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Not Quite Back to Normal

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A character is unshackled from a Forced Transformation — changed back from a frog, cured of their lycanthropy, or just had a Gender Bender undone — but after sighing with relief, they slowly realize that they aren't 100% the same as they used to be. And it's not just because they've walked in another creature's shoes and improved as a person.

Maybe their tongue is a bit longer than they remember, and they have this inexplicable hunger for flies. Or they've still got a wolf tail (and all their friends burst into laughter whenever they turn around.) Or, psychologically, they've retained an uncontrollable fear of cats. Maybe they're Stumbling in the New Form, except the "new form" is actually their original form since they've gotten used to moving around in a transformed body. At any rate, they've got leftovers.

Usually played for laughs (and often an Ending Trope) but it may be a plot point in a greater arc. Brainwash Residue has considerable overlap. See Close-Enough Timeline for the Time Travel equivalent. Some overlap with The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body, where a shapeshifter's mind is altered depending on the form they're in.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bakemonogatari: Koyomi Araragi has, as of the time the story starts, been cured from being a vampire. Although he's supposedly fully human again, he seems to have retained greatly improved eyesight and instant recovery from wounds. A later story reveals he's still got some vampirism in himself, and that's mostly because he refuses to abandon his connection to Shinobu, the one who turned him. In fact, using his remaining vampiric powers is slowly turning him back into a vampire again, though he can avoid this by simply refusing to use those abilities.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: The Elric brothers' main goal throughout the series is to find a way to restore Edward's lost arm and leg, and Alphonse's body. Alphonse manages to restore Edward's arm by reversing the transmutation that bound his soul to a suit of armor, and Ed in turn manages to restore Al, body and soul together, by sacrificing his ability to perform alchemy. This still leaves Edward without the leg he lost in the initial failed human transmutation, but Ed decides to live with it as a reminder of the lessons he learned from his experiences.

    Comic Books 
  • In ClanDestine, Walter's powers involve Hulking Out into a large blue form. When he changes back, sometimes a few body parts remain blue and over sized for awhile.
  • In The Magicians: Alice's Story, as with the original novel, the fourth-year students at Brakebills South are taught how to transform into arctic foxes; however, since this story is being told from Alice's perspective, she eventually reveals that she still has a few of her wild instincts: when the time comes for the Ultimate Final Exam, she ends up throwing the offered magical ingredients for the job back in Mayakovsky's face - something she never would have dared try beforehand - and tackles the exam under her own steam.
  • In his 3rd solo series, Morbius turns into a monstrous bat form after a cure goes wrong. Eventually he manages to turn himself back into a "normal" living vampire but retains the bat wings he grew.

    Fairy Tales 
  • In "The Six Swans," a girl's six brothers are all turned into swans and the only way she can restore them to normal is by knitting shirts from asters for them and never speaking or laughing for six full years. She manages to finish all of the shirts in time...except for one, which is missing a sleeve. This causes one of the brothers to still have a swan wing.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm has Harry get a white lock in his fringe while being possessed by Chthon, and it stays afterwards, occasionally being remarked upon as rather odd and distinctive. In the sequel, he gets captured, tortured, and his Empty Shell body is reprogrammed by the Red Room as a superpowered assassin in the vein of the Winter Soldier. After that particular Trauma Conga Line, he's left with increased combat skills, fluency in Russian, and a truly horrifying case of PTSD, which months later, he has yet to totally recover from.
  • In We Are All Pokémon Trainers:
    • After returning to their human forms after defeating Missingno, the trainers discovered they still had the ability to understand Pokémon speech.
    • Some of them do it intentionally by using the armbands just because of said ability.
    • Lyuri still has the ability to use Aura after being turned into a Lucario hybrid, despite being turned back to normal, and before her, Kim and Lily after being turned into a Riolu and Mienfoo respectively.
  • In the second chapter of Umbrellas and Bracelets, Marinette learns Chat Noir's identity after a hit on the head causes him to keep his feline eyes as Adrien.
  • This happens at the end of Queen of All Oni with Jade and Viper. Despite losing their tribes thanks to Tarakudo stripping those abilities from them during the Final Battle, and subsequently freeing their minds of corruption, they're still physically Shadowkhan even after the Generals are sealed, apparently permanently.

