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Voluntary Shapeshifting

"If comic books, cartoons, and Sci-Fi Original Movies have taught me anything, it's that shapeshifting comes with a bunch of boring rules and restrictions that limit its potential Turn-Into-A-Bulldozer-Whenever-I-Wantity. 'You can turn into a machine gun but not bullets, contemporary jazz turns you back to normal, you can only turn into presents your grandma's knitted for you.' Crap like that."

A character with the power to transform and reshape his or her body. This trope comes in a wide variety of forms, but can be classified by exactly what the character can transform themselves into.

Most commonly, a character is limited to a specific set of one or more "alternate" forms, or a specific "class" of things he can change into (animals, machines, elements, etc.) Sometimes, there's a specific feature that they are unable to conceal, like hair color or voice, that others can use to identify them regardless of what form they are in. If the only thing they are able to change is hair/eye color, they have Kaleidoscope Hair / Eyes.

Usually, the character can transform simply by thinking about it, but occasionally they may use a gadget or a magic phrase.

Magic Pants are almost always in effect, unless the shapeshifting character demonstrates or mentions they are simply molding what looks like clothing out of his/her body cells for the common decency of those around them. (In which case, it's best not to think too much about that... whoops, too late.)

Many Superheroes have this power, along with nearly all gods and Sufficiently Advanced Aliens. It's particularly popular with Tricksters and Reality Warpers.

Many with a flexible transformation scheme also have a tacked-on bonus ability to alter their shape in any way they wish; i.e., adopt a clay-like consistency and sculpt themselves blob-style. The stretchy, ultraflexible body of a character like Plastic Man or Mrs. Incredible is a milder form. Others may use a Partial Transformation to "mix and match" elements of their human and transformed states.

Being able to form limbs into stabbing weapons and reform oneself after being blown apart by explosives has become an almost standard ability of the clay-consistency metamorph in recent years, probably due to the popularity of the T-1000 character from Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Quite a few Shifters boast Elemental Powers, with water-based powers being particularly popular. A potent Healing Factor is also often packaged in, considering they can restructure their body at will.

Exactly where their extra body mass comes from (or goes) when a shapeshifter transforms from one size to another is known as Shapeshifter Baggage.

Can be used for Narrative Shapeshifting. The Shapeshifting Seducer finds picking up partners at bars is fairly easy.

Sooner or later, a Phlebotinum Breakdown may leave the character suffering Involuntary Shapeshifting or Shapeshifter Mode Lock, if only temporarily. If badly beaten or near death, they may have a Superpower Meltdown and lose control of their power, resulting in a Shapeshifter Swan Song. If the character isn't very used to morphing shapes they may have Limb-Sensation Fascination after each change. Such a character might also be Otherworldly And Sexually Ambiguous.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • The beautiful Playboy Bunny Melona from Queen's Blade has this ability, and uses it for both deception, and combat purposes.
  • Ditto from Pokémon. In the game it can only transform into whichever Pokémon it is facing at the time with a purple tint (this was later removed in newer games, where the transformed Ditto was simply a lighter tint of normal Pokémon). In the anime, they can transform into all different things including Pokémon, but some of them keep the creepy looking face of the original. The legendary Mew also possesses this ability both in the games and shown in one of the movies.
    • In Pokémon Heroes, the Pokémon Latias commonly shapeshifts into the human Bianca; the only differences between the pair is that Latias does not wear the beret and is voiceless. Her version is unlike Ditto/Mew's as here it is that the Latias can be seen in her true form with a pair of thermogoggles owned by Annie and Oakley.
  • All characters with Youma blood in Claymore have some degree of shapeshifting ability. Full Youma and Awakened Ones (aka Voracious Eaters) usually have a human form and a monstrous form. Several of them also display the "rubber-band limbs" kind of shapeshifting. Claymores themselves exhibit a series of progressive changes when they tax their powers.
  • Catan from Tower of God, in his Shapeshifter Default Form a black blob with the silhouette of a bell curve, can transform free and uses that ability to fight. This lso becomes his downfall, as Koon sucks him up with his Bag of Holding while he is in between forms.
  • Envy of Fullmetal Alchemist. It finds it most useful to change into people, but isn't limited to that; its "true form" is...let's just say you don't want to meet it down a dark alley.
    • Heck, its true form wouldn't even fit in a dark alley.
      • This is ironically taken advantage of by Roy Mustang when they fought to the death. Because of its large size, it allowed Roy to constantly bombard it with high powered but inaccurate shots that would hit it anyway. Given that Envy was a mass of human body parts and was heavy in bodily fluids, it did not matter if Roy only just barely grazes it, anything about it could be set on fire. Ironically it is the inhuman form that brought about its downfall.
    Mustang: I can't believe you'd give me a bigger target! Did you honestly think that greater size would be an advantage?
    • It also crosses over into Shapeshifter Weapon. As it puts it (as it turns its limbs into a sword and a snake), it's not human, so why should it limit himself by fighting like one?
    • Sloth from the 2003 anime version has limited forms of this, due to her water powers. While she can't change her basic appearance, she can make small changes in things like her hair color and clothes, which she uses to keep her cover as Juliet Douglas.
  • Aside from the examples mentioned under Animorphism, Lyrical Nanoha also has the cyborg Due, who can reshape her appearance for long-term infiltration missions.
  • Pretty Cure is positively full of this:
    • Several Mentor Mascot characters, especially in the most recent years, are able to change into human form, most notably all four main mascots from Yes! Pretty Cure 5 and its sequel GoGo, as well as pre-Heel-Face Turn Siren/Ellen from Suite Pretty Cure ♪, who could also change into other people. As if that wasn't enough, Pop from Smile Pretty Cure! cranks it Up to Eleven by being a ninja with the ability to change into anything the situation calls for.
    • Villainous characters were no stranger to this, either. Two of Futari wa Pretty Cure's first Quirky Miniboss Squad (and all three of the fourth) changed their appearances on occasion — Poisony, in particular, used at least four different disguises, one of which was a convincing impersonation of Honoka. And in Yes! Pretty Cure 5 the shift from human appearance to animalistic combat form happens nearly Once an Episode.
    • And while it's certainly not on the same scale, all of the Magical Girls in the franchise undergo some kind of physical change when they transform, ending up with longer hair at the very least.
  • Puar and Oolong from Dragon Ball both have the ability to shapeshift. Puar doesn't seem to have any major limitations but Oolong can only change for five minutes before having to take a one minute rest. This is due to being kicked out shapeshifting school for stealing his teacher's panties.
    • A large variety of the villains can do this. The most notable case being Frieza, who can transform up to 3 times to increase his power.
    • Most Saiyans have an involuntary version of shapeshifting, but Vegeta displayed a technique to imitate full moon light just so he could transform, making it a version of this trope.
  • One Piece has quite a few shifters in the cast. Mostly because the Devil Fruits' powers more often than not involve altering the user's body in some way. The Devil Fruits come in three kinds, all of which have shifters amongst them.
    • The first class are the Paramecia, which gives the user superhuman powers of some sort, which may or may not include some form of shapeshifting.
      • The most literal version of this trope is the Mane Mane no Mi which allows the user to copy the body of anyone whose face he has touched with his right hand (or can remember his appearance). To change into a certain person, he touches his right cheek, and to change back into himself, he touches his left. The catch? He can't imitate clothes.
    • The second class are the Zoan, which allow the user to transform completely or partially into an animal, or an hybrid form between the user's original species and devil fruit's target species.
      • A special example of this type is Tony Tony Chopper, a reindeer who ate the Hito Hito no Mi which allows him to turn into human and have human intelligence. In addition to the basic three natural forms he can shapeshift into, he can acquire four others through the use of the "Rumble Balls" he invented. He takes this further after a Time Skip, in which he claims to have been able to change the seven forms he can transform into, and on a side note reveals he now only needs the Rumble Ball for one of the seven.
    • And the third class is are the Logia, which allows the user to generate, control or become a particular element. All of the users of Logia Devil Fruits are Elemental Shapeshifters by definition, with the exception of the Yami Yami no Mi
  • Eve from Black Cat.
  • Tenchi Muyo!
    • Zero (later Ryoko Hakubi) and (sort of) Washuu, and in the spinoffs there are: Ryoko Balouta of Tenchi Muyo GXP, Doll/Mexiah of Isekai No Seikishi Monogatari, and even Kei in Spaceship Agga Ruter.
    • Ryo-Ohki has the ability to transform into a spaceship; after absorbing Mass she can also transform into a full-sized human female (possibly) covered in brown fur (it's hard to tell), a small sized human/cabbit form, her spaceship form, and her default cabbit form.
    • In Tenchi Universe there is also Ken-Ohki, a white cabbit able to also transform into a spaceship.
    • In Tenchi in Tokyo, Ryo-Ohki displays the ability to become various mecha.
  • It's implied that all of the demons in Chrono Crusade have shape-shifting abilities. They all have at least two forms: their true demonic form, and a more human-looking form they seem to use when mingling among humans, and possibly to conserve energy as well. Chrono himself has a third form: a small, child-like version of his human form that he took on to save as much energy as possible.
  • Ahiru from Princess Tutu is somewhere in between Voluntary and Involuntary Shapeshifting. She turns back into her duck form when she quacks—which she sometimes does on purpose, but also accidentally triggers when she responds in shock by quacking. (She can also stop the transformation if she slaps her hand over her mouth in time, however.)
  • Digimon has tons of examples of this.
  • Shippo from InuYasha can do this.
    • As can Naraku, though he uses it less for impersonation (as the hero would probably sniff him out) than for sprouting enormous amounts of Combat Tentacles whenever he needs them. In terms of size, he can be anything from mountain-sized to a minuscule dormant form that can be sufficiently hidden in a fold of skin.
  • Weapons in Soul Eater are otherwise-normal humans (besides their titular taste for corrupted souls) who can each transform into one of a variety of devices, including but not limited to scythes, guns, knives, shurikens, and chainsaws. The catch: Most cannot fight by themselves, and require a Meister to wield them.
  • In Hellsing, most of the vampires can do this.
  • In Himechan's Ribbon, Himeko uses the titular ribbon to shift her shape into that of another (real) person. The catch? They wear a pendant that resembles the ribbon.
  • Horo from Spice and Wolf can change forms between a wolf-eared and tailed girl in her late teens and a giant wolf larger than an elephant. The latter is her "true" form.
  • The slime sisters from Mahou Sensei Negima! seem to have this ability. Some demons also appear to have some abilities along this line, though the primary example had features (horns -> hair) that showed up regardless.
  • Yamimaru of Millennium Snow is usually a bat, but he can transform into one of two human forms for a few hours per day. He can also switch freely between the two forms.
  • Most Ninja in Naruto can do this. However, the basic version is implicitly only skin deep, otherwise all the ninja would transform into horrific monsters, or at least weaponized versions of themselves, for extra fighting power. It's mainly used for deception.
    • Special note should be given to the Jinchuriki, who (when influenced with the chakra of the tailed beast inside them) slowly turn into the tailed beast. Naruto's is explicitly detailed, showing him gain the fox aura and whiskers, then shape, bone, muscles and sinew, and begin to grow fur by the time he reaches 8 of his 9 tails.
  • Nyanko-sensei/Madara in Natsume Yuujinchou. Aside from being able to go from Sleep Mode Size (a Maneki Neko) to his true form (a gigantic wolf spirit) on command, he changes into a human girl once in a while when being a cat is inconvenient. He also took Natsume's form once to keep Natsume's family and friends from realizing anything had happened when Natsume was trapped in a magic jar. This was not entirely convincing. To be fair, it was probably deliberate when he slipped up with Tanuma.
  • Origami Cyclone of Tiger & Bunny can shapeshift into anyone he's touched. We find out he can also do inanimate objects later in the series when he turns into a wanted poster during a manhunt.
  • Magical Girls in Oku-sama wa Mahou Shoujo can use their powers to change shape. Among forms used are ravens, a mean looking dog, and an adult form of the girl.
  • Momose from Bloody Cross. She mostly uses it to make herself look like a friend/ally of one of her enemies so she can get close enough to surprise attack them.
  • Cutey Honey has the ability to transform ... into various alternate versions of herself, it's a magical girl thing. This is Taken Up to Eleven in the 1990s Reboot when she transforms into a giant SPIDER. Thus proving her full capabilities as a shapeshifter.
  • Nurarihyon from Gantz combines this with From a Single Cell: the capacity of his shapeshifting ability is so potential, he is almost impossible to kill. Actually, by just trying to do damage to him, he is impossible to kill. Only when he can't see the attack coming, are his regenerative abilities hindered. Nurarihyon can also transform into pretty much anything imaginable from an old man to a gigantic naked body of a woman formed by countless naked bodies of women.
  • Elfman Strauss and his siblings Mirajane and Lisanna from Fairy Tail share a magical ability called "Take Over". It allows them to take the form of other beings, like beasts (Elfman's "Beast Soul"), animals (Lisanna's "Animal Soul") or a demon (Mirajane's "Satan Soul").
  • Tomoe and Mizuki, Nanami's two familiars from Kamisama Kiss, are shown capable of shapeshifting at will. Mizuki is only shown to be able to transform from his normal human form to a white snake. Tomoe, on the other hand, is a Little Bit Beastly Kitsune who is shown to be able to transform himself and other people into just about anything and anyone he damn well pleases.
  • Nemesis in To love Ru Darkness is capable of changing her body as well as clothing. Thus far she only changes herself into a black cat, no inanimate object transformation shown.
  • Tanuki in Uchouten Kazoku are able to shape shift at will, in varying degrees of proficiency, just like their mythological counterparts.
  • The alien characters of Haiyore! Nyarko-san can all do this, but almost universally stick with human forms not only as a courtesy to the human cast but because, as Lovecraftian beings, their other forms would drive ordinary people insane. Normally this just means the heroic aliens changing into their combat forms, like Nyarko's Kamen Rider-inspired Full Force Form; the worst we get in this regard is her brother Nyar-O, whose combat form is the Bloody Tongue, a giant black creature with a tongue for a head.
    • The original light novel shows a bit more, establishing that Nyarlathotepians have the racial ability to reshape the facial features of their human form; Nyarko makes her face look like a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo version of Nanoha Takamichi to prove to Mahiro that she's an alien. In the anime he just takes her word for it, mainly because she just saved his life by putting her hand through the chest of a horrifying monster.

