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Shapeshifters are very common in fiction due to their flexibility. They can turn into a wolf, a giant, a tree, a whale, or sometimes only transform into another person.

How much a humanshifter can change varies. It could be just the face or it could be the whole body. The latter can lead to Gender Bender tropes. While Humanshifters don't have the versatility of being able to shift into another animal, they have their advantages. They are usually a Master of Disguise, able to replace their subject, and wreak havoc by many ways. Done rightly, they could bring down entire kingdoms without having to personally use a weapon.

See Doppelgänger. Compare Shapeshifting and Master of Disguise. Contrast Wig, Dress, Accent. For nonhumans that become humans, then that's Humanity Ensues. If someone is involuntarily shifted then see Clone by Conversion. Sexshifter and Dual Age Modes are subtropes where shapeshifting is even more restricted, only changing sex and age, respectively.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Toga Himiko from My Hero Academia has this as her Qurik: by drinking another person's blood, she can temporarily become that person... and because of her insanity, she see's this as a way of expressing her "love" for that person. In the Meta Liberation Army Arc she discovers she can also copy a person's Quirk when she takes their form, something not even she knew she could do.
  • In Bakugan, Zenet Surrow can transform into other people.
  • Downplayed in The Fruit Of Evolution (or at least its Animated Adaptation); protagonist Seichii Hiragi was originally a fat Beady-Eyed Loser until he ate the titular Power-Up Food, which gave him a hot cool bishi look alongside a massive stat boost. After he encounters his former Childhood Friend, he reveals that, like his lovers Saria and Lulune, who were originally animals until they ate Fruits of Evolution, he is also capable of reverting back to his original form.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Oingo's Stand, Khnum, allows him to reshape himself into anyone else he wishes, right down to scent (so even animals, like Iggy, are fooled). That being said, Oingo seems cursed with rotten luck, as he repeatedly finds himself in situations where his shapeshifting won't do him much good (such as being forced to swallow lit cigarettes).
    • Toshikazu Hazamada's Stand, Surface, is a life-size mannequin that can change its form to any specific person Hazamada wants, with the bonus in that if Surface meets up with the person it copies and they engage in eye contact, that person is forced to mimic Surface's actions like a mirror image.
  • Liar's Mask, Due's Inherent Skill in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, allows her to assume the appearance of any humanoid (though apparently only female of approximately the same height and build as herself).
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: Albireo Imma's Artifact allows him to assume the appearance, personality, memories, and abilities of anyone he desires, so perfect an imitation that he might as well be transforming into that person themselves. There is a catch that keeps this from being ridiculously overpowered: if he uses it to assume the form of someone more powerful than himself, It Only Works Once, and only for a few minutes. People less powerful than himself he can transform into with impunity.
  • In One Piece, this is Mr. 2 Bon Clay's power from the Clone-Clone Fruit. By touching the face of a person, he is able to impersonate the face, voice, and body of that person, as he proved with Nami. There's a reason why he's ranked Number 2. It is also a hindrance, since to use his Martial Ballet Arts he has to use his real body, or something as strong.
  • Beautiful Playboy Bunny Melona in Queen's Blade has this ability. Often using it for disguise, battle, or to sow confusion.
  • Mirror Man, an agent of the British Library in R.O.D the TV.
  • In Tiger & Bunny this seems to have originally been the extent of Ivan/Origami Cyclone's power, though after the Time Skip he's able to take on a wider variety of forms.
  • An assassin in The Vision of Escaflowne steals the appearance of several people (as part of the Kill and Replace routine).
  • Minor character Suetsumu in Psychic Squad, using telepathic hypnosis. An unusually benevolent example, since she uses it primarily to comfort terminally ill patients in her role as a nurse, and she doesn't even lie about who she really is while using it.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Vow of Nudity: As a changeling, this is Spectra's core ability, and the source of most of her backstory troubles.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live Action 
  • In Inception, this is Eames' job as a Forger, but he can only do it in dreams.
  • In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, the T-X is a Terminator with an endoskeleton covered by liquid metal. It can't shapeshift to the same extent as the T-1000, but it is more stable, is able to carry on-board weapons, and is still able to disguise itself as other people.

  • In the Lone Wolf setting, the Helghast are Undead with the power to change into a human form. This makes them the perfect spies and infiltrators for the Darklords.