    Films — Animation 
  • Monsters vs. Aliens: A temporary case is seen where Susan is drained of Quantonium and shrunk down to her original size. Her hair, which became white when she first became a giantess, did not return to its original brown.
  • In Shrek the Third, Puss and Donkey got their minds switched accidentally. At the end, Merlin switched them back... except he also switched their tails.
  • In Howl's Moving Castle, Sophie's curse is eventually undone but she still retains the silver hair color from her old woman transformation. This is VERY different from the book, where she was restored completely.
  • In Last Year's Snow Was Falling, the Dude foolishly toys with a magic wand and goes through insane sequence of shapeshifting into forms among which a tiger in Dude's hat is probably the least bizarre, before randomly changing back to normal. As he turns and walks away, we see that he still has a tiger tail.
  • In The Emperor's New Groove the villain, Yzma, is transformed into a kitten in the end. By the time of the sequel, she is human again, but still possesses a tail and some catlike behavior (which is an Actor Allusion; Eartha Kitt is best remembered for playing Catwoman).
  • In Hilda and the Mountain King, after Hilda returns to human form, she can still understand troll language, and can hear and decipher Amma's words to her children. In addition, she appears to have retained at least some of the strength she had as a troll.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Wayne tests the shrink ray on his neighbor Russell. After being brought back to normal, Russell finds that his baseball cap is a little big for him. His hat was where he was hiding his cigarette pack from his wife, and she found them when he handed her his hat before being shrunk. Since she didn't give the pack back, there's another possibility for why his hat doesn't fit.
  • The ending of Young Frankenstein — after the procedure that stabilizes the "monster," the creature has inherited the intelligence and mild manners of his creator. Frankenstein himself has inherited some... interesting side effects if his assistant's reaction is any indication.
  • James and the Giant Peach: At the end, James Henry changes back to a live action boy after remaining stop-motion throughout a majority of the film. This is because he coughs up the magic crocodile tongue that transformed him after he accidentally swallowed it. The insects that live inside the eponymous giant peach, however, stay huge and stop-motion animated, because the magic tongues they swallowed stay inside them.
  • Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger : The evil sorceress Zenobia doesn't have enough shapechanging potion to turn completely from seagull to human, so spends the rest of the film with one giant webbed bird's foot.
  • At the end of The Amazing Spider-Man, it turns out the antidote hasn't completely countered all traces of the lizard serum present in Connors.
  • In the first X-Men movie, Rogue's hair starts to turn white as Magneto's mutation device drains her energy. After getting healed by Wolverine's healing factor, she's back to normal, except for now having her comic counterpart's signature skunk stripe.

