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Involuntary Shapeshifting

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"In the heat of composition I find that I have inadvertently allowed myself to assume the form of a large centipede. I am accordingly dictating the rest to my secretary."
— A letter from Screwtape, The Screwtape Letters

A character possesses some manner of Shapeshifting ability, but not the conscious ability to control when this ability kicks in.

This isn't necessarily as bad as it sounds — explanations are usually one of the following:

In any case, the character is generally aware they have this ability, and it's a recurring aspect of their character; the shapeshifter will generally try to avoid triggering their ability accidentally (e.g. Bruce Banner constantly warning people You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry!); alternately, they can expose themselves to the trigger to deliberately invoke their ability when it's convenient (e.g. stimulus + container to hide it = instant Transformation Trinket); the line between voluntary and involuntary can get a little blurry, but unlike the Voluntary Shapeshifter, the involuntary one lives with a risk of transforming at the most inconvenient moments should their trigger hit them unexpectedly. (Even if they don't end up transforming very often, the potential for it is still there.)

Not to be confused with just any 'involuntary shapeshifting' in general, like a Forced Transformation (a popular source of many unexpected, involuntary transformations) or a Fisher Kingdom (where the shapeshifting power is a trait of the kingdom itself, not the person).

Frequently overlaps with Animorphism since animals are a popular choice for shapeshifting (both voluntary and otherwise) already. Being a Living Mood Ring often involves doing this.


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    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Man-Bat suffered from this at first. He is a scientist who admires Batman's efforts to stop crime so much that he tries to give himself bat-like powers so he can emulate Batman. He ends up randomly transforming from human to a half-bat form for much of his career, until he discovers drugs which let him control his transformations.
  • In Batman: Gotham Adventures #58, the Creeper (Jack Ryder, who in the DC Animated Universe was transformed into the Creeper by Joker's laughing gas and toxic waste) is seen involuntarily transforming due to not using the medicine and a bit later mentioning that Creeper has gotten stronger and now only needs a rush of adrenaline to transform even under the medicine (so he jumps out of the apartment building's window).
  • Captain Britain: Meggan is capable of transforming in a controlled fashion, but her shapeshifting powers are also linked to her empathic powers and can cause her to transform based on how others perceive her. Early in life the fear local villagers had of her caused her to take on a more monstrous form, resulting in them fearing her more, and so on. Her "default" elf-like form is actually based on what her long-term boyfriend finds attractive.
  • A Donald Duck comic story by Carl Barks once used a variation where Magica De Spell comes up with a concoction that, after having been sprayed onto somebody's face, would change the victim's face to that of anyone they look at. She naturally plans to use it to blackmail Scrooge to get his dime.
  • Ghost Rider: Johnny Blaze used to transform at night. After a while, he would transform whenever there was danger nearby, regardless of the time of day. But eventually, he became able to control it completely.
  • The Incredible Hulk:
    • Bruce Banner is the poster child (and Trope Namer) for Hulking Out, due to his transformations being involuntarily triggered by anger or stress. At a couple of different points he becomes more stable, either locked into a particular form for a stretch or able to take control over his emotions to the point that he can mostly suppress or evoke the change as desired. Initially his transformation occurred at night, and later he would transform into his Grey Hulk (AKA Mr. Fixit) form at night, as well.
    • Similar to the above, Jennifer Walters initially suffered the same problems turning into the She-Hulk. In fact, she had it worse than Bruce. Bruce had a chance of catching and calming his emotional outburst before the transformation went too far. Jennifer seemed to lack that bit of control, and letting her emotions run too high triggered an unstoppable countdown to her transformation. She later gained the ability to transform at will.
  • Spider-Man: The Lizard is a scientist and friend who periodically transforms into a lizard-like humanoid by way of the experimental regenerative treatment he tested on himself, usually triggered by extreme stress. In addition, Spidey himself has had trouble with more spider-like mutations.

