The Ball of Light Transformation is a peculiar form of Voluntary Shapeshifting, where a character becomes not another creature but a flying orb, mote, speck, flame or tiny star made of light. Size, color and brightness can vary.
Such a form is often invulnerable, light being intangible, or at the very least very hard to hit thanks to its small size and mobility. Some can even goes through walls, or slip through tiny spaces. Although many will just use this form as an alternate means of Flight.
Contrasting with this transformation as a standard power, it can also be a one-time event when a character is metamorphosed, resurrected, ascended to a higher plane of existence or other life-changing event.
The popularity of this trope in film or live-action TV can be linked to it being a very easy special effect.
- Eto Rangers: The Jyarei Monsters, the Jyarei Elite and even Jyarei Queen Nyanma herself are all capable of turning into balls of light. For the Monsters and the Elite, they do this to invade the Novel Worlds; in Nyanma's case, she uses it when she goes to Mugen on certain occasions.
- Haruhi Suzumiya: The espers are depicted as turning into balls of red light when in Closed Space.
- The first season finale of Hell Girl sees this used as an alternate form of flight. Ai becomes a ball of purple light when escaping the spider so that she can take her revenge on Hajime and Tsugumi in the world of the living. Her minions do the same, albeit in colors corresponding to their straw doll forms, to follow her in hopes of talking her down.
- Natsume's Book of Friends: When the gods Fuzuki and Houzuki decide to leave Mount Misumi, they and their followers transform into balls of light to depart from the mountain.
- In the Mélusine comic, fairies like Mélisande can turn into a small sphere of light. Notably used by Mélisande to sneak into Mister Haaselblatt's office when egged on by the other witch's school students.
- Spider-Man villain Will O' the Wisp can fly by making himself lighter than air and expelling a trail of excess molecules behind him. He gives off so much light when he does this that he looks like an ethereal glowing sphere.
- In the Disney Fairies movies, Clarion the Queen Fairy often shows up first as a trio of floating lights that then coalesces into her true form.
- DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp: Unlike other genies who would rather turn into smoke, the genie in this movie (and anybody he brings inside the lamp with him) becomes a small cloud of sparks or a mote of light to enter/exit the lamp.
- The Blue Fairy from Pinocchio first appears as a bright light that looks like a star before taking the form of a beautiful woman. Then she departs in the same way.
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader has Lilliandil, Ramandu's daughter, falling from the sky as a blue star before taking human form. Then she rises up again in the same shape. It's implied, though, that the star is her true form and that she could take any she wish.
Lilliandil: If [my beauty] is a distraction, I can change form.
- Helena Ravenclaw, being a ghost, has this power in the second part of the film adaptation of the seventh book of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
- Legend. The fairy Oona can change into a small ball of light and fly around. She does so in Darkness's dungeon to escape a prison cell and obtain the key to the cell.
- The Principal from Sky High can transform into something similar to a mini-star. It gives her the ability to fly at a very high speed with drastic changes in direction and angle.
- Glinda the good witch turns into a pinkish orb to fly around in The Wizard of Oz.
- The Stormlight Archive: This is the power of the nex-im brand of Fused. The Fused spirit can eject from its body as a ribbon of reddish light, leaving behind a hollow husk of carapace. The Fused then flies with extreme speed in its ribbon form before recreating its body at the destination point. The only way to kill a Fused of this brand (inasmuch as you can ever kill a Fused, anyway) is to either kill it so quickly that it has no chance to eject, or to bait it into using four bodies in a row to fight you instead of retreating to replenish its Voidlight on the fourth jump.
- Babylon 5. "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars" has a being who's watching the events of the episode do this to reveal that he's in the future, and that humanity has evolved into Energy Beings much like the Vorlons before them.
- In Charmed this is an ability of the Whitelighters, called orbing, and their primary means of transportation. Although the "ball" shape is probably based on episode budget, because it isn't used every time. Their transformation looks more like Star Trek teleportation.
- Kamen Rider Meteor from Kamen Rider Fourze transforms by being enveloped in a Sphere of Power that flies away, performing a Dynamic Entry upon landing as an explosion of energy and revealing his Rider form once it has faded.
- The Sidhe, which in this series are small blue-skinned fairies, often appears as small, blue balls of light flying around.
- In the episode "Goblin's Gold", the title goblin can turn into a mote of light. He uses it to escape pursuit and fly through walls, but also to enter a human's body and attempt possession, successfully with Gaius.
