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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.

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 it is not possible, a Custom-Built Host may need to be created with the powers of the original. 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.


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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.
    • Uub is Majin Buu reincarnated as a human. While lacking the powers that depended on Buu's malleable body, he is vastly more powerful than any other human in the setting. Dragon Ball Super reveals that he retained god ki that Kid Buu absorbed from the Grand Supreme Kai.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, when Ling becomes the second Greed, Greed can still use his ultimate shield. Justified 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.
  • In the 3rd OVA to Fushigi Yuugi, all the Suzaku Seishi that were killed off in the series proper are reincarnated into new forms. Most notable is Nuriko, who has been reincarnated into a little girl named Reishun. It isn't the purple hair that gives away Reishun's identity to Tasuki, but the fact that she still has superhuman strength.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind, Giorno swaps bodies with Narancia, Trish with Mista, and Bucciarati with Diavolo, and their Stands, being manifestations of their Fighting Spirits, all transfer with their souls, arguably working better than they did before. The exception is Polnareff, who was swapped into Coco Jumbo, but doesn't retain his Stand since its Requiem form was what caused the swap.
  • 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.
  • One Piece: Subverted in the case of Mr. 2, who has a Devil Fruit that lets him take on the appearance of anyone he's touched before. During the Alabaster arc, he repeatedly transforms into Nami to prevent Sanji from launching any attacks and leave him open for his own strikes. Eventually, Sanji realizes that Mr. 2 always has to revert back to his original form when he's about to go on the offensive because Nami's body hasn't been conditioned to use his martial arts.
  • Oshi no Ko: Aqua and Ruby were an adult and a preteen, respectively, that reincarnated into a pair of twins. This didn't just give them full consciousness and memory from essentially the moment of birth, but the ability to stand, talk, operate electronic devices, and generally demonstrate far more dexterity than a newborn would be capable of in real life.
  • 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 can walk upright and sit seiza at a shogi board too.
  • To Love Ru:
    • One of several "Freaky Friday" Flip chapters has Mikan and Yami change bodies. Yami doesn't have her transformation power in Mikan's body, and comments that she's weaker than usual, but she's still able to beat up the Principal with a flurry of kicks Mikan probably isn't normally capable of.
    • Subverted in another chapter where it's Lala and Mikan that change bodies as part of a plan to have Mikan as bait for a gang without putting her in actual danger. Lala tries to to beat them up with her usual flair only to find Mikan's human body doesn't allow her usual alien strength that she's reliant on for most of her fighting style.
  • Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches:
    • The body-swap power is a mental power, not a physical one, and that means users of the power can always swap bodies even if they aren't in their original body, sometimes resulting in complicated switches, for example in chapter 10 where Yamada swaps bodies with Shiraishi and then swaps bodies with Miyamura and Itou while he's still in Shiraishi's body.
    • A slightly odder example is fighting skills. Shiraishi is not very athletic and not physically strong, and yet both Yamada and Asuka, who are strong hand-to-hand fighters, keep their fighting skills when they've swapped bodies with her.

    Comic Books 
  • Played with in a chapter of Cybersix: Von Reichter sent an adult clone of Cybersix out to assassinate her. Instead, the clone (lacking the original's decades of accumulated psychological trauma and mental hangups), goes after Cybersix by living the life the original won't let herself have (sleeping with Lucas, having a grand day out with Julian, going out openly as a woman.)
  • At one point in Justice League of America, Red Tornado is tricked into abandoning his android body and instead inhabiting a human body. Despite the change, he somehow still retains his ability to create tornadoes. Somewhat justified in that Red Tornado was already a "tornado spirit" who happened to be inhabiting an android body, and how much the android body is connected to his powers is very much Depending on the Writer.
  • 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 Mjölnir and becomes Throg.

