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Magic Plastic Surgery

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Colonel Moon/Gustav Graves gives a whole new meaning to Race Lift.

Cosmetic techniques can do some amazing stuff. There are ways to lengthen bones in legs, alter the shape and position of facial features, alter the length and shape of the vocal cords, seamlessly integrate an enormous bosom onto a tiny ribcage, strip away half of one's body fat in an afternoon.

In TV, however, such surgery is most often depicted as a magic wand for turning one actor into another. It's the standard Applied Phlebotinum for The Nth Doctor in non-genre shows, and it is at the center of the Old Friend, New Gender plot, amongst other things.

This happens in daytime Soap Operas when a major character is recast. A more minor character will usually get the "Other Darrin" treatment, but if the change in appearance is to be a plot point, it will be through Magic Plastic Surgery. Sometimes the character will keep their identity a secret, particularly a "bad" character who would need to conceal it. Sometimes the audience is in the know, but sometimes not. Often there is an element of doubt.

In video games with custom-designed characters, this is often used as an excuse to let characters alter the appearance they selected when they started the game.

Magic Plastic Surgery rarely seems to take into account the character's height or voice or scent and may make an Easy Sex Change even easier.

Compare with Latex Perfection and Improbable Hairstyle Sequence.

Surgical Impersonation is a Sub-Trope for cases where the surgery is used to impersonate a specific person.

Can sometimes lead to a Racial Transformation. See also Fantastic Plastic.


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  • In the famous 1994 Jack in the Box commercial "Jack's Back", the company mascot Jack, which had been blown up in a 1980 commercial, attributes his return to "the miracle of plastic surgery".

    Anime & Manga 
  • 20th Century Boys: Plastic surgery is able to make the fake Friend look and sound identical to the original Friend.
  • The titular characters of Back Street Girls used to be thuggish yakuza members before they were sent off to get their faces changed. Post-surgery, they look cute, stylish, and female, and their appearances could pass for any old idol off the street.
  • Black Jack:
    • One chapter involves a doctor blaming a deadly mistake on the nurse who was just following his orders, ruining her life. She attempts suicide, but the eponymous super surgeon offers her a chance at payback, which involves turning her into an exact likeness of the pop idol the doctor was obsessed with. It doesn't take much effort for her to get the evidence Black Jack needs to blackmail the villain out of his profession. In an extra twist, it's revealed at the end that the reason the nurse's transformation into the pop idol's double was so flawless (in addition to Black Jack's improbable skills) is because Black Jack himself gave the pop idol that face.
    • This goes up a notch when the Black Jack's father comes back into the picture after his second wife Renka is disfigured. This is the new wife whom he left Black Jack and his mother for while they were hospitalized in an explosion. His father gets his help to repair the new wife's face, and 'make her more beautiful' while at it. Black Jack complies and gives Renka his mother's face: partially to punish his Jerkass father, partially because Black Jack genuinely thinks that his mother is the most beautiful woman ever.
    • Another example: Black Jack uses plastic surgery to turn a deer into a human, complete with speech and sudden awareness.
    • In another story, a rich guy wants Black Jack to save his Jerkass son who's been severely injured in a car crash, and has a random bystander (who is a very nice guy) accused of trying to kill said son and sentenced to death so that his organs can be used for the operation. Black Jack instead gives the bystander plastic surgery to make him look exactly like the son... by grafting the son's skin on him (or, if you prefer the ironic formulation, by grafting every organ into the son, brain included).
  • Cowboy Bebop: Several bounties are captured using a device that can show how probable it is whether a target is the bounty with plastic surgery. The bounty of "Stray Dog Strut" had plastic surgery so extensive that he doesn't even look like the same race. Spike only finds him because he's given a picture of what the guy looks like post-plastic surgery.
  • Magic is used to transform a homely otaku into a handsome Bishōnen in the manga Duck Prince, but the spell takes effect in such a way as to make it look like magic plastic surgery — facial reconstruction surgery after a car accident and a growth spurt experienced during a year-long coma.
  • Franken Fran: Given that the main character is a living zombie, and her assistant is a man's head installed on a cat, looking for realism in the story is an exercise in futility. (Bizarrely enough, there is some realism, mostly the title character talking about how extreme the surgeries will be... right before performing them, anyway.) More often the grotesque variety as seen in the first school episode, where the students are outdoing each other in requesting the most outrageous mutilations they can think of. Imagine how many of their parents wouldn't even let them get their ears pierced.
  • Hanna of the Z: The titular character has to impersonate her friend and club member Kuunyan in a fighting tournament (after accidentally knocking her out with a flying fist) but lacks Kuunyan's large breasts. So other club member Mamia performs a very impromptu breast enhancement... using a saw and a kitchen knife, and recycled paper as filling. This only works because Hanna can heal anything and is practically immortal. Mamia says that she never could do the same thing on a normal person.
  • This is basically Aya Tsuji's power in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable. Her Stand, Cinderella, allows to magically and painlessly replace various body parts of a person, like eyes and nose, with more desirable replacements so that they can gain better luck.
  • One Piece:
    • Taken to insane extremes: One of Sanji's attacks is the Parage Shot, which is essentially a series of repeated kicks to the face. Not only does it give the victims a new face, but the two Gonk characters subjected to it actually wound up better looking.
    • In the Z's Ambition Arc, this is what one of Shuzo's goons think of when they see no similarity with Sanji and his crude wanted poster.
      Neo Marine: He looks very different from the wanted poster! I assume he had cosmetic surgery!
      Sanji: I DID NOT!!
  • Pet Shop of Horrors has a client for the shop, a famous romance novelist, turn out to have been a simple homely country girl who faked her death and had head-to-toe plastic surgery after the boy she liked proposed to her identical twin sister.
  • Pretty Face plays the trope a little closer to reality than usual — while Rando-as-Yuna does stretch the bounds a little, the artist is careful to distinguish the two in subtle ways once the real Yuna shows up, making it clear the resemblance isn't perfect. And the last chapters hinge on how the human body can only take so much alteration, especially a major facelift and rearrange like Rando's — if the procedure's made one more time, his face will age very prematurely.
  • Spy X Family averts this trope by having a rather realistic case of plastic surgery with Olka Gretcher, who got plastic surgery to alter her appearance and make it easier to sneak out of the country. She got a minor nose job and her eyelids don't appear as heavily emphasized as before, with her main difference in appearance being that she cut, styled, and dyed her black hair to blonde and donned a pair of (likely fake) glasses. She even wonders how her young son can recognize her when her face has changed, but thinks it's due to his eyesight not being fully-developed yet and relying more on the sound of her voice and her scent.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • Though admittedly spread out over a few continuities, Two-Face has had his face fixed and un-fixed more times than you would care to count.
    • Hush is a Magic Plastic Surgeon, capable of performing major facial reconstructive surgery on himself, which is now why he looks like Bruce Wayne. The heroes actually take advantage of this after defeating him and use Hush as a substitute to hide Bruce's "death" from the rest of the world.
  • Mocked to the point of deconstruction in one album of the Belgian comic Chaminou. This is a Funny Animal series, hence plastic surgery is used to change an apparent species. Thus, we get a female stork turned into a pretty Cat Girl, a duck into a tiger, and a panther into a duck (although the surgeon couldn't take away the spots).
  • Code Name: Gravedigger: In Men of War #21, the Nazis use 'advanced plastics' to reshape flesh to create exact doubles of certain Americans. This includes Gravedigger's best friend, who is black.
  • The Flash:
    • Shortly before his death, Barry Allen was in a fight and had his face beaten to hamburger only to have his face reconstructed to a completely different appearance (by gorilla surgeons, no less!).note  What's more, by the time he met his fate in Crisis on Infinite Earths, the surgeons of the 30th century had given him back his original face.
    • Doctors had apparently had the above techniques for about five centuries, as Barry's arch-enemy Professor Zoom sometimes used 25th-century tech to make his face look exactly like Barry's.
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel):
    • The Fred series of COBRA's Crimson Guard all had plastic surgery to look completely identical to each other. As the Freds were highly placed infiltrators into governments and corporations, the thinking was any Fred could take another's place if something happened. We're talking about four dozen men across the country who look exactly alike, without bone structure, height or body shape ever coming up.
    • The family of the original Fred Broca (Fred I) knew something was up, though, when Fred II showed up at their house without explanation (Fred I had died in the High Sierras after fighting with Snake-Eyes and other Joes). It was enough to fool casual observers, though, as Snake-Eyes was taken aback to see "Fred Broca" alive and well.
  • Human Target: Christopher Chance has made a career of impersonating people with dangerous lives. He's had plastic surgery more times than should be possible in a single issue alone, and much more. He's used plastic surgery to become black before. He's had his face altered to look like a man for a short time, then returned to his normal face, then altered to resemble the same man again, then back to his regular face again, with no ill effect. Cosmetic surgery is used as a magic wand. At least some of Chance's transformations are done with latex masks, bodysuits, makeup and suchlike — the masks are just as suspiciously convincing and easily removed.
  • Judge Dredd has face-change machines, which change a person's face instantly by Applied Phlebotinum. It is implied that this can still be botched, however, particularly if rushed. In certain cases, such as with actor Conrad Conn and Serial Killer Philip Janet Maybe, there is actually a limit to the number of times a face can accept a face change, since the facial muscles can give out. An experienced professional face change machine operator can tell by feel if a face has been altered.
  • In an early Lucky Luke comic, the Dalton cousins (the ones who were competent but killed off fairly early) forced a town doc to give them new faces. Yes, the doctor of a frontier town in the wild west during the 19th century. After they heal up surprisingly fast, it turns out they now have the faces of four other wanted desperados and return to the doctor to have their old faces restored, which succeeds without any real complications. (However, one of them complain that his chin is "a bit loose" — and it appears to be falling off! Thankfully, it's fixed in later scenes.)
  • The Punisher:
    • In one storyline, the scarred villain Jigsaw decides to get revenge on Frank by carving up his mug to scar him. Frank escapes and uses his knowledge of the underworld to dig up a talented plastic surgeon-turned-Back-Alley Doctor because of her prescription drug abuse. To make a somewhat believable story insanely goofy, the unlicensed surgeon not only un-scars Frank (why couldn't Jigsaw find her?) but turns him black.
    • Jigsaw has had his face fixed up a few times with no obvious leftover scarring. The Punisher will always end up scarring him again, with some variation of his original disfigurement.
  • The Simpsons: Parodied when Sideshow Bob is released from prison yet again but has to get plastic surgery after being run over by a truck as soon as he steps outside of prison. Bart and Lisa panic on finding out about this and try digging up dirt on new Springfield residents to discover which one of them might be Bob but come up empty. Eventually, Bob shows up at the climax... and turns out to look exactly the same as before, even being amused at the notion of plastic surgery doing anything more than just repairing the injuries he got in the accident.
  • Dwight from Sin City has plastic surgery in order to hide from the authorities. That's not too farfetched. The crazy part comes from the fact that he got the plastic surgery from underground surgeons in Old Town, a neighborhood populated by hookers. This was after he got shot in the face by his ex-wife. It also doesn't fool Manute, who sees through it immediately upon meeting Dwight again.
  • The Smurfs: "Plastic smurfery" is the explanation used in the original English translation of "The Smurfette" to change the title character from her original appearance into a real Smurf. The Smurfs (1981)'s version of the story eschews that and simply has Papa Smurf change her completely into a Smurf through magic.
  • Tintin: While Tintin and Alph-Art was incomplete at the time of Hergé's death, one of the plot twists he was considering (and had sketched out) was revealing that the main villain, Endaddine Akass, was actually longtime enemy Roberto Rastapopoulos, after extensive plastic surgery to alter his appearance. Downplayed in the eventual version by fan artist Yves Rodier, as Rodier redesigned Akass' appearance to be more consistent with that of Rastapopoulos, meaning that he only needed some minor surgery (along with glasses and a fake beard) to achieve his new look.
  • Über: One of the lower-class Übers, Anita Scheele, teaches herself to use her halo effect with surgical precision, allowing her to change the face of Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels so he can assume the identity of the dead Adolf Hitler. However, to reach this level she had to hone her skills on hundreds of human test subjects who all died before she could perfect the process. Even then, she has to "fix up" Goebbels' new face every so often, since it will slowly fall apart, demonstrated when he pulls off one of his ears.
  • In Wonder Woman (1942), Baroness Paula von Gunther cements her Heel–Face Turn by deactivating a bomb in an already-burning building and suffering severe facial burns in the process. A magical Amazon healing ointment is then used to give her a new face that looks totally different from her former one, symbolizing her moral rebirth. This is the possible Ur-Example.