    Comic Strips 
  • Safe Havens:
    • It is established that although mermaids can generally shapeshift freely between mermaid, fish, and human forms, if a mermaid remains in human form for 12 hours they must spend their next 12 hours as a fish (and vice versa) to balance it out. This is a plot point for the mermaid Remora after she joins the (otherwise human) regular cast; in one event her personal Masquerade is nearly discovered when a basketball game runs into overtime and the team has to get her off the court before her transformation kicks in.
    • Samantha's genetics research can cause this in herself and her test subjects if the DNA gets too unstable.

    Fan Works 
  • Mendacity: Bon Bon's voice varies randomly between tones, pitches, and accents because she's never been very good with her changeling shapeshifting and has trouble keeping her vocal cords in a stable shape.
  • Principal Celestia Hunts the Undead: Fluttershy's were-creature transformation kicks in automatically when in a certain environment under the full moon.
  • Reflections in a Cloudy Sky: When Camilo becomes sick, he begins to suffer seizures where his shapeshifting Gift goes completely out of control, and he shifts through every form he knows until it stops.
  • What Tomorrow Brings: Gafinilan is so surprised to see a guide tree on Earth that he demorphs without thinking about it.

    Films — Animation 
  • Near the climax of Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation Dark Heart gets a case of the hiccups as he's sleeping, causing him to turn into several different animals. It goes away when the Care Bears accidentally wake him up.
  • In The Cat Returns, the Fisher Kingdom effect of the cat's world lingers on protagonist Haru; even after returning home, she still turns into a Cat Girl whenever she's around the Baron.
  • Coco: The alebrijes are revealed to be normal animals that, after becoming spiritual guides, change into supernatural forms whenever visiting the Land of the Dead.
  • In Scooby-Doo! and the Reluctant Werewolf, Shaggy gets transformed into a werewolf, but things get complicated as he also has the hiccups from drinking soda too fast, causing him to turn into a werewolf and back to a human with each hiccup. He's completely oblivious to this.
  • In Turning Red, Mei transforms into an eight-foot-tall magical red panda whenever she feels any strong emotion - joy, anger, fear, sadness, etc. She can avoid transforming if she keeps her emotions under control, but being a thirteen-year-old girl just starting puberty, she has a lot of trouble keeping her emotions under control.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Beyond Sherwood Forest, Alina turns into a dragon whenever sunlight falls on her, then she reverts when it's blocked (even a cloudy overcast is enough to undo the transformation).
  • Howling III: The Marsupials: Do not flash strobe lights in a werewolf's eyesight. They will transform whenever that happens, whether you like it or not.
  • In the TV movie My Pet Monster, Max changes into his monster form whenever he gets hungry.
  • The Nutty Professor: Quite a lot happens in the '90s remake, especially at the end.
  • The T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgment Day suffers this after recovering from being frozen and shattered in the foundry. There's a series of deleted cutscenes showing the cyborg losing control of his colors and changing to match the environment that he's in.
  • In The Wolfman (2010), much as he would like to, Lawrence is unable to stop himself from transforming and is completely subject to the phases of the moon.
  • In Zelig, the titular character played by Woody Allen is discovered to have this ability and called "The Human Chameleon". The reason for this is not because of any magic, but due to his psychology that stemmed from not being able to admit he had not read Moby-Dick. This resulted in him being so desperate to fit in that he changes opinions, facial hair, race, but not genders.

