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Evolution Power-Up

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Possibly the most reasonable occurrence of this trope in-universe (images not to scale).

Koushiro/Izzy: I wonder why it's called 'evolution,' I mean, evolution normally consists of an entire species changing slowly over a long period of time. The changes that you and your friends undergo are more like a transformation. You each transform into something too enormous to be an evolution.
Tentomon: Well, I don't know the answer to that myself. I can't give an explanation, but all I'm aware of is that it isn't a transformation but evolution.

When something or someone transforms into a more powerful/advanced stage, this is occasionally referred to as evolution. While not technically correct (evolution is species-wide, not individual-based), this has come to be a common way to refer to it. This is especially common if the transformation is some form of Adaptive Ability that allows something to actually modify its biology in response to stimuli. Expect Lamarck Was Right to show up in such cases.

In older times this wouldn't be considered wrong, as "evolution" was a synonym for "change", but thanks to the published theory of a certain Charles Darwin, the term has come to have a much more specific meaning.

Sometimes mixes with Multiform Balance and Super Mode. In these cases, it simply unlocks another form that the character may switch to, a temporary evolution. It's not uncommon for these stages to parallel the Bishōnen Line, with intermediary Power-Upgrading Deformation stages prior to an beautiful Ultimate Lifeform.

Instances of this trope in Japanese media, especially in the Pokémon franchise, may be due to a deliberate conflation of evolution with metamorphosis. The word for metamorphosis in Japanese is "hentai", which also has the meaning "sexual perversion". This poses a problem for works marketed primarily at children.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The 2003 Astro Boy anime used this to explain Astro's New Powers as the Plot Demands.
  • A mid-90s Black Jack movie featured groups of people who had developed incredible and highly advanced abilities in a variety of fields, including athletics and art, used the "next stage" terminology. They developed extremely dangerous side-effects also, and it was eventually revealed that, apparently, limited exposure to chemicals found only in a remote desert migrated across the world and advanced certain individuals by accentuating their natural and pre-existing talents.
  • Digimon, in much of the media they are able to jump back and forth between their various stages of evolution. The third season of the show explains Digimon can form "complex mimic proteins" from digital information and are not real animals, they rapidly "evolve" because they originated as computer simulations of evolution. Also, while the v-pets were more rigid, the games have Digimon evolve all over the place with several different Digimon being able to "evolve" into the same one (picture a wombat and mongoose each independently evolving into identical armadillos).
    • It was originally treated as "age", with Japanese levels being "Baby", "Child", "Adult" but this got muddled thanks to power creep adding "Ultimate" and "Super Ultimate" levels. The ability to temporarily jump ahead a level or three and then go back usually comes from partnering with a human. "Wild" Digimon can regress, but it's usually a defense mechanism that results from core data forcing severely damaged "shell" data to take the lowest "template" it can still support.
    • Levels were ignored in Digimon Fusion in favor of the "age" description however. When "evolution", is discussed it's explicitly described as being an Older Alter Ego rather than a "higher level".
      • And there are more complicated powerups! DNA Digivolution (or jogress) is fusing together two Digimon having trouble reaching the next level. Biomerge Digivolution and Spirit Evolution are along the lines of humans wearing Digimon as armor, themselves becoming Digimon. Armor Digivolution is a Digimon using another monster's egg as armor, taking on its attributes. Mode Changes usually are not considered evolution as the monster's level does not change but they are powerups. UlforceVdramon and Lucemon are able to raise their level by mode changing.
    • In Digimon Tamers, the D-Reaper evolved to keep up with literal and figurative evolution of humans and Digimon.
  • A major theme of Getter Robo, since the energy that powers their Humongous Mecha is the spirit of evolution itself, or taken another way, the embodiment of life/survival itself.
  • Goblins in Goblin Slayer, despite being small, individually weak and prone to ambush and swarm tactics, are capable of this if left alive for long enough and allowed to gain experience and knowledge. Across the series, Goblin Slayer has had to deal with not only regular goblins, but Hobgoblins, Goblin Shamans, at least one Goblin Champion, a Goblin Lord, and even a Goblin Paladin.
  • Godzilla: Singular Point has Godzilla evolving much like Shin Godzilla and is a Beast of the Apocalypse by starting out as Godzilla Aquatilis. Then after feeding on a Manda school, he actually evolves into Godzilla Amphibia, then evolves Godzilla Terrestris, and lastly, evolves into his ultimate form, Godzilla Ultima, and nothing on Earth could stop him except a fully-upgraded Jet Jaguar.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has a one-off example in the form of the Eleventh Angel, Iruel. The Angel has the ability to rapidly adapt to its environment (arguably justified by the fact that it's a colony of single cell organisms, allowing it to reproduce with greater speed) and it gets defeated when NERV manages to convince it to self-destruct by creating an environment where death is the most sensible adaptation.
  • Pokémon: The Series: See the "Video Games" folder below.
  • Goblin evolution works like this in Re:Monster: once they gain enough experience and reach level 100, they wake up as a hobgoblin, and then eventually reach level 100 again and follow several branching evolution paths. Notably, those with low potential can get stuck at an earlier stage of evolution, though that seems to mostly happen to un-named extras.
  • In Revolutionary Girl Utena it's more like Revolution Power Up. Concept is pretty similar though.
  • Scryed features multiple characters who, after an event called "the Great Uprising", developed unique powers having to do with matter transmutation. Most of these develop improvements or additional assets to their original abilities as time goes on, making them more powerful on a step-by-step basis.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann Has a one-off example, when Team Pet Boota spontaneously evolves, Pokémon-style, into a speaking humanoid form in a dream sequence.
  • Toriko has people infused with Gourmet Cells, which evolve when the person eats something compatible with them.
  • Zoids: Chaotic Century: Van's Shield Liger gets crippled in battle against Raven's Geno Saurer, so Zeke and Fiona merge into an energy cocoon to revive into the more powerful Blade Liger. Later in Guardian Force, Raven's Organoid Shadow does the same with the Geno Saurer, turning it into the Geno Breaker.

