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One-Winged Angel

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"Now shall you deal with me, O Prince... and all the powers of HELL!"
"Behold, my true form, and despair!"

Classic Big Bads have the tendency, when push comes to shove, to turn into big honking monsters. A Mad Scientist, in a fit of urgency, might down his own Psycho Serum, or a practitioner of Black Magic might mutate himself into an Eldritch Abomination, and so on. Bets are good they'll become way more bloated, ugly, or plain disfigured. And with this new form, their power grows immensely.

This indicates that the villain means business and it's time for the heroes to get cracking.

Video games in general absolutely adore having their final boss do this, even when their original form is scary enough anyway. In fact, it's gotten to be somewhat of an arms race: thanks to the popularity of Frieza in 1991, three-form bosses are now somewhat common, and those games going for "epic" will sometimes go for even more.

The Trope Namer is Sephiroth, the Final Boss of Final Fantasy VII, who goes from a pretty boy with long hair, to a bizarre seven-winged entity, to an Angelic Abomination (and then back to a pretty boy with long hair). "One-Winged Angel" is the name of Sephiroth's Battle Theme Music. He's become one the most famous examples of the concept, and as a result, it's common to see other JRPGs follow the three-stage example of Sephiroth: the base form, the "bizarro" form that is huge and scary, and the "angel" form that is eerily beautiful and accompanied by Ominous Latin Chanting.

Once beaten, or on becoming even more powerful, the villain may cross the Bishōnen Line and into safer territory for an Evil Makeover to work its magic (though it's a case of Tropes Are Not Bad; as much as it's used, you'd be hard pressed to complain when they turn into something completely awesome). Usually accompanied by the stock phrases "No one who's witnessed this form has lived to tell the tale!", "I have only begun to fight!", or "This isn't even my final form!"

Sometimes you never even fight their human form at all and they immediately turn into a monster. Can count as The Unfought if they showed fighting ability in their human form. This is more popular among minor video game villains who will often transform into tougher versions of earlier monsters like in the Breath of Fire and early Final Fantasy games, as a unique battle sprite for them would take up extra development time and storage space on the cartridge (one unique boss could take the space of several mooks, more with the use of a Palette Swap).

Interestingly, heroes, particularly transforming characters, have been known to occasionally use this "turn into a big scary monster" tactic for their Super Modes as well. It's extremely rare for it not to cross into Superpowered Evil Side territory. And for those with firmer morals, this qualifies the villain as a monster, making it fine to kill him.

One way to defeat a villain who became giant is to become one yourself. A Behemoth Battle can be even worse than a single giant monster, but it may be done anyway if there are no other options left.

May be combined with Voice of the Legion (on account of the fact that shit just got real). Scaled Up and Make My Monster Grow are major subtropes. Super Mode is a sister trope. See also Power-Upgrading Deformation, I Am Not Left-Handed. Compare Emergency Transformation, Lovecraftian Superpower, Came Back Wrong, and Not Even Human. Some subversions are to make it a Clipped-Wing Angel or Power Up Letdown. When the transformation is caused by the character's pain or anger it's Hulking Out. For when the transformation is the villain dropping their humanoid disguise and assuming their true, more powerful form, see This Was His True Form.

Not to Be Confused with Broken Angel. For those looking for actual winged people, see Winged Humanoid, Our Angels Are Different, and (most relevant to this trope), Power Gives You Wings.

Before adding examples, please be aware that this trope is not about just transforming into a monster. It's not even about villains who can transform into a monster. It's a plot trope for climactic final battles with villains.