    Films — Animation 
  • Used to cover a new actress assuming the role of Penny in the show-within-a-show in Bolt after the original Penny quits. However, given the circumstances surrounding Penny's departure (she nearly died in a studio fire) the audience can't be certain the new girl really isn't the original Penny (unless you notice her eye color changed) until the scene cuts to show her at home watching the show with her pets. Naturally, Ascended Fanboy Rhino promptly complains that the show has gone downhill.
  • In Foodfight!, the Femme Fatale villain Lady X is revealed to be a former prune mascot who was ugly and overweight until she got plastic surgery in Brazil that not only got rid of all her wrinkles but squeezed all of her fat into a svelte physique and gave her longer and thicker hair. When Sunshine beats her up in the ending, it somehow undoes all of this plastic surgery in seconds.
  • In the Tex Avery cartoon Northwest Hounded Police, an escaped convict chased by Droopy goes to a plastic surgeon to get a new face. After a few seconds of surgery (which involved hammering and sawing), the convict had a new face — Droopy's. He asks the doctor to change it back, which he does. He thanks the doctor — only to find that Droopy was the doctor all along!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Assignment (2016): Frank (Michelle Rodriguez heavily made up to look male) becomes a female version of himself physically (Rodriguez as herself) after undergoing involuntary sexual reassignment surgeries. All this would in reality require long recovery time between each procedure and have visible scarring (the Mad Doctor who did it is just that good).
  • Batman (1989): Jack Napier wants this sort of surgery after getting a deflected bullet to the face (that split to slice both cheeks) and getting dunked in a vat of unspecific chemicals and/or acid. The concept is averted, however, in that the best the back-alley surgeon can do is keep him from looking as horribly disfigured as he should be, so he "just" ends up as the Joker. Still, as bad as the result is, it's a wonder that the surgeon is able to close two prominent facial wounds with no visible stitches or scars.
  • In Captain America (1990), the Red Skull receives the mother and father of all skin grafts over his namesake visage.
  • In Curse of the Pink Panther, Roger Moore plays Inspector Clouseau after plastic surgery to allow Clouseau to appear in a film after the death of Peter Sellers and give the character a sendoff.
  • Averted in Dark Passage. After being wrongly convicted of murdering his wife, Vincent escapes from prison and has back-alley plastic surgery so that the authorities won't recognize him while he tries to prove his innocence. We don't actually see his face directly until after the bandages come off, with the whole "before" portion of the movie being shot from Vincent's point of view. Humphrey Bogart plays Vincent both before and after the surgery, so Vincent cannot be shown directly in his "before" appearance, which is only shown via a newspaper photograph; he does look a little like Bogart, only heavier-set and with a moustache.
  • Averted in Dead End (1937). The gangster Baby Face Martin is said to have received a "new face" from a plastic surgeon, but is still recognizable to people who knew him before.
  • A feature of the Medbays in Elysium. The opening sequence features a young woman using the bays to completely change her appearance. Possibly to highlight the difference between the people on Earth who could use them to survive, and the people on Elysium who are using them primarily for cosmetic purposes. When Kruger gets his face reconstructed, the process ends up removing the distinct facial implants, and ends up de-aging Kruger significantly. He's no longer weathered and wrinkled, and it ends up removing a lot of the gray hairs out of his beard and mustache.
  • This is the entire plot to Face/Off: Sean Archer must undergo plastic surgery that gives him the face of Castor Troy in order to infiltrate the terrorist organization and prevent the shit hitting the fan. In reply, upon finding his face has been taken, Castor takes Archer's face and infiltrates Archer's family and job.
  • Zig-zagged in Foxy Brown. The character receiving the plastic surgery has already had it when the movie begins, so the audience is not shown what he looked like before, but both his colleagues and his girlfriend tell him he looks like a totally different person. Later, however, another character recognizes him despite the surgery and rats him out to the bad guys he is trying to escape.
  • Averted in Gattaca. In order to match Jerome's height, Vincent is seen undergoing a long, painful leg-lengthening procedure with his lower legs bolted into a metal frame. (This type of surgery is called distraction osteogenesis, and it involves cutting the bone in half, driving screws into each half, and then slowly pulling them apart 1 mm per day.) Facial reconstructive surgery is also completely avoided. Vincent makes an effort to emulate Jerome's hairstyle and wears corrective lenses that change his eye color, but their lack of physical resemblance is noted to be a virtual non-issue. People simply don't look at the picture; they only care that the DNA passes.
  • Played for Laughs in Get Smart. Agent 99 recently underwent some rather extreme plastic surgery that turned her from a pretty blonde into an equally beautiful Anne Hathaway. She shows Max a picture of her pre-surgery self during the flight to Russia — some say that the photograph was of the original 99, played by Barbara Feldon.
  • In G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, nanomites are used to change Zartan's face into that of the President of the United States. The film goes into detail about modifying eye color, hair color, and his bone structure being rearranged. Presumably, he just happened to be around the same height, or Mindbender simply hadn't gotten to that point by the cutaway.
  • In the 1973 TV movie The Girl Most Likely To..., an ugly woman is remade beautiful after a car accident. She then uses her new beauty to take revenge on all the men who were cruel to her. She also bumps off at least one Alpha Bitch by tricking her into doing a cartwheel out an open window. Subverted in part in that Stockard Channing played the title character before and after the surgery.
  • In Hitman, a double at least complains about how horrible the surgery was.
  • Not surgical, but Innerspace has Tuck (in a microscopic experimental craft in another guy's bloodstream and needing to outsmart an international arms dealer so he can return to normal size) disguise his host as said arms dealer by applying electrical charges to his facial nerves. Thanks to Rule of Funny, all you need to change Martin Short into Robert Picardo is tweak a few nerve endings.
  • Averted in Inspector Blunder, as the bad guy and his plastic surgeon inspect several portraits before the surgeon declares one to be within his ability.
  • In Jail Bait, a plastic surgeon's son is framed for the murder of a cop. The real killer then blackmails the surgeon into giving him a new face. The "unpredictable" twist ending is that the surgeon gives the killer his son's face so that he'll hang for murder.
  • James Bond:
    • Used in Thunderball to make a SPECTRE agent a dead ringer for Domino's pilot brother.
    • Ernst Stavro Blofeld takes advantage of this trope at least once:
    • Speaking of You Only Live Twice, Bond himself undergoes some kind of treatment so that he can appear to be Japanese. It isn't very convincing. It's also magically undone when Bond disguises himself as an astronaut.
    • This was going to be used to explain how Bond had changed from Sean Connery to George Lazenby; fortunately for the long-term survival of the Bond franchise, the producers dropped the idea.
    • A major plot point for two characters in Die Another Day:
      • Colonel Moon, thought to be dead, disguises himself by using groundbreaking gene therapy to alter his entire ethnicity, to change from a North Korean colonel into a snobby British playboy, with the new identity of Gustav Graves. The Graves identity supposedly hailed from Argentina and moved to Iceland where he found diamonds and built a mine (it's actually a phony mine, used to launder African conflict diamonds obtained as payment for illegal arms trading). It's actually one of the more convincing examples, as the process requires a battery of painful gene therapy (replacing bone marrow from substitutes harvested from unwilling donors) and causing no end of side-effects, including chronic insomnia. It's almost within the bounds of plausibility that one could be made to look like the other with Real Life facial reconstruction surgery, albeit only after multiple surgeries with long recovery periods in between.
      • Zao, Moon/Graves's second-in-command, is in the middle of such a procedure, and is left with no hair, pale skin, ice-blue eyes, and a bunch of diamonds stuck in his face (they'd been put there by a C4 explosion, but you'd think that taking them out would have been the first thing the surgeon would do). Bond interrupts his operation in Cuba, forcing him to make do with the look he's stuck with.
  • In Kamen Rider: The Next, one of the main characters' little sister is horribly mutilated due to an accident with two Rich Bitches, a staircase, and a fuse box. As she is a massively popular Idol Singer, her production house scrambles to hide the evidence of this problem by randomly grabbing a girl her age and changing her into the idol, voice and all until the mutilated original (now a vengeful murderer) takes the new girl out, prompting the producers to just grab another.
  • Myra Breckinridge involves a gay man named Myron Breckinridge getting a sex change to become the title character. Raquel Welch is cast as the female Myra... and Rex Reed as Myron.
  • Nighthawks: Totally averted with Wulfgar. He gets plastic surgery to change his identity so that he'll be able to get into the United States, but aside from a few changes to his skin, he still looks like Rutger Hauer. With a fake I.D., he's able to fool customs long enough to enter, but they eventually catch on and alert the police, forcing Wulfgar to use his lover Shakka for the necessary footwork.
  • Subverted in Once Upon a Time in Mexico when the bad guy attempts to fake his death during a botched plastic surgery, using someone else's body and his jewelry.
  • Our Man Flint: The Galaxy organization is able to use plastic surgery to turn several of its agents into perfect duplicates of ZOWIE guards. The work is so effective that it fools even their boss Lloyd Kramden — but not Derek Flint.
  • In Predestination, John has his face completely replaced through plastic surgery after getting severely burned, going from being played by Sarah Snook to being played by Ethan Hawke. There are no scars or oddities visible after the surgical wounds have healed.
  • In Problem Child 2, Junior tries to avert a wedding by having the woman get plastic surgery to get the world's biggest nose. The woman wakes up and discovers her new nose. Then, just a few hours later, she reappears with her original nose, saying that she had some emergency plastic surgery. Apparently, she had two surgeries on the same body part on the same day with no scars.
  • The 1970s pornographic film The Resurrection of Eve has a woman who is mangled in a car accident receive plastic surgery, only to transform into Marilyn Chambers.
  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: While Holmes relies on makeup and disguises to fool people into at least not recognizing him, the evil plan hinges on one of Moriarty's underlings being made to look like an ambassador at a peace conference. It's a little more believable than the trope usually is because the man would only have to fool a guard's cursory inspection based on a black-and-white sketch or photograph. Moreover, the heroes also point out what flaws they expect to find with the disguise, and the resulting cosmetic tricks necessary to hide them (namely, a lot of facial hair). Ultimately, however, the disguise is just good enough that they have to create a distraction, noting that he's the only one too in control of himself to react at all.
  • In Speed Racer, Racer X undergoes this so that even if he takes his mask off, Speed won't recognize him as his older brother. However, considering all the Wonderful Toys in the film, magic plastic surgery is fairly viable.
  • In The Stepfather III, the killer has plastic surgery performed by a back-alley surgeon (without anesthesia) to disguise himself from the authorities; Terry O'Quinn played the killer in the first two movies but refused to participate in this one, so he was replaced by Robert Wightman.
  • Played for Laughs in Tropic Thunder: Kirk Lazarus undergoes magic plastic surgery as part of his Enforced Method Acting plan for convincingly playing an African-American character. Double magic: the Racial Transformation surgery lasts exactly as long as it has to, surviving weeks in the jungle, yet it's easily removed (as easily as a Latex Perfection mask, but with the backstory stating it was done surgically) during his Heroic BSoD.
  • Discussed in Valentine. Detective Vaughn points out that Jeremy Melton could possibly look very different from the last time the main characters saw him (thirteen years before), even tossing in the possibility of plastic surgery to alter his appearance to look like someone they know. The film is ultimately ambiguous on whether or not Jeremy had plastic surgery or if he just grew up to look like David Boreanaz.
  • War (2007) involves John hunting down Rogue, a renegade ex-CIA hitman who killed his partner and his partner's family three years ago. Rogue uses plastic surgery to repeatedly change his appearance. The Reveal is that Rogue killed the family but was killed in turn by his partner, who did a Dead Person Impersonation to get revenge, using Rogue's plastic surgeon to make himself look like Jet Li even though he'd caught a bullet in the face from the real Rogue.

