Why are you just standing there? She's totally going to kick your ass when she's done transforming. Oooooh! You're doing that thing where you're being uncharacteristically chivalrous even though you just murdered her entire defenseless family for some cheap laughs. Well, it's your funeral, buddy.
This is where a villain, usually, will obligingly wait for the hero to finish his transformation before proceeding to bloody murder. This is separate from a Transformation Sequence in that while the sequence can be ignored, in this case it IS ignored.
Villains may have several reasons for doing this.
Whatever the case may be, it ultimately comes down to the villain being Genre Blind, and it rarely works out in his favor. A Dangerously Genre Savvy villain will just shoot first and get it over with.
Outside of narrative justifications, this trope can be chalked up to an abuse of Rule of Cool. Why don't these flashy, drawn-out transformation sequences usually get interrupted? Simple: because they are so flashy that you're supposed to be thinking "Wow, that looks so cool!" and nothing else. Overall, whether you're okay with this trope or not reflects your stance on Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
In-universe examples also sometimes show these transformations happening in real time, I.E. so fast (or that it actually never happened) that it justifies why the villains or even the heroes can't just kill them while they transform.
Sub-trope of Transformation Sequence. Compare Distracting Disambiguation and Talking Is a Free Action. Somewhat related to Mook Chivalry.
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Anime & Manga
Sailor Moon is the classic example where their transformations seem to go on forever without any of their enemies attempting to interrupt them. However there is some circumstantial evidence and fan theory◊ that this is because these sequences are viewer eye-candy only, in "real time" they take seconds. Also the fact that the enemy rarely actually sees the Senshi actually start the transformation. They'll often transform before they get there or duck around a corner and transform. One last season episode parodied the latter by Usagi searching for an empty room to transform.
In the manga, transformations usually take up a single panel, implying instantaneous transformations.
It was made clear in the Death Busters arc that the sailors avoid transforming in front of the enemy, not because they could be attacked during it, but because it's one of the few ways the evil ones could learn their secret identities.
Dragon Ball Z has quite a reputation for this. After two decades of parody, most viewers expect at least five minutes of some guy glowing, getting bulkier, and going "AAAAARRGGGGHHHHH" with nobody doing anything about it besides commenting on how much stronger he's getting. In practice, powering up more "normal" attacks tended to go exactly like this (especially as the series wore on), but really dramatic ones (the Spirit Bomb, infamously, was interrupted the first three times Goku tried to use it) and major transformations almost always had the enemy at least trying to disrupt them. Sometimes it worked, usually not.
A notable example of characters trying to subvert this and failing: in the Cell Saga, when Cell finally achieves his "Perfect" body, the transformation takes quite some time. Future Trunks immediately tries to destroy Cell, but the mere Battle Aura that the villain sheds during the metamorphosis is more than enough to protect him from any assaults.
One could argue that Broly got away with doing this because there was literally nothing anyone could do to stop him. None of their attacks were doing anything and after a while all they could do was just stare in disbelief as he grew even stronger.
Another interesting case: in the Frieza saga, The Hero Goku letsBig Bad Frieza power up to 100% so he can prove to the genocidal villain that he's no threat to a Super Saiyan. Goku later explains this to Frieza in what is likely the greatest blow he could make to Frieza, as it struck his ego.
Somewhat earlier, when Goku is going Super Saiyan, Frieza, confident that Goku was no threat to him, just stands there watching him, not sure of what Goku was doing until after the change. I guess Goku felt like he was just returning the favor when he let Frieza power up.
Frieza: I just love how easy it is to get away with this sh*t with you people! I want to transform, you just sit there and let me! I want to blow up the planet up, you just sit there and let me! I want to reach 100% power and you just sit right there and let me!
Goku wonders why he lets villains do this in Revenge of Cooler Abridged.
It should be noted that the vast majority of this trope in DBZ is because of filler. In the manga, Goku turns into a Super Saiyan on Namek in a single panel instead of a three-minute gruntfest.
A notable parody is when Trunks and Goten try to do their Fusion Dance against Buu. Before they can manage, he quickly strikes and punches them. However, they manage to make him wait for the fusion by convincing him how cool the result will be.
In Battle of Gods, the heroes figuring out how Goku can become a Super Saiyan God is inter-cut with Bills relaxing with a soda. He's already proved that none of the heroes pose a threat, and is only in the area so he can find this mythical being and have a good fight.
Voltron is a subversion of the highest order. The villains in this show are Dangerously Genre Savvy and anytime Voltron tries to combine they are interrupted by either the villain or his minions though in some cases the interruption is too little too late.
That's because in the next episode they figured out how to avoid the problem by combining behind the protection of the castle's force field.
In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, a mage's combat transformation is pretty elaborate (especially for female mages), taking up almost a minute of screen time. However, as shown as early as the second episode, the in-universe transformation time is a couple of seconds and the transformation creates a barrier. The second Monster of the Week actually attacked Nanoha while she was transforming. He went 'tink!'
It should be noted that in the second season, Vita attacked before Nanoha had transformed, and resumed immediately after Nanoha finished, before Nanoha even got her bearings back.
Bleach transformations are almost never interrupted and there's no real good explanation as to why.
Except for Byakuya Kuchiki getting his Senbonzakura halted by Yoruichi in the middle of transformation, and being forced to block one of Renji's attacks before he could release his shikai.
Grimmjow Jeagerjaques was also a very unlucky guy. He tried transforming twice before his final battle with Ichigo, but he is first interrupted by Tousen, and later by Ulquiorra.
In both cases, Grimmjow was stopped before he could finish his activation phrase, rather than having the transformation itself interrupted.
