Agent Smith: Yes, me. [transforms him into a Smith copy] Me, me, me.
Copy Smith: Me too.
One of the problems with cloning is how slow and inefficient it is; you have all the difficulties of creating life, letting the clone mature, dealing with it diverging from the original, Clone Degeneration and so on. One simple way around this is to start off with some raw materials...namely, another person. This can range from using Functional Magic or Phlebotinum to transform someone physically and mentally or using more mundane means like Magic Plastic Surgery and Brainwashing. Either way, the unfortunate victim becomes the original's Doppelgänger.
Since this basically involves killing the person the clone's "made" from, this trope tends to be the province of villains. Indeed since cloning's become possible in Real Life, (and no longer automatically brings to mind a Mad Scientist), this is a good way for a writer to keep the act of cloning someone as ethically questionable. A villain who makes a habit of it might also be The Virus (especially if the clones are able to transform people as well).
Expect all the usual Cloning Blues to be turned Up to Eleven, since the copy has to deal with a Loss of Identity on two levels; both as a copy of someone else and from losing their original identity (if they can even remember it).
Compare and Contrast; Human Shifting (where someone has the ability to transform into another person), We Will Not Use Stage Makeup In The Future (when this is used where a simple disguise would have sufficed), Body Surf, (where there is always only one of the "surfer", barring accidents), Grand Theft Me (where someone takes over another person's body), The Virus (which transforms the victim into a member of the Virus' type, rather than into a specific individual, although this distinction may be blurred if the Virus has a Hive Mind), Face Stealer (who forcefully transforms themselves into the original rather than the other way around), Self-Constructed Being (where any material can be used as well as focusing on the being in question), and Kill and Replace (where the killer transforms into or impersonates the victim).
- Impure World Resurrection brings people back from the dead by turning still-living people into clones of them.
- Another technique transforms a person in a walking puppet of the controller and transforms the puppet body to match the master. These copies are only as strong as the amount of energy the controller transfers to them. When they are killed, the bodies revert to their true forms.
- The Infinite Tsukuyomi very slowly turns humans trapped in it into White Zetsu clones by very slowly draining them of their personalities and defining features.
- Those marked by Kama will turn eventually turn into the Ōtsutsuki who marked them, erasing their genetic profile and personality in the process.
- A rare inverted example in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's. Z-One, in an attempt to bring hope to the Bad Future he came from, he converted himself both physically and mentally into an exact duplicate of Yusei Fudo, even to the point of being able to use the powers of both the Crimson Dragon and even Clear Mind, though it ultimately amounts to nothing, as all but four survivors: Paradox, Aporia, Antinomy and Z-One himself are left, and eventually only he remained. In his final duel with Yusei, he uses the fact that he now thinks exactly like Yusei to deadly effect, leading to Yusei having to rely on tactics he'd never use just to stay alive.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, the card Galaxy-Eyes Cipher Dragon can take control of enemy monsters and change their names, appearance, and stats to mirror it.
- In One Piece, one of Brûlée's lesser-used powers is this. Though she mainly uses her Mirror-Mirror Fruit powers to appear in other people's mirrors and emerge through them, she also has the power to take any animal (human or otherwise), including herself, and physically alter them into a mirror image of someone or something else, Devil Fruit powers included. The effects are easily undone, however, which is why she uses it only to confuse her enemies and to stall for time.
- In Hunter × Hunter, this is one of the powers within the ability Convert Hands: Transfer Student. If the user touches someone with the palm of his or her right hand, that person becomes a physical duplicate of the user. Chrollo uses this ability as part of a trap for Hisoka, who was pursuing him, by turning a bystander into a copy of Chrollo so Hisoka would target the bystander instead of him.note
- Tomie: If someone gets an organ transplant or blood transfusion from Tomie, that person will eventually turn into another Tomie.
- In the Big Finish Doctor Who audio play Mission of the Viyrans, Peri becomes the vector for a pathogen that painfully converts the entire populace of a planet, the Doctor included, into clones of her.
