[[quoteright:159:[[WebComic/BrawlInTheFamily http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/kirbytransforms_copy_4869.png]]]]

->''"Tell me what you eat, and I'll tell you who you are."''
-->-- '''Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin''', gastronomy expert (quote taken from a [[Series/IronChef particular cooking show]])

No one takes the saying "you are what you eat" literally; it's not as though being a vegetarian will make you a PlantPerson, or eating pure beef will make you a [[BeastMan Minotaur]]. Some [[WhatMeasureIsANonHuman non-human critters]] didn't get the memo though, because for them [[ImAHumanitarian eating people]] means ''being'' people. For some supernatural, alien, or stranger creatures to pretend to be human at all requires that they make a periodic consumption of HumanResources. Or simply put: Ghoulie has to eat people to look like one.

For the non-human, this will allow them to {{shapeshift|ing}} into a human form, potentially [[CannibalismSuperpower that of the eaten]], though it may only allow them to become a human version of themselves. The non-human may use non-cannibalistic methods as well, for example a [[TheFairFolk fae creature]] might steal [[TheShadowKnows the shadow of a human]] to maintain their {{Glamour}}, a {{Mutant}} might graft skin or [[AppendageAssimilation new appendages]] from healthy humans to avoid PowerDegeneration, a robot or alien may use ReplicantSnatching, and a vampire may have to drink blood to avoid [[OneWingedAngel turning]] into a [[EvilMakesYouMonstrous hideous monster]]. It's worth noting that perfectly normal humans may be able to do this through a spell, ritual, or if they have the CannibalismSuperpower.

Depending on what the non-human takes, the victim may be mildly inconvenienced, severely injured or even killed. Some may be able to make a complete recovery, others will be [[ScarsAreForever scarred or crippled for life]], and some unlucky souls will end up an EmptyShell, KilledOffForReal, or even DeaderThanDead. Needless to say, this makes [[FriendlyNeighborhoodVampire being nice]] pretty [[SlidingScaleOfVampireFriendliness difficult.]]

Most non-humans do this in order to maintain a {{Masquerade}}, and pose as human. Especially {{Tragic Monster}}s may be doing this because they want to BecomeARealBoy. Especially monstrous ones will enjoy ShowingOffTheNewBody. If the non-human ''doesn't'' eat people, whether out of [[FriendlyNeighborhoodVampire niceness]] or inaccessibility, they will revert to their ShapeShifterDefaultForm. Things may turn FromBadToWorse from there though if that entails turning into an [[FateWorseThanDeath unthinking ]], horrific monstrosity that can never fit in among humans. And of course things will [[GoneHorriblyWrong Go Horribly Wrong]] if their cannibalism is also caused by a HorrorHunger, and deprivation has the nasty side effects of making them [[WarmBloodbagsAreEverywhere dangerously hungry]]. Subtrope of FaceStealer and CannibalismSuperpower.



