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Gender Bender / Live-Action TV

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Gender bending in live-action TV.

  • Arrowverse: A strange version in the Elseworlds crossover. Deegan has rewritten reality so that he is Superman. However, Kara soon realizes that technically he is not actually Superman, but rather a male version of her, based on the scans that the AMAZO robot took of her. This is because she is from Earth-38, and the Book of Destiny that Deegan used to rewrite reality only contains information on things from Earth-1. Kara mocks him for being too scared to just go all the way and become her.
  • Babylon 5: Delenn was originally supposed to have been male or neuter in the first season, before entering the chrysalis and becoming female, but the idea was dropped. Sources differ as to whether the exact reason was one of these, or perhaps a combination:
    • They couldn't get Mira Furlan's (electronically altered) voice as "Male Delenn" quite right.
    • Furlan refused to play Delenn as a male.
    • They did use this idea in the original pilot as aired, but dropped it for the series and later rebroadcasts of the pilot have Mira Furlan's unaltered voice. Unfortunately, there's nothing that can reasonably be done about the Male Delenn makeup (which looks remarkably like the original G'Kar makeup, particularly noticeable in their scenes together).
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Invoked by Willow, who suggests this as one of the possibilities after Buffy touches a demon and is set to take on a part of it.
    • Discussed in "Him"; an unpopular boy uses a magic jacket to make any woman who sees him wearing it fall madly in love with him; the magic takes effect on Willow, who (after being reminded that she's a lesbian) decides to turn him into a girl so that they can be together. Fortunately, Xander interrupts her before the magic ritual is completed.
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    • In "The Killer in Me", Willow is briefly cursed with a Glamour that changes her into a double of Warren note . The curse also causes Warren's personality to gradually override Willow's own — and eventually influences her to try to re-create his attack on her friends.
  • Occasionally used on The Carol Burnett Show. It's played for laughs, of course.
  • Occurs in Charmed as part of a spell to help the sisters trap a succubus. Prue makes quite a handsome man.
  • Doctor Who:
    • This trope has been used a few times in the case of the Time Lords, who change bodies upon death:
      • In "The Curse of Fatal Death", an Affectionate Parody created for the 1999 Comic Relief appeal night, the Doctor cycles through all of his remaining regenerations in quick succession, with the final one being Joanna Lumley. The Doctor's female companion (who was engaged to him) is understandably rather disturbed; his arch-nemesis, the Master, somewhat less so. The former enemies walk off arm in arm.
      • In the Big Finish Doctor Who AU episode "Exile", the Doctor regenerates as a woman (played by Arabella Weir).
      • The Doctor himself briefly thought he had become female when he regenerated into Matt Smith, and noticed how long his new hair's bangs were. Some hasty feeling of his neck confirmed the presence of an Adam's apple, to his evident relief.
      • An unseen character called the Corsair was known for this. "The Doctor's Wife", in which the Corsair is first mentioned, is the first confirmation in the TV series that a Time Lord can regenerate as the opposite sex:
        The Doctor: See that snake? The mark of the Corsair. Fantastic bloke. He had that snake as a tattoo in every regeneration. Didn't feel like himself unless he had the tattoo... or herself a couple of times. Oh hoo, she was a bad girl!
      • Neil Gaiman (who wrote the episode) also confirms the Corsair having a couple of female regenerations in The Brilliant Book 2012. The Corsair also gets a reference in the 2012 novel adaptation of "Shada", in which the Fourth Doctor alternates between male and female pronouns while gossiping about them to Romana.
      • The book Engines of War reveals that the Time Lord Borusa, seen exclusively in male bodies in the series, had also had at least one female incarnation from before the Doctor knew him. In the Gallifrey series, an alternate universe is also seen in which Borusa is female (played by Katy Manning, of all people).
      • The first on-screen Time Lord example is Missy, the Big Bad of the revival's eighth series, who is revealed to be a female incarnation of the Master. The trope is notably shown in a very positive way, and the character happily identifies and presents as female, without any kind of angst about the change (despite their previous male incarnations being somewhat disdainful of women).
