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"Of course. Mutants are best equipped to deal with the world today. Who else? THE GHOULS? Please. NORMALS? They brought nuclear death to us all. This will be the age of Mutants! Mutants."
The Master, Fallout

Mutants, also known as Deviants and Freaks, are, by general definition, organisms that have undergone a permanent change to their genetic structure relative to the norm for their species. Sometimes this results in a new race or breed, or even, as mutations accumulate over time, a new species (speciation), and sometimes it's a one-off that produces effects that don't breed true, or are so negative that they prevent the individual mutant from successfully surviving and breeding. Technically, any deviation in a person's genetic code that isn't a "simple" combination of their parents' alleles would be a mutation. On average, human beings have 150 to 175 mutations each (mostly minor transcription errors or swapped chromatid segments), the vast majority of which are undetectable. So technically, we're all in some sense mutants.

Mutants in fiction follow this same basic idea (though normally portrayed in biologically implausible or impossible ways), but have a much wider variety of phenotype effects than Real Life mutations because of Hollywood Evolution. Fictional mutants are often superheroes, because "mutation" is a very easy way to get multiple power sets from a single Superhero Origin (this is why X-Men, the first major comic to have lots of characters introduced all at once, starred a group of mutants). Just as often, humans or other animals are mutated somehow into hideous Always Chaotic Evil monsters for the heroes to fight, or pitiful misunderstood freaks. Because even low levels of radiation can be deadly with prolonged exposure, it's common for stories to have Radiation-Immune Mutants who can survive, thrive on, or require radiation to live.

There are two different ways to use the word Mutant: it can refer to characters who were born with a mutation, such as most members of the X-Men. Marvel Comics, the storytellers that have to be the most specific about this kind of thing, refers to these as Mutants. The other definition is things that have had their genetic code changed after birth, whether by radiation damage, gene therapy, or a pandemic disease. Marvel calls these Mutates. Usually in fiction, these after-market mutations also alter germ cells and get passed on to the mutate's kids. For clarity's sake (and in accordance with the Mutant Registration Act), we keep the examples of these two different kinds of mutation separate.

The mutates variety (and certain mutants with an Unstable Genetic Code) are prone to experiencing Transformation Horror in some form or fashion.

May overlap with Evolutionary Levels if the mutants are "superior" to mankind. A type of Superhero Origin. Very frequent targets for Fantastic Racism. Outside the superhero genre, mutants are most often encountered After the End.

A large body of examples of fictional mutants can also be seen on Wikipedia: Mutant (fictional).

Examples of Mutants

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Basilisk, both the Iga and Kouga clan have been selectively breeding mutant members of their clans, resulting in powers and occasionally deformities. These in-bred abilities vary in how controllable they are (unlike say usual depictions of Charles Atlas Superpower or Ki Manipulation where characters who have them never seem to have control issues unless they go beyond their limits) and how potent they are.
  • The Contractors and Dolls of Darker than Black probably count, being a Darker and Edgier take on the traditional comic books version, although other than the fact that they generally have a Meta Origin, there's no indication of whether or not any genetic difference exists. It might even be a subversion; it's mentioned offhand that some government research organizations assumed it was genetic, tried eugenics programs to get themselves a superpowered army, and failed miserably.
  • One of Digimon V-Tamer 01's protagonists is a Prehistoric Monster and every last mutant he encounters is antagonistic towards him, though some of them do become his friends later. For whatever reason, many of these monsters have their mutant status revoked in later Digimon works.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • An interview with Akira Toriyama years after the conclusion of the manga revealed that Freeza and King Cold are mutants among their own race, hence why they are exceptionally strong compared to the vast majority of them. In the manga proper, the Ginyu Force are also confirmed mutants. Cooler and Kuriza (Freeza’s brother and son) are assumed to be mutants as well, especially Cooler though they aren’t considered canon.
    • Dragon Ball Super: Broly: Broly's extreme power, even for a Saiyan, is explained as him being a mutant. He also has a superior version of the Saiyan's normal Adaptive Ability. A normal Saiyan becomes stronger after recovering from an injury, but he can become stronger during a fight if he is being overwhelmed by his current opponent.
  • The diclonii in Elfen Lied. A particularly creepy example, given that after going through the motions of persecution and acceptance, humanity exterminates them and this is considered a good thing.
  • In Gintama, the second to last story arc in the series reveals this to be the case of Big Bad Utsuro and Kagura's mother, Kouka. They were born with the ability to absorb and store large amounts of their birth planets' Altana, giving them a Healing Factor, slow aging, and near immortality. If they leave their birth planets, they will have to rely on their large reserves until it runs out, greatly weakening them as was the case with Kouka, combined with giving birth to two children.
  • Interviews with Monster Girls's demihumans are actually humans born with genetic mutations that cause them to exhibit traits of the monsters found in folklore.
  • Sein of Lyrical Nanoha was revealed in the third Sound Stage of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS to be one in addition to being a Cyborg. Unlike her sisters, she had an unexpected mutation when she was being born. This is the source of her phasing abilities.
  • The idea that Newtypes in Mobile Suit Gundam are a result of evolution or mutation is gradually debunked as the metaseries goes on. In the earliest shows, however, they are implied to be humans adapting to living (and dying) in space by gaining enhanced senses and low-level Psychic Powers. All related tropes about mutants being exploited, persecuted, and persecuting back apply in full, as well.
  • Any Naruto character or clan with a "bloodline trait", such as the Uchiha clan and their Sharingan. At least, at first, the final arc in Shippuden suggests that all kekkai genkai are all specific residual traits inherited from a common ancestor, who was an alien.
  • In One Piece, most of the strongest people get that way via training really, really, really hard, getting a Devil Fruit, or most likely both. Big Mom is neither, she's simply a freak of nature. She was born abnormally strong and despite not being a giant grew so rapidly she might as well be, and by age 5 was strong enough to seriously injure or kill giants on accident. Deconstructed, as no one knew how to properly care for her due to her unique nature, which ultimately lead to her severe mental illness as an adult.
  • Tiger & Bunny has the emergence of the NEXT 45 years ago. A mutation occurred in humans which led to certain people having superpowers.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • Batman:
      • Killer Croc was originally conceived as just an unusually large and strong man with a skin condition not unlike epidermolytic hyperkeratosis, giving him a scaly, crocodile-like hide. Then, later artists and writers portrayed him with a bunch of other reptilian/crocodile-like traits such as the ability to stay underwater for long periods, a pronounced snout, reptilian eyes, an atavistic mindset, and sometimes even a tail. At least one writer has explained this as a a mutation in his disease (and possibly a metagene) that was further worsened by Hush infecting him with a mutagenic virus. The end result is the crocodilian monster we all know and love.
      • The fifth Clayface, Cassius Payne, is the only Clayface born with his condition, being the product of two clay mutations marrying.
      • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns has a massive teen gang called the Mutants terrifying Gotham. The leader is probably the only Mutant who might actually be a mutant. Well, that or a plain old sociopath with filed teeth.
    • Of note is the Silver Age hero Captain Comet, described as a man born 1000 years before his time.
    • Legion of Super-Heroes:
      • Mano, one of the members of the Fatal Five, is one of the few metahumans explicitly mentioned as being a mutant, having been born with the ability to disintegrate anything he touched with his right hand. Notably, however, Mano is not human, but an alien mutant. As a response to the mistreatment that he received because of his mutation, Mano became a monster and used his anti-matter touch to destroy his own homeworld, afterward plaguing the galaxy at large.
      • Another mutant from the Legion books is the hero Ferro Lad (or just Ferro, in the post-Zero Hour: Crisis in Time! version), who has the power to turn his body into steel.
  • Ex-Mutants from Eternity Comics features future humans reduced to becoming deformed mutants as a result of a prior nuclear war. Fortunately, a three-eyed scientist was able to genetically resequence a group of young mutants into humans of peak physical ability and these Ex-Mutants were to spread hope for a return of humanity.
  • In Mampato, a nuclear war in the 30th century completely destroyed civilization. A thousand years later, all living things on the planet are mutants, including plants, animals, and humans, who organize themselves into different tribes according to their mutation. Rena, Mampato's best friend, is an albino telepathic mutant girl.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Subverted at the start of ClanDestine, as twins Rory and Pandora manifest powers in their early teens and (this being the Marvel Universe) assume that they're mutants, keep their abilities secret from their relatives and try to become superheroes. As it turns out, everyone in the family has powers, and they're not mutants at all.
    • The Eternals: Thanos is a mutant Eternal born with an appearance similar to that of the monstrous Deviants. That same mutation is also why he is considerably more powerful than the average Titanian Eternal.
    • Marvels features Maggie (pictured above), a young mutant girl with a skull-like face. Her innocent outlook is contrasted with the violent attitudes of anti-mutant humans.
    • As noted above, X-Men is effectively the Trope Maker for mutants as a Superhero Origin. As time went on and the writers felt the need to justify superpowers as a mutation, they tried to tie things into evolution, and then things got... screwy.
      • Warren Ellis' run of Astonishing X-Men introduces Kaga, an elderly Japanese man born after the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki who describes himself as a "textbook mutant", i.e., the type that occurs in real life. Because his mutations are caused by genetic damage from nuclear radiation rather than the X-Gene, he has no superpowers, only deformities that leave him unable to walk, disfigure half of his face, and give him ten fingers on his right hand. Kaga is thus a deconstruction of the common portrayal of mutation giving people superpowers, and has a murderous hatred of the X-Men, who despite their (not incorrect) reputation as outcasts are nonetheless made up of athletic, attractive people born with superpowers rather than disfiguring and debilitating mutations.
      • Early X-Men comics implied, and it was later confirmed, that Namor the Sub-Mariner is a mutant, in addition to being a cross-breed between humans and Atlanteans. This explains his ankle wings that allow him to fly, as well as his enormous strength.
  • An issue of the classic EC Comics horror/sci-fi anthology series Weird Science (not that one) has a story titled "The Loathsome" about a badly deformed little girl being raised in an orphanage. Her father, a US Navy sailor, has his own DNA damaged by exposure to radiation during an atom bomb test in the Pacific just prior to returning home and fathering her. A military doctor convinces him to give up the infant and tell his wife the child had died shortly after birth. The girl has no superpowers and certainly isn't evil, but is treated as a monster by her caretakers and the other orphans because of her severe physical deformities. The story was An Aesop (a heart-wrenchingly tragic one) about the perils of nuclear weapons and mistreatment of people who are "different". You can read it here.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm:
    • While the Marvel aspects are primarily based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the fic includes considerable elements of mainstream comics canon, mutants among them, including most of the classic X-Men (in sometimes slightly altered forms), as well as Wanda Maximoff, Peter Wisdom (a.k.a. Regulus Black, making him a wizard too) and Magneto (referred to for most of the first book as The Dreaded — for good reason). Harry himself is one, via his maternal grandmother, who was the sister of Jean Grey's grandmother, underlining his status as a Heinz Hybrid. That said, it is implied that his mutation and Asgardian abilities will clash in the form of a brain hemorrhage.
    • This is also given as the origin for the ability to use magic, a genetic mutation called 'the M-Gene', which can have considerable variation in how it manifests — i.e., wanded wizards or wandless (though it's hinted that that one is more like being right or left-handed, and most can be trained to use at least a halfway house between the two), stronger or weaker practitioners who, in the latter case, do different things.
  • In Codex Equus, genetic mutations are so prominent they get their own entry, with it being noted throwing magic into things makes things a lot more complex.
    • Dreadmares are rare mutated Boogeymares. Dread was a mutant Dreadmare, dubbed a Dreadmare Emperor, with pony-level intelligence and much stronger than normal.
    • In Changeling cultures, mutants are referred to as 'Deviants', and is often looked on with fear and rejection by the rest of their kind due to how unstable the Changeling genetic structure is. Chrysalis in particular hated them due to her racial supremacist views and had decreed their extermination during her reign. Thorax was one due to his ability to shapeshift into inanimate objects, something he hid from the rest of his hive until his and his hive's Purification. His hive ended up gaining it as well, and his brother Pharynx is also a mutant with his natural combat form.
    • As it turns out, Rainbow Dash is one. She's a Rainbow Pony, a mutant with a genetic mutation that lets her metabolize light into energy and mana, which are known for their super speed. However, even by their standards she's extremely fast, though she is unaware of everything the mutation would allow her to do. Luminiferous is interested in bringing out her potential so she could perform the legendary "Rainbow Warp".
    • Applejack, Fluttershy, and Zecora are also mutants, though of a much less phenomenal degree than Rainbow. They possess the very common "Happy Tail" gene, and thus have Prehensile Tails. Happy Tail mutations are also very common in Equus.
    • Princess Twilight Sparkle is a "So Soft" pony, based on the G1 pony toy line of the same name. Her mutation makes her fur somewhat thicker and much softer than normal, which can provide a natural armor against cold weather and some weaponry.
  • In How Trixie (Somehow) Saved Hearth's Warming, it's revealed that the Big Bad Leidr is a mutant wendigo. The rest of his kind are non-sapient beasts who act purely on instinct, but he's completely sapient and was born that way. This fact is the cause of the heroes reaching out to him after his defeat upon realizing how lonely and painful it was to have the rest of your kind be completely incapable of understanding you.
  • The Institute Saga is a Superman/X-Men: Evolution crossover, so naturally there're mutants. Superman's existence baffles Magneto because Magnus mistakes him for a mutant, but can't understand why Superman's so powerful or has so many different powers.
  • Ma'at: Referencing the central location of its source work, Whateley Universe, the Whateley Academy is mentioned in the first chapter:
    There is a school for mutants, called Whateley Academy, which has the facilities and teachers you'll need.~
    ~I'm a mutant?~
    ~No, but they're the only organization that can be trusted with your training at the moment.
  • In The Night Unfurls, the Elite Mooks born from Shamuhaza's experiments are also known as mutants. They can be of any fantasy race transformed into hideous husks with little sanity left, or the result of Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong.
  • Origin Story is based on the Marvel Universe, so yes, there are mutants.
    • The most notable one is Louise Fulford, the main character's love interest. Her mutant power, the ability to change her hair color (all her hair, not just the stuff on her head) to any shade or combination of shades she wishes) is less than overwhelming.
    • There is an entire community of homeless, low-powered mutants living under an overpass in Los Angeles. Alex Harris (the story's main character) and Louise take shelter with them for a while, and look after them afterward.
  • Pokémon Reset Bloodlines has "bloodliners", humans with Pokémon-related abilities. They used to be quite rare, but for reasons that have yet to be explained, their numbers have been exploding recently.

    Film — Animated 
  • Felidae: Out of all the cats experimented on by Dr. Preterius, only Claudandus survived exposure to the doctor's healing glue. Preterius theorized that Claudandus is a mutant, with some unique genetic factor allowing his body to respond positively to the glue. Unfortunately, Preterius' tortuous attempts to crack the cat's genetic code and replicate the mutation only succeed in giving Claudandus a murderous hatred for humans.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Crimes of the Future (2022): Tenser, Brecken, Lang and other humans are developing in totally different ways from the norm. In the case of Tenser, he's developing new organs (albeit non-functional ones) apparently through willing it. Brecken, along with Lang and others, are now able to subsist on plastic along with other things most humans can't, with a group that embraces these changes as the future of humanity's evolution. Many other regular humans though react to this with animus and even violence.
  • Freaks tells the story of a troupe of sideshow performers with a number of rare disabilities. Most of the acts featured in the movie (and in their sideshow acts) focus on how they function in their day-to-day lives, such as Frances O'Connor eating her dinner with a knife and fork or knitting despite not having arms, Johnny Eck walking without legs, and Prince Randian lighting and smoking a cigarette when he doesn't have limbs at all. The stars of this movie had the same disabilities as their characters, and like their characters, they led pretty contented lives and saw The Freakshow as merely a way to make a living.
  • Grizzly Rage: It's implied that the Grizzly was mutated by toxic waste in a river.
  • In The Hills Have Eyes (1977), the members of the antagonistic Cannibal Clan exhibit a number of deformities and mutations. Papa Jupiter was twenty pounds at birth and the size of his father at the age of ten; his children (save for Ruby) are just as freaky, with Pluto being the most visibly different. It's subtly implied that their deformities come from radiation from the tests the Air Force are running nearby (though Michael Berryman being cast as Pluto is a rather... strong hint); in the remake, it's outright stated that their mutations are caused by radiation exposure (along with inbreeding).
  • It's Alive revolves around a mutated baby born with multiple abnormalities, including fangs, claws, and apparently the ability to move about despite being a newborn infant — all of which make it very dangerous when upset, as newborns tend to be immediately after birth. These mutations seem to have been caused by an experimental fertility drug given to the mother, a la thalidomide.
  • The giant octopus from Octopus is similar to the below example. A biological weapon spill resulted in its ancestors being mutated, and several generations later the gigantic beast of the film results.
  • Spring: Louise is one whose form changes every twenty years, after she's gotten pregnant as this then lets her regenerate, remaining immortal because of it.
  • The giant ants in Them! are an example, oddly enough. The radiation from nuclear testing didn't cause the ants to suddenly become gigantic; it was the offspring of those irradiated ants (along with their increased size, they emerged as adults from their eggs, with no larval or pupal stages in between. Another genetic quirk).
  • These Are the Damned: The nine children being kept in a secret underground bunker by the British government have skin that's cold to the touch and are immune to radiation yet contaminate any living thing that comes into contact with them. They were created in the womb by a freak radiation accident and are being studied in the hope of creating more such children who can continue the human race if nuclear war breaks out.
  • Several mutants appear in Total Recall (1990) as deformed inhabitants of a Mars colony, born with deformities due to their colonist parents being forced to live in poorly made domes that didn't protect them from space radiations during the early stages of colonization. One of the most famous ones is probably the three-breasted prostitute.

  • In the CYOA-style gamebook series A Road Less Traveled from Greek Winter Media, it's a post-apocalypse future where the results of the nukes are two types of mutants. Mutts are just ugly and physically twisted mutants, though they are a danger in the wastelands as they congregate in large numbers. Anyone can become a mutt if they received enough radiation. The other type of mutant are the Shapers, these mutants are indistinguishable from normal humans, except they manipulate energy and may have psionics too (depends on breeding). Your character is a latent Shaper who has telepathy and electricity manipulation.

Examples by creator:
  • Isaac Asimov:
  • The escapism inherent in this trope was subverted as early as 1954, in Alfred Bester's short story 5,271,009. Here, the main character is put in a Lotus-Eater Machine and experiences multiple juvenile fantasies, each of which is explained by "a mysterious mutant strain in his makeup that makes him different." On the other hand, the Espers (telepaths) of The Demolished Man fit the X-Men version very closely, including the idea of classifying them according to different levels of superpower.
Examples by work:
  • With all the mad science going on in The Automatic Detective, a few mutagens entering the water were only to be expected. Actually, it's this way by design since some of the Pilgrims can't even remotely pass for human. Once people get used to weirdos and psychics running around, more and more of them can come out of hiding.
  • In Richard Matheson's short story "Born of Man and Woman", the protagonist is a deformed child born to normal human parents who are disgusted by him and keep him locked in their basement. The end of the story reveals that his deformities are much more extensive then the reader had been led to believe, including multiple limbs, wall-climbing and green blood.
  • The Chrysalids features a post-apocalyptic society where mutants are a common occurrence. However, seeing as it's a Crapsack World, they're immediately exiled or killed on discovery.
  • Draconis Memoria: The Spoiled, the native inhabitants of Arradsia, are twisted, misshapen mockeries of mankind. Extremely primitive and almost animalistic in their behaviour, their bones are gnarled and mangled from birth and their flesh is marred by numerous scales, horns and spikes randomly growing from them.
  • Serroi in The Duel of Sorcery Trilogy. In this case, it means that she's tiny, green-skinned, and has what seems to be a pineal eye of sorts and Psychic Powers.
  • Mutants born after a suitcase bomb goes off in New Jersey are the protagonists (and antagonists) of Tom DeHaven's affecting novel Freaks' Amour.
  • Edmond Hamilton's story "He That Hath Wings" features a mutant born after his mother was hit with electricity (there is a long explanation fitting firmly into the Science Marches On area). The child is born a Winged Humanoid, a rather obvious inspiration for the Angel from X-Men. Unfortunately, another thing the Angel seems to have inherited is a tendency toward tragic biography.
  • In The Infected, they're called... well, Infected. Otherwise, the trope is played dead straight like in X-Men. Several times, people have to reiterate that the Infected aren't contagious or anything, that's just the name that stuck when medical science was trying to decide what to make of them.
  • Played very darkly in the metatextual post-apocalyptic novel The Iron Dream, as mutants are used as a metaphor for how fascists (specifically, Hitler) view other races than their own.
  • In "It's a Good Life", Anthony's parents are normal humans, but Anthony is some kind of undescribed monster with Reality Warper powers. In the adaptation in The Twilight Zone (1959), he looks normal, but the story suggests that he looks quite inhuman — he has a "purple gaze", an "odd shadow", and the doctor who delivered him tried to kill him after getting a good look at him.
  • Mindscape: The Vermittlers, the only people who can penetrate the barrier, are not trusted because they are genetically engineered. In the novel, the Vermittlers have a parallel in the Sioux Indian Ghost Dancers; both groups are treated as outcasts and relate to the Barrier by singing to it.
  • The Mutant Files by William C. Dietz takes place after a global incident similar to 12 Monkeys. An Islamist terrorist infiltrates his followers throughout the globe and when the time came, they release a genetically engineered virus into the world. It killed large numbers of humanity and of the few that survived, they'd mutate with many gross deformities and no advantages, worse yet these mutations became hereditary leading to reservations for the mutants. The X-Men, this series is not.
  • Oddly Enough: "In the Frog King's Court" starts off with main character Dennis looking around a swamp when he suddenly spots a five-legged frog, and later one with eyes on its shoulders. All evidence indicates that they're mutated due to chemical pollution from the factory nearby, which the frog king later confirms.
  • Perry Rhodan features a Mutant Corps (with generally Psychic Powers), especially in the early series, when they're one of Earth's few trump cards against a militarily superior universe. Over time, attrition takes its toll (especially when the first-generation immortality Applied Phlebotinum becomes unavailable and the replacement is sharply limited in supply) and various countermeasures are introduced, but the few remaining mutants stay on as main characters for a long time, and a new one or two occasionally shows up. Later, a wave of mostly teenage mutants appear who can trace their origin back to mass genetic engineering on a particular colony world during the latest dark age of the galaxy; however, they are also afflicted with a deliberate genetic flaw that will eventually trigger and kill them, and the eventual cure has the side effect of removing their powers as well.
  • Jeffrey Thomas's noir sci-fi/horror Punktown stories often feature Private Detective Jeremy Stake, an ex-soldier and mutant who can alter his physical features (including changing his looks to be indistinguishable of a biological female).
  • Roadside Picnic: The protagonist's daughter is born with fur and a monkey tail, while his friend's butler is severely deformed (and mentally disabled) by exposure to the Zone. It's stated that the children of Stalkers are born with various anomalies, another side effect of the Zone.
  • This Immortal: On post-apocalyptic Earth, genetic mutations caused by nuclear pollution abound, with babies being born deformed even in the civilized areas. Some mutant tribes in Greece resemble and are named after mythological creatures, including satyrs and centaurs. Conrad's dog Bortan is as large as a horse and has plates on his sides, and Conrad himself likely owes his halted aging to a genetic mutation of his own.
  • The female protagonist of Emby Quinn's Southern Gothic urban fantasy Variant is an ordinary person who finds herself caught up in the world of the titular mutations. Pursued by the government, she and her husband flee via the Variant Underground railroad into the secret society of those born with the Variant gene. While this may sound a lot like the X-Men, most Variants have minor physical characteristics or "abilities" that are as much a nuisance as they are of any practical use. Some Variant effects are even debilitating, such as the man whose body is slowly ossifying and turning him into a Living Statue...
  • The Vorkosigan Saga actually uses mutants correctly: instead of superpowers, you get horrible deformities! Barrayar became a Lost Colony for a while after the wormhole nexus connecting them to the wider galaxy was disrupted somehow, well before they had a large enough population to avoid problems with inbreeding, and then a neighboring power with territorial ambitions made matters worse by dropping a bunch of nukes on them. The resulting cultural stigma against any kind of deformity — even non-hereditary ones like a cleft lip, or what happened to Miles in utero — is something they're still a long way from moving past for most of the series.
  • Worlds of Shadow: Psychics, despite being highly useful, are viewed as mutants whom most people distrust as a result of their powers. However, they're not actually mutants — they're all descended from one woman, so even if she did have some mutation, for the rest it's a hereditary trait.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel:
    • Gwen Raiden has extremely high voltage, and over the years has discovered interesting uses with her powers. For example, sticking her hand in a laser grid, and taking control of the lasers without setting off the alarm. She stands out as this trope because she lacks demonic heritage or magical training like most powered beings in this universe; she just developed the ability naturally. (Though the source of her power is never really examined and could in fact be supernaturally based. All that's really known is she gets struck by lightning a lot.)
    • There is also a character named Bethany who has telekinesis, but that might be considered a Psychic Power instead. Again, precisely where the power comes from is not explained, but it's only present in people who suffer severe trauma.
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century:
    • In one episode, a group of terrorists trying to blow up an antimatter-fueled power station on Earth includes a mutant henchman who has the ability to go de-solid (and thus can make himself immune to attacks at will). Their plot is defeated because the henchman makes a Heel–Face Turn because he will not permit another planet to suffer the same fate as his own world, where everyone not only has powers, but also hideous deformities from the effects of a similar event in the past. (This somewhat misses the point, as most of Earth is populated only by radiation-damaged beings anyway, according to the pilot.)
    • Another episode involves people from a world where everyone, by law, must wear a mask (with a distinctive pattern on it, unique to each individual) and is absolutely prohibited from removing it in the presence of anyone else. One young man, the son of one of the leaders, wants to end this practice. At the end of the episode, he removes his mask and Buck is astonished because he's a handsome, normal-looking human. The subtle horror is revealed when his father and the guards remove their own masks... and reveal that everyone on their planet looks exactly alike.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Daleks and apparently the Thals, who an interesting subversion; they initially mutated into creatures similar to the Daleks, but while the Daleks "stabilized" and stopped mutating, the Thals continued, eventually coming full circle, mutating back into basically their original form by the time of "The Dead Planet".
      Alydon: [speaking of the Daleks] If they call us mutations... what must they be like?
    • The Kaleds, even those who are opposed to the creation of the Daleks, also have a strict idea of racial purity. In "Genesis of the Daleks" they are shown to abandon 'mutos', who have disabilities or don't look good enough, on the hostile planet surface; the mutants in turn hate the 'norms'. The mutos were created by the chemical weapons used in the war between the Thals and the Kaleds. In the same episode, Davros' genetic experimentation has also spawned a number of mutants that live in the caves around his base, including giant clams.
  • Heroes presents its Differently Powered Individuals as the product of mutation.
  • Mutants play a central role in the Henshin Hero series Inazuman, where they're depicted as humans who've developed various psychic and superhuman powers. There are two types of mutants seen in the show — "natural" ones like the titular hero and "Neo-Humans", cyborg mutants who underwent a procedure to increase their power which gave them a more monstrous form in the process.
  • Kamen Rider 555: The Orphnoch race is a higher evolutionary state for humankind that select people are able to achieve, either by dying and coming back or by being "sired" by another Orphnoch. Although it turns out that the process of awakening ones' Orphnoch powers puts too much stress on the body, resulting in a shortened lifespan unless they get the defect corrected by their King.
  • Played for comedy and mixed with LEGO Genetics in one episode of The Mighty Boosh. "We are the mutant race! Don't look at my eyes, don't look at my face!"
  • Out of this World (1962): Added to the adaptation of "Impostor", there are mutants living outside of the city dome, frightened of the "normals" who hate them.
  • Power Rangers Time Force: In the year 3000, mutants are a species of mostly inhuman-looking creatures created from the leftovers of a Designer Babies program. They are hated and feared by humans due to their differences, resulting in several of them turning to crime.
  • Sanctuary has Abnormals, which seems to cover mutants and mutates.
  • Stranger Things: The Reveal of Season 4 is that Big Bad Henry Creel a.k.a. One a.k.a. Vecna is a mutant. Unlike Eleven, who artificially gained her Psychic Powers through hallucinogenic drugs while in utero during her mother's time as a government test subject, Henry (as terrifying as it is comprehend) was born naturally with psychic powers and actually used by Dr Brenner to help give Eleven and the rest children their powers as the template. Unfortunately, being an Enfant Terrible, Henry used his abilities abhorrently and by the time he was an adult and free of his Power Nullifier, Henry planned to subjugate humanity before being defeated and banished to the Upside Down by Eleven.
  • The X-Files regularly features these as the Monster of the Week, including the liver-eating Eugene Victor Tooms from "Squeeze" and "Tooms", among numerous others.


    Tabletop Games 
  • d20 Modern features rules for playing as someone with special mutant abilities.
  • In Exalted, mutants come in two main flavors: the bioengineered people created by the Solars in the First Age and the humans and creatures exposed to the Wyld at the edge of the world. The first are somewhat rational, physically predictable, and still human in their way of thinking, the second... can vary widely in sanity and form. Oh, and there are people whose bodies are twisted by power places like demesnes, or who have inhuman ancestry from gods, demons, and other creatures...
  • Gamma World has an After the End setting with mutated humans, animals, and plants.
  • Marvel Super Heroes is about being in the Marvel Universe during the 1980s and '90s, the time when the company's most popular comics were the X-Men-related titles, so mutants are constantly born and grow up to become superheroes or villains.
  • Mutant and Mutant Space are Swedish roleplaying games that spawned the Mutant Chronicles universe (despite the name, MC is not about mutants, though they sure as hell are an important part of it). However, Mutant has been re-released several times afterwards, the latest being Mutant: Year Zero in 2015. It is, after all, Sweden's third or second-largest domestic tabletop game.
  • In the latest edition of Mutant Chronicles, there are now finally mutants. The mutants are humans with genes implanted in them from prehistoric times by a Benevolent Precursors race that faced and lost against the Dark Symmetry. In the future, with the return of the Dark Symmetry, mutants are emerging to join the fight.
  • Mutants & Masterminds uses this as a common 'origin story'.
  • In Paranoia, Mutants tie with Commies and Traitors for the greatest threat to Alpha Complex. In fact, if you are a Mutant, you probably are a Commie Traitor as well. Unfortunately, every Player Character is a mutant, and being a mutant is just grounds for immediate execution (please report to the nearest Execution Center, citizen), the only exception being if you are a "registered mutant", in which case you just have to wear a bright yellow ribbon at all times and might as well have "scapegoat" tattooed on your head. However, those with the Machine Empathy mutation are always considered a threat and are instantly terminated if caught, as the possessor can influence and control any robotics or computers, up to and including the Computer, which is considered a Very Bad Thing).
  • In Vampire: The Requiem, Bloodlines are a form of mutation. Upon reaching a certain level of power, Vampires can fundamentally alter their blood to become a new Bloodline (a subspecies of Vampire)... but the only real catalyst for this is a large expenditure of willpower and the sufficiently potent blood. More than a few Bloodlines have emerged accidentally, or as the result of the Founder surviving a nasty curse.
  • Mutants in Warhammer are usually killed at birth or killed later by the Witch Hunters, but those that do survive tend to retreat to the dark corners of the Old World and band together with similar misshapen outcasts. The Beastmen are one such society, a successful "breed" of mutant that resembles a savage, bloodthirsty satyr.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Mutants are a major problem in the Imperium of Man. Some sages believe that humanity is approaching a new stage of its evolution, but the danger is when mutations result in Psychic Powers, since even a single untrained psyker risks inviting an invasion by The Legions of Hell, and since random mutant births in the populace are a good sign of Chaos corruption. Most worlds have mutant populations that are at best treated as highly disposable slave labor or Cannon Fodder, or at worst are burned at the stake as perversions of the divine human form. However, some strains of mutants, mostly ones arising from natural causes (natural selection, chemical mutagens, radiation, etc.) rather than from the taint of Chaos, have stabilized into subraces the Imperium tolerates as "abhumans", most notably Ogryns and Ratlings, who serve specialized roles in the Imperial Guard, and the psychic Navigator caste that is required for Warp travel.
    • The always evolving Tyranids have mutants as well. Old One Eye was a particularly tough Carnifex defrosted decades after the rest of its Hive Fleet was defeated, and its regenerative abilities have been seen in modern Carnifexes, suggesting that its mutation was approved and adopted by later Hive Fleets. The Genestealers of Ymgarl, on the other hand, are thought to be the remnant of a pre-Imperium invasion force, and though they've fought alongside later Hive Fleets, the Hive Mind seems to be leery of absorbing their genetic material — these 'stealers are so unstable that they will mutate during combat. Their absence in the latest Tyranid codex suggests that the Hive Mind wrote them off as a failure.

  • Acid Rain World is a Hong Kong-based toy line set in a dystopian future where nukes were used and surviving city states compensated by cranking up industrial output. Between the resulting pollution and radioactivity, humanity's genetic code took a beating, and so a lot of people got mutated (with many often opting to replace mutated limbs with bionics). Those who were too heavily mutated would band together in tribes, so resulting generations commonly had mutants born.

    Video Games 
  • Biomutant is set in a far future where pollution has driven humans to leave the planet, what's left are eons of mutant animals and terrible monstrous beings from all those generations of mutating DNA.
  • City of Heroes has mutation as one of the stock superpower origins.
  • DUSK-12 has mutants as recurring enemies, depicted as skinny, hunchback humanoids who can only make hissing noises while clawing at you mindlessly. They used to be humans, until a viral strain leakage from 2028 turns them into the creatures you're fighting.
  • Killzone: The Helghast have evolved to suit the environment of their adopted homeworld, to the point that they require specialized breathing apparatus to visit other worlds. Complete with evil red eyes.
  • Miscreated is set in a world where, after The Final War, a genetic plague caused much of the populace and wildlife to mutate.
  • Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is a Strategy RPG based on the tabletop game of the same name. The playable characters are mutants based on a mix of human and animal genes stalking the post-apocalyptic wilderness and discovering their origins.
  • Nasuverse: A lot of characters get their powers by being born mutants. In one of the side stories it is said that while such a person can turn the side of a battle, they typically don't survive said battle. And keeping these mutations in the next generation is a difficult task. A few families of the Demon Hunter Association managed to overcome these problems, especially Nanaya and Ryogi. Their powers were not particularly impressive, but they compensated this by being Badass Families.
  • Project Clean Earth takes place after a nuclear war which ended human civilization on Earth, causing animals and humans to be born as monstrous mutants. A group of untouched scientists living on a satellite send in their unique robot warrior Bernard to purge the Earth of mutants.
  • Sacrifice: There's a tribe of humanoids that are afflicted with a genetically inherited cancerous disease. The goddess Persephone has taken pity on this mutant tribe and while they aren't cured of it, they have been given resistance to the pain it causes, in return the mutants act as Persephone's artillery by ripping out tumors from their bodies and throw them at enemies from long range.
  • In SaGa (RPG), mutants ("espers" in Japanese) are one of the playable races. In the first and second games, they randomly gain or lose traits after battles.
  • The Simpsons Game: In the Frogger parody segment in "Lisa the Tree Hugger", the floating platforms that Bart and Lisa must use to cross the river include giant three-eyed crocodiles and turtles with A Head at Each End interspersed with the regular logs, implicitly being animals mutated by the nuclear waste found lying around everywhere.
  • Sins of a Solar Empire have the Advent faction. This cult dedicated to psionic exploration had used bionics as well as genetic tampering to selectively evolve their members into a psychic race.
  • Stormrise: The Sai, the descendants of the humans, have mutated in order to adapt to the extreme conditions after an experiment to change the climate of earth by mankind went horribly wrong, resulting in the mother of all storms and turning most the earth uninhabitable.
  • SturmFront: The Mutant War deals with the aftermath of a mutant outbreak, turning entire populations of humans into mutated abominations, with you playing as a Super-Soldier who escaped mutation and going on a killing spree.
  • UFO: After Blank: There are two races, the Cyborgs and the Psionics, who are humans who were born with special abilities due to a genetic mutation caused by the Biomass. The Cyborgs' mutation allowed them to graft robotic implants onto themselves easily, while the Psionics developed Psychic Powers.
  • White Noise 2: One of the supernatural creatures, Morgul, is a giant mutant.

  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!:
  • Kong Tower features both varieties. Mutants are referred to as Aberrant, and notably do not feature No Conservation of Energy, though they do stretch the limits of what's actually possible for biology.
  • Light and Dark has mutant humans referred to as Freaks, many of them with superhuman abilities or odd features such as extra limbs. There are also animal-like humans such as the feline Katsas.
  • In Unsounded, minor mutations are caused by the Background Magic Field of the Khert causing interference. Some people get eyes that see into the Khert or modified brain stems that let them cast spells mentally instead of vocally; others get deformed limbs or are stuck smelling like vinegar all their lives. Bratty Half-Pint Sette has a tail that she's quite proud of, though her Barbie Doll Anatomy and strange interactions with the Khert raise some questions about how far the mutations go.
  • In Wurr, the hellhounds are large, heavily mutated dogs that have been exposed to Black Touch for generations, resulting in strange mutations such as extra limbs, extra eyes, too many teeth, strange skeletal structures, and countless other strange features. The most mutated ones are called deepblooded and are forbidden to breed, since their mutations endanger the pups, the mother, or both.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-654 ("Thunderhorn") is a narwhal that can fire a lightning bolt from its horn; the lightning bolt ability is noted as being a mutation.
  • In Super Minion, there's the mutavus virus. For most people, it remains dormant their entire lives, but if someone suffers a mortal wound that doesn't kill them instantly, there's a chance it will activate and modify their body in order to save their life. The frightening and at times gruesome results, combined with some common misinformation about the nature of mutavus, lead to a lot of Fantastic Racism, even though the majority of mutants are no more dangerous or criminally inclined than anyone else.
  • Mutants in the X-Men style are the basis of the Whateley Universe. Some tiny fraction of the people who have the 'meta-gene complex' manifest as mutants, typically around age 14. Most of them — good, bad, or indifferent — go to Whateley Academy to learn how to use their powers and not get murdered by lynch mobs of baselines.

    Western Animation 
  • According to Optimus Primal in Beast Wars, Starscream's spark has a mutation that rendered it indestructible and immortal. Maximal scientists tried to replicate the effect, with the result being the Nigh-Invulnerable Protoform X.
  • Fred the Mutant in Biker Mice from Mars is one of Big Bad Limburger's minions and is a deformed Quasimodo-like creature with three pink eyes with black irises, a bushy tail, and a tentacle instead of a right arm.
  • Futurama features a society of downtrodden mutants with amusingly altered physical states (a girl with a pig nose and gills, a man with a third arm instead of an ear) forced to live in the sewers of New New York. None of them have superpowers, though (well, not from their mutations, anyway). Their similarity to Rubber-Forehead Aliens is why Leela was able to pass for a functioning member of society until The Reveal.
  • In the world of Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, the surface is populated largely by "mutes", animals who have various strange characteristics. They are usually larger than normal (sometimes much larger), have extra appendages and other features, and are often, though not universally, sentient. Much of the plant life has mutated as well, with patches of "death ivy" and cacti taller than skyscrapers dotting the landscape.
  • The villains in ThunderCats (1985) are called the Mutants and are anthropomorphic non-feline animals at the service of Big Bad Mumm-Ra.

    Real Life 
  • There are people who actually play this straighter to the comic version, with seeming superhuman abilities stemming from a genetic mutation, or are believed to. Certain people's bodies are naturally resistant to electricity to the point grabbing a live wire does nothing to them, and they can even redirect it. This article lists several people with near superhuman capabilities that most likely stem from simply being born with unique traits others lack (not all count, though).
  • Ozzy Osbourne was born with a genetic mutation that enables his body to better metabolize narcotics than an average human. Geneticists at Cambridge University discovered this when they mapped his genome to determine how he managed to survive so long.
  • The preponderance of evidence suggests that Britain's Queen Victoria was a genuine mutant. Many of her descendants inherited the allele for hemophilia from her, yet neither of her parents' bloodlines carry this trait, indicating that a random genetic mutation made her a carrier for this disorder... although that assumes that all of her official ancestors were her actual ancestors. Because she was an only child, it's also possible that her mother was the mutant, and she only inherited it, making them both carriers. (Because her mother had brothers, it's improbable that it went back any farther.)

Examples of Mutates

    Anime and Manga 
  • The Eldians, a.k.a. the Subjects of Ymir, in Attack on Titan are, in absolutely all other respects, ordinary human beings. However, they're also the only race in the world who have the ability to transform into Titans, which happens whenever their bodies absorb Titan cerebrospinal fluid. Their ability also doesn't correspond to the traditional laws of biology; not only is the Eldian ability passed on to all descendants without dilution (unless the other races of the world are more "Eldian" than they care to admit), but the Founding Titan has the ability to remake the biology of all Eldians simultaneously, which was done at one point to grant them immunity to a plague.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Daredevil's childhood accident with radioactive/chemical/whatever waste blinded him, but also helped to enhance his senses beyond what would be possible for a non-mutate blind person.
    • The Fantastic Four received their powers as a result of exposure to space-radiation.
    • The Incredible Hulk got mutated to his green self by a hefty dose of gamma radiation. He can switch it on and off...
    • Spider-Man:
      • Spidey originally got his powers when the bite of a radioactive/genetically altered spider altered his genes.
      • Spider-Man's rogues gallery is full of these: Dr. Connors tried to use a serum to give himself the regeneration ability of reptiles to regain his missing arm, turning himself into the Lizard. Morbius combined himself with the DNA of a vampire bat which turned him into a living pseudo-vampire. Black Cat was injected with Super Serum. The combination of exposure to underwater gases, radiation and seawater turned Morris Bench into Hydro-Man. Miles Warren injected himself with several experimental serums to make himself stronger and faster, becoming the Jackal. William Baker was at the beach when the military dropped a nuclear bomb there and became the Sandman. MacDonald Gargan was experimented on with radiation and genetic transfusions and took on the name Scorpion.
      • Untold Tales of Spider-Man featured Batwing, who was originally a prepubescent boy. When he got lost in the Carlsbad Caverns and drank water polluted from illegal chemical dumping, he turned into a giant flying bat-creature.
  • Despite Sin City being (relatively) more realistic than most comic series, the Yellow Bastard could still very easily be considered a mutate. He underwent gene therapy in order to reattach his lost body parts and repair his damaged brain, turning into a yellow freak in the process. It's heavily implied that his yellow color and trademark stench is due to organ damage caused by the process, leading to his body filling with bile as it basically rots while he's still alive.
  • Milestone Comics' Static, probably better known in his animated form.
  • Strontium Dog has mutants all over the place due to strontium-90 fallout in the aftermath of a nuclear war. However, since this isn't America, only a tiny fraction of the mutates actually get powers — most are just disfigured.
  • The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, despite their name, are actually mutates instead of mutants, having been born normal turtles before being given humanoid form by a mysterious substance known either as Ooze or Mutagen (in reality industrial waste created by the alien Utroms in the comics and most later incarnations, and Krang in the first cartoon). "Mutants" are used as the blanket term used for anyone or anything that was transformed with mutagen, whether they are sentient, humanoid or neither.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Pony POV Series, there are several examples.
    • The apocalypse (the magical equivalent of a nuclear holocaust) that ended the Golden Age mutated several beings into monsters, some of which became complete species. The Griffins and sapient livestock are positive examples, as they were mutated in such a way as to become sapient. After Apple Bloom's Cosmic Retcon, the myth that Sweetheart had Healing Hands is made reality, being the result of her being mutated by the blast.
    • It turns out this is the origin of the Sirens. They were originally a trio of Sea Ponies who had a magic spell that allowed them to transform into Flutterponies. Then the aforementioned apocalypse happened, mutating them into their Sea Monster forms and making them extremely powerful and dangerous. One of their siblings wasn't so lucky and didn't survive the mutation.
    • Lord Tirek was originally a normal centaur before absorbing an unholy amount of magic from Pandora's Box mutated him into his current form.
  • In The PreDespair Kids, Kyoji Nakamura performed gene therapy on himself in order to help combat the despairs. This gave him multiple redundant organs, enhanced vision, greater durability, a Blade Below the Shoulder, Wall Crawl, and a few others he's kept secret.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Alligator People has... well, a man whose genes got mixed with an alligator due to radiation.
  • Annihilation (2018): Lifeforms inside the zone are "stuck in a continuous mutation". Everyone who enters the Shimmer is affected in this way, as the area refracts light waves, radio waves, and even biological matter like a prism.
  • Godzilla, Rodan, King Ghidorah (the 1990s version, at least), Biollante, or nearly every single giant monster applies here.
  • Prophecies of Nostradamus features several mutates (and a few mutants as well) of varying stripes. One of the most frightening is a group of irradiated humans who become arboreal cannibals covered with cancerous sores.
  • The Toxic Avenger: 90-pound weakling Melvin falls into a barrel of toxic waste during a cruel prank, and mutates into the hideously disfigured, but hulking, superhumanly strong Toxic Avenger.


  • In Fractured Stars, Starseers are developed from Old Earth colonists on the now-destroyed planet Kir who developed mutations that allowed them to survive the planet's radiation levels, but also gave them psychic powers.
  • Probably the Ur-Example is The Island of Doctor Moreau, about a scientist turning animals into anthropoid creatures using vivisection.
  • This Alien Shore: Humanity's first attempts at interstellar travel involved an FTL device called a Hausman drive that emitted radiation that mutated the colonists' germ cells, which they didn't realize until they'd reached their new planets and started having kids. For whatever reason, the inhabitants of each planet are affected differently - for example, everyone on the planet Guera has some sort of mental condition, the Salvationers have Handy Feet, and the Belials produce children in matched sets of two to six people who all share a name and a legal identity.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Doctor Who story entitled "The Mutants" turns out to be an subversion. The supposedly mutant (or "mutt") Solonians are in fact undergoing a natural metamorphosis as part of their life cycle, the effect of the planet in question moving into summer. What's more, the insect-like "mutant" form is merely an intermediate stage, and the final form is a powerful, godlike being.
  • Mutant X, despite the name, is mostly about people modified after birth. There is one who was modified either before or immediately after his birth... he didn't grow up so well. Some mutants also have children, who naturally fit the first part.
  • Alex Mack, the title heroine and protagonist from The Secret World of Alex Mack, is a mutant who got her powers from exposure to the Mutagenic Goo GC-161.
  • Space: 1999: In " Mission of the Darians", our heroes investigate a Generation Ship whose crew have split into warring factions after a radiation accident. There are mutants, who look like mute dwarfs, and a primitive tribe that hunts them down and executes them, including a hapless Red Shirt from Moonbase Alpha who just happens to have a missing fingertip.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Games Workshop's Chainsaw Warrior, the cyborg Super-Soldier has to banish the Darkness from New York. Unfortunately, the Darkness has a corrupting effect on its surroundings, leading to the inhabitants of that apartment block turning into zombies and mutants. Worse for the Chainsaw Warrior, these creatures exude a venom on contact. The venom builds up in his system and if it overcomes his endurance, then he'll turn into a mutant himself.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, trolls' prodigious Healing Factor can react weirdly to different stimuli. "Troll mutates" have been exposed to the corrupting nature of the Far Realm, and sport Body Horror like exposed internal organs and vestigial limbs — when damaged in combat, they mutate even further as they heal damage, sprouting extra heads, arms or wings, which might be functional. In other cases, damage from large amounts of a particular substance or energy might mutate trolls accordingly, creating noxious venom trolls, spirit trolls that exist as purely psionic entities, or rot trolls that emanate a field of degenerative necrotic energy.
  • Wyld mutants in Exalted. The Wyld is pure chaos and change. Over-exposure to it — or, in many cases, any exposure to it — can cause both the flesh and mind to warp in bizarre ways, and after a certain amount of mutation, often the former person can no longer live outside of the Wyld.
  • Fading Suns has the Grimsons. These super soldiers are created by genetically engineering human warriors into hulking monstrosities with augmented physiques and various random mutations (the majority of them being advantageous). Grimsons are not allowed to procreate as their altered genes are inheritable.
  • There's the evil supernatural force of the Dark Symmetry in Mutant Chronicles which can corrupt normal humans into twisted monsters of the Dark Legion. Also in this future setting, Earth has been abandoned for colonies on the other planets of our solar system and now referred to as Dark Eden. Dark Eden does have remnant human and animal populations, with many having undergone mutations from the environment, such as the Templar faction.
  • Pathfinder:
    • The game has two different mutant templates that can be applied to a creature's stats. The Mutant template represents mutation from unusual circumstances, particularly the alien fluids of Numeria, and gives creatures some additional abilities as well as a deformity and an immunity to radiation. The Mana Wastes Mutant is for creatures specifically mutated by the Mana Wastes of Garund, gaining multiple abilities at the cost of a random deformity and any spell-like abilities the creature had.
    • Jotund trolls are thought to arise when regular trolls are exposed to intense mutagenic influences, a theory supported by the fact that most of their kind live in either the magically twisted Mana Wastes and the irradiated badlands of Numeria, both areas home to large populations of mutated creatures. They are given the "mutant" trait in 2E to reflect this.
    • Xulgaths — pale-scaled Lizard Folk that live Beneath the Earth — are prone to a variety of dramatic mutations due to their long exposure to the intense radiation of the Black Desert, an immense underground cavern lined with radioactive minerals, which has permanently warped their physiology and genetics.
      • Their naturally occurring mutations include bilebearers, xulgaths with bulging throat sacs that produce a sticky, toxic slime that they can spit in directed globs or as a fine mist; gutragers, a more developed offshoot of bilebearers with acidic spit, extendable esophagi and the ability to explode; bloodleakers born with scaleless, easily ruptured hides, usually kept as blood donors or living blood banks for religious rituals; goreguts with distended bellies and ravenous appetites; twinskulls, conjoined twins considered blessed by the xulgaths' demonic god; spinesnappers, hulking colossi used as shock troops and combat champions;
      • In addition to this considerable inborn variation, magical and alchemical tampering and can create much more dramatic mutations. These include stonelieges, xulgaths alchemically or magically infused with the essence of elemental earth, granting them increased strength, resilience and longevity alongside the ability to magically shape stone; and slaugraks, freakish, bestial mutants born from clutches tainted by the Abyss.
  • In Rocket Age, the Martian city Y'Therthl engages in rituals based around their ancient genetic engineering machines at the birth of every child. A few come out of it worse off than when they went in.
  • The Empire in Warhammer responds to mutations in much the same way as the Imperium in 40k. The Norscans, in contrast, view a sudden mutation as a sign of the gods' favor, and such individuals will usually rise to prominence in a tribe. It's a fine line even for them, though — people who accumulate too many mutations too quickly run a real risk of being overwhelmed by them and degenerating into mindless, gibbering Chaos Spawn.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • If the Imperium is intolerant when it comes to natural mutation, it's positively flamer-happy when it comes to mutates, which are (often correctly) seen as the result of the corrupting influence of Chaos. It is therefore renegades and Chaos worshipers who survive to appreciate the "gifts" of the Dark Gods — or not. Some Chaos sorcerers actually weaponize this, and use their psychic powers to grant allies additional abilities, or turn an enemy character into a mewling pile of flesh.
    • Even some loyalist Space Marine chapters fall prey to this, when quirks in their gene-seed cause initiates to develop unconventional traits. The Black Dragons for instance have a tendency to grow bony talons from their forearms, which they plate with adamantium and use in close combat, while the Blood Angels and their successors are cursed with a Flaw that can drive them to spontaneously fall into an Unstoppable Rage they call the Red Thirst, or hallucinate the Genetic Memory of their Primarch's death, which they call the Black Rage. These are only barely tolerated by the Imperium, which requires that chapters regularly send tithes of gene-seed for screening and monitoring to try and prevent future occurrences.
    • The Soul Drinkers stand out being tainted by Chaos, mutating, and being declared traitors and heretics, yet still opposing Chaos and purifying their gene-seed for the next generation of recruits. Of course, those already affected can't change back — and many don't want to, given the usefulness of their mutations.
    • In a downplayed example, the Tyranids use this in the first stage of their invasion process, or "Tyranoforming". They seed a target world with spores that cause the local flora to mutate and grow out of control, to make it easier to consume the planet's biomass.
    • The spin-off Necromunda has an entire gang faction of these in House Goliath. These muscle-heads undergo intergenerational heavy use of gene-altering muscle enhancements to create an almost subspecies of humans, with many members of House Goliath being bigger than most Space Marines. The most extreme case is the Goliath Berserkers, who are mutated to the point of being as strong as a Greater Daemon or Dreadnought and often sprouting razor-sharp bonespurs.

    Video Games 
  • BioShock: The splicers were originally ordinary people who purchased injectible upgrades for their DNA when ADAM arrived on the market, gaining good looks, intelligence, even super powers... right before the side-effects of frivolous ADAM-usage started cropping up.
  • City of Heroes lists this power origin as "Science", as in the character got their powers in a scientific accident.
  • The Forgotten in Command & Conquer are the result of the Brotherhood of NOD's human experiments with Tiberium, and each faction views them differently: the Brotherhood outright loathes the mutants, the shiners are nothing more than a convenient ally for GDI, and the Forgotten view themselves "a people of honor". Naturally, they always get shafted.
  • Studio Nanafushi's Dead or School has a post-apocalyptic Japan where people have been mutated by an unknown virus into zombie-like mooks and huge monstrosities. So many were created that the mutants would drive the remaining humans deep underground for 78 years. The virus didn't just infect humans, animals and plants were also affected — this ranged from the harmless such as edible fish sprouting legs and vegetables developing eyes to far more dangerous creatures such as venom-spitting plants and Giant Spiders of various sizes and abilities.
  • Demolish Fist has you investigating the Metheusalah Corporation, only to find out they specialize in creating genetic abominations with several of their mooks being genetically modified mutant monsters, from the blobby "Mango"-class mooks to the Kevlard-packed overweight "Butcher" enemies.
  • Digimon Linkz features several Digimon that have been mutated by Volcanicdramon's data, turning them into Palette Swaps of themselves and removing one of their elemental weaknesses. Among them are at least one form of each of the Seven Great Demon Lords.
  • In Dragon's Crown, the artwork for the Doom Beetle quest is called Mutation. Doom Beetles are highly susceptible to mutating when exposed to magic, so wizards are known to experiment on the beetles in labs.
  • In Evolve, this is the fate of anyone exposed to the genetic material of the monsters. This can occur either through deliberate exposure, as in the case of Kala, or by being trapped in an area they've begun to terraform.
  • Fallout:
    • Two major in-game races, the Ghouls and the Super Mutants, are the result of a combination of radiation fallout and the Forced Evolutionary Virus, a pre-war biological weapon that was designed to create disposable Super Soldiers. When the war happened, some containment vessels burst and were exposed to radiation, creating an air-borne version of the virus that turns anyone exposed to it alongside a massive dose of radiation into a Ghoul, a person who looks just like a zombie even though they're still alive. They also gain immunity from radiation which instead heals them and makes them biologically immortal, but has the drawback of running the risk of turning Feral, a state when their brains decay from radiation exposure, turning them into mindless cannibals, like a traditional zombie, and making them sterile as well. The Super Mutants, on the other hand, are the result of direct, untainted exposure to the FEV, which turns humans into hulking, ogre-like monsters with Super-Strength, biological immortality and superhuman toughness. Unfortunately, it also tends to lower their intelligence, and renders the mutate completely sterile.
    • The Master, the main villain of the first game, is also a mutate, a former scientist who fell into a vat of FEV and was left to soak in it rather than mutating through brief exposure. The result was a massive Body Horror abomination of liquid flesh with incredible Psychic Powers and Voice of the Legion whose living flesh covers the bottom part of his base.
    • There are also some humans with minor mutations amongst the human populace. The Slags in Fallout 2 are a group of humans who took shelter in subterranean caves — when they returned to the surface, they found out that their bodies couldn't handle living on the outside. Your own character can get a sixth mutated toe by stepping in the toxic goo in the Toxic Caves without protective boots, but you can pay a doctor to amputate it. A man in Gecko was scorned in Vault City and eventually exiled himself because of the way he was mistreated for being very radiation resistant. In Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel, one of the enemy groups you fight against is the group of tribals called "The Beastlords", who were mutated by radiation near the caverns where they lived and gained the ability to mind-control most animals near them, except humans and Deathclaws.
    • In Fallout 3, your Player Character can be bestowed a variety of mutations as you level up, ranging from simple radiation resistance, to having a Healing Factor while suffering radiation poisoning to being able to heal yourself via cannibalism. The last such feat that can be taken causes the PC to VIOLENTLY EXPLODE when s/he hits critical health, without actually hurting herself.
    • Towards the end of Fallout 3, it is heavily implied that everyone in the District of Columbia, with the exception of Enclave personnel, has been mutated from radiation — but most of the mutations are so minor as to be unnoticeable. This theme was already present in Fallout 2, where it's outright stated that everybody in the world apart from the Enclave and the Vault dwellers has gotten various minor mutations due to the persistent background radiation. To the Enclave, who had just been terrified from discovering the ghouls and the super mutants, this was strong grounds for planet-wide genocide.
  • Gears of War:
    • The Locust are really the descendants of experiments at the New Hope facility where people were deliberately exposed to Imulsion so that the COG could treat rustlung, with Myrrah being a rustlung miner's daughter who was used as the genetic template for the Locust due to her unique genetic immunity to Imulsion. The Sires, their predecessors, were essentially the first Lambent creatures.
    • The Lambent are Locust creatures that get mutated from too much exposure to Imulsion. By Gears of War 3, it's revealed that humans have also started to go Lambent.
  • Giant Bear Rampage has you controlling a bear mutated into a giant monster after being exposed to toxic waste.
  • Loopmancer has mutant enemies, tall, deformed, lanky humanoids with multiple arms appearing in an underground level in Ditch Village, and shows up in large quantities in the last levels. You found out near the end where they're the results of Tompson Technologies experimenting with the abducted civilains of Ditch Village.
  • Just like the stories of Michael Moorcock, in Master of Magic, sorcery of the Chaos realm can induce a permanent mutation on a unit (one out of three possible mutations, including breathing fire), changing it from it from its original race type to becoming a creature of Chaos. The two spells that does this are Chaos Channels and Doom Mastery.
  • In Master of Orion II, there's a tech called Evolutionary Mutation, which, as the name says, allows a one-time change to statistics of the race that discovers it.
  • In Mutant Football League, the teams include orcs, demons, aliens, robots and etc. The mutant part of the league is from players of the Mutated Humans race who got their mutations from environmental exposure.
  • The Stalkers, mutated animal protagonists of Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, got that way because they're manufactured Super-Soldier flunkies of the Ark.
  • Mutation Nation, much like the name implies, deals with an outbreak of a mutant strain transforming humans into assorted mutant creatures, and it's up to your character to find a cure while beating up all kinds of deformed hybrid mooks.
  • Most of the playable characters in Nuclear Throne are mutates. The exceptions are Rogue (unmutated human), Robot (robot), Horror (living radiation being), and Y.V. (Venuzian God). They also become mutates as the game goes on, since leveling up involves collecting enough radiation to trigger a mutation.
  • In Rage (2011), Mutants are deformed humans that prowl the wasteland as savage predators, believed to have been created by cosmic radiation from the asteroid impact. They're disorganized, but plentiful — and some of them are gigantic. They're actually a by-product of the Authority trying to use the Nanotrites to control humans and turn them into super soldiers as a means of controlling the post-apocalyptic Earth.
  • In Septerra Core, the inhabitants of Shell 7 were mutated by the emissions of the Core, and are now a separate species known as Underlost. They look like xenomorphs with hard exoskeletons. Despite their fearsome appearance, they aren't crazy or evil.
  • The Zerg in StarCraft mutate captured samples of enemy races to assimilate them into the Swarm. Most notable in the first game is their assimilation and alteration of future Big Bad Sarah Kerrigan.
  • The OD of Sunset Overdrive were also transformed by consuming the soft drink Overcharge. OD are addicted to Overcharge and are extremely violent, attacking any human or robot in close proximity.
  • Super Snail from QCplay Limited has Super Snail himself. He's already a nearly human-sized snail in 2033 A.D., so he's either a mutant or mutate to start but even before he has his first fight, he consumes some cells from a Demon God and mutates to grow a large pair of fangs and rodent-like teeth. Additionally he can makes friends with a ninja Turtle mutate and that mutated thing from the movie The Host (2006).
  • With Chaos and Skaven in Total War: Warhammer, you have units like Chaos Spawn and Hellpit Abominations that come from creatures mutated by supernatural forces. The Beastmen like the Skaven were originally natural creatures that got warped into their present state, but then breeding true.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Derek Powers, the Season 1 Arc Villain of Batman Beyond, develops a nerve gas that has the side effect of being mutagenic and being influenced by its environment. When Powers is exposed to the gas himself and undergoes radiation therapy to treat it, the gas serves as the catalyst with its own "cure" to turn him into Blight, the walking meltdown.
  • Duke Nukem, one of the villains in Captain Planet and the Planeteers, becomes a mutant after exposure to radioactive nuclear waste.
  • Played for Laughs in Dilbert when Dilbert's workplace has become so toxic from its decaying water system, air vents and the horrible air quality that the workers begin to suffer from random, hideous mutations, Dilbert being one of the few not affected. The mutations range from growing an extra limb or an enlarged eye but otherwise still look human, to hilariously monstrous like Wally who became a giant fly with a human head. All the mutations are reversed at the end of the episode when the workers just end up getting immune to the toxic environment and revert to their original bodies.
  • Parodied in the Family Guy What If? episode "Family Guy Viewer Mail #1" when the Griffins get superpowers from radioactive waste. When Mayor West tries to replicate the results, he just gets leukemia.
  • In Kim Possible, Dark Action Girl Shego and her brothers received their superpowers by being in the proximity of a meteor impact.
  • In Book 2 of The Legend of Korra, it's shown that first Avatar was a form of mutate. When a spirit possesses a person, the possessed's morphology and anatomy radically changes in accordance to the spirit; in Wan's case, these alterations were internal and perhaps more metaphysical in nature, since he fused with Raava, the light spirit. After their permanent bonding in the Harmonic Convergence, they became united as one, and as such the Avatar has ever since been a human altered by Raava's essence.
  • Mutant League, loosely based on the video games, posits a common origin for all the mutants; a huge toxic spill/explosion under the world's largest stadium on game day.
  • Total Drama: At least a year has passed between Island and Revenge of the Island and in that time Chris has agreed to let Camp Wawanakwa be used as dumping ground for toxic waste. As a result, flora and fauna alike have mutated, and for the duration of Revenge of the Island, mutation is a fate that can befall anyone on the island. After the season, the island gets cleaned up and all the mutants are brought over to a nature reserve on Boney Island known as the Fun Zone.
    • Fang is a mutant shark with human-level intelligence, two legs, two arms, and the ability to survive outside of the water. He is a recurring threat to the campers and one of few mutants not to take up residence in the Fun Zone.
    • Larry is a mutant flytrap who has prehensile vines and can uproot himself to give chase to any prey. He was Chris's pet before mutating and falls back into that role when Chris returns to the island until he eventually settles in the Fun Zone.
    • In "A Mine Is a Terrible Thing to Waste", Dakota is sent into a radioactive mine to test the area for safety. She stays for forty minutes, blacks out at some point, and gets retrieved by the other interns. She loses her hair before she even comes to, and about a day after, in "The Treasure Island of Doctor McLean", she becomes a little bigger, a little stronger, a little spikier, and a little more prone to Hulk Speak every time she experiences a burst of anger. Her final form is powerful, inhumanly tall, and has green spiked hair, orange skin, red eyes, and a tail. She comes to like her new self and makes a career out of it, being one of the few mutants not to make the Fun Zone their home.
    • Josh is an intern who instantly mutates when he falls into a biohazardous sinkhole in "The Enchanted Franken-Forest". His new form is a human-like creature with uneven monster limbs and bat wings. From that moment on, he's no longer an intern and does not show up in that role again. His fate is unknown, although Chris does advise him to join the circus.
    • Ezekiel's monstrous appearance is not due to mutation but due to feralization. Nonetheless, he does become a mutant during his time amidst radioactive waste, because while it does not affect his appearance, it leaves him with acid spit by the time of "Zeek and Ye Shall Find".

    Real Life 
  • While not to the degree seen in fiction, chemicals and radiation can alter a being, albeit in a harmful way. It is also possible for migrating species to mutate overtime as a result of adaptation.
  • Viruses regularly mutate into even more harmful variants. Perhaps the best example would be the Coronavirus, which has gradually evolved to form variants.

Alternative Title(s): Mutant