Follow TV Tropes



Go To

"Did you expect me to dodge? How quaint."
Olka, mistmeadow witch, Magic: The Gathering flavor text for Turn to Mist

Cousin to invisibility, intangibility refers to a state where a (usually visible) entity cannot interact physically with other matter. Everything just phases through the affected object.

Those questions you have about how this could possibly work? Don't ask them.

A truly intangible person would not be able to stay put on the Earth's surface when the planet's own gravity should be constantly drawing him towards the core. How he or she can generate enough friction and mass to remain on the Earth and move around, let alone grip things if the writer is feeling charitable, is also likely to be ignored (occasionally these problems are avoided by also giving the character the ability to fly). Again, don't ask why.

Asphyxiation is generally not an issue, potential breathing problems due to air passing through lungs are typically ignored outright. If they're stuck in an intangible state for a while, starvation from being unable to pick up food or digest anything usually isn't brought up either. Also, don't expect anyone to know that they shouldn't be able to see anything while intangible, since light would pass straight through their retinas, leaving them unable to create a visual image. You can forget hearing too, air passing though you means nothing registers on the parts of the inner ear that detect sound waves. Also, let's ignore the fact that rendering a part of your body intangible would have the same effect as cutting it off.

Run those same reasons in reverse, and it becomes clear that a truly intangible person would be incredibly boring as he could neither interact with the world nor even be detected by it. Fortunately, these pesky real life physics rules tend to be ignored in-story thanks to Rule of Cool or Hand Waved as some kind of Your Mind Makes It Real effect.

Although intangible characters will pass right through walls, chairs, tables and such, they'll rarely have any problem properly interacting with floors, stairs or any other structures people are meant to walk upon. They may even be able to ride in or on vehicles, with the odds of success rapidly increasing with size. Anything big enough to walk around inside is quite likely, a ship or spaceship is more or less guaranteed.

Note that once we've seen someone walk through the character to establish the parameters of their intangibility, people will go out of their way not to walk through them too often as to keep the need for expensive special effects to a minimum. It's usually Hand Waved as being an intensely creepy experience to see a living person's insides up close.

For a mentor, intangibility is an opportunity. Being a Spirit Advisor or Virtual Ghost lets them accompany the hero into dangerous places without ever being at personal risk.

The ability to render oneself intangible at will occasionally turns up as a superpower. Sometimes the power can work selectively on the user's body (allowing him to voluntarily interact with objects while intangible) or extend further from the user's body (allowing him to make other objects and people intangible) Heroes use this ability to save their teammates from danger. Anti-heroes and villains use it to put their hands through people's chests and squeeze their hearts. It is frequently a given that while no one else can touch them, two characters separately rendered intangible by the same process will have no problem interacting with each other.

May be Defied with Touch the Intangible. A sub-trope is Tragic Intangibility, where this ability is used to say something about how lonely or miserable a character is. See also Projected Man, Astral Projection and Super Smoke.


    open/close all folders 

  • In this Pepsi commercial, two nerds make themselves intangible and get into all sorts of hijinks. At the very end, they realise they can't even pick up their can of Pepsi anymore.
  • A builder renovating a haunted house sees a ghost and flees into another room. The ghost tries to follow through the wall only to knock itself unconscious, because the builder used the advertised repellant coating paint.