      • In "Hell Bent", the commander of Gallifrey's armed forces, a white man, regenerates into a black woman, commenting afterward that her previous self had been her only male incarnation to date. The trope is again shown in a positive way, with no angst over the change.
      • The Doctor does become female in "Twice Upon a Time", regenerating from the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) into the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker). Her version of the Master has gone back to male after being Missy, played by Sacha Dhawan.
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    • In the Tom Baker-era story "The Hand of Fear", the Kastrian Eldrad regenerates from a single hand into a female body, apparently based on Sarah Jane's. Upon being injected with a deadly poison, she regenerates, into a male body. The Doctor is surprised, and Eldrad calls him out on his confusion, saying he should know all about regeneration and its possibility for changing gender (making this the first implication in the series that regeneration could produce a sex change).
    • Zig-zagged in "New Earth": the villainous Cassandra, a transwoman from the future (who surgically altered her body so often in the pursuit of beauty and immortality that only her eyes and a flap of skin remain), tries to stave off her death by transferring her consciousness into Rose Tyler; the Doctor quickly sees through the ruse and orders Cassandra to leave Rose's body, and she complies... by transferring herself into his body. Cassandra (and the audience) are amused by her newfound maleness as she revels in her handsome figure and new "parts" ("And hardly used!"), with David Tennant hamming it up like a campy Austin Powers (while Billie Piper is unable to keep her composure). Circumstances force Cassandra to abandon the Doctor's body, however, and she spends the rest of the episode jumping between Rose and several other female hosts before settling on the body of Chip, her male servant (and the only voluntary host of the episode).
    • At the end of Part 1 of "The End of Time", the Master uses an Applied Phlebotinum machine to rewrite the genetic code of every human on Earth (save for Wilf and Donna), changing the world's population into clones of himself — the women included. Which would be terrifying, if it weren't for the hilariously OTT resulting scenes, including an evilly-grinning Master clone in a pretty pink dress and an entire White House press pool of Masters (many of them in female clothing) hopping and applauding excitedly for their duplicate (who's just overridden Barack Obama).
  • Earth: Final Conflict: The fifth and final season has the Atavus turn a revived Taelon (Taelons are a One-Gender Race descended from the Atavus) into a female Atavus. Howlyn even asks Zo'or how he (the masculine pronoun is traditionally used to refer to any Taelon due to humanity's male-dominated culture) would feel as a female. Zo'or doesn't care as long as he survives. After the transformation, she absolutely delights in being a female and a sexual being. One of the first things she does is have sex with a human... before sucking out his life force. Howlyn is not amused. For reference, Zo'or was always played by a woman, so the choice of sex as an Atavus was easy in Real Life. Of course, for the most part, Zo'or still acts like the same obnoxious Jerkass he/she always was.
  • Emerald City: Tip, Mombi's ward, takes "medicine" to suppress an apparent illness. When he escapes Mombi with help from Jack and Dorothy, Tip transforms into a girl overnight. Turns out the magic was to keep his identity safe. Later, he transforms back, relieved after struggling with having a girl's body. He takes on female form again to gain control of the witches' sisterhood as Ozma.
  • The 1998 version of Fantasy Island has the episode "Estrogen", in which (among other things) a man asks Mr. Rourke to give him a better understanding of women. Guess what happens.
  • In Heroes, guess what Sylar first turns into after getting the ability to transform?
  • The made-for-TV movie Ice Angel is about a male hockey player (Matt) who dies prematurely and is brought back to life in the body of a female figure skater (Sarah) so he can win the Olympic gold medal that he was supposed to win the first around. It's actually a remake of Here Comes Mr. Jordan (like the film Heaven Can Wait), with the Gender Flip adding Different for Girls as an added complication on top of the original's Fish out of Water hijinks.
  • Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger: In Episode 11, the Patrangers find themselves forcibly changed into the opposite gender by a Gangler, with Keiichiro and Sakuya changed into women (temporarily renamed Keiko and Sakumi) and Tsukasa into a man (she retains her name, since it's unigender). Thankfully, they manage to return to their proper genders by the episode's end.
  • In Lalola, a 150 episode Telenovela, "Lalo", a successful magazine editor who is also a macho, insensitive ladies man is cursed by a witch hired by a jilted ex-girlfriend and transformed into a beautiful woman. The rest of the series is the protagonist now calling himself "Lola" with the help of his female best friend who knows his/her secret facing the challenges of being a woman in the workplace while also trying to find the witch to reverse the spell. Another complication is one of Facundo, a handsome Nice Guy single father of a young girl falls in love with "Lola".It is later revealed the curse was a Freaky Friday switch with Lola's body originally inhabited by Daniela, a Distaff Counterpart of Lalo who slept with the best friend of her fiance. In the final episode, Lola meets Daniela who is now inhabiting Lalo's body and has enjoyed freely having sex with many partners of both genders whereas before as a woman she was judged. There is one last chance to turn back into Lalo during a Lunar eclipse or the switch is permanent but Lola, who by now is in love with Facundo and realizing he/she is happier as a woman returns to him.
  • Malcolm in the Middle: In one episode Lois, tired of her three boys constantly arguing, imagines them as girls instead, in a world where everything's better and they give her unconditional love. But she realizes by the end of the episode that girls would be bad in different ways — bitchy and keeping all their secrets from her — and that her boys love her in their own genuine way. (The episode is also funny to watch to see Hal in a fatsuit and Francis, the eldest son, as a girl — unlike the other three, Christopher Masterson actually played the female version of himself.)
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: In the first season , it happened to Kimberly and Billy when his machine went haywire, subjecting them to a "Freaky Friday" Flip. (Billy fixed it before the situation at the end of the episode, although some fans thought the plot could have been explored much further.)
  • Misfits: In the third season, Curtis gains the ability to change genders.
  • Monkey (based off the Chinese epic Journey to the West) features this on occasion:
    • Buddha, in order to become more "compassionate", appears in his female incarnation.
    • The bodhisattva Quan-yin (Guanyin) the Compassionate is only seen in her "male incarnation", in pale blue robes and a lacy veil.
    • The priest Tripitaka is a man, played by a woman, who when entering the City of Nightmares is magically transformed into a woman as a disguise. (And is promptly hit on by Pigsy).
    • Monkey transforms into a woman in order to trick the Unicorn King.
  • The Gumbies on Monty Python's Flying Circus briefly turn into girl-Gumbies at the end of "The Buzz Aldrin Show" for no particular reason. Their only reaction upon turning back is "OOH! THAT WAS FUN!"
  • NTSF:SD:SUV::: Parodied. Agent Trent Hauser used to be married to an attractive female agent whom he worked with on a mission. She later got a sex change that transformed her into an overweight guy. Cue Unresolved Sexual Tension between the two. S/he wasn't even originally a woman, apparently having once been a black man.
  • Out Of This World (1987): Evie turned herself into "Stevie" in one episode to provide a date for her chronically single best friend. Yes, this was real.
  • Red Dwarf
    • The hologram Arnold Rimmer changes his appearance to that of Lister's dead love interest, Kochanski. Even though he is a hologram he is quite able to... touch himself.
    • Holly redrew himself after an encounter with his Distaff Counterpart. And became male again.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch has an episode where Sabrina, Hilda and Zelda use a magical potion in the form of a soft drink called "Boy Brew" to become temporarily male. Though Zelda only briefly.
  • This is the main plot device of the Korean drama series Secret Garden, in which it turns out that the female lead's dead father engineered a body swap between her and her soulmate, as a part of an elaborate plan to heal her from grief caused by his death, which was caused saving the soulmate's life. The three switch three times over the 20 episodes, each iteration powerfully shifting the complex dynamics between them and with those around them.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • In a minor example, Dax by way of The Nth Doctor. She's female through both incarnations in the main series, but Sisko (who knew her before the current incarnation) calls her "old man" (despite appearing to be a young woman). One of her male forms is seen in a flashback, and others are seen through a psychic-body-swap-thing, including one of her previous female forms in a male host.