  • In Katie MacAlister's Aisling-Grey-Series, Drake (Aisling's mate and dragon-in-human-form) shapeshifts only when he orgasms, otherwise he isn't able to willingly shapeshift anymore.
  • In Animorphs, Rachel has an allergic reaction to a crocodile morph, and the book "The Reaction" deals with her uncontrollable changes back and forth. One book has Marco changing into hybrid morphs whenever he is stressed out. At the worst possible times. And some of them, like the Osprey/Lobster, couldn't even breathe.
  • At the end of Awakened, Rephaim is given a human form by Nyx, but he must become a raven again during the day.
  • A Bad Case of Stripes focuses on a girl named Camilla Cream changing shape or colour whenever something is suggested.
  • In Marie de France's lai Bisclavret, Bisclavret must change into a wolf every week, and can not change back without his clothing.
  • The Crimson Shadow: Greensparrow made a pact with a dragon to share his body in return for magical powers. Most of the time he can control this, but the dragon forces him to transform occasionally.
  • From Terry Pratchett's Discworld series:
    • In Witches Abroad Nanny Ogg's cat, Greebo, is temporarily turned human. As seen in Maskerade, his morphic field remembers the shape and shifts back to it when under stress, much to Greebo's consternation.
    • In The Last Continent, the Librarian catches the flu and, again, because of a weakened morphic field, changes shape every time he sneezes.
    • Werewolves have to transform in the light of the full moon, but beyond that they can change whenever they like. There's a variant in Lupine from Reaper Man, a wolf who transforms into a human at the full moon.
  • In Sarah A. Hoyt's Draw One in the Dark, both Tom and Kyrie shift under the influence of emotions and the moon. A bond between them.
  • The Dresden Files features a number of different shapeshifting methods matching to the various kinds of werewolves. Voluntary Shapeshifting can be accomplished with your own magic (as the Alphas do) or Black Magic belts made by someone else (that corrupt your soul). More relevantly to this trope, loup-garous are werewolves that most closely match up to the standard rules. They are cursed to turn into Berserker Super-Wolves during the full moon and can only be hurt by objects made of inherited silver. They CAN be contained with magic, but it takes a great deal of both skill and preparation, and fortunately the person turning into the wolf is generally quite happy to help with their own containment. There's a reason that all Harry has to do to communicate to Murphy in a later book that the police can't help with the problem they're dealing with is to say it's 'worse than the loup-garou'.
  • In J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, involuntary shapeshifting at the full moon is part and parcel of lycanthropy. It cannot be cured, but a Wolfsbane potion can be used to counteract The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body. Boggarts are capable of voluntary shape-shifting (which they use to become something frightening), but the spell used to counter these creatures causes them to involuntarily shape shift into something funny.
  • In The Girl from the Miracles District, Nikita's berserk form is triggered by high adrenaline levels. She has a spinal implant that helps keep them in check, but it's far from a perfect solution.
  • Murder for the Modern Girl: While Guy Rosewood is a tricoloroform who's usually able to use his shapeshifting abilities, whenever he gets anxious and panics, he loses control of them and ends up messing up his current form when he unwillingly transforms. As a result, he worries about hurting people with his powers, believing that he has little to no control over them. It's why he seeks out Dr. Keene who studied tricolorforms, so he can learn how to control his abilities.
    Guy Rosewood: I... can't control it. My abilities. When I get shocked or scared, I lose control.
  • In Pale this is the nature of Lis, a Wallflower Doppelganger-she automatically changes shape to become an "average" of any group she's in; while she has some leeway in choosing which group she counts as, she has to imitate some group of humans. In some cases this can be beneficial-when she imitates the Kennet Witches, she gains replicas of their magic items, and "refreshes" them by changing between which two of the three she is copying as they pursue her.
  • In The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender, the protagonist (who herself has the ability to taste emotions) Rose's brother Joseph disappears into thin air throughout the novel, at one point right before his high school graduation. Near the end of the book it is revealed that he involuntarily turns into pieces of furniture for varying periods of time. At one point, he simply turns into a chair and never turns back.
  • Happens at one point in The Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis. In a letter to his idiot apprentice Wormwood, the titular bureaucrat devil Screwtape works himself up to so much anger that he accidentally transforms into a giant centipede. He takes pains to explain that such transformations are caused by an excess of "life force", and are certainly not a punishment from the Enemy.
  • In the Sonja Blue series, people who become vampires experience some moderate involuntary shapeshifting when they first transform. Not a lot, but enough to hide their previous identity. (It conveniently includes fingerprints.) This is why nobody knows that Blue is actually the long-lost heiress Denise Thorne.
  • In The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Jekyll's transformations into his Hyde persona start out voluntary through the use of a chemical concoction. But the more he indulges in his evil urges as Hyde, the more his body considers Hyde the default form. Eventually he starts changing into Hyde without the chemical. He then needs to take the chemical concoction to return to being Jekyll. And then he runs out of said chemical concotion and finds he cannot make more of it.
  • Played for laughs in Thorne Smith's screwball comedy novel The Stray Lamb (1929): T. Lawrence Lamb meets a little russet man who puts a spell on him that causes him to transform into different animals uncontrollably - first a horse, but also a seagull, a goldfish, a cat, a lion, a dog and a kangaroo.
  • In the Chivalric Romance The Swan Children, the children are born (to a swan maiden) with chains about their necks. When these are removed, they turn into swans.