  • BoBoiBoy: The Season 3 finale reveals this to be another ability of Fang's, whose glasses can activate a mask that enables its wearer to phase through solid material, such as BoBoiBoy Quake's golems and earth attacks.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Perrier La Mer of Amuri in Star Ocean has this power (called Infiltration in the show) but cannot fully control it, so she's always passing through other people and solid objects. Her parents took advantage of this by making her the victim of dangerous stage performances like knife-throwing acts and passing giant buzz-saws through her body. None of it caused any physical harm, but she was still deeply traumatized.
  • Call of the Night:
    • Nazuna first demonstrates the ability to phase through solid matter by casually walking through a wall while Yamori is blocking the door. Eventually, it is established that all vampires can do this.
    • Carelessly phasing through matter can, however, result in severed body parts.
    • Susuki later demonstrates that you can actually touch an intangible vampire by becoming intangible yourself. She compares this phenomenon to magnetism: two vampires in similar phasing states will repel each other, while those in different states will harmlessly phase through (as a bonus, if both vampires become intangible, they can still phase through solid matter even if they can't phase through each other). Susuki is also clever enough to weaponize this ability by letting someone physically attack her while she's intangible, allowing her enemy's body to phase through her own, before becoming tangible again and leaving them one limb short while Susuki only gets a hole in her body (which she can easily heal by drinking a few drops of blood).
  • Chainsaw Man has the Shark Fiend Beam, the Anthropomorphic Personification of man's fear of sharks who has the ability to "swim" through solid surfaces.
  • Shichino in Charlotte has this ability, although it tires him out easily.
  • The Izoku from Children Who Chase Lost Voices can phase in and out of matter at will.
  • Choujin Sensen: Kaminashi Akira uses this power to escape from his death penalty in Tokyo's prison.
  • Invoked briefly at the end of episode 4 of Cowboy Bebop ("Gateway Shuffle"). A hyperspace tunnel closes on some terrorists planning to unleash The Plague. A bunch of plague missiles appear out of the closed gate and Faye screams, but the missiles pass through her. Jet patiently explains, "Matter that gets enclosed in hyperspace can be viewed normally by the naked eye. But of course, it can never interact with the matter on this plane of reality."
  • Intangibility is the main ability of Noah clan member Tyki Mikk from D.Gray-Man. He uses it to pull your organs out.
  • Shinigami in Death Note cannot be touched or even affected by regular humans, though a Shinigami on Earth can temporarily become solid to manipulate objects, such as Ryuk with his apples.
  • In Dragon Ball Super, when Hit returns to kill Goku, he reveals a technique that makes physical attacks pass right through him like a ghost. Vados reveals that what Hit is really doing is using the "time" he's "skipped" with his Time Skip technique to create a Pocket Dimension, which partially phases him out of local time-space. The downside is that he's limited in his attacking options while doing this and he can't keep it up forever. Once Goku figures out that Hit is "not there", he's able to break down the pocket universe and attack Hit anyway.
  • Evil Weapon Anubis from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders is an Egyptian sword who's blade can pass through objects to cut an object behind it, as demonstrated soon after its first appearance, when it slices a cow and a man behind it, but only cuts the man.
    • The Pillar Men from part 2.
  • Kurau from Kurau Phantom Memory has this power as well - it's one of her more rarely used powers, as it tends to get her noticed more than superhuman strength or even flight.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords (2004): Shadow Link allows attacks to go straight through him without taking damage. The four Links only beat him when they use their newly acquired Sword Beam on him.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, Sein has this ability, allowing her to swim through inorganic material as though they were water.
  • Mazinger Z: Mykene War Beast Dante, which appeared in the "Mazinger-Z vs Great General of Darkness" movie, had that ability. When Kouji fought it, Mazinger's weapons went through its body harmlessly.
  • My Hero Academia features Mirio Togata, a hero with the name of "Lemillion" who has the Permeability Quirk that more or less addresses all the Fridge Logic brought up in this page's entry. Whenever he activates his ability, he becomes unable to see, hear, or breathe, being able to only sense his fall to the Earth's core (because he somehow keeps his mass). The only reasons this power is not considered outright Blessed with Suck is because a) he can turn individual body parts intangible instead of just his entire body and b) he has a specific Required Secondary Power that causes him to instantly eject back up to the surface when he deactivates his intangibility while phasing through a large mass of something (thus averting Tele-Frag). Through serious training with Sir Nighteye, he has managed to manipulate this ejection mechanism to be able to essentially move around as if he were teleporting, making his fighting style reminiscent of reverse whack-a-mole. The only sketchy part is that he's still visible while using his ability (which shouldn't be possible since the aforementioned lack of sight comes from light going through him), although it's unknown if that's purely an artistic choice from the author's part. Oh, and there's one more minor (though appreciated by the readers, some especially so) drawback to these powers — with the exception of his supersuit which was specifically made not to, his clothes can't phase with him. In combat, he can manipulate parts of his body to bypass any attempts at blocking his punches such as through a shield or arm block and hitting the target behind it, which works to avert Shoot the Hostage situations where he kicks toward said hostage and phases his leg through them, and then resolidifies it to knock the hostage holder down. The villain Overhaul exploits this however by having a subordinate shoot a Quirk-destroying bullet at Eri, a young girl, forcing Mirio to jump in the way and remain solid to Take The Bullet for her, thus ends up losing his powerful Quirk for good...Or so we thought.
  • In Naruto Tobi is able to become intangible by using the same space/time manipulation he uses to teleport. The primary weaknesses are that he cannot attack while intangible, he cannot be intangible while teleporting himself or others (and the more he tries to teleport the longer it takes), and he can only stay intangible for five minutes in a row. He found a novel way to get over the first one: by attaching a chain to arm manacles, he runs toward people, phases through them when his body would touch them, and then turns solid again just in time for the chain to hit the target.
    • His ability is eventually explained: he instinctively teleports the portion of his body that would be hit by an attack into an alternate dimension to keep it safe. Kakashi and Naruto exploit this by attacking him in both dimensions at the same time.
  • Some users with Logia Devil Fruits in One Piece can do this by transforming into their particular power's element (Ace, God Enel, Admiral Kizaru), becoming immune to most forms of conventional attacks. They're not technically intangible per se, their bodies just take on the properties of their element, which can give off the illusion of being intangible (you can't really punch fire or light). The only way around this is to attack them with an element-specific weakness, or be able to use a form of Haki known as the "Color of Armament", which allows its user to bypass Devil Fruit-based defenses and forcibly interact with the Logia user's body as if it were normal.
    • This is also a part of Perona's Devil Fruit power. The Hollow-Hollow Fruit makes Perona a "Ghost Woman", allowing her to generate and control ghosts that drain positive emotions from people. She can perform Astral Projection, leaving her physical body behind while enabling her own spirit to move freely. She can't make herself tangible without returning to her body, so while she scares Usopp with the threat of 'heart squeezing' mentioned elsewhere on this page, she can't actually do it (her negative hollows also don't work on him because he's already a pessimist).
    • Charlotte Katakuri looks like he has this similar to a Logia, to the point not even Luffy throwing a bunch of Armament Haki-enhanced strikes at all managed to hurt him, but it's subverted. His Devil Fruit isn't a Logia but a special Paramecia that let him generate and turn his body into mochi to manipulate at will. This manipulation combined with his Observation Haki giving him Combat Clairvoyance allows him to shape his body around strikes and prevent them from hitting him at all.
  • Nancy Makuhari and her son Junior from Read or Die have this ability. It's explicitly stated that they can't breathe while phasing.
  • In The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, the titular princess becomes intangible when the Emperor gets a little too close.
  • Ryoko of Tenchi Muyo! has been shown to walk through barriers and walls unless they are specifically shielded to prevent her from doing this.
    • Sasami even comments on this at one point in an episode with a little ghost girl, who asks if her phasing-through things disturbs Sasami at all.
  • In Tokyo ESP the protagonist, Rinka, gains this power after a freak incursion with a flying penguin and glowing, flying fish. Notably, there are some aspects to this power (which is given the name 'Physical Permeation') that allows it to work within the bonds of reality. First of all, while Rinka can use this power consciously, more often than not it's more of a defense mechanism that springs up to make bullets and swords useless against her. It also only allows her to phase through non-living organisms (with the exception of tiny creatures like spiders and ants) but can spread to whatever she's wearing so her clothing won't fall off her, though the first time she uses this ability leaves her in just her underwear. More to the point, the reason she doesn't fall down into the core of the earth is because, just as her body unconsciously uses Physical Permeation to prevent bullets from harming her, it also prevents Rinka from unconsciously falling through the floor (the first time she used her power, falling through the floor was a freak accident because she didn't know what she was doing.) and when she does use the power to phase through the ground, she can always catch herself because she's able to unphase parts of her body to act as 'hooks.' She notably used this to escape a chokehold Nadja had her in on an elevator by phasing through the floor while using her foot as an anchor to stay 'in' the elevator, and to keep a hold of Minami after the later tried teleporting away from her by using her hand as a hook to keep her on a rooftop.
  • In Ushio and Tora, a side effect of Tora becoming Invisible to Normals (except other monsters, spiritually-aware people and sometimes children) is his ability to phase through solid matter to move around, though he's limited to natural elements such as wood, earth, rock and paper, while materials such as metal, concrete, plastic or glass will keep him from phasing, unless he really, really concentrates (like during the flight to Hokkaido where he phases through the roof of a plane). Otherwise, he can ditch stealth and smash a way in through brute force. Later, the Youkai Shumuna is made of corrosive fog and thus cannot be harmed by physical means, only kept at bay with fire.