  • The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi: Raksh's true form is a humanoid demon with tusks, mottled skin, and fleshy hair, but he can freely switch to a human form that looks broadly similar but without the supernatural features. The one time the disguise slips, it's when he passes out drunk.
  • Animorphs: While the team can morph humans (their power works on anything with DNA), they rarely do so and when it happens, try to ask for permission first. More antagonistic people with the morphing power have no such compunctions, such as when Sixth Ranger Traitor David morphs the dying Saddler to replace him.
  • In Arrivals from the Dark, the Exile's Voluntary Shapeshifting species can turn into any other race at will. However, he had a rare condition that locks him into the first form he turns into, allowing only minor variations after (no Gender Bender due to major internal changes that would require). He chooses to go to Earth and turn into a human, arriving in the 13th century. In the first book alone, he has four named identities with well-established credentials: a Chinese astronomer, a Zulu representative to the UN, a European reporter, and an American soldier. In later novels, he mimics a Human Alien and a "pseudo-humanoid" with four fingers, although those changes are largely cosmetic (i.e. still human inside). He also appears to be able to remove and regrow limbs at will, as he spends decades as a soldier with a prosthetic arm.
  • Water nymphs can do this in Below. They're already humanoid but for a stinging tail to render victims unconscious and rob them. Their memetic camouflage lets them hide the tail and adopt whatever features they like. They also use mind reading to perfect their disguise.
  • Codex Alera: This is an ability that can be possessed by watercrafters. Even if you have only a limited watercrafting talent, you can change your appearance, though it takes longer to complete the process. Taking a form of a different size or shape from your own can be uncomfortable at best, though.
  • In the Dora Wilk Series, one of the magical powers of vampire lord Roman is the ability to give himself, or any other person, the shape of any other humanoid, complete with scent. It's implied to be less of a biological change and more an extremely detailed, touch-proof illusion.
  • In The Girl from the Miracles District, Nikita's Hulking Out abilities can be applied to let her alter her face and figure to some extent, so while she can't look like a man, she can, for example, change her apparent ethnicity.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Metamorphmagi like Nymphadora Tonks and her son Teddy Lupin have the ability to alter their appearance at will, but must presumably retain a human shape. This is in contrast to Animagi, who can perform Animorphism into one specific animal.
    • There is also Polyjuice Potion, which can turn you into a specific person for an hour, after you add a bit of said person into it (like a hair or nail, for example) It messes up if you add a non-human component, even if that person is a Half-Human Hybrid.
  • I've Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level has many characters who use magic to assume human forms for convenience or disguise, including dragons, leviathans, humanoid demons, and intelligent slimes. For some reason, they manifest as young girls, despite being centuries or millennia old.
  • This is Tessa Gray's unique power in The Infernal Devices. Her whole schtick is that she can change her appearance into any humanoid, dead or alive, as long as she has touched an object that belonged to them. She's turned into both males and females.
  • In Max Fraj's Labyrinths of Echo most sufficiently powerful mages can alter their appearance. There are also some mages proficient in changing the appearance of others. Their field of work is best compared with cosmetic surgeons, therefore the LSIF (the settings police for magic-involving cases) keeps tabs on them. The most notable user of this magic is Sir Kofa Yokh, the LSIF's Master Listener. While an elder gentleman in his default appearance, Kofa Yokh will easily assume any shape at will to do his work - going unnoticed all around Echo and gathering all relevant information or altering the appearances of his fellow Secret Investigators when needed.
  • In Seraphina, dragons can only transform into their own human form, called a saarantras (saarantrai for plural, saar for short).
  • Star Wars Legends: As a Shi'ido, Borborygmus Gog of Galaxy of Fear should be able to transform into any creature he wants to, but in the series he stays almost exclusively to humanoid forms while the protagonists are watching. Partly this is because he uses his power to infiltrate, but even cornered, he prefers tools like blasters and Tykebombs. Pretty much the only exception is just before and during his Shapeshifter Swan Song, and he keeps flickering back into his default form during that.
  • The Cosmere:
    • The Returned in Warbreaker have this power. Most modern Returned don't know they have it, and so simply take on whatever build and appearance society thinks of as the ideal. The Royal House of Idris, who are descended from a Returned, can alter the color and length of their hair at will (including facial hair for male Royals).
    • The Kandra in Mistborn can shift between different human forms, allowing them to act as master spies. In their natural state they are just blob-like masses of amorphous muscles, with limited ability to act and move without a solid framework to build off of - usually in the form of bones or sculpted stone or crystal. Once they have a framework to build off, the kandra can then alter their external appearance to match whatever texture and color they desire. Aside from bones, they also need hair or fur, since they cannot produce these on their own. As a side effect of their amorphous nature, kandra are practically immune to most bladed and piecing weaponry, and blunt weapons only work if they can break the bones underneath.
    • In The Stormlight Archive, both Radiant Lightweavers and the Fused known as the Masked Ones are able to alter their outward physical appearance. While Lightweavers don't actually alter their bodies, instead focusing on using Stormlight to make illusions, the Masked Ones are much more thorough with their transformations, to the point that their normally-orange blood will instead bleed red.
  • Johannes Cabal: Zarenyia the devil can "fold" her normal spider-centaur body into an ordinary (albeit Hot as Hell) human disguise. She's not a fan of the relative lack of legs.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The First Evil in Buffy the Vampire Slayer can only transform into real dead (or ex-dead or undead) people. You do see occasional glimpses of a demonic face that presumably represents its "true form", however.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Faceless Ones", the aliens are "chameleons" — faceless aliens who can transform into duplicates of specific humans through technology.
    • Time Lord regeneration could be considered a limited variant of this, only accessible after sustaining serious injury under normal circumstances, and always resulting in a humanoid form (Romana trying out several different bodies in "Destiny of the Daleks", and various remarks by the Doctor prior to regenerating that imply alternative options if it goes wrong, notwithstanding).
    • Saibra, the "face" of the Doctor's Caper Crew in "Time Heist", is a mutant who can copy people's appearance by touching them. Her reason for joining the team is to get a suppressant that will let her touch people without copying them.
  • In From the Cold: Anya can only turn into other people using her morphing ability, from what's seen (but this extends to ones with much larger bodies though).
  • Sauron in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power prefers to take humanoid forms like humans and Elves. The watery reflection shows that his real (or preferred anyway) physical form is that of a Black Knight.
  • Merlin (2008) has the titular character develop the ability to do this, primarily into an elderly version of himself who goes by 'Dragoon the Great'. Since this disguise means that he can both use his magical abilities openly and air his true thoughts about various things and people (which he tends to do at the top of his voice), hilarity tends to ensue. He also once turned into an old woman.
  • Victoria in No Ordinary Family had the ability to shapeshift into anyone else, even including their personality and superpowers. After she was killed, Stephanie was able to exploit this by temporarily impersonating her.
  • The Outsider has El Cuco (the titular Outsider), a humanoid monster who can shapeshift into a human being down to the DNA.
  • In True Blood, shapeshifters gain the ability to do this after killing at least one of their parents, even if it was an accident or not their fault (like during childbirth). But it takes a serious toll on their bodies, and if they do it just a few times they'll most likely die.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): The episode "The Four of Us Are Dying" features a con man with the ability to shapeshift into anyone he chooses. His downfall comes when he appears as a crazy old man's son. The guy really doesn't like his son.
  • The X-Files:
    • In "Gender Bender", the villain shapeshifts from male to female and back, though s/he only seems to have a single appearance for each gender.
    • In "Small Potatoes", Eddie Van Blundht has an extra layer of muscle that he can control to perfectly impersonate other humans. Moreover, although the episode doesn't specifically mention the limitation, we only see him in the forms of other male humans.
    • The Alien Bounty Hunter can assume the appearance of any human he has met, e.g., Fox Mulder's.

  • "Seen and Not Seen", a song from Talking Heads' Remain in Light is about a man who believes that he and others can gradually change their faces through force of will. He's worried, though, that he might have chosen features that don't suit him.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Changeling race in the Eberron setting has this as its signature power, being able to take on the appearance (and only the appearance, not the other innate powers of) other humanoids. They can also change sex (or mix sexes, or become asexual) at will.
    • By extension, the Doppelgänger race (which the Changelings are descended from) has this same power too. Of course, by the way D&D defines "humanoid", in some editions they could also become creatures such as harpies.
    • The alter self spell lets you transform into another creature of your type. Since most spellcasters are humanoids, this means humans, elves, dwarves, etc. (Although a dragon casting alter self could only turn into a different dragon.) The humanoid shape invocation for Dragonfire Adepts lets them transform into any (non-templated) humanoid shape (it's not quite as powerful as alter self for humanoid adepts — it misses out on a few bonuses the new form might have — but on the other hand it lasts for much longer than a standard alter self spell).
    • Some creatures like Succubi and Night Hags have the innate ability to assume human or demihuman forms at will, the better to corrupt people into doing evil.
  • Games Workshop games:
    • In Warhammer 40,000, the Callidus Temple of the Officio Assassinorum are experts in the use of the aptly named drug polymorphine. This rare substance allows a trained operative to change their appearance into that of another person so that they can disguise themselves, and occasionally to Kill and Replace their targets. With the addition of special surgical implants that react with the polymorphine, the Callidus Assassin is even able to masquerade as aliens or mutants.
    • The Kairic Acolytes of the Arcanite Cults from Warhammer: Age of Sigmar possess some limited form of shapeshifting ability, being able to change their form and features so that they can appear as anyone from an emaciated scholar to a wealthy merchant. The Acolytes use this ability to disguise their true allegiances and enact their master’s plans in secrecy.

    Video Games 
  • Team Fortress 2: The Spy impersonate members of the opposing team (and his own team) in order to infiltrate their base.
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link: Some Aches can transform into seemingly regular humans to spy for Ganon's forces.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • False Face from Batman Beyond had the ability to change his facial features and hair to impersonate others, but was never shown to even appear as another gender or body type.
  • A villain from Kim Possible named Camille Leon can shapeshift into people after an experimental cosmetic surgery; however, she always retains the same basic body shape.
  • Zee from The Zeta Project is a humanoid android who can disguise himself with holograms. He has been known to appear as a (humanoid) statue and a broken version of his robot form, otherwise it's strictly people.
  • Another False Face, from She-Ra: Princess of Power could assume the features of any person whose face he'd felt with his hands. Given the prevalence of shapeshifters amongst the Horde, it was presumably the Master of Disguise attribute that allowed him to stand out amongst his fellows for missions.
  • Replace "human" with "cybertronian", and this is the power of Makeshift from Transformers: Prime who could take as his alt-mode the robot modes of any of his fellows he could scan. Given its implied he can switch to other bots' looks simply by re-scanning, it's not hard to see why the writers felt his debut episode should also be his finale.

Alternative Title(s): Humanshifter


Mr. 2 Bon Clay

Bon Clay shows off the powers of his devil fruit.

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