Follow TV Tropes


Body Surf

Go To
"By concealing yourself in the flesh of your enemies you can constantly escape detection while committing countless evil acts. The different bodies will keep the authorities guessing, and when you get bored you can simply shed your current skin and move on to the next. There is also a great deal of fun to be had with tormenting heroes with this fashion. Consider, 'Mom, is that you?'"
How to Be a Villain, Neil Zawacki

Some Body Snatchers simply have no patience.

Maybe they're committing Grand Theft Me, only to find that they're quickly wearing their new bodies out. Maybe no one person they possess has all the skills they need. Maybe they have no idea who's good to take over until they've done so. Maybe they're afraid of being found if they stay in one body too long. Maybe their preferences for a pleasurable existence tend heavily towards being Allergic to Routine. Or maybe they're just plain nuts. In any case, when a Body Snatcher is constantly switching from body to body, they are said to Body Surf.

Naturally, this makes them hard to catch. If this is done in a closed environment, you get a Ten Little Murder Victims scenario — only the identity of The Mole changes, making things considerably harder for the heroes. Of course, it's considerably harder for the villain, too, who had better be a really good actor if people aren't going to be able to quickly tell who is Not Himself.

How this is done depends on if the surfer is corporeal or not. If it is, it may leave one victim as a Chest Burster or Orifice Evacuation, and enter another through Orifice Invasion. If not, it could move through bodies freely, or be limited in some way, such as requiring the new body to touch the old one.

Compare Vain Sorceress. May happen when people play hackey sack with a Heart Drive capable of Demonic Possession. Sometimes doing this winds up with the being possessing people getting Trapped in the Host.

Not to be confused with the move of the same name in [PROTOTYPE], wherein you surf using a body. Nor it is related to Body Sled. Or Crowd Surfing, for that matter.

Compare and Contrast Body Backup Drive, where the target body usually isn't occupied when the new host moves in.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In the Hentai Bible Black, this is the motivation behind the actions of Reika Kitami. Years before the first series takes place, she was used a Virgin Sacrifice to summon the Devil. It didn't work, because she had been gang raped by the goons of her captor, the leader of a coven, hours before. After the leader of the coven killed her followers, Kitmai managed to kill her, the Devil told her she could live for several more years on the condition he gave him a soul. As time ran out, he chose the Love Interest of her former protégé, and after the ceremony is stopped, Kitami is seemingly killed, but it's revealed that at the last second she manged to put her soul into the other body. In the sequel, the coven is restarted and led by a new arrival, and in the final episode, the new leader's soul is taken to hell, while Kitami's soul takes over her body.
  • Pandaemonium in the manga version of Chrono Crusade.
  • In the second season of Code Geass, Marianne, Lelouch's mother, reveals that she is alive and kicking, despite her apparent assassination prior to the series. When she was shot, her Geass awakened and gave her the power to possess the nearest person. She body-surfs into a child who was staying in the palace.
  • The "Phantom Thief G" in D.Gray-Man who is actually an orphan with a parasite-type Innocence can possess people and Akuma just by looking at them; he's gotten roughly three dozen people arrested in his place.
  • Doraemon: Nobita and the Galaxy Super-express have Doraemon and gang, aboard the titular express, being attacked by the Yadori aliens, nasty little Puppeteer Parasites which infects humans or humanoid aliens. However it seems like they can infect only a single victim - the one that possessed Suneo jumps over to infect Nobita once Suneo gets knocked out, and later Nobita gets hit by a soap spray which removes the Yadori infecting him. When Suneo regains consciousness he's back to his normal self.
  • Baby from Dragon Ball GT jumps from body to body trying to find a host powerful enough to kill Goku, Trunks and Pan. He also leaves behind pieces of himself in each body, ensuring he still has control even after leaving it. The meat of the conflict takes place after he settles into the body of Vegeta.
  • Captain Ginyu in Dragon Ball Z. Started out by snatching Goku's body, but when he realized that because he didn't know Goku's special fighting techniques, he had only a fraction of Goku's original power, he took a beating. Later, he decided to snatch Vegeta's body, as Vegeta was so powerful at the time that Ginyu wouldn't need to know very much about him to still be more powerful than any of the heroes at the time. He ended up inside the body of a frog and thus couldn't use his body-swapping technique because it required speaking, but later ended up stealing Bulma's body when she makes a device that allows him to communicate and almost managed to body-snatch Piccolo before being returned to the frog's body for good.
    • Ironically, this leaves Ginyu as the only survivor of Frieza's minions, as both his body (now occupied by the frog's mind) and his mind (now in the frog) end up on Earth, and Ginyu-in-the-frog is seen alive and well two Time Skips later. One is left to wonder what the lifespan of a Namekian frog is.
    • Ginyu returns, still in the frog's body, in Dragon Ball Super's adaption of Resurrection F. He tricks Tagoma into swapping bodies with him and fights the Z Fighters for a bit before Vegeta finally kills him, leaving Tagoma stuck in the frog's body.
  • Evillious Chronicles: There's a difficult to learn spell called the Swap Technique which allows for mages to move their souls into other bodies—they could also go the entire way and swap the person's soul into their previous body. The character Elluka Clockworker has used the spell to swap into at least three bodies over the course of the series.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) the Philosopher's Stone can be used to Body Surf by transferring someone's soul and mind into a new body. The series Big Bad has this technique repeatedly and is over 400 years old. Unfortunately the amount of time she can spend in each body lessens each time she does it, meaning she requires more and more Philosopher's Stones to keep going.
  • K: The new Colorless King is revealed to have done this to multiple people, including a random high school student, the Silver King, and two of Shiro's classmates. He's fully aware of his presence, and targets other Kings in hope of gaining their powers. And until the end of season 2, Weismann was stuck in Tooru Hieda's body, and Tooru's consciousness was buried under Weismann's until Weismann returned to his original body.
  • In Kekkaishi, The Sousui and Tsukihasa are capable of this as a form of immortality.
  • Anon, from The Law of Ueki, who steals the bodies of his victims by swallowing them whole. He does this to Robert Haydn and even the current God.
  • Many people in MPD Psycho are able to transfer or copy their personalities, but Tetora uses this power whenever practical (though he always returns to (or stays in, if he made a copy) his original body fairly fast).
  • Orochimaru from Naruto plans to live forever in order to learn all the world's jutsu. That is impossible since new jutsus are made everyday, and some are handed down from family to family and kept a secret, AND some require years and years to master, whether you're a prodigy or not. Not to mention that some require a Kekkai Genkai, which are locked behind one's genetics. To this end he developed his Living Corpse Reincarnation jutsu, which allowed him to be able to transfer his soul into another person's body, and the perks include acquiring any special abilities that the meat puppet may have. He can only perform this jutsu once every three years. In theory this could be the closest thing to immortality, but the reality is the host body will eventually weaken and reject Orochimaru's invading soul, so he will have to find a new host before it is too late. How long it takes for the host to reject him depends on how powerful the host is to begin with: the body he used as an emergency measure wasn't tremendously decayed by the time the three years were up while a powerful hosts like Sasuke or Itachi could serve him a reasonable term, if not a whole lifetime.
  • PandoraHearts:
    • The main character, Oz was originally an Animate Inanimate Object that came to life due to the powers of the Abyss. He had two rabbit bodies that he bounced back and forth from — when one was destroyed, the other became a chain — and then when Alice took his own body, his soul went into his CONTRACTOR'S body, so when his contractor de-aged again (REALLY long story) he had his fourth body. He even tells Echo it could happen again if his contractor's body dies.
    • Alice also seems to be capable of this, considering she hijacked Oz's rabbit body from him when her own was dying.
  • Mukuro Rokudo in Reborn! (2004) can transfer his soul between any bodies he has injured with his weapon, including artificial box animals (don't ask)... and it's his favorite tactic.
    • Daemon Spade, as the Primo equivalent of Mukuro, also made use of this. This allows him to still be alive in Tsuna's time and be the villain of the Inheritance Cerimony arc.
  • Karla The Grey Witch of Record of Lodoss War has survived for centuries doing this via Grand Theft Me by placing the circlet she now resides in on her victims' heads. She is forced out of one victim only to possess another. It's implied in the manga that she needs a willing host, as the circlet doesn't do anything except lie on the ground until Woodchuck picks it up and places it on his own head after crossing the Despair Event Horizon.
  • In Soul Eater, Medusa uses magic to cheat death this way, the first time jumping into a helpless child, and then upgrading to something more comfortable by stealing the body of her sister, Arachne.
    • Giriko has enchanted his memories into his own genes, which are passed down to his children when he has kids. In effect, his children aren't people whose bodies he steals, they're him, born again and again.
  • In Suicide Club, the entity called "Mitsuko" sets up a group or mass suicide that leaves behind one survivor who is essentially infected with "Mitsuko"'s spirit, which gradually overwrites that survivor's personality and turns her into "Mitsuko" to start the process over again.
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime: This is the method by which High Wizard Razen has served the Kingdom of Falmuth for centuries. By using a combination of soul-destroying magic and Possession magic, he can transfer his soul to new bodies when his current one gets too old. This also allows him to use any special abilities tied to the body he's taking over as shown when he has access to Shogou Taguchi's Berserker and Survivor Skills. However, his Old Master Gadra notes it has several weaknesses. He can't constantly switch bodies because of the taxing nature it would put on his own soul, because he has to destroy the body's original soul this locks him out any abilities or Skills tied to the soul (and as a rule the stronger abilities/Skills are almost always tied to the soul; he was lucky that Shogou's Unique Skills were tied to his body), and he'll never be able to use the body's full potential for himself since it wasn't originally his. In fact, Razen had to resort to this method because even he couldn't master Gadra's Reincarnation Secret Art.
  • In Valvrave the Liberator, the Kamitsuki - the pilots of the titular mecha, who become a sort of vampire - can do this. By biting another person's skin they take control of their bodies, which is connected to their ability to absorb 'Runes', tiny building blocks of information. The person returns to normal when they bite their original bodies back. They retain the abilities of the bodies they surf into, such as combat awareness, and language - in episode 16, Saki didn't know how to say "hello" in Dorssian to K-Zwölf before body-snatching him, but communicates fluently with other Dorssian soldiers once in his body.
    • This is how the Magius managed to take control of all the world's major nations. Their power is the source of the Kamitsuki's.

    Audio Plays 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who:
    • The Fearmonger has the titular character jumping into people... first the leader of the biggest political party, and then, apparently, the Doctor. At the end, it's revealed the monster was in another guy up until the point where Ace had been in hospital — whereupon it jumped over to her, getting her to try to kill the Doctor.
    • "Retail Therapy" in the Ninth Doctor Chronicles concludes with the Ninth Doctor, with Jackie Tyler's help, transferring his consciousness into the body of the villain, reversing the life draining devices he sent out, and surfing back to his own body as the man's body "wears a bit thin", so to speak.
    • In Tales from the Vault, Kali Korash is able to transfer his essence from one body to another when his current host dies.

