Human nature is a strange, fickle thing. One man's virtues are another's "[[SevenDeadlySins deadly sins]]". It should come as no surprise that The {{Schemer}} or another morally domineering character would take it upon themselves to "improve" the lot of their fellow man by giving them a PygmalionPlot makeover.

Rarely is this effort altruistic; even rarer is the cognizance (much less consent) of the Galatea. If the effort is made for greed, fueling a plot, or out-and-out hubris, the results will never be good... for the Pygmalion.

Y'see, changing others to suit your needs or ideals of how they should be is an irreducibly selfish and {{pride}}ful act, and often completely ignores the wishes and welfare of the recipient. Sure, sometimes the Galatea will actually be objectively made better off... but many didn't ask for it, didn't want it, or (if they did), [[BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor realize they aren't as happy as they thought they'd be]].

These changes will be subject to SnapBack as the character [[StaticCharacter returns to their original self]] (with perhaps one or two hard learned habits [[DynamicCharacter being retained]]) and the "benefactor" will get some amount of karmic backlash for their hubris. At the very least, they'll get a CallingTheOldManOut either by the Galatea or a friend of theirs. On the romantic spectrum, the LoveMartyr [[ICanChangeHim trying to change their abusive hubby]] this way is in for a nasty surprise.

This is often exaggerated when the Pygmalion character has GreenRocks that can do the above quickly and easily without even a TrainingMontage. They'll discover the new [[EvilTwin photo negative personality]] is most definitely worse than the original, often either obviously evil, [[TeachHimAnger full of anger]], [[MarySue hyper competent]], a SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute to the Pygmalion, or all of the above. In the end, WeWantOurJerkBack. Depending on the [[SlidingScaleOfIdealismVsCynicism tone]] of the episode or show, the story may or may not come with the {{Aesop}} of being thankful for what you have.

Compare FlowersForAlgernonSyndrome, where the change ''is'' something Galatea wanted, but is still snapped back. Often done to the WeakWilled. A common aftereffect from using a MirrorMoralityMachine. Frequently a way to enforce StatusQuoIsGod.


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In ''Manga/BeautyPop,'' the main character gives the ShrinkingViolet a make-over--making her lose her glasses, putting her in trendy clothes and pretty make-up, and giving her a new hair-do. The girl keeps it ''just'' long enough so she can taunt a boy who rejected her for being plain. In the next chapter, she put the glasses back on and put her hair in braids again, saying she felt weird otherwise.
* In ''Manga/AhMyGoddess'' the robot Banpei asks Skuld to give sentience to his beloved automaton girl, only to find out later that she finds his dedication to her creepy and wants nothing to do with him. This doesn't stop him from trying, though.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* 1928 Soviet propaganda film ''Film/StormOverAsia'' involves the EvilColonialist British oppressors trying to set up a local Mongol herder as a PuppetKing. They dress him in Western formal wear that he is uncomfortable in and Western dress shoes that he has trouble walking in. He hates them for it, and winds up leading a rebellion against them.
* In ''Film/TradingPlaces'', the Duke Brothers planned to do this to Billy Ray Valentine after their bet ends. However, [[ExactEavesdropping after he finds out]], Valentine tracks down Louis Winthorpe, who was also manipulated by their bet, and they get back at the Dukes together.

* In ''Literature/DragonBones'', Fenwick of Hurog wanted to make [[ARealManIsAKiller men]] out of his sons. His younger, more sensitive son attempted suicide, and ran away to become a bard. The older one has brain damage from a violent beating and is a GentleGiant, made rather more compassionate by the horrible childhood. It's hinted that Fenwick's father was [[TestosteronePoisoning the same kind of person]] ... well, [[GoneHorriblyRight Fenwick murdered him to get to inherit sooner.]] Which explains why Ward [[ObfuscatingStupidity exaggerates the brain damage]] to seem harmless - Fenwick seemingly couldn't decide whether he wants to have a strong, ruthless heir, or rather a harmless son who won't murder him. (At the beginning of the novel, he's killed by his horse, [[WhatDidYouExpectWhenYouNamedIt Stygian]].)
* In ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'', this is shown to be the eventual result of any kind of tampering with someone's mind. Eventually, the true personality reasserts itself, leading to at best a backlash [[spoiler:like Luccio's reaction to having being mind-warped into loving Harry]] or a far worse reaction as the psyche shreds itself trying to turn back to normal [[spoiler: as is implied to happen to Molly's first boyfriend after she mind-raped him out of using drugs]]
* The {{Transformers}} short story "Redemption Center" in the anthology ''[[ Transformers Legends]]'' involves Starscream getting amnesia while in Autobot custody. Optimus refuses to reprogram him, even though it would now be simple, because it would be unethical; but he agrees there's no harm in simply showing him what life is like in a society where everyone ''isn't'' constantly being a JerkAss to each other like the Decepticons. When 'Screamer's memory finally returns, he chooses to [[spoiler: go back to the Decepticons with improved social skills which he figures he can use to better manipulate others to his will and accumulate power—though he's secretly ashamed that that is the only use to which he will put the Autobots' well-intended lessons.]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* The episode of ''Series/TheKingOfQueens'' "Jung Frankenstein". Initially, Carrie sends Doug to a therapist to control his eating (which he isn't too thrilled about). When that goes well, she secretly convinces the therapist to get rid of Doug's other vices (that's how she sees it). Needless to say, when he finds out, he's furious. As he puts it by the end of the episode, "Well why don't I strap a suggestion box to my ass? It'll save you the trip."
* ''Series/StarTrekVoyager''. Captain Janeway gets interested in holographic character Michael Sullivan in the "Fair Haven" program, and starts tweaking his program to make him more to her taste. Eventually she gets called on it by Voyager's doctor (also a hologram) and eventually shuts off her access to Michael's program so she won't be tempted to make more "improvements".
* The major moral conflict in ''Series/StargateAtlantis'' and the "Michael" subplot. Basically, the human heroes of the show find a drug that turns a Wraith human, and causes it to lose its memories. However, the turned Wraith must keep taking it or the transformation is reversed. The Wraith they try it on (nicknamed Michael), is '''pissed''' when he finds out what they did to him, and becomes one of the most dangerous recurring villains in the series because of it. This is by far the biggest case of MoralDissonance in the show, with the fans, Michael, and even various members of the heroic cast screaming WhatTheHellHero at the ones who came up with it.
* In Season Six of ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'', Willow casts a spell that makes Tara forget an argument they had about her cavalier attitude towards magic. After Tara finds out, she barely lasts a night of going "cold turkey" before trying again, causing Tara to break up with her.
* In one episode of ''Series/{{Wilfred}}'', the eponymous dog sets Ryan up with [[ThePigPen a really disgusting girl]] for a roommate, as [[AnimalStereotypes he absolutely loves filth]]. Eventually, Ryan teaches the girl how to clean up her act, prompting Wilfred to accuse him of "tearing the horn off a {{unicorn}}". Ryan naturally thinks that is just because Wilfred wants her filth back, until he sees how utterly stressed, miserable, and out of place she feels, and convinces her to go back to her gross lifestyle.

* The TropeNamer is the stage play, ''Theatre/{{Pygmalion}}'' by Creator/GeorgeBernardShaw, adapted into [[TheMusical musical form]] as ''Theatre/MyFairLady''. The Pygmalion figure is the incorrigible Henry Higgins, with his grand knowledge of accents, a novelty in turn-of-the-century England, who attempts to change the cockney Eliza Dolittle into a well-bred, well-spoken English lady by correcting her common drawl. He succeeds but then discards his creation, much to Eliza's great consternation, which gives rise to the narrative tension in the second half of the play.
* In ''Theatre/TheBeautifulGalatea'', a comic opera by Music/FranzVonSuppe, Venus brings Pygmalion's statue to life as in the original myth. When Pygmalion discovers that Galatea is independent, [[YourCheatingHeart unfaithful]], and [[BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor generally more than he can handle]], he prevails on Venus to turn her [[TakenForGranite back into a statue]].

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/BeastWars'', Megatron managed to switch Rhinox into an evil Predacon. Joke was on Megatron, as Rhinox was far more competent than your typical [[TheStarscream Starscream]] and nearly deposed him!
** He next tried this [[spoiler:on Rhinox ''again'' in ''WesternAnimation/BeastMachines,'' but this time also dialed his intelligence way down to HulkSpeak levels. Worked great until Rhinox got his memories and smarts back, at which point evil Rhinox nearly killed Megatron, ''again.'' The full snapback, this time, was posthumous.]]
* On ''WesternAnimation/TheFlintstones'', Wilma and Betty managed to completely change Fred and Barney's personalities on at least two occasions. The first time (by enrolling them in "charm school"), they got bored and tried to change them back. The second time (through subliminal messages in their sleep), Fred and Barney found out what their wives had done and took revenge.
* ''WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyondReturnOfTheJoker'': Joker [[spoiler:captures Tim Drake a.k.a. Robin and]] [[BrainwashedAndCrazy gives him a personality makeover in his own image]]. "J.J." ends up snapping back just enough [[spoiler:to kill the Joker, but is still horribly traumatized and needs years of therapy to recover.]]
* One episode of ''WesternAnimation/BionicSix'' combined this with InTheBlood. The good [[TheProfessor professor]] wiped his evil brother Doctor Scarab's memory with the best of intentions to reform him, and was re-teaching him basic skills... and hard sciences. This new Scarab was more competent, smarter, and managed to hook up with his old goons to do a near successful attack on the Bionic Six. So, this trope works both ways for the good and evil.
* On one episode of ''WesternAnimation/PinkyAndTheBrain'', Brain makes Pinky smarter, hoping that he will now be helpful in his plans for world conquest. But Brain finds that Pinky is ''too'' smart, always pointing out the flaws in Brain's plans. To restore balance, Brain applies the same process in reverse and makes himself dumb. Unfortunately, so has Pinky.
* In ''WesternAnimation/DextersLaboratory'', Dexter once attempted this on Dee Dee, as he was tired of her destroying his lab, via a brain transplant. She turned out to be far more competent than him at science.
** In another episode, Dee Dee tries to loosen up Dexter, and once converted, ''he'' starts destroying his own lab, violently and maniacally. Naturally, [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone Dee Dee is horrified and realizes she just turned her brother into something he isn't.]]
* In the ''WesternAnimation/InvaderZim'' episode "GIR Goes Crazy And Stuff", Zim gets fed up with his sidekick GIR's insane behavior and tinkers with his behavioral modifier to lock him in "serious mode". It succeeds... and then GIR starts questioning Zim's methods because they are stupid and ineffective. In the end, after trying to accomplish [[TakeOverTheWorld the mission goal]] himself as well as trying to eliminate Zim, he is restored to his usual stupid, non-threatening self.
* In ''WesternAnimation/GoofTroop'', Pete once hypnotized Goofy to turn him into a ruthless car salesman like himself. The problem was that Goofy's cluelessness persisted, and caused Pete no end of trouble, including stealing a armored car to sell on the lot, and robbing the policeman who came to investigate. In the end, Pete hypnotizes Goofy back to his old self.
* Spoofed in ''WebAnimation/GothamGirls''. After Poison Ivy uses pollen that "changes the victim's moral outlook", Batgirl becomes a criminal who joins Ivy and Harley Quinn on a crime spree. Harley, however, quickly feels overworked, and she decides that Batgirl was nicer before the personality shift. Of course, after Harley gives Batgirl the antidote, Batgirl returns to her normal law-abiding criminal-chasing self and immediately captures Harley and Ivy.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Chowder}}'': Tired of his stupidity, Mung Daal creates a dish that makes Chowder ''very'' smart. At first, the audience expected to see Chowder's smartness becoming intolerable for Mung Daal, but this was subverted by having Chowder realizing that he's a cartoon character in a TV show. Using his newfound powers, he changes the show into a boring educational program. Realizing that this change made things worse, Chowder yanks his new brain out of his nose and smashes it, effectively deleting the show altogether.
* WesternAnimation/DuckDodgers got this makeover thanks to one of Ignacius' inventions. The new Dodgers not only became hyper-competent but even better than everyone else. Then he tried to pull a PygmalionPlot on the whole Earth, because it didn't live up to his expectations. It could easily have been permanent, as it took all the effort from I.Q., Cadet, Marvin and the Queen to get him back to his old self.
* Altruism example! In the ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' episode "[[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS1E20GreenIsntYourColor Green Isn't Your Color]]", Fluttershy agrees to model some of Rarity's dresses for the photographer Photo Finish, who ends up taking a shine to ''Fluttershy'' and doesn't care a slap about the dresses. Rarity spends the entire episode encouraging Fluttershy to go be a rich and famous model because she feels guilty about envying Fluttershy's success and wants to be a supportive friend. Fluttershy, for her part, hates the attention, and they're both bitter that with Photo Finish eating up Fluttershy's time, they can't hang out anymore. Twilight Sparkle spends the entire episode being confidant to them both, but [[CannotSpitItOut sworn to secrecy]] for the sake of one another's feelings, and [[KeepingSecretsSucks nearly loses her marbles not saying the two sentences that would fix the problem.]]
* {{Lampshaded}} and spoofed repeatedly on ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'':
** In the episode "Pygmoelian", Moe has plastic surgery to become handsome and lands a role on a soap opera. Near the end of the episode the wall of a set falls on his face, and in the next scene we see he's [[StatusQuoIsGod back to normal]]. The last lines of the episode:
-->'''Moe:''' There's just one thing I don't get, though. When my face was crushed, why'd it go back to my old face? I mean, shouldn't it have turned into some kind of third face that was different? Heh. Don't make no--''([[InterruptedByTheEnd end credits abruptly cut him off]])''
** Lisa turns Groundskeeper Wille into a respectable gentlemen before he goes back because he misses his old life and is tired of putting up with assholes like Krusty the Klown.
** Mr. Burns gets amnesia after a failed suicide attempt when his doctor tells him that he's dying. Lisa takes him to his old mansion to prove that he really can change, but then his memories come back. He soon discovers that general hatred for all mankind is literally the only thing keeping him alive.
* Spoofed and subverted in ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' where Stewie is smitten with the new neighbor's daughter, who is named Eliza. Like the Eliza in the book, Family Guy's Eliza speaks with a cockney accent and Stewie devotes himself to get her to look and speak like a proper girl. Eliza keeps up the proper speech at her birthday party until she wets herself and slips back into the cockney accent. However, through her inner thoughts as she writes a letter, she regains her proper speech.
** Another episode sees the family inherit a mansion, and Brian teaches Peter how to behave like a cultured gentleman so that he won't humiliate himself while socializing with their new neighbors. After Peter blows the family's savings on an expensive vase, Brian and Lois work to bring him back to his senses.
** In another episode, Peter vows to become smarter and more cultured after Lois calls him an idiot for leaving Stewie on the playground. After he becomes insufferable, they send him on a trip to Tucson, Arizona (they call it the dumbest place on Earth.)
** In yet another episode, mean popular girl Connie makes Chris popular just to prove that she can make anyone popular. Chris is forced back to his old self after he starts to think that he's too popular to hang around Connie, and Meg and Connie show an embarrassing video of him to the entire school.