- In the Series Fauxnale for Mystery Science Theater 3000, as the Satellite of Love crew approaches the edge of the universe, they become balls of light corresponding to the main colors of the characters (Mike=Blue, Crow=Yellow, Servo=Red, Cambot=White, Gypsy=Purple). Of course, when the series was Uncancelled, they reverted back to their regular forms.
- From Power Rangers S.P.D., Sam/SPD Omega Ranger can turn into a ball of light from time travel... changing his body into light energy, or somesuch.
- The hero of Space Sheriff Gavan starts using an energy form to fly and fight enemies as the series goes on. He once meets an opponent with a similar power, San Dorva; when he turns into a ball of light, Gavan responds in kind and they tussle for a while in the air as red and blue balls of light, respectively.
- In Stargate SG-1 and the rest of the Stargate-verse, people who Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence take the form not of a ball of light, but of a luminous blob with waving tendrils, sometimes dubbed a "light jellyfish". Ascended Ancients can then take this form at will, but they're pretty much Energy Beings all the time by this point — though they can also resume a material form if they wish.
- This is the true form of the Organians in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Errand of Mercy". The amiable old men turn into blindingly bright light at the end of the episode — their humanoid appearance was simply A Form You Are Comfortable With.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- The boggart is the immature form of a Will-o'-Wisp. It is a Shapeshifter that can change its form between that of a small demihuman/humanoid and that of a will-o'-wisp (ball of light).
- Most types of Eladrin (fairy-like outsiders from the Chaotic Good planes) can turn into a ball of light, depriving them of most of their abilities but allowing them to become incorporeal, fly and shoot energy blasts.
- Arcane casters can duplicate this with the 3.5th Edition eladrin form spell (from the Book of Exalted Deeds).
- In BIONICLE, Umbra has this ability and uses it offensively.
- As with the tabletop examples above, Dungeons & Dragons Online features Ghaele Eladrin that can take the shape of a lantern archon.
- The Empyrean Channelers from Iron Marines use their Psychic Powers to turn into a ball of energy for ridiculously quick movement. This makes them the fastest deployable squad units in the game.
- In The Legend of Kyrandia: Fables and Fiends, the purple spell from the amulet allows you to transform into a Will-o'-Wisp (a group of purple, floating lights). You can float over things that have no ground, can travel in cavern rooms indefinitely (you light your own room, so cannot be hurt by the beings that lurk in the dark).
- Seen in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time when Link uses the Ocarina to warp to the various temples. The Sages also seem to be able to do this as well.
- Mega Man Zero: Cyber Elves are beings of data that are contained in floating balls of light. The previous hero Mega Man X, now having become a cyber-elf himself, can take on either this form or a holographic version of himself.
- In the Metroid Prime Trilogy, Samus takes this form inside the Morph Ball, a process that the Space Pirates are unable to replicate.
- In The Sims 3: Supernatural, fairies can transform into a ball of light.
- Tikal of Sonic Adventure often appears in the form of a light ball as the Hint Orbs you can find in stages.
- Super Mario Bros.:
- Ys II:
- At the beginning, Adol assumes this form during his flight from Darm Tower to Ys.
- The goddesses do this when they Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence at the end, leaving their physical forms behind as statues.
- In Champions of Far'aus, Monstrovs with Light, Arcane, or Shadow power sets, as opposed to ones without them, get a third form in addition to their humanoid and monster forms, referred to as "amorphous" forms, that are more-or-less ball-shaped forms made of the respective magic type. The amorphous form No-Sells non-magic and non-elemental based attacks, and can fly in the air, and through most objects, giving Monstrovs without air or lighting power sets the ability to fly, but the form actively drains their energy.
- In Super Temps, superhero High Voltage (which, as is easy to guess from his name, has electric powers) can use a "travel form" to fly, which is a ball of energy surrounded by lightning bolts.
- XRS: When flying at speeds above mach 3 the XRS is engulfed in radiation, becoming a being made of pure energy. When in this form, the suit is virtually invulnerable to any physical attack and capable of destroying any man made object on impact. It can reach tested speeds of at least Mach 30 or 22,836 miles per hour.
- Code Lyoko: Unlike other, rather than taking the form of a humanoid Digital Avatar, Franz Hopper is permanently virtualized on Lyoko under the shape of a brilliant ball of light.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- At the end of "Magical Mystery Cure", Twilight Sparkle returns from the astral plane as a mote of light in the shape of her own cutie mark, before rematerializing as an alicorn.
- In "Twilight's Kingdom Part 2", the Mane Six appear to go through a phase of this type during their Super Mode Transformation Sequence.