    Comic Books 
DC Comics:
  • This is the entire concept behind the superhero Deadman, whose sole power is the ability to effortlessly possess anybody, from children to Superman to paintings to giant crabs. He shows off to ability to rapidly possess people in The Brave and the Bold #86, where a Brainwashed and Crazy Deadman makes every single person on a crowded street attack Batman as he passes them by. First, a cop tries to shoot Batman, then a blind guy tries to smack him with his walking stick, then a businessman throws a briefcase at him, and finally a truck tries to crash into Batman just as he grapples away. In Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot, he quickly jumps from a corrupt businessman to a female skater to a passing man.
  • In Final Crisis, Darkseid (and possibly the other New Gods) is able to do this, as Darkseid is able to jump from "Boss Dark Side" to Dan Turpin.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): The Post-Crisis Giganta started out her villainous career by trying to transfer her essence into Wonder Woman to save herself from a fatal illness, but the attempt was stopped by Wonder Girl and Zuel's assistant had to transfer her into a gorilla's body out of desperation. Zuel was displeased with her new body and found herself a human victim whose body and sizeshifting abilities are most commonly associated with the villain.
  • In Hellblazer, a low-grade warlock's plan to invoke this trope was foiled when he discovered that every human had a defensive aura that his disembodied presence couldn't overcome. Foiled, he had to settle for possessing a dog, which grew to immense proportions with the warlock's spirit inside. It's hinted that he moves on to a rat after his dog body is destroyed.
  • In the Elseworlds book Justice League: Another Nail, Scott Free (Mr. Miracle) is killed by Desaad, but before dying he transfers his mind into Big Barda's Mother Box circuitry, allowing him to "possess" his wife long enough to use his escape-artist skills to release her from Darkseid's shackles. Barda then acquires a Green Lantern power ring, allowing Scott Free the ability to manifest himself as a green energy construct.
  • Superman:
    • The Supergirl villain Worldkiller-1 transferred his soul from one body to another the whole time, looking for a perfect host. In the Red Daughter of Krypton arc, as Supergirl was fighting the leader of an alien race, Worldkiller-1 emerged through the Diasporan damaged body and tried to snatch Kara's body. She forced him out, though, so he transferred his spirit into the bodies of random bystanders — who were burnt out nearly instantly — until Kara agreed to let him surf into her body.
    • In Strangers at the Heart's Core, Lesla-Lar's spirit takes over a Superboy Robot; later, she invades Supergirl's mind and boots Kara's soul out of her own body.
  • Teen Titans: Jericho had this ability, and when he tried to help Raven using it, it eventually drove him completely mad.
  • The villain named the Ultra-Humanite (originally a Superman character, then a Justice Society of America one) accomplishes this by surgically transferring his brain between bodies. He tried to do this to Power Girl, but she stopped him.
  • The revived version of Brother Power the Geek is a failed 'doll elemental' and is able to project his consciousness out of his original tailor's dummy body and inhabit the form of any other mannequin or doll.
  • Demons in Clean Room have their own (probably not physical) bodies, but they enjoy possessing human hosts and wreaking havoc. There is no outward indication of the possession, nor are there any limits to which hosts can be possessed or how many a demon can affect over time.

Marvel Comics:

  • Fantastic Four: Doctor Doom has the Ovoid mind switch, an alien technique taught to him by the (guess) Ovoids, a species of aliens incapable of reproduction at one point so they had to clone their bodies and transfer their minds into it. Despite a later She-Hulk issue retconning it as being difficult if there's a soul/mind in the body the "caster" is trying to inhabit, Doom seems to be able to do this with relative ease, especially after the Unthinkable arc, where he's just a spirit, and he swaps and hops about the Fantastic Four until Reed shoots Doom-in-Thing, killing both and sending Victor von Doom... to hell.
  • In the third Iron Man annual issue, anyone who held the wand of the (then-deceased) villain Molecule Man was eventually possessed by his essence. He is defeated when Man-Thing grabs the wand, and since he doesn't have a mind to possess, Molecule Man is left trapped helpless in the wand (although later eventually figures out how to recreate his body).
  • X-Men:
    • The villain Proteus burns through the bodies he possesses as he uses his mutant powers. However, assuming he doesn't ever use his reality-warping powers, he could stay in a single body indefinitely.
    • Mountjoy, a villain from one of the comic's various dystopian futures, does this. He physically merges with his victims to possess them, and sometimes consumes their bodies for sustenance.
    • Apocalypse is known to do this. While he has healing and regeneration powers as well as technology to prolong his life, this is not enough to achieve immortality due to his powers slowly destroying his body. Apocalypse has had to from time to time forcibly steal the body of an unfortunate victim, who he terms as "vessels", his abilities allowing him to take over every aspect of their body to remake them in his appearance. Naturally he feels that someone being chosen to be his vessel is an honor.
  • This is one of the powers of the psychic Kay Cera (A.K.A. "Cuckoo") of ClanDestine.
  • The Incredible Hulk: The villain Xemnu the Titan is able to survive death by psychically transferring his mind into other bodies and gradually transforming them into a copy of his original form. By the time of Immortal Hulk, he's done this dozens of times over, and the mental and physical strain of it has begun to take a severe toll on his sanity; he's started talking in childish, sing-song speech patterns, like saying he's "hungwy" when he needs to recharge his powers.


  • Palpatine in Dark Empire was forced to do this as one clone body after another was rotted by The Dark Side, culminating in an attempt to possess newborn Anakin Solo, a desperation plan necessitated by the fact that all of his remaining clone bodies had been sabotaged by traitorous elements in the Empire.
  • In the final book of the Darth Bane trilogy, bane attempts to learn this technique to forestall his death at the hands of his apprentice. He attempts to force his soul inside the body of his apprentice, it fails. Or does it?
    • It worked better for another character named Set Harth, who learned the technique from the Sith, but then decided to ditch them. Who needs ambitions to one day rule the galaxy when you can live forever, huh? He successfully managed it for at least a few hundred years, after which his trace had gone cold.
  • In Flare, the Tigress claims to have done this periodically over thousands of years. Her latest victim is prison psychiatrist Katherine Kaat.
  • The Passengers of Revival are each linked to a specific body but near the end of the series they begin hijacking armed soldiers to attack and jumping to new ones when the old bodies are killed.
  • Billy Kincaid, a child-killer who became one of Spawn's early victims, came back as a ghost that possessed people and made them act out their violent impulses, damning them to Hell and getting stronger in the process, and evading Spawn, Cogliostro, Sam and Twitch by jumping from body to body. Spawn defeats him by getting him to possess a cop and luring him into the Dead Zone, a place in the city where Heaven is in control and Hell is weakened, trapping him in the officer's body for a well-deserved asskicking that ultimately ends with Twitch killing Billy and the officer with a single headshot.
  • Usagi Yojimbo: As if Jei wasn't nightmarish enough, it's eventually revealed that he has the ability to possess anyone he wounds. First Priest Jizonobu, then Inazuma, and currently Priest Hama, the only survivor of Jei's original rampage on Jizonobu's temple.