While technically it wasn't stopping the transformation, Soifon managed to land two lethal strikes on Ggio Vega while he was busy activating his final form.
Aizen's "transformation" after fusing with the Hogyoku averts this to the extreme, taking a very long time to completely during which everyone feels free to attack him (not that most of the attacks do anything).
When Nelliel started transforming, Nnoitra went "Oh Crap" and tried to attack her, but her Battle Aura knocked him back.
Somewhat Subverted in Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure, In the Climax of Part 5 Giorno uses the Stand Arrow out of desperation to transform his own stand to defeat Diavolo. During this however it seems to leave his stand, Gold Experince, immobile during the process. Diavolo sees a chance to kill Giorno while this is happening. Thankfully the transformation finishes right before he strikes.
Mahou Sensei Negima! averts this with Kotaro, who usually transforms into his demon form more or less instantaneously. Later played straight when Negi pulls out his Black Magic tranformation against Jack Rakan, and Rakan doesn't do anything to stop him, allowing Negi to turn into lightning, literally, and beat the crap out of him. Somewhat justified, as Rakan wanted to see Negi's progress, and it turns out that the assault didn't actually hurt him anyway.
And when he transforms again into Super Saiyan 3 Raiten Taisou 2, this time Kotaro has to cover him for 43 seconds.
And then there was that time in the Mahora Festival Tournament Arc where Kotaro decided to change into his demon form only for Colonel Ku:Nel Sanders to squash him repeatedly with gravity magic while he's in mid-transformation until he finally fell unconscious.
Likewise averted in InuYasha, whose transformations to and from his human mode were involuntary, and only took a heartbeat, although the dramatic representation in the anime usually took about three times as long as the transformation itself took. Notable is that InuYasha rarely cut himself any slack just because he was in human form, once he started accumulating True Companions.
A Zonder has tried to attack GaoGaiGar mid-Final Fusion at least twice. The first one couldn't even get past the swirling energy barrier, and the second got through, only to be knocked right back out by GaiGar himself, who interrupted the combination on his own.
EI-15 (GGG Spare Parts Robo) got through too, and at a time when the Final Fusion program was disabled, forcing GGG members to pilot the GaoMachines. Big Volfogg grappled the Zonder to get it off.
The earlier Brave show Might Gaine actually did feature at least one incident involving a villain interrupting the gattai sequence.
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann completely averts it with the last major transformation of the series, which takes about one episode while all hell is breaking loose around.
Considering how much Godannar enjoys playing with anime-tropes, it comes as no great surprise that Dannar and Okusaer can perform their minute-long combination into Godannar, literally while the enemies are in mid-jump.
Unless you're Unicron himself. His transformation in Armada took half an episode and killed off a named character. Then again, there's a lot of him to transform...
The Stock Footage sequences are intended to be subversions. When somebody transforms without stock footage it takes mere seconds. The "talking" often inserted into the sequences in the dubs can be dismissed in nearly all cases as hearing the character think. After all, thinking a sentence takes less time than actually saying it. If multiple characters communicate during a sequence, do note that in the case of Transformers they could be talking to each other the way computers talk over the internet. As a further note, the shows exist to sell toys, and the stock sequences can act as instructions for transforming the toys. In some cases, better than the print instructions they're packaged with. The American-original series typically do not have these sequences, though Animated uses them on occasion.
Tai: "Well that only took, like, five hours. You do realise that we could all be dead right now."
Agumon: Tai, if you don't shut up, I'm gonna eat your parents.
The aforementioned subversion took place in a virtual simulation to which the opponent was particularly adapted. Normally, the sequence is instant to outside observers.
Played straight in Princess Mononoke, where onlookers gasp in awe during the Forest Spirit's transformations...except for Lady Eboshi, who subverts this trope in the climactic scene.
In the second season of Darker than Black, Suoh has a very traditional Magical Girl transformation sequence which so far has been played straight, to the extent no one comments on her being defenseless during the transformation period (she hasn't been in combat yet though). On the other hand, there is something of an aversion of the trope in the times where Hei, the Anti-Hero has killed Contractors before they could complete their Remumeration and "recharge" their powers.
Pretty Cure has justified this in two different ways. The original series had the transformation take place inside what seemed to be a barrier of light, whilelatercasts have had scenes where the transformation is seen as nothing but a brief flash of light, implying that (like in Sailor Moon) it isn't really as time-consuming as what we're shown.
And in DokiDoki! Precure, normal security cameras somehow managed to capture Mana's first transformation on video.
Parodied in The Big O. Recurring Harmless Villain Beck has executed yet another plan to defeat the protagonist, this time employing a Combining Mecha. The mecha executes a lengthy assembly complete with heroic cries, sparklies, and 70's music. During said transformation, the protagonist is unconcernedly fixing his tie and donning a new watch. The two mechas face off and Beck's begins the lengthy preparation for an attack. In the midst of the ensuing attack prep, Big O opens up a gatling gun and demolishes Beck in two seconds. And it was awesome.
In the Pokémon series, all outside actions stop when the battles start, even when someone is in the middle of executing an evil plot that the protagonists have just meddled in. In the TV special The Legend of Thunder, though, Marina (literally) tosses her Misdreavus into a two-on-one battle, and everyone stops what they're doing - even the villains in the process of capturing the elusive and powerful Raikou - to either watch or order Pokémon around... but then Attila gets an idea.