    Comic Books 
  • Jason Blood is able to transform into the demon Etrigan by saying a short poem.
  • Mystique from the X-Men: people, some other creatures. Similarly, Morph from the 90s series, who was in turn inspired by Changeling from the comics. Morph (maybe not the same guy) also appears in the Age of Apocalypse event and the Exiles ongoing monthly title.
    • Mystique's morphing ability allows her to morph into anyone/anything (including a wooden chair and a giant dragon on separate occasions), but she retains her "default mode" mass (her larger transformations would, well, tear like a hot-air balloon filled with blood if damaged...which is what happened to her as Bishop in Uncanny X-Men issue 301). Meanwhile, Kevin Sydney (who is in fact the same guy for both versions of Morph) transforms in similar fashion as Mr. Fantastic does by reshaping his features via concentrated power of will.
    • Carmen Electra played a parody of Mystique in Epic Movie. In one scene Peter requests her to transform into increasingly bizarre forms to please his various fetishes: unibrows, giant butts, flabby arms, etc.
  • Impossible Man from the Fantastic Four comics and cartoon is a trickster-like alien who can turn into all kinds of crazy things. In an episode of the 90's series titled "Hopelessly Impossible", he turns into Galactus, Lawrence Limburger, Hulk, Lockjaw, and a Ninja Turtle.
  • Dark Horse comic The Mask features another Trickster shapeshifter.
  • The DCU is positively lousy with shapeshifters: Beast Boy, Plastic Man, Offspring, all Martians (including resident superheroes Martian Manhunter and Miss Martian), Madame Rouge, Gemini, Everyman, Metamorpho, and Elongated Man, among many others. Shapeshifting may well surpass flight on their list of ubiquitous superpowers, at least among the younger generation.
    • Plastic Man is regarded as the most powerful shapeshifter in the modern setting, with the ability to take virtually any shape, change color, and survive numerous attacks that seem tailor-made to hurt shapeshifters, such as being frozen and shattered.
    • Beast Boy from the Teen Titans: any animal regardless of size, but he will always be green. Madam Rouge from the animated version has no such weakness.
    • Martian Manhunter from Justice League had blob-form powers and disguise forms, as well as a few other notable abilities. Like the ability to survive being ripped in half. Scary.
    • Clayface from Batman: The Animated Series could assume human forms, and the blob attack after he was found out.
    • Inque from Batman Beyond had a body made of a black viscous fluid, and could shape herself at will.
  • ElfQuest has a number of examples. The original High Ones shapeshifted into elfin forms, which most of them retained (and which bred true) after crash-landing on the magic-poor World of Two Moons. A few, such as Timmain and Haken, were able to painfully force their shapeshifting abilities despite the planet's lack of magic. Most notably, Timmain often shapeshifted into a wolf (becoming the wolf-mother of the story's main tribe) and, many generations later, taught Kimo how to do so as well. Winnowill was able to shapeshift into human form, as was Jink centuries after that. When Winnowill's spirit was absorbed by Rayek, she sometimes succeeded in taking control of his body and reshaping it into her own form.
    • To elaborate: shapeshifting in ElfQuest is an extension of "shaping" magic, i.e. rock-shaping, tree-shaping, and in this case, flesh-shaping. It's a painful process, but it follows the same basic logic as healing. This means that elves with healing powers are always potential shapeshifters but, in most cases, find the very idea unnatural and disturbing at first. Exceptions appear more and more often as the story progresses: Tyldak asks Winnowill to shape him into a bird-elf, Mender chooses not to grow a beard as he gets older, Skywise asks Leetah to make him into a pure elf instead of a wolf-elf (when he thinks all the other elves have died), and Suntop asks Leetah to shape him into a mer-elf temporarily so that he can spend time underwater with his lifemate.
    • An article in The ElfQuest Gatherum v. II specifies that the original High Ones shapeshifted on the genetic level. fridge logic 
  • The Marvel Universe's Skrulls are an entire race of voluntary shapeshifters, something they use to great advantage in the Secret Invasion crossover event.
  • The Marvel Comics character Sleepwalker, who had his own title in the early 1990s, is a variation on this trope. While he can't change his own physical shape, his warp vision can be used to alter the physical shape of any inanimate object within its radius, and affect its physical characteristics to a lesser degree.
  • Shakira from The Warlord can change into a black cat at will.
  • The character E.V.E. from Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog title was able to shift shapes to become stronger after each defeat by the titular hedgehog. She did this so flawlessly that Sonic even thought he was being attacked by multiple opponents. After reaching her ultimate form, however, this power was no longer used and may be an example of Shapeshifter Mode Lock.
  • The Incredible Hulk developed the ability to do this at one point in the early 1980s when Bruce Banner had taken complete control of the Hulk's form. While he normally stayed in his basic human body, Banner could transform himself into the Hulk at will and retained full control of his body while doing so. The emotionally reserved Banner couldn't get as angry as any of the actual Hulk personalities and so wasn't as strong, but he made up for it by using his scientific smarts to fight as a Genius Bruiser.
    • Both She-Hulk and Red Hulk are typically able to control their transformations.
  • Shifty, a prominent member of the Confederacy of Crime in The Incredibles comic series.
  • Viktor Romanov's weapon crest in Nikolai Dante allows him to transform into the Romanov eagle.
  • The Chameleon.
  • Chameleon Boy of the Legion of Super-Heroes is a Durlan, another one of those alien races where everybody is a shapeshifter.
  • Apocalypse from the X-Men is a mutant enhanced with futuristic technology and has absolute molecular control over his size and shape. Besides his laundry list of other powers, he can form his limbs into melee weapons, heal himself and disguise himself as a human.
  • Venom of Spider-Man can camouflage itself by blending in with nearby walls and mimic other humans or clothing.
  • Sham of the DNAgents can be any human form, but he doesn't transform his clothing.
  • Last Man Standing has Karma, which is a Justified Trope considering she's a robotic spy with advanced synthetic texture-mapping tech for skin.
  • Bigby from Fables has a default wolf form, can shapeshift to a man, and can take any degree of the in-between forms. His six brothers are much more versatile, but not nearly as strong.