    Fan Works 
  • All Assorted Animorphs AUs: In "What if Tom's yeerk got the morphing cube from David first?", the Yeerk presses Tom's ear against Jake's so he can get into the latter's brain and learn all the Animorphs' secrets.
  • The Indie Heroes shows the Beheaded trying this on a living person for once—and it's not pretty. After his last body is destroyed, the sentient clump of cells that is his true form crawls into his still-screaming killer's mouth and ears, then cuts off his head and crawls back inside.
  • In Hail to the Jewels in the Lotus, Nezha is pinned by rock when Baro Ki'Teer is about to be killed by the Grineer. Seeing no other options, Nezha uses Transference to transfer his mind into the fallen Inaros to rise up and lay waste to the Grineer.
  • Hellsister Trilogy: Drang — an old enemy of Supergirl's — takes over Satan Girl's body for a short while.
  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero The SOS Brigade determines Kanae's backstory had this. As Kanae was escaping the Alien Invasion right behind her she jumped through worlds, in every world she had an identity but has never considered what happened to her "local" copy, who she had never met.
  • In My Little Mommies, The Big Bad Sleipnir has this power, but with certain restrictions. You see, he's a Monster Progenitor (called the "Father of All Monsters" in-story), he created griffins, minotaurs, manticores, and others (though he didn't create dragons) via magical mirrors. If his body was killed, he could jump to any sentient creature created by a mirror and shape its flesh into his own form, but only if they were directly born from a mirror, their descendants were immune. He's currently Sealed Evil in a Can, and plans to have his spirit inhabit one of the Mane Six's three foals created by the mirror at the start of the story (or Dinky, who was created the same way).
  • In My Mother, Anakin briefly ‘possesses’ Padme so that she can help him channel his power to save Leia and her twins during complications in childbirth.
  • Pony POV Series:
    • A rather horrifying version is done by Discord during his first reign. As a spirit, destroying his body merely frees him to take over another one (explaining why Celestia didn't just smash his statue to bits when she had the chance). After her sister Galaxia shatters Discord's statue when he's defeated with the Rainbow of Light, he possesses G1 Wind Whistler (Celestia initially refuses to tell whether it was her or Galaxy, as she didn't want their memory tainted by association with a monster like Discord, but Dark World eventually confirmed it) and morphs her body into the one he has now.
    • In the Dark World, Fluttercruel proves she's inherited this trait from her "father" — Rarity kills her, but her spirit is able to resist being Dragged Off to Hell, and hijacks Sparkler's body for herself. After being killed a second time, she tries to possess Twilight, but Fluttershy's and Pinkie Pie's souls restrain her so she can be blasted with the Elements and banished from mortal reality before she can succeed.
  • The Rigel Black Chronicles: The magical construct inside Tom Riddle's diary proves to be able to take over someone's body with a mind magic assault, which is how it intends to jump from Ginny to "Rigel"/Harry. And when plan A doesn't go as intended, it takes over the dead body of the basilisk, which still has an intact nervous system.
  • In Surrogate of Zero, Rei emerges through Shinji and comes close to "tanging" Siesta before she's stopped by Asuka.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the J-Horror film Another Heaven, the Body Surfing killer is actually a murderess from the future whose (inadvertent?) time travel turned her into a sapient puddle of water. The bodies possessed are found to be missing their brains which are found to be merely shriveled up and covered in tumours. The film gets kind of weird towards the end, with the implication that the killer evaporated from a housefire, and is now in the rain.
  • The main character in the Korean horror film Dead Friend suffers from Easy Amnesia, and doesn't even remember that she had swapped minds with the main villain. Since this happened just as she was about to drown, the villain quickly jumped into the next nearest girl, and spends the rest of the film possessing different characters to get revenge.
  • In Fallen (the one with Denzel Washington and John Goodman), the resident body snatcher can switch from body to body by touch. In one scene, he chases Denzel Washington in a crowd by body surfing his way through the crowd, each person reaching forward to touch the next in the chain.
    • Time, is on my side...
  • Jason Voorhees of Friday the 13th fame does this in Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday after his true body gets blown to hell in an FBI SWAT ambush that ends with a frigging airstrike. The host bodies die after Jason leaves them (oddly enough, NOT from the damage they take while he possesses them).
  • In The Hazing, Professor Kapps pulls a Grand Theft Me on Doug and takes over his body. After Doug is killed, the heroes think they have won until one of them asks what is there to stop Kapps from jumping into another nearby host. It is almost immediately revealed that he has done just that and taken over Marsha's body.
  • In Heaven Can Wait (1978), Warren Beatty's character Joe Pendleton is a quarterback who is taken from his body "before his time" by an over-anxious guardian angel. His body is turned into ashes by the time this is discovered, however, and he thus must find a new one to inhabit. While waiting for a more fitting corpse, Joe settles for that of an elderly millionaire.
  • The Hidden (1987). A Puppeteer Parasite-like alien takes over various people in Los Angeles and uses them to commit thrill crimes. He is chased by a member of a different Puppeteer Parasite species who is inhabiting the body of an FBI agent.
  • Klaus does this in Hold Your Breath, possessing one teenager after another.
  • Combined with Possessing a Dead Body in Husk. Alex turns the bodies of his victims in Scary Scarecrows and can shift his spirit between them at will. However, he is only able to animate one scarecrow at a time.
  • In Immortal the bodies of the inhabitants of New York are too heavily mutated and modified to survive being Horus' hosts for long, so he is forced to jump from one to another every few hours. He stops after taking residence in the unmodified Nikopol.
  • At the very end of Killer Party, the ghost/demonic entity that has been possessing Jennifer demonstrates that it has this ability by jumping from Jennifer to Phoebe.
  • Lifeforce (1985): After her escape the female vampire starts switching from body to body to evade capture. The male vampires also survive being blown up with grenades by surfing into the bodies of the soldiers who blew them up, taking it to Body Horror levels by changing the soldiers' bodies into exact duplicates of their old bodies (similar to the Agents in The Matrix).
  • The Agents in The Matrix do this to revive themselves when killed.
    • The first movie shows that, since every human still plugged into the Matrix is a potential Agent, the Resistance cannot afford to leave witnesses when they go about trying to free people. Any populated area in the city is extremely dangerous. In a matter of seconds, an agent can jump into anyone nearby and shoot you dead. This is displayed to dramatic effect in the finale when Neo runs through a market and an apartment complex. Agent Smith, Agent Brown and Agent Jones are constantly taking shots at Neo from behind or from the sides as they try to kill him.
    • In the second movie, this is taken to its logical conclusion with a highway chase scene during rush hour.
    • The third movie culminates with Smith, now unbound by the rules the Machines imposed upon him, copying himself into every human and program in the Matrix.
  • The cult leader David Mendez in Mindstorm turns out to be a powerful psychic capable of changing bodies as his old body is dying. The first time he does this is when he's a boy, a part of an experiment of psychic children being trained for use during the Cold War. Their facility is then attacked by a Soviet strike team. All but two children are killed, and he himself is mortally wounded. He manages to possess one of the Russian soldiers and spends the next several decades working on trying to find the person or people responsible for this, eventually starting a cult. He later forces Senator Armitage to kill him, thus giving him the chance to take Armitage's body. At the end of the film, Tracey ruins his plans to run for President by shooting him in public. It's clear he'll survive in someone else's body, but it won't be someone running for President.
  • The creature in Proteus absorbs bodies throughout the movie and is able to assume their form from then on. The minds of the victims continue to exist within it and are able to surface when it naps after a meal.
  • Satan's Triangle: Satan cruises The Bermuda Triangle. His MO is possessing someone, posing as a shipwreck survivor so he'll be rescued by another boat, and then killing everyone aboard except for the next body he possesses so he can do it again.
  • In Shocker, this is Pinker's special power. He's very bad about selecting bodies with bad hearts, though.
  • A rare non-supernatural example: In Taking Lives, this is essentially the tactic of a serial killer - he kills people who look similar to himself, dresses them up as his old persona (killing them in messy ways helps), and steals their identity, continuing his life as the victim.
  • In Xchange, the titular company allows people who can afford it to swap minds for a short period of time as a form of instant travel (or just plain entertainment). The protagonist, Stuart Toffler, is a company's PR guy who is told by his boss to go to a city on the opposite coast via Xchange to attend a funeral. Unfortunately, he finds out too late that the guy he swapped with is a contract killer running from the law by constantly stealing bodies and running away with them. Stuart is required to "vacate" his temporary body for its rightful owner. Unfortunately, the only available body is that of a 4-day clone, and body swaps are forbidden more than twice in that time period. The film is (very) loosely based on Robert Sheckley's novel Mindswap.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse has the title villain, who through a ritual moves his essence onto younger bodies as the one he inhabits starts to break down. The movie starts with him getting a body that also has a Healing Factor, and through the story, Apocalypse decides that he will move onto Charles Xavier to "be everyone, everywhere".