    Comic Books 
  • The villain Hood, from Amazing Man Comics, has the powers of intangibility and teleportation. The Amazing Man himself could become intangible when he turned into the Green Mist.
  • Colonel Weird from Black Hammer can float through solid objects like a ghost, thanks to his connection to the Para-Zone.
  • Sergeant Spook, from Blue Bolt, has this power as well as invisibility.
  • Talia and other ghosts Brody's Ghost, aside from demighosts, are intangible and can only interact with the physical world in limited ways. We learn that the people ghosts possess also turn intangible, albeit a possessed human is as useful as a rag doll and it's only good for transporting someone somewhere else fast.
  • The DCU:
    • Negative Man from Doom Patrol can leave his body as an energy-form that can control its tangibility.
    • The Flash can do this for about a few seconds, by "rapidly vibrating his molecules". When Wally West initially took on the identity, he was considerably depowered compared to Barry, including being unable to do this. After coming into his own, he developed the ability, but it turns out he leaves Speed Force behind; things he vibrates through will explode shortly afterwards.
    • Hero Hotline features Fred, the invisible, intangible man — the problem being that he can't interact with his surroundings at all. It's speculated that Fred isn't real and is just a ploy by super-ventriloquist Voice-Over to pick up two paychecks, but V/O talks to Fred when nobody else is around, so maybe not.
    • Johnny Sorrow, usually a Justice Society of America villain, is intangible as long as he is wearing his golden mask. When it is removed, he becomes tangible... but his face kills anyone who sees it. He can take it off himself even though he's intangible.
    • All natives of the planet Bgztl have voluntary intangibility powers. This is the home planet of Phantom Girl from Legion of Super-Heroes. In the Threeboot version, it's explained as Bgztl being a planet in another dimension which exists in the same space as Earth and her shifting her mass between our dimension and that one as a unique power. She's visible in both worlds (which gets awkward in the one she's not paying attention to) and is solid and can sense in only one at a time. This solves the floor problem (and causes a new one when someone has to go to the core of a planet) when you realize that she can't avoid the planet by shifting to a dimension with an identical planet in the same place.
    • Martian Manhunter has this power, also having flight powers so that he doesn't have to worry about falling through the floor.
    • This is one of the powers of The Spectre. In War World, Superman tries to punch him and his fist goes right through the Spectre.
    • Supergirl:
      • In The Supergirl-Batgirl Plot, Supergirl is flying over the countryside when she runs into a mysterious, spectral giant hand. When Kara charges at the mysterious thing menacing her, she flies through it.
      • In Supergirl (1982), Kara faces down a mutant super-villain who has multiple powers, included the ability to become intangible.
      • In Bizarrogirl, Kara reveals that the Flash taught her how to vibrate at Super-Speed to slip her molecules between those of solid objects in order to deal with enemies that try to freeze her by coating her in ice. Kara uses his lessons to escape when Bizarrogirl tries to encase her in stone. However, it's a last resort because she is usually not fast enough.
        The Flash: Mr. Freeze, Captain Cold, Minister Blizzard — all of them will try to freeze you dead in your tracks, coat you in ice. You gotta know how to counter. If you vibrate at superspeed, your molecules will be able to slip between the molecules of whatever's freezing you.
    • Superman:
      • In Who Took the Super out of Superman?, Xviar uses an alien device to phase through the wall connecting his apartment with Clark Kent's while the owner is away.
      • In Krypton No More, Protector can change the molecular density of his body to turn himself intangible.
        Protector: Not so long as I can change the molecular density of my body, Superman! Now you can't touch me... or harm me... But I can harm you!
      • In The Great Phantom Peril, the cover of Action Comics #471 shows Superman's fist going through Faora's spectral form.
      • New 52 introduces a new Superman villain named Anguish, a woman with this power. Anguish explains that her power comes from altering her body's density, meaning she can also increase it to the point that she's strong and fast enough to kick Superman around. She complains that her power activates automatically, which is useful against sneak-attacks, but not so great when she actually wants someone to touch her. Superman only manages to hit her once, by breaking the ground that she's standing on. In the end, Superman resorts to fixing and returning her beloved mother's locket, at which point she leaves.
  • Dungeon: The Early Years: Stapanelle is an herb that temporarily allows intangibility while being smoked.
  • Sublime of DV8 has control over her density — she can walk through walls or be tougher than diamonds. She mostly goes for the latter choice, being a very talented and skilled hand-to-hand fighter and all.
  • In Ghost (Dark Horse Comics), the title character can make herself intangible (and fly, thus avoiding the floor problem). She has a particularly nasty attack where she would reach into an opponent's chest while intangible, grab his heart, and then become corporeal again. (Why her hand isn't hurt in the process is not explained.)
  • This is one of the main powers of the Dark Judges in Judge Dredd. Because they're ghosts occupying dead bodies, they can "phase" parts of their bodies to reach through ordinary matter. Judge Death is introduced when he shoves his claw into a criminal's chest in order to squeeze his heart until he dies.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • The Avengers: The Vision can shift his molecular density from intangible to denser-than-diamond. He makes frequent use of this power to reach into other beings and dodge attacks.
    • Daredevil: The villain villain Death-Stalker is trapped in a dimension partially connected to Earth's dimension, and while naturally invisible and immaterial, can become visible and intangible, invisible and tangible, or visible and tangible for a few hours at a time. He also wears gloves that use microwaves to give him a "death grip". He dies when he shifts to full tangibility to grasp Daredevil with the gloves while halfway through a tombstone; the trauma and shock kills him instantly.
    • Doctor Strange can split into an 'ectoplasmic' self and his physical body. The former is intangible, and even could go right through the core of the planet Earth as a shortcut around the surface.
    • Fantastic Four: The Red Ghost has this ability. Like Shadowcat, he can float to avoid the falling through the floor problem. While he is intangible, he doesn't have to eat or breathe for a very long time. He can make parts of his body be intangible, so he can carry objects while staying relatively safe.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy: The minor villain Brahl can turn intangible at will to keep from being hurt. Subverted when he's decked anyway by a hero who's also intangible.
    • Iron Man: The Ghost is an industrial terrorist who uses his own technology to become intangible, invisible, and fly at will. In one issue, he tricks Spymaster into accepting one of his intangibility devices, only to take it from him halfway through a wall, killing Spymaster instantly.
    • The Silver Surfer can do this due to his manipulation of molecules but doesn't do it often. His movie counterpart does this quite a bit, particularly in his introductory scene, in which he phases through buildings, cars, the Human Torch, and even his own board.
    • Thunderbolts: Moonstone can turn intangible. She has outright flight to deal with the falling-through-the-ground aspect. She doesn't use it much, already being an energy-blasting Flying Brick — in fact, she deliberately never uses it while masquerading as the heroic Meteorite, on the grounds that it's too distinctive a clue to her real identity.
    • X-Men:
      • This is Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat's mutant ability. Her ability to not fall through the floor, while not explained well, has nothing to do with the actual, physical floor (which she can pass through if she chooses) and, as such, can be used without a floor. She often walks on air by visualizing an invisible staircase. Later works have treated it as slow flight. This tends not to show up in adaptations. In Astonishing X-Men, Cassandra Nova Mind Rapes Kitty and causes her to phase deep into the Earth — another issue has Kitty accidentally lose control enough to phase through the floor when she and Peter Rasputin first do the deed, in an amusing display of Power Perversion Potential.
      • The villain Shinobi Shaw has the same power. Being a villain, he uses the 'heart squeezing' as his trademark killing move. He also openly admits it can be used for peeping on girls (not that he needs it with his cash).
  • The Duke of Darkness, from Triple Threat Comics, uses this power to battle villains such as Mr. Slumber.
  • Watchmen has Dr. Manhattan, a being who can control his own molecules as well as those around him. He typically phases through walls without bothering to open doors.
  • Wham Comics: Blue Fire can become intangible and is covered in blue flames. It was explained that his intangibility was related to force he or another used, the gentler he touched something it could be solid, but a punch would pass through.
  • Xs Omnibus: The villain Manton, AKA Neutrino, has the ability to phase through any state of matter with no ill effects as long as the object he travels through does not have intelligence, such as a wall, a tree, or an ant.

    Fan Works 
  • A Force of Four: Mars is able to make himself intangible. He uses this power to prevent Power Girl from punching him.
  • ''All The Other Ghosts has main character Kurt (aka the Ghost) who has this power along with invisibility. He can control his intangibility, so that he is simultaneously intangible to one object while being tangible to another, as well as control his tangibility level without becoming completely solid, which is a solution to a lot of the logistical problems. In fact, when a random girl spontaneously gets his powers temporarily, she has no control over them and immediately begins sinking into the floor, forcing The Ghost to use his powers to fish her out of it. He can also make someone else intangible while touching them, something he uses often when handcuffing criminals and putting their handcuffs into the wall so they can't escape. He can also jump out of helicopters, fall right through the ground, use the ground to slow down, and then climb his way out of the cement. Really, he makes good use of his skill. And when he uses his intangibility and his invisibility at the same time? Creepy as hell. His name suits it.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In Whip And Wing, a supporting character, a unicorn named Silver Trowel, has an enchanted necklace that allows the wearer to pass through walls and avoid injury. It helps save himself and Indiana Jones from a few tight spots. Much more problematic when Trowel pulls a Face–Heel Turn, and Indiana can't catch him. Indy finally kills him by grabbing the necklace, pushing Trowel into a wall, and removing it. This forces Trowel to materialize with his upper body inside the stone, and he suffocates to death.
    • Brother Against Sister: Now-teenage Pumpkin Cake can cast intangibility spells, as she did in "Baby Cakes". She mostly uses it for shielding against attacks, or when she and Pound Cake want to get into restricted areas. Later, she finds more uses for the spell, including as a weapon and even a painkiller on one occasion.
    • Quizzical: Sweetie Belle's "I Want To Walk Through This Wall" spell makes patches of walls intangible, and if something is inside the intangible portion when the spell is ended it's cut, as when Bon Bon loses the tip of her tail.
    • In Manehattan's Lone Guardian, Gray Ghost is able to phase parts of her body through solid objects. During her duel with Leviathan, she utilizes this ability to disable her ice generators.
  • In Wonderful (Mazinja), this is one of the powers of Shadow Stalker, as in canon. In addition, Taylor can use her power to turn everyone wearing her special Masks intangible.
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Santa Claus simply walks through the wall to enter the Midoriya apartment, which lacks a chimney.
  • A Man of Iron: During the last third of the second book, Arya Stark ends up becoming the story's version of Kitty Pryde. She's very excited about it, though less thrilled with the fact that her lack of experience means that her first use of the ability leave her totally naked. An amused Mystique suggests that she learn to control that particular aspect of her powers first.
  • The Palaververse: Daring's attacks pass right through Cervile due to him being Made of Magic that doesn't need a solid state to conduct his mind, being labelled as a "ghost-spectre" thing.