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Buu of ''DragonballZ'' can absorb his enemies whole, which grants him their powers, intelligence, and appearance.
** The heroes assumed he grew stronger with each absorption and so freed their comrades from Buu to revert him to a less powerful state. Unfortunately, they went too far and freed Fat Buu (who Evil Buu had absorbed), causing him to revert to his original state, [[NiceJobBreakingItHero which was even more psychotic than the others]].
* Youma in ''Manga/{{Claymore}}'' can take the appearance of those they eat, and this also gives them the ability to draw from their victims' memories to fool their families (and eventually eat them too). [[spoiler:Later revealed to be a lie. The Youma are really parasites that infest their victims' brains, mutating them into monsters and driving them insane with a hunger that only human entrails can satisfy.]]
* No-Face from ''Anime/SpiritedAway'' gains the personality and physical features of those he swallows (gaining frogs legs, for instance, when eating a frog-man). It's possibly one of the reasons he wants to eat kindly protagonist Chihiro.
* In ''Anime/PonyoOnTheCliffByTheSea'', also by Creator/HayaoMiyazaki, Ponyo starts out as a goldfish-like creature but is able to become human after tasting human blood.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Everyman of the Franchise/DCUniverse actually only needs to eat a tiny bit of whoever he wants to turn into. But it turns out he really ''likes'' the taste of [[ImAHumanitarian human flesh.]]
* The Saurians in ''[[Creator/CrossGen Sigil]]'' (and the one who appears in ''Negation'') take on beneficial attributes of whatever creatures they eat, including physical and mental traits and even information. Having long ago become the apex predators of their homeworlds, this power was forgotten and rediscovered when they went to war with humans and decided not to waste the corpses of their fallen foes.
* Creator/MarvelComics villain Dirt Nap gains the appearance and powers of people he swallows. The victims can survive if he coughs them up within a certain time frame. For some reason, he can't do anything about the smiley face symbol that always appears. He also winds up stuck in the form of a rat for much of his history. Eventually he becomes an ally to ''Generation X.'' He is even able to separate M-Plate back into the twins and Emplate by sucking them up and separating them, though [[spoiler: this ends up killing him.]]
* In ''Comicbook/{{Lucifer}}', predatory Jin En Mok demons Cestis and Saul take on the forms of humans they have eaten. It turns to horror for Cestis when she find herself [[ModeLock trapped]] in the body of [[spoiler: Elaine's father]] with his thoughts gradually [[TheMindIsAPlaythingOfTheBody taking over]].
* The Chitauri of ''ComicBook/TheUltimates,'' DarkerAndEdgier versions of the main universe's Skrulls (though in the comics only; every adaptation makes them a standard AlienInvasion and just uses the ''real'' Skrulls if Skrulls are needed) can only shape-shift into the body of somebody by eating that person. Herr Kleiser threatens to do this to the Wasp, but is interrupted before he gets an opportunity.
* The Warwolves leave their victims' skins and wear them, in a manner similar to the Bug in ''[[Film/MenInBlack Men In Black]]''. "We wear who we kill!"
* In ''Comicbook/LoveAndRockets'', the monster [=BEM=] disguises itself by killing action hero detective Castle Radium and stealing his body. However, due to the brain damage it suffered while breaking out of prison, [=BEM=] gradually begins to believe it is Radium, and becomes obsessed with tracking down and capturing itself.
* Inverted for ''ComicBook/{{Revival}}'', where ordinary humans try eating reviver flesh in order to become revivers themselves. In at least one case it works.

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* In ''Disney/WreckItRalph'', Cy-Bugs become whatever they eat. In the beginning, a Cy-bug eats a gun and sprouts {{ArmCannon}}s. [[spoiler:A Cy-Bug who starts eating the landscape of ''Sugar Rush'' becomes candy-coated. In the finale, a glitch-infected King Candy/Turbo is eaten by a Cy-Bug. Ralph then has a show-down with a terrifying glitch-infected King Candy/Turbo/Cy-Bug monster.]]

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* The vampires in ''Film/{{Daybreakers}}'' have to drink human blood or else they transform into subhuman monsters. Expanding on this, drinking ''vampire'' blood (even their own) causes the mutation to accelerate.
* In ''Film/MenInBlack'', the alien roach skins a farmer near its crash site and wears him to pass as human. As the film wore on the skin decayed more and more, making the impersonation all the creepier. They call it an "[[MobileSuitHuman Edgar-Suit]]".
* Wesker in the film ''Film/ResidentEvilAfterlife'' needed to feed on uninfected humans to keep from going the way of the boss monsters in the last three films.
* ''Film/{{Phantoms}}'' (1998) featured underground creatures that absorbed the memories of the humans they ate. The film claims flatworms can do the same thing but that was disproven long before the script was written.
* The vampires (or "[=NetherFolk=]") in ''[[http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0787495/ NetherBeast Incorporated]]'' eat human meat for survival and recovery.
* This is how ''Film/TheThing1982'' works. Specifically it's a shapeshifting alien that eats animals (dogs and humans in the movie) and then mimics their appearance and memories to become an exact replica.