  • Animorphs: This is the prize which the Yeerks give to Taylor in order to convince her to become The Quisling (she was caught in a house fire).
  • In William Goldman's Brothers, the lesser-known sequel to Marathon Man, it turns out that Scylla's not dead after all: he just got really great plastic surgery and now comes back to warn Babe about android twin bombs threatening the entire world. He's also straight now.
  • Averted in The City of Silent Revolvers. The protagonist and his counterpart are already similar enough that a simple nose job is enough to make one look exactly like the other.
  • Used in Durarara!! when a girl named Mika Harima gets one of these after being disfigured by Seiji Yagiri, who loses it and smashes her face into a wall for sneaking into his apartment and taking a look at Celty's detached head. Even weirder? Mika used the surgery to make herself look juuuuuust like Celty's head.
  • The Executioner:
    • In the third novel "Battle Mask", Mack Bolan contacts a doctor he knew during The Vietnam War who now works as a plastic surgeon, to give him a new face as there's a nationwide manhunt for him. One of the artist sketches of a proposed face he offers Bolan looks just like an Italian-American colleague who was killed in the war, so Bolan uses this to pose as that man and infiltrate a Mafia family. This backfires as Mafia goons tracking Bolan find the doctor, kill him and take the sketch back to their boss, so Bolan has to make sure it never reaches him. He succeeds and apparently keeps using the same face, until his death is faked and he's recruited into the Stony Man team with a new face.
    • The elite Black Aces are said to change their faces so often they've probably forgotten who they once were. Bolan uses this to advantage by posing as a Black Ace on several occasions (including in "Battle Mask" after he's exposed as an imposter).
  • Forest Kingdom: Literally in the Hawk & Fisher spinoff series' book 4 (Wolf in the Fold). The sorcerer Grimm uses magic to change other peoples' looks for a fee, as he does with the spy Fenris.
  • Heavy Object: Averted with the spy Nyarlathotep. After undergoing multiple operations during his career, the man's face has an unnatural, rubbery appearance.
  • In Honor Harrington, there exists a type of plastic surgery called biosculpting, using nanotech to do what modern-day plastic surgery does, with a shorter recovery period and less concern about scarring. Biosculpting is repeatedly mentioned in the series as something the rich indulge in, and something of a mark of vanity; the phrase "could have easily afforded it but didn't, saying interesting things about X's character" seems to appear in some variation frequently enough that you get the feeling that David Weber has views about it.
  • Hyperion Cantos: 'Biosculpting' seems to have replaced tattoos and piercings in the future. Martin Silenus has an artist transform him into a satyr during his stay in the City of Artists (and increase his sexual prowess while he's at it). Brawne and Johnny also encounter some punks who seem 'more insect than human', wings and all, although it's unclear whether these wings are functional or purely decorative.
  • In Legacy of the Aldenata (starting in Cally's War and going through Honor of the Clan), Cally undergoes full body modification to infiltrate a base, necessitating the kidnapping of the person she is replacing. Plot ensues, and she is stuck in the new body (blonde with an excellent figure) for a long time. Eventually, she goes back in to get her old body back and is told to report to the officer who is handling the scheduling of the body modification system. Guess who the officer is...
  • In Prince Roger, the hero has to (eventually) hide from his mother's enemies, so he gets plastic surgery turning him from a tall, thin, blond pretty boy into a short, stocky Asian. He even gets plastic surgery on his DNA.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In The Hand of Thrawn, while Lando Calrissian and Han Solo are freaking out about the possible return of Grand Admiral Thrawn, the possibility of the Grand Admiral being an impostor comes up, but Lando is quick to point out that facial surgery would leave marks that he would have seen when he met the man. Plus, no one could have faked that aura of omniscience. It is an impostor, a Con Man subverting We Will Not Use Stage Makeup In The Future.
    • In the X-Wing Series novel Mercy Kill, a version of this is mentioned that, together with fake records and a little judicious Hollywood Hacking, makes an absolutely unbreakable false identity — even such things as fingerprints, retinal scans, and DNA testing will support the fictional ID and, more importantly, "prove" that the user isn't their old self. However, it takes a prolonged period to carry out, during which the user generally wears temporary prosthetics to give the appearance of their original self.
  • In Daniel Keys Moran's Tales of the Continuing Time books The Long Run and The Big Boost, Trent undergoes biosculpt to infiltrate a base which has something he is going to steal. The story explicitly notes the requirement to change his height and voice along with all of the other stuff. But Trent is almost caught when a computer notices that his typing is different:
    "Indeed, the improvement is quite remarkable. You have improved from 55 words per minute to 140 at peak typing speed. You now strike the space bar with your right thumb rather than your left. Your typing patterns have also altered radically; your favored keyboard layout has altered from the traditional Dvorak to an enhanced 240-key Unicode board. You have acquired the distinctive habit of tapping the EOL key while you are thinking. When you configured this workstation you immediately turned off the end-of-line warning beep, indicating an adjustment to this habit. You make data entry errors that you did not make during your last tour of duty, and have ceased making the great majority of those errors which you were then prone to."
  • In the Technic History, this is also referred to as biosculpting. Dominic Flandry notes a couple of times that he got an excessively handsome biosculpt job when he was younger and is thinking about having it toned down a bit.
  • Averted in the Desmond Bagley spy thriller The Tightrope Men. The protagonist has been kidnapped, brainwashed and altered through plastic surgery to take the place of a Kidnapped Scientist. While it's enough to fool people in the short term, an examination by a doctor soon establishes he's telling the truth. At the end of the novel, he tries to get his face changed back to what it was but has to keep the scientist's bulbous nose (altered through silicone implants) because it would be too difficult to alter.
  • Time Scout:
    • Dr. Booker is her own model and has dozens of pictures of herself looking wildly different.
    • Skeeter goes under the knife to look like another person. Attempted justification: Identical Stranger. Skeeter already very strongly resembles him.
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga, Elli Quinn has plastic surgery to give her a new face after hers is burned off by a plasma arc leaving a "face like a boiled onion". The end result of the work causes some problems for her, as the new face is pretty enough to make many dismiss her as a useless "pretty face" instead of an experienced mercenary soldier.
  • A minor character in The Witcher provides an interesting take on this trope: she was disfigured very badly, so after deciding that there was nothing they could do with it, the healers just hid it under an exceptionally strong illusion.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Adventures of Superboy: Superboy's nemesis Lex Luthor was played by Scott James Wells in the first season. In the 2nd season premiere "With This Ring I Thee Kill", Wells was replaced with Sherman Howard. The difference in appearance was explained by having Lex Luthor have plastic surgery to assume the appearance of Warren Eckworth, CEO of a company that created the "Superboy Gun", a weapon Luthor believes can kill Superboy. Luthor is even said to have used acid to burn off his fingerprints and alter his vocal cords.
  • The Adventures of Superman:
    • Subverted in an episode, where it appears that a mobster has had surgery to alter his face and fingerprints, but which Superman keeps seeing through because of his old mannerisms. Turns out, the mobster was still in hiding and trying to discredit Superman by spreading the plastic surgery story and getting someone else to mimic his mannerisms.