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    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Cards like Form of the Dragon do this to the player.
    • Meanwhile, cards that do this to CREATURES are too many to count. Green in particular can transform even the meekest creatures into game-ending monstrosities. However, on top of it all is Eldrazi Conscription, which apparently can transform any creature into an Eldritch Abomination.
  • Can happen in the card game version of Legend of the Five Rings when overlaying a character with an Experienced version of said character that is infected from Shadowlands taint. This can cause normal-looking samurai such as Kuni Yori, Ikoma Ryozu, or Hida Amoro to instantly increase in power while also becoming disfigured monstrosities. Already-monstrous Shadowlands beings such as Moto Tsume and Akuma no Oni become even more horrific-looking as they increase in power. A rare heroic example is Togashi Yokuni whose Experienced 2 artwork shows him finally transforming into his dragon form. In the official fiction, his brother Fu Leng likewise becomes a dragon at this point to battle him. Yokuni doesn't survive. Intentionally.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! also has too many examples to count — probably more than is entirely healthy.
  • Legends of Runeterra:
    • Ursine Spiritwalker is normally a man wearing bear skins and middling stats for the cost, but if you play him with plunder effect activated, he becomes Stormclaw Ursine, half-man half-bear monster with increased attack and aura granting Overwhelm to your other units.
    • Shyvana transforms into her true dragon form when she levels up. It doesn't give her much of an immediate stat boost, instead giving her larger temporary boost when she attacks and providing you with an extra Strafing Strike card to play on that turn. Classic "Witness my true power!" voice line is of course included.
    • Renekton and Nasus become towering giants in their level 3 forms, with accompanying increase in statlines to 10/10 (potentially much more in case of Nasus).

    Comic Books 
  • In Amulet, this happens to anyone who gets "devoured" by the amulets. So far we've seen Luger grow into a giant troll-like creature.
  • Angel: Illyria transforms into her true form and tries to destroy all existence.
  • In Astro City, Hellhound is normally a normal-looking Scary Black Man, albeit with a friendly demeanor and heroic intent. But when he was infected with a Hate Plague, he was forcibly turned into a forty-foot-tall demonic Kirin with fangs and horns.
  • Set, the Big Bad of the Atlantis Attacks crossover was an odd case. An Eldritch Abomination who usually appeared as a colossal seven-headed serpent, he was usually hideous enough. However, when he was fought in his home dimension, he was seen in his true form, and was even more horrifying, resembling his usual form turned inside-out with a grotesque, vein-covered membrane instead of skin.
  • There was also the Avengers: The Initiative character, Trauma, whose power was transforming into whatever his opponent was afraid of. The twist was, he was a good guy, and actually otherwise really nice.
    • There are many mutants in the Marvel Universe who can transform, some of them really transform into ugly, instead of cool or powerful ones. The morlock Scaleface for example was a normal woman who could transform into a giant lizard.
    • There was also Freakshow from the run of Excalibur set on Genosha. He was able to transform into various monstrous forms.
  • Batman villain, Scarecrow, is definitely one of these as Scarebeast.
  • Black Moon Chronicles: When he finally goes into Villainous Breakdown because Wismerhill closed the Hell Gate and defeated his remaining forces, Haazheel transforms into a muscular demonic humanoid who breathes rays of undeath.
  • One of the EGM Hsu and Chan comics has the title duo getting roped into a wrestling match against Satan. He initially appears as a long-haired blonde in a white suit, but when the match begins, he reveals his true demonic form...a skinny, red-skinned guy with horns and pantaloons, not unlike Pitch.
  • Jean Grey's Dark Phoenix in The Dark Phoenix Saga may count as well. While wings are pretty standard for Phoenix nowadays, Dark Phoenix's fiery, psychic energy wings and her tendency to eat stars when she's hungry certainly qualify her for a number of things.
  • Hound: Morrigan confronts Cú Cullan as a gigantic monster bird during the final battle.
  • In Locke & Key, Dodge uses the Crown of Shadows to raise an army of Living Shadows to attack the Locke children. When this fails to stop them from escaping, he absorbs all the shadows together into an enormous, monstrous amalgamation of all their different forms. Luckily, Tyler pulls off a heroic version using the Giant Key.
  • Magik's Darkchylde form became increasingly demonic as time went on and her control of Limbo and her demonic side slipped.
  • Marvel Comics villain Onslaught had a second nasty form in the comics and in Marvel vs. Capcom.
    • In the Crisis Crossover starring Onslaught itself, he took three forms. The first was armor patterned on Magneto's with Spikes of Villainy added, completely encasing a body with the size and musculature of the Hulk. In the second form, the armor was the same, but adapted for a body that was now even larger, but more low-slung with much bigger forearms, and a bony face was visible, and balls of pure energy leaked out of his back and vents in the armor. His third form was disembodied pure energy, and he was defeated just pages after taking this form.
  • In Megalex, evil and beautiful Sapient Ship personality Shalise transforms into an absolutely terrifying monstrous version of herself. Her mouth fills with fangs, her ears become bat-like, she grows in size, and worst of all, her beautiful breasts become pendulous and rotten, tipped with corroded metal blades.
  • The Sentry when he becomes the Void, especially in Siege.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW):
    • Issue #10 ends with Neo Metal Sonic using the Master Emerald's power to become Master Overlord, as whom he fights the Resistance in Issue #11.
    • At the end of Issue #28, Zavok changes into his giant form from Sonic Lost World, setting the stage for the climax of the entire Metal Virus Saga in Issue #29.
  • The Clown, a major enemy of Spawn, spends most of his time in the mortal realm disguised as a short, overweight circus reject. But piss him off, and he'll reveal his true form — the large, powerful demon known as the Violator — and deliver a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown upon your ass.
  • The Ultimates: After The Liberators are defeated, Loki finally decides to get serious and unleash his might. Curiously, it isn't Loki himself that changes form, but the invocation of his full strength bends reality itself around him, turning the sky blood red and summoning an army of mythical monsters to destroy The Ultimates.
  • Mister Mxyzptlk does this in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, the final appearance of the Pre-Crisis Superman. ("Did you honestly believe that a 5th Dimensional sorcerer would resemble a funny little man in a derby hat?" laughs the villain.) Mxy's true form, being five dimensional, cannot be fully comprehended by earthlings; as Lois puts it, "I can't describe what Mxyzptlk then became. He had height, width, depth, and a couple of other things, too." To the reader, his true form resembles a giant, red and purple demonic humanoid with creepy long arms and an elongated skull, surrounded by weird fractals.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): When the White Magician learns that Artemis is coming to confront him he uses the new powers he's gained from a deal with a demon to drain lifeforce from his assistant and Cheetah, who he had captured, in order to twist his physical form into a towering musclebound demonic thing. He ends up beating Artemis to death in their confrontation, but his own body burns out and he dies as well leaving only ashes behind.
  • X-Men villain Bastion has his own One Winged Angel form at the end of the X-Men: Second Coming event. He doesn't last long once Hope Summers gets well and sufficiently pissed.

  • The concert is over. You have just confronted the most sublime manifestation of avant-garde classical music. You survived its tone clusters and polytonality. The thundering dissonance and disharmony begin to fade away from your aural registers — and with that, a new appreciation for sound in all its forms sets in. Out of respect for the sheer artistry of the pianist, you and the rest of your party begin to clap. The pianist, exhausted of his repertoire, walks back out onto the stage to bow to the audie—wait, what. What is he doing? Oh—Oh God. Oh God. He's come back. Oh God. He's returning to the piano.
    • A particularly appropriate example — Henry Cowell's Dynamic Motion is considered a rather... out-there piece of avant-garde piano, described as an act of "pianistic violence". This alone would make a suitable BGM for any RPG final boss battle music... Then you have the Four Encores to Dynamic Motion. The fourth, Antinomy, is just asking to depict a scene where a slain alien horror resurrects itself out of its own corpse as a distorted choir sings its glory in the background.
  • Michael Jackson pulls this off with great effect in his music video Ghosts as the Maestro. He also does a pretty good Demon Head near the end.

  • In Metroid Prime Pinball, this is Metroid Prime in both of its forms, and the second one can only be damaged with a specific powerup.

  • Subverted in Red Panda Adventures, "The Devil's Due": The villain attempts to hypnotize the Red Panda into thinking he's doing this, but it doesn't work and the Red Panda just laughs it off.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • After losing a match against Evolution in 2003, the "Big Red Monster," Kane, was forced to permanently remove his trademark red-and-black mask. This resulted in audiences seeing his true face for the first time since the character's debut 6 years earlier - despite allegedly having been severely burned in a fire, Kane's face was not covered in scars as he claimed; he was simply that insane. Now that he could no longer hide his "disfigurement", Kane became even more psychotic and dangerous than before.
  • Japanese pro wrestling loves this trope. Jushin "Thunder" Liger, during intense rivalries, sometimes transforms into the more aggressive, much more evil looking "Kishin Liger". Also Bx B Hulk, a normally upbeat gimmick about dancing, turns into "Killer Hulk", adopting an all black costume and evil looking facepaint.
  • Mick Foley occasionally treats his Cactus Jack persona as this. In his feud with Triple H, him shedding his Mankind persona to turn into Cactus Jack scared the crap out of Triple H.
  • For particularly serious grudge matches, Delirious will don a "Red Poison" variant of his traditional ring attire with a black-and-red color scheme instead of black-and-green.
  • NXT's Finn Bálor is definitely so much this when he dons his demonic bodypaint for special events, claiming he's channelling an actual demon through it. It's a callback to his popular paint jobs in his past as Prince Fergal Devitt prior to WWE signing him.

    Religion and Mythology 
  • Aztec Mythology does this all the time. The gods generally have two forms, an attractive one, and other more animalistic or downright bestial!
  • Older Than Feudalism with Jesus. No, seriously! In the Book of Revelation, particularly chapter 19, He shows up as a Warrior Prince with flaming eyes, surrounded by Instant Runes and riding a white horse at the head of a legion of angels. He spits a burning sword out of His mouth, summons an army of carrion birds, and proceeds to lay the smack down on the various monsters, demons, and false prophets that had been corrupting the earth and fighting with His forces for the previous couple chapters.
  • In The Kalevala, the evil sorceress Louhi turns into the mythical thunder bird Kokko to pursue the heroes, wielding scythes for her claws.
  • A lot of Hindu deities have avatars that basically serve this purpose. Kali, in particular, is a terrifying and destructive (but not evil) form the warrior-goddess Durga assumes to deal with the extremely powerful demon Raktavija. It doesn't end well.
  • The oft-quoted Robert Oppenheimer describes Vishnu as taking on a "multi-armed form" before making the infamous Badass Boast.
  • As a heroic example, in the epic, Táin Bó Cúailnge, Cuchulainn enters a "Ríastrad" or "Warp Spasm". In this state he transforms into a horribly mutilated monster whose very appearance is enough to scare enemies away. The catch is that, while in this form, Cuchulainn may not know friend from foe.
  • There's a three-headed dragon in Zoroastrian mythology named Azhi Dahaka, who is said to be one of the worst evils humankind will ever have to deal with. His origins aren't clear in the Avesta, the most iconic story about him is from The Shahnameh which was written thousands of years after the first time the monster was mentioned. The Shahnameh depicts the dragon as a formerly human tyrant with two brain eating snakes on his shoulders who was imprisoned inside a volcano after the revolution that followed his milennia-long rule. Many Iranians like to do a bit of Canon Welding, believing that the Shahnameh's Zahhak has grown and mutated into the dragon form over the years.

  • All angels and demons have this ability in Shadowhunter Peril. Greater Demons usually have command over an element or emotion, so whatever they transform into, their One-Winged Angel form will probably somehow represent that. Angels are the same. Some can't control their transformation, some can change at will, and others can only unlock their other form by unknowingly doing something specifically right. Of the angels and demons that appear in Shadowhunter Peril, only a few forms are known and have actually been seen:
    • Umbra Darkholme's true demonic form is eleven foot tall, metal-skinned abomination with massive shoulder spikes, and a skull fused around his face like a mask. His hands are claws, and whenever he transforms it is involuntary, as this tends to unleashes a Superpowered Evil Side because he attempts to kill anything he sees, whether they be friend or foe. Since his transformation from demon to angel, it can be assumed his form has changed, but no one knows what it is.
    • Oblivion's form is more disturbing. His skin becomes black and hard as stone. His mouth becomes full of shark teeth, and he has four glowing red eyes. His cloak morphs into giant bat wings, and his entire body lights itself aflame. Even more terrifying is that he can change at will.
    • Lilith has yet to display a demonic form, but she's hinted at it a few times. When she gets seriously ticked off, her eyes turn into writhing snakes, and her blood becomes either acidic or it springs up multiple lesser demons to fight with her.
    • Nicholas also has yet to display his true angelic form, and judging from the level of power he had when he was in his relatively human form, everyone else is too scared to see what he
  • In We Are All Pokémon Trainers:
    • Pretty much every evil aspect faced by the J-Team during the mindscape miniarc has one or more of these.
    • Penumbra, the form taken on by Umbra as the Ghost Lord at the end of the Conquest arc by being possessed by his entire Ghost type army.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Bill Cosby's wife does this in one of his standup routines when she notices that Bill fed the kids cake for breakfast. Her face splits in half and she gains the ability to shoot fireballs from her eyes. Then she screams "WHERE DID THEY GET CHOCOLATE CAKE FROM!?!?!?!?!?!?!"
    "I always heard of people having a conniption. But I never thought I'd see it. You don't want to see them."

    Web Animation 
  • Dreamscape: Vampire Lord can turn into a gigantic purple monster, which is Vampire Genesis.
    • Keedran's true form is an angel...mermaid...dragon thing.
  • Gaming All-Stars: Any final smash that involves the character gaining a massive power boost (Or in the case of Remastered, spontaneous transformations that don’t require a smash ball except in the finale), such as Super Pac-Man, Super Sonic, and Invincible Crash.
  • In the flash series Madness Combat, Tricky the Clown morphs into a horrific monster of white flame for his final showdown with Hank in Madness Consternation.
    • Hank himself gets this after Sanford and Deimos resurrect him as a giant version of himself with a mutant arm.
    • The Auditor also gets in on this, growing in size and power by absorbing corpses. Bad idea.
  • In this animation from Jeremy Chinshue's Something About series, when Melee Fox has speedrun Mario on the ropes, he transforms into the TAS Speed Demon.
  • Most lieutenants of the Vampire Kings in Tales From My D&D Campaign have these, such as a ginormous zombie worm which can disguise itself as a pudgy man. Another example is Morduval, an extremely decrepit old man who transforms into a giant tentacle-monster every time he attacks or is attacked.
  • TVTome Adventures seems to love this trope, as almost all members of the D-Bug Organization do this in Season 2.
    • Rockoon also does this after hacking himself into the Shadowguard beast in the reboot.
    • from both the original version and the reboot, Alpha and Zetto's demon forms could count, too.
    • Also in the reboot's Season 2 finale, Rubirules does this when fusing with the antivirus, after Alpha does it with Kajet (the Forbidden Power).
  • A rare heroic version of this trope presents itself in Wolf Song: The Movie with Kara's pure of heart form, which resembles a grey winged wolf monster with a horn. This form however can only be accessed a certain amount of times and any damage it experiences corresponds with the wielder. Using it too often will result in the user being consumed by the Stone, but the wielder doesnt get to that point in the film where it's too much.


    Web Videos 
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd
    • In his review of Super Mario Bros. 3, during "Super Mecha Death Christ 2000 B.C. 4.0 Beta"'s battle with the possessed cartridge, it reveals its true, demonic form and the battle really begins.
    • In a later episode, the Nerd decapitates Bugs Bunny...only for him to reveal his true form...Woody Woodpecker.
  • Atop the Fourth Wall: The Movie: During the climax, Mechakara upgrades himself using the experimental weaponry and armor littered around the Europa base. To complete the look, he peels off the flesh from his face, revealing a metallic skull underneath.
  • Nega Tox turns into a Nega Seraphim at the end of the Nega Tox/Arnold Layne Arc in Mall Fight 3.
  • In the final episode of the eighth season of The Daily Object Show, we see in The Stinger that Evil Computer has become Evil Computer Supreme. Have fun watching the movie, everyone.
  • Played for Laughs in Dragon Ball Z Abridged when Cell self-destructs and regenerates, restoring himself to his Perfect Cell form while being even stronger than before thanks to his Saiyan DNA (which makes Saiyans stronger whenever they come close to death.) Yamcha immediately dubs this new "form" Perfecter Cell.
    Cell: Okay, Yamcha, accurate, but tone it down.
  • At the end of Journey of the Cartoon Man, Oswald Sherzikien, facing defeat, consumes some of his own transformative ink and becomes a red-eyed cartoon giant.

Alternative Title(s): Behold My True Form


Devil Ganryu

Ganryu is unable to fly even after getting the Devil Gene due to being so fat.

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