* In ''Literature/EverybodyLovesLargeChests'', the protagonist has to eat a few individuals of a species before figuring out how to shapeshift into them.
* In ''Literature/HarryPotter'', Polyjuice potion requires as an ingredient a few hairs from the person being impersonated. This is a particularly nightmarish example because the person has to still be alive when the hair is taken, meaning anyone attempting long term infiltration / impersonation has to keep the original alive and captive, which is what happens to [[spoiler: Mad Eye Moody when Barty Crouch Jr. impersonates him]].
** The thing is, it doesn't have to be a hair, specifically. When Hermione brews the potion in second year, she only tells Harry and Ron that they "need a part of the person they're turning into." This implies it could literally be ''anything,'' which takes the creep-factor UpToEleven. The protagonists only used hair because it was the most convenient (and least gross) of their options.
** Something less creepy: "If the saying 'You are what you eat' is really true, then Lord Voldemort is a unicorn."
* In ''[[Recap/DoctorWhoNewAdventuresHumanNature Human Nature]]'', one of the members of the Family is a [[VoluntaryShapeshifting shape-shifter]] who can imitate any animal he's eaten part of, including humans. If he does it while they're alive, he can also gain their memories.
* A nightmarish version occurs in one of the novels in Andrey Livadny's ''Literature/TheHistoryOfTheGalaxy'' books, where a human ship arrives on a habitable world that does not appear to have any animal life. Then the humans get picked off one by one by strange [[VoluntaryShapeshifting shapeshifting]] creatures. In the end, all humans have been consumed, but the shapeshifters also absorb their memories along with their [=DNA=] and begin to think of themselves as human, not understanding why they are suddenly amorphous blobs able to form into anything they wish. Another novel has a scout ship re-discovering the planet only to realize the shapeshifters are intelligent. The captain of the scout ship doesn't care and wants to exterminate them in order to claim the planet and retire on the fortune (habitable worlds are extremely valuable). The protagonist manages to get rid of the captain and leave, wiping the location of the world from the navigation computer, so the creatures can live in peace.
** Yet another novel reveals that the shapeshifters are the result of an ancient experiment to create immortality. [[GoneHorriblyRight It worked.]] The resulting creatures went out of control and began consuming all the surrounding fauna, eventually leaving the half-dozen shapeshifters the only non-plant organisms on the planet. The same experiment on another world had slightly better results.
* In ''Literature/{{Mistborn}}'', the kandra are creatures who can take on the appearance of a person after consuming their bones. They do this for humans as a service for a [[AppliedPhlebotinum very specific kind of payment]]. They are literally contractually obligated not to kill humans, though. Their employers provide the corpse.
** Particularly skilled kandra can assume someone's form without having eaten them. They still need ''a'' skeleton, though, since they're basically {{Blob Monster}}s in their true forms and don't have any rigid bones of their own.
* This is [[spoiler:one of the secrets of the Inhumi]] in TheBookOfTheShortSun; [[spoiler:feeding off humans is the only thing that makes them intelligent and capable of having personalities.]]
* In ''[[OurGhoulsAreCreepier The Throne Of Bones]]'', ghouls' tendency to assume the appearance and identities of those they devour -- even to the point of forgetting that they're ghouls -- is pivotal to most of the stories.
* Parodied in Creator/GKChesterton's ''The Napoleon of Notting Hill'', where an extreme British nationalist who preaches [[Literature/AModestProposal cannibalism of non-British people]] discovers, to his horror, that this trope is true, and therefore he is now slowly turning into an Italian organ-grinder -- which is apparently the only type of edible foreigner he could find in London.