    • This was also subverted in another episode where a gangster has plastic surgery in order to look like Superman. The subversion is that the gangster's features are similar to Superman's, it was George Reeves in a duel role, so the surgery is more believable.
  • Alex Rider: The Greif clones are changed into perfect duplicates of their targets. They're also brought up to full health within what seems to be a few days, with a drug cocktail designed to aid healing.
  • Janet Green in All My Children, a convicted murderer and known psychopath, is given her release from prison in exchange for undergoing experimental plastic surgery. Her portrayer, Kate Collins, left and was replaced by Robin Mattson. However, when Janet returned in 2005, she was Kate Collins again, with no explanation.
  • Herr Flick from 'Allo 'Allo! goes through such a procedure in the final season of the series (so that he can escape occupied France after the war), when Richard Gibson was replaced with David Janson.
  • Another World has a set of identical twins, Vickie and Marley, who went through a couple of recasts over the years. Near the end of the show's run, the role of Marley was recast with the actress who originally played the roles, while Vicky was still played by the actress who'd been doing it over the last few years. The explanation for the change in looks was that Marley had had plastic surgery after being burned in a fire. True to this trope, the surgery not only completely restored Marley's appearance with nary a scar, but it also made her taller and gave her longer hair (as the new actress playing Marley had these characteristics as compared to the actress playing Vicky).
  • In the season one finale of Batwoman (2019), the supervillain Hush has his face changed to resemble that of Bruce Wayne.
  • Jo (Red Striker Borg) from Big Bad Beetleborgs has her appearance (and actor) changed by magic accidentally when a spell backfires. A second spell makes the world see her old face, but it doesn't work on her teammates or the audience.
  • Birds of Prey (2002) sees this happened to crime boss Al Hawke, who was badly burned at the end of his debut episode, "Sons of the Mother". This trope is invoked in his return episode, "Nature of the Beast", where it's explained he got plastic surgery, going from Stephen McHattie to Mitch Pileggi.
  • In The Bold and the Beautiful, Taylor is burned in a house fire, yet doesn't have a trace of scarring. This is actually a very realistic subversion, as (a) the burns she receives are not particularly bad and therefore might not have caused extensive scarring anyway, and (b) Taylor is certainly wealthy enough to afford a top-notch surgeon who can pull off this trope.
  • Used to explain The Other Darrin with Brennan's dad Max in Bones. Even Brennan doesn't recognize him at first, but when his identity is revealed, she studies him and says that she can see he's had cheek and chin implants and a nose job.
  • In the Brazilian Soap Opera Brega e chique and its Chilean remake Rompecorazón, a bigamist rich man goes Faking the Dead, goes through one of these and returns under a fake identity, to keep an eye on his two families and on a girlfriend he had on the side. Logically, in each setting two actors play the same character before and after surgery.
  • The premise of Bullet in the Face, itself a parody of Face/Off. Gunter Volger loses his face in a shootout and reawakens with a full transplant taken from a cop he'd murdered. Not only does the new face fit him perfectly, but he's also even swapped hair with the donor as well (another dig at Face/Off). The show takes pains to remind viewers that facial transplants require a strict drug regimen, which Gunter flagrantly ignores in each episode.
  • Dark Matter (2015): One is revealed to have taken the identity of a notorious criminal by changing his face (and voice) with plastic surgery when he's captured by the same criminal. This is because he's looking for the man who killed his wife, whom he suspects to be part of the ship's crew. Both One and the real Jace Corso are played by Marc Bendavid, while One's previous identity as Derrick Moss is played by Dan Jeannotte.
  • Doctor Who: In "New Earth", the villainous Lady Cassandra, a plastic surgery addict, believes the Doctor to have gone through this since the first time she met him. She never does get to find out the real reason he looks different.
  • In Dream On, Eddie Charles is replaced by a different actor partway through the first series. This is explained away by having him get surgery to change his eyelids. So he gets a whole new face and several extra inches of height! Devilishly clever, these eyelid surgeons!
  • Steven Carrington of Dynasty (1981) was originally played by Al Corley. He gets in an accident and has plastic surgery, henceforth being played by Jack Coleman until the series ended. For the reunion movie, he was again played by Corley, with no explanation.
  • In Ezel, Ömer's face is repeatedly slashed by a sadistic warden during the prison riot in which he "died", requiring major reconstructive surgery. The process aids his transformation into Ezel, the alter ego through which he exacts revenge against those who betrayed him.
  • A failed pilot called Fugly begins with a radical plastic surgery that turns one of a pair of identical twins that looks like 5-foot-nothing, 150-pound Marissa Jaret Winokur with ugly prosthetics into 5'7'' bombshell Nikki Cox. Yeah...
  • Get Smart:
    • Done comically in "Pheasant Under Glass" when Maxwell Smart has to disguise his face after it appears in the newspapers. A CONTROL scientist uses an instant spray-on technique that turns him into various actors with a dubbed Don Adams voice — first Martin Landau ("But the doctor said this was the perfect face for a spy!") then Phyllis Diller. The third try has him looking like Don Adams with facial prosthetics and a Porn Stache.
    • The episode "Die, Spy" has a great parody of this trope. The premise of the episode is a parody of I Spy, with Max and a hip black partner and operating undercover as ping-pong pros. The enemy agent they're trying to draw out has reportedly had plastic surgery to conceal his identity, and no one knows what he looks like now. It turns out that Max's partner is the enemy agent, who didn't used to be black.
    • In "Someone Down Here Hates Me", Max gets in trouble for attacking people he thinks are KAOS agents because he recognizes their Character Tics or Red Right Hand, only to find they look completely different. Turns out a renegade plastic surgeon is now working for KAOS.
  • In The Green Hornet, a criminal uses this to take the place of a reclusive millionaire to avoid capture. Unlike most versions, the look of the person is similar enough to be believed. Also, the Green Hornet points out that there are hairline scars that if a person was observant enough would notice.
  • The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries: The whole plot of the episode "Creatures Who Came on Sunday" revolves around a secret installation of the Federal Witness Protection Program, where protected folks get plastic surgery to totally change their looks. All the folks in said camp are swathed in bandages while playing baseball with no apparent pain or lack of agility.
  • Used in the second season finale of Highlander to turn an escaped con woman into a Tessa lookalike to try and bring Duncan down.
  • The Hogan's Heroes episode Funny Thing Happened on the Way to London used this as part of a Gestapo plot to assassinate Winston Churchill. The double was brought in to replace Hogan's best friend Group Captain Roberts of the RAF who routinely sat in on war briefings with the prime minister and they had Hogan first meet with Roberts before switching him with the double to test if the ruse would work. Unfortunately for the Germans, Hogan and crew were listening on their spy bugs when the Germans introduced Roberts to his double and then explained the whole plan in detail allowing Hogan and the Heroes to sabotage the plan. Also somewhat realistically is that the German officers in charge said that their double already had to look very close to Group Captain Roberts before the surgeries.
  • Knight Rider:
    • In the pilot episode, Michael Long is played by an actor who looks nothing at all like David Hasselhoff. Then, left for dead, Michael is rescued by the Foundation for Law and Government, given a new identity as Michael Knight, and magically transformed into the Hoff.