- In The Transformers (UK), when Straxus fails into transferring his mind into Megatron's body, he turns a hapless Decepticon technician Archforce into a "Megatron clone" to attempt the transfer again.
- The infamous Clone Saga has Norman Osborn creating a copy of Aunt May via a "genetically-altered actress" while keeping the real Aunt May captive as part of his Ass Pull-errific master plan.
- Previous to this, the original Clone Saga was retconned by way of The Jackal using a retrovirus to create his clones, not the virtual instant clones as originally portrayed. Once The Clone Saga kicked off, that retcon was unceremoniously dismissed in an "I Lied" reversal.
- The Convert, one of the Justice League 3000's main enemies, does this en masse as his primary ability. It's also how the future versions of the Justice League was created.
- The first villains that the Justice League ever faced off against, in Silver Age continuity (though it wasn't the first story about them published) were seven alien warlords who chose Earth as their battlegrounds for a winner-take-all free-for-all. They each varied wildly in appearance and abilities, except for one: they each could turn any humans (or super-humans) they focused on into loyal, miniature Mook versions of themselves. Thankfully, this also had No Ontological Inertia (it was the silver age, after all).
- In DC Comics, this was the Evil Plan of four aliens who formed an alliance to take over the galaxy. They used ray guns that convert objects and people into loyal copies of themselves, possessing their powers. Their plans were fortunately thwarted by a man who caught wind of their evil schemes and got caught in a crossfire between the four of them. This left each quart of his body transformed, granting him Flying Brick, Shock and Awe and Selective Magnetism powers, so he became Ultra the Multi-Alien.
- Wonder Woman: Queen Atomia's "Proton Chamber" turns those of her victims that are forced into it and put through the chamber's process all into identical clones which are near mindlessly loyal to her and extra susceptible to her mental commands.
- X-Factor (2006): The Karma Project's army of superhumans is made of numerous people who were injected with Darwin's DNA and transformed into exact copies of him. Fortunately, they all begin breaking down.
- In a story arc in the Justice Society of America has the nanomachines that give Cyclone her powers suffer a malfunction that makes them transmissible and convert other women into copies of her. She eventually works out the problem and reverts the victims, but not before someone she went to for help exploited the situation to try and copy her powers.
- In the Twilight fanfiction Radiance, Elspeth accidentally does this. She can use her powers to implant thousands of memories into a given person. With a bit of makeup, it's not to hard to mislead them as to which set of memories are their own.
- The Friday Night Funkin' fanfiction Felixs Guide To Apocalypse Survival is about this, where Carol, one of the games mods becomes the vector of a pathogen that slowly assimilates everybody on Earth into clones of herself. By the end of the story Felix himself gets fully assimilated, but earlier in the story he was partially assimilated.. Apparently, this story was inspired by The Matrix example.
- In Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, the Joker implants his DNA and consciousness into a special chip installed into Tim Drake during his torture of him, causing him to turn into a copy of him many years later. Batman saves Tim and destroys Joker once and for all by shorting out the chip.
- In Cinderella III: A Twist in Time, Lady Tremaine, with the Fairy Godmother's wand, turns Anastasia into a duplicate of Cinderella so she can wed Prince Charming while the real Cinderella is sent to her doom.
- In The 6th Day, clones are created by growing a "blank" and then overlaying the DNA of the intended subject onto it. In this manner, a clone of anyone can be made in under an hour.
- Blofeld attempts this at the start of Diamonds Are Forever. James Bond KOs a scientist on the project, steals his clothes, and drowns the would-be clone in mud.
- In The Matrix Reloaded movie and onwards, Agent Smith gains the ability to do this (in the first movie he could only Body Surf people who were still plugged into the matrix, like all the other agents). He can do this not only to his fellow agents and other programs, but also to Free Minds to use them to gain access to the Real World. In Revolutions, by the end of the movie, he's more or less assimilated everyone in the Matrix into a copy of himself.