* The Nightmare's dream attack on [[Literature/TheDresdenFiles Harry Dresden]] in ''Grave Peril'' is a version of this -- having consumed much of Harry's magic, the Nightmare gains the ability to both use that magic himself and impersonate Harry by taking on his appearance.
* Demons in ''Literature/TheRiftwarCycle'' gain knowledge, abilities, and to some extent form from the other demons they eat.
* In ''Literature/AgathaHAndTheClockworkPrincess'', it was mentioned in a footnote that that universe's counterpart to Brillat-Savarin was eaten by a monster who misinterpreted the page quote and decided that he wanted to be Brillat-Savarin. And then, after doing so, it began publishing works under his name.
* In the ''Literature/UrbanDragon'' series, ghouls gradually turn into an average of the creatures they consume. Eating animal meat turns them into bestial monsters, while eating humans allows them to keep a human appearance and intelligence. One ghoul, who works as a mortician, is noted for being exceptionally beautiful because she is able to select her meals from the most attractive corpses.
* In the original Brothers Grimm version of ''Little Snow-White'', the wicked stepmother attempts to invoke this when she believes she is eating the lungs and liver of her beautiful stepdaughter.[[note]]She actually eats the lungs and liver of a young boar.[[/note]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Hive from ''[[Series/AgentsOfShield Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.]]'' gains the memories of everyone he consumes, and can also take on their appearance.
* The demon group "Brotherhood of Seven" in season 1 of ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' had to eat the heart and brain of a human/s every seven years in order to maintain their disguise.
* In the ''Series/DoctorWho'' episode [[Recap/DoctorWhoS29E1SmithAndJones "Smith and Jones"]], there's a plasmavore who already looks human, but has to drink human blood in order to scan as human.
* In the ''Series/FearItself'' episode "The Eater", the eponymous SerialKiller Claude Mellor consumes parts of his victims in order to assume their forms. It works.
* Jasmine, on ''Series/{{Angel}}'', who had to eat people in order to heal herself and maintain her human appearance.
* A two-part episode on ''Series/{{Sliders}}'' involved the logistics behind moving a select portion of the population before their Earth is destroyed. It turns out that the man in charge has to ingest brain tissue from compatible donors due to treat a fungal brain infection. Injecting the tissue causes him to temporarily morph into the person while the donor goes into a coma. The list of people he handpicks to move on to the new world are all compatible; he intends to use them all to stay alive.
* ''Series/FromDuskTillDawn'''s version of {{Vampire}}s, culebras, have this as an ability. After drinking someone's blood (as well as their soul, based on Carlos' description), they can shapeshift into that person's form, complete with their memories and the ability to mimic their attitudes and behavior.
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' has a type of monster called ghouls - scavenging monsters that eat corpses and take on the memories and appearance of the last person it ate.
** [[SortingAlgorithmOfEvil Leviathans]] don't ''need'' to eat you to take your appearance. All they need to do is absorb a bit of your DNA (they can even pull it off using [[ParanoiaFuel hair fished out of a shower drain]]), which allows them to [[VoluntaryShapeshifting shapeshift into a perfect copy of you]]. However, as {{Extreme Omnivore}}s with limitless appetites, they'll quite eagerly eat you anyway if they get a chance.
* ''Series/TheOuterLimits1995'': In the episode "The Voyage Home", there's a shapeshifting alien which assumes the form of the people it eats.

