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Physical Attribute Swap

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In settings where characters' bodies can be altered through Shapeshifting either voluntary or not, the requirement for such a transformation is often to directly exchange a particular physical attribute with someone else who already has that attribute. This is usually based on some in-universe version of Equivalent Exchange that also explains away Shapeshifter Baggage.

Such trait swapping may involve entire discrete limbs being traded, perhaps in a LEGO Body Parts manner. Other times, the swap involves a more general and/or abstract trait such as height, weight, musculature, skin complexion, or age. More fantastical works may even have two characters changing into each other's species while still recognizably being themselves. In action-focused works, the characters will likely swap whatever traits will give them an advantage in battle, such as switching with a stronger character's muscles for greater offense or switching with an iron-hided character's carapace for greater defense. More prosaic comedies and dramas instead tend to pair this with characters who want to look more attractive, such as a character with Height Angst stealing the desired height from someone taller or a fat person transferring the weight to someone thinner. Also, kids who want an Overnight Age-Up may steal the age from adults who get younger as a result.

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Often works by way of Liquid Assets. Closely related to Transferred Transformation. The "height swapping" cases are examples of Sizeshifting. If the swapping process involves harming or killing the person with the desired trait, that's Face Stealer. Can be thought of as "Freaky Friday" Flip meets Partial Transformation. Contrast with Fusion Dance, where two characters become one and merge their physical attributes, and Viral Transformation, where a particular physical trait is passed on without the donor losing it.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Brought up jokingly in Azumanga Daioh. When Huge Schoolgirl Sakaki admits that she is still growing and recently went over 170 centimeters, Osaka suggests that she got that tall by "sucking away" the height from Chiyo. This leads Chiyo to start begging Sakaki to "give it back."
  • The premise of Kasane is that Fuchi Kasane can swap faces with other women for twelve hours by kissing them with a magic lipstick. She's a brilliant actress who has a plain face, and she uses the lipstick to impersonate Tanzawa Nina and other fellow actresses who are pretty but have poorer acting skills.
  • Living for the Day After Tomorrow: Iokawa Karada is a young girl who lives with her older brother Hiro, while Nogami Shouko is Hiro's ex-girlfriend. Because Hiro left Shouko unexpectedly, she's bitter to the point that she also resents Karada. When they both make wishes at a shrine, they end up swapping ages, with Karada becoming an adult and Shouko becoming a kid. They spend the rest of the series adjusting to the sudden change and trying to understand each other's angst.
  • In both the manga and anime for Sailor Moon, PallaPalla casts a spell that causes Usagi and Chibiusa to swap ages, with Usagi becoming younger and Chibiusa becoming older. This briefly prevents them from using their powers, which was PallaPalla's intent.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer: As a result of his interaction with the Silver Surfer, Johnny/Human Torch ends up being able to trade superpowers with his teammates. When he does so with Ben/The Thing, he turns into a Rock Monster while Ben returns to his original human form.
  • In The Fly, a Teleporter Accident results in Andre Delambre having his head and arm swapped with that of a fly.
  • Plötzlich fett is a German film about a Formerly Fat personal trainer named Nick who's prejudiced against fat people swapping body weight with an overweight woman named Eva that won a session from him in a raffle. Finding himself suddenly pitied by everyone around him, he slowly falls in love with Eva for being the only support he has left. When everything is restored to normal they become a couple.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One of the central aspects of Galidor is that the inhabitants of the Outer Dimension have an ability called Glinching that allows them to swap body parts with another person. For example, at one point Euripides the large Frog Man is Strapped to an Operating Table on Earth, so he briefly Glinches with the much shorter Nepol's body below the neck in order to hop out of his restraints. Various characters also swap arms at different points. Part of what makes Nick Bluetooth special as The Chosen One is that he doesn't need to swap with other characters to copy their body parts.
  • One episode of Space Cases has the various people on the Christa swapping races with each other after each character complains someone else on the ship has it easier. The swaps also swap most of the character's hair styles as well. In addition it proves that the really happy and really pessimistic ones are that way by genetics.
  • The Twilight Zone episode "The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross". A man discovers that he can trade his own qualities with those of another person if that person voluntarily agrees to do so. One of his trades is exchanging his youth with a wealthy man's old age in return for one million dollars. He makes a series of trades with other men, paying them $1,000 for trading him a year of their youth in exchange for a year of his old age, and is soon young again.
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    Video Games 
  • In Banjo-Kazooie, Gruntilda kidnaps Tooty because she wants to drain the latter's beauty for herself. The Game Over screen shows one specific way this manifests by having Tooty take on Grunty's massive girth.
  • Galidor Quest (a browser MMO based on Galidor) lets you choose your species, which determines your head and abdomen, but you're able to trade arms or legs with NPC's you encounter via Glinching, and you're expected to do so in order to meet stat requirements for various tasks. These trades typically have to be won through challenges — but if you lose a challenge and the NPC thinks your limbs are better, they'll take them, which can lead to losing streaks.

    Webcomics 
  • El Goonish Shive: A set of magical scales capable of this appeared in one sketchbook entry. The scales reappeared in a non-canon side story where Sarah and Nanase use them to swap things like height and hip size to be able to fit through small passages, press far-off buttons, and ultimately escape from the room where they found it.

    Western Animation 
  • Breadwinners: When SwaySway and Buhdeuce eat a loaf of Switcheroo Bread, they switch physical builds (SwaySway becomes short, Buhdeuce becomes tall), powers, and traits (SwaySway now has Buhdeuce's Big Eater tendencies).
  • The Fairly OddParents: "Blondas Have More Fun!" has Wanda and her identical sister exchanging lives for the day, which is easily done by simply switching their hair colors. Blonda-as-Wanda can't believe what it's like to put up with Timmy and Cosmo's reckless stupidity and having Jorgen blame everything on her, while Wanda-as-Blonda nearly accidentally destroys the former's acting career.
  • In Gargoyles, a magical contract between Macbeth and Demona transfers his youth to her, then freezes them at those ages.
  • In the George Shrinks episode "George Un-Shrinks", the three-inch-tall ten-year-old and his normally-sized father Harold switch sizes. George becomes a normal-sized kid and Mr. Shrinks becomes three inches tall, and the conflict of the episode comes from both George and his dad having to get used to their new sizes in order to keep house while Mrs. Shrinks is away, something that's made even more complicated when toddler Junior Shrinks also suddenly becomes the size of a small elephant. In the end, it turns out that it was All Just a Dream George, Harold, and Junior had while watching B-movies on TV (though all three vividly remember the events of the episode happening).
  • In one episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Grim and Billy decide to switch places for a day, with Grim going to school and Billy filling the role of The Grim Reaper. Initially, they only swap wardrobes, but eventually they start changing physically as well, with Grim becoming a fleshy, bulbous-nosed human and Billy becoming a skeleton.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show: The episode "Who's Stupid Now?" has the eponymous duo going through a Personality Swap that, as a side effect, causes them to trade physiques as well. So the Lean and Mean Ren and the Fat Idiot Stimpy become Fat Idiot Ren and Lean and Mean Stimpy.
  • In one episode of Totally Spies!, the Villain of the Week runs an agency that kidnaps supermodels and uses a contraption which switches their body parts with other womens'. A freckled, red headed character with braces gets Clover's legs, Alex's bob cut, and Sam's unfreckled skin and smile.

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