    Film — Animated 
  • In The Incredibles, this is one of Jack-Jack's many superpowers, first seen in the Pixar Short Jack-Jack Attack.
  • Ride Your Wave: This is one of Minato's properties as a ghost who possesses water. He can move things around using the water he controls, but hands and objects just phase through his actual "body".

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp features a gender-flipped version of Iron Man villain The Ghost. This version of the character has native powers after a Freak Lab Accident with Quantum technology, and her supersuit merely helps her control her Power Incontinence and eases the constant pain. Like her comic counterpart, she can become temporarily invulnerable.
  • Avengers: Infinity War: Inverted. During the battle in Wakanda, Thanos uses the space stone to turn the Hulkbuster intangible just before the latter attacks the former. Suddenly no longer able to hit Thanos, the Hulkbuster goes flying through him and ends up embedded in a rock wall.
  • Big Trouble in Little China. While in his ghost form, David Lo Pan can pass through walls and other solid objects. He can selectively interact with solid objects when he needs to, such as when he holds the Needle of Love and Miao Yin during the wedding ceremony.
  • Candyman: The Candyman can phase through walls as a ghost.
  • The monster in Four D Man was a scientist who acquired the ability to become intangible at will. Using this power consumed his life force at an accelerated rate and he had to replenish it by phasing through other living human beings.
  • Ghost (1990) goes out of its way to show how much effort it takes newly dead Patrick Swayze to move a penny, but he never has the floor problem, nor does he have a problem riding in elevators.
  • Ghostbusters (1984): Slimer does this to a point. Food he can chew, but the bottle of wine pours right through him.
  • Ghost Dad has Bill as a ghost who can only interact with the real world if he "concentrates". This results in a scene where his concentration lasts enough for him to pour himself a drink, but when he tries drinking it it goes right though.
  • In Labyrinth, Jareth phases through Sarah during "Within You".
  • The Matrix Reloaded: The Twins can turn this on and off at will, and use it selectively in fights to dodge attacks. It has the added bonus of healing wounds — several gunshots to the arm can be undone simply by turning intangible and then reverting. Morpheus blowing up their car with them inside it had more of an effect, although whether they survived is left ambiguous.
  • X-Men Film Series: Kitty Pryde's mutation allows her to do this.
  • Zack Snyder's Justice League: Once completed by Steppenwolf, the Unity of the Mother Boxes detonates, and the blast is powerful enough to disintegrate everything in its path, even a half-goddess and a Kryptonian. Only The Flash escapes death by it thanks to making himself intangible at the right moment, which allows him to undo it all by running at the speed of light.

