What you can do when your flesh is purely cosmetic.
"Splendid fellows... all of you!"
Some element of a show's Applied Phlebotinum
causes a character's appearance, voice, and sometimes even their personality to change completely. On Speculative Fiction shows, this can be almost anything. On real-world shows, this is almost always Magic Plastic Surgery
— which, on TV, works much better than it does in reality.
This is a catch-all for the recasting of a character using an in-continuity explanation. It takes its name from Doctor Who
, whose eponymous Doctor is an alien capable of "regenerating" into a new form whenever he is mortally wounded. This trope, both in the original show and others which employ it, has two benefits; not only can it increase the series' run, it is also a wonderful way to derive drama. With the added bonus of implying that Anyone Can Die
, without having to lose major characters.
Compare to: Suspiciously Similar Substitute
(which introduces a totally new character much like the old one), The Other Darrin
(where the actor is replaced without an in-universe explanation), and Legacy Character
(which introduces a different character to the "title" of the previous character). See also Dying to Be Replaced
(which this can consist of if, like in the trope naming example, the process analogises to the death of the original) and Replacement Scrappy
, which can be a reaction.
This is a casting trope, not a reincarnation trope. This trope only requires the recasting to be explained in-universe, not necessarily by reincarnation.
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- In the English dub of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, when the homunculus Greed was reabsorbed into Father then brought back into a new body he changed voice actor from Christopher Patton to Troy Baker. Said plot element was in the manga long before the story was adapted into animation and dubbed into English (both had the same voice in the Japanese version) but the timing seems to imply this trope.
- Similarly, PokÚmon, when Satoshi/Ash upgrades his Pokedex from Professor Orchid/Oak, he's told that it will also have a new voice, but only in the dub.
- In the Japanese dub of Inuyasha, Naraku was originally voiced by Hiroshi Yanaka in his early appearances. At the end of the anime's first season he takes over the body of a prince named Kagewaki, upon doing so he is voiced by Toshiyuki Morikawa for the rest of the series' run.
- Rogue Assassin had the whole point of the mystery of the eponymous Assassin having plastic surgery to remain unknown. We don't actually see any of the eponymous Assassin's face and instead the one we THINK is the Assassin was actually his last target who took over his identity.
- The Matrix Revolutions: Mary Alice replaced Gloria Foster as The Oracle because the character's appearance had changed due to The Merovingian being given her "termination code". In reality, this was an ad hoc handwave made up by the writers because Gloria Foster had died.
- Heath Ledger's death was dealt with in his unfinished movie The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus this way. Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell played his character in different dimensions.
- Parodied in the animated film Bolt. When Penny decides to quit acting, the TV show she works for replaces her and explains her change in appearance as the result of reconstructive plastic surgery. Not explained, though, was her sudden de-aging, as she is shorter and has not gone through puberty like the original Penny.
- Parodied in the 2008 Get Smart movie. Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) is shown to have undertaken extensive plastic surgery after her cover was blown. She used to look like a 40 year old blond woman. Now, she's a brunette in her mid-twenties.
- Terry O'Quinn declined reprising the role as the eponymous Ax-Crazy in Stepfather III and was replaced Robert Wightman; the change in appearance is dealt with via a Squicky backalley plastic surgery scene at the beginning of the film.
- Blofeld, arch-nemesis of James Bond is a villainous example. He was played by several actors over the years, with his changes of appearance being explained by plastic surgery. Somewhat justified in that if anyone has the money to be able to employ a magic plastic surgeon it's Blofeld.
- Bond himself is generally not thought of as an example since the films don't explain his change in appearance. However, in the first movie where Bond's actor changed, the film begins with Bond being rejected by a woman. He then remarks "this never happened to the other fellow!" Some fans have taken this as evidence for the theory that "James Bond" is an alias passed from one 007 agent to the next.
- The producers of On Her Majesty's Secret Service did briefly consider the plastic surgery idea for Bond, but (wisely for the long run) dropped the idea.
- Die Another Day was supposed to make this theory canon, but Executive Meddling stopped that plan.
- As was Skyfall until further Executive Meddling nixed that idea (Craig's Bond has Connery's Bond car, all other agents use pseudonyms except 007). Which raises more questions than it answers, really...
- Jobe Smith was played by Jeff Fahey in The Lawnmower Man and Matt Frewer in Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace. The clever rationale is that the explosion at the end of the first film badly burned him, and so he looked different after his face was reconstructed using skin grafts.
- Less clever when, in the ending of the original film, Pierce Brosnan's character discovered that Jobe had completely uploaded himself into the mainframe, leaving only his skin behind in the real world.