  • A Torchwood spinoff novel reveals that this has happened to Torchwood employees so often in the past that they provide an informative pamphlet on what to do (last updated 1958). It notes that if you're capable of reading the pamphlet, you've already passed the biggest hurdle by not going utterly mad from the revelation or dying from incompatibility of nervous systems.
  • In Ruth Frances Long's The Treachery of Beautiful Things, Jack turns into the green man every night.
  • Universal Monsters:
    • In book 2, Don Earl Abernathy can't control his Wolf Man transformation — just getting angry is enough to trigger it.
    • In book 6, after his initial transformation back into his mummified Imhotep form, Ardeth Bey changes back and forth more than once, but apparently can't control the transformation.
  • Sewer Jack of the Wild Cards series turns into a huge alligator under stress. His life has a lot of stress.
  • The werewolves from Wolves of Mercy Falls Series. Shifting all depends on the temperature. How cold it needs to be for a werewolf to shift from human to wolf depends.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the first episode of Angel, the title character immediately guesses that Doyle is a demon. He insists that he's not — then sneezes, causing numerous spines to come out of his face. "On my mother's side."
  • Charmed had an episode almost exactly like the Ladyhawke one above, except with an owl instead of a hawk and the genders/animals switched. And of course, it becomes a Running Gag how often one or more of the girls are transformed into a demon/vampire/genie/wood nymph/Fury/Valkyrie/etc.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Time Lords can "regenerate" when dying, an Emergency Transformation that revives their body with a new life (and a new actor). It is unclear whether or not the regeneration process is voluntary or if it happens automatically; in one episode, the Master voluntarily refused to regenerate, choosing to let himself die. Also, regeneration does not seem to be a particularly traumatic experience in Time Lord society, with its members casually congratulating each other on their new appearance. It's only the Doctor who seems to have a particularly tough time of it.
    • "The Lazarus Experiment": After going through his DNA-altering machine, Lazarus switches between his youthful human form and his life-draining monster form whenever he needs to "feed".
    • Saibra from "Time Heist" assumes the appearance of anyone she touches, for as long as they remain touching. She can choose to retain the appearance for as long she likes after they stop touching, but she can't choose not to mimic a person while they're in contact.
  • Galidor: The main character's special ability allows him to exchange his limbs with other beings, an ability which works properly a very small percentage of the time.
  • Julia Jekyll and Harriet Hyde has this as the theme, the main character is a girl who uncontrollably turns into a furry yeti-like thing at inopportune moments.
  • Kaamelott: Merlin, as a druid, can turn into various animals. However, much like the rest of his magic, he doesn't control it much and follows whatever animal spirit governs the week.
  • Lovecraft Country: After the transformation potion wears off, whoever's using it then can't stop themselves from changing back into their original form, and must get out of sight to hide the fact (though they don't always manage it).
  • The Magicians (2016): Kady, Penny, Quentin and Alice turn into geese at the end of their test, flying to Antarctica in that form. Later Quentin and Alice become foxes in Antarctica — they even have sex that way.
  • In one episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, "The Undead", a witch named Lydia (who transforms into a bat in the movie), appears on the Satellite of Love. As she tries to deliver a scary speech to Mike and the 'Bots, she starts shapeshifting into all sorts of things, uncontrollably. "I've never been a football before!" She ends the segment stuck as a bottle of drain cleaner. The funniest one is when she very briefly shifts into Pearl Forrester, who looks very confused at her new surroundings.
  • Vrak from Power Rangers Megaforce is a rare unintentional example as a result of meta events. Because the producers had to cram roughly 50 episodes worth of content from Tensou Sentai Goseiger into 20 episodesnote , on top of pursuing a different plotline, one of the plot elements from Goseiger (where Vrak's sentai counterpart, Bladerun, changed sides each time the previous one was defeated, and gained a new form as a result) was dropped, but they never gave an explanation why Vrak changed forms, despite the fact that the 3 factions were merged together (meaning that he should have only 1 form).
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Odo's race, the Changelings, cannot maintain solid forms for extended periods of time, with Odo himself having to occasionally return to his native liquid form, usually once per day. His main piece of furniture? A bucket to sleep in. In one later season, Odo is locked into his humanoid form as a punishment for being the only Changeling to kill another Changeling. He got better. In another he's the victim of a device that prevents him from shapeshifting while it's active, as a form of torture. What happens to him isn't pretty. In "The Alternate" episode, he unconsciously transforms into a monster several times after being exposed to a strange gas on an alien planet.
  • Sam Merlotte from True Blood normally has complete control over his transformations, except during the full moon or in the presence of Maryanne.
  • The British TV show Woof! is based around the premise of the main character unexpectedly turning into a dog at the most inconvenient moments, with the only warning being a suddenly itchy nose.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Werewolves are usually (but not always) portrayed this way. The emphasis on a full moon and it spreading by bites is Newer Than They Think, however; older stories give a variety of reasons for a person to be cursed, including just randomly being "fated" for it to happen.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Fraggle Rock gives us Skenfrith, a one-off Empathic Shapeshifter whose physical appearance changes depending on what other people think about him; it's impressive how upbeat his personality is given this form of being Blessed with Suck. Red and Wembley like him, think he's very cute and friendly... and that he sports goofy pigtails. Ma Gorg does not like him, thinks he's creepy and scary and living in her flooded basement, and wonders if he's actually a giant, fanged, two-headed monster. Guess what happens next. (Skenfrith: "Aw, I hate being a monster!")