    Fairy Tales 

    Fan Fiction 
  • In the Virtual Series Slayer Academy two characters, Hamish and Rachel, have the ability to change their appearance. They can look like other people as well as changing all or part of themselves into various demons.
  • In Keepers of the Elements, the Erendorian people for the most part have this ability and some non-Erendorian people have this ability as well.
  • George in With Strings Attached, thanks to his unexpectedly powerful ring. There don't seem to be any limits on what he can become or for how long, though he eschews certain forms because they're disgusting or disconcerting. But in the blink of an eye he can become animals, birds, insects, monsters (including a red dragon), other people, and even inanimate objects. Healing Factor, size shifting, and a Hammerspace “closet” are also part of the package, though Magic Pants are not. (He keeps clothes in his closet for that.) He does have a little problem with The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body, though with effort he can come back to himself. Also, his ring sticks once in a while.
  • Digipoke: Digital Pokémon. has the protagonists changing into different Pokémon and Digimon in order to defeat their enemies, sometimes spending no more than a couple of seconds before transforming again.
  • In Little Boy Blue, a Rise of The Guardians, we have Desmond who does this to imitate Jack.
  • Eclipse in the Tamers Forever Series is able to take the form of any Digimon of Champion level or lower.
  • Discworld fic Why And Were introduces Howondalandian shapeshifters who can take on leopard form.
  • In The Captain Of The Virtual Console, Mew is this via the Transform move.
  • In The Moonstone Cup the dragon leader Najstariot keeps herself in a humanoid shape for the majority of the tournament with a transformation spell. It isn't until the climax of the story that she drops the transformation and shows Twilight her true, draconic form (and the injuries she's sustained in it).
  • A werewolf in Weres Harry claimed that some of the ancient Scandinavians were given this ability by their gods - Loki for wolves, Tyr for bears and Heimdall for big cats.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live Action 
  • Terminator:
    • Terminator 2: Judgment Day gives us the aforementioned T-1000. Capable of imitating almost anything it touches, but not replicating it, since it is made out of liquid metal. It's able to turn its limbs into various weapons such as knives or hooks. Complex machinery such as guns is a problem, because they have specific components such as chemical reactions and moving parts. It also often imitates people it's just killed in order to move around freely (its default appearance being a cop) or to get closer to its target. Due to its natural liquid form being able to reassemble at will, its virtually indestructible by any means of conventional weaponry.
    • The T-X from Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is a downplayed version of this. It's composed of liquid metal over a solid Terminator skeleton. Due to this it can't do quite as much reshaping as the entirely liquid metal T-1000, but it can still alter its appearance and take on people's identities.
  • Jareth from Labyrinth can turn into an owl.
  • Jim Carrey played The Mask in the movie with the help of groundbreaking makeup and animated effects.
  • The title ghost from Beetlejuice.
  • It Came from Outer Space (1953). The aliens can copy humans and their memories, but give themselves away through their awkward speech patterns and ability to stare into the sun without blinking.
  • Vampires in film since Dracula (1931) starring Bela Lugosi. Its second sequel Son of Dracula was the first movie to actually show transformation sequences.
  • The girls from The Craft could make themselves look like other people using disguise magic.
  • In Inception, Eames is a "forger", which means he can take on the appearance of other people when in a dream. Perhaps not a straight example of the trope as he can't do this in reality, but...
  • Due to Heath Ledger's death, a mechanism was written into The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus where dishonest people tended to have different faces than their real ones when transported into the imagination world. Fitting this trope, it's somewhat implied that Parnasus COULD use this beyond clothes, but chose not to so as to be properly recognized by the others. Played totally straight - in the fantasy if nowhere else - by the one that gave him the Imaginarium: no less than Satan himself.
  • The Djinn in Wishmaster can take on the form of others, but he has to use their faces for it. The Djinn in the fourth film does it without restriction at one point.
  • Loki from Thor, The Avengers and Thor: The Dark World, while not able to physically reshape his body, can create illusions to create the same effect. He uses it particularly often in ''Thor: The Dark World', in one scene even impersonating various other characters for fun.
  • Freddy Krueger of the A Nightmare on Elm Street film series is a master shapeshifter through his dream powers. His favorite use of this is to impersonate his victims' loved ones or other related people so he can scar them emotionally before killing them, like appearing as a teenager's murdered brother in Freddy vs. Jason or as a girl's sexually abusive father in Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare.

    Gamebooks 
  • Lone Wolf
    • The Helghasts from the gamebook series (and its spin-off Legend of Lone Wolf novels) are undead able to take human shape, making them perfect spies and assassins for the Darklords.
    • The Nadziranim ("dark sorcerers") can turn into vicious monsters when they have to fight. Their familiars the Liganim also seems to have many shapes.
    • The Deathstalker and its mate, introduced in the New Order Kai series, went on a killing spree in a city and used its shapeshifting abilities to evade detection. Its natural form is some sort of horrible ape-like thing.