* German Band ''Knorkator'' has the song "Ick wer zun Schwein" (I turn into a pig). It's about a man who ate a really large steak all by himself, [[YouFailBiologyForever which causes his DNA to be rewritten and turn him into a pig]].

[[folder: Music Videos]]
* In the music video for [[Music/FosterThePeople Best Friend]] a supermodel devours other supermodels whole and alive and so she can take on desired aspects of their appearance and further her career. Over the course of the video she eats a woman for her BeautyMark, another so she can have her [[ShesGotLegs legs]] among others. However over time with all the clashing body proportions she starts to look less like a beautiful woman and more like a [[BodyHorror spindly, freakishly tall, disproportioned alien.]] By the video's end she winds up barfing up the dress of a woman she had eaten, chokes on it, loses her newly acquired features, and dies on the catwalk.

[[folder:Other Sites]]
* ''Wiki/SCPFoundation'', [[http://www.scp-wiki.net/scp-974 SCP-974 ("Treehouse Predator")]]. While in its standard form, after SCP-974 kills and eats a child of age 6-12 it will change to that child's form over a period of 10-12 days. In its enhanced form it can kill and devour adult human beings and take their form in a short period of time.

[[folder:Puppet Shows]]
* In one ''Series/SesameStreet'' sketch, Cookie Monster goes on a cookie binge and falls asleep. In his dream, he is confronted with a former monster who loved cookies so much that he literally became a Monster Cookie.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/CallOfCthulhu''. The Consume Likeness spell allows a sorcerer to take the form of a dead person by eating their body.
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'', the Kroot and Tyranids evolve primarily by eating other beings and absorbing their genetic traits, with the various subspecies (Krootox, Kroot Hounds, Knarlocs...) being Kroot who ate too much of a certain species and are now stuck in that role. In fact, the reason Kroot are able to build spaceships is because they ate a bunch of Orks and absorbed the Mekboyz' genetic memory. Kroot also have a taboo against eating Tyranids to avoid creating some sort of horrendous feedback loop (a fear the Tyranids do not share, though the Imperium was too busy [[EarthShatteringKaboom glassing the planet]] to figure out the full extent of the consequences).
** There's also an alien species called the Simulacra, which in their natural form look like mostly featureless humanoids. They can mimic the appearance of other humanoids by eating their brains, which also grants them the victim's memories. The knowledge and ability to maintain the form once the brain is digested, forcing them to find new victims every so often.
* Lunar Exalted from ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}'' can take the form of any creature whose heart's blood they've tasted.
* Skin-Changers from ''TabletopGame/{{GURPS}}'' Monster Hunters are embodied spirits who can shapeshift into any animal (including humans) by wearing their skin. Unlike the Film/MenInBlack example, Skin-Changers are clever enough to preserve the skins, and save them in jars when they're not being worn.
* In ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'', Mongrelmen are descended from beings that had this ability. Mongrelmen themselves are MixAndMatchCritters comprising aspects of all the humanoid creatures their ancestors consumed... and a few clearly non-humanoid for good measure.
** At least, [[DependingOnTheWriter that's one version of their backstory]]. The more common one is simply that they are what happens when you breed together enough humanoid races.
* As in the source material, some of the shapeshifting powers in ''TabletopGame/TheDresdenFiles'' work like this -- notably Mimic Abilities (and, it's at least implied, to a lesser extent Mimic Form). The former is even explicitly called out as "a bit of an "evil people eater" power" [[FootnoteFever by Will]].
* The D'Anjainy in ''TabletopGame/AnimaBeyondFantasy'' play this overlapping with {{FaceStealer}}s, as they skin the face of the person who want to copy and place it over theirs to look as the previous owner of that face -the game says nothing about what happens to the unfortunate victim, by the way.-

* ''On the Verge, or the Geography of Learning'' has an unusual example PlayedForLaughs: A cannibal gets confused about his own identity thanks to ingested memories.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* How mutating works in ''VideoGame/{{Cubivore}}.''
* ''VideoGame/{{Kirby}}'' is able to [[PowerCopying assimilate the special abilities]] of many of his enemies by swallowing them. Fan works often exaggerate this to Kirby assuming the characteristics of anyone ''and/or anything'' he eats.
* In ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls'' series, some [[OurVampiresAreDifferent vampire]] bloodlines have an unusual inversion of this trope. The longer they go without feeding, the ''more powerful'' they become, as well as becoming more [[GlamourFailure monstrous]] in appearance, which tends to give away their vampiric nature. Further, they risk going irrevocably insane and feral if they go ''too long'' without feeding, becoming "Bloodfiends". The vampire bloodlines the PlayerCharacter can join in ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion Oblivion]]'', vanilla ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim Skyrim]]'', and ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsOnline Online]]'' function in this way. (The ''Dawnguard'' DLC for ''Skyrim'' changes up the functionality, giving access to the Vampire Lord SuperMode form instead.)
* In ''VideoGame/{{Prototype}}'', Alex Mercer's disguise ability works like this. When he consumes the individual, he uses their genetic code to reproduce their appearance and voice while their memories are directly absorbed.
* In ''VideoGame/DeadSpace3'', the Feeders are creatures that have become Necromorphs because they were desperate enough to eat Necromorph flesh.
* The unreleased arcade game ''VideoGame/ChimeraBeast'' as the VillainProtagonist as one of a HordeOfAlienLocusts appropriately known as Eaters. By using your bite move on organic enemies, you can gain similar abilities to them.