Attila: Just 'cause they're busy doesn't mean I can't round up Thunder-Wonder. [reaches mechanical claws out to grab the nearly-fainted Raikou]
Also, whenever a Pokémon evolves, it's allowed to finish doing so, regardless of what was happening prior. In official battles, this is likely a polite thing to do, but even evil teams politely wait for them to finish. Considering they turn into energy during their transformation, it may simply be useless (or even dangerous) to attempt attacking them during evolution.
Averted in Naruto where most transformations are almost instantaneous, and the few that aren't (Gaara's partial Shukaku transformation) happen gradually and clearly in real time.
Also, even though Naruto using his Superpowered Evil Side is pretty quick, Sasuke was able to put him under a genjutsu that forced him out of it right as he was using it.
Played straight elsewhere in the series, particularly with Kid activating his BFG.
Saint Seiya: Played straight. While they rarely ever have transformation sequences during battles, no one ever attacks them while they put on their Cloths.
Averted in Tokyo Mew Mew, when Kisshu knocks Ichigo's pendant out of her hand before she can transform in Episode 45.
Generally played straight a few times in Fairy Tail, mostly with Erza's transformations into her magical suits of armor. Episode 8 of the anime involves her transforming right in front of the face of the enemy, and he doesn't do a thing.
In fact it's stated outright that part of Erza's strength is the speed at which she can switch weapons and armor. She effectively has Transformation Is a Free Action as an explicit ability.
Megane: How dare you attack in the middle of a stirring lecture or a fusion! As a robot otaku, you fail!
Somewhat averted in the original Japanese Yu-Gi-Oh!: The first time Yami Yugi appears he has a long transformation sequence, but in subsequent transformations, the Millennium Puzzle simply flashes, and his alter egos trade places instantaneously; especially useful for battling the mind-reading Pegasus. However, the dub tends to recycle the first sequence over and over.
Voltes V averts it at one time when the bad guy shoot at the team while doing a very long mecha combining sequence. Happens again when the Monster of the Week fire an anti-combining beam on the parts to prevent combination.
The same thing happened in UFO Senshi Dai Apolon when the Monster of the Week brings miniature flying robotic bugs on the combine ports of the individual units and when it goes on contact with the combining parts when they try to combine, they explode, thus the combination gets interrupted.
Also averted in Blue Dragon, a robot is going to transform into a big robot, much to Kluke's excitement, Zora blows it up before it can finish.
In Getter Robo Armageddon, they actually subvert it when Shin Getter Robo catches Invader Dragon Machine before it can combine with Liger and Poseidon to become Invader Getter Dragon. Ryouma even taunts the pilot, Professor Saotome, before destroying the plane.
Averted in Mobile Suit Victory Gundam, Usso's forced to run around without the Leg Flyer of the V Gundam after its shot down until they can get a new one set up for him. It's later recreated in the Game Boy game, Super Robot Wars 2 G.
The Gundam franchise, being a set of Real Robot shows, is generally known to avert this trope, probably with the exception of G Gundam, one example being that G-Armor has to hide behind a hill to separate into G-Fighter and Gundam.
Gundam Unicornjustifies this whenever the RX-0 goes into Destroy-mode: the Unicorn deploys an I-field around itself while it transforms, so firing on it while it does so would be a waste of time and energy.
Played straight with Shinn's Impulse Gundam in SEED Destiny: no matter how opportune the moment is for a enemy to simply destroy the Core Splendor or the Flyers while they combine (especially considering the Core Splendor jettisons its missile packs, the only means by which the Impulse can defend its flyers pre-combination), they never do. Especially egregious when the Impulse's sudden appearance and subsequent transformation can stun an Alliance mobile armor and its three pilots into panicked staring for about forty seconds, and, later, Kira Yamato.
In the Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z anime, the girls (separately or together), usually get shown in a fairly length transformation sequence, although it's often ambiguous as to just how much time this transformation takes from the perspective of other characters (it seems very little time probably actually passes). However in one particular example, the girls' transformations were prevented by the episodes villain (a demonically-charged kabuki-actor) magically causing them to begin crying non-stop. It then became a plot-point that they had to try to get Peach the digital dog to remotely auto-activate their transformation sequence for them (he was asleep back at the lab at the time).
Maou Ranger Red: "It's a rule that you can't attack while transforming."
Bakugan subverted this too, mostly in the second arc of Mechtanium Surge. At the very beginning, as Gunz was preparing to throw Reptak out, he was struck by Mechtavius Destroyer. In many of the battles, Wiseman would order an attack before the Bakugan got to combine. Most notably in the episode "Evil vs. Evil" when Mechtavius Destroyer won't let Betadron, Kodokor, and Mutabrid combine and actually kills Mutabrid in the process. Surprisingly, he didn't try this in his battle against the Brawlers three episodes from then.
In the episode "Enemy Allies", he actually attacked Dan upon his attempt to call Dragonoid Destroyer. This was also played with in "Enemy Infiltration" when Mandibor tried to stop Radizen and Roxtor from combining; however, he missed due to the animation of their combination (they leap into the air and hold each other; Mandior aimed at the ground they were standing on).
Parodied in Shakugan no Shana, when Domino's transformation takes so long that by the time she is finished, Shana and Margery have escaped.
Worst case ever... The Howling. Run Karen Run! Well, Karen's not the villain. But she sure as hell lets a serial killer werewolf take his time.
Actually, justified; he has her pinned behind a gurney.
Amusingly subverted in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers , where the mooks the rangers were fighting used the length of the Transformation Sequence to run away and set up an ambush. The best part of the scene is how, after the transformation sequence and pose-striking, the Rangers act completely mystified as to where the mooks went.