    Literature 
  • The entire point of The Immortals quartet by Tamora Pierce. Daine has Wild Magic, allowing her to communicate with, heal, command, and change into animals. Stemming from her minor god of a father, the books deal with her bringing her powers under control. She can also partially shapeshift, doing things like putting her human head on an eagle's body.
    • Though sometimes her clothes go with her when she shifts and sometimes not.
  • The Were Hunters in Sherrilyn Kenyon's The Dark Hunters series.
  • The Metamorphmagus and Animagi in Harry Potter.
    • Talented wizards/witches in general, actually. There are spells for shape-shifting- their mastery is required for becoming an Auror.
    • Don't forget the Boggart. (Even though it changes into the thing you fear most)
  • Half the cast of Animorphs had the ability to transform into any animal (or, indeed, alien life form) they touched thanks to Imported Alien Phlebotinum.
  • Beorn from The Hobbit can transform into a bear at will.
    • In The Silmarillion, Finrod Felagund disguises himself, Beren and their companions as Orcs, probably by singing (which is how Sauron later strips them of their disguise.) A little later, Lúthien turns Beren into a werewolf and herself into a bat-like creature.
    • This is a standard ability of all Ainur with a couple of exceptions. The wizards gave it up as part of the limiting of their powers, and Morgoth was Shapeshifter Mode Locked into his Evil Overlord form because he became too attached to it. Sauron was noted to have a particularly strong talent at this himself, being able to even deceive elves or Númenóreans, though after the Downfall of Númenor he lost the ability to conceal his true nature.
  • Pennywise the Clown from Stephen King's IT, who can also read your mind.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe (in particular, the "Galaxy of Fear" series), the race known as the Shi'ido can shape-shift into humanoids of any species, even individuals, as well as animals of various sizes.
    • Clawdites can also shapeshift, but it's less effortless.
    • The 2012 Essential Guide to Warfare states that the Celestials were "of malleable form."
  • Albert from Norman Linsey's childrens story The Magic Pudding and the animated movie adaptation.
  • Author Amelia Atwater-Rhodes has shapeshifters in her books known as Elavie, most notably in her Kiesha'ra series. These shapeshifter usually only have the ability to change into one animal, sometimes with a half-form as well.
    • Particularly strong vampires in her world can shapeshift as well, but, unless the vampire was Elavie before being turned (such as Jaguar), it's more a case of having a very good sense of self and an understanding of one's own shape and the shape of the animal.
  • Many creatures in the Mercy Thompson series can change shape voluntarily. The titular character can turn into a coyote at will, there are werewolves aplenty, and all fae can disguise themselves with basic illusion magic.
  • Saint Dane in The Pendragon Adventure can shift into nearly any form suited for any Territory, even if the Territory is inhabited by cat people (which Eelong is). Sometimes he creates an alias, sometimes he steals one, sometimes he even changes genders. He also has the form of a black crow for quick movement. If it weren't for his icy-blue eyes and tendency to want to reveal himself, he'd be near-impossible to find.
  • Sun Wukong, the magic monkey of the Chinese epic novel, Journey to the West, has among his many powers the 72 transformations. Despite the name, this ability allows him to transform into absolutely anything.
    • Also worth mention is Zhu Bajie (aka Pigsy) who only knew 36 transformations, half as many as Sun Wukong (aka Monkey). He makes up for it with being better at fighting underwater (despite being a Pig-man).
  • The main characters of Switchers, by Kate Thompson, have the ability to transform into any animal they wish at will... at least until they turn 15.
  • H.P. Lovecraft's Nyarlathotep is an interesting case. He has over 1000 different forms, although it's never really made clear whether he can switch between forms or is he stuck to the one he manifests in. It might also be possible for him to manifest in more than one form at once (being the herald and soul of the Outer Gods means he can ignore pesky things like the laws of our space-time continuum).
    • While it's not quite clear whether or not he can switch between forms, some of his forms are able to shapeshift.
  • Many characters in John C. Wright's Chronicles of Chaos — by many different techniques.
  • In the novel "Shifting" by Bethany Wiggins, both Maggie Mae and Bridger can voluntarily turn into animals. Bridger can turn only into a golden eagle, and the eagle's love instinct remains. Maggie Mae can turn into virtually any warm-blooded, carnivorous animal because her mother was a shifter, but her father was a skin walker. Since one of Bridger's parents was a shifter and the other one was normal, if he tries to turn into anything besides a golden eagle, he will die. Their clothes don't change with them, so this causes many problems, especially for Maggie Mae.
  • Tom Holt has a few examples:
    • The goblins in the J.W. Wells & Co. books can shift instantaneously into any human form, although whether they can take other forms has not been mentioned. The vainer goblins in the series, such as Rosie Tanner, enjoy transforming into a different supermodel-gorgeous human every day, wearing bodies the way some Hollywood film stars wear clothes — always the best, and never the same outfit twice. It is emphasized that while goblins actually change the structure of their bodies, other creatures like the Fey prefer the simpler methods of glamour and illusion, which take less magical strength than actual shapeshifting.
    • In Expecting Someone Taller, Malcolm Fisher receives the Tarnhelm from Norse/Germanic mythology, which allows him to take on any shape he desires.
    • The Eastern-style Dragons in Nothing But Blue Skies can shapeshift to become human, or, um, goldfish.
    • In Falling Sideways, the super-intelligent alien frogs can take on human shape at will.
  • The character of Emma Anyanwu from Octavia Butler's Patternist series has total conscious control of her body at a cellular level. She can regenerate from any injury, stop herself from aging, alter her DNA at will, and take the form of any human or animal regardless of gender. Although she can mimic the outward appearance of any creature she sees, to become a truly accurate replica of another living organism she has to ingest and analyze a sample of that organism's DNA, e.g. through a bite of animal meat or a drop of blood.
  • The character Geloë from Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series is a practitioner of what might be regarded as Druidic magic, including the ability to shapeshift, primarily into birds. Handled fairly realistically in that it does not affect her clothing.
  • Shapeshifting is a standard ability of sorcerers in David Eddings' Belgariad and Mallorean series. Their version conveniently incorporates a form of Hammerspace for clothing and held items and also confers some of the personality traits of the assumed shape. Transformation, being directed inwardly, doesn't trigger Supernatural Sensitivity. Changing into an animal gives the ability to speak that animal's language, but doesn't give the innate knowledge to use their forms, meaning that Garion has to learn to fly through extensive practice.
  • Dax Jones from The Shapeshifter series can take multiple animal forms, like his alien mother's species and has to regularly or suffer stroke like symptoms.
  • The Kandra from Mistborn can change into anything they want — but they can't produce a rigid skeleton. Because it's almost impossible for them to replicate an individual's features without digesting them first, they generally just use the original bones anyway. Among themselves they use metal, stone, or wooden skeletons called "true bodies" which particularly creative Kandra often make into wild and fanciful shapes to show off their abilities.
    • They aren't limited to humanoid shapes, either; it's just something of a taboo, because they consider it extremely demeaning to be forced to wear nonhuman bones. One of them is forced for a time to wear the bones of a wolfhound, and he eventually grows rather fond of the form, mostly because of the physical advantages (speed, natural weapons) of being in the body of a big damn dog.
  • The Dutch YA novel De Wortels Van Het Woud (The Roots Of The Forest, by Tais Teng) has a main character who can modify his body with various animal characteristics. It turns out that he and his sister are among the last of a race of shamans. Although his sister (whose powers are not related to shapeshifting) is utterly freaked out by the revelation, the boy eventually chooses to stay in the world of magic and live his life in the Forest in millions of animal forms.
  • The si'lura in The Banned and the Banished by James Clemens are a race of Shapeshifters that are able to take the form of any living creature. They are also able to communicate in any form through an image based telepathy that requires eye to eye contact. Spending too long in one form can cause the shifter to settle and be unable to change again.
  • Mr. Nobody from the Wild Cards books— there are several other shapeshifters in the series as well.
  • In The Dresden Files, when self-inflictedthis is the only type of shapeshifting that doesn't violate the second Law of magic. Any transformation of another, either by force or benign, is not allowed. Among the non-violators are the Alphas, who have the ability to turn into wolves voluntarily (in contrast to the loup-garou, and the hexunwulf, which is reliant on an Artifact of Doom). Also the skinwalker and Injun Joe.
  • The Soletaken of the Malazan Book of the Fallen are individuals with the ability to assume animal form. Most assume mundane forms, such as wolves or bears, but Eleint Soletaken possess the rare ability to assume the form of a dragon. There also exist the D'ivers Soletaken, who can split their mind into several transformed bodies.
  • In Kingdom Keepers, Maleficent transformed into a crow and an eel in the first book. In her debut movie, she transformed into a dragon, so this is likely a natural extension of that.
  • The Guardians and demons can change their appearance at will. Demons usually shapeshift into men of wealth and taste and both sides use it to disguise themselves.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Black Colossus", Natohk is served by an unnatural shape-shifter.
  • In Josepha Sherman's The Shining Falcon, every person with Royal Blood in a certain city can assume bird form.
  • Watercrafters in Codex Alera can change their appearance if they are skilled/powerful enough. It's limited to human forms, with it being difficult to hold a form with a significantly different height/build then the crafter, and generally used to maintain a youthful appearance.
  • Shape-Shifters are a group of Wizards that can turn into animals or even trees in Septimus Heap.
  • Immortals in The Madness Season are able to transform into any creature that originates from Earth. The Marra are able to go one better and transform into any living thing that can exist, no matter what their biochemistry.
  • "Demons" in The Bartimaeus Trilogy are actually spirits summoned from another plane of existence where there are no physical forms. While on Earth, they're constrained to a physical body of some kind, but it can be pretty much whatever they feel like. Generally they take humanoid or animal forms, whatever fits the situation, but there's plenty of examples of mythological creatures (phoenixes, ogres, etc.) or hybrids involving whatever body parts they feel like, and even the implication that they could probably take the form of inanimate objects, if they so desired. The only real limits are that excessive shifting will wear them out eventually. They also seem to be somewhat constrained by size, never getting much bigger than slightly bigger than human size (although the more powerful the demon, the larger they are).
  • In the Apprentice Adept series, all unicorns can choose two other shapes they can change into at will. Most of them seem to pick human and a winged form.
  • Every single character in The Last Dove can do this. Some clans will shun those who can't.
  • In the The Heroes of Olympus series, Frank Zhang can turn into every living thing. He needs to know the animal well, though. Also, all gods can do this.
  • In the Xanth series, Prince Dolph's magical talent is being able to transform into any living thing (including borderline cases like zombies). Certain species of crossbreeds have this ability as well, but it's more limited. For example, a naga can shift from their default form of snake with human head to full human or full snake, and merpeople can turn their tail into legs. In one book there was a dragon/human girl who could shift from the default form of dragon with human head to full dragon or full human.
  • The Proteids in the Arrivals from the Dark series are a race of shapeshifters whose normal form is a shapeless pile of flesh. Most are able to shift at will to mimic any race (down to internal structure to fool any scan) and even specific beings. Due to their nature, they are, essentially, immortal. After all, what is aging to someone who can simply turn into a younger version of himself? They are also able to recover from massive damage. They are pretty neutral and prefer to stay hidden. They still send out emissaries to secretly monitor a given race and, occasionally, help or subvert them for the good of the galaxy at large. One of the key characters is a Proteid with a birth defect. He can only morph into a species once, at which point he is stuck as that form for the rest of his life, able only to affect fairly minor changes (height, skin color, body shape). Even turning into a member of the opposite sex is impossible, as that involves major changes to internal structure. Named Exile for this defect, he chooses to go to Earth (in the 13th century) as an emissary, as his people see the potential in humanity. He assumes the form of a human male and begins to observe humanity.
  • The Piurivar, or Metamorphs, in Robert Silverberg's Majipoor Series, who are one of the native species of Majipoor, and have been at war with humanity for almost as long as humanity has been on the planet, can shapeshift to resemble almost any vaguely humanoid species. If it weren't for fairly reliable Metamorph detectors, humanity would probably never have had a chance.
  • In Demon A Memoir, demons can change shape. The titular character takes on the form of a different human every time he meets the narrator.
  • In Satan's diary, the last of novel of L. Andreyev, the protagonist tried to take a human form for the first time.
  • The Parshendi of Words Of Radiance have a minor version of this: they can shift between certain specific forms by bonding appropriate spren to their bodies. So far, they have learned how to assume dullform (weak and stupid, their baseline state), mateform (lust-crazed, capable of reproduction), workform (strong, but with a mental block against confrontation), warform (strong and aggressive, with natural armor plate growing from the skin), and nimbleform (dexterous and agile, useful for precise work). And in Words Of Radiance, they learn how to assume stormform, which grants Shock and Awe powers but leaves them Ax-Crazy.
  • The shapeshifters in several Sharon Green novels could shift into anything from animals to fruit, given sufficient practice. Most people had a couple of basic forms, with full-range shifting or something close to it showing up more often in nobles and prostitutes. While you could change your size and shape, however, your mass remained exactly the same.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Flabber from Beetleborgs has this as one of his powers, being that he's a magical Phasm and all (and a rather obvious Genie/Mask Captain Ersatz, with the looks of the Joker). Early on in Beetleborgs Metalix, the kids get the ability to turn into actual beetles by shouting "Bug Out!" to turn into bugs and "Bug back!" to turn back into themselves.
  • The main character in Manimal: any animal, though he seems to fixate on a panther, a hawk, a snake, and other creatures for which the producers had sufficient stock footage. The transformations into a bull or cat were done off-screen, though. Also a dolphin. And when he transformed back into his human form, he was always inexplicably fully clothed.
  • The Changelings, including main ensemble member Odo, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine have a very flexible and almost undetectable transformation power. Their natural state is a fluid.
  • It can be argued that the Game Face presented by Buffyverse vampires is their real appearance (after all, they're demons!) and they "shape-shift" to appear as normal humans as necessary.
  • Metal Heroes
    • Space Sheriff Gavan's partner Mimi had shapeshifting powers through a device around her neck, but she only used it to turn into a bird and occasionally alter her clothing.
    • Likewise, Sharivan's partner Lily was able to perfectly impersonate one of the female villains down to voice and face, though that might have been due to makeup.
  • Most Time Lords from Doctor Who appear able to exert some measure of control over regeneration: choosing their next form, forcing a regeneration, or refusing to regenerate (which results in death). The Doctor himself, however, seems unable to control his regenerations. Fanon has it that traumatic regenerations such as the Doctor's cannot be controlled; because after all, when you've been poisoned and concussed and shot to death your least worry is whether your next incarnation will have any dress sense.
  • Raven from the kids TV game show of the same name. Guess what he transforms into?
  • Meego, from the short-lived TV series of the same name, possesses shape-shifting abilities, although they were only seen in the first episode. To prove to one of the main characters that he was an alien, Meego transformed from his normal, humanoid form into a bug-eyed furry monster, a sumo wrestler, then into an attractive blonde in a bathing suit before changing back to normal.
  • On Fringe, we have the second season's antagonists, Newton and His Shapeshifters, cyborg soldiers from an Alternate Universe who can mimic the appearance of others (essentially switching bodies, but only after killing the subject and only with the aid of a special device).
  • Red Dwarf's Polymorph is a genetically engineered super-soldier that feeds on negative emotions by transforming into objects or people that trigger them. A tamed version called the Emohawk appears later on.
  • In LOST, the smoke monster can take the form of several people, but they have to be dead first. He takes the place of John Locke midway through season five.
  • Primator, a Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers Monster of the Week.
  • The X-Files:
    • Shapeshifting aliens are a recurring menace, though they don't need to kill someone to take their shape, they often do to avoid complications. The alien bounty hunter is probably the most notable example.
    • In "Small Potatoes", a man can shapeshift, and uses the ability to sleep with women while disguised as their husbands. His natural form was ugly and came complete with tail, and his children retained these traits, much to the horror of the women who had essentially been unknowingly raped. He then locks up Mulder and takes his form to elude capture, and then, understandably, tries to get it on with Scully.
  • Maya, the Metamorph in Space: 1999.
  • In Volume Four of Heroes, Sylar tracks down and kills a man who can change his form to look like any other human being, and thus claims the power for himself.
  • Ttark from Kratts' Creatures.
  • Pilgrim Boy from The Aquabats! Super Show!
  • A few monsters from Supernatural: Shapeshifters, Leviathan, Jefferson Starships, Eve, Changelings, Sirens, Wraiths.
  • A Villain of the Week on Misfits uses this ability to get revenge on Simon by turning the Misfits against each other.

    Mythology 
  • Quite a few dragons have this ability, depending on the story.
  • In Japanese Mythology, tanuki ("raccoon dogs") usually have this ability; often kitsune (foxes), jorogumo (spiders), and housecats (bakeneko and nekomata) can do this as well.
  • Happens in Celtic Mythology too from time to time.
  • Loki, the Norse god of mischief, and to a lesser extent, Odin. Both gods held the power to change shape at will, and most of Loki's stories hinge on this ability.
  • Proteus from Greek Mythology was a demi-god that specialized in shifting his shape, most likely to hide how horrifically ugly he was.
  • Selkies have the ability to change from seals into humans, then back again with the use of their coats.
  • Pookas and kelpies both have the ability to shapeshift, with their defaults being yellow eyed horses living in marshes and swamps. (The difference being that Pookas are generally more benevolent than kelpies, who are just mythological douchebags).
  • Various African myths and legends include shapeshifters (almost invariably Always Chaotic Evil cannibalistic witches) who take the forms of lions, leopards, hyenas, jackals, crocodiles, snakes, bats, dogs, pigs, water buffalo, geese, grasscutter rats, wildcats, and sharks. They use these shapes to kill and eat people, dig up graves, destroy crops, and other heinous acts.
  • Voluntary weretigers feature in the myths of China, Thailand, Bali, Java, and India.
  • In the Balkans, there are legends of weather-controlling sorcerers who can turn into snakes, eagles, or other animals. Usually these are good guys who protect their home villages, but then they're also prone to attacking neighboring villages.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons is filled with creatures, races, classes, spells, and items that allow characters to shapeshift.
    • Creature example: Dopplegangers.
    • Race example: Changelings (actually descended from dopplegangers).
    • Class example: Druids, with their Wild Shape ability (and the prestige class "Master of Many Forms", which focuses pretty much on that ability alone).
    • Spell example: The Polymorph subschool.
    • Item example: The mask of many faces.
    • Monster example: True lycanthropes (i.e. born, not infected).
      • Infected lycanthropes can learn to control their shifting to an extent, but voluntarily changing into hybrid or animal form automatically changes their alignment based on which variety they are.
  • Various versions in The World of Darkness include lots of this
    • In both Werewolf: The Apocalypse and Werewolf: The Forsaken, your character is a werewolf with 5 forms ranging from man to hybrid to wolf. Shapeshifting is controlled by the player for the most part. The game is based on werewolves, but sourcebooks allow players in the Old World of Darkness to play a variety of were-animals (big cats, ravens, rats, coyotes, bears, foxes, hyenas, spiders, snakes, crocodiles, lizards, sharks), most of which have either 5 or 3 available forms. New World of Darkness sourcebooks open up an even wider range of shapeshifters.
    • In both Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem, there is a vampiric discipline known as Protean which allows for limited shapeshifting. Though the first few levels allow the changing of a single feature (eyes, claws, get fur and such), higher levels allow a character to shift into any form normally associated with vampires (i.e. wolves, bats, mist).
    • In Mage: The Ascension, mages can also shapeshift depending on the magic used. Life is a pretty common one.
  • In Exalted, Lunar characters have the ability to change into animals that they have eaten. Also humans, though they can eventually learn to add new human forms to their repertoire non-lethally. Also... Well, actually, there aren't really all that many limits on what a Lunar can and can't turn into, as some of their Knacks allow them to acquire the forms of plants, elementals, demons, and gods. This is Exalted,bitch! (The Lunars' patron Luna, the shapeshifting god/dess of the moon, is able to take virtually any form in existence (and some that aren't).)
    • ... Ghosts, Behemoths, Raksha, Locust Swarms... Lunars can even turn into geography.
      • "Hey, guys, I was just wondering - was this mountain always here? Because I distinctly remember a lake which used to be here..."
  • Curiously, Manra shapechangers seem to be the only beings in Talislanta with this power.
  • GURPS has lots of ways to do this but the Morph version of Shapeshifting allows the user to become virtually anything he or she has seen before (within point limits). There are numerous spells that allow the user to alter their shape as well.
  • Night Wizard as a number of playable classes which can do this, most notably the Tamer/Magic Beast User, whose main gimmick is transforming body parts into various forms to grant himself various abilities.
  • Paranoia. The Polymorphism mutant ability allows a character to change his shape enough to another humanoid form (for example, to impersonate another human being), but no more than that.
  • Golden Sky Stories. Being that the players are magical animals (called henge), they can take on multiple forms such as Talking Animal, Little Bit Beastly and fully human.

