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Metaphoric Metamorphosis

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In cartoons, characters will sometimes change into something depending on the situation:

  • A lollipop emblazoned with the word "Sucker" (the character has just been tricked).
  • A donkey, with optional braying (the character is stupid or being a (jack)ass). In cases where actually saying the word "ass" would provoke the censors, this can double as Getting Crap Past the Radar.
  • Shoe heel (this example is often aligned with guilt and remorse akin to the trope My God, What Have I Done? rather than being embarrassed).
  • Advertisement:
  • A dumbbell (a more direct Visual Pun indication of stupidity).
  • A wolf, complete with Wolf Whistle (the character is lustful).

A specific form of Visual Pun. Compare Literal Metaphor. Contrast Narrative Shapeshifting. Related to Shameful Shrinking.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Violence Jack manga features a very disturbing variation of this, when the evil men of sector B attack and rape the women of sector C, they metaphorically become wolves and hyenas.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • In Aladdin, the Genie turns into a sheep after realizing Aladdin tricked him into granting a free wish.
    Genie: Well, I feel sheepish. Alright, you ba-a-a-ad boy, but no more freebies!
  • In Pinocchio this is Played for Drama since being on Pleasure Island for too long causes the misbehaving children to turn into actual donkeys, which in most cases seems to be permanent.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A rare live-action example: In The Mask, The Mask gets a wolf head when watching Tina perform at the Coco Bongo. Mind you, he's pretty much a living Toon.

    Web Comics 

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Very common in Looney Tunes
    • In The Big Snooze, Elmer Fudd turns into a sucker after repeatedly falling for Bugs' "run through a hollow log over the edge of a cliff" gag. This episode is basically a retrace of a scene from the earlier short All This and Rabbit Stew, with the black caricature hunter redrawn as the similar proportioned (but more politically correct) Elmer Fudd.
    • Happens in "The Million Hare", after Daffy Duck inadvertently donates his million dollar prize to his "best buddy" Bugs Bunny. The touched announcer asks Daffy for some words, to which an "ass-faced" Daffy donkey-brays.
    • Likewise, a few years earlier, in "Daffy's Inn Trouble", Daffy tries to put Porky Pig out of business by crushing his establishment with a boulder. He rolls the boulder off the edge of a cliff, only for it to land next to Porky's establishment, bounce in the air, and crush Daffy's own establishment instead, leaving Porky's intact. Again, when he sees what has happened, Daffy becomes "ass-faced" and brays like a donkey.
    • In the short "Tom Turk and Daffy", after realizing he's been had by Daffy, Porky first wears a Dunce Cap, then turns into a bottle of dope, and finally a sucker.
    • In the Merrie Melodies short "Bone Sweet Bone" a bulldog steals a smaller dog's bone. The latter gets even by blowing up a giant bone-shaped balloon. When the bulldog sees what he thinks is the biggest bone ever, his greed is apparent when his head transforms into that of a lip-smacking pig!
    • In "Norman Normal", a childish argument where Norman's boss tries to pressure him into making a sale easier by getting a potential client drunk results in Norman and his boss both regressing into children.
  • Used a few times in The Flintstones as well. Played with in one example when Fred is guilt tripped by Wilma. He runs into Barney, who comments on his own still visible "heel" head, implying Betty used the same tactic on him.
  • Pretty common in Tom and Jerry. Often, after Tom tricks Spike the Bulldog, his head (or his whole body) briefly turns into that of a donkey when he realizes what a jackass he is.
    • In "Puppy Tale", Tom has an Imagine Spot caused by his guilt from casting Jerry and an abandoned puppy out into the rain, with him becoming a skunk.
  • Classic Disney Shorts:
    • There are two in which characters turn into heels: "The Sleepwalker" (after Pluto destroys a female dachshund's dog house, leaving her and her puppies without shelter), and "Cured Duck" (after Donald gets so frustrated from trying to open Daisy's window that he wrecks her living room).
    • In "The Barn Dance", Mickey's head briefly turns into a donkey's after Minnie gets mad at him for his clumsy dancing.
    • In "Donald's Crime", Donald briefly turns into a skunk when he's about to steal his nephews' money to go on a date with Daisy.
    • In "Motor Mania," Mr. Wheeler deliberately drives slowly down the middle of a street, blocking traffic. When someone calls him a "Road Hog!" he temporarily becomes a large, lazy fat swine behind the wheel. When he presses his car horn, it oinks!
    • In "Two Chips and a Miss," as they watch Clarice perform, Chip 'n' Dale become so lustful that their heads briefly turn into those of drooling wolves.
    • Likewise, briefly in "The Clock Watcher", as Donald hurries to his post in the gift wrapping section of the department store, he runs past a sexy female mannequin, but briefly doubles back to stare in lustful ecstasy, his head turning into that of a howling wolf in the process.
  • In an episode of The Ren & Stimpy Show, Ren turns into a man's ass, accompanied by a donkey braying.
  • An episode of SpongeBob SquarePants has Squidward's head be replaced by that of a donkey. Or, more precisely, an ass.
  • Subverted in Teen Titans Go! where Beast Boy transforms into a wiener after claiming Trigon is one.
  • In the Droopy short "Wags to Riches", Spike briefly becomes a skunk when he plots to kill Droopy to get his inheritance.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: In "Comic Stripper", Dexter finds out that Mandark gets his robot fighting moves from the comic book Mister Misery, so he buys every copy of it to anticipate what he'll try next, only for Mandark to use different tactics from another comic as a result. Once Dexter realizes the hole in his plan, he promptly turns into an donkey's rear.
  • A recurring gag from Popeye would have Bluto become a Wolf when he listed after Olive Oyl and in another instance he became a rattlesnake when he eavesdropped on Popeye and Olive’s treasure hunting plan.
  • In an episode of House of Mouse Donald gets called a "ham" by Mickey, dramatically overreacts to this and is turned into an actual piece of ham at the end of the episode.