Later in the movie, the Rangers suit up in their new "Ninjetti" outfits and announce their animal spirits. They just make it to the end of the role call before one of the mooks lobs a spear at Aisha's head. "The Bear - WHOA!"
Justified in Iron Man 2. During the race track fight scene, Ivan Vanko waits for Tony Stark to get into his portable Iron Man costume. Justified because Vanko's aim was not to kill Stark but to discredit the Iron Man weapon and show off the power of his own suit.
Probably more justified in the fact that Vanko was a good 6 feet away, somewhat stunned, and pinned by Happy Hogan's car against a wall... after being rammed into said wall four times. Vanko was shown to be perfectly fine with killing Stark at least twice earlier. Not to mention Vanko probably didn't even know Stark's Briefcase Armor existed.
Vanko wasn't trapped by the car; his whip easily cuts through it. It's not much of a stretch for a genius to realize that Stark would come up with a portable/easily accessible version of his suit, or to realize what's going on once Tony starts. Killing Stark while he's only half-armored and distracted would make Stark a martyr when the goal is to make him a laughing stock.
Gloriously averted in Dog Soldiers when Megan starts transforming into a werewolf they just shoot her in the head. Played somewhat straight with Ryan as they don't outright kill him while he's transforming but they do get their weapons ready. Understandable because he was under a table and nobody really wanted to get that close to a werewolf.
In Digimon the Movie, (Our War Game in Japanese) when Greymon and Kabuterimon, Infermon shot them down before they could finish, in one of the most memorable scenes in history. "Not so fast!", indeed!
Played both ways in the Transformers series; sometimes the transformations would take a second or two, but sometimes they'd be upwards of 30 seconds, either because of particularly dramatic/unusual circumstances like transforming while rolling down a highway at full speed, or simply to show off the quadrillion moving parts necessary. That said, no one is ever shown outright ignoring the bots while transforming, they either just have ineffective weaponry (mostly the humans), are distracted by their own transformation, or are still stunned by/locked up in combat.
Inverted in Animorphs. Transformation is very expensive, in time and in energy.
Subverted in the final episode of Being Human, where Herrick, a vampire bent on world conquest, would have happily snapped George's neck while the latter was oh-so-slowly and painfully transforming into a werewolf in order to kill him... if George hadn't had a Star of David to keep Herrick at bay, and locked them in a bunker under a hospital.
Power Rangers does this when the gianttransformingcombining robots are going from five individual things to one big robot. The giant monster just sits there for something like a minute every episode of every season, waiting for the incredibly complex docking maneuvers to be completed.
Slightly averted in some Megazords that are in motion during their transformation and thus more difficult to hit.
Similarly, the transformations of the Rangers themselves. Some seasons feature occasional "instant morphs" without the corresponding sequence, and this is taken by many to suggest that morphs are normally instantaneous and the Stock Footage used in the Transformation Sequence is just a sort of visual metaphor or slowed down just for the viewer so they can see it. The same can not be said for the Megazord docking sequence, as the Rangers will sometimes talk during it. In Power Rangers Turbo, Kat even comments on how much more complex and difficult the new Megazord's docking sequence is compared to their last one.
However, the Transformation version was subverted at least once when Conner was attacked during a morph and blasted out of it. Further, during ''Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie', Kat's morph is shorted out when she falls into some water before it gets completed.
Even if the morphs are instantaneous, they still go through a choreographed routine prior to activating their morphers, while yelling their morphing call.
Double subverted in Power Rangers S.P.D.: The A-Squad morph into SWAT mode and fire at the B-Squad rangers, who have yet to transform. They must have shot from the hip, though, because the B-Squad promptly morph anyway while explosions light up behind them.
Subverted by the Rangers themselves in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. While the transformation itself couldn't be stopped, the monsters once managed to attack Tommy while he was reaching for his morpher, and he needed to be rescued by all the other to recover it.
I was always under the impression that when they morphed, they were tranported to the Morphing Grid, where all of the Morphing took place, before reappearing back at the scene of the fight.
Lampshaded in "Power Rangers Turbo" episode Shadow Rangers, by Chromite. Chromite fired at them while they morphed, causing the powers to leave them and form the evil Shadow Rangers.
As a general rule, in Power Rangers, even if we admit the transformation itself is instantaneous, initiating it is sometimes easy interruptible. Think about Power Rangers in Space, in which the Rangers had to press 3 or 4 keys on their morphers.
The various Kamen Rider series avert this trope often. While most of the time it's played straight and the Rider transforms without interruption, many times they need to fend off and dodge the enemies until they can find a brief moment in safe spot to complete the transformation.
Kamen Rider Diend sometimes plays with this, by actually firing his transformation energy at his opponent, sending them reeling back before it returns to transform him.
The Showa series played this trope straight but the Heisei series often averts. The 'holding off Monster of the Week with one hand while triggering a transformation with the other' is often used to herald the start of a curb stomp.
Kamen Rider Kabuto emits a Battle Aura when changing into his secondary form via Cast Off which is strong enough to concuss Kagami, and any Worm dumb enough to attack it gets smacked by the Zecter.
In one episode Decade is protected from an enemy's attacks both by the energy of the Decade transformation and the manifesting armor plates of Den-O's transformation.
Subverted with Kamen Rider Black, who actually has a secondary transformation method where he jumps up in the air and shouts "HENSHIN!", which is much less time consuming and more efficent. Also helps that he uses this method almost as much as his other, much more longer transformation sequence.