  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:
    • Violet is left permanently blue after her transformation into a blueberry is undone.
    • Mike ends up 10 feet tall and thin as a wire after they stretch him back out after he shrank himself.
  • Discworld
    • In the book Sourcery, Lord Vetinari is changed into a lizard for much of the novel. When he gets changed back, he notices a new habit of sticking out his tongue.
    • It also occurs as a side effect of "Borrowing" (inhabiting the mind of another creature). Borrowers tend to return to their body with some animalistic behaviors and urges that gradually wear off. When Grannie Weatherwax does bees, she "bzzzts" for a while after returning to her body.
  • At the end of Dr. Franklin's Island the kids have managed to get turned into recognizably human shapes, but they're still transgenic, retaining various features and with the potential to change back to their mostly-animal selves. Semi's ears look weird, she has sealed-over nearly invisible gill slits, her eyesight is better, and she doesn't have any hair, though she thinks it's growing back. Miranda is still quite light with clawlike fingernails and very short, oily hair that grows far down the nape of her neck.
  • In John Morressy's Kedrigern book, A Voice For Princess, although Kedrigern restores Princess to her former self from frog shape, the spell which made her a frog was more complicated than he realized. She becomes a beautiful princess who croaks like a frog.
  • In The Witcher, princess Adda has spent her entire youth as a monster. She looks perfectly normal but still Prefers Raw Meat.
  • In Jules Verne's fantasy novel, Adventures of the Rat Family, the family undergoes multiple transformations, and the comic-relief character always ends up with the tail of whatever the last thing was (for example: they get transformed from rats into fish, he's a fish with a rat's tail). At the end, when they're all human, he's still got a donkey's tail, and is apparently stuck with it for life.
  • In Animorphs, Tobias gets Shapeshifter Mode Locked as a hawk in the first book, and gradually his body's predatory instincts begin to affect his personality. Much later, he gains the ability to temporarily turn into his former human form - but he still has the tendency to stare intensely at people like a hawk, and has to put significant effort into forming facial expressions.
  • In Seraphina, though she can no longer experience the emotion, Linn still remembers her love for Claude once returning to dragon form, and wants it back.
  • Journey to Chaos: At the end of Looming Shadow, Eric mana mutates into a grendel and tries to kill Basilard in mindless hunger. Then Kallen takes him for treatment and makes him not only human again but also sapient again. He has a pleasant talk with his teammates and it seems like he has come away from this experience no worse for the wear. Then his eyes shift into something feral and he asks with a monstrous voice if he can eat a human. The change reverts back just as quickly but it's clear that Eric is not the same as he used to be.
  • Goosebumps Why I'm Afraid of Bees has an example. The main character is a kid named Gary Lutz. To call him a Loser Protagonist would be putting things extremely lightly. He doesn't have any friends and is so coordinately challenged that the kids who play baseball with him invented a rule in which he is allowed four strikes instead of the usual three. At home, things aren't much better. Gary's frustration comes to a head when his little sister steals the known bully's favorite hat and hides it in Gary's bag, an action that results in his being beaten very badly. He tries to swap bodies but ends up getting his DNA scrambled with that of a bee. After several misadventures, he eventually gets his body back and things start to improve, but the last line of the book features him sucking pollen out of flowers with his mouth. This is a common form of the obligatory Goosebumps Twist Ending. If a book has the main characters transforming into something and the story is about them trying to turn back into kids, odds are quite high that the last sentence will have that happen.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, there are certain rules all Wargs must obey unless they want this trope to come in effect. You don't eat human flesh while you are in your beast's body, or you'll become a cannibal back in your own body. You don't have sex while in your beast's body, or you'll find yourself to enjoy bestiality as a human. You'd better avoid warging into herbivores (to avoid becoming a coward) and birds (apparently, flying is addictive, and not being able to as a human can drive you insane).
  • In The Submissive Alice, Alice returns from her adventures in Underland and wonders if the whole experience might have been a dream. This lasts until she takes a shower and discovers that her pubic hair has been replaced by a fine layer of white feathers.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An episode of Red Dwarf had Rimmer make his holographic body look like Christine Kochanski in an attempt to manipulate Lister. He still had a boob after he changes back, but was in no rush to get rid of it.
  • Sanctuary: Tesla is deeply depressed upon being devamped and complains that he's "ordinary." He then realizes he has magnetic powers.
  • In The Flash (2014), Martin Stein and Ronnie Raymond were stuck in a Fusion Dance for over a year. They are able to get it undone, but Martin now retains Ronnie's love of pizza (previously, he'd hated it).
  • An exploitation is Played for Laughs in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Bashir, O'Brien and Dax and their runabout are shrunk and restored to normal at the end. Odo suggests that the men seem a couple of centimeters shorter than normal.
    Dr. Bashir: "Infirmary!" (He and O'Brien rush offscreen.)
    Quark: (to Odo) And they say you don't have a sense of humor.
    • Then Quark and Odo step down from the half-ledge they were on while standing next to O'Brien and Bashir.
  • In the last classic-era Doctor Who story, "Survival", Ace is turned partway into a cheetah person as part of the transformative properties of an unstable planet. At the end, it's suggested, somewhat surprisingly for viewers at the time, that Ace's partial transformation was not completely undone by the planet's destruction—an aptly suggestive turning point for her character just as the show shifted into a new era of unseen adventures.
    Ace: I felt like I could run forever, like I could smell the wind and feel the grass under my feet and just run forever.
    Doctor: The planet's gone, but lives on inside you. It always will.
    Ace: Good.