  • Eric from Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues had a superpower that would forcibly transform him into an array of powerful monsters. Once his player dropped out, causing him to disappear, Destiny inherited the power.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Afflicted lycanthropes (those who were bitten, rather than having been born with the condition) do not have perfect control over their shapeshifting, and may involuntarily assume their alternate forms in response to damage or the full moon.
  • Magic: The Gathering: Changelings are every creature type at once. This includes anything from squirrels, whales, to Gods. That being said, they are affected by anything targeting a specific kind of creature, be it beneficial or downright fatal. A typical Sliver does not itself possess the ability to shapeshift (except if that is its ability). Their shifty-ness comes from the fact that they tend to share their inherent abilities with other Slivers. If said ability is having, say, an extra arm, a pair of wings, or even a second freakin' HEAD, that ability is passed to any Slivers nearby, be they allies, neutral, or hostile. The shared ability is also lost when the source Sliver either leaves the area or dies. In a single battle one may encounter Slivers spontaneously sprouting and losing all manner of appendages and protrusions. This power is (was) completely beyond their control. Que a bit of Fridge Horror for them when one considers how bad growing pains can be; imagine having an extra limb suddenly pop out from your chest within seconds, complete with the sound of snapping tendons and straining muscle.
  • The Tau's Kroot minions in Warhammer 40,000 assimilate the properties of whatever they eat, whether they want to or not. This means that all Kroot must eat sentient creatures or devolve into beasts themselves.
  • Werewolf: The Forsaken A werewolf whose Harmony has tilted too far towards his spirit side finds holding a single form difficult. He must make an effort not to transform every few hours even when not stressed, and when he is stressed he will uncontrollably shift into the appropriate form for how he is responding to the stressor (human form if he's trying to hide, wolf form if he is trying to flee or pursue, and killing-form if he is ready to fight).