  • In Alterien, Oberon discovers he can phase through matter by touching it. Alteriens do not become intangible. They vibrate the molecules of whatever object they come in physical contact with. In the case of a wall, the wall's molecules would vibrate to the point of becoming intangible. The effect is temporary, ending as soon as they pass through. This ability does not work on iron.
  • Astral Dawn: All spirits and the Aash Ra can naturally move through 3-dimensional matter. They can remain geosynchronous with a planet while in an intagible state. This is possible through their higher dimensional states, which are not subject to 3-dimensional physics. For them, walking through walls, other objects and people is as simple as a 3D person or animal walking over a 2-dimensional surface.
  • Shaman of the Undead: Ghosts are intangible and can levitate, although "moving Earth" problem is not mentioned. Biter is also intangible when he's personifying Ida's dreams.
  • Night Watch (Series): Descending through enough layers of Twilight will turn an Other intangible. The "falling through the floor" problem, however, is not ignored at all — in fact, the very trick is used to climb a tower through the floors in the third book.
  • Wild Cards:
    • Modular Man turns intangible by shifting his mass partly out of this dimension. He also defies gravity by the same method. Both powers are lost when his inventor turns Joker and Mod Man can no longer be repaired.
    • The Astronomer has this as one of his powers. It backfires when he tries to use another one of his powers, a mental shield, to protect from another character's literal Death Glare... and since he can only use one power at a time, and was halfway through a wall...
    • Wraith is another character with intangibility who decides to make a living as a Classy Cat-Burglar. However, as she's got maybe a ten pound limit to objects she can carry while phased, she performs her heists in a mask and bikini and focuses on paper goods (such as high-currency bills, bonds, etc.).
    • Mackie Messer, aka "Mack the Knife," could vibrate himself at such frequencies as to walk through walls. He didn't seem to have problems with floors.
  • Storm Thief: There are creatures called revenants, that are totally intangible, and if they touch you you die. They are also invisible, and there are basically only three ways to kill them. The first is to use a specialized weapon called an Aether Cannon, the second is to have a unique golem touch them, and absorb them into himself, and the third involves total destruction of the Chaos Engine, an ancient artifact, and a massive one at that that is next to impossible to destroy.
  • Ravenloft: This condition is inflicted on an unwitting thief by a cursed amulet in a short story from Tales of Ravenloft. Floors aren't a problem, but eventually the poor guy becomes so intangible that he completely fades out of the world.
  • In The Skinjacker Trilogy by Neal Shusterman, the Afterlights (ghosts) are like this. They can only stand on ground that has "moved on". The requirement to move on is being loved and cherished by many people. If they stand on 'living' ground too long, they will sink into the center of the earth.
  • There's a German SF short story out there in which a scientist invents a machine that can turn people intangible for a time and gets blackmailed by a thief who wants to help himself to that power. The thief hasn't thought things through, though, and so when the scientist does grant his wish, he promptly falls through the ground (and presumably his death once the effect wears off again), a fate the scientist only averted during an earlier self-test by keeping his own feet unchanged and solid. In the end he decides that his device is actually rather useless, save possibly as a novel method of execution.
  • In Leven Thumps, this is one of the twelve gifts you can receive when you arrive in Foo.
  • Discworld
    • Death is more than capable of walking through walls. Rather than becoming intangible, he's simply so real that the rest of the universe may as well be made of cobwebs.. His granddaughter Susan can do this as well, describing it as walking in the moments when the obstacles don't exist; since Death (and her) are eternal, they're timeless in such a way that the obstacles in the way are so transient they might as well not exist. This ability is lost when Time Stands Still, as happens in Thief of Time. She doesn't like using it, since she wants to have a normal existence, but it's rather useful, and off putting when she can't use it.
    • Ghosts are generally intangible. Or almost so. The mechanics of this are discussed in Wyrd Sisters, where the ghost of the old king observes that of course you have to be able to touch yourself or you'd fall apart, and is able to exert physical force on things with practice and great effort. You can tell that a gag in the Animated Adaptation is a later addition because it features a headless ghost's head being accidentally carried away from its body on a tray, and that just makes no sense after what's been said in the book.
  • The Grimnoir Chronicles': In Hard Magic'', Fades are Magicals with the power of intangibility.
  • In Marcel Aymé's story Le Passe-Muraille, the dutiful office worker Dutilleul finds himself able to walk through walls. He promptly visits a doctor, who recognizes this as a known condition and prescribes him exercise and some medicine. Dutilleul neglects to take the doctor's advice, and eventually uses his ability to drive a hated manager insane, become a master thief, and sleep with a beautiful married woman. It doesn't end well for him, though: one morning he accidentally takes the medicine, and his ability vanishes while he's passing through a thick wall. He ends up trapped inside, somehow alive and conscious, forever.
  • The Saga of the Noble Dead has the undead wraith Sau'ilahk. He is a powerful sorcerer and can turn solid for brief periods to move physical objects, but is most dangerous in his intangible state: any living thing that passes through him is rapidly drained of life.
  • Pathfinder (2010): One character can do this. Although it's not really phasing, it is actually a limited form of Time Travel. The character continuously jumps forward in time by seconds/microseconds. And it is painful, and potentially even deadly to actually phase through people/objects.
  • In "What Doctor Gottlieb Saw" by Ian Tregillis a Stupid Jetpack Hitler experiment gone wrong causes the subject to fall into the centre of the Earth. His successor in Bitter Seeds has learned to focus his powers to prevent this happening, but he can still only remain intangible as long as his breath of air lasts.
  • Galaxy of Fear: The spirit haunting a space station in Ghost of the Jedi glides about and passes right through walls and any other solid object, though he can affect Tash. He feels helpless and like a failure, but makes a decent Spirit Advisor to her.
  • The Ka of Gifford Hillary: Sir Gifford is reduced to total intangibility by a different mechanism where normal physical rules do not apply: the occult. Presumed dead, he is still very much alive and conscious — but his soul has been separated from his body, so he is doomed to walk the world as a living ghost, able to see and hear but not to make contact, except with animals and psychics.
  • In The Zombie Knight, reapers get the true, sucky version of intangibility. They can see, fly and keep pace with the Earth, but they can't touch anything or even talk to living people unless they take a human servant.
  • Almost Night: Jaspike can phase through objects and people since he is half ghost. He kills several people by phasing through their head and becoming solid again.
  • The Belgariad: Relg the Ulgo has this as a special ability, and he uses this to rescue Silk (to the claustrophobe's horror). Any sorcerer also has this as a potential ability, and Belgarath uses this to finish his duel with Zedar the Apostate: phasing them both into solid rock, going deep underground, then letting him go, stuck there while he returned. He specifically noted this to be a Fate Worse than Death for the following reasons: (1) The victim was himself a sorcerer (thus gifted with eternal life) so couldn't die of natural causes, (2) No other sorcerer could match the particular signature of Belgarath's sorcery so couldn't match the spell to pull him out, and (3) Belgarath himself did this to make him pay for several millennia of evil so felt no inclination to undo it himself.
  • Boojumverse: Certain eldritch creatures such as Cheshires and Bandersnatches are capable of shifting out of phase with this dimension, becoming invisible and intangible to physical beings.
  • Journey to Chaos: Eric gains selective intangibility as an Enlightenment Superpower. By understanding how all of reality is fundamentally mana, he can revert selective areas of matter temporarily or permanently back into mana. This enables him to walk through walls (because they are thin and transparent mana), walk on air (because he is mana) and either avoid or absorb magical attacks (because all magic, by definition, uses mana). The limitations are anything with a soul or anything connected to someone's soul, because that soul instinctively resists. This ability comes packaged with the Required Secondary Powers because it requires more than simply acknowledging the fact that all of reality is mana, so it avoids the problems mentioned in the trope's description.
  • The Divine Comedy: Having left their bodies behind, the deceased are just shadows of their former selves that don't breathe, block light, or affect physical matter. This leads to a sad incident when Dante tries to hug his recently deceased friend, Casella, three different times only for his hands to pass through his friend's illusory back.
  • In The Supervillainy Saga this is one of the powers of Gary Karkofsky a.k.a Merciless: The Supervillain without Mercy. It can be averted by magic or certain technologies. Generally, Gary relies on it to avoid getting the crap beaten out of him.
  • Special Circumstances has an Eldritch Abomination simply ignore both regular and nuclear weapons by becoming intangible. Most of the problems noted above with intangibility are averted by the supernatural powers well within the capabilities of an Old One.
  • Rain of the Ghosts explores this a bit with Bastian, the ghost of Rain's grandfather. When Charlie questions why he doesn't go through the floor, Rain notices that one of his feet is floating slightly above it and the other is actually submerged in it—apparently, he just imagines a level plane to walk on, but discovers that he can float down or up at will. The only thing he can touch is the zemi, a family heirloom that he's tied to.
  • The Witch of Knightcharm: Janet Yawkly, a rookie witch at an evil Wizarding School, is revealed to know magic that lets her do this.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: In "Deals With Our Devils", Phil, Robbie, and Leo get trapped between dimensions because of a side effect of a science experiment. They can see, touch, and communicate with each other, and see their surroundings and people in the "real" world. However, people in the "real" world don't see them and are able to pass straight through them. This instance of the trope does have the "floor problem", which is never explained. An important plot point in this episode even involves Robbie Reyes sneaking into a vehicle driven by another character without passing through it and traveling to a different location.
  • Angel:
    • This afflicts Spike after he was brought Back from the Dead. He, however, was a ghost or some other sort of psychic projection, and didn't have to worry about falling through the floor because he was essentially imagining himself wherever he liked.
    • The Fang Gang are fighting a Monster of the Week with this skill. Fortunately he has to make himself tangible to inflict damage on them, so when they do they cut his head off.
  • Blood Ties (2007): Lampshaded when a ghost complains to the main character (and only person that can see him) how come he can't touch stuff, but he can still sit on a couch.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • "Halloween": Willow the Friendly Ghost, with the same lack of floor issues. This may be because the tv/movie ghosts that form the popular conception usually don't have such issues. Since that was what she was thinking of when picking her costume and the costumes turned you into what you intended them to be, she didn't have those issues either.
    • The First Evil, whatever it manifests as. It's a plot point in the middle of the last season that Giles may be the First because he doesn't actually manipulate anything. It eventually lets slip that its real motivation is to assemble a flesh-and-blood body of its own.
  • Cleopatra 2525: The "falling through the floor" problem is averted; the Big Bad reveals it had taken years of research to solve. On the other hand, Hel's father is somehow able to do it without the device and also doesn't have the floor problem.
  • Doctor Who: In "Spyfall", the Kasaavin are extradimensional aliens capable of passing through walls with ease, as well as just emerging from the walls. When they pass through or emerge from something, they take on the appearance of wherever they emerged from for a brief time.
  • Eureka: "Phased and Confused" had this as the intersection of its A and B plots. The mysteriously solid floors became very noticeable when a phased character noisily runs down a short staircase, immediately after not being able to touch things was an obstacle.
  • Sam from Fate: The Winx Saga is an earth fairy and his power is moving through solid matter.
  • The Flash (1990): In one episode, a drug dealer forces Barry to inhale a new designer drug. Unlike a normal person, Barry's molecules start vibrating extremely fast, and he ends up walking through a brick wall (but not falling through the floor).
  • The Flash (2014): It's something Barry has to learn and doesn't use it much (at first). The Reverse-Flash, however, uses it a lot, including using it to erase hard drives and kill people rather horrifically, then dispose of their bodies. Again, falling through the floor is never even brought up. Ditto Zoom, who really likes killing people by punching through their chests with a vibrating fist. He also saves Caitlin from Killer Frost by running through her. Later on, Barry gets the hang of it and is able to even use it to surprise the Reverse-Flash. Kid Flash takes a while to learn this trick, but finally manages to pull it off in order to neutralize the powers of a metahuman with the Touch of Death. The same episode also has Barry phase an entire train full of people through a barrier. And yes, the train stays on the rails.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys: Many gods are some combination of invisible to almost everyone and intangible when they appear.
  • Heroes:
    • D. L. Hawkins has this as his special power. He can use it selectively, allowing him to touch one object while phasing through another, thus providing a handy rationale for the "floor problem". He can also use it in a lethal fashion, such as when he literally rips Linderman's brains out.
    • Jose Gutierrez from Heroes Reborn has this ability. He uses it to work on car engines by reaching into them, and pull bullets out of people's bodies. He can also use it selectively, like DL.
  • Irma Vep: Mira does this after adopting the Irma Vep persona, phasing through walls and gets into her ex Laurie's suite through a couple others.
  • The Mighty Boosh: Subverted in a first season episode. After Howard is killed (temporarily) he returns to visit Vince as a ghost. Vince is impressed and moves his hand to bash into Howard's chest:
    Howard: What are you doing?
    Vince: I thought like, I would pass right through you.
    Howard: No, I told you, we spent all the budget for effects on your hair.
    Vince: (turning to look at camera) It is looking good.
  • Mutant X has Jesse. Unlike most examples of this trope, he can also reverse the process to the point where he's Made of Diamond. He later learns how to make other objects (or parts of them) intangible. This becomes incredibly useful to getting his teammates into locked areas.
  • Quantum Leap: Al's mentally-projected hologram seems to have this power, but he isn't really "there". He's able to give the impression of intangibility to a man who is able to see him in "A Little Miracle".
  • Red Dwarf: Rimmer the hologram, until he gets a Hard Light upgrade in season 6. Rimmer's form is projected from within by a tangible 'light bee', which should make it impossible for him to pass through solid matter completely. Unfortunately the show is not always consistent about this.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • They did this at least three times: A race of highly advanced humans had developed this technology; Daniel was once thus afflicted by a mysterious alien crystal skull; and Carter and Mitchell were placed in an intangible state by a security device belonging to Merlin (secretly an advanced alien).
      • The Carter/Mitchell version led to an amusing moment when, after another character walks through both of them, they start poking each other to determine that they are, in fact, tangible to each other.
    • They also hung a lampshade on it, when an actress in the Show Within a Show about the Stargate asked why they didn't fall through the floor, and no one had an answer.
      • In fact, this gets used so much that SG-1 gets Wrong Genre Savvy about it. In The Road Not Taken, Carter is running experiments on the device that put her and Mitchell out of phase previously. She is transported to an alternate universe and it takes about two weeks for her to figure out how to get back. Meanwhile, her teammates assume the device malfunctioned and she's stuck out of phase so they take turns "keeping her company", ie talking to an empty room. Meanwhile, in that universe, she uses a similar device, powered by the entirety of the US power grid, to phase the whole planet, protecting it from orbital bombardment.
    • There was an episode where Carter, trapped in an Asgard research facility, used the holographic comm system to help O'Neill and Teal'c rescue Thor from a Ha'Tak in orbit. Since the Asgard lack Hard Light technology she was able to distract guards and scout ahead, but proved less useful when they needed someone to rewire doors.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In "The Next Phase", Geordi and Ro Laren were thus afflicted by an experimental Romulan cloaking device which also served as a "phasing device". It made them invisible (but not to each other) and intangible, making them think they had died and were ghosts. The trope is played straight in a number of ways. Geordi and Ro could walk on floors, ride the turbolifts, and of course the Enterprise itself. They could see, hear, and breathe. Trope slightly averted for dramatic purposes in that they couldn't eat or drink, setting a limit on how long they could survive in that state. A Romulan enemy in the same situation was similarly unaffected by the floor, but flew out the walls when pushed. He also sat in a chair, which rocked slightly when he stood (though it is possible that this chair was phased as well). Communicators didn't work, but Geordi's visor and the Romulan's disruptor did. Eventually, they learn by overhearing Data that the matter they pass through leaves a signature, and when Geordi's hand is hit with the beam Data is using to clean the radiation, it becomes slightly "less" substantial: he feels resistance now. Geordi realizes Data's technique can undo the process, so Ro eventually overloads the disruptor, causing a massive burst of the signature. Data orders the room flooded with the radiation, and everyone is stunned to see Geordi and Ro literally rematerialize before their eyes. It's later revealed that the UFP also experimented with such a interphasic cloaking with a ship called the Pegasus (the episode's title). It can render an entire ship both invisible and intangible. but a treaty forbade it and the system was Gone Horribly Wrong. It is heavily implied that transphasic torpedoes work this way to get past defenses.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: The Doctor can have such effect, as he's actually a hologram who uses shaped forcefields to manipulate objects. The Doctor can turn off the forcefields leaving only the hologram, which produces this effect. In the episode "Revulsion", the Doctor finds himself up against a similar hologram who has gone insane. The hologram tries to hit the Doctor with a hammer only to have it pass through his body. The Doctor casually throws his tricorder through the hologram, folds his arms and says, "This could get tedious." Unfortunately, the next blow hits the Doctor's mobile emitter, causing his program to shut down.
  • Tracker (2001): Dessarians can phase and walk through solid objects.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Quarantine", Sarah has the ability to phase her hand through any solid object. She uses this power to remove Matthew Foreman's cancerous tissues after he is revived from cryo-stasis.
  • The Umbrella Academy (2019): Dead people are all intangible and invisible, to everyone but Klaus, who can see and converse with them but can't physically touch them and uses drugs to dull his powers. The final episode of season 1 reveals that, when sober for long enough, Klaus can make dead people tangible, and with enough effort, make them appear physically to others.
  • Ultra Series:
    • Ultraman Cosmos: Renki's nature as a vengeful spirit means that most attacks phase through him harmlessly.
    • Ultraman X: Greeza is a sentient Negative Space Wedgie who is impossible to harm under normal conditions because of its inherent ability to make itself intangible and incapable of taking damage at all, which added to its normal strength makes it come close to Invincible Villain status. X has to defeat it by forcing it into a physical body with the Xlugger.
    • Ultraman Z: Greeza returns and its intagibility makes it as invulnerable as before as it can't be harmed by anything from our plane of existence. Z defeats it by obtaining a "needle" within Greeza itself, which is a specific counter weapon to its distortion abilities by "sewing/sealing" Greeza.
  • The X-Files: The episode "Trevor" has an escaped convict who has this as a power, as well as the ability to reduce anything he passes through to ash. It's demonstrated with some Technobabble that it's electricity-based and doesn't work against insulating materials, and he's eventually done in when he tries to phase through a speeding car and gets fatally smacked by the glass windshield.