    • In another episode, Quark (for reasons having to do with a Ferengi diplomat) has to have a temporary sex change. Not only does he pop out of Sickbay as a physiologically-complete Ferengi woman, his personality has suddenly altered to be completely feminine. Cue the parade of human female stereotype behaviors.
    • During an espionage mission against the Dominion, Odo (a shapeshifter) briefly assumes the form of the Female Changeling.
  • In the second episode of Teen Angel, Steve decides to ask his crush Jessica, a popular cheerleader, on a date. Marty is afraid he'll be rejected, so he impersonates Jessica on the phone and agrees to the date. Rather than admit his deceit, he decides to morph into Jessica's double and go on the date in her place. The episode ends on a rather sweet note, as the date with faux-Jessica gives Steve the confidence to ask out the real one (who, as it turns out, has a great deal in common with him).
  • Tomica Hero Rescue Force: One episode has the Big Bad, inspired by the sex-changing ability of clownfish (see the fish example under "Other"), create a virus to turn all men into women, thus robbing humanity of their ability to reproduce, and eventually causing our extinction. She's stopped, naturally, but not before she manages to transform the male heroes.
  • The Tonight Show with Jay Leno played with the trope on occasion:
    • A fake ad for something called For Men Only (a parody of men's haircare products) showcases a liquid that turns men into women. There are several male to female morphs in it, including one of Jay himself using the product.
    • Another episode has Jay in drag (a supermodel with his voice).
    • On the episode where Pam Anderson is the guest, Jay asks several questions about implants and then asks her "If you could be a man, who would it be?" Pam responds "I could be you!" Jay then exclaims "That's perfect. Why?" Pam's answer is "So I could sit there, torturing you, asking about your implants."
  • Upload: In an attempt to update his avatar to his chronological age — the dead people uploaded to the virtual world look like optimized versions of what they did alive, and as he died at age eight he's stuck there despite being chronologically eighteen — Dylan has a black market "puberty hack" installed. It works, but because he didn't think to check what sex the patch was designed for it also turns him into a young woman. It's eventually reversed through emergency coding, but it leaves him with a renewed appreciation for women's issues with objectification... especially in the wake of strolling around topless before catching on to the change.
  • Vice Versa: Due to a lab accident, the main character Thomas turns into his female self Emmanuelle (then Julia, in season two) whenever he hits his elbow.
  • Weird Science:
    • At the end of the pilot episode, after Wyatt (the cautious one) tells Lisa (hot computer-created genie) that he's happy and she disappears, Gary (slacker) is ticked and states he'd only be happy if Wyatt was a killer babe. At that point, Wyatt is turned into a hot blonde.
    • Later in the series, Gary is accidentally zapped into a phone sex worker.
    • In the episode "Feminine Mistake," Wyatt and Gary want to understand women better, but aren't satisfied with Lisa's help. So, of course, Lisa makes them look like girls. "Wynona" and "Garyette" get hit on by everyone including Wyatt's brother Chett. Played for laughs as Wyatt and Gary see themselves as girls only in mirrors and the audience sees them as girls when they flirt with their minor friends (or have a hissy fit.) But when boys try to pick them up....
  • Wizards of Waverly Place:
    • "Three Maxes and a Little Lady": Max transforms thanks to a mutant spell cast by Alex and Justin. He remains female for several episodes until the spell is undone.
    • "Third Wheel": Justin shape-shifts into Alex to trick Harper into helping him finish his float. The fact that he had no moral hesitation in willingly turning himself into his sister is surprising.
  • The X-Files: Season One gives us the aptly titled episode "Gender Bender", which revolves around a community of humanoid aliens with the ability to change genders at will. Said aliens secrete unusually high levels of Pheromones, which enables them to easily attract human sex partners; unfortunately, it also has a tendency to make the act itself fatal.


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