    Video Games 
  • Baldur's Gate II contains many examples of shapeshifting, mostly voluntary (class abilities) or offensive (Polymorph Other, aka Baleful Polymorph), but there are several involuntary ones as well. The best example is the Slayer transformation, which can be triggered voluntarily but also happens involuntarily after certain events or dreams. Another example is the description of the Shapeshifter class, which specifies that the Shapeshifter has voluntarily inflicted themselves with the sort of lycanthropy that causes involuntarily shapeshifting into a Werewolf, but then studied for many years to learn to control said transformations to make them voluntary, at the cost of failing to learn any other shapeshifted form.
  • Cave Story: During the closing credits, Sue and Itoh are returned to their human forms, only to revert back to their Mimiga forms when they sneeze. Whether or not this becomes a recurring problem is never explained.
  • Dislyte: People can just suddenly turn into Espers out of nowhere, and at times change their entire physical appearance drastically, including transforming into Beast Men, depending on the mythical being they're hosting the powers of.
  • In Dungeon Keeper 2, in the cutscenes (but cut from the actual game for balance reasons), the Warlock has a spell that can turn minions into chickens. Most of the time he ends up turning himself into one, although while getting a whiff of a potion, he also grows Bile Demon horns, turns into a Wizard, a Mistress, a skeleton and even Horny (much to his apparent delight).
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In every game starting with Daggerfall, the Player Character can catch one of the diseases which leads to vampirism and then undergo this to become a Vampire. After this happens, you risk damage (or at least weakness) from sunlight and, depending on the specific vampire bloodline, either magically drain health from NPCs or drink blood from sleeping NPCs. In Oblivion and Skyrim, while the transformation itself is still involuntary, it is possible to avert Glamour Failure and maintain the Masquerade by feeding regularly, which allows you to maintain a mortal appearance.
    • This is also true for becoming a werewolf in each game where it is possible, with the exception of Skyrim (as the particular type of lycanthropy there allows for voluntary transformations). In Daggerfall, you transform one a month and must kill a sentient being during that night. In Morrowind's Bloodmoon expansion, you transform nightly with the same "kill a sentient being" rule. In either case, failure to kill someone while transformed causes you to awaken the next morning in a severely weakened state.
  • Vincent Valentine of Final Fantasy VII has this problem thanks to Hojo. He has varying degrees of control over it, although in Dirge of Cerberus, he can't control his Chaos transformation when the Protomateria is pulled out of his body.
  • The second season of Heroes Rise features a protagonist who wakes up each day as a different animal-human hybrid. This is never painful or debilitating but often really inconvenient. Sometimes the hybrid is great for fighting crime, like getting the toughness of a tardigrade, other times you're going to have to sit there being a half-octopus and commiserate with your sister.
  • In the Jak and Daxter series (all games but the first), Jak is infected with a substance called Dark Eco and transforms into a hulking, monstrous version of himself when sufficiently angry or distressed. He eventually learns to control it to some degree. The same thing happens to Daxter during The Lost Frontier.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Due to a Heroic Sacrifice from the first game, when Sora transforms into his "Drive" forms, it may occasionally "malfunction" and turn him into "Anti-Sora" (who looks very similar to a Heartless) instead in Kingdom Hearts II. Riku transforms into Xehanort's Heartless to tap into his power. He regains his normal form because exploding Kingdom Hearts' power 'purified' him of the foreign influence.
  • Moshi Monsters has the two species Little Red Riding Wolves (who are wolves that turn into little girls whenever the moon is full) and Wonky Wizards (wizards who have Power Incontinence and sometimes turn into Pixel-Munching Snafflers, another type of Moshling).
  • You can become one temporarily in NetHack, by wearing a ring of polymorph, or permanently by eating it. Combining it with a ring of polymorph control does exactly what it sounds like, making you a Voluntary Shapeshifter instead.
  • Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan: Goro Okami wolfs out at the sight of round objects (be it a bald head, eggs, a baseball, ear rings and eyes). He fears that this will freak out his date but in the end, she finds out and loves him even more.
  • Certain Pokémon in the videogames have the ability to change between various physical forms.
    • The third-generation Pokémon "Castform" changes its shape (and elemental type) depending on the current weather. Castform also has the ability to control the weather.
    • Giratina can only assume its serpentine Origin Forme when within the Distortion World (or when holding the Griseous Orb, an item from that world).
    • Shaymin can only transform into its Sky Forme after exposure to a Gracidea flower.

  • 8-Bit Theater: Red Mage has this happen to him late in the series. He randomly shifts between himself and a flowery...tentacled...thing... that resembled a monster the team had previously encountered.
  • Mye of Charby the Vampirate ends up transforming into a very attractive bunny demon every time she sneezes after a potions mishap. It's also a karmic transformation since she was trying to force someone to love her, including using mind numbing love potions on them, when she had the initial mishap.
  • In El Goonish Shive, there are multiple examples. Elliot, for example, has shapeshifting Gender Bender powers, but he's at a stage where his body doesn't know its limits, so basically, he needs to transform every day to burn off excess magical energy, or else it'll overload at some inopportune moment, causing him to involuntarily transform with barely any warning.
  • The changes in Jules from The Key to Her Heart are controlled by his/her emotional state, over which he's learned meticulous control; except, of course, when it's funny.
  • Narbonic (and, later, Skin Horse) features Artie. Normally a (superintelligent) gerbil, Helen decided to send him to break up a fight between her mother and her intern, which necessarily involved giving him an Action Hero human form. After which he discovered that he transformed back into it whenever he hiccuped. Like Jules above, he eventually masters the art of transforming back and forth at will, except when it's funny.
  • Kieri, an angel in Slightly Damned, was cursed by a guardian and turned into a snow bunny (subsequently nicknamed "Snowy"). The curse is weak enough for her to generally control it, but she does regularly transform ("poing!") into her bunny form at inopportune moments, such as any time she gets excited, suddenly startled, or starts having a sneezing fit. Or if she just needs some puppy dog eyes. Her brother, Kazai, has been afflicted with a similar curse that periodically turns him (or parts of him) into a wolf. He’s considerably less practiced at controlling the curse than his sister.
  • In Sluggy Freelance Aylee will occasionally have to wrap herself in a cocoon and emerge in a new form, though usually retaining a green skin tone and vaguely reptile/dragon like features. This was originally done because Aylee's first form was too close to the Xenomorphs from Alien to be copyright-friendly, but has since been used as an important plot point or simply an excuse for a gag.
  • In Splitting Image, the elf warrior Veriesin turns into various animals at random, though they're not always useless.

    Web Original 
  • The Big Dad Wolf: The Protagonist Holan is a werewolf, which he spends the short trying to hide from everyone in the hospital, his wife included. However, there's a full moon out, and he's transforming whether he likes it or not.
  • For whatever reason, Sonic shapeshifts into several Platform Game protagonists during Sonic the Hedgehog 2: Special Edition's Metropolis Zone.
  • In the Whateley Universe story The Big Idea, Harlan 'Reach' Sawyer starts out as a stretcher who's missing some of the required secondary powers that make Plastic Man and Reed Richards effective. Thanks to the usual Sky Hijinks, he is remade into a much-improved young woman (stronger, smarter, etc.) It doesn't last. Or does it? A year later, she still occasionally wakes up with outdoor plumbing, which persists for a few days before reverting to the indoor model.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Involuntary Shapeshifter


The Minions Transform

Belle Bottom transforms the Minions into 3 of the animals of the Eastern zodiac.

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