    • In one episode, Knight infiltrates a facility where criminals are given plastic surgery by posing as a client. The surgeon does notice that Knight has had surgery done on his face before with just a preliminary examination.
    • Originally it appears Michael's surgery is simply to make him unrecognizable as Michael Long. It's later revealed that he was made a dead ringer for Wilton Knight's Antagonistic Offspring, Garth.
  • Lives and Loves of a She-Devil: The title character spends most of the show as an ugly and overweight six-foot woman, then has magic surgery to turn her into the exact double of the (now dead) much shorter and very beautiful woman her husband had an affair with, with the result that her husband goes mad.
  • The second season of Lois & Clark opens with a blonde bombshell being prepped for cosmetic surgery to make herself look like Lois Lane. The imposter races around town, blackening Lois' name and giving disparaging public statements against Superman, until the pair finally get into a Cat Fight in an alleyway.
  • Midsomer Murders: One character is thought to have been killed in a car crash in Norway. He survived and had major surgery before returning to England as a Norwegian citizen (he has no scars), but is still identified by his laugh (well, a woman asks if she knows him because she remembered the laugh, but couldn't place it).
  • Mimpi Metropolitan: When Ada Azab Dalam Cerita's director fires Juna and has Juna's character recasted after Juna turned up late for shooting, he tells Juna that he can easily explain the actor change by saying the recasted character has received a plastic surgery.
  • The New Adventures of Beans Baxter: In the episode "There's No Place Like Omsk", Beans hides a Russian defector, who via one plastic surgery session, looks exactly like Miss Universe Shawn Weatherly.
  • The New Avengers: Used by the bad guys in "Faces" to create doubles used in their Kill and Replace scheme.
  • One Life to Live:
    • When James DePaiva wanted to leave the show, his character, Max Holden, was severely burned in a car accident, paving the way for a recast. Unfortunately, the recast went over like a lead balloon, so TPTB brought back DePaiva with absolutely no explanation for the discrepancy. The show even lampshades this with his first line upon reappearing:
      "I feel like my old self again!"
    • Todd Manning was played by Roger Howarth until 2003. When his character is severely beaten and left for dead, he returns to town several months under a new identity, now played by Trevor St. John.
  • Raised by Wolves (2020): Two atheist rebels, Caleb and Mary, discover identity cards for two high-ranking Mithraic officers and a medical android. They convince the android to alter their features so that they can assume the identities of the Mithraics, fooling even their child.
  • Shakespeare & Hathaway - Private Investigators: The killer in "O Brave New World", combined with extreme weight loss.
  • Smallville:
    • Morgan Edge was originally played by Rutger Hauer, but when they wanted to bring the character back, Hauer wasn't available, so they said that Edge had gone into hiding and undergone plastic surgery. He was played by Rutger's pal Patrick Bergin. In the commentary, the producers complained about having to go "back to the plastic surgery well" because of the original actor's unavailability. At least Edge is rich enough to afford the very best. Not that it stopped Lex Luthor from figuring out who he was. "You can change your face, your hair, your voice... but not your DNA. You still sweat the same."
    • In another episode, "Façade", plastic surgery is used to turn an ugly girl hot — but this being Smallville, Kryptonite is used in the procedure, giving her the ability to give people life-threatening illusions.
  • Star Trek:
    • By the time of the setting, the art of magic plastic surgery has been perfected. It doesn't matter what species it is. If it has two legs, two arms, and one head, doctors can make any species look like any other, though this is usually done by adding pointed ears, weird forehead bumps, etc., to the same actors. Sometimes it can be implausibly perfect even allowing for futuristic technology.
      Doc Oho: Chakotay's face has been reconstructed more times than I care to remember! I'm surprised they manage to get it back to its usual shape every time!
    • Villains in every Trek series are known to change their outer appearance, Visitor-style, to blend in among us. The skin job is extremely thorough: both Chakotay and Winn go to bed with a lizard spy and aren't able to tell the difference!
    • In one Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, Worf goes undercover in a pre-contact civilization, requiring extensive surgery which removes his huge Klingon brow ridges. At one point, he returns to the ship and has his normal features restored perfectly, and then a few scenes later, he has the extensive reconstruction surgery done again to go back down among the natives.
    • Overlaps with Easy Sex Change in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Profit and Lace", in which Quark can undergo complete sex reassignment surgery to appear female within a few hours, then be changed back into a man the very next day.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise plays with this. Naturally being less-advanced, they haven't perfected magic surgery yet, instead using stick-on prosthetic ridges and such. It backfires when one of them gets rifle-butted and the stuff peels off.
    • It also won't fool a medical scan or other detailed examination. In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Trouble with Tribbles", Arne Darvin is exposed as a Klingon agent because, while he looks human, his body temperature, heartbeat, and other vital signs are all wrong. The tribbles help, too.
    • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Ashes to Ashes", former human and former Voyager crew member Lyndsay Ballard was given treatments by the Doctor to alter her Kobali appearance so that she looks human, but unfortunately, the treatments don't last, as her Kobali appearance reasserts itself.
    • Come the Kelvin timeline, it becomes something of a plot point in Star Trek Into Darkness. Khan Noonien Singh is woken up by Admiral Marcus to use in the coming Klingon war but to keep his identity a secret, he is given extensive surgery to turn him from Ricardo Montalbán into Benedict Cumberbatch.
  • In the Tales from the Crypt episode "You, Murderer", posthumously (via edited film clips and a voice impersonator) starring Humphrey Bogart, the protagonist is a fugitive whose plastic surgeon accomplice makes him look like Bogart in a Whole-Plot Reference to Dark Passage. It's nearly all shot from his POV.
  • At one point in TekWar, a doctor's life is in jeopardy, so she undergoes a process to totally change her appearance. She mentions getting completely new skin and worries that sunlight might damage it.
  • Shin Hyun-Woo of Temptation of an Angel gets extensive plastic surgery on his face and even alters his voice for the chance to plot revenge against his wife. However, it does come with drawbacks: the operation is life-threatening, he spends nights in pain before the bandages come off, and he's forced to take medication even after.
  • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Cromartie's change from Owain Yeoman to Garret Dillahunt. Actually semi-justified in dialogue: it's a robot that can't feel pain or suffer any complications on the table, making a more complete job possible. The artificially grown flesh is also implied in dialogue to have unique properties that presumably make it easier to work with and to heal. It's later revealed that SkyNet can literally whip up a Terminator of anyone they have an image of.
  • Alexis Meade of Ugly Betty is a transgender woman. Played by Rebecca Romijn. And an unnamed manly-looking actor in Flashbacks.
  • The X-Files: Averted in the episode "Sanguinarium" by taking the trope name literally; an evil plastic surgeon uses human sacrifice to transform his looks beyond the limits of science.
  • The Young and the Restless:
    • Sheila gets plastic surgery to look like Phyllis, explaining her actor change to the same as Phyllis.
    • The evil Matt Carter gets plastic surgery so that he can return to Genoa City (where he is still wanted for rape charges) and ingratiate himself into the lives of his unknowing victim and her husband and start wreaking havoc.

  • Played straight in the backstory for WHO dunnit (1995). After surviving his auto accident, Tex gets plastic surgery and adopts a new identity as Bruno. None of the people who knew him previously — his daughter, his ex-wife, or his former business partner — catch on.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Howdy Doody went through one of these early in his run, after the first puppet's builder left over a dispute about merchandising and took the puppet with him. The familiar chubby-cheeked, freckle-faced Howdy Doody is the post-surgery version.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Cyberpunk 2020, improving your Attractiveness stat was as easy as throwing money at a plastic surgeon. In a setting where anyone can be biosculpted with animal features and have whole limbs and organs replaced, this is probably justified.
  • Eclipse Phase makes it pretty clear that plastic surgery has improved so greatly in the time of transhumanism that people who carry scars or look old do so because they want to. A procedure may take time and money, but whatever a client wants, he gets.
  • Shadowrun has a wide array of body-sculpting options to choose from, to the point that a person can go from being a tall African-American man to being a petite Japanese woman (though this will take a few months of work while being kept inside a medical tank as your body is being rebuilt at the genetic level).
  • Vampire: The Masquerade:
    • This is but one of the many, many miraculous wonders the Tzimisce are capable of through their unique power of Vicissitude. Laughably, raising your Appearance score using the power is Difficulty 10 (in Old World of Darkness, Difficulty is what you have to roll to succeed; the game uses a ten-sided die, so...), and if you suffer Critical Failure you get uglier.
    • There are some things that even Vicissitude can't do — trying to change a Nosferatu's appearance to something prettier is impossible. Changes that make them uglier, or cosmetically status quo (don't move their appearance trait at all) stick, while improvements 'heal' painfully in minutes. Makes sense considering Clan weaknesses are a malevolent curse rather than a genetic quirk to be fixed.