     Theme Parks 

    Toys 
  • BIONICLE has quite a few. One example is Krahka, a Rahi who can transform, perfectly imitate and even gain some memories of any living thing she sees. Another example is the Makuta, a race of evil beings, one of which is the Big Bad, that are made of energy and have shapeshifting armor.

    Video Games 
  • Shang Tsung in the Mortal Kombat series has the ability to shapeshift. In the first game during his battle, he would change randomly into any of the characters. In the second game, he could only transform into Kintaro as a fatality. The third game (and its editions) marks the only time he could transform into any of the characters as a playable feature (though it took loading time). While it was limited gameplay wise, it's implied storywise that he could transform into anyone he wishes to.
    • The film limits his ability to only be able to morph into someone whose soul he absorbed. Then again, we only really see him do it twice. First, when he pretends to be Johnny Cage's sensei (presumably, he killed the real one), and at the end, when he turns into Liu Kang's brother, whom he kills at the start of the film.
  • The title character in the Playstation game Muppet Monster Adventure is Kermit's nephew Robin. In it Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzi, Gonzo and Clifford have been turned into the following monsters: Frankenstein-like thing, Bride Of Frankenstein-like thing, Werebear, vampire, and muck monster. And in the game you can get the powers of those monsters after collecting amulet pieces — Robin takes on a form similar to that of the monster his powers are from.
  • SNES video game Super Morph featured a ball-like thing with shapeshifting powers: main forms include a raincloud and a few others.
  • Samus in the Metroid series gets to transform into a "Morph Ball" form to fit into tight spaces, set bombs, activate switches, and even roll up magnetic walls. In Metroid Prime Hunters, other bounty hunters appear, who have their own "alt forms". Gandrayda in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is a more traditional version.
  • Jenova from Final Fantasy VII (and anything with its cells) is essentially a semi-sentient viral colony that can read people's minds and assume the form, voice, and memories it finds there. The Jenova-infused protagonist, Cloud Strife, is a coalescence of himself, his best friend and his girlfriend's memories. Jenova was eventually defeated by the Cetra, stuck in the half-gnarled appearance of the last person it tried to imitate.
    • Liquid Flame, a fire-type boss from Final Fantasy V has 3 forms: a human, a hand and flame tornado.
  • Devil May Cry 4 has the Gladius type of demon, a horribly annoying thing that shifts between a sword and a flying reptile form.
  • Dr Muto has a shapeshifter for a main character.
  • Primal has a female main character who can shapeshift into unique monster-like forms.
  • Tekken has quite a few including Ogre. Also in Tekken Tag Tournament Kazuya can turn into Devil.
  • The Legend of Dragoon had this with most of the members of your character's team.
  • Bloody Roar games have a whole lot of characters with this ability.
  • Virtual Bart has this in a few levels with Bart in them.
    • Also in The Simpsons Game Homer can transform into Homer Ball, Gummi Homer, and Helium Homer. A few of the other family members have transformations too, including Bart.
  • The game Death Gate features Sang-Drax, a dragon who uses shapeshifting as defence. Whenever you try to attack, he simply changes to a form that is invulnerable to it. You can either catch him off-guard or get some world-shaking magic that no one is invulnerable to. The latter happens, taking the form of the force of the Interconnection spell, which throws Sang-Drax deep into The Vortex.
  • Mario in Super Mario RPG:
  • Warcraft:
    • Druids in the series are pretty much defined by this ability. The player version in World of Warcraft can change into a bear, a panther/lion, a cheetah (for faster movement), a sea lion, or a bird, as well as an owlbear or a treant if properly specialized. Non-playable druids can sometimes take other forms as well, such as a serpent.
    • The Shaman class also has the ability to shapeshift into a wolf for faster movement, while Warlocks can temporarily turn into a demon. Lesser forms include the dwarven racial Stoneform, the Death Knight Lichborne ability (which grants them immunity to many status effects) and the Priest abilities Shadowform and Dispersion.
    • Shapeshifting into a humanoid form (usually human or elf) is a common ability among dragons in the series. Some demons can do this too.
  • Kheldians in City of Heroes are symbiotic alien energy beings that grant their hosts various powers, including the ability to assume the forms of their previous hosts. In practice, this allows their human hosts to assume two different forms: "nova" and "dwarf".
  • Axl of Mega Man X had this and served as a plot point for both X7 and X8.
    • Played straight as the main gimmick of Mega Man ZX with Model A being able to take on the shapes previously defeated bosses.
  • Prototype has Alex Mercer, whose main power is this and includes shifting his body into weapons or armor — and becoming people he has absorbed, complete with their memories and skills.
  • The Laguz from Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn are able to transform into their respective animals (be they beast, bird or dragon) for offensive purposes.
  • Dragon Quest IV has Elisa, Solo / Sofia's best friend. Thanks to her magic, she's able to take different forms, something she uses to play pranks... and leads into her Heroic Sacrifice via Death Faked for You.
  • The Harmonixers from the Shadow Hearts series have this as their main ability. Yuri, from the first and second games, is the most versatile, being able to take at least 20 forms. Shania's more oriented towards fanservice.
  • Kirby's most well-known characteristic.
    • Only a few copy abilities (Wheel, U.F.O.), since generally it's just Power Copying. Though Kirby's Epic Yarn seems to focus more on this instead. And non-platformers often feature him in a ball shape, if that counts.
  • Morrigan in Dragon Age: Origins has this power, and can teach it to other mages in the party, as well. Her mother Flemeth is even better at it. Interestingly, neither of them is able to turn into another human (or elf, dwarf, qunari, darkspawn) due to the nature of learning how to do it.
  • Eldritch Abomination Crazen of Lusternia uses this ability to extremely creepy effect, as Krokano can attest:
    "I roared and tried to fling Thalrinda from me, but her arms locked around my neck, becoming a loop of flesh that tightened around me like a noose. Her mouth pressed up against my face as she leaned forward, her lips scraping against my eyelids. Her tongue split in two and plunged into my eye sockets. Any semblance of form was all but gone, now, melted away like wax: revealing itself to be a the tip of one of Crazen's huge tendrils."
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, Link can become Deku Link, Goron Link, or Zora Link using magical soul-trapping masks.
  • In Ys II, the Transform magic turns Adol into a gremlin-like demon, allowing him to talk to other monsters. Later in the game, he is subject to Involuntary Shapeshifting by the wizard Dalles, regardless of whether he's in human or demon form.
  • Orochi, Magaki and Saiki from The King of Fighters series. They shift their form when in combat.
  • The Quest for Glory series has Leopardmen and Gypsies (who turn into wolves) in games 3 and 4 respectively. Unfortunately for the latter, the easily spooked townsfolk buy into all the old Werewolf legends, which is what sets off the first big plot event of the game.
  • Polymorphing in Nethack is one of the most complex and difficult aspects of the game, that can lead to major benefits if done well. A character has several ways to self-polymorph, such as a wand, spellbook, ring, trap, potion, eating a polymorphing monster, and more. Most of these are uncontrolled without some form of polymorph control, such as a ring or an intrinsic. Polymorphing can be very useful or detrimental, depending on if the new form destroys armor or if it can handle what the character is already carrying. (Weirdly, Magic Pants is only played straight with the character's pants, as there are none equitable in game and there are ways the player should die if they aren't wearing pants.)
  • In Castlevania, Dracula and Alucard embody this trope more than any other character in the series. Alucard, being a playable example, can morph into the classic mist, bat and wolf forms at will.
  • Mamizou Futatsuiwa from the Touhou series, what with being a Tanuki and all. She even takes the form of Reimu for one of her Spell Cards.
    • This applies to the other tanuki as well (and the ones we've seen have fewer give-aways than Mamizou), they just don't have names. Additionally, Orin is capable of reverse-animorphism, taking a human-like form in addition to her natural cat body. The same is believed to apply to the other beast type youkai, though it hasn't been confirmed.
  • The Darloks of the Master of Orion series have this trait, which manifests as a bonus to espionage.
  • The Spy from Team Fortress 2 has a device that allows him to disguise as any playable character on any team. Some items, including Your Eternal Reward, remove this ability, instead having you backstab someone to disguise as them.
  • Neo Metal Sonic has this ability in Sonic Heroes.

    Web Animation 
  • In the Strong Bad Email shapeshifter, Strong Bad points out all the downsides to shapeshifting, such as the restrictive rules like only being able to turn into balloon animals, or half of a person, and the unintended consequences, like turning into a $100 bill, being picked up in the wind, and being stuffed in someone's sweaty pocket.
    • Another "rule" that he points out is that all shapeshifters need to have a cool shapeshifting sound effect, such as "DWAYNE!"

    Webcomics 
  • Luna in Sailor Moon CS.
  • Myan in Cat Nine can turn into any animal by using her magic collar.
  • Jillian from Zoophobia.
    • Several animal characters have human forms (and vice versa), particularly deer and underwater creatures.
  • In Holiday Wars, April Fools' Day is a shapeshifter who can take any form he wants. We first see him swap forms in this strip.
  • The Amoeba in The Incredible and Awe-Inspiring Serial Adventures of the Amazing Plasma-Man.
  • Grace in El Goonish Shive: an escaped partly alien lab experiment, she can assume several human or part-human forms. While she can only take on forms she has had before, or combinations thereof, she can effectively create new forms whenever she needs to by means of her Mad Scientist boyfriend's Transformation Gun. Several other characters in the series are also shapeshifters (either naturally or using the TFG — especially the gender-swapping settings), Grace is the more effective and flexible of the main cast.
  • Brian Parker from Abstract Gender can change his sex whenever he likes. His friend Ryan, who was in the same experiment, wasn't quite so lucky — he also became a girl, but can't change back.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court has a few. Mort is a ghost who can change his form at will. Reynardine can currently alter the shape of the stuffed toy he's possessing. Ysengrin received new arms from Coyote: arms that he can shape into weapons. Coyote's size and proportions are constantly changing.
  • The Dragon and Cubi races in Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures are all natural shapeshifters, though learning to use it effectively takes practice. In addition Mad Scientist Jyrras invents "patches" (a pun on the use of software patches in the original Furcadia) which can modify one's appearance.
  • Supposedly an angelic ability in Misfile, only Cassiel has used it so far on screen and she isn't so great at it.
  • Felucca's power in Earthsong. She shapeshifts into a huge dragon.
  • Lisa from Experimental Comic Kotone, a fox-girl, has this ability. According to a legend among her people, a fox-person's true love should be able to see through their disguises. This has caused her much consternation and confusion, since everyone has seen through her disguises.
  • Princess Voluptua in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! uses a shapeshifting device to appear human, her natural form being insectoid. It has been stated that the unrealistic curvaceousness of her assumed form was unintentional on her part, but she shows no signs of wanting to reprogram the device to correct the error.
  • The Order of the Stick has as a prime example with Sabine the Succubus, who can take various humanoid forms.
    • Since the webcomic is based on D&D, you can easily find other examples, such as the druidic and magical versions.
  • Drel from Corner Alley 13 is a magically altered werewolf with this ability. The prequel Weakness reveals that he must remain at a set mass while transforming.
  • Decoy Octopus from The Last Days of Foxhound can take on the shape of anyone. However, to do so, he needs to drink some of their blood (with a special ingredient added).
  • Ariel from Drowtales.
  • Kieri from Slightly Damned was cursed into a form of a snow bunny, however, the being responsible was in too much of a hurry to do a particularly good job of it and now she has a limited ability to shift between the two forms at will.
  • Ghosts get this power in 1/0. Though Mock is the only one who uses it.
  • Familiar Ground: The horse. At first, only with the help of his paladin, but later he acquires it independently.
  • Thistil Mistil Kistil: Loki has it, and uses it.
  • In Endstone, one of Cole's powers from her over-stone.
  • In Beyond the Canopy, Jojo is a semi-solid being who can alter his shape and proportions at will.
  • In The Kingfisher some vampires can turn into animals, animalistic monster forms, mist, and/or some kind of shadowy form. These abilities are all at will and seem limited by the vampire's lineage.
  • The students in Wizard School play a magical sport called Transmogritus - a version of capture the flag in which the students "transform into something useful" and get the flag.
  • The Mons in But I'm a Cat Person. Unless ordered by their Master to take a specific form, they can shift freely. Available forms include any kind of human and any variation on their particular animal.
  • Darths & Droids mentions that there is shape shifting in the SW universe. Zam is a shape shifter, but they don't use that device after she dies at all!
  • Ow, my sanity has a Shoggoth and several Eldritch Abominations who manifest in whatever form they please.
  • The Senkari can change their forms to a limited degree. This appears to be limited to their wings and certain wounds so far.
  • In Casey and Andy, Satan "has many forms".
  • In Sonic The Comic Online a few characters can do this, first the Nightmare Creature who changes into Johnny and Johnny as a zombie, then the Neo Metallix who can change his form and assume other identities such as Sonic or Tails which he uses to frame Sonic for his crimes, there is also the Gizoid which has the ability to perfectly mimic the appearance and fighting style of its adversaries.

    Web Original 
  • A lot of the characters in the webfiction Whateley Universe have this. It ranges from "can only copy other people" (Bogus or Chaney) over "can turn into any natural predatory animal" (Feral) and super-stretchy abilities (Plastic Girl) to "can change into almost anything you can think of without regard to size" (Jimmy Trauger). Jimmy T can turn into an 80-foot-giant, or 300 pounds of carnivorous protoplasm, or something from Alien. He just can't control what shape he'll be when he wakes up, and it takes him hours to revert back to his real form.
    • And those are just some of the mutants. The universe also features lycanthropes (like the tribe whose land the school itself stands on) and shapeshifting spirits and demons. For example, Carmilla's father Gothmog is normally an Eldritch Abomination...but he's also quite capable of taking human form when interacting with humans.
  • Facsimile of The Descendants has no known limits on her powers, and has been implied to have given up on 'real' clothing in favor of creating it all with her shapeshifting.
  • Shapeshifting is surprisingly not all that common in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe. Menagerie and Manimal turn into various animal species; Pseudo says'' that all he can do is replicate any human appearance (in reality, he's a plasmoidal alien who "went native" and pretends to be human... but he keeps that a secret); Mu Shu (a member of the Disney World-sponsored hero team Imagination) can shapeshift into a small, red, firebreathing dragon; Indian hero Bagha can turn into a tiger; Chameleon, a student at the Hyperion Academy can become any animal or human shape; Lord Dragon, thought to be a human who can transform into a Chinese dragon, is actually a Chinese dragon who can turn into a human; both Chimera and Proteus can assume any shape they can imagine.
    • Silly Putty is technically this. He can assume pretty much any shape, but his outward appearance doesn't change, and his flesh has to be manually manipulated into the desired shape (usually by other people).
  • Many Nanocyborgs in Orion's Arm are capable of shapeshifting, but like everything else in that universe they're limited by the laws of physics.
  • All weres in Above Ground can shapeshift voluntarily after they become adults — being able to control the change is a sign of maturity. However, in moments of strong emotion, or with child weres, accidental shifting may occur.
  • Indiana Jones in We Are Our Avatars could do this With a Wand of Polymorph and Ring of Polymorph Control, however there are limits: it must be organic, can't exceed a certain natural power, and if a polymorph immune form, he'll be stuck in it.
  • Two of the heroes in The Questport Chronicles do this: one transforms into a dragon, the other into a vicious demon.
  • Elcenia: Elcenia-native dragons have this as one of the abilities they develop as they reach adulthood, and can transform into animals, though cannot control what they look like within a species.
  • Jaza from The Chimera Bazaar is a shape-shifting being, but has forgotten its original form, which makes its gender questionable.
  • In the Metamor Keep shared universe those afflicted with the curse of Metamor can adjust the degree to which the curse transforms them to a degree. Age regressed can look like they're any age below twelve, the genderbent can alter the size of their "endowments", and theriomorphs can be anthropomorphic animals or feral animals, sometimes taurs. But at the time they can't return to their pre-cursed state.
    • The non-canon spinoff Metamor City takes place after the curse has been manipulated to the point where the cursed can assume their pre-curse forms for up to twelve hours at a time, but they need to spend an equal amount of time in their fully cursed form.
  • Called the Morphing power in Brennus, coming in different strengths: Mindstar can just do cosmetic things; Bakeneko can change into anything organic, but cannot change her mass; Hemming can change into anything organic or inorganic within a range of one-tenth to fifty times his own mass.

