they can figure out what the hell is going on.
- In Melody of Oblivion this is one of the various things that happen to normal people that see a monster. The other examples are turning into statues or ape-men. Each particular monster seems to have a particular effect.
- Puppet masters in Naruto can do this.
- Drocell Caines of Black Butler had this as his M.O.
- The Flash #133, a classic Silver Age Flash story where Abra Kadabra turns the Flash into a marionette.
- In "Strung Along" in The Vault of Horror #33 a dying puppeteer's marionettes come to life and turn his greedy wife into a puppet in a more gruesome and literal manner than most stories of this variety.
- The film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy had a moment where the Infinite Improbability Drive turned the characters into yarn puppets, due to the ship being a giant ball of yarn (complete with knitting needles). Arthur vomits yarn just as normality is reached, and his normal self is shown pulling yarn out of his mouth.
- The plot behind Curse of the Puppet Master. They managed to do it in the end.
- In Dead Silence, Mary Shaw's final wish was to have her own corpse turned into a ventriloquist doll. Also, while she was alive, she killed a young boy, Michael Ashen, and turned him into a puppet. Later, in the film's Twist Ending, it is revealed that Edward Ashen has been Dead All Along and also became part of Shaw's doll collection, and the very end of the film shows that Jamie, Lisa, Henry and Lipton are now part of her collection.
- The antagonistic father in the 1987 film Dolls gets transformed into a Mr Punch puppet near the end of the film after he destroys the good Mr Punch doll that was protecting his daughter.
- Double Subverted in Shrek 2 where Pinocchio is actually turned into a human boy by the evil Fairy Godmother while the other fairytale characters are trying to play Keep Away with her wand. Pinocchio starts to appreciate his new human form, only to be turned back into a puppet by accident.
- The Big Bad of Tourist Trap has the power of turning his victims into mannequins that he can control.
- More of a symbolic example than a literal one, but the film adaptation of The Wall has Pink's Sadist Teacher being portrayed as a scrawny marionette controlled by a monstrous and hideous-looking woman, meant to represent the teacher's wife. In a particularly fascinating piece of symbolism, there's a scene in the film wherein the teacher's wife is shown beating the puppet version of the teacher with a cane, and the teacher himself is beating a doll (meant to represent young!Pink) with a smaller cane.
- Played for horror in Night of The Living Dummy. This happens to Slappy's victims.
- In the Thomas Ligotti story "Dr. Voke and Mr. Veech", Dr. Voke looks to his friend Mr. Veech for revenge on his unfaithful wife and best friend, although he doesn't know the details. When he brings them to the location Veech has specified, he sees them dangling from strings and turning to wood.
Live Action TV
- The above quote comes from "Smile Time," an episode of Angel where the titular character is turned into a puppet. Within the episode, he fights other, demonic puppets. It also contains the line "You're a wee little puppet man!" from Spike. May or may not be a hint that he's being turned into a metaphorical puppet.
Angel: I'm made of felt...and by dose comes off!
- Spike later gets the same treatment in the comic Spike: Shadow Puppets when he travels to Japan where Smile Time is still popular.
- In the 30 Rock episode "Apollo, Apollo", it is revealed that Kenneth sees everyone as singing puppets. Authentic Whatnot Muppets, no less. And Liz Lemon really walks like one.
- One of the Sci Fi episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 sends the Satellite of Love through a wormhole that temporarily replaces Mike with an Alternate Universe robot/puppet Mike.
- At the end of The Middleman episode "The Vampiric Puppet Lamentation," both the Middleman and Lacey are (briefly) turned into puppets.
- The Stargate SG-1 episode "200" features a five-minute Imagine Spot mash-up of the series pilot and the original Stargate movie, as cast with marionettes.
- One episode of Home Improvement had a Dream Sequence where the cast become Rankin/Bass Productions-style stop-motion puppets. Hilarity Ensues. Especially since Tim ends up Losing His Head.
- One of the characters in the horror novel (and computer game) The 7th Guest succumbs to a rather nasty version, being gradually and permanently transformed into an inanimate marionette. It's not clear whether or not she's still conscious afterwards.
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker has Ganondorf pull this trick on himself as a One-Winged Angel gambit.
- Well, sort of. He seems to be actually playing the puppetmaster, from above, with a little help from some magic. (Note the strings on all three forms of the boss.)
- The villain in Rite of Passage: The Perfect Show used a magic mirror to turn several kidnapped children into puppets.
- During one magician's duel in The Wotch, a character gets turned into a marionette.
- Childlike and sociopathic Ilharess Kharla'ggen from Drowtales has a hobby of turning people that take her fancy into dolls. Though she has demonstrated an ability to do this entirely by magic, her favourite method is to physically cut out the bones from her victims' arms and legs, pull out their eyes and tongue, decorate them cutely, and leave them like that. Being elves, they can theoretically live indefinitely as long as they are fed, making this example of the trope seriously creepy.
- A prominent character in The Forgotten Order, has been cursed into a form of a doll that must do the bidding of witches and wizards.
- Jackie Chan Adventures has a couple episodes involving the Monkey King, an evil magical puppet who comes to life when someone pulls the puppet's leg, turning the one who was pulling his leg into a puppet themselves. When this happens to Jackie, he's revived using the Rat Talisman—but he's still a puppet. That trait ends up saving him more than once in that episode; to quote Jade, "Let's hear it for detachable parts."
- Chowder has vignettes during its credits with the characters as puppets.
- An episode of Teen Titans had the Villain of the Week The Puppet King who cast a spell to switch the souls of the heroes into their useless puppet counterparts. Raven and Starfire both escape, but they end up in each other's bodies instead and have to learn how to use the other's powers in order to rescue their friends.
- Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night (by Filmation) and Pinocchio In Outer Space are both positioned as sequels to Disney's adaptation of Carlo Collodi's The Adventures of Pinocchio. At some point in both films, the real boy turns back into a puppet due to failure to maintain the diligence expected of a real boy.
- In the Fanboy and Chum Chum episode "Strings Attached", Fanboy is turned into a wooden puppet as punishment for his bad behavior. However, he ends up liking it so much that he tries to make the change permanent by doing a good deed.
- Cosmo, Wanda, Timmy, and Vicky in Channel Chasers when they hop into a parody of Sesame Street. Actually, they were accompanied by Timmy from the dystopian future. Cosmo even express how he feels about that sudden change.
Cosmo: I've never felt more alive. Get it? Felt?
- Courage the Cowardly Dog: In "The Great Fusilli", the titular villain turns his victims, including Eustace and Muriel into marionettes, and gets defeated when he turns into one himself by Courage. Disturbingly, Eustace and Muriel don't change back at the end, and Courage controls them to live like they usually do.