    Comic Books 
  • No discussion of this trope would be complete without the Marvel Universe's High Evolutionary, a man who has made a career of accelerating the evolution of various species — which, naturally, all happen to be anthropomorphic afterwards.
    • In his first appearance, the High Evolutionary managed to hyper-evolve a wolf. This evolution came complete with knowledge of martial arts from the future.
    • At one point he fought Hulk, trying to die in battle, and changed the "evolutionary levels" of the Earth, converting the ground beneath Hulk into tar (like tarpits, because they're associated with the geological past of Earth), then lava, then interplanetary gas.
    • A ragtag group of Avengers tries to end the Evolutionary War, and goes to fight the High Evolutionary in his own ship. The climax involves the villain and an Avenger both hyper-evolving into major godhood and right out of this realm. The kicker was that the Avenger was Hercules, who was already a Physical God.
    • In "What If The Avengers Lost The Evolutionary War?" (What If? v2 #1), all mutant and otherwise empowered superpeople have their powers enhanced in all kinds of ways (Cyclops can now control his blasts and doesn't need a visor; Spider-Man grows four extra arms) while ordinary humans (including non-evolved heroes and villains such as Iron Man and Doctor Doom) become bigbrained superintelligent psychics.
  • An abandoned origin for Wolverine was that he was in fact an actual, highly evolved wolverine.
  • The X-Men and other mutants, born with superpowers that activate at puberty, are essentially considered the next step in humanity's evolution. They're even classified as Homo superior.

  • Evolution had microbes from a meteorite adapt into higher and higher lifeforms, going from one-celled to worms to grotesque bugs to dinosaur-like reptiles in the span of only a few days.
  • In Planet of the Apes, specifically Rise of the Planet of the Apes, after exposed to an experimental drug meant to cure Alzheimer's, each ape that's exposed to it almost immediately gains sapience through science.
  • The Super Mario Bros. (1993) movie features an evolution/de-evolution gun (actually a SNES Super Scope with a paint job), which is used several times throughout. The most extreme use of it comes when it's used to de-evolve Koopa, turning him first into a T-Rex and then eventually sludge. The "evolve" setting apparently just makes you smarter. (Of course, this setting was used on the Quirky Miniboss Squad, so it didn't really make them any smarter in practice, just gave them a bigger vocabulary.)
    • It did make them realize that their boss was an evil tyrant, and convinced them to switch sides.
  • Shin Godzilla: In this film, Godzilla's backstory as a mutant dinosaur was changed to a sea animal that absorbed radiation from nuclear wastes. The wastes continue to make him larger and stronger to the point he could actually be a threat and a scientist by the name Goro Maki was trying to warn both Japanese and American scientists about this discovery, but they rejected and censored his work. This, with the combination of the death of of his wife through radiation poisoning, decided to leave clues to Godzilla's secret, and when the monster shows up, it was a yellow amphibian, then evolves on-stage into a red bipedal dinosaurian monstrosity. Finally, it turns into a recognizable charcoal grey fourth form with the power to should an atomic breath from his mouth.

  • Greg Bear tries to justify this in Darwin's Radio. A species that evolves "Darwin's radio" makes abrupt and massive changes in its genome when faced with a significant problem. The radio in question has evolved so that it essentially "knows" what changes are necessary to deal with a particular crisis. One character describes this as "Evolution evolving. Species with a radio can evolve faster and better than species that can't," which almost makes sense if you think about it. Also, the "evolved" children actually have several atavistic traits (like color-changing face spots from sea animals and vomeronasal passages like cats) instead of growing new biological devices from nowhere.
  • In Everybody Loves Large Chests people and monsters Rank Up once they reach level 100 in their job or class, allowing them to become a new, more powerful species. e.g. Elf => High Elf.
  • In The Iron Teeth web serial, goblins can transform into hobgoblins. This rare change usually happens after they have eaten a lot.
  • The whole premise of Edmond Hamilton's 1931 short story "The Man Who Evolved". In the story, a man uses cosmic rays to evolve himself in minutes. In the end, he eventually evolves into protoplasm, since, for some reason, evolutionary levels apparently go in a cycle.
  • Philip K. Dick used this several times.
    • The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, set 20 Minutes into the Future, features "evolutionary therapy" becoming popular among the rich. It makes your cranium large and bubble-like, and even increases your intelligence, although in rare cases it can backfire and de-evolve you into a monkey-like state. The best part? It works by stimulating the gland that controls evolution.
    • There is also a short story by Philip K. Dick, called Strange Eden, that successfully manages to make pretty much every mistake about evolution mentioned here. It's about an astronaut that finds an attractive and immortal female Goddess-like alien on a far-away world. Immediately he wants to sleep with her, but she warns him that in doing so he will magically begin to rapidly evolve. Thinking that this will lead him to become a superior being like her (and for the obvious reason), the astronaut accepts the offer. However, it turns out that humanity's set evolutionary path is that we will evolve into bestial cat-creatures — exactly why is never stated — and so the astronaut is stuck as the alien woman's pet forever.
    • In one of his early short stories, The Guinea Pigs, a trio of astronauts is hit by an unknown form of energy and start evolving into big-brained, super-smart and physically weak beings. The guinea pigs they had on board were hit by a stronger blast of the same energy and evolved into nigh-omnipotent Energy Beings, so the whole thing may be tongue-in-cheek.
  • One of the early-'90s Tom Swift books takes this trope to the limit — a human being is hit with an evolution ray and is turned into a specific person, with his own memories, from the far future.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: "The Mutants" involved the Solonians mutating into new forms within their lifetimes, something which happened whenever their planet entered a new half-millennium-long "season". The Doctor at least noted this to be a unique lifecycle.
  • In the Farscape episode "My Three Crichtons", an alien probe produced both "de-evolved" and "super-evolved" versions of Crichton. The crew also assumed the "de-evolved" caveman was hostile and savage, while the "super-evolved" Crichton turned out to be the self-serving and dangerous one. Deconstructed when the probe explains that the two extra Crichtons are just two of the millions of alternate versions of humanity that the probe was simulating and cataloging. They just happen to be a caveman and big-brained superhuman. And just to nail the point home, D'argo comforts a worried Crichton that the "super-evolved genius" form is just a possible evolution.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • In "D.N.A.", Lister uses a genetic transmogrifier to temporarily transform himself into "a super human" to fight a vindaloo monster. He turns into a midget Robocop. This is not stated to be evolution, but it taps into the same misunderstandings about genetics and development that allows people to imagine someone "evolving" during their lifetime.
    • In "Pete", a pet sparrow accidentally regresses back to what it evolved from, a Tyrannosaurus rex. Well, it wouldn't have been half as impressive if he had become a Dromaeosaurus or something.
  • In Stargate SG-1, all sapient species apparently evolve "towards" ascension. Just before evolutionary ascension, people will have all kinds of Psychic Powers, such as mind-reading, telepathy, healing powers and some kind of super-intelligence.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Transfigurations", an alien developing Healing Hands and other superpowers because he and other members of his species were on the verge of an "evolutionary leap", preceded by a period of Power Incontinence. The Government of his species has figured out what's happening and decided on a simple solution — kill all the freaks before they get the hang of their new powers.
  • The Star Trek: Voyager episode "Distant Origin" had the characters asking the computer what a hadrosaur would look like had they "continued to evolve"; it matches up perfectly with a Scary Dogmatic Alien species, "proving" it is really from Earth. The conflict of the episode is that is their vaguely religious dogma called "Doctrine" denies this "Distant Origin Theory" and systematically persecutes the scientist who espouses it.... "Genus Hadrosaur" was described as being the "most highly evolved cold-blooded descendant of Eryops". They manage to get at least five things wrong in that scene.
  • More than a few episodes of The Twilight Zone (1959) and The Outer Limits (1963) involved persons getting hit with odd radiations and "evolving". The chief example from Outer Limits would have to be "The Sixth Finger", featuring David McCallum as a scruffy laborer/guinea pig in a scientist's evolution experiments, who is turned into a "typical human" from various points in the distant future with a lever (helpfully marked "Forward" and "Backward"). Among other effects, the evolver ray alters his accent and ability to play piano.
  • Ultra Series
    • In The Movie Ultraman Tiga: The Final Odyssey, Tiga is stuck in a weak Dark Tiga form. Each time he absorb the dark light and purge away darkness from himself, however, he will evolve into a stronger form, and eventually assume the Glitter Tiga form once he full purify himself of the darkness.
    • Ultraman Nexus has the eponymous hero evolving into a new form every time his power is given to a new host. He starts off as Ultraman: The Next (In the backstory movie), becomes Ultraman Nexus Junis Red when the series begins, then changes into Junis Blue form by the halfway point. In the final episode, Ultraman Nexus' newest host enables him to evolve into his "true form", Ultraman Noa.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Many superhero Role-Playing Games — like Mutants & Masterminds and the original Marvel Super Heroes — include, among the list of powers available to players, some sort of "Hyper-Evolution" power that lets a hero shift up and down along their "evolutionary path," generally affording them the ability to "devolve" into cave-man form (temporarily lower their intelligence to raise their strength) or "evolve" into frail but hyper-intelligent (and possibly psionic) "future" form.
    • The write-up for the "Evolution" power in MSH even lampshades it: "This is comic book evolution, people, the kind where super-strong cavemen eventually evolve into giant brains with vestigial limbs."
  • Pages from the Mages played with this. The spell "Evolve" changes a normal animal into an intelligent and more or less human-like form. The punchline is that glorified name aside, the spell just permanently transforms the target halfway to its caster (presumed to be a human smart enough to use a 8-level spell), using his own blood sample(!) as a component.
  • The Tyranids in Warhammer 40,000 avert this. While they "evolve" at a hyper-accelerated rate(accomplished by devouring entire biospheres, then using the material to spawn custom-creatures) most of these creatures are short-lived, and allow their superiors to devour them once they've served their purpose. It's bizarre and science fictiony, but the sheer fact that it's portrayed as being generational makes it closer to Real Life evolution than most of the examples on this page.
    • The more orks in a warband, the bigger, stronger, tougher, and smarter they all get. During the War in Heaven and the War of the Beast, the orks got SO smart they made goodies that would make aeldari Wraithsingers and necrontyr Crypteks go green with envy. This type of "superorkishly" big, strong, tough, and smart ork is known as a "krork."

    Video Games 
  • Bubble Tanks II has this whenever your bubble tank collects enough bubbles to level up. You start out as a wimpy single bubble with a weak-damage single shot, and can upgrade into the Glass Cannon Ghost Sniper, the large but slow BFG-wielding Super Heavy, or an in-between.
  • This was the main gameplay mechanic of Data East's Darwin series of Shoot Em Ups, where you could "evolve" your ship by collecting literal Power Ups.
  • Psaro the Manslayer from Dragon Quest IV is revealed to be after the Secret of Evolution in order to build an all-powerful monster army to help him easily conquer the world. One of his generals, Balzack, showcases the fruits of Psaro's discovery; he's almost pathetically easy to beat in your first encounter with him, but one chapter later, he's gained about 150 kg, some nasty new attacks, and an extra "a" in his name.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, the Dreugh, a semi-intelligent aquatic race of humanoid octopi, undergo a process known as "karvinasim" during which they, for about one year, transform into a land-dwelling species in order to breed. Land Dreugh tend to be hardier, hit harder, and gain a natural "shock" attack in addition to gaining the ability to live on land. However, as a sort of Multi Form Balance, Land Dreugh lose whatever intelligence they still have in their aquatic forms, becoming little better than vicious beasts on land.
  • Monsters in Elemental Story gain stat boosts, new skills and perk unlocks whenever they evolve.
  • E.V.O.: Search for Eden. In each chapter, you start as a "basic" version of whatever the chapter is about (fish, amphibian, reptile, mammal), and you gain "evo points" by eating other animals, which you can then turn in to alter your body parts. Oh, and whenever you evolve a body part, you get the helpful message "MYSTERIOUS TIME STREAM EVOLVES YOU." Also, occasionally (say, when you're a reptile or mammal and have to do a water stage), you'll get the message "CHANGE IN CIRCUMSTANCES CAUSES EVOLUTION", followed by your characters feet becoming fins. Even if you're a mammal, or a bird.
    • Six years later we get Evolution.
      • It should be noted that the main character in E.V.O. is a time traveling agent under direct orders of Earth herself, tasked with taking care of eventual historical screwups, and apparently isn't subject to the same rules as everyone else.
  • Amazingly enough, Geneforge manages to justify this. All the game's monsters are the result of genetic engineering, and the super-powerful ones were created when basic designs were modified. (These modifications are random, so you encounter a few screwups that are insane or slowly dying.)
    • Much of the art work of the game is various schematics and plans for the Mons. Many have notations to things like lack of this causes mutation leading to death or including this gives fire breathing...
    • While individual mons do not change as they level up, player characters can learn to create an evolved or improved version. For example, a character who has trained Create Vlish to 3 points can instead create a Terror Vlish, which has higher stats and base level and a more powerful attack.
  • Many characters from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle have this as part of their playstyle:
    • Kars' level-2 super attack has him don the Stone Mask with the Red Stone of Aja. If uninterrupted for about two seconds, he will evolve into the Ultimate Lifeform and gain a new set of moves.
    • Giorno's level-2 super, similar to Kars, has him pierce his stand, Gold Experience, with a stone arrowhead. If uninterrupted, it evolves into Gold Experience Requiem. Unlike Kars, the transformation is only a temporary power-up.
    • The characters from Part 7 (Johnny, Gyro, and Valentine) can gain various stat buffs by collecting Corpse Parts. The more they pick up, the stronger they become. Johnny can also evolve his stand, Tusk, with the Corpse Parts, or maximize its power with his level-2 super.
    • Pucci's playstyle combines this with Magikarp Power: at first, he starts with Whitesnake, a versatile if underpowered stand. Speaking all fourteen of Dio's words to Green Baby, however, will evolve it into the more powerful C-MOON, which also unlocks a level-2 power-up super like Kars. If the level-2 super is left uninterrupted, Pucci will evolve C-MOON into Made in Heaven, as well as change the stage to a trippy spacey area, grant him even more power and enhanced speed, and slow down his opponent. It's difficult to unlock Maid in Heaven, but the payoff is worth it.
  • Last Armageddon has this as a major part of character progression. Your party is made up of monsters who evolve into stronger forms as they level up. At first the evolution are linear, but later the monsters start to inject the DNA of other party members to evolve further. You're given different choices for evolution based on which monster's DNA you use, with each party member having a total of six potential final forms based on your choices.
    • Its spiritual successor After Armageddon Gaiden is similar, with a party of five monsters that can evolve into stronger forms. But instead of happening automatically, every level up you can have them eat a human and use an evolution machine to change forms. In addition to their base form each character has 47 forms to choose from that each have a special ability, and then there's 4 ultimate forms that can be reached under certain conditions that each have a set of special abilities.
  • Mega Man X8: "New Generation Reploids", by copying the DNA data of earlier models including Sigma who created them from behind the scenes, could change their form and abilities to best suit their environment, and have immunity from the Maverick Virus. They felt they were beyond the constraints of "the old world" and rebelled to make their own society. Maverick Hunter X, a remake of the first Mega Man X game, has an OVA prequel that brings up the implications of evolution involving Reploids several times: X himself is the main factor, as he can, as Dr. Light puts it, evolve as he fights and even influence the evolution of robots in the same way as life. Sigma gets the idea that Reploids likewise have potential, but are being held back by humans.
  • Though Monster Hunter takes a more realistic stance on many of its eponymous megafauna, there are some monsters that fit this trope quite well:
    • Monster Hunter (2004): Basarios, a gargoyle-inspired Flying Wyvern that shoots small Fireballs, matures into an enormous species known as Gravios, and becomes capable of shooting powerful fire beams.
    • Monster Hunter 3 (Tri):
      • Giggi are small, leech-like creatures that rely on sucking blood to nourish themselves. They can spit poison at hunters, but it's weak. They mature into Gigginox, a huge monstrosity whose poison is far stronger and can hatch egg sacs that give birth to newborn Giggi.
      • Uroktor is a small Leviathan that pierces prey from below with its sharp beak. It matures into the much bigger Agnaktor, which covers itself in lava armor and has a mouth full of sharp teeth.
    • Monster Hunter 4: Gore Magala is a jet-black, demonic-looking, eyeless Elder Dragon that spreads the Frenzy Virus to see its surroundings. It molts into the white, angelic Elder Dragon Shagaru Magala, who has even more potent Frenzy Virus, but has functional eyes. Interestingly, there's a variant called the Chaotic Gore Magala, which is basically what happens when an Evolution Power-Up gets intercepted; it's a Gore Magala that suffered external trauma from a nearby Shagaru and is now stuck between the states for a few days until it dies, during which it will spread the Frenzy in a rampage.
    • Monster Hunter: World: Xeno'jiiva is a glowing alien Elder Dragon that hatches from a cocoon inside a massive streamstone, and can concentrate the bioenergy it sucks from the land and stores in its veils to make shockwaves and fire lasers from its mouth. It matures into the colossal Safi'jiiva, who instead resembles a traditional Western dragon with a blood-red hide and Spikes of Villainy strewn across its body. It can still slurp up energy from the earth and fire it in beams and shockwaves, but also expels it to reshape entire ecosystems to its whims. In fact, it's implied that this is how the Guiding Lands came to be!
  • The Persona franchise uses as this as a plot point: the stronger your "heart" / soul, the stronger your Fighting Spirit, the eponymous Personas, become. If your feelings are strong enough, your Persona can even evolve into an "Ultimate" form with a new appearance, enhanced stats, more elemental protections, and new skills.
  • Most Pokémon have stronger forms they can "evolve" into under the appropriate stresses and circumstances. To their credit, though, the official backstory is that Pokémon evolution "isn't like Earth's other organisms". In other words, the terms "evolution" when talking about Pokémon and "evolution" when talking about any other organism are two different things. A better term might be metamorphosis, considering Pokémon was inspired by a rather imaginative idea of insect collecting. The word "metamorphosis" was probably considered too big for the Game Boy display and too complicated for the target audience. This is especially obvious in several insect Pokémon such as Caterpie or Weedle, whose "evolutionary" paths are quite literally pupating just like real-life butterflies and wasps.
    • The part about "evolution is always the same" is averted with a couple of Pokémon. Eevee has had new evolutions constantly discovered due to its "unstable genetics". So while it can evolve into Jolteon thanks to a Thunder Stone, if it levels up in a a certain places containing a rock that's covered in snow, it becomes the Ice-type Glaceon. Likewise, Nosepass and Magneton evolve into Probopass and Magnezone respectively when they level up in certain areas. This makes sense in a way, people couldn't get these certain evolutions before simply because nobody had discovered the effects certain areas had on certain Pokémon. They adapted to their new environment. Yes, it happened in the matter of five minutes but it's still a slightly more realistic take on the usual fixed evolutionary lines. But while there are those sensible ones, there are also some nonsensical ones. Piloswine evolves into Mamoswine by leveling up and knowing Ancient Power, while Lickitung does the same but with Rollout... in spite of the fact that they could learn these moves since Generation II, back when moves were introduced. And, regarding Eevee, there was no day versus night last year? Ridiculous, yet even in the remakes, oh so true.
    • Sometimes metamorphosis is the best word, but most of the time what is happening is maturation. Small, immature Pokémon grow up to become bigger ones. Venusaur looks like a grown up Bulbasaur but because they were using sprites, showing them slowly growing was infeasible, so they had at most three forms to show them getting older as they fight more.
    • And then there are cases where it's explained that, in-universe, some Pokémon aren't really transforming when they evolve. Pokémon such as Weezing and Magneton come into being when multiple Koffing and Magnemite fuse together. There's Slowbro and Slowking, which is just a symbiotic relationship between a Slowpoke and a Shellder. While the Shellder doesn't evolve, it does change shape and gives Slowpoke new skills and abilities, but Slowpoke itself physically stays pretty much the same. In fact, it's stated that if its Shellder is ever removed, Slowbro and Slowking will revert back to being a Slowpoke. The most extreme example of small changes being labeled evolution is Type: Null, a Living Weapon who evolves into Silvally by simply removing its Power Limiter helmet.
    • All in all, the only straight example Pokémon seems to have is the vaguely fetus-like Pokémon Mew, which is guessed to be the evolutionary origin of almost every Pokémon in the traditional evolutionary sense... and evidences this by having their complete genomes integrated into its own — the "hardcoded future evolution" misconception not just written large, but in 50-story flashing neon pink letters.
    • And then we have Mega Evolution, which is an in-battle only evolution that temporarily powers up the Pokémon (provided that it is holding a specific Mega Stone).
    • Pokémon Sun and Moon represents the first real aversion of this trope. The Alolan variants of Pokémon are different from those found in other regions because they changed in both appearance and type in order to avoid predators and to better survive in the differing climates of the Alola region. For example, Sandshrew and Vulpix both lived in hot climates before migrating to Alola eons ago, where their mountain homes steadily became colder and harsher, forcing them to change into Ice-type Pokemon to survive. Interestingly, Alolan Exeggutor is the original, and the previously known form of Exeggutor is the one that was forced to adapt, becoming shorter and stumpier due to reduced sunlight. Regional variants also appear in Galar, Hisui, and Paldea. Again, most of them are adaptations to new climates, but some, such as Hisuian Voltorb and Electrode, are the original forms. Paldea also introduced examples of convergent evolution, where two unrelated creatures have similar forms due to living similar lifestyles, as well as the evolutionary ancestors of several Pokémon, called "Paradox Pokémon" (but not their future descendants, which are represented by robots instead).
    • Of course, there are plays on this trope, such as Annihilape, which is implied to have died to evolve due to it's rage being literally to much for it's body to contain.
  • Shin Megami Tensei has a selection of its Olympus Mons that will evolve into more powerful forms after they've gained enough levels, such as the angel Throne evolving into a higher level of Angel, Cherub, after gaining about 10 levels over base in Shin Megami Tensei IV
  • The Zerg in StarCraft call their upgrades "evolution." By exposing their Unstable Genetic Code to hostile environments, mutagens (like vespene, which explains why you always require more of the stuff and nuclear fallout), they are able to upgrade their own bodies as easily as the Terrans and Protoss upgrade technology. And it is an evolution, filling in a role in the Zerg ecosystem. Like "Mighty Glacier tank for fighting entrenched positions" and "Fragile Speedster warrior for grabbing territory."
  • The World Ends with You does this with pins. Depending on the Pin Points ratio the pin gets (Battle, Shutdown, or Mingle), it may evolve into a new pin with improved stats. However, Mingle PP is absent in Final Remix, so pins that evolve with Mingle PP got shuffled around with new requirements.
  • A Total War Saga: TROY: With the Amazons Downloadable Content, this was introduced for the titular Classical Mythology Amazon Brigade and it's units.
  • Total War: Warhammer III: With the Champions of Chaos Downloadable Content and accompanying rework to chaos factions across the board, there is now a Warbands mechanic where humble early game units like marauders can be evolved repeatedly into several units, either along the Chaos Undivided path or the mono-god path of their faction. It is also possible for them to downgrade into gibbering Chaos Spawn, such are the whims of the dark gods.

  • Parodied in xkcd's "Evolving,""which uses a Pokémon-style cut scene to show a disease-causing bacterium evolving into a drug-resistant variant.

    Western Animation 
  • The titular Ultimate Forms in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. The 'fast' part is at least justified in that the entire series revolves around a piece of Imported Alien Phlebotinum that can spontaneously rewrite a person's DNA.
  • This was Bob the Goldfish's schtick in the Earthworm Jim cartoon. He tried various schemes to evolve himself into a higher form of life, in one instance using a contraption that stole "Evolutionary Energy" from other creatures, turning people into apes & Princess Whatshername into a ladybug & such. Interestingly, Jim's creator Doug TenNapel is apparently a creationist, or at least a believer in some sort of divine intervention in the origins of life, humanity in particular. Fortunately, since it's all Played for Laughs, it's easy for people on both sides of the issue to enjoy.
  • One Prometheus And Bob segment (of KaBlam!) had an evolution chamber that could evolve a club into a laser, and devolve it back. In the course of it, the monkey was evolved into a human, bob was evolved into a pink version of Prometheus, Prometheus devolved into a purple Bob, and the monkey evolved into a floating telekinetic brain.
    • We also see a wolf evolved into a domestic dog and a piece of wood evolved into an aluminum baseball bat.
  • Mighty Max used this. one episode, a mad scientist named Dr. Zygote develops a ray that devolves anything to their prehistoric state. A bunch of human tourists become apes, Max's pet lizard becomes a dinosaur, and Virgil (a lemurian who is supposed to be the next step in human evolution) gets turned into a pterodactyl (?!) Later it's used by Dr. Zygote to turn a bunch of devolved mutated monsters into primordial ooze. He surmises that the ray "reversed their evolutionary path to the final quagmire, an evolutionary dead-end"— which really makes no sense at all.
    • Then in another episode, Dr. Zygote uses the ray again to further evolve himself into a more advanced form, from a big brained alien, to a lemurian, to a floating giant brain, and finally into a flash of light. at the end, he "evolved beyond good and evil" and left. There was a subversion along the way, as he became a chicken fowl-like humanoid similar to Max's mentor Virgil, who mentioned humanity will find the form enjoyable, much to Max's surprise.
  • In one Pinky and the Brain episode, the Brain attempts to use radiation to evolve Pinky into a higher form of life.
    • It's Pinky. Anything at all would be a higher form of life.
  • Spider-Man: The Animated Series actually invoked this trope between two humans when, after revealing to Harry that he was his father, the Green Goblin exclaims, "I am the ultimate evolution of Norman Osborn! Smarter, stronger, able to be more ruthless than he ever was." Wow. Of course, 'evolution' is frequently used to mean any kind of growth/development.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Metamorphic Evolution, Individual Evolution, Mon Metamorphosis


Evolution Power Up Tiers - Digimon: The Movie

A battle dictated by which tier the monsters are in. Agumon and Tentomon (rookie) evolve one level into Greymon and Kabuterimon (champion) to take down Keramon (rookie). Keramon responds by going up two levels to Infermon (skipping champion into ultimate level), forcing the others to try to reach their ultimate level forms, but they take too much damage and revert back to rookie.

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Example of:

Main / EvolutionPowerUp

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