Kamen Rider OOO is sometimes attacked during his transformations, but is shown to be protected by the large flying medals that swirl around him while he changes. One notable instance had him getting interrupted by being attacked immediately before he could initiate the transformation, but usually he visibly makes the effort to time his Transformation Sequence so this doesn't happen. Full-on subverted in a later episode, though, when he gets hit by an attack powerful enough to outright break this protection.
Some Riders are fortunate enough to get a Sphere of Power for their transformation, and attacks tend to bounce off of these, only making the Rider look all the cooler before the smackdown ensues.
Played straight and at least once subverted in "Kamen Rider Fourze" where the driver actually counts down from 3 before he can change. At least once a monster has tried attacking him while this count down happens and he has to dodge it.
In one episode of Kamen Rider Wizard, Haruto spends a fair amount of time trying to fight off Phoenix long enough to complete his transformation.
Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger has an interesting version of this. The Gokaiger's transformations do take time, but they're Dangerously Genre Savvy enough to know they're safe while transforming and use it to protect themselves from attacks. In fact, Gokai-Oh's first formation happens while inside a huge explosion and leads to a pretty Like a Badass out of Hell moment.
Subverted in Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters, transformations happen in real time and there have been cases where the Go-Busters have had to dodge while performing it while the mecha transformations happen very rapidly. Go-Buster-Oh's transformation takes longer, but the components of Blue and Yellow Busters' mecha circle Go-Buster Ace and form an energy field before it begins to protect it during the combination.
Space Sheriff Gavan plays around with this. Gavan's actual transformation only takes 0.05 seconds, as we're told by the narrator each time it happens. We see it in an instant flash of blue, but then they go back and show the whole sequence in slow-motion so we can see the details, like the Gavan suit being beamed down from its spaceship. However, we also see the full posing routine, which apparently also took place in the .05 seconds, because when the flash happens, Gavan is usually at a full run chasing an enemy, or else quickly saving himself from impending doom, and we clearly never see him do his rather elaborate pose.
Amusingly, in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger vs. Space Sheriff Gavan: The Movie, the big battle starts off with a recreation of this (with Gokaiger narrator Tomokazu Seki in place of Issei Masamune), and then does the same with the Gokaiger, doing the fast version of their transformation and then going back and showing the full detailed version. (Turns out the Gokaigers' change is much faster than Gavan's .05 seconds.)
So of course, when Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters meets Geki Jumonji, a.k.a. Gavan Type-G, the rookie Space Sheriff from the new Gavan movie, we go through it again. Turns out the Go-Busters require a full half-second to change.
The actual transformation in Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger is actually pretty fast, but the dance required to activate it takes place in real time. A few episodes have had drawn out transformations where the Kyoryugers have had to fight and dance around their opponents to transform.
And then they utterly skewers this trope in episode 25, where the team drinks some "Wake-Up Juice" in order to battle a nightmare monster; said drink peps them up enough that they perform the entire transformation sequence AND roll call in under 10 seconds (with the pre-transformation dance being run at double speed). Even funnier, when they start it up the enemy commander prepares to sit through the full roll call, and is utterly floored when they finish that fast.
Played painfully straight in the original Giant Robo/Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot toku. Before he performs any attack, Giant Robo has to first go through a variety of stances, yet remains unmolested by the Monster of the Week. This is most evident during Robo's missile attack, which features Stock Footage of him swinging his forearms side-to-side and up-and-down, then holding out his hands while missiles sprout from his fingertips — all while the monster waits for the routine to finish.
In Doctor Who, if a Time Lord is killed while trying to regenerate, then he will truly die. Most regenerations tend to happen after the episode's conflict is already over, but it happens to an alternate Doctor in "Turn Left" and to the Eleventh Doctor's future self at the beginning of "The Impossible Astronaut."
Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon brings the Sailor Moon example above to its logical extreme: during her first ever transformation, Sailor Mercury manages to chant the invocation phrase and go through the entire flashy sequence in midair, while falling from roughly five stories high. Again, it's hinted that the transformation is actually instant and the flashy sequences are just a symbolic representation.
This is showen to be the case several times during the series such as when Rei transforms while rushing into fight the yoma without the transformation sequence showing flames cover her then disapear to show her in her Sailor Mars costume.
In Champions, this is called "Instant Change", and is a power you can purchase if the GM agrees.
In Dungeons & Dragons, changing shape using the Shapechange spell is indeed a free action. Literally matching the name of the trope has absolutely nothing to do with the trope itself of course, and within the game world the transformation is instantaneous and doesn't involve anyone waiting courteously for you to finish. However, your fellow gamers will probably have to sit through the description of your new form and possibly have to wait for you to finish looking up the stats for your new form, which makes the at-the-table experience of transformation magic in RPGs very similar to this trope.
Even though Shapechange, the epitome of mortal transformative magic, allows the caster to change shape as a free action once cast, it is still a standard action to cast in the first place. If you are standing next to an opponent, they are not obliged to sit around and let you finish your spell. Quickened spells, up to and including Shapechange, are however free actions to cast.
Another high-level spell, Time Stop, is most commonly used to give spellcasters time to cast large numbers of buffs at the beginning of combat. Shape changing spells are a very common element in most self-buff strategies, and so this commonly does result in everybody else staring paralyzed through long transformation sequences.
And Grimalkin, from the Monster Manual 2, have the ability "Alter Self", which allows them to take on the form of most animals as big or smaller then them - as a free action.
In 4e, transformation (using the Druid power Wild Shape) is a minor action. There are a number of utility powers and feats which can upgrade it to a free action or even immediate interrupt (meaning that you can be standing next to someone in human form, and bite their arm off in beast form as an Attack of Opportunity, before they even have the chance to shoot). There are a lot of other transformation powers too, but the Druid's is probably the quintessential one.