  • In Arsenic and Old Lace, Jonathan Brewster gets away with his murderous rampages by keeping a plastic surgeon as a sidekick, who changes his face whenever the heat is on. Unfortunately said doctor is also an alcoholic, and after watching a horror movie performed the surgery while drunk, giving Johnathan the face of Boris Karloff. This is because in the original stage production, the actor was Karloff. In a sad case of What Could Have Been, Karloff was unable to get out of his commitments to do the film version, and Jonathan is played by Raymond Massey in Karloff makeup.
  • Dario Fo's Trumpets and Raspberries centres around this. Gianni Agnelli, the head of the Fiat car company, is kidnapped by terrorists, then involved in a car crash which smashes his face. One of his own factory workers finds him, puts his coat around him, then flees the scene when the police mistake him for one of the terrorists and start shooting at him. Agnelli is recovered and his face is reconstructed to look like the picture in the documents found in the worker's jacket. Both main characters are played by the same actor, with frequent quick changes where the actor has seconds to exit one wing, change costumes, and emerge from the fridge. Hilarity Ensues.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • In the second Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney game, one character has a traffic accident so devastating that her face is rendered completely unrecognizable, and uses plastic surgery to turn herself into a clone of her own sister. The likeness is perfect, and everybody — friends, family, doctors, teachers — believes her to be her sister, never noticing a change in voice, mannerisms, height, build, eye color, hair, or anything else. Strangely, the case relies on her face looking as it did before the accident.
    • While plastic surgery is never specifically mentioned in Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, it seems to be the only way that Calisto Yew could have become Shih-na. Even if she changed her hair and personality, you would think her co-thief or the man she'd shot at, or the Interpol agent set on finding the ring Yew was known to have joined would notice she looked rather familiar.
  • In AI: The Somnium Files, this is used as the excuse why Kaname Date looks completely different in the Resolution Route. In reality, Saito Sejima stole back his original body from Date using the prototype Psync Machine and the circumstances conveniently put Date back in his original Hayato Yagyu body. After Saito gets killed by Aiba blowing his head up, the cover story written by ABIS was that the escaped Prisoner #89 was responsible for everything including the New Cyclops Killings and fought Date at the chemical plant, only for #89 to commit suicide by blowing up his own head, which allegedly damaged Date's face in the process and he chalks it up to plastic surgery which somehow gave him the same face as #89.
  • In Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, Dr. Allard rules over the furries of Cesspool X due to his skills as a surgeon allowing him to transform them into the creatures of their desire.
  • BioShock takes place in a world where a breakthrough in genetic engineering makes this possible somehow. Even within this explanation, it's suspiciously easy — it involves ADAM injections, yet doesn't seem to cause deformities and insanity in either of the named characters who undergo it. Patients are in more danger of becoming one of Dr. Steinman's... artistic experiments.
  • City of Heroes: Thanks to the Super Science Super Booster, heroes and villains can now easily change the size and shape of their bodies, even switch genders. In a world where there is a black market for magical artifacts and super-science is used daily, this is pretty well justified.
  • A very interesting example of this trope can be found in Cael Cyndar from Dragon Rage since he looks distinctly different in the games box art, gameplay, and cutscenes.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, as of the Dawnguard expansion, has an NPC named Galathil hiding in the Ragged Flagon in Riften. For 1000 gold, she will give you a literal Magic Plastic Surgery (at least, as long as you aren't a vampire).
  • Fallout:
    • In Fallout 3, you can change your face as easily as getting a haircut (provided you find the right person). A certain advanced android also had this done to hide from his creators.
    • Also possible in Fallout: New Vegas' DLC Old World Blues with the Auto Doc, provided you find the programming to do so.
    • Fallout 4:
      • It's again possible to can change your face as easily as getting a haircut, at the clinic at Diamond City.
      • Subverted in one minor side quest which has you investigating a missing person, and the clues end up leading you to the clinic's basement. Once inside, you find out the missing person wanted to get Magic Plastic Surgery, but the doctor botched the operation. To preserve his reputation, he murdered his patient, and you enter just after he finished dismembering the body. If you try to forcibly arrest him, you end up having to kill him, and trying to convince him to give up results in him having a My God, What Have I Done? moment and killing himself by overdosing on Psycho.
  • In Grand Theft Auto Online, you can change your character's physical appearance for $100,000 in-game dollars.
  • You can buy tokens in Guild Wars online store (with real money) that allow you to change a character's appearance (a more expensive version lets you change gender too), making it a literal example.
  • Honey, I Joined a Cult starts with the Cult of the Space Fish being raided by the police. Their leader, Space Commander Charlie Fishnut, is a black man who can't be charged with anything and is told to get out of town. He fetches his Briefcase Full of Money while planning to Invoke this trope, "he knows a guy", so he can start over elsewhere. Three months later you're starting a new cult with full customization of the leader's sex and race.
  • This is the in-universe excuse for Shepard's appearance if you change it between Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2; s/he died in the interim and had to be completely rebuilt. While the same reasoning can't carry over from 2 to Mass Effect 3 you can still completely change the appearance of the Shepard you import before starting the game. No mention is made of any changes you make.
  • In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain this is offered at the start of the game, apparently allowing the player to choose any face they want for their version of Big Boss via Character Customization. Subverted as this turns out to be a Trolling Creator moment and the character doesn't end up getting the surgery at all. After the final mission, the player finds out that this was actually a Double Subversion — the player character is not the real Big Boss but one of his closest lieutenants. The lieutenant received a Surgical Impersonation makeover before the game started, along with hypnotherapy to make him believe that he was the real deal. This drew attention away from the genuine article, allowing him to escape and work on his own plans.
  • Saints Row:
    • In Saints Row 2, you can instantly revamp your character as many times as you like at $500 per visit at Image As Designed.
    • It becomes a plot point in Saints Row: The Third, where you use the same plastic surgery service to become completely identical to the military commander in charge of the STAG ship you need to sneak aboard, voice and all. Yes, even if you're female.
  • The Sims 2 has the career reward for the Show Business career which can be used to instantly remodel your Sims' facial features. It does have a chance of humorously failing, but said failures can also be fixed instantly by having another go at it.