    Western Animation 
  • Ben Tennyson from Ben 10 series can change into almost any alien using Omnitrix (Ultimatrix from Ultimate Alien series). He can transform into aliens, originally choosing from a set of ten, with later additions. A future, 30-year-old incarnation of the character is stated to have 10 thousand aliens to choose from.
    • It was taken much further in Ben 10: Alien Force. In addition to a completely different set of ten aliens from the original series, the season 2 finale has the Omnitrix's creator, Azmuth, activate the true Master Control function, allowing Ben to choose from 1,000,903 total alien species' from across the Milky Way galaxy.
  • Aku from Samurai Jack, who even refers to himself as "the shape-shifting Master of Darkness". Luckily, he never got the hang of changing his color-motif along with his shape.
  • Peter Griffin develops this in the Family Guy episode Viewer Mail 1# in the segment Super Griffins.
  • Technically, Transformers, GoBots and other Transforming Mecha: one or a few "alt-modes", usually turning into a vehicle or an animal.
    • Worth noting is that the Transformers, at least, tend to choose new alt modes to blend in with new surroundings.
    • A special mention goes to Shockwave from Transformers Animated, who has the ability to disguise himself/shape-change into another robot form, going under the alias 'Longarm Prime'.
  • Goo from Gumby was the most clay-like of the Claymation characters therein.
  • Morph by Aardman, the creators of Wallace & Gromit. Those skits aired on Nickelodeon during the 90's.
    • Originally part of the Take Hart art show hosted by Tony Hart.
  • There was shapeshifting of the "aquatic" kind in the 80's cartoon Tiger Sharks. The main characters could turn into human-fish hybrids when they entered the fish tank.
  • The Wondertwins of Super Friends. They even had catchphrases for their transformations too!
    • Played with in an older Cartoon Network commercial. Zan and Jana are there to present to the child viewers the difference between real and imaginary scenarios, but the PSA is cut just short of revealing their "simple phrase" when Zan realizes (and begins complaining about) how he's always turning into something water-related, regardless of the situation at hand.
    • And let us not forget the Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law episode in which Zan could vouch for Wonder Woman's whereabouts because he was her bathwater at the time.
  • The Catatonian Bounty Hunters in the 2006 revival of Biker Mice from Mars are shapeshifters as demonstrated in "Once Upon a Time on Earth Parts 1-3."
  • To a very limited extent, Meatwad from Aqua Teen Hunger Force. He can form a hotdog (made out of meat), or an igloo (made out of meat). Occasionally he takes other forms (meat bridge, Samurai Lincoln).
  • The Fairly OddParents has mainly all of the fairies in fairyworld who can shapeshift at will due to their magic powers. Cosmo and Wanda can also do this — except in one episode where Cosmo's fagiggly gland acted up causing just the opposite to happen to him.
  • Nergal Jr from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy.
  • Courage from Courage the Cowardly Dog.
  • The shapeshifting experiment Morpholomew from the Lilo & Stitch: The Series.
  • Beetlejuice, as with his film version.
  • The Simpsons has had plenty of this. For more info see this link.
  • Chase Young in Xiaolin Showdown.
  • The Polymorphic Specters from Code Lyoko.
  • David Bowie (yes, that David Bowie) has shapeshifting powers in The Venture Bros. world. In one scene he transforms into a bird and flies away, prompting Hank to comment that "the guy from Labyrinth turned into a bird and flew away!"
  • Ralph, The All Purpose Animal from Twice Upon a Time.
  • The Fleeblebroxians from the Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers episode "Dale Beside Himself" can shapeshift into whatever they want to. One of them spends half of the episode as a Dale Doppelgänger.
  • In an episode of South Park, the kids are captured by aliens. Their leader is a shapeshifter who initially takes the form of Stan's dad. The kids denounce this as stupid (a Take That against Contact), and he goes on to take a variety of forms ripped from pop culture, all of which the kids reject. Finally, he asks them what they want — and they settle on "a taco...that craps ice cream", a form he assumes for the remainder of the episode.
  • Jacklyn from Igor pulls this off using special pills.
  • Hordak, the main villain of She-Ra: Princess of Power, uses cybernetics to transform either parts of or his whole body into different weapons and vehicles as he needed. Typically his transformations are all metal and some form of his face is present on the vehicle he turns into.
    • Similarly, his sidekick Imp can change shapes as well, utilizing his abilities to spy on the Great Rebellion. He also doesn't have the same limitations as his master, able to conceal his features, and even his color scheme in a chosen form. (Interestingly he can also manifest his face on a shape if he wants to, allowing him to communicate with others.) His only limitation seems to be he can only become something that approximate his physical size (i.e. he cannot become a giant T. rex or shrink down to be a lethal virus).
  • Every member of Oberon's Children from Gargoyles is a Shapeshifter. Heck, "changeling" was another name for them used by the title characters.
  • Klone from Blackstar is a rare example of a good-aligned shapeshifter, using his powers to combat the forces of evil and once to even sneak into the Big Bad's hideout.
  • Widget from the Widget The World Watcher series can shapeshift to pretty much anything as long as he isn't upside down.
  • Two episodes of Exo Squad featured a Neosapien who was transformed into a blobish creature that could shapeshift by Automutation Syndrome and medical experiments.
  • Beast Boy from Teen Titans, of course, can change himself into any animal that has ever lived, earth-based or alien — he just seems to need to know what it looks like. Madame Rouge, one of the main villains from the fifth season, however, puts him to shame, being able to transform into anything, period, in addition to the ability to reform herself if killed. She's generally considered to be the deadliest one-on-one opponent in the show, barring the demon characters.
  • In the fourth season of Winx Club there's the shapeshifter Duman, one of the Wizards of the Black circle, who can turn into creatures, other people, and even water. Later on his powers became unstable, which eventually killed him. Oh, and Darcy can also turn into other people with her illusion powers. Professor Wizgiz at Alfea is the transformation teacher, and he can turn into various creatures.
  • Camille Leon in Kim Possible.
  • Chameleon from The Mighty Ducks.
  • The luchadores from ˇMucha Lucha!. At first it seemed like it was just to illustrate their attacks, but it turned out they actually do this real time.
  • Several aliens in Men In Black: The Series could alter their forms to conform to life amongst earthlings. An interesting case is a sociopathic alien that could willingly change forms, yet another member of his race was shown using a special suit like many OTHER aliens in the show.
  • According to Word of God, Heloise on Jimmy Two-Shoes is "a bit of a shapeshifter". Exactly what this implies is vague, but it certainly isn't used very obviously on the show.
    • "The Hooded Chicken" reveals that it's just her feet. Whenever she has feet, that is.
  • Newton, the big humanoid newt from Ned's Newt, can turn into pretty much anyone and anything (as long as he is fed with the special "Zippo" food; when he's not, he's just an ordinary boring newt). He is fond of shortly turning into a random celebrity to provide a joke, but often also uses this for his Zany Schemes.
  • The Herculoids episode "The Mutoids". The title characters can assume the form of any humanoid or change themselves into solid rock.
  • Fantastic Four-like superhero Imagine Spot episode of Rugrats has this with Tommy able to shape-shift into animals.
  • Yam Roll and his mentor Katcho Miso can both transform into a variety of objects, along with possessing a slew of other special powers.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Princess Luna is capable of shifting to or from her Nightmare Moon form at will. She also turns into a thorn and several ponies at once (the Shadowbolts) as Nightmare Moon.
    • The Changelings are a race that are capable of taking the shape of any pony.
    • In "It Ain't Easy Being Breezies", Twilight Sparkle demonstrates a new spell she found in the Castle of the Two Sisters that lets her transform herself and her friends into Breezies in order to help Seabreeze and his friends get home.
  • Replicon from Skysurfer Strike Force.
  • Sponge Bob Square Pants has the main character often transforming into a variety of different shapes and forms, such as in the episode "Gone" where after everyone in Bikini Bottom disappears he takes on the forms of several characters to replicate interactions with them. Patrick also seems to occasionally transform.
  • Gogo Dodo from Tiny Toon Adventures has this ability.
  • D.U.F.U.S., Dr. Quark's robot from the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode, "Robotnik's Rival" has this ability. At one point in the episode, he uses this ability to transform into Sonic and Tails and trick Robotnik and Quark when the real Sonic and Tails escape from Robotnik's dungeon. He feels guilty about tricking his master afterwards.

    Other 


Voice ChangelingShapeshiftingPartial Transformation
Virus Victim SymptomsWerebeast TropesWas Once a Man
Voice of the LegionOlder Than FeudalismWacky Wayside Tribe
Utility MagicMagic and PowersAnimorphism
Vein-O-VisionStock SuperpowersRubber Man
The Nth DoctorImageSource/Live-Action TVThat '70s Show
Servile SnarkerThe TricksterThe Snark Knight
Woobie, Destroyer of WorldsOverdosed TropesIll Girl

alternative title(s): Meta Morph; Voluntary Shapeshifter; Voluntary Transformation
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