[[folder: Web Animation]]
* In ''WebAnimation/IfTheEmperorHadATextToSpeechDevice'' [[spoiler: Rogal Dorn]] asks the Emperor if he's familiar with the phrase "you are what you eat." Because he's apparently acting like an ever-growing pile of screaming psychic children.[[note]]The Imperium sacrifices thousands of Psykers (including children) to make sure the Emperor can keep shining the beacon in the Warp.[[/note]]
-->'''The Emperor''':[[AC:Wow [[spoiler:Rogal]]. Way to bring down the fucking hammer.]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'', zombies have to [[http://www.sluggy.com/comics/archives/weekly/071219 eat the brains]] of the living or they'll lose their own intelligence.
* In ''Webcomic/DemonEater'', this is the main way of growing in the demon world. Demons must eat demons, or be eaten themselves.
* This is apparently the method that Vel'akar (sentient demons) in ''Webcomic/{{Drowtales}}'' use to appear more humanoid, since by default they resemble {{Blob Monster}}s. Khaless, Snadhya'rune's protector twin, is actually such a demon that devoured the original Khaless and seems to have taken over her role, and she later inflicts the same thing on [[spoiler:Lulianne and Sael Dutan'vir]] and is able to pose as them without anyone noticing.
* Changelings in ''Webcomic/CharbyTheVampirate'' change by absorbing whomever they are changing into, taking on their memories and often seeking their previous form since they appear to have gone missing without realizing that they've killed someone in a very BodyHorror fashion whom they probably considered a friend.
* Ghouls in ''Webcomic/BloodyUrban'' have this ability.
* This appears as a RunningGag for Kirby in ''Webcomic/BrawlInTheFamily''. He inhales something or someone and (usually) obtains that victim's ability.
* ''Webcomic/StandStillStaySilent'': The MergerOfSouls ghosts have their appearance influenced by the souls they absorb. It's especially noticeable because the only ghosts that have this property are human, yet those that have absorbed other souls look like MixAndMatchCreatures.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''Ollie! The Boy Who Became What He Ate'' is a Canadian cartoon about a boy who turns into whatever healthy food he eats.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheGrimAdventuresOfBillyAndMandy'''s fairy tale episode, Pinocchio wants to be a real boy by eating human flesh, specifically Billy's.
** And then there's this line:
-->'''Mandy:''' If you are what you eat, I could be you by morning.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/InvaderZim'' episode "Dark Harvest," Dib tells Zim that he knows he's an alien because humans don't have a squeedlyspooch, and Zim doesn't have any normal human organs. Zim's solution is to stalk his classmates, steal their organs, and stuff them inside himself.
-->'''Dib:''' I suppose you have a heart?
-->'''Zim:''' Six of them.
-->'''Dib:''' Intestines?
-->'''Zim:''' Large and small.
-->'''Dib:''' Spleen?
-->'''Zim:''' In three different colors.
** At one point the nurse tells Zim he's extra human for having multiple organs, while Dib almost gets hauled off by the MIB for missing some. Oh, and for having a cow-in-the-box for lungs, but you know what we mean.
* In ''WesternAnimation/StrokerAndHoop'', a group of cannibals steal and consume the vestigial organs of humans under this reasoning ("Eat a human, be a human!"). After Stroker pisses them off and they decide to cannibalize him completely, he tries to convince them that, as a guy who eats burgers, he is in fact a burger and they'd be violating their own beliefs. They ignore him.