  • Familiars in F.J. Hale's After the Spell Wars novelettes work like this, possessing the bodies of animals and jumping into a new one (with sorcerous help) if their current host dies. Morasha swaps bodies repeatedly over the course of two short books, once deliberately and the other times because her host was killed. Subverted in the end when she gets trapped in an intelligent dolphin's body and refuses to Body Surf again until a means to extract her without killing the host can be devised.
  • The Ganymede in Robert Jackson Bennett's American Elsewhere does this countless times. In the novel the town of Wink, New Mexico has several trans-dimensional eldritch abominations living in it, mostly in living body suits. Most aren't evil so they only change bodies when they need to. The Ganymede is evil, uses up the bodies and jumps to new ones as its whims dictate.
  • Most Yeerks in Animorphs stick to a single host, but those who are promoted frequently may get a new body as a result (or they may be promoted because they took a valuable host).
    • Edriss 562 (Visser One) started out with a Hork-Bajir when she came to Earth, where she took over an Iraqi soldier for a few minutes after landing in the middle of The Gulf War. Then she got back in the Hork-Bajir, killed the soldier, went to Hollywood, infested Jenny Lines, jumped fom her to Allison Kim, temporarily took over Lore David Altman to start the Sharing, and eventually infested Marco's mom.
    • Esplin 9466 (Visser Three) started with a Gedd, just to learn how to infest a host, but quickly moved to a much more effective Hork-Bajir. He actually managed to infest Aldrea for a few minutes in The Hork-Bajir Chronicles, but didn't permanently succeed in taking over an Andalite until The Andalite Chronicles, which got him promoted from Sub-Visser Seven to Visser Thirty-Two, and eventually all the way to Visser Three, the rank he holds for most of the series.
    • Temrash, the Yeerk who infested Jake in book #6, previously had a Gedd, a Hork-Bajir, and Jake's brother Tom as hosts.
  • Dog-Face Joe in The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers does it as Grand Theft Me, as any body he takes soon starts growing hair all over.
  • Avatar (Théophile Gautier): Balthazar Cherbonneau body swaps Octave and Olaf, but they return to him to switch back. Olaf's soul is restored, but Octave's soul makes no attempt to return to his own body, leaving a corpse to Balthazar. Fearing he might be get accused of murder, he gets the idea to transfer his soul to the corpse and leaving his own body dead, with the false news that Balthazar died in an accident.
  • The Blood Guard: Legion, one of the Hands of the Bend Sinister, has the ability to take over the bodies of Bend Sinister agents and even animals, as demonstrated with the Sustermann's cat, Grendel.
  • Bruce Coville's Book of...:
    • Bruce Coville's Book of Nightmares: Variant in Give a Puppet a Hand, as the living puppet Mr. Punkerino just takes over someone's hand if they tell his current bearer to "Give him to me".
    • Bruce Coville's Book of Ghosts II: The story Soul Survivor is about a ghost who discovers that he can jump into any living person (and even some animals), a power that all spirits possess. It's Played for Drama when he forms a partnership with a baseball player who, unlike his previous hosts, is aware of his presence and initially agrees to share his body. Things take a turn for the worse after the baseball player tells the world about the situation, is deemed insane, comes to believe that his psychiatrists are right, and attempts to force the ghost out.
  • One of the first scifi examples is the race of kaldanes from Edgar Rice Burroughs' novel The Chessmen of Mars. Kaldanes are grotesque disembodied heads with spiderlike limbs that live in vast colonies devoted to pure logic and reason, seeing all concerns of the body as beneath them. They keep things called rykors — which resemble perfect humanoid bodies, but without heads - as both vehicles and, when they have exhausted their use, food.
  • In P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath series, Bane, an undead spirit, travels in this way, moving from host to host and sucking the life out of each in turn.
  • The Cyberiad: In "The Fifth Sally, or the Mischief of King Balerion" King Balerion of Cymbronia, a great lover of hide-and-seek, promises a royal reward to anyone who will instruct him on the best hiding place in the world. Trurl and Klapaucius enter the contest with a "portable personality transformator", a device which, when worn on the head, can swap one's personality with that of another person by simply bumping them in the head. Balerion at once uses the apparatus to go on a mind-swapping spree through his capital, willfully causing chaos and shifting into another body whenever he has got the old one injured or got it into trouble with the law. As Balerion is unresponsive to all exhortations to use the device responsibly, Trurl and Klapaucius eventually punish him by transferring his personality into a cuckoo clock, and shifting the personality of one of his victims into the royal body to be king in his place.
  • In Elizabeth Moon's The Deed of Paksenarrion books, Dorrin returns to her birth family's home to put most of the family under attainder for crimes against the crown and attempts to salvage the rest. In the process of cleaning up her family's mess, she discovers that multiple members of her birth family do this and are now inhabiting the bodies of children in the nursery and people not related to her but who had done business with the family. One such soul tries to take over Stammel who manages to fight it off, but ends up blind as a result.
  • In the world of Corona, the setting of the Demon Wars Saga, any sufficiently skilled user of magic gemstones can do this to an unborn child with a good magical hematite. In Mortalis, Abbot Je'howith is tempted to pull this on the child of the king when he suffers a heart attack after using magic to verify the pregnancy, but eventually resists and accepts his fate. In Transcendence, it is revealed that the long line of miraculous prodigies leading the theocracy of Behren have secretly all been one despicable old man's soul doing this over and over again.
  • Tak from Stephen King's Desperation is forced to possess new bodies because he constantly wears them out.
  • Constant Drachenfels, Genevieve Dieudonné's first Big Bad uses this method to keep him going past his "death". It reached the point when he was older than virtually every other species on the planet
  • Corpsetaker from The Dresden Files. He (she?) goes through two different bodies during his (her?) time in the limelight, forcing Dresden to engage the Whack A Mole scenario in order to kill him (her her her). The twist? He's right the first time around, and he knows that.
    • To elaborate, in Dead Beat, Corpsetaker is in the body of Alicia, a college-age girl. Later on, when fighting Anastasia Luccio, head of the Wardens, Corpsetaker suckers her into gutting Alicia's body, then transfers his (her) mind over to Luccio's, leaving Luccio's mind dying in the younger body. Harry, however, figures this out immediately and shoots Luccio/Corpsetaker in the noggin. Of course, this leaves Luccio stuck in the young and attractive (but magically weak) body instead of her old one. His uninformed companion declares him a traitor and almost kills him before he can justify his actions.
    • In Ghost Story, Corpsetaker is back as a ghost. S/he steals Butters' body and attempts to Body Surf into Molly, but is repelled.
  • An understated example in Edenborn: Dr. Hyoguchi theorizes that it is possible to overwrite a mind with another one from brain scans if the two bodies are genetically identical. He leaves a message to the Ten asking them to clone him and then overwrite the clone's mind with Hyoguchi's so that he can live again. The morality is nebulous; the clone's mind will cease to exist, but the process is painless and gradual and Hyoguchi recognizes the incredible sacrifice and asks for it as a gift. Both the member of the Ten who receives the message and the clone in question take the proposal seriously.
  • In Empire from the Ashes, the mutineer's inner council managed their constant manipulation of the human race without going into stasis by transplanting their brains as necessary into the bodies of lesser mutineers who had obediently gone into stasis. Less important mutineers have to make do with regular human bodies.
  • In Every Day by David Levithan, the main character A wakes up every day in a new body. He has no body of his own and barely manages to scrape out a personality of his own. In fact, he may not even have a gender — the novel is in first person so the only indication of his gender is in the book summary. A is content with his life, never getting too attached, until he wakes up in the body of Justin and falls in love with his girlfriend Rhiannon.
  • In the novel Fifth Quarter by Tanya Huff, one character keeps himself alive this way by jumping to the body of his killer just before he dies. After figuring it out, he makes a habit of it and lives for several centuries jumping from body to body.
  • In George R. R. Martin's short story "The Glass Flower", this method of immortality is achieved by way of a Battle in the Center of the Mind. In the story, there are three "contestants", three "prizes", and a controller that take part in what is referred to as the "game of mind", where they enter a virtual world and battle one another, with weapons or psychologically. The contestants try to take over the bodies of the prizes, though the prizes can fight back and retain their bodies if they win, and the controller creates the world in which they fight.
  • Sario from The Golden Key does this a number of times throughout the book. Unusually, the reason he switches is because the body he is currently inhabiting is usually too old, Sario having taken the then-young body and lived the life of the person he switched with into old age.
  • In Good Omens, angel Aziraphale does this after accidentally losing his own body.
  • The Great Game by Dave Duncan: Tion, soi-disant "god" of youth (actually a enchanter from an Alternate Universe — but that's much of a muchness, since in this story being from elsewhere in The Multiverse is the defining attribute of enchanters) holds a contest every year for the most beautiful and skilled youth in all the land. This youth 'represents' Tion and hands out the prizes — and then disappears for several years. Unbeknownst to everyone else, Tion has been committing Grand Theft Me for the sheer fun of it. The "god" is later shown changing bodies several times, and comments that male bodies 'wear better'. It is implied that the theft is reversed (with them brainwashed not to remember) after several years of, um, wear; one of the characters has a chunk of his mind missing.
  • Magos Antigonus from the Warhammer 40,000 Grey Knights novel Dark Adeptus gains this ability through discovering some Lost Technology, allowing him to be Not Quite Dead. He's a hero, though, or something approximating it in this Crapsack World.
  • Harry Potter: Voldemort, after being almost destroyed by baby Harry, only retained the ability to possess bodies, and he jumped from animal to animal (severely cutting their lifespan) until he was able to get his new body.
  • The mage Ma'ar in Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar series magically overwrites the soul of any person who is a direct descendant of his original body as soon as that person displays mage-talent. The only way to kill him for good is to kill his host and then follow him into the netherworld and destroy his Soul Jar.
  • The Disk-One Final Boss of the H.I.V.E. Series, Overlord, did this once before the start of the series into the body of Number One, intending to then surf into the body of his clone/son, Otto. However, he is soon transferred into the Animus, a fluid which replaces blood. Ordinary humans cannot survive it for long, so he spends the last few months of his life hopping from body to body as they expire increasingly quickly.
  • In The Host (2008) Wanda ends up doing this when her friends swap her into another vacated body.
  • There were a race of body-hopping aliens in Jack Chalker's The Identity Matrix. Thing is, they weren't just possessing the bodies, they were instantaneously switching minds, which means that there were a lot of people left behind in the wrong bodies afterwards, including the protagonist, who winds up getting switched twice. And never gets the original body back.
  • The villain in Mercedes Lackey's novel Jinx High does this with her own daughter every time she feels like she's getting too old, transferring herself to her daughter's body and her daughter to her old one. She pulls a Karma Houdini at the end of the novel by jumping back to her original body, leaving her daughter back in her body to die in her place.
  • In Known Space, Jan Corben essentially Body Surfed through a series of clone daughters, via brain transplant. Each time she would assume the clone's identity, "inherit" all her stuff, and the identity attached to the old body would "die in a tragic accident". She survived for a timespan of 20, maybe 30 generations that way before suffering a genuine tragic accident.
  • Legacy of the Dragokin: Mordak he has always survived this way but now he can plan for it. He offered Zarracka power because it would allow him to make her his backup body. He hoped to do this to the Big Bad but the heroes anticipated that it and prevented it.
  • In Lock In, a sizeable percentage of the population of the world is suffering from Hayden's Syndrome, one of the symptoms of a flu-like disease. The titular condition is of the And I Must Scream variety - the Haydens are unable to interact with the world in any way. After trillions of dollars in research, several methods of allowing the Haydens to live semi-normal lives are developed. One involves the use of Integrators, a rare form of Hayden who did not suffer a lock in, but whose brain chemistry was still altered. An Integrator can be used as a temporary vessel for a locked-in Hayden. The more common alternative is the use of Threeps, robotic avatars, although they don't provide for a full experience.
  • In The Machineries of Empire, it eventually turns out that this is how Nirai Kujen's immortality works. In a flashback, when he walks into Jedao's office, he's immediately shot, only to enter a moment later in a different body and say that he has more of those than his less-than-gracious host has bullets.
  • The Marra of The Madness Season are capable of doing so, as long as they remember that they can. One manages to survive this way when she first encounters the Tyr.
  • Robert Sheckley's Mindswap novel involves a protagonist spontaneously deciding to visit Mars but wanting to avoid the lengthy trip, so he opts to swap minds with a Martian who wants to visit Earth. He finds himself in a room on Mars in the body of a Martian only to be old immediately that he must vacate the body. Apparently, the previous occupant of the body signed two contractsnote , and the contract with another person was signed first. The protagonist wants to go back to his own body but finds out it was stolen, so he goes on a desperate quest to return his own body, including switching bodies several times. In the end, he corners and defeats the thief.
  • Ray Bradbury's short story The One who Waits (1949).
  • Daedalus from Percy Jackson and the Olympians does this, except instead of possessing innocent people, he transfers his soul from robot to robot as he builds more advanced bodies.
  • The Perfect Run: The Psycho villain Francis Grey, aka Psyshock, has this as a subset of his superpower. He hijacks other people's bodies whenever his current inhabited thrall is killed, then rebuilds it into a new copy of himself.
  • Quarters: Gyhard is capable of moving from one body to another, expelling a person's soul and taking it over while leaving his victim in the (usually dying) old body. He's done this for over a century, living six lives in different bodies.
  • In Greg Egan's The Safe-Deposit Box short story, the protagonist's mind inhabits a different body every day. They all live in the same general area and are of similar age (and since the age the protagonist started identifying himself as a boy, they are usually male), but nothing else seems to give any clues as to how or why it happens. In fact, it wasn't until school age that the protagonist realized that this isn't a norm, and other people don't "change" into someone else every day.
  • In The Skinjacker Trilogy by Neal Shusterman the afterlight Allie finds she is able to hear the thoughts of and "skinjack" (a.k.a. posses) the living, and runs into other afterlights like her in the sequels. She ends up taking over peoples bodies as a convenient way to travel and because being in a living person's body is addicting to skinjackers. But she keeps switching bodies because if a skinjacker stays in one person's body too long, they are unable to leave. She tries hard not to be villainous though. In the first book she prefers to call it "body surfing," thinking "skinjacking," the proper term for the trope in Everlost, sounds too villainous.
  • In Shattered Sky, the final book of the Star Shards Chronicles, one of the Vectors travels this way, taking a host body and forcing it to commit suicide so that it can travel to its next host (the Vectors require host bodies in our world, and will die if disembodied for too long), who then repeats the process until the Vector has reached its destination.