  • Marillion The Invisible Man. Despite the title, the lyrics describe an intangible man.
    I will walk stride for stride with you
    I will try to help
    When you stumble
    You will stumble through me.
  • The The Moody Blues' Epic Rocking anthem Legend Of A Mind is about another way of becoming intangible: dedicated to sixties' drugs guru Dr Timothy Leary, a theme of the song is Astral Projection brought about by (un)wise ingestion of psychotropic pharmaceuticals
  • In Stan Ridgway's "Camouflage", the first indication that 'Camouflage' was actually a ghost was that the bullets "seem to go right through him, just as if he wasn't there".

    Multiple Media 
    • Tuyet, a Toa of Water, wore a Mask of Intangibility.
    • One of the powers potentially available for a Rahkshi (their creators, the Makuta have it by default) is Density Control. This can be used not only for phasing through walls and attacks, but for floating into the air and then dropping with the force of a meteor. Makuta can also ignore several drawbacks this power would bring due to the fact they're The Needless and don't require air or sustenance to survive thanks to being Energy Beings inside Animated Armor. Makuta Krika frequently made use of this power after a mutation caused him to lose most of his other abilities. It also lead to his death. When forced out of control, his power turned him so intangible that he simply ceased to exist.
    • Wearers of the Kakama Nuva, the enhanced version of the Mask of Speed, can pass through objects and people by vibrating their own molecules very fast.

    Other Sites 

  • America's Most Haunted: Subverted; an animated clip shows a ghost getting punched in the face, causing its teeth to fall out.