    Web Animation 
  • Plastic Surgery plots are common in GoAnimate videos. All of them very firmly fall under this trope; the patient simply lies on a bed, still conscious, and in a flash of light, they're changed to a new design.

  • In Miss Guillotine, two major characters have undergone plastic surgery. Callie's is more realistic, limited to minor facial touches and laser eye surgery. Hailey/Michelle's meanwhile, requires major facial reconstruction, liposuction, elongated limbs, extensive skin treatments, and dietary changes...

    Web Original 
  • In Pay Me, Bug!, this is how the crew plan to infiltrate The Radiant Throne again, so soon after their last heist landed them on The Throne's "most wanted" list. Justified by future medical tech.
  • In Worm, Bonesaw is able to accomplish this thanks to her bio-Tinker specialty. The quality of the surgery varies depending on available time; the decoys she created out of civilians could be mistaken at a glance but were obviously fakes on a close look. Bonesaw eventually performed a series of operations on herself to make herself appear two years younger.

    Western Animation 
  • Avez-vous déjà vu... ? has several episodes based on this, all rigorously Played for Laughs. These include a chicken who becomes an elephant, a bull who becomes a snail, two twins who want to become conjoined, and an egg who wants to become a chicken (subverted: the doctor proposing the surgery outs himself as a quack because eggs don't need surgery to become chickens).
  • Parodied in an episode of Cow and Chicken where plastic surgery is spectator sport. Meatgrinder Surgery is able to cause flawless physical transformation in minutes. Chicken enters the interschool competition, where he ultimately turns himself into a photo-realistic beaver (depicted with real footage over the cartoon) as the final trial.
  • Detentionaire: Lynch attributes being Older Than They Look to this, as well as some actual magic.
  • In the Family Guy episode "He's Too Sexy For His Fat", Peter goes out and gets liposuction. Then he goes out one day and comes back later with a new chin, abs, and several other things.
  • Subverted in Inside Job (2021); Andre tries to perform a "face change operation" on Brett and Glenn which horribly backfires. They undo it immediately.
  • Subverted in The Legend of Korra. Yakone has plastic surgery in order to escape from prison and lead a more-or-less normal life, but he still looks somewhat similar to how he was pre-surgery. Still, it works: he is able to live out the rest of his life in peace. It helps that he goes far away from the place where he gained his infamy.
  • In the Pepper Ann episode "Old Best Friend", after P.A. faint from seeing her old friend Brenda everywhere, she wakes up in a surgery room to find that her face has been turned into Brenda's. It was All Just a Dream however.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: In "The Man in the Mirror", Brad and Judy have plastic surgery to turn themselves into doubles of Fred and an older version of Daphne.
  • The Simpsons:
  • South Park:
    • "Tom's Rhinoplasty" has Mr. Garrison getting a nose job and ending up looking just like David Hasselhoff... as in a photoshopped image of Hasselhoff's head on Mr. Garrison's body.
    • In "Mr. Garrison's Fancy New Vagina", in addition to Mr. Garrison's Easy Sex Change, Kyle gets plastic surgery from Garrison's surgeon (Dr. Biber) to make himself taller and blacker so he can make the all-star basketball team. Kyle's father Gerald also gets surgery from Dr. Biber to make him like a dolphin. While the amount of time between their surgeries and first outings in their new configurations isn't specified, none of them could have taken very long. The episode ends with Biber promising to reverse their surgeries for a nominal fee, and they're completely back to normal by the next episode. This is actually subverted insofar as the transformations are quite forcefully demonstrated to be far from perfect, but the surgeries to get them back to normal certainly achieve well-nigh magical levels of No Ontological Inertia for their previous surgeries.

Alternative Title(s): Plastic Surgery