  • In Skulduggery Pleasant, Darquesse does this once her current host has died.
  • There's a Clone by Conversion example in Slimer. Charlie is a genetically-engineered shapeshifting shark who absorbs the minds and bodies of his victims. Near the end, as his original body is dying, he "impregnates" the body of a Brinkstone helicopter pilot instead of absorbing him. The original body dies, while the cells implanted into the pilot convert the man's body into an exact duplicate of Charlie, with his memories and personality.
  • In the Sonja Blue series, fire demons work this way. They possess a body to give themselves a physical presence, but their fiery nature causes the body to slowly cook from the inside, so before long they have to choose another body to leap into.
  • A Star Trek: Enterprise novel had the Big Bad figure out how to do this with the use of some ancient ruins.
  • Done in a deliberately de-Mind Rape-ified fashion in A Swiftly Tilting Planet — Charles Wallace has to Body Surf throughout history to prevent The End of the World as We Know It. Notable as a rare example of the hero doing this. He specifically doesn't displace the original mind, and in fact that mind often doesn't even know he's there.
  • In Those That Wake's sequel, entering the neuropleth allows you to do this at the cost of your physical body.
  • One science fiction story from the anthology magazine Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine (titled Through All His Houses Wandering if memory serves) this happens unintentionally to a scientist who volunteered himself for their psychic communication experiment after initially giving him amnesia only he was body surfing random aliens in widely scattered parts of the galaxy associated with the Western Zodiac with a range of effects from going unnoticed and unable to do anything all the way to total control.
  • Titan's Forest: In the climax of Crossroads of Canopy, Kirrik attempts to take over Ular's body when she's killed, fails thanks to Ular's protective amulet, steals Ekhis' body instead, is promptly assassinated, and then takes one of her servants' bodies in which to make her escape.
  • Touch (2015): The basic premise of the story. Kepler jumps from body to body while trying to solve the mystery of the conspiracy trying to find and assassinate them.
  • This happens in Transition by Iain Banks.
  • In The Traitor Son Cycle:
    • Thorn has a habit of hopping into the body of one of his minions when he wants to have a conversation, destroying his new host's mind in the process.
    • After his body is killed, Harmodius hops into the mind palace of his ally, though his host remains alive and (mostly) in charge. Eventually, the ghost kills the mind of an enemy mage and takes up permanent residence in his body.
  • The antagonist of Stephen Gallegher's Valley Of Lights can jump from body to body.
  • The Vampire Chronicles has Maharet. When she was human, her eyes were gouged out so after she was turned into a vampire she would take the eyes from the humans she killed and use them until they wore out.
  • In The War Against the Chtorr books by David Gerrold, members of the Telepathy Corps are fitted with brain implants that allow them to "switch minds" with others with a similar implant through radio transmission. The implants are supposed to be used only for military intelligence-gathering, but some agents (nicknamed "carpetbaggers") like to jump from body to body just for fun, which rather annoys the telepath who has to inhabit the body after a night of debauchery.
  • Major plot points in several of the Wild Cards novels. One character is able to make others into "Jumpers" who body-surf by swapping meatbags with another. Meaning a single one of them can cause an entire room of people to switch bodies. When the Jumpers form an army bad things happen.
    • The Jumper "Prime" is revealed to be Edward St. John Latham, aka "Loophole", an Amoral Attorney who many believed owed his lack of a conscience - and resultant skills as a lawyer - to the wild card. It turned out he's honestly the best lawyer in the world - when his card finally turns, he gains the ability to body surf and create other body surfers via anal rape.
  • Doro, the adversary in Octavia Butler's Wild Seed and Mind Of My Mind. He uses up the body he's in (in months at the most), then jumps to the nearest body, killing the person in it and taking it over. Kill him (or just really startle him) and he jumps automatically. He doesn't know how to die, and he's been doing it since the Ancient Egyptians raided his bronze-age village in Nubia.
  • The Sea Hag in the Xanth novel Golem in the Gears, much to the consternation of the protagonists.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 100 has the Primes, who are actually the centuries-old consciousnesses of the original colonists of Planet Alpha, stored on computer drives and inserted into new bodies as their old ones die. This process erases the mind of the body's original owner and allows the Prime to take control.
  • Constantine Stark from Andromeda has used body surfing to stay alive for over 300 years.
  • In the sixth season episode "Leap" of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Izel is revealed to be an Energy Being able to possess anyone. She possessed Davis to survive a Never Found the Body situation in the previous episode, and she jumps between several hosts and nearly steals the Gravitonium sphere before the main cast figures out what's going on. When Izel is cornered, she just starts surfing between everyone in the room, taunting that they can't hurt her without killing her host. By the end of the following episode, however, Deke and FitzSimmons have figured out how this ability works and figured out a way to neutralize it.
  • Angel:
    • The second episode, "Lonely Hearts", dealt with a demon who jumped from body to body in search of the one it could live in permanently. It was a metaphor for searching for the perfect mate and, indeed, most of the episode took place in a nightclub.
    • The third-season episode "Carpe Noctem" features an old man who shuttles his consciousness in and out of young men in order to experience the joys of youth, but the spell destroys any living body he possesses. Then he ends up in Angel...
    • The Senior Partners are unable to inhabit our dimension while in their native forms, instead manifesting in the bodies of "lower demons" or using living mouthpieces.
  • The Cylons of Battlestar Galactica do this upon their deaths, however they simply Body Surf into a brand new otherwise dormant identical body, rendering them effectively immortal. Eventually the system that allows them to do this is destroyed, rendering every death from that point forward final.
  • Behind Her Eyes: The big twist is that Rob has used Astral Projection to swap bodies/lives with his friend Adele.
  • Big Wolf on Campus had one of these for a Monster of the Week. It switched bodies by touch. Since it switched between "Human forms", that meant it could also posses and animate a giant statue.
  • A Monster of the Week in Blood Ties (2007) turns out to be this. Interestingly, when it invades a person, his or her spirit is pushed out and roams around for a bit, only visible to other supernatural beings and people sensitive to the supernatural world. The creature burns out the body in a matter of days, after which it must find a new host. It can be without a body only for a few seconds before expiring. The "possessed" person mostly acts the same, having all the memories of the host, but is a little more animal-like and loves red meat. Unfortunately, its latest target is Vicki's old friend, an undercover cop, whose spirit comes to her for help. They manage to kill the creature, and her friend gets his body back, but it's already too damaged and survives only about a minute.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The demon Eyghon in the second-season episode "The Dark Age" does this to several characters over the course of the episode. The catch is that he can only possess a dead or unconscious host, and, when his current body dies, it turns into a puddle of goo, spreading out to infect the next unfortunate dead/unconscious person who comes into contact with it. He eventually manages to possess Jenny Calendar, and when Angel tries to strangle Eyghon!Jenny, the demon jumps into Angel's body (who is technically undead, being a vampire and all) after Jenny's body nearly dies. The vampiric demon inside Angel's body then proceeds to defeat Eyghon for good: "I've had a demon inside me for a couple hundred years just waiting for a good fight."
    • The villain of sixth-season episode "After Life".
  • In an episode of Charmed , the Source kept switching between bodies in order to lure Paige to evil. Right in front of her, with her seeing the switch in flames every time.
  • Count Petoffi on the original Dark Shadows was able to do this. He was last seen in the 19th Century caught in a fire with no apparent escape route.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "New Earth": Lady Cassandra develops this ability in her constant quest to remain young and beautiful. She takes over Rose, the Doctor, then Rose again, then one of the disease hosts, then Rose a THIRD time, and finally her cloned assistant (who was a willing host).
    • "The Impossible Planet"/"The Satan Pit": The Beast vacates its own body to take over archaeologist Toby Zed and, simultaneously, all of the Ood on the base.
    • Subverted in "Midnight": The other passengers are eager to accept the idea that the malevolent entity that has been possessing Sky has jumped into the Doctor, freeing her. Instead, not only is she still possessed, but is now playing a rather sick ventriloquism game in trying to get the Doctor killed...
  • The Rossum executives do this in the last few episodes of Dollhouse. Ambrose, Harding and 'Clyde' change bodies several times. An interview with Alan Tudyk revealed that Alpha planned to do this, as well.
  • An episode of Farscape had a sentient virus who could only infect one host at a time. It was double-tricky to catch because it drugged its victims so that afterwards they didn't even know they'd been possessed.
  • Mabus, the Big Bad of First Wave can do this using his Psychic Powers. The other Gua can sort of do this by copying their minds onto spherical storage devices and uploading themselves to a new husk (human/Gua hybrid grown in a lab). However, Mabus can only successfully possess hosts that are mentally strong enough to hold his essence. At least three people are shown to be able to do this: Cade himself (the original husk for Mabus was his clone), Jordan (he really enjoys being a woman especially after seducing Cade), and a software mogul. Another episode featured a Gua who figured out how to do this to any human. The only thing that gave away his identity was the constant whistling of "London Bridge Is Falling Down".
  • In The Flash (2014), the Season 4 Big Bad Clifford "The Thinker" DeVoe learns to do this thanks to a Cool Chair built by his wife. However, at first, he can only do it to a metahuman with Psychic Powers. Afterwards, though, it appears to work on anyone, as he then moves on to Becky "Hazard" Sharpe, much to his wife's chagrin, and later Izzy "The Fiddler" Bowin, in both cases because the dark matter which fuels his massive intellect is causing his host bodies to eventually fail. Later, he transfers briefly into Edwin "Folded Man" Gauss, before finally settling on Ralph "Elongated Man" Dibny, whose shapeshifting powers make his body stable enough to hold the dark matter without burning out (and as a bonus, lets him regain his original appearance.
  • In The Innocents, Involuntary Shapeshifting is portrayed more in the vein of body surfing than actual shapeshifting. When someone shifts into another's form, the person they shift into is rendered unconscious. And if June stays in someone long enough, she will start to feel their emotions and access their memories. If a shifter swaps into multiple people in succession, everyone but the last link in the chain is rendered catatonic, only able to repeat the last phrase they spoke. June's mother caused Harry's father's dementia by shifting into him, then going on a shifting spree before finally getting control of herself.
  • God from Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger possesses different people in turn based on wherever he needs to be to advance his plans (and sometimes just to show off), and in fact doesn't even seem to have a body of his own.
  • Lab Rats: In "Three Minus Bree", Leo accidentally transfers Eddy's CPU to an allergy pill Tasha took, causing him to take over her body.
  • His Divine Shadow, the Big Bad from the first season of Lexx. He could transfer his "essence" to a new host when his old host was near death, thus ensuring he could reign indefinitely. The fact that his new host's mind and personality was improperly "cleansed" before the transfer was a major plot point in the first season.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • "Better Luck Next Time" features two nearly immortal aliens who can inhabit any living host and can survive for however long they can bind to the central nervous system. After the host dies, they have only moments to transfer into another body until they die, since they can't live too long in the Earth's atmosphere. If they transfer, they will still live for however long they can repeat the sequence. If they fail, they disintegrate. This was a sequel to another episode, "Ripper": one of the duo was in fact Jack the Ripper.
    • "Free Spirit" features a person involved in a mind-transfer experiment whose consciousness became disconnected from his body after the scientists chose to terminate the experiment by killing the test subjects. He takes several years to learn how to possess people's minds and then comes back to get revenge on his killers. He's become so good at it that in one scene he repeatedly jumps between two people to finish a single sentence.
  • This comes into play at the end of Season 1 of Power Rangers Lost Galaxy. Turns out this is what the Magna Defender did to Mike, with the eventual side-effect of bringing him back to life.
  • Quantum Leap and its sequel series are built around this premise, but the body surfer is the protagonist, and is required to "set things right" in the person's life by the end of each episode. It does involve Mental Time Travel, and a full mind swap in the earlier series. The sequel series even explains that from a leapee's perspective, they black out for a little while until the leaper departs.
  • Androvax in The Sarah Jane Adventures story Prisoner of the Judoon is part of a species called the Veil that can do this.
  • Smallville:
    • Season 4 had Dawn Stiles whose spirit possessed the bodies of Lana, Martha, Lois, Chloe, and Clark.
    • Bizarro kills a number of human hosts by simply wearing them out before finding Clark and becoming his Evil Twin.
    • Season 10 Big Bad Darkseid can possess any host that can't control the darkness in their heart.
  • The Goa'uld, a snake-like parasite species, in Stargate SG-1 can do this, but tend to stick with one host as long as possible. (For example, Apophis kept a body that had been badly scarred by the torture he'd endured at the hands of a rival.) Anubis, on the other hand, was part Energy Being and once his containment field was destroyed, he had to possess humans. The bodies burned out quickly, necessitating taking new ones frequently.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • Happens to Tom Paris in "Vis à Vis". A criminal steals his body and dumps Tom in his own, leaving him to avoid pissed-off previous body-swapped personalities, plus somehow get back to Voyager and convince people that 'Tom Paris' isn't who they think he is.
    • In "Warlord", a former dictator jumps from body to body (usually volunteers from among his fanatical followers) in a quest for immortality but finds himself accidentally inside Kes. At first he finds Kes' mind powers and sexual attractiveness very useful; her stubborn determination to resist him not so much. Not to mention her species only lives nine years, but he gets his comeuppance long before them.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series:
    • In "Wolf in the Fold", spirit Redjac hops from body to body while committing violent murders because he's actually Jack the Ripper. And another episode, "Return to Tomorrow", had three noncorporeal life forms using the bodies of the Enterprise crew to construct android bodies for themselves.
    • "Turnabout Intruder" had one of Captain Kirk's former lovers, Dr. Janice Lester, swap her mind with his so she can live her dream of being captain of a starship. Then, she realizes she needs to kill her old body to make the transfer permanent.
  • Demons and angels in Supernatural move from vessel to vessel, when they have burnt out a host, the current host is no longer convenient, or a better vessel is available.
  • One episode of The Twilight Zone (2019) was a bank robber who discovered he could do this while in the middle of the robbery and had to use this ability to get away with his loot, leaving a bunch of bewildered cops and body-swapped victims in his wake.
  • This trope is how the alien Celebro engages in its Civilization Self-Destruction Game in Ultraman Z. It possesses a member of the dominant species, helps advance their technology, then uses those advances to wipe the race out.
  • Wellington Paranormal: Bazu'aal of the Unholy Realm from the "Demon Girl" episode possesses a young teenage girl, both her parents, and the family dog, and the officers take a while to catch on when he's hopped.

  • Priest has villain Jaarbilong, who commands a horde of zombies. He can possess any of the zombies at will, if his current body is destroyed he simply jumps into another one. Ivan gets around this trick by attacking his soul directly.

  • In the video of Panic! at the Disco''s "Don't Threaten Me With a Good Time", some sort of tentacle beast travels from a young woman's body to the body of Brandon Urie, and returns to the bar in his body presumably to find another host.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has several examples of this.
    • The Suel Lichs from the Grey Hawk setting escape certain death this way. The hosts a suel lich takes over age very quickly and thus, they need to do this regularly. If they lose their body by either violence or rapid aging, they will need to find a new host even faster. Otherwise their true form, which manifests as a negative energy spirit, will eventually dissipate and die for good.
    • The (in)famous Tomb of Horrors module for AD&D revolved around the players trying to prevent the uber-demilich Acererak from becoming this. When If they fail, Acererak gains the ability to manifest himself in full power within ANY undead creature on ANY plane, effectively propelling him straight into Greater Godhood.
    • 3.5 D&D has Glimmerskins, Good-aligned ghostlike monsters who can assist characters by giving them fast healing and a few extra feats.
    • And, for a more direct approach, the Magic Jar spell allows for rapid movement between bodies as long as anyone's near the "Jar". (It's the place you keep your victim's soul while your original body is comatose.)
    • Psionics does this too, obviously. Mind switch has endless possibilities, and there are brain leech parasites who can hop from person to person easily by using mind control to keep multiple individuals enthralled.
    • Tsochari and Hellwasp Swarms can crawl inside a body and take over, although the process slowly kills a living victim and does not prevent the decay of a corpse.
    • The Ravenloft setting has the odem, an undead spirit that Body Surfs as its signature ability. The cursed, headless Jacqueline Montarri is a variant of this trope, who steals just the heads of one victim (preferably beautiful) after another, wearing them to acquire the victims' abilities, then replacing them as they rapidly wear out.
    • Some of the darklords, if killed, will Body Surf into a new host within their domain, after which the Dark Powers re-shape the stolen body to resemble their old one.
  • Eclipse Phase features body surfing as a core element of the setting, to the point where bodies are referred to as "sleeves", useful not only for restoring backed-up characters after death and customizing characters for the job at hand, but also for long-distance travel in the form of Egocasting.
  • GURPS: Characters with the Possession advantage can do this, as can any informorph (A.I.s and uploaded human brains) in Transhuman Space, though only with computer brains that are unoccupied.
  • Hunter: The Vigil provides the Owls, disembodied spirits that take over humans or vampires and turn them into rotting, blood drinking corpses known as Bloodjackers. When the corpse rots or is destroyed, The Owl simply grabs a new host. Some actually keep rooms full of fresh corpses, waiting to be possessed. The Owls are pretty much what hunters know about the strix from Vampire: The Requiem. Over there, the strix have the power to not only jump into human corpses (which will kill the host instantly), but to also possess vampires who are in torpor or whose souls are currently out of their body due to possession or astral projection powers.
  • In Nomine: The Kyriotates (angels) and the Shedim (demons) are Body Surfers by necessity; they must possess the bodies of other beings while on Earth (unlike most angels and demons, who are given special bodies to use in the physical world) and they can only possess their hosts for a limited amount of time; the Kyrios have a "hard limit" of anywhere from a day to a week or so as to how long they can borrow a given body continuously, and Shedim are required to force their hosts to perform evil acts each day, and the host becomes more likely to resist the longer they have been possessed, so the demons don't usually stick around for more than a few days at a time because the host gets too hard to control.
  • Legend of the Five Rings: The villains Iuchiban and Yajinden do this. At one point Iuchiban attempts a Grand Theft Me on previous main villain Daigotsu, but for the most part their hosts are unimportant to the plot. They generally warp the bodies into their own image, however.
    • Less nefariously, the Kami Togashi body-hopped for over a thousand years to guide the Empire towards the Second Day of Thunder. All of his hosts were willing members of his Clan hand-picked for the duty, however.
    • Similarly, the Kami Shiba used his Clan's Ancestral Sword as a focus through which he can return in the soul of the current Champion of his Clan, all of which were his direct descendants. However, he is incapable of actively directing the new Champion, and instead acts more like a spirit guide.
  • Magic: The Gathering: Lim-Dûl the Necromancer survived his original death on Shandalar by transferring his soul into another living body, and later took over the Shandalari wizard Azar's after the latter tried to slay him.
  • A Touch of Evil: When a Hero with a Possessed card Knocks Out another Hero, that player gives their Possessed card to the other player.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Notably averted: Daemonic possession is a regular occurrence, but it's a very difficult thing to set up and daemons can't easily leave their hosts without being pulled back into the Warp.
    • Lucius the Eternal, the Champion of Slaanesh, uses an unusual method: whenever he's killed, he slowly reincarnates into his killer (if they felt any satisfaction at all in having downed him), until the only thing remaining of the victim is yet another screaming face in Lucius' armor.
  • Warhammer Fantasy: Implied. In his backstory, the vampire Zacharias betrayed and killed his former mentor Melkhior; some material suggests that what actually happened in their confrontation was that Melkhior stole Zacharias' body and has been living in his guise ever since. It is further suggested that "Melkhior" was actually the elder vampire W'Soran, who had pulled the same trick on the real Melkhior long before.

    Video Games 
  • In Relics (an old Japanese computer game by Bothtec), the player character was a shade that could possess various creatures.
  • This is a major gameplay innovation in The 3rd Birthday, a sequel to Parasite Eve. It also doubles as Mental Time Travel. Aya is using a machine to travel a year into the past, temporarily imposing over the physical presence of soldiers and civilians in the past; she can hop into another one at any time which lets her hop onto roofs or take over gun emplacements to use against the bizarre monsters plaguing the land.
    • Oddly enough, this is to the benefit of the people she possesses, as Aya has access to more firepower and special abilities than anyone else. In addition, simply by taking over their bodies, she's allowing them to regenerate their health, which they can't do otherwise. Many of the challenges in the game revolve around keeping people alive, which will require a lot of body surfing during the tough segments.
  • In Age of Wonders, the dark elf Incarnate unit.
  • Saito Sejima from AI: The Somnium Files. He actually swapped bodies years before the events of the game, and his master plan involves swapping bodies with his intended murder victims in a ploy to regain his original body.
  • In Ambition of the Slimes the player's slimes can possess enemies to control them at will. There's one slime in particular (Phoenix) which can revive anytime after its current host is defeated, allowing the player to jump from body to body almost at will.
  • In Avenging Spirit, you play as a ghost who's been brought to earth by a scientist, and you have to save your girlfriend from some gangsters. You have to possess the game's enemies in order to do anything- every time one body gets killed, you have to go right into a new one in a certain amount of time, or you'll run out of spiritual energy.
  • The Optional Boss of Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast Aec'letec will immediately take over the body of one of his cultists every time he is killed. Depending on how quickly you kill him each time this trope can easily come into play. Especially if you exploit his crippling weakness to Cloudkill.
  • In Clive Barker's Jericho, the player character is a commander of an occult special forces military unit, and dies rather early into the game. His disembodied persona can shift into the bodies of each of his soldiers, possessing them consensually (though I guess nothing could stop him from 'pulling rank'.)
  • The Mind Transfer gamemode in Clone Drone in the Danger Zone gives the player the ability to take over the body of the nearest robot upon death. In many cases, dying is a tactical choice, as it lets you discard a damaged body and enter a more powerful one.
  • Basically all of Crash of the Titans. Aku Aku even tells you to do this to beat the first boss. Just "jack" a spike, then keep Body Surfing on up the chain to defeat more powerful mutants!
  • The Beheaded in Dead Cells is a sentient cluster of cells possessing a dead body. Each run begins with them crawling back to the prison and possessing a new corpse, of which there are many.
  • In Destroy All Humans 2 Crypto can possess pretty much anybody walking on the street. Which, since he is a short grey alien, is handy for walking around undetected, talking to mission givers (some of whom only talk to specific kind of people) and if he's possessing a cop or soldier, calling off the hunt for him. The downside is that it drains his host's life.
  • Kyouji Kuzunoha of the Devil Summoner series, after his untimely death at the beginning of the first game. When the protagonist ends up in Kyouji's body, Kyouji ends up hopping from body to body throughout several games. He starts in the first game as Takashi, then shows up in Soul Hackers as Sukeroku, and then again in Persona 2 as Daisuke Todoroki.
  • Nebiros has this ability in Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2. He appears with a gaggle of other demons, which he'll periodically revive if killed. Should the player decide to focus on Nebiros, he will simply take over one of the other demons and transform him into the next Nebiros.
  • In Disgaea Infinite, one of the Prinnies has his soul sucked out of his body by a talking magical pocket watch. He has to jump between the other character's bodies to solve the main plot of the game. The fun part of the watch is that not only can he see events from the eyes of the person he's possessed, he can also hear their thoughts, and can influence their decisions, making them do things totally out of character i.e. Laharl hugging a sleeping Prinny or Etna professing love to Laharl.
  • Dishonored 2 allows the player to do this with Possession and the 'Chain Hosts' upgrade. Without this upgrade you must return to human form to possess another host.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Flemeth from Dragon Age: Origins, who does this after her body succumbs to the ravages of age. With the bodies of her daugters, whose souls and power she consumes in the process.
    • The Archdemons of Dragon Age lore take over a nearby darkspawn if their bodies are destroyed. The first Blight lasted over a hundred years before somebody figured out how to turn people into Grey Wardens, who are the only people capable of stopping an Archdemon. If a Grey Warden kills an Archdemon, the two souls cancel each other out in a spectacular lightshow, permanently killing both.
      • When Flemeth learns about this she realizes that she can combine these two by tricking the archdemon soul into the body of her unborn grandchild (who would not have a soul yet), thereby salvaging the soul of the Old God...for her own mysterious purpose, of course.
    • Corypheus from the Dragon Age II: Legacy DLC, who was one of the Tevinter Magisters who entered the Black City and became one of the first Darkspawn. After being defeated by Hawke, before s/he strikes the final blow, his eyes briefly turn black and the Grey Warden (Larius or Janeka) that Hawke has allied with staggers in the background. It's further implied that Corypheus is now possessing them with the large Slasher Smile they wear as they leave.
    • The above is confirmed in Dragon Age: Inquisition. The Elder One is Corypheus. It is later confirmed that he can reincarnate himself in any tainted being, including Wardens.
  • The Driving Game Driver: San Francisco has protagonist Tanner use the "Shift" ability to jump into the bodies of random motorists.
  • Fallen London: Jack-of-Knives seems to be able to jump into new bodies every time his current form is taken down. In truth, Jack is his knives - picking one up and carrying it for too long causes the consciousness binding all of the knives to take over your body.
  • In Final Fantasy X-2, the tortured spirit of Shuyin is inside Nooj and later during the game transfers to Baralai. If you complete the Den of Woe sidequest, another imprint of Shuyin first takes possession of your playable character Rikku and then Paine, forcing Yuna to fight them to drive him out, before they then all fight illusions of Nooj, Baralai and Gippal conjured by him.
  • The Ascians in Final Fantasy XIV can do this since they don't have a true body. Whenever someone kills them, the Asican's soul hangs between the planes of life and death until they recover and then they find a new body to hijack. However, hijacking someone's body is very taxing on the hijacker and doubly so if said body is actually alive and not dead. Even with his great magical strength, Lahabrea is easily defeated by the Warrior of Light because he constantly switched bodies when the old ones were no longer useful to him, thus making him very weak. On the opposite end, Emet-Selch uses cloned bodies of his emperor guise, thus whenever he's ready to "die", he can just hop into a new younger version of the same body and not wear himself out. This makes the fight against him much more intense and difficult compared to Lahabrea.
  • In Geist the player takes the role of John Raimi, a scientist separated from his body by an experiment by terrorists. Raimi cannot do anything outside his body, but luckily he can possess and control anything he can frighten from animals to armed guards, and can even possess objects ranging from mop buckets and cans, to Gun Emplacements and Bombs. Unfortunately for you, some of the later enemies in the game can Body Surf you as well.
  • Genetic Species grants you a "Portable Probe Device" halfway through that allows you to hijack weakened enemies. You can even leap from one body to another if your power level's high enough, and upon leaving a body your host dies instantly.
  • This is one of the main abilities of Ghost in Ghost 1.0, who can possess any robotic body, occupied or otherwise, and while she does keep a primary body, she can eject from it and possess a new one at any time. There's an entire section of the game where, without access to her primary body, Ghost has to keep switching between bodies to progress.
  • In the mobile game Ghost Sync, the character Bernard can do this to enemies.
  • In Glory Of Heracles IV Both the protagonist and Plato gain the ability to do this after losing their bodies. There are 100 or so characters one can become, scattered around the world.
  • Guilty Gear X2 has Eddie, who is looking for a new body to possess after Zato died. His story mode pretty much revolves around trying to do this and repeatedly failing (can't possess Zappa, for example, because Zappa's got the spiritual equivalent of a "No Vacancies" sign up).
  • In I Miss the Sunrise, The Black One does this every time they die, essentially giving them Resurrective Immortality. However, their consciousness can only take over the body of a Lesser. Since their brains aren't as complex as other creatures', this leads to memory problems.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising: While not normally a part of his skillset, Pit is forced to use this when he is transformed into a ring that can control the body of whoever is wearing it. He surfs his way through the body of a little girl, a dog, and Badass Normal Magnus before he's able to return to his own.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • In Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Master Xehanort seeks to transfer his heart into a younger vessel, mainly that of Terra. It only works partially.
    • Kingdom Hearts III reveals that Luxu has been doing this for eons ever since the Keyblade War to keep watch over his Keyblade. Xigbar, Xehanort's Dragon, is Luxu's latest vessel.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, Zelda can quickly surf from one Phantom to another one whenever Link hits one in the back. This turns into a true Body Surf-Orgy in the last segment of the Tower of Spirits.
  • The wolf in Lost Ember is a "soul wanderer", capable of jumping into and controlling other animals and even switching between hosts on the fly. She doesn't cause any damage to the animals she possesses and they go back to going about their business when she's done with them. It helps that she can't take an animal too far from others of its species, so they're always able to return to their group without trouble.
  • Multiple examples in Mass Effect:
    • The Geth are in fact an entire race of computer programs, who can transfer themselves from one platform to another, either to escape danger or simply to take control of a more appropriate platform (a Geth Trooper as opposed to a Colossus or a Dreadnought). As a tradeoff, Geth typically have to operate in networked groups.
    • Reapers can also take control of indoctrinated minions, though this plays more like Demonic Possession, leaving Shepard to deal with a super-charged (and glowing) Boss in Mook Clothing.
  • Bob the Cherub's main tool in Messiah is his possession ability, which allows him to take over any person and leave once he no more needs them. Many of the puzzles require you to find and possess the right person. You'll be changing your possession victims a lot throughout the game.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer the player spends the entire game struggling against a body-surfer that has inhabited her body and threatens to devour her identity.
    • Gann's mother possesses your companions while you are fighting her.
    • In the original, the Intellect Devourer has taken over the prison warden and brainwashed several guards. If you're stealthy and you want some positive karma, you can snap the guards out of it and get them to flee. Otherwise, once you kill the first body . . . "Heeheehee, I'm HERE, foes!"
  • Player characters in Nexus Clash respawn in a different, random body every time they die. This is constrained by character class, and each class has a different set of possible random bodies that one can wake up in. Unlike most examples of this trope, it's implied that you aren't displacing the original owners of those bodies, who were already removed from the picture by the Powers That Be.
  • Likewise, this was the premise behind the Adventure Game Omikron: The Nomad Soul, while the player character being a soul from "our" universe who is only able to interact with the alien world of Omikron by taking over the bodies of Omikron's citizens. He/she hops from body to body quite frequently; the process seems to displace the original soul, so that the body's left an empty shell when the player leaves it for another. The morality of this is never even superficially addressed, especially considering the bad guys are essentially doing the same thing, only on a much more massive scale. The player even evaluates potential hosts like new cars when you examine them, and towards the end the game even requires you to poison a guy who just saved your life so you can jack his body.
  • Patrick's Parabox: Late in the game, you start finding blocks that have empty versions of the player character's eyes. Pressing up against these without entering them causes you to switch control to that box.
  • The player characters of the [PROTOTYPE] series can kill people to absorb them, allowing you to take on their appearance and pass for them. You will do this often. There's also a move called Body Surf, but it involves literal body surfing. As in surfboards.
  • Shadow Force allows you to take over the bodies of weakened enemies and use their abilities with an orb-like power-up.
  • The character you control does this in Space Station Silicon Valley.
  • A major gameplay element of Stacking has Charlie Blackmore, a particularly small Russian stacking doll, possessing multiple dolls at once by "stacking" into them.
  • In Streets of Rogue the Shapeshifter class can do this to any nearby NPC with their back exposed as many times as the player wants. Relationships with other NPC (Friendly/Hostile) also get carried over while possessing an NPC.
  • Late into SUPERHOT, the game introduces the Hotswitch ability, which lets the player hijack a chosen enemy's body. It will kill your former host by blowing up their heads, but will make your new one throw any weapon they're carrying.
  • The main mechanic of Super Mario Odyssey, referred to as Capturing, lets you possess and control others with Cappy. You can control Goombas and Hammer Bros., Bullet Bills, taxis, frogs, Lava Bubbles, binoculars, trees, dinosaurs, and even other people. There are only two limitations to this ability - since the subject has to wear Cappy to maintain the connection, he can't possess anyone that's already wearing a hat, and there's a time limit on how long you can possess dinosaurs because they're just that strong.
  • In Tales of Graces, this is Lambda's modus operandi. In the end, though, he settles down in Asbel.
  • The title character of Tchia has the power of "Soul-Jumping" which is this mixed with limited Teleportation. It only works on animals or objects though.
  • In Tomb Raider (2013), this was how Queen Himiko stayed alive for hundreds of years. Whenever her body becomes too old for her she chooses a successor among her handmaidens. Then she transfers her soul into the girls body, destroying the original soul in the process. However the cycle was broken, when the latest handmaiden comitted suicide during the transfer ritual. As a result Himiko was trapped in her previous body which quickly decayed into a horrifying corpse. Now very pissed off Himiko causes the storms that keep people trapped on the island, while the solarii cult searches for a new host body. As it turns out the perfect replacement happens to be Lara's best friend Sam.
  • Wild ARMs:
    • Mother of Wild ARMs has a lifecycle that involves creating four children on a dying world, moving on to the next, destroying that one, fusing with one of the four (and killing the rest), and repeating.
    • Kressen of Wild ARMs XF simply downloads himself into a younger body whenever his old one gets old.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 3, this is M's power as a Moebius, and, when she battles against the Ouroboros, she transfers her consciousness into each of them in turn and has them fight one another. Taion figures out a way to use his Mondo to track who M is controlling in order to help the team hold their own in the fight against her. M's power turns out to even be capable of a full "Freaky Friday" Flip, as she secretly swaps bodies with Mio as part of her Thanatos Gambit to show N the error of his ways.
  • Miang in Xenogears possesses another woman's body every time her current body is killed. She has gone through an average of one body a decade for 10,000 years. Grahf also lives on by possessing people once his current body wears out.
  • Dimitri Yuriev in Xenosaga also does this. At the time the game begins, he's been possessing bodies for at least 200 years because he's terrified of dying and having to face U-DO aka God. He dedicates every waking moment to finding a way to destroy U-DO and comes very close to doing it. He'd be a Tragic Monster, if he wasn't a complete asshole.