    Tabletop Games 
  • All player characters in Anathema can become intangible whenever they want, instantly and at no cost.
  • Arduin RPG, The Compleat Arduin Book 2: Resources. The Greater Demon Boak Chaos Hoof can pass through solid objects like a ghost, even while carrying a rider.
  • Chaosium's supplement All the Worlds' Monsters Volume III. The Dread is an intangible undead falcon that can fly through solid objects.
  • In Deadlands: Reloaded, Harrowed get intangibility as an Edge; a power they can turn on and off at will.
    • This has its roots in the Classic system, where Ghost (becoming intangible at will) was one of the possible Harrowed powers.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has the "incorporeal" subtype, which cleared up a LOT of confusion about intangible beings such as ghosts or 2E Wraithform spellcasters when 3E introduced it to the game.
    • 4th Edition splits this in two, with the Insubstantial resistance ability (half damage from all attacks) and Phasing movement ability (the ability to move through solid objects and difficult terrain without penalty, though you still have to occupy an open square when your movement is finished). Some creatures can be Insubstantial without having Phasing and vice versa, though most creatures with one also have the other.
  • The "Insubstantial" advantage in GURPS
  • In HeroQuest, the Pass Through Rock (Earth Magic) spell allows a player to move through walls—But moving into solid rock (off the map) will eliminate them.
  • Also the Desolidification power in the Hero System. Which works a bit asymmetrically — characters with it can't affect the physical world at all while it's in use unless they buy their relevant powers (such as strength) with a rather expensive advantage, but need to define some reasonably common way(s) in which the physical world can still affect them. They also can walk on solid ground with no problems, but don't automatically get to fly unless they buy that power separately, and may in fact fall through the floor if they don't stop themselves at the price of taking the usual damage from the 'impact'.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The Dauthi, Soltari, and Thalakos are entire races of intangible people. Their homeplane got caught between Dominaria and Rath and ripped to shreds, leaving the inhabitants as Intangible Men who can pop in and out of reality at will. In terms of gameplay, creatures of these races all have the "shadow" keyword. In function, they can only block and be blocked by other creatures with shadow.
    • Turn to Mist is a spell which causes a temporary version of this to an attacking creatures. The creature is exiled and returned to play on its controller's next turn.
  • The fourth level of the Insubstantial power in 2E and 3E Mutants & Masterminds grants this power and handwaves the breathing and being able to stand on the floor, although you still face a breathing problem when within solid objects. It's also required that some reasonably common material or effect counters your insubstantiality for game balance purposes. The Permeate movement power is more limited and can only be consciously used to move through barriers.
  • In Warhammer 40,000 the Necrons have technology that allows them to phase objects in and out of the physical universe. Canoptek Wraiths are fitted with such technology as standard and many high ranking Necron nobles are equipped with phase shifters that allow them to briefly phase out of reality to avoid enemy attacks. The same technology allows advanced Necron melee weapons to bypass enemy armour.

    Video Games 
  • Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time features Lani-Loli, the Quantum Mask of Phase. Unlike most examples, he doesn't turn the wearer intangible, but instead allows them to turn certain crates, platforms, enemies or hazards between tangible and intangible. Of course, turning an intangible platform tangible while Crash or Coco is inside it will instantly end them.
  • Crush Crush: As a hologram, Alpha's intangible, and makes a lot of comments about it, such as in this Friendzoned Chat:
    Alpha: So... What does a solid person do for fun? I'm a hologram, so I can't hit a volleyball or eat a falafel.
  • Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening has The Fallen, angels with the faces of demons who fly through walls, floors and ceilings as easily as they do in empty air.
  • The "IDSPISPOPD" cheat code allows the player to walk through walls in Doom. Usually, it's handy for getting through the level quicker, but on one occasion in Doom II, there is a special area that can only be accessed with the cheat code.
  • In Dragon Age II, Fenris has the ability to become partly intangible as a result of having his body forcibly laced with lyrium. Exactly how intangible he can become is unclear; in gameplay terms, his "Lyrium Ghost" mode makes him more resistant (but not immune) to damage, and aside from that he mostly uses the ability to crush people's hearts in their chests.
  • In Escaping The Prison, Henry can use the Opacitator to become intangible and gently fall through his cell. However, it goes horribly right and he gently falls to the Earth's core.
  • The "Become Ethereal" Shout from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim ostensibly gives the player this ability for a period of time. For programming reasons, or else to avoid the endless array of glitches and exploits that would result from letting the player turn intangible, it actually just makes you immune to damage for a bit (or until you cast a spell/use a weapon). It's still quite useful both in combat and for jumping off mountains to get around faster.
  • Final Fantasy VI famously has Intangirs, a kind of untouchable bonus mook, in addition to regular intangibility spells. The tradeoff for intangibility (which makes the subject immune to physical attacks) is dramatically increased vulnerability to magic. In a famous good bad bug, it even overcomes Contractual Boss Immunity, allowing you to easily kill bosses with the combination of a Vanish spell and a Death (or it's even more effective brother X-Zone) spell.
  • Haunting Starring Polterguy: The Sardini family will just pass through poltergeist Polterguy. However the ecto monsters and the monsters in the underworld can touch (and hurt) him.
  • Void Termina, the Final Boss of Kirby Star Allies, as "Void — Astral Birth", can sometimes clip through his own physical body's guts during his Deadly Star attack.
  • An accidental example in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (original release only) is Link after picking up an item. All of his collisions except for the one that determines if he's still on solid ground are disabled so that the animation for showing off the item he got can play out without being interrupted. How was this discovered, since Link can't be controlled during this animation, you may ask? Well. The looping idle animation for while the dialog box is displayed afterward has a slight miscalculation that makes Link shift position ever so slightly with each loop, and because his collisions are disabled, he ghosts through everything that this shifting (eventually) pushes him against. Walls, doors, enemies, nothing can effect him as long as that dialog box remains open. In the speedrunning community, this is known as a "pickup slide", and more details about how it works and its practical purposes are explained here:
  • Lusternia has Zenos, a particularly creepy example: basically, he's an omnivorous sentient fog. Tales abound of him enveloping whole forests and cities, devouring the inhabitants and leaving only charred wasteland in his wake.
  • Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis has Pamela Ibis, a friendly ghost who makes regular use of this in cutscenes. In gameplay, this is also the source of her Physical Immunity skill and her Bear Shift defensive support.
  • Some Mega Man games feature the Shadow Dash ability, which allows the characters to phase through enemies and obstacles while dashing. X can do it in Mega Man X8 when he equips the Hermes Armor Foot Parts, Zero can do it in Mega Man Zero 3 with the Shadow Dash Foot Chip, and in Mega Man ZX Model PX/P also has it as a default ability of its Overdrive.
  • The ghost mooks from Monster Hunter (PC), a recurring enemy after debuting in The Graveyard, unsurprisingly. This being a Maze Game where you're in a race against time to hunt hostile monsters and destroy their spawners, more often than not ghosts will simply phase through walls to sneak upon you, or get into your way while you're busy dealing with higher-level enemies like vampires or mummies, making them close to Goddamn Bats.
  • The Void Walker from Nexus Clash has the power to seep through corners in walls and appear in nearby buildings, quite possible appearing in your closet or under your bed.
  • In Nova Drift, Apotheosis allows the player's ship to phase through enemies and other physical obstacles, rendering them harmless, but the ship can still be damaged by enemy projectiles and burning residue.
  • Larval Stalkers from Silent Hill cannot be touched by anything and cannot interact with Harry at all, and will quickly vanish when beamed with the flashlight. They only exist to screw with the player as they still trigger your radio's static, and to lull you into a false sense of security leaving you open to attack from regular Stalkers who look and behave similarly but can and will attack Harry.
  • The DS-exclusive Violet Wisp from Sonic Colors turns Sonic into an intangible hedgehog, able to pass through walls.
  • The Lk ship in Star Control 3 features a phasing device. However don't think you can materialize inside an enemy ship and destroy it that way.
  • Akuma's float-on-one-knee trick from Street Fighter also turns him intangible so he can zoom around untouchable. If you ever see him doing this trick while tangible though, hit him or get out of the way because you're a second away from the Raging Demon attack.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Bow's "Out of Sight" ability in Paper Mario turns the player intangible and invisible, but you can't move while using it.
    • Boos can turn intangible in Super Mario 64. Mario (Luigi in DS) can do this himself with the Vanish Cap. (Should have been called Intangible Cap.)
  • A very hard to get upgrade of Cloaking in Sword of the Stars, for thirty seconds ships with the module cannot be hit or fire on enemies, but they are visible.
  • Tales of Monkey Island: Subverted at first in Chapter 5, when Guybrush can still touch and pick up the items as a Ghost Pirate in the Crossroads of the afterlife; but when he returns to the living world, it becomes Double Subverted when he tries touching the Cursed Cutlass of Kaflu, only to find that he can't touch it (or any other item) or even pick it up while in the living world (he needs to get back in his own body in order to do that).
  • In TaskMaker and The Tomb of the TaskMaker, the Ethereal Potion makes the player temporarily intangible. He or she may phase through walls, and attacks by enemies will pass right through, but the player cannot interact with doors or switches, or pick up objects, until the effect wears off.
  • Touhou
  • Warcraft III:
    • The Banish spell turns a unit ethereal, which makes them entirely immune to normal attacks. However, it also makes them unable to attack, move slower, become more vulnerable to spells and the Magic Damage Typing (which come in two varieties: the laughable attack of each faction's casters or the extremely powerful attacks of their heavy flyers). Because of these effects, it can be used against both friend and foe.
    • Tauren Spirit Walkers can switch between ethereal and physical form.
  • In X Pilot, one powerup is a phasing device that allows the player's ship to pass through walls (and likewise makes it intangible to bullets and bombs). Its duration is sharply limited, so the player needs to ensure their ship is back in open space before the powerup expires.


    Web Original 
  • A-GENTS: A-GENT 66 can become intangible at will and pass through various materials except lead, for a yet unexplained reason.
  • Fine Structure has Mitchell Calrus, "The Four-Dimensional Man", who is able to turn intangible and invisible at will. The mechanism and Required Secondary Powers are dealt with in a fairly tidy way - his powers function by selectively moving slightly in a fourth spatial dimension in a 3D universe. Since there's no matter elsewhere on the 4D axis in our universe, Mitch effectively can pass through solid objects by moving around them in 4D, but is not able to breathe while phased and makes use of SCUBA equipment. He keeps his feet in 3D when touching the ground to avoid falling through the Earth.
  • In The Legion of Nothing, Ghost has this power along with Flight and Invisibility.
  • In the Origins Mod for Fabric, as utilized on both the Origins SMP and Afterlife SMP, players who hold the Phantom origin can enter their "Phantom State", allowing them to phase through blocks, walk through walls, and sink through floors at will, similar to how scaffolding works for normal players. The only blocks they can't go through are obsidian and bedrock; Seapeekay finds this out the hard way in the latter series while trying to go through the (bedrock) Nether roof.
  • A dark power in Phaeton, intangibility allows for full transvection when partially inside something, preventing the user from passing through the ground but means that if they don't see something coming it will not pass through them, alternatively it is achieved through tiny short range wormhole generation.
  • Whateley Universe:
    • Phase (Ayla Goodkind) has the ability to become a number of variants of intangible, most notably fully intangible, nearly intangible, or super-dense, so he's Nigh Invulnerable. This is supposed to be an extra-dimensional density-changing ability (though according to the school testing wonks, it's not, but the ensuing scientific babble is hard to understand). While intangible (or close to it), he can fly, and at his most dense, he is almost impervious to damage. But when he first manifested as a mutant and got his powers, he couldn't control them and had trouble not sinking through the floor, or going super-dense and smashing his bathroom to shards. Or, for that matter, not going intangible and leaving parts of his clothing behind. He also has a fun/hilarious Required Secondary Power: if he becomes solid while phased through something, the other object disappears. Forever. This results in lasting Clothing Damage (and, y'know, other damage) if he phases in and out quickly, but turns a scary situation into lots of awesome when he has an I-beam stuck through his chest as part of his Test To Destruction experimentation by his family's anti-mutant science labs.
    • While intangibility in general is a fairly uncommon power in this setting, Phase has a form that is particularly rare: the only one other mutant is known to the same variant is Tinsnip, one of the deadliest assassins in the world. This has not helped Ayla's self-loathing at being a mutant or fear of becoming a danger to others at all.
    • There is the Wraith, who has the power to make things intangible, as said here:
      "How are we going to get those twenty foot sections through a door that's only six feet wide?"
      "We'll get Wraith to make them intangible and just bring them in through the wall," he snapped.
      "You trust Wraith to not mess this up?"
  • Worm:
    • Shadow Stalker's shadow form can pass through ordinary obstacles.
    • The mercenary villain Watch has, among other powers, the ability to make his hands intangible — and partially unphase them inside people to do damage.

    Western Animation 
  • Angel Wars: Angels and demons can typically walk right through solid matter. It's implied that human prayer can make this more difficult for demons to accomplish, though.
  • Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: Voluntary intangibility is an inherent ability of the Tangean people, including ranger Mira Nova. It's more often used to walk through walls and even phase through floors (in-universe it's called "ghosting"), but on a handful of occasions, it's been shown to allow projectiles to pass right through Mira without harming her. She can also apply this property to others, such as "ghosting" Buzz inside the LGM's corrupted Uni-Mind to purify it at its core. On one occasion, she ghosts into Buzz's body. Ew.
    • Mind-reading is another, lesser-used, Tangean ability, in which Mira ghosts her hand into the subject's head.
  • Batman Beyond: In "Sneak Peek", an unscrupulous reporter named Ian Peek steals a device that gives him this power so that he can spy on anyone he pleases and make a fortune as a celebrity gossip columnist. In the end, he subverts the trend and does suffer the Karmic Death (he not only steals the device, but kills the inventor with a fire he sets to cover his tracks) of becoming permanently intangible and falling first through each individual floor of the building he's in, then falling through the basement into the ground, and then, presumably, the Earth's crust all the way to the core, a horrific And I Must Scream ending of the kind Beyond loved to spring on the audience.
  • The lead character of Danny Phantom has this as part of his ghost powers, as well as flight (solving some problems) and invisibility (introducing new ones).
  • Ghostfreak in Ben 10. At one point, someone manages to turn the intangibility off, leaving Ghostfreak stuck in solid form temporarily.
    • As well as Big Chill from Ben 10: Alien Force.
    • Ben 10: Omniverse introduces a predator of Big Chill's species called a Psycholeopterran. It can turn intangible so Big Chill can't avoid it by turning intangible.
  • The Venture Bros.:
    • The Intangible Fancy is a recurring minor supervillain who looks and talks like a stereotypical ghost to match his intangible body. He seems to be something of a Troll, breaking Guild of Calamitous Intent regulations and messing with people because he knows they can't do anything to hurt him. When the Council of Thirteen discusses his latest violation, one member questions if they even have a means to carry out his beheading sentence.
    • Also, "the Investors," a mysterious trio of men in the employ of the Guild of Calamitous Intent known for making Deal with the Devil type deals. Bullets and knives are shown to pass right through them, and they can even phase others through solid matter.
  • In Teen Titans (2003), this is just one of Raven's superpowers.
    • Kid Flash is also able to turn intangible by vibrating rapidly, as he does to escape containment by the Hive Five.
  • Xiaolin Showdown: SERPENT'S TAIL!! It even becomes a plot point when Wuya combines its effects with the Reversing Mirror to become tangible again. Why this actually brought her back to life instead of just making her a solid ghost is left entirely unexplained, though. The Serpent's Tail later becomes Chase Young's weapon of choice.
  • In Legion of Super Heroes (2006), Phantom Girl has this ability, as apparently does the rest of her planet.
  • In Transformers: Prime, the Phase Shifter grants its user intangibility. As a nod to Required Secondary Powers, it is explicitly stated to work intuitively, so you don't end up phasing through the floor by accident.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Baby Cakes", Pinkie Pie traps Pumpkin Cake under a wastebasket, but because Pumpkin's unicorn magic had just blossomed, she crawls right through it.
  • The Phineas and Ferb episode "Just Passing Through" has the boys invent an orb that scrambles the molecules of them and their friends so they can pass through physical objects. Said episode also has a song by the same name.
  • Minor character Gypsy from Justice League can phase through solid objects. This is drastically different from her comic counterpart, who can turn invisible and cast illusions.
  • M.A.S.K. agent Buddie Hawks gains this ability when he uses his Penetrator mask.

    Real Life 
  • Neutrinos act very much like this, as they can (and do) pass through people, buildings, and even entire planets without interacting with anything in their path. It takes a very sensitive detector in large tanks of very pure water deep underground to detect their presence, and even then the massive burst of neutrinos from a supernova yielded only about 6 confirmed interactions.
  • Quantum Tunneling is a real life version of this. One physicist even proposed this as an explanation for Kitty Pryde's powers.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Intangible Man


Perforation Power (SPOILERS)

SPOILERS FOR SEASON 3!!! Fang's glasses can activate a mask, enabling his Perforation Power. It allows him to bypass solid material, such as rock.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / Intangibility

Media sources: