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New Body, Old Abilities

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The tendency for characters undergoing a "Freaky Friday" Flip, Grand Theft Me, Demonic Possession, Reincarnation or experiencing any other Transformation Causes, to maintain any abilities they had in their original body.

It doesn't matter if those abilities shouldn't be compatible with the physicality of the new body, the new host can call upon them regardless, as if the abilities are tied to the person's soul, spirit, or equivalent, rather than their physical body. As a result, this is often a Justified Trope if the abilities are explicitly tied to the soul or the mind through one means or another.

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Often a given for any Demonic Possession — as in many cases the entire point of it is to give the demon a new body through which to use its powers. If said body belonged to someone else (i.e not a dead body or a new artificial body), that overlaps with Powers via Possession. They may or may not retain their original voices as well.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Subverted in Dragon Ball Z by Captain Ginyu, as both the audience and the characters were led to believe that he was just as powerful as Goku after performing a Grand Theft Me on him. Sadly for Ginyu, it turns out that Goku's strength mainly comes from the Ki-techniques Goku normally uses, and his body is fairly weak without them — leaving Ginyu up a creek immediately afterwards as he didn't even know how to perform Goku's Standard Power-Up Pose correctly. Ginyu would in Filler, and later Dragon Ball Super, showcase that while his physical prowess is fully dependent on the body he is currently inhabiting, he does retain the ability to perform Grand Theft Me's regardless of said body's power, raising questions as to whether the body he fought Goku with was even his original one.
    • Speaking of Dragon Ball Super, Goku Black still retains all of his old body's abilities after switching bodies with Son Goku, and of top of that, he also gains access to Goku's abilities.
  • In Murder Princess, when the mercenary Action Girl Faris gets body-swapped with the ineffectual princess Alita, she immediately performs incredible feats of combat acrobatics, despite the fact that Alita has lived a very sheltered life and probably never worked out once since birth.
  • Naruto: Orochimaru Body Surfs every three years (give or take) in order to stay alive. Each time, he retains all of his abilities, although he usually would need some time to readjust the new body and be weakened in the meantime. This appears to involve modifying every body to be equally amorphous, which is also how he makes them look the same.
  • In Ranma ½ the people with Jusenkyō curses, often transforming them into animals, are still capable of performing their old martial arts feats while transformed. Particularly egregious with Genma, who turns into a panda, in that he is not only able to do all his usual acrobatic techniques as a panda but also he can walk upright and sit seiza at a shogi board too.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, when Ling becomes the second Greed, Greed can still use his ultimate shield. Justified Trope in this case as the way he becomes the second Greed is Father injecting him with Greed's philosopher stone and it only seems to work when Greed's in control of their body.

    Comic Books 
  • At one point in Justice League of America, Red Tornado was tricked into abandoning his android body and instead inhabiting a human body. Despite the change, he somehow still retained his ability to create tornadoes.
  • The Mighty Thor: Played With, in that the time Thor is turned into a frog he does lose his powers... until he quests through Central Park for tiny Mjolnir and becomes Throg.
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    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Freaky Friday (2003) has an example near the end, Anna in Tess's body is still perfectly able to play her guitar when her band plays whilst Tess pretends to play.

     Literature 
  • The Dresden Files: Body Surfing villain Corpsetaker is shown to be able to rapidly adapt to new bodies, at one point even possessing a muggle and still having access to her magical abilities. However, this is not typical as one of her victims - Anastasia Luccio- was said to have lost most of her power after her original body was stolen by Corpsetaker. It's implied that Corpsetaker, a centuries-old necromancer, has swapped bodies so many times she has learned how to circumvent the weakness.
  • In Lord of Light, when one of the "gods" is technologically transferred into a new body, his or her psychic powers will soon manifest in the new body. At one point Sam lampshades this, and Yama explains why:
    Sam: A person is born with an abnormal brain, his psyche is later transferred to a normal one and yet his abnormal abilities are not destroyed in the transfer. Why does this thing happen?
    Yama: Because you really have only one body-image, which is electrical as well as chemical in nature. It begins immediately to modify its new physiological environment. The new body has much about it which it treats rather like a disease, attempting to cure it into being the old body. If the body which you now inhabit were to be made physically immortal, it would someday come to resemble your original body.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Charmed, whenever a demon possesses a human body, they retain all their strength and magical abilities. One episode played it for laughs by having a female demon possessing a male human; she still had all her powers, but she was irritated that she had to adjust her gait to account for the, er, male anatomy.
  • Doctor Who: A standard norm for Time Lords' regeneration is to keep their memories and knowledge into their new bodies. Usually seen on The Doctor in which after every death he changes his body into someone old, young or even a different gender, this is also seen in other famous Time Lords as The Master and even half-Time Lord half-human persons like Melody Pond/River Song which retain their memories and skills after the regeneration (not without suffering secondary effects).
  • In Quantum Leap: Sam maintains his normal body's ability — he's stronger than the child he's swapped places with, he can swim even if he's a monkey. Justified in that he keeps his actual body, and everyone else just sees an image of the person he swapped with.
  • In Supernatural, demons and angels retain all of their powers when they take over a human body as a vessel.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000: A Justified example is shown in The Emperor, who was truly born around 8000 BC when Earth's shamans realized humanity would need a strong leader to deal with the upcoming threat of Chaos. They committed simultaneous ritual suicide to merge all their souls into a single human, whose psychic might would be that of their combined psychic strength — strong enough to be considered a god by other humans. When the emperor was born to normal human parents it did take him some time to discover his abilities, but he eventually did become the Physical God that the shamans hoped. Though he was adamant in his own non-divine heritage. note 
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    Video Games 
  • Chrono Trigger: Frog's transformation into a, well, giant humanoid frog gave him all-new powers, mostly involving his extensible tongue and jumping ability while losing none of his skills with a sword (although his appearance and the grief of losing his best friend led him to live in exile for a while, no longer using his old name Glenn). He even thanks the mage responsible for it, as it put him on the path to obtaining the Masamune (though Frog mostly says this to needle Magus during their confrontation). He also does regain his humanity in endings where Magus is slain and the curse broken.
  • The King of Fighters: Athena Asamiya is the Reincarnation of the Goddess Athena from an older SNK game; the former gets the latter's vast Psychic Powers from this.
  • Warcraft: In the second game, Death Knights were the horde's Squishy Wizard, made by binding the souls of orc warlocks from the first war into the corpses of recently-killed human knights. In between Warcraft II and Warcraft III, these death knights were broken down and reformed as liches, skeletal magi with new frost powers and, despite their reformation, keeping their signature Death and Decay spell (which will eventually kill anything that stays in the AoE)

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Ozpin lives what he describes as a cursed existence where he cannot die in the same way as other people. Although his body dies, his memories, soul, Aura, abilities and skills transfer into a new host. He calls the process "reincarnation" and describes it as an extremely difficult experience for everyone involved. His new host, Oscar, is only fourteen years old and was being raised into a farming life by his aunt until Ozpin's soul and Aura merges with his. Now he has inherited responsibilities, memories and abilities he barely understands and is terrified about. While Ozpin can take control of Oscar's body and fight at a level Oscar isn't yet trained to, he cannot yet fight at his old level because Oscar needs to train both his body and Aura to be able to handle the abilities he's inherited. However, his rate of development and growth far exceeds what is normal for humans, so although Ozpin's abilities are currently in a de-powered state, Oscar is catching up with unnatural speed. The original identity was a great hero known as Ozma who possessed unrivalled abilities in both combat prowess and magical ability. His purpose is to ensure humanity can survive a future Judgement Day of the Gods, but the equally immortal Salem's attempt to destroy humanity is frustrating his ability to do that. He has been reincarnating for thousands of years; each new host contributes to Ozma's abilities and knowledge and this then passes on to the next host to create an ever-developing gestalt entity.

    Web Comics 
  • In L's Empire, Void keeps his ability to summon spears out of thin air while under the effects of a "Freaky Friday" Flip with Geminiman due to the powers being bound to his mind and soul. It also ended up being the punchline to a three year long Brick Joke.

    Western Animation 
  • Zig-zagged in Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra: While the Avatar is granted the ability to bend all four elements (bending is restricted to a single element for everyone else), they won't necessarily have the same skills their predecessor had. Korra had serious trouble with airbending at first and seems to be better at bending fire than the other elements, while Aang had difficulty mastering earthbending and at one point gave up on firebending due to accidentally injuring Katara. Avatar Roku was possibly a lavabender (an offshoot of earthbending, despite being a firebender), which neither Aang or Korra are able to do. The Avatar State is a Defense Mechanism Superpower that brings back all the skill and power the previous avatars developed, granting unparalleled manipulation of the elements.
  • Played With in Jackie Chan Adventures: When Jade swapped chi with Uncle, she inherited Uncle's personality and all his chi-power, and should theoretically be able to do anything Uncle could... but she had none of his knowledge as it was explicitly only the chi that was swapped, not their brains, and despite having the ability to do them, she had no idea of how to do them.
  • Jumanji featured an episode where everyone underwent a "Freaky Friday" Flip with someone else. This didn't stop a monkey the Ambiguously Human J.H. "Trader" Slick body-swapped with from using the human body to swing around treetops despite the lack of feet capable of gripping branches, or a tail.
  • A Kim Possible episode saw Kim and Ron body-swapped. When Ron-in-Kim's body proved completely ineffectual for cheerleading, Kim-in-Ron's body stepped in to take his place, much to the surprise of everyone else, and in general, she had absolutely no trouble performing the same She-Fu she normally did, despite the body change. This may make sense, as Ron is sometimes shown as being as physically fit as Kim, just not as coordinated.
  • In the The Powerpuff Girls episode "Criss Cross Crisis", despite the mass "Freaky Friday" Flip, the girls and Mojo Jojo retain their strength and superpowers between bodies, with relatively minor affects from changes in shape in size. This is Handwaved by the Freak Lab Accident only changing the "outside" of those affected, which is also why they maintained voices and locations after every switch.
  • A Woody Woodpecker short featured a scientist who believed Woodpecker bodies were the pinnacle of evolution, and he thus endeavored to perform a "Freaky Friday" Flip. At the end of the short, he manages to succeed, while Woody now flies around in a human body.
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