  • John Adams's opera A Flowering Tree is based on south Indian folklore. A girl (named Kumudha in the opera) has the power to transform herself into a flowering tree. She arouses the jealousy of the prince's spiteful sister, who tricks her into transformation and then ravages her, picking all the flowers and breaking the branches. Kumudha is unable to resume human form, and she crawls about the land as a misshapen half-human, half-tree thing.

    Video Games 
  • During the Time Skip in Dragon Quest XI, Jade is brainwashed by one of the villains and given a Playboy Bunny half-demon form. She retains it as a Super Mode even after she's freed from said villain's brainwashing; in fact, the first thing she does while back in control is kill him with it.
  • In Monster Girl Quest, "Witch Hunt" sidequest involves a witch turning human girls into tentacled monsters. After the witch is defeated, Luka apparently "seals" the girls' transformations... except not really, and they still can sprout tentacles at will.
  • The story mode of Soulcalibur V has a serious variant at the end with Pyrrha Alexandra breaking free of Soul Edge's influence. Eyes normal? Check. Voice normal? Check. No longer obsessed with gathering souls for the evil sword? Check. Monstrous right arm reverted to something presentable in polite company? Sorry, you are out of luck there.
  • Sarah Kerrigan from StarCraft got infested by the Zerg in the original opus, who used Viral Transformation to turn her from a human with psychic powers to a powerful Terran/Zerg hybrid as well as a Brainwashed and Crazy Magnificent Bitch. In StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, she is cured from her transformation and brought back to her human form and personality. However, she turns out to still have some zerg mutagene inside her, resulting in her keeping the hair from her zerg form as well as some of her abilities. This becomes a plotpoint in StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, where she uses what remains of her zerg abilities to take over the Zerg again, and eventually turns her back in her Zerg form, with her regular personality in control this time.
  • At the very end of the Freedom ending in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, the now-human-again Demi-Fiend wakes up in his room and goes to meet his friends to visit their teacher, as they intended to do before the cataclysmic events of the Conception. All seems normal again... and then an e-mail by Lucifer implies the guy has retained all of his demonic power and one day will be forced to fight for his world again...
  • In Terraria, when you release the Old Man from his cursed servitude to Skeletron, he's happy to go back to a humble life as a mundane Clothier in your town. However, if enemies invade the town, he can still sling magically conjured skulls to defend it.
  • In Blaster Master Zero II, Eve purifies herself of the mutant infection by the end of the game, but her right eye turned from blue to green, and she keeps the blue streaks on her hair, plus her new assets. Zero III then reveals it did more than just that: she didn't actually remove the mutant cells in her body, she's actually assimilated them, which turned her from a Ridiculously Human Robot to a fully organic lifeform.
  • In Diablo IV, the angel Inarius spent centuries with his body and face mutilated by Mephisto's torture. After escaping the Burning Hells, his body returns to its normal form of a cloaked, armored humanoid. However, unlike normal angels whose armor is featureless, Inarius's armor is molded into the shape of screaming faces as a permanent reminder.

    Web Animation 
  • AstroLOLogy: "A Tail of Recovery" ends with Aquarius having cured Capricorn's cold, but in the process having caused him to grow a reptilian tail that he fails to notice. The fortune message shows Capricorn having mutated further into a giant lizard.

  • In Narbonic, Dave manages to get his (and Helen's) Gender Bender transformation cured, but still finds himself attracted to Mick Foley.
  • Be glad you can't see Torg's "aftereffects" in this Sluggy Freelance strip.
  • El Goonish Shive had a joke along these lines at the end of the second April Fool's Week storyline. And then again in a side comic storyline.
  • Be grateful you are not in Station V3 because they have suffered from this more than 10 times already... all with varying results always saying that they are back to 'normal'.
  • In Once Stung, after Samantha is turned back from giant snake to human she manifests several snake characteristics - such as reptile eyes, fangs and a forked tongue - the next morning.
  • Shapeshifters in The Sanity Circus who use it to transform into animals (like Fletch and Donovan Sparc) gradually acquire physical traits of the animal in question the more and more they use it. Eventually you end up as a Funny Animal, and are stuck that way. Donovan is already at that step (as a rhinoceros), and Fletch is approaching it.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Distant Lands: As seen in "Obsidian", Simon Petrokov is no longer the Ice King, but he still has a habit of dressing up like him and standing in front of an open freezer.
  • An episode of Amphibia had Anne and Sprig get cursed, with Anne becoming a bird-person and developing a craving for worms and bugs when she was previously too disgusted to eat them before (and still is disgusted by the idea of eating them, wanting the curse lifted as soon as possible so she can stop). At the end of the episode, after the two are back to normal, Sprig heads downstairs for a drink in the middle of the night and finds Anne with her arms folded up into wings and "pecking" ants off the floor. She continues to eat bugs without any complaints for the rest of the show after this, so either the curse's leftover effects persisted for that long, or the experience just helped her naturally get over her squeamishness.
  • An episode of Futurama gave Bender a sex change. When Farnsworth turned him back to normal, he found that he had become more in touch with his "feminine" side (but denies it).
  • The Powerpuff Girls:
    • 1998 original series: The "Freaky Friday" Flip episode "Criss Cross Crisis" has many different body swaps going on, but eventually everyone seems to be back to normal... except that at the end, it turns out Bubbles' body was still swapped with the Narrator.
    • 2016 Reboot: One of the Halloween Episodes, "Witch's Crew" has Princess Morbucks trying to create a potion that'll make her more beautiful and powerful than the girls, but the girls and a trick-or-treating Mojo Jojo intervene and the spell backfires, turning her into a fire-breathing ogre, Mojo into a real cat and the Powerpuffs into Wicked Witches. After the spell is broken, Princess brags that she's beautiful again, but doesn't notice that she now has a long, slimy tail.
  • In an episode of The Legend of Zelda (1989) animated series, Link is transformed into a frog. At the end of the episode, after he is cured, he still reflexively grabs and eats a fly.
  • In Duck Amuck Daffy ends up completely erased by the sadistic animator and testily asks to be redrawn. He gets his wish in the worst way possible, but it's not until the animator draws a mirror in front of him that he notices (including the fact that he's inexplicably gone quadruped!).
  • In Grim & Evil episode 5 during the Evil Con Carne segments Devolver, Part 1 and Devolver, Part 2, General Skarr keeps devolving into different species due to accidentally being exposed to Major Dr. Ghastly's devolving ray. In the end, Ghastly and Hector manage to expose Skarr (who has become an amoeba by that time) to a re-evolution ray, turning him back to his normal self... except he still has a monkey tail (though only Hector and Ghastly seem to notice it).
  • In one episode of The Life and Times of Juniper Lee, Juniper is turned into a lemur, but when she is changed back at the end of the episode, she still has a tail. Psych, no it was just Ray-Ray telling her she still had a tail.
  • Treehouse of Horror:
    • One episode had Homer Simpson get turned into a bizarre chimera with a chicken's body. When Homer turns back to normal at the end of the episode, it turns out that he still has the body of a chicken... and lays an egg.
    • In another episode he went back in time and kept changing the past. In the finale one everything was back to normal... except everyone ate with long retractable reptile tongues. Homer just shrugs and says "Eh, close enough".
  • American Dragon: Jake Long: In one episode, a soul-sucking nix sucked the souls of several students during a school dance. In the end, everything went back to normal—except that Trixie and Spud were now in each other's bodies. They were inexplicably back to normal in the next episode. (Note that this happened before they learned about Jake being a dragon.)
  • The 1961 Popeye cartoon "I Yam Wot I Yamnesia" delved into the bizarre, as bumps on the head suffered by Popeye, Swee' Pea, Wimpy and Olive has their personalities and voices switched with each other (Popeye is Swee'Pea and Swee' Pea is Popeye; Olive and Wimpy are switched similarly). After a second bump return everyone to normal (and a sock from Swee' Pea/Popeye on Brutus), only Brutus and Popeye are still reliving their infancies.
  • An episode of Garfield and Friends has Garfield entreating the viewers to watch the story unfold and pick out all the graphic incongruities within. It ends with Garfield calling the up-to-then unseen Odie to follow him. Only it's not Odie—it's Marmaduke.
  • One episode of Aladdin: The Series has Jasmine and Iago respectively turned into a rat and lizard by a curse. Genie is ultimately able to turn them back to their true forms by the end of the episode, but they still have some leftover traits of the previous forms: Jasmine still has a rat's tail while Iago is stuck with his umbrella-like neck.
  • Inverted in one episode of The Flintstones: When Fred gets amnesia and believes he's a three-year-old, Barney takes him to a doctor in order to get him to recover. Said doctor is a mad scientist who swaps Fred's mind with his lab animal. Although he tries to turn him back to normal, things get ridiculously more out of hand when he winds up also swapping the brains of Barney, the wives, the pets, and even his assistant. By the very end, he's able to get them all back to normal... and they all really are too. He, however, isn't, as he winds up taking some of Fred's personality and voice and now also believes himself to be the real Fred Flintstone.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episode "Bats", Fluttershy is turned into a Vegetarian Vampire pony. Twilight is able to change her back, but during the "Everybody Laughs" Ending, the camera zooms in to show Fluttershy with Cute Little Fangs.
  • In the Grand Finale of Danny Phantom, Danny uses the Ghost Zone portal to remove his powers, but retains a white streak in his hair. After he ultimately gets his powers back, it's gone.
  • Rocko's Modern Life: "Fly Burgers", where Rocko is sentenced to 30 days as a fly after he is sued by Flecko the Fly after he tried to swat him away while busy barbecuing. The judge soon discovers that Flecko was faking his injuries and reverses the spell, but forgets to remove his fly wings.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Neptune's Spatula", Neptune blasts Patrick with lightning every time the latter talks back to him, eventually turning him into a black stain on the floor. When SpongeBob agrees to Neptune's fry cook duel on the condition that he restores Patrick to normal, Neptune does so, but Patrick's face is now on the front of his pants for the rest of the episode.
  • The Star vs. the Forces of Evil episode "Running With Scissors" focuses on Marco chasing Hekapoo through another dimension to get back Star's dimensional scissors. This ends up taking him sixteen years, by which point he'd become a muscular Badass Biker. Then he discovers only eight minutes passed on Earth and Marco turns back into a teenager when he returns. However, Marco kept the bald spot from Hekapoo's burning Dope Slaps, and has some (comically minor) problems adjusting after a half-lifetime of absence (like forgetting his passwords). The next season would periodically mention that Marco is an accomplished adventurer who's mentally twice his biological age, and he even gets his Cool Bike back.
  • Steven Universe:
    • When the Corrupted Gems are cured, they’re not completely restored to normal; they still have animalistic deformities held over from their Corrupted forms, such as Jasper still having the horns and coloration of her Corrupted self.
    • White Pearl retains the crack on her face and eye after being restored to her Pink Pearl self when freed from White Diamond's control because, as we learn in the Steven Universe: Future episode "Volleyball", the crack was caused by Pink Diamond, not White, and it remains there because of the trauma of accidentally being damaged by her beloved mistress.
  • In Teen Titans (2003), when Starfire returns to normal after going through alien puberty, she finds that she now has Eye Beams.
    Starfire: (looking at her reflection in a crystal) I am... normal! [involuntarily discharges two bolts into the crystal that rebound off it into a nearby wall] Mostly.
  • When the Pistachions are defeated in Milo Murphy's Law, everyone who was turned into a plant is returned to normal. Except for Bradley, whose right hand is still a plant.
  • In the episode "The Cutening" from Animaniacs (2020), the Warners slowly go insane about how much Dot has made the world cuter with her new powers, but they find a way to revert it: by licking a disease-ridden pigeon. And the world is back to its gross self... except the Warners now have pigeon bodies.
  • Gravity Falls: The Grand Finale says that McGucket has "regained his sanity." From what we see of him, it's probably better to say that he's upgraded from full-on Mad Scientist to Bunny-Ears Lawyer, but still isn't as "normal" as he was before inventing the memory gun.