    Fan Works 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Dungeon Keepers usually all eventually learn Demonic Possession, and their Keeper powers, and for Ami, additionally her Sailor Mercury transformation and attendant powers, still work while possessing someone, because they're soul-linked.
  • Jaune Arc, Lord of Hunger: After possessing Jaune's body, Darth Nihilus is still able to use the Force abilities his original body had — like his Force scream and Force leap — in addition to all of Jaune's Force techniques.
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, the Ultra-Humanite is able to retain his Quirk, Over Man, no matter what body he ends up transferring his brain into.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Near the end of Freaky Friday (2003), Anna in Tess's body is still perfectly able to play her guitar when her band plays whilst Tess pretends to play.
  • A variation in Groundhog Day; it's still Phil's body but it technically resets every morning at 6:00am to its pre-time loop state. Despite this he is able to teach himself skills that rely partially on muscle memory, such as playing the piano or flipping cards into a hat.
  • Apocalypse from X-Men: Apocalypse can Body Surf into new bodies and bring all the powers from his old bodies with him.

  • 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.
  • Kanata from Re:Monster Reincarnated in Another World as a Goblin, but rare for a Stock Light-Novel Hero in an Isekai story, he had his Cannibalism Superpower as a human on Earth before he was killed.
  • The Stormlight Archive: The Fused spirits retain their brand's specific Surgebinding abilities upon taking a new body.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Charmed (1998), 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: The Emperor was truly born around 8000 BC when Earth's shamans realized that 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 

    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.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers: The hero's Dimensional Scream ability is carried over from when they were a human. Unfortunately, this helps tip off Dusknoir to their true identity.
  • 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.

  • In El Goonish Shive, Magus is able to use his own magic while possessing Elliot despite being from a different universe and Elliot having entirely different magic of his own.
  • Averted and discussed in Girl Genius. Zeetha explains to Lucrezia-in-Agatha that, while Lucrezia may have trained in Skifandrian swordfighting techniques, Agatha hasn't. So, even though she's been in Agatha's body for months and even gained control sometimes, Lucrezia can't swordfight effectively in Agatha's body. Unfortunately, Zeetha enlightening Lu on this points leads to a Nice Job Breaking It, Hero event.
  • 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: 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 nor 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.
  • Averted in the Ben 10 episode "A Change of Face", even though the swap is done via magic. Ben is not trained in martial arts, and Gwen in his body can't use her martial arts skills; she does have access to the Omnitrix courtesy of the swap, though. Interestingly, muscle memory and reflexes are enough for Ben in Gwen's body to use some of her simpler martial arts moves.
  • 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. Despite gaining the ability to do them, she still had no idea of how to do them.
  • In an episode of Jeannie, Corey and Henry are magically mind swapped and have to stay that way while Jeannie and Babu work out a solution. When it comes time for the Gym Class Rope Climb, Henry (in Corey's athletic body) can't climb an inch, while Corey (in Henry's spindly, unathletic body) climbs to the top like it was nothing. When Henry asks Jeannie why he still couldn't climb the rope, even in Corey's far stronger body, Jeannie simply says "You are not Corey."
  • Jumanji: The Animated Series features an episode in which everyone undergoes a "Freaky Friday" Flip with someone else. This doesn't stop a monkey the Ambiguously Human J.H. "Trader" Slick body-swaps with from using the human body to swing around treetops despite the lack of feet capable of gripping branches, or a tail.
  • One Kim Possible episode sees Kim and Ron body-swapped. When Ron-in-Kim's body proves completely ineffectual for cheerleading, Kim-in-Ron's body steps in to take his place, much to the surprise of everyone else, and in general, she has absolutely no trouble performing the same She-Fu she normally does despite the body change. This may make sense, as Ron is sometimes shown as being as physically fit as Kim, just not as coordinated.
  • Lady Bone Demon in Monkie Kid is shown to retain many of her supernatural abilities even while possessing a human girl.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998): In "Criss Cross Crisis", despite the mass "Freaky Friday" Flip, the girls and Mojo Jojo retain their strength and superpowers between bodies, with relatively minor effects from changes in shape and size. This is Hand Waved by the Freak Lab Accident only changing the "outside" of those affected, which is also why they maintain voices and locations after every switch.
  • One Woody Woodpecker short features a scientist who believes that Woodpecker bodies are the pinnacle of evolution, and he thus endeavors 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.