- The 2010 horror movie Victim 2010 is about a Deadly Doctor transforming a young man who murdered his daughter into a copy of his dead daughter through plastic surgery and brainwashing.
- The Spanish thriller La piel que habito/The Skin I Live In has a similar premise, although the doctor in question is using a Magic Plastic Surgery technique he invented to turn his victim into a copy of his dead wife.
- In Stardoc: Plague of Memory Cherijo's long-dead first love, Kao Torin, is sighted on the Hsktskt homeworld. He turns out to be a genetically altered Hsktskt, created from DNA extracted from Kao's corpse which was buried in space by Jorenian custom.
- In Beta, clones are created by extracting the soul of the original person (the "First") out of his/her body, then implanting a computer chip with information into said body.
- The MARZENA Series lay down the concept that certain people with neurochemically similar brains can form empathic states and become a singular mind when mentally linked up using the Bremen Chip. Connecting two similar brains together can cause the less-dominant brain to become more dominant-like (although the full effects can take months to manifest). This is what happens to Lauren when she connects to Marian's brain, fully maturing an Independent Psychological State allowing her brain to mimic Marian's brain activity, and thus break into Marian's brain-locked computer.
- 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. Overlaps with Body Surf a little.
- In Paul Feval's Vampire City, being turned into a vampire can have this effect on the victim, which can be a little weird if they were originally a different sex than the vampire that bit them.
- In the Imperial Radch trilogy, Anaander Mianaai pulled this on Lieutenant Tisarwat before we even got a chance to meet the poor kid, kidnapping and secretly installing ancillary implants in her brain to assimilate her as a "stealth" segment of the Anaander personality for espionage purposes. It does not end well.
- In The Stormlight Archive, when a Fused spirit kills a singer and takes their body, the singer's form shifts to something unique to the Fused.
- Doctor Who: Similarly to the Matrix example, the Master does this to almost the entire human race in "The End of Time".
- Kamen Rider Ghost has Adel, Prince of the Ganma, who intends to become the world. Allying with the Ganmaizers, fifteen monsters who assume his form, Adel gains the ability to transform the populace of both human and Ganma worlds into copies of himself, including his henchmen and his sister.
- The first episode of the second season of Lois & Clark has Lex Luthor's ex-wife requesting a surgical procedure on a woman to turn her into an exact lookalike of Lois Lane as part of a revenge plot.
- In 2003, the MTV Movie Awards did a parody of The Matrix Reloaded in which, among other things, Seann William Scott as Agent Smith did this to Wanda Sykes. He later tries to do this to Justin Timberlake, but Justin is The One and proceeds to beat the crap out of all of the Agent Scotts, which causes the original to snap out of it and go back to normal.
Wanda: Hey, you're that guy that got peed on in American P- <Agent Scott shoves his fist into Wanda's gut and starts transforming her into an Agent> Mmm, ooh, you're hittin' the spot! How big is your fist? Good lord! Hey, wait a minute, man, this shit is dry-clean only!
Agent Scott: You'll like being a dude. <The transformation finishes>
Agent Scott's clone: I do.
- Tokumei Sentai Go Busters has an unusual example of a villain doing this to himself: late in the show Enter, attempting to gain The Power of Hate for himself, deliberately begins copying more and more of Hiromu's abilities, fighting style, and eventually even his Buster form. It even reaches the point where his face begins to morph into Hiromu's at times.
- A willing version of the process is very common in Visual Kei. Whether out of their admiration for other artists or out of wanting in on their success, this happens with some artists who take Follow the Leader to an extreme and become, in effect, clones of other artists' personas and sometimes even scarily close to their actual selves. Some common artists that pick up a lot of this are hide of X Japan - to the point that hide clones and cosplayers are almost their own subculture within visual kei - Kyo of Dir en grey - who was himself one of Kuroyume's Kiyoharu - and Atsushi Sakurai of BUCK-TICK.
- Dungeons & Dragons third edition introduces the psionic power "Mind Seed" which, after a week-long incubation, turns the target into a mental duplicate of the psion (though eight levels lower than the psion when s/he infected the target).
- This power, in turn, is one of the tools the Dreaming Dark uses in Eberron.
- In the Venom's Taste trilogy, a yuan-ti psion used this power a lot. Anyone could be one of her minions (since they keep their original body). She converted chieftains, and once threatened a character's baby with it. Paranoia Fuel indeed.
- Essence of the Wild from Magic: The Gathering operates this way, turning any other creature you cast or otherwise put into play into a copy of itself. Since they will then also have the copying ability...
- Shadowrun: Carl Brackhaven murdered his son Kenneth for turning into an ork at the age of twelve, then stole a kid off the street and had him surgically and mentally altered to keep up the appearance of having a pure human son. Players learn the truth of this in Ghost Story, one of the adventures in the Super Tuesday! Third Edition supplement.
- The Hydraxon seen in the BIONICLE series isn't the original, rather a matoran named Dekar who was unwillingly transformed into Hydraxon by the Mask of Life as a protector, with the transformed Dekar having all of the originals skills, memories and loyalties of the deceased jailer, with Dekar being completely overwritten to the point that Hydraxon doesn't even realise he used to be someone else, and the only difference being that the original is dead and the new one used to be someone else. While it takes a while for the new Hydraxon to learn the truth, he ultimately doesn't care as who he is now is what is important to him. To him, he is the real, one and only Hydraxon, and fully replaces the original to the point that the other members of the Order of Mata Nui don't even realise that the Hydraxon they knew is dead.
Hydraxon to Pridak: You don't get it. It doesn't matter who I was before. All that counts is who I am now - Hydraxon. Your enemy, your jailer, your nightmare for 90 millenia, and for every day that's left to you.
- In Resident Evil 6 Ancient Conspiracy leader, Simmons created a clone of his employee, Ada Wong (whom he was a little obsessed with) by testing out the C-Virus on his lover, and employee, Carla Radames. When she got her memories back, she was not amused.
- The cloning pod in Evil Genius works by copying the Evil Genius's appearance onto one of the many disposable mooks in your employ. The purpose of this is to get the mook killed in order to make the World Powers believe your Evil Genius is dead and lower your heat level.
- The ID Eliminator arguably as well, though it turns its victims into boilerplate template mooks instead of into a copy of the Evil Genius.
- In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, it is revealed that Organization XIII was designed to gather twelve Nobodies who could be subjected to this trope in order to serve as vessels for Master Xehanort's heart.
- Quantum Protocol: The Black Virus card can transform the card that destroys it into a copy of itself while still having an automatic effect that regularly damages the operator. Worse yet, it voids the original card so that it cannot be accessed from the trash. However, the conversion effect won't work if the card that destroys the virus is sent to the trash via execution or card effects.
- In Tales of Symphonia, it turns out that the entire Journey of Regeneration is actually just a front for the villain to resurrect his sister via this method. The Chosen Ones are really just people specifically bred to have bodies as similar to his sister as possible.
- In Final Fantasy VII, Cloud Strife and all the turns out to be this kind of clone of Sephiroth (along with countless others who were implanted with Jenova's cells, with the amount they were injected with determining whether they just get a little power boost like everybody in SOLDIER, or end up crippled, insane, and vulnerable to having their body completely taken over by Sephiroth).
- Cloud is also one, to a lesser degree, of his dead friend Zack, whose personality and memories he partly absorbed, repressing his own due to guilt and shame after the resident Mad Scientist messed up his head. This kind of mimicry is part of the whole Jenova-cell package apparently, but it combined with Cloud's psychological trauma and major pre-existing self-esteem issues, to create a real mess of his identity
- The King of Fighters utilizes this in K's story. He's still considered a clone of main hero Kyo despite only being injected with Kyo's genes and retaining his own appearance.
- Halo reveals in The Forerunner Saga that the Didact from the Halo 3 terminals was the result of the Ur-Didact (the one from Halo 4) imprinting his consciousness upon a younger Forerunner. Unusually for this trope, the original personality still maintains some influence (most notably in his much more friendly attitude towards humanity compared with the original), and the act itself is portrayed as a necessary one, with the Didact imprint even promising his host that he'll return control when his mission is over, though by the time that happens, their personalities seem to have become irrecoverably merged. And he's still much better off than his progenitor.
- In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Venom Snake is this to Big Boss, achieved through plastic surgery and hypnosis.
- A virus transforms many demons in Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten into clones of Axel, first just acting like him, but later sounding and looking like him. The protagonists do manage to turn everyone back.
- Batman: Arkham Knight: Four individuals (Johnny Charisma, Christina Bell, Albert King, and Henry Adams) are slowly transforming into clones of The Joker due to being transfused with his Titan-infected blood, which Joker shipped out to hospitals prior to his death in Arkham City. This leads to them developing Joker's traits, such as green hair, white skin, and his Ax-Crazy personality traits.
- The Tarr from Slime Rancher will attempt to devour any slimes in its vicinity. Upon devouring a victim, it expands, and spawns a clone of itself. Water will sterilize them, and can potentially destroy them altogether.
- Claygirls from String Tyrant make more Claygirls like this. Their clay spreads over the victims body and unless washed off turns the victim into a Claygirl.
- The Space Retrovirus from Space Station 13 turns all the later infected into duplicates of the original.
- This happens to Alcatraz in Crysis 2 who was given Prophet's nanosuit as the two were dying. Through the game, the suit heals him, at the expense of turning him into Prophet. The effect has fully completed by the time of Crysis 3, with no mention of who the current Prophet used to be.
- In Cytus II, Phoenix Wyle has access to Magic Plastic Surgery technology that lets him turn a person into a doppelganger of someone else, so long as they have the same gender and blood type. It's later revealed that PAFF/Aroma White as we know her is the result of this technology being applied: after she was mortally injured in a car accident, another girl named Kaori was kidnapped and turned into a copy of Aroma, as well as being subjected to brainwashing to overwrite her memories, though this was incomplete and left her with small fragments of Kaori's memories which eventually allow her to learn the truth about herself.
- In Mass Effect: Andromeda, the Kett have spent so long tinkering with their genes that they can now only reproduce via this method, abducting other species and "exalting" them into more Kett.
- In Loop Hero the Priestess Sigma is the personification of faith in god. When her physical body dies, a suitably faithful host undergoes a slow physical conversion as their soul is gradually supplanted by Sigma.
- In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja King Radical's plan turns out to be to do this on a massive scale. More specifically he would replace people by summoning inhabitants of the Radical Lands, where he came from, in their place.
- Schlock Mercenary introduced the "REDHack" technology in the "Random Access Memorabilia" arc; State Sec's plan to capture a Big Dumb Object was to use a combination of Super Soldier and advanced medical technology to stream mind backups of one of its agents into the skins of the civilian research staff, allowing them to physically convert each victim into a Super Soldier duplicate of the agent when the activation signal was sent. A later storyline reveals that the same agency has regularly been creating sleeper agents using the same technology, who would be overwritten on-demand by the mind of the same agent. In theory, the sleeper is supposed to have a backup gestalt so they can be restored after the mission and only lose a few days of memories. In practice, the gestalts are often too out of date to be useful, and the agent usually dies during the mission anyway.
- In El Goonish Shive this starts to happen to most the guests at the party Nanase and Ellen go to.
- The baddies in Polo Quest are able to convert people into clones of the badass warrior Rokoa, provided they're of the same species as her. As the payload contains her personality and memories, it involves a Battle in the Center of the Mind. The results vary depending on how that confrontation went.
- Kill Six Billion Demons: Anyone who eats one of Gog-Agog's worms becomes Gog-Agog. It's presently uncertain whether those who have become Gog-Agog but do not look like her are Gog-Agog mentally but just look like their old self (meaning the host is effectively dead), or if Gog-Agog's personality remains latent within them until she feels like emerging (consuming the host's body in the process and reforming it into another Gog-Agog). Either way, Gog-Agog is a population of her own, and with titles like "Queen of Worms" and "The Great Devourer" she definitively falls on the 'villain' part of the spectrum.
- SCP Foundation:
- SCP-936 is capable of this. The object was discovered in the possession of a man who had tried to commit suicide to transfer his consciousness into the object. Instead, an SCP researcher carrying the object died while transporting it, successfully transferring his consciousness into the amulet and possessing whoever touches it. If the host touches the object for 30 days (usually via wearing it like an amulet), the consciousness transfer is permanent, even after the object is removed. The Foundation is restricting the researcher to possessing only one person at a time cycling hosts just in case, but thankfully he retains his loyalty to the cause and is searching for a release.
- Implied with SCP-2009, which causes infectees to assume the appearance, personality, and memories of a "Thomas Hoang," who may or may not be the origin of the contagion.
- Outside Xbox: In the OXventure episode "Sect Appeal" this turns out to be the cultist's plan; rather than grow Egbert clones from scratch, they're going to inject townsfolk with a serum to transform them into them.
- One episode of Archie's Weird Mysteries shows Veronica accidentally causing the populace of Riverdale to start gradually turning into duplicates of herself after making a misguided wish on a wish-granting artifact that everyone was more like her. By the time Veronica is able to reverse this, the whole town is filled with snobby teenage girls and even Archie and Betty are starting to not act like themselves.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the Gaang are given a creepy guide called Joo Dee when they visit the Earth Kingdom. When her veneer breaks, she's taken away and replaced by an eerily similar guide who answers to the same name and insists she's the same person. It's revealed that the city in question has an entire room full of "Joo Dee"s being brainwashed into similar guides. It's never made clear if they're based off someone, but it certainly fits the spirit of the trope.
- Albedo from Ben 10: Alien Force is a Galvan who turned into a copy of Ben thanks to making his own Omnitrix copy and the original setting Ben's DNA as the default form. He also retains his original personality while playing The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body completely straight, hating Ben because his body gives him irrational impulses, hormones, and chili fry cravings (that last one being his own quirk that hes choosing to blame on Ben).
- In an episode of Family Guy Peter gains the ability to transform anyone he touches into a clone of Robin Williams.
- In Jumanji, the protagonists manage to drop Van Pelt into a bottomless pit. However, afterwards Peter slowly begins to look and act more like him. Eventually VP!Peter explains that there must always be a Van Pelt in the game—even if Alan kills VP!Peter, he'll just become Van Pelt instead. They eventually save Peter, at which point the old Van Pelt manages to climb out of the pit and goes back to hunting Alan.
- In Miraculous Ladybug, this is Monster of the Week Reflekta's primary ability. Fortunately for the victims, they keep their personalities and simply transform physically into her. Fortunately for her, they do not get her superhuman powers but are robbed of any they might have. It also has a logical weakness; since her powers are based around turning people into her, it does nothing further to whomever it's already affecting, especially if they act as human shields or get their hands on other equipment.
- The Monster Farm episode "A Pair of Jacks" had Count Cluckula drink a potion that turned him into a duplicate of Jack Haylee.
- Phineas and Ferb: Dr. Doofenshmirtz's -Inator in "Night of the Living Pharmacists" has the power to turn anyone repulsive...by turning people into zombie-like clones of Doof himself, which turn other people into Doof-clones upon contact. Chaos ensues.
- In the Regular Show episode "Benson Be Gone", Benson is replaced by Susan, who proceeds to work the park workers harder than he ever did, which slowly starts to turn them into copies of her, though they keep their original faces and personalities.
- An episode of Ugly Americans featured a plague that was turning New Yorkers into clones of Larry King. Apparently the plague was a rare side effect caused by the original Larry King taking too many medications that interacted in an unexpected way.