Exalted: Transformation is initially not a free action for a Lunar Exalted —anyone can attack a Lunar when s/he is shapeshifting— but there is a set of Knacks to remedy that. The most powerful of those Knacks allow the Lunar to shapeshift once in every other character's turn. Which means that it's even faster than a Free Action, because after changing form a Lunar can still use any other Charms that can be used in other character's turn.
In Magic: The Gathering, the morph ability certainly qualifies. A creature with morph can come come into play as a face-down generic 2/2 creature, then its controller can pay the morph cost to turn it face-up, turning it into its "real body". Morphing is a completely free action to do in terms of timing, can't be responded to and is even one of the only moves one can do during a "split second stack" where players normally can't do any action. There are several reasons for this. For one thing, morphing is technically not itself an action, it is choosing to end an earlier effect. For another, the ability would be nearly useless if your opponent could freely cast removal spells on the feeble unmorphed creatures.
Mutants & Masterminds literally has transforming as a Free action. This includes Alternate Forms and all the various shapeshifting powers.
From Warhammer and its sci-fi sibling franchise, mortal factions aligned with Chaos are capable of fielding Chaos Spawn and Greater Daemons. Sorcerors are capable of turning people into spawn, and certain champions of Chaos are capable of turning allowing a Greater Daemon to possess their body. All of this is essentially instantaneous. This is justified by two factors: Chaos spawn mutations are generally very rapid and Greater Daemons are essentially immaterial and probably don't count as an actual transformation since the body they use is essentially a summoning portal for an entity that doesn't need transformations. The second factor is that the game turns aren't representative of actual time passage.
Werewolf: The Forsaken averts this, as it usually takes an instant action (about three seconds) for a werewolf to change forms, leaving them open to attack in combat. However, they can spend one Essence to make the change instantaneous, and don't even have to spend the Essence if the moon's in the phase they first changed under.
Averted in Legacy of Goku II, where Super Saiyan/Super Namek caused your character to do the transformation animation in real time and would be interrupted if you got hit, making them a pain in the ass to pull off during boss fights (luckily, most boss arenas had places you could hide behind to transform without getting punched).
Subverted in Kingdom Hearts II, where transformations (dual-wielding forms) on Sora's part are not only instantaneous, they hurl enemies back and deal damage.
Also subverted in Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep. Each playable character's command styles (equivalent to KH2's forms) only takes about a second to activate, and during the switch, you're invincible. However, enemies can and will attack you just after the transformation (while you're still mostly helpless), which can really screw you up if you were damaged to begin with and just about to heal.
Due to terrible load times if you haven't installed the game data onto your PSP, it can easily generate this effect naturally as the Unversed just kind of lounge around you the 15+ seconds it takes to activate.
Transformations are also a free action in Final Fantasy X-2, where you'll be able to change costumes and still act on a single turn.
Fans of Final Fantasy X-2 will be in for a rude awakening when they play Final Fantasy XIII. Switching paradigms prompts a small transformation sequence but does not stop the battle. So while your characters flip their weapons and strike Sailor Moon poses, your enemies will not hesitate to shoot you in the face with a bazooka.
Subverted by the player characters of the Mega Man ZX series; the first transformations into the Model X and Model A Mega Men don't take as long as they seem to, as the camera merely focuses on different parts of the body in separate shots - one could argue it's all happening at the same time. The first transformation into the Model ZX Mega Man does take a while, though presumably because of the bodily strain and the energy being released, which vapourises all of the enemies about to shoot Vent/Aile. However, during gameplay, Mega-merging still takes less than a second.
Subverted also by Serpent, who transforms in identical fashion to the hero's in-game transformation, and also by the four enemy Mega Men of Advent, who do take a few seconds, but release powerful phenomena when they do so, which protect and obscure them (respectively: surrounded by whirlwinds, engulfed in flames, encased in ice, wrapped in shadows) and are ready to go immediately afterwords.
Played very straight, however, by Vent/Aile in Advent (when they're met as enemies initially), whose transformations are ludicrously over-the-top and expository, especially Aile's. Also done by Albert, who initially blows away the walls and ceiling, but otherwise floats in the air while his transformation completes itself. Both instances take a very long time to complete, and in both cases, Grey/Ashe just stand and watch.
In some Mega Man X games, X teleports in and then warps an armor onto himself instantly. Of course, he usually teleports in to an enemy-free area.
Famously subverted in Disgaea, where Etna shoots two Sentai characters in the middle of a transformation sequence.
If you want to get technical, transformation could actually be a free half action, what with getting into a correct position and all.
And then you have the re-release of Disgaea 2, where a modified monster can add itself into the already magichanged monster, resulting in two transformations, possibly one right after the other.
Used without much in the way of explanation in the Shadow Hearts series. Harmonixers, such as Yuri, can transform without using up their turn... you can even revert to human from a demonic form, transform into a DIFFERENT demon, peruse its attacks and decide that none of them are any good, revert again, pick a third demon-form, and THEN unleash one of its attacks - all while the monsters are patiently waiting for you to just get it over with already...
Subverted in Super Robot Wars Original Generation, when Kyosuke nails the R-Gun Rivale with his signature Revolver Stake attack, while it's in the middle of transforming... inflicting serious damage due to various parts being left exposed during the transformation, and effectively jamming the gears. Ingram is not amused.
And subverted as well when Ingram shoots down the R-3 Powered in the middle of transforming into the SRX. Granted, he had the help of Aya suffering psychic backlash.
Another subversion occurs in one mission of Alpha Gaiden, where the dinosaur empire has created a special squad of mechabeasts whose sole purpose is to stay between the getter machinces and prevent them from combining. However, they were ultimately unable to stop a much higher speed, and therefore more dangerous, version of the combination mechanism.
...it's kind of funny, though, considering that the rule is fully in effect in all the other Super Robot Wars games - anyone who can combine, divide, transform or whatever, can do so whenever they like, without wasting a turn. In fact, you can even combine with units that have already moved this turn as long as the one who's activating the combination hasn't, which you can take advantage of by separating a combined mecha, having all but the main pilot for the combined form attack, and then have the last one combine to launch a final attack that is much stronger than any attack the individual would make (and keep the individual units from being killed during the enemies turn).
Super Smash Bros. Brawl has loading issues due to the fact that it is on a double-layered DVD. As such, Princess Zelda's transformation into Shiek now encases her in a sphere of light for four seconds rather than being instantaneous like in the previous game, Melee. You can't hurt her while she's in the sphere.
Averted in Mass Effect 2 - when fighting the Collectors, Big Bad Harbinger will sometimes assume direct control of one of the mooks, which gives it powerful armor, barriers, and attacks, as well as essentially setting it on fire from the inside out. However, doing so involves a several-second-long ingame sequence of the mook floating in the air and glowing orange, during which time you can take off a significant portion of its health bar without it fighting back. If you've got a powerful enough weapon, such as the Widow, you might even be able to kill it.
Transforming in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask causes the rest of the game to come to a standstill (which is a good thing considering some of the transformations you need to do in the middle of boss fights). After the first transformation, you can skip the transformation sequence though (also good since it looks painful).
Defeating the Doppelganger boss in Castlevania III relies on this trope. Changing your active character will cause the Doppelganger to transform into that character. For you, transforming (well, technically changing lead characters) is a free action. For the Doppelganger, it is not.
The nature of World of Warcraft transformation ranges all over, from the transformation happening instantly, everyone being unable to attack for no adequately explained reason, the boss making itself temporarily invulnerable, the boss incapacitating everyone before transforming, the transformation period being an excellent time to beat them up without resistance, to being able to stop them transforming at all by killing them or disrupting the spell.
High Priest Thekal in Zul'Gurub, after being defeated in the first phase, yells "Shrivallah, fill me with your rage!" before transforming and replenishing his life bar, and the players cannot attack him while he transforms.
The Reliquary of Souls (a large three-faced orb) in The Black Temple retreats inside a cage-like shell made out of bone for a few seconds while switching to its next face. The Devourer of Souls, a boss with the same model, shifts faces instantly and without warning, though.
M'uru cannot be attacked during his transformation to Entropius, but this gives the raid valuable time to kill any remaining adds before the start of Phase 2.
Averted with Moorabi in Gundrak; the transformation is a spell that can be interrupted, and the players get an achievement if they defeat him without him transforming.
Justified with Professor Putricide in Icecrown Citadel, who uses Tear Gas to immobilize the raid while he runs over and drinks a potion.
Subverted with Ditto, whose only move is to transform into the opponent exactly except for HP. However, this takes a turn, and it normally gets knocked out or severely damaged before it can actually do anything due to its subpar stats. Although, in Generation V, it got an ability which transforms it immediately upon entering the battle.
Subverted again with evolution. Pokémon wait to transform until after the battle if they're ready to evolve mid-fight.
Played straight with Mega Evolutions in Generation VI, temporary form changes accessible to certain Pokémon in battle. You can transform into a Mega form and use a move in the same turn.
Played straight in Mabinogi Fantasy Life in that any of the many character transformations give you invincibility during the transformation sequence.
Averted in Skyrim with the werewolf form. It isn't rare for a player to activate werewolf form during a fight, only to be cut down during the transformation sequence. This isn't helped by werewolf form effectively turning your Player Character into a fast-moving Glass Cannon.
The vampire lord transformation in the Dawnguard DLC likewise takes several seconds during which the player is vulnerable. In fact, the player is vulnerable for even longer than it looks, because even once the physical form has changed, it can take some time for the magic spells to get ready for use.
Played straight the first time Fargas transforms, though: his enemies would have had plenty of time to cut him to pieces in the middle of his transformation, but instead just stand there.
Sonic the Hedgehog, when he transforms into Super Sonic in the original games (Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and onwards), you are only suspended in the air for a second or two while you transform. In the 3-D games, anytime Sonic transforms into Super Sonic, it takes a good ten seconds to summon the Chaos Emeralds, close eyes, absorb the emeralds, then "explode" into Super Sonic in a cutscene, and only once, in Sonic Unleashed, does someone attempt to stop it. It doesn't work. This transformation goes quicker when transforming during normal gameplay in Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations.
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Sonic's Final Smash is similar to the cutscenes, only, you get a quick 3-second transformation at the beginning and end of the attack.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron justifies it with Metroplex. He's so big that Decepticon mooks fall right off while he's transforming for at least 30 seconds. A Warp Cannon might have stopped it though.
Resident Evil is very, very guilty. Countless are the times when the hero would just stand there, gun trained at the villain, who's laughing maniacally, strinking dramatic poses while they are slowly mutating or being absorbed into their One-Winged Angel form.
The first Shantae game subverts this. If the player gets attacked while attempting a transformation dance, she needs to start over. However, the sequel, Risky's Revenge plays this straight. While performing a dance, the everything in the background (including the enemies) will pause.
Averted in Dragon Age: Origins. Shapeshifting is a chanelling spell, and as such can be interrupted by an attack.
All of Mario's transformations are instant. However, there's no Mercy Invincibility, so it's possible to pick up an item and immediately lose it due to hitting an enemy.
Head Trip parodied this trope in the strip that provided a former page quote. "Seriously, she's been doing that for like five minutes, and you didn't think to get up and do anything?" "Look, lady, our contract says to attack girls in mini-skirts... She's naked. Don't look at me."
Inverted and subverted in Manly Guys Doing Manly Things by -Gackt, telling Commander where an eye wash station was, only to transform into his ultimate form while Commander was occupied.
Magical Girl Hunters occasionally averts it. Yoi and Itami don't shoot the girls prior to transformation and are loath to do so during because it's bad business, making them look like they're gunning down innocent (and briefly nude) young girls. However, this has been how they've gotten the drop on a number of their targets and many of the rest they plug in the moment right after transformation when they're still catching their balance.
One thing Azula is famous for in Avatar The Last Airbender is averting this. It may be that for most people, the sight of the Avatar State being unleashed is just too awesome (in the old-fashioned, wrath-of-God sense) to not be frozen by it, unless you're the Dangerously Genre SavvyAzula.
This is the main difference between American-produced Transformers show and the Japanese ones. Transformers in Generation 1, Beast Wars and Transformers Animated tend to take only a few seconds (if even that) to transform, not leaving themselves open to attack, whereas the Japanese shows follow this trope to a T.
It actually varies in the Japanese series. Sometimes there are long dramatic transformation sequences, and others the transforming happens instantly. As with Power Rangers, it apparently actually looks like the in-scene morphs to the other characters. It comes into play more, though, during Transformers Cybertron, as actual dialogue is inserted into Stock Footage sequences to make it more interesting (as Cybertron went way overboard with them.) It largely works, but... in the time it takes Optimus to go to Super Mode and then combine with Leobreaker, while explaining Vector Prime's whole plan and their part in it... Sideways, who was in the middle of his usual Teleport Spam attack, hasn't reappeared? Really, the Decepticons could have gone home, taken a nap, come back, and then blown Optimus and Leobreaker to scrap before that ended.
Note that in the American series nobody every tries to interrupt characters combining into a bigger robot, which clearly does take time.
It was done at least once. Slag knocked over a not-yet-complete Devastator.
Animated, however does both. Most of the time, transformation is instantaneous, however characters occasionally do get a transformation sequence where this trope is in effect.
One of the Japanese-only Transformer-style series has the baddies develop a special gun that was triggered to fire exactly in the seconds of transformation, when the robots are most vulnerable. The heroes eventually get around this by having their back-up team transform before coming on the scene, making them late to the fight but not knocked out. The villains never use this device again.
In Beast Wars they actually played with the fast transforming times, letting the characters utilize the various advantages of both forms (or three. Four in the case of Prime).
In the episode "Double Jeopardy", Rattrap shoots Tarantulas in the middle of his transformation, but Spider-boy has spent a few seconds gloating about catching Rattrap in the act of espionage, allowing him time to pull his gun and fire.
When the Constructicons try to combine into Devastator, Rumble and Frenzy create a tremor to knock them apart mid-transformation.
Horribly subverted by Transformers Prime. When Starscream sees an angry Megatron eager to punish him, he changes into a jet, but gets grabbed a half second before he can finish and is hurled into a side of the Nemesis.
Ben 10 averts this trope that, while Ben's transformations appear quite lengthy to the viewer, when its shown from other character's perspective, there's simply a flash of green light that lasts less than a second.
The girls of Winx Club are never interrupted during their transformations. One episode of season 4 even parodies this when the wizards stand around and Ogron comments, "This silly dance again?", though it does show that transformation takes a few seconds at most.
Parodied in Robot Chicken, where it takes Vehicle Voltron so long to transforme (partially because they screwed it up so badly at least once) that nearly everyone they were supposed to rescue is dead by the time they actually got there.
Like most magical girl series, the main heroines of W.I.T.C.H. are never interrupted in their transformation sequences. One incident, where the girls' teacher catches the tail end of their transformation, is shocked by the light show, giving them the chance to manhandle him (they thought he was working for the enemy). He comes into school the next day, dismissing it as a dream.
Subverted in grand style in an episode of the 2011 Voltron Force series. A hypersonic Robeast specifically designed to attack Voltron while forming is sent to Arus by Prince Lotor. Daniel's Voltcom powers are crucial in defeating it, as his speed-based powers allow Voltron to compress its combination sequence from 36 seconds to just four. Or as it was put in the comments section on a video recording of the Flash Form on YouTube,
*CLANG* *CLANG* *CLANG* *CLANG* INSTANT VOLTRON!
In the episode "Brains," the trope was explicitly invoked by the writers, as Prince Lotor challenged Voltron to one-on-one combat, and the combination sequence that followed used the classic, rather than modernized, Voltron music. Prince Lotor did nothing to interrupt Voltron's combination sequence, because he wanted a direct one-on-one fight with his nemesis.
Mercilessly lampshaded in MAD during a skit that combined Dragon Ball Z with Money Ball. Vegeta takes so long to power up, that by the time he's done, people in the bleachers and dugouts are taking naps, playing chess, and watching through the entirety of Peter Jackson's King Kong. And the payoff: He uses his built up power to bunt the ball.
In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, this is averted with Droidikas. While they generally transition from their ball mode to combat mode quickly, Ashoka and Anakin manage to kill one while it is in wheel mode and lightsaber range in the movie.
Max in Max Steel 2013 emits a forcefield when transforming, preventing interruption.