    Visual Novels 
  • This is how time travel actually works in Area X, as when travelling to another dimension, the traveler ends up inside the body of a resident of that dimension, although only a few people know that.
  • Nasuverse:

    Web Comics 
  • This is the power of Jimmy, the main character of Demon. When the body he's inhabiting dies, he automatically possesses the body of the nearest living human.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Sirleck does this as a Body Snatcher Abberation. He goes from a rich old (and braindead) man to the man's butler, from him to a janitor (possibly through intermediate hosts), and from the janitor to Ellen with the ultimate goal of possessing Magus.
  • Professor Fitz in Fans! surfed through several bodies in order to avoid dying of old age. At one point, Will Erikson allowed Fitz to swap bodies with him in order to insure Fitz' loyalty to Rikk and AEGIS. Fitz is currently inhabiting the body of a fire-breathing dragon and loving every minute of it.
  • This is the MO of The Other from Girl Genius. It's (thus far) ambiguous if the original Other was Agatha's mother Lucrezia, or an Eldritch Abomination or an experiment worked too well on.
  • Reynardine from Gunnerkrigg Court is a demon fox-being who has the ability to Body Surf, but the events of the plot prevent him from doing so. Good thing, too, because when he does it, he kills the host.
    • Coyote had the original, non-deadly version of the ability, until he gave it to Reynardine, and mostly used it for mischief. It should also be noted that Reynard had no idea of the side effect before he used the power.
  • Fridge from Sam & Fuzzy can hop from body to body in close proximity. He's only killed when Sexxica/Candice kills every host within range of him, including herself
  • Schlock Mercenary: AI version. Ennesby is a viral-analogue glass-soluble vanilla-helix AI originally designed as an entertainment intelligence. This means he is essentially a living computer virus, and can easily head-hop between different systems, even wresting control of hardware from the original owners in rare circumstances. Normally, an AI is as attached to their hardware as organics are to their brains. Most other AIs are dismissive of this ability, saying head-hopping is the only thing vanilla-helix is good for.
  • Godiva from Vanguard has a power that requires a line of sight but lets her see and hear through the victim. It comes in handy against tougher opponents, as people very rarely have a defense against throwing their own weapon down and pulling back the Nigh-Invulnerable face plate blocking all those bullets.

    Web Original 
  • Dr Bright of the SCP Foundation. His spirit is tied to SCP-963, so anytime his body dies, the SCP can be transferred to a new body. Bright is also a darker example of the trope than usual, since possessing someone even briefly wipes their original brain pattern.
    • Ditto for SCP-1510, an ancient Roman soldier's helmet containing the cursed spirit of its former owner. Any man between 28 and 35 years old who wears it will become possessed by the soldier's spirit, although unlike Bright's hosts they go back to normal when they take it off.
  • Deviant: Crowd, a vigilante who can clone herself, can also surf between these bodies, possessing whichever ones she chooses. Another vigilante, Revenant, is effectively immortal because of their ability - they can possess as many bodies as they please, dead or alive.
  • Astral Controller of Epic Tales is only able to interact with the physical world by possessing human hosts. In his first appearance he switches between multiple different hosts as the situation requires.
  • Fine Structure: Mitch Calrus is distinctively not immortal, but he needs to be around in 20,000 years to fight the Final Battle. The solution is to use Brain Uploading to make countless digital copies of himself all over the solar system, and have his immortal ally upload him into available bodies as needed.
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, the lich sorcerer Drishnek likes to do this because his unholy powers tend to rapidly age and weaken his host bodies, so he constantly has to swap into a new host to survive. Every time he swaps bodies, however, the body he leaves behind dies.
  • Heroes Save the World: This is Michael Williams' power, combined with the ability to read thoughts and memories from whatever brain he's currently inhabiting.
  • In Noob: La Quête Légendaire, physical god Dortös has to posses a mortal host to survive on Olydri's surface. The character has been shown using two bodies so far due to the first being possessed from a lack of options and more compatible hosts existing out there. However, the character's dialogue as it takes leave of his first host's travel companions implies there is a least a little Possession Burnout going on as well, as it talks about using the body until its resources run out. The video game context probably make the burnout likely to be Cast from Hit Points rather than Cast from Lifespan.
  • The A.I. O'Malley from Red vs. Blue. O'Malley's degree of control over its host seems to vary from individual to individual: Caboose's mind is completely subsumed while possessed (which may account for his sudden drop in IQ once it's removed), Doc develops O'Malley as a campy would-be universal tyrant split personality, and most of the other soldiers simply have some bizarre aspect of their character amplified to dangerous levels. Church somehow escapes its effects, ostensibly due to being that much of an asshole.
    • As revealed in Reconstruction, it's because he's the Alpha A.I.—which means O'Malley is merely a fragment of his personality to begin with.
    • Trivia: The only soldier to escape possession is Tucker, due to the fact that the RT crew decided an evil Tucker would be too obscene to broadcast.
    • It should also be pointed out that any AI appears to be capable of body-surfing, (or at least the ones that are more than just fragments) but none to the degree that O'Malley is capable of. After "dying", both Tex and Church possess other people or robot bodies, but only O'Malley is shown to be able to possess someone and still give the other person some free will.
  • In the universe of Tales From My D&D Campaign, most Warforged either died or put themselves in suspended animation after their creators died of the Astral Plague. While a few Warforged have learned enough about artificing to maintain their golem bodies, an even smaller group, called the "Dark Ancients", have instead developed the ability to disconnect their consciousness from their physical body, allowing them to possess other construct bodies. It is widely suspected that the Dark Ancients are behind the occasional rediscovery of caches of sleeping Warforged, as this ensures a supply of fresh bodies.

    Western Animation 
  • In Adventure Time, The Lich has this ability. Whenever his old body is destroyed, he simply surfs to a new one. The first time, Finn manages to kill his old body, so his soul transfers into Princess Bubblegum. After that body is shattered and he's exorcised, he possesses The Snail to escape. In the Season 4 finale, he does it again, taking the body of Billy, which ultimately allows his plan to succeed. It's unknown whether The Multiverse affected his current body.
  • Bounty Hamster. The episode "Trading Spaces" has the Villain of the Week steal a device which allowed any two people to switch bodies. Our heroes have to track down the villain while ending up in the bodies of the locals, or each-other, or in one case a villain from a past episode. At one point the titular hamster, the girl who hired him, and the villain were all in the same body. At the end of the episode the villain ends in a cactus.
  • In the Close Enough episode, "Never Meet Your Heroes," amateur writer Alex meets his favorite author, Jack Cleghorn. Turns out Jack is thousands of years old, and regularly uses a meteorite to swap bodies with talented people to remain popular, and now wants to swap with Alex.
  • In an episode of The Fairly OddParents!, Timmy gets a buzzer-like device that he can use to switch bodies with anyone he shakes hands with. After he inadvertently switches with Crocker, he has to rush back home to keep Crocker in his body from finding his Godparents. Because Timmy's dad won't let Crocker's body in the house (thinking that Timmy's mom has feelings for Crocker), Timmy has to switch with his dad. Things go humorously wrong as Timmy accidentally bumps into and switches with everyone else in the house: Timmy in his dad's body switches with his mom, Timmy in his mom's body switches with Vicky, Timmy in Vicky's body switches with Vicky's dog, and Timmy in the dog's body finally switches with Crocker in Timmy's body.
  • In the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends special, "Destination: Imagination", World can take over anything in his universe. He just can't take over anything that already has a face, and he has to be physically touching it.
  • The third and final appearance of Queen La in The Legend of Tarzan.
  • In Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, this is part of what made the villainous ghost Specter so dangerous. Most ghosts can only use Demonic Possession on a living being for a few minutes at best without artificial aid, but Specter had developed the ability so much that he could possess a body for days, and loved switching between them quickly, leaving Pac with no idea who he was, and not even Pac's True Companions could be trusted. Specter was so dangerous, Pac had to use an Engineered Public Confession to get him on Betrayus's bad side so he would be locked up, since he would keep coming back otherwise, something Pac hasn't done for any of ghostly foes before or since.
  • As part of the premise of Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero, the characters travel to other dimensions and take over the bodies of specific inhabitants. One episode shows that said characters are usually left unaware of what happened during that time, with it registering as an uncomfortable blip in their memory.
  • In the third season premiere of Rick and Morty, Rick escapes from Federation captivity by transferring his consciousness into one of his interrogators, then when his own body is shot in the head he transfers to two other alternate reality Ricks.
  • Played for Laughs on South Park: one episode is a Whole-Plot Reference to Great Expectations. It actually follows the story closely for the first two acts...until Miss Havisham reveals that she's a Mad Scientist who plans to fuse her soul into Estella's body, using a "Genesis Device" powered by the tears of Estella's heartbroken boyfriends. Then she sics Pip with an army of robot monkeys.
  • Teen Titans (2003) gives us Jericho, who can take over anyone by making eye contact. In the penultimate episode, he does this very rapidly during a big fight scene.
  • In Wander over Yonder, an evil queen invites villains from across the cosmos in hopes of finding potential heir for her space armada. However, when Lord Hater triumphs over the competition she grabs him and reveals that she really just wanted a new host as her current body was wearing out. Interference from Wander leaves her spirit trapped in a sandwich. In the second season, we see that the spirit renamed itself to "Sourdough the Evil Sandwich" and is trying to conquer the universe like Hater is.


Video Example(s):


Kilg%re Possession Time

While fighting in the digital world, Kilg%re ends up possessing several people during the fight.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / BodySurf

Media sources: