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"Freaky Friday" Flip

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Body Switch Movie:
The brain of one character somehow finds itself in the body of another. Requires actors to confront an actor's nightmare, i.e., acting as if they were another actor.

The most benign subtrope of Body Snatcher: two or more characters swap bodies (or, equally, swap minds) by some form of magic or Applied Phlebotinum. Typically, a deeper appreciation of the other's life is attained. Named for a novel and movie about a body swap between a mother and her daughter.

To be really convincing, the actors may have to mimic the body language and speech patterns of the actor they are supposed to have switched with - ie, an older person using very modern language and slouching. This is doubly complicated if they are trying to imperfectly pretend they are the other person.

When this plot is done in animation, usually the voices also switch as narrative cheat to help younger viewers keep track of who's who. More subtly, it's just the eyes. More serious/action-oriented shows might not do this. The Flip often involves characters of different ages, genders, races, or social classes. Another variation is a protagonist and antagonist switching, which usually involves each trying to undermine the other's organization while simultaneously trying to switch back. Alternatively it may lead to a Heel–Face Turn. If one or both of the characters have superpowers or other special abilities, they'll have a lot of trouble figuring their new powers out.


A similar idea, with less learning and more evil, is Grand Theft Me. Compare Personality Swap, when the characters' personalities are swapped but their minds stay where they are meant to be, and Transferred Transformation. Contrast with Physical Attribute Swap, when two characters exchange specific physical traits like height, weight, or age without switching bodies entirely. Mental Time Travel might be a temporal variation of this. It will often involve similar tropes to transformation stories (such as Gender Bender) as this is essentially two of these in one, with the addition of confusion resulting from the transformations being into other known characters.note 

Nearly an Obligatory Joke in some genres (as in, bound to happen sooner or later in the series, if it's popular enough).


In the more traditional applications of the trope, the reason of the switch is never explained in-universe. However, the Doylist reason for any application is often to force the age-old moral: To better understand others, you must experience life in their shoes.

This is such a prominent trope that The Other Wiki has an entire list article dedicated to covering all instances of body swapping in media.

Example subpages

    open/close all folders 

  • A T-Mobile advert from 2003 shows a woman getting a video message from her husband. The video shows her young daughter activating her science project; a brain switcher, which swaps her older brother's body with the family dog. The dog speaks with the son's voice while the boy lifts his leg to scratch behind his ear. Cue mom fainting. A very brief scene after this shows the dad playing fetch with the dog in the boy's body.
  • From the 2016 European Championship, Nike's "The Switch" deals with this happening between Christiano Ronaldo and an English boy.

    Asian Animation 
  • Lamput: In "Transfer Gun", the Boss invents a ray gun with this effect. The Boss and Lamput get hit by shots from the gun by accident, and the Boss in Lamput's body initially has trouble getting the docs to believe he's not actually Lamput.
  • In the Motu Patlu episode "Soul Change", Ghasitaram tricks Motu and Patlu into entering a body-swapping machine made by Dr. Jhatka. The two confuse Chaiwala when they go to his samosa stand and he assumes that Patlu is eating samosas while Motu is reading the paper - the exact opposite of what they would normally do.
  • One episode of Tobot has Limo mixing up the Mind Cores, resulting in them being placed in the wrong bodies. Specifically, Tobot X's Mind Core is in Tobot D, Tobot Y's is in Tobot R, Tobot Z's is in Tobot X, Tobot D's is in Tobot Y, and Tobot R's is in Tobot Z.

    Audio Plays 

    Films — Animation 
  • Happens to Donkey and Puss-n-Boots in Shrek the Third.
  • In a scrapped scene in Cars, Lightning is given a choice of participating in a race or doing community service. When he picks the community service, he wakes up the next day and finds that his engine (apparently the car equivalent of a brain) has been put into a steamroller, much to his horror, and Mater's engine has been put in Lightning's body, which he uses to take over Lightning's life. Fortunately, this is All Just a Dream, but when he wakes up he fearfully changes his mind and decides to do the race instead.
  • In the seventh Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf film, Wolffy has a body-swapping rug with him when he, Paddi, and Weslie are all transported to the prehistoric age. He and Paddi are on the body-swapping rug when they're transported, causing Wolffy to wind up in Paddi's body and vice versa for part of the movie.
  • Downplayed in the Winnie the Pooh movie Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year. Pooh and his friends make a resolution to "change" so they can stop Rabbit from moving away, and end up switching their personalities. Piglet begins to bounce and and conquers his fears, while becoming the goofball that Tigger is, while Tigger gives up bouncing and ends up catching Piglet's Nervous Wreck nature. Eeyore tries not to be gloomy and starts acting like Pooh, becoming constantly jolly and eating honey, right down to wearing Pooh's red shirt. Pooh himself, on the other hand, decides to stop eating honey himself, and as a result, becomes gloomy like Eeyore complete with Dull Surprise.



    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • The Mind Switch and True Mind Switch spells. While Mind Switch is only semi-permanent, True Mind Switch is completely permanent and can only be undone by another True Mind Switch.
    • Before this, 2nd edition had the "Switch Personality" telepathic science from The Complete Psionic Handbook. It allows the psionicist to switch mind with another creature, but any prolonged use is dangerous, as both bodies tend to degrade when inhabited by the wrong mind.
    • The Complete Book of Necromancers also introduced the "Life Force Exchange" spell, which is permanent and can be used on any two creatures (including or not the caster). It is one of two powerful spells allowing aged necromancers to abandon their old body for a new, younger and stronger one.
    • This is just one condition that the Alchemist's Apparatus, an evil device found the Ravenloft setting can create. (It can also split one being into two bodies, one good and one evil, or merge two beings into one body.) The only way to reverse any of this device's effects is to use it a second time, and using it at all is incredibly dangerous. (Not only is it prone to blowing up, it tends to drive the victims insane, requiring Ravenloft Powers checks for the user and Madness Checks for the victims. Unfortunately, even when it does blow up, someone always rebuilds it later.)

    Web Animation 
  • Triggering this trope is just one of many ways to get grounded in Go Animate "Grounded" videos. For one example, this video involves Caillou switching bodies with his mother in an attempt to avoid getting grounded. Unfortunately for Caillou, the switch lasts for all of about 20 seconds before he and his mom switch back, after which he is given additional grounding time for the swap. Voices Are Mental tends to be in effect whenever this occurs.
  • Dr. Havoc's Diary: Episode 24, appropriately called "Freaky Friday". All thanks to one of Havoc's machines, this happens between Ally and Havoc, and then various other characters as well. Oh, and Voices Are Mental is averted.

    Web Original 
An unintentional example occurred in Hanna Barbera's Adventures of Gulliver when Bunko and Eager's voices were switched for one line each.A continuity problem. In Geronimo Stilton at the end of Incredible Shrinking Stiltons, the bodies of mouse Trap and a police dog are switched.

    Real Life 
  • Scientists have found that by syncing a pair of VR goggles on one person's head with a set of cameras on a mannequin or another person's head, the brain is fooled into believing that they are in the body of the mannequin or the other person. Again, no, seriously.

Alternative Title(s): Body Swap


Freaky Friday-lien

Tina recounts her play to her family which is "Aliens" meets "Freaky Friday".

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Main / FreakyFridayFlip