- Tomie from the live action adaptations of Junji Ito's comic of the same name is this. Due to cloning and regeneration no two Tomie's look alike.
Live Action TV
- Used as a major gameplay mechanic in the Doctor Who pinball game: The Master has effectively trapped six of the (then) seven Doctors in different places, and the Seventh must get them to safety in order to confront The Master, the Daleks, and ultimately Davros.
- To replace the late Peter Jones in the Tertiary Phase of The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, the guide receives an "update" during the first scene of the play. Thanks to some clever editing, the voice of the Guide changes in mid-sentence, and occasionally reverts back for a second, using recycled audio from the original series.
- The first actor to play The Lone Ranger on the radio died tragically in a car crash. To further a) a seamless transition of the character and b) to keep young viewers from being freaked out by the Ranger's sudden vocal change, the producers decided to have the Ranger be struck mute for a few episodes before introducing the new voice of the Ranger, Brace Beemer.
- Eddsworld: A vocal example. Edd got zapped by a voice changer (held by Matt) at the start of Space Face: Part 2 to justify his VA's change, which happened due to Edd Gould's death. The character is now voiced by Tim Hautekeit.
- TimelordBlog: As the character appearing in the blog is the Doctor him/herself, the character goes through a regeneration whenever the Mun gets tired of that specific Doctor. So far, we've had twelve (Dave Strider), thirteen (Ritsu Tainaka), and fourteen (Mami Tomoe).
- In Welcome to Night Vale, Carlos's change of voice actors is explained by his having replaced his own vocal chords to prevent throat spiders, which is apparently important for scientists to do.
- Parodied in the ClickHole article "All The Seinfelds, Ranked", which straight-facedly pays tribute to the various actors who supposedly played the character of Jerry Seinfeld in various seasons, including John Cusack, George Lazenby, Kadeem Hardison ("the first black Seinfeld") and Louis C.K., among others. Also, in one season, the supporting cast is mentioned as "Elaine (Khandi Alexander), George (LeVar Burton), and Kramer (Eddie Murphy)", without further explanation.
- The Insecticomics uses the trope mentioned below to justify characters being represented by new toys. The most major would be Dreadmoon's upgrade to a repaint of Energon Mirage from a sculpted model, although Starscream's gone through several new bodies as better toys for him have come out.
- In Roommates, because it's a Mega Crossover and has a whole cast of Living Dreams, when a different adaptation of the source material becomes more well known the powers of the universenote change the appearance of the characters. It's generally not permanent, though, as they are Composite Characters and by definition encompass all their portrayals. (They possess a very limited shapeshiftingnote ability thanks to this too.)
- Autobots and Decepticons in Transformers often upgrade, and occasionally mutate, into newer, more powerful bodies. While generally a way to advertise new toys, this is occasionally (though not usually) used to justify new voice actors:
- When Megatron was rebuilt as Galvatron in Transformers: The Movie, his voice changed from Frank Welker to Leonard Nimoy. (Galvatron in the series proper was still voiced by Welker though, but with a slightly different pitch to differentiate the two.)
- Scourge and Cyclonus had new voice actors instead of those of Thundercracker and... either of the two characters Cyclonus could be. (Long story.)
- Beast Machines Jetstorm has a different voice than Silverbolt, because it'd ruin the surprise.
- Casey Kasem, who is of Lebanese descent, left The Transformers in protest over the stereotypical portrayal of an evil dictator of an Arab state called "Carbombya." As a result, Teletraan-1, which he voiced, was replaced with Teletraan-2, voiced by Frank Welker.
- Retro-actively applied in Reboot: at the end of season two Bob is sucked into the Web, and when he came back in season three, slightly degraded by his experience, he switched voice actor from Michael Benyaer to Ian James Corlett because the former was unavailable. When Benyaer became available again while producing season four they had him do the voice for Bob in a flashback, a second Bob (possibly the original, possibly a copy, actually Megabyte), and the real Bob after the damage done to him by the Web is repaired, implying the different voice was caused by said degradation.
- The third season premiere of The Amazing World of Gumball, "The Kids", has Gumball and Darwin's voices (both provided by child actor that were outgrowing the character) cracking extensively, leading them to come to terms with becoming adults. At the end of the episode, their voices finally break even with new voice actors... who sound younger than they did before. They then realize they're part of the previously mention 1% of people in the world ("most of them on TV") that don't age.
- Toonami, an action block originally on Cartoon Network, now on [adult swim], had robotic show host TOM 1.0, voiced by Sonny Strait, get destroyed by a massive alien blob... thing, and was replaced by TOM 2.0, voiced by Steve Blum. Subsequent versions of TOM, who's currently at version 5, and all voiced by Steve Blum, have not been explained however.