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Power-Upgrading Deformation

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This fairy's tale just got very point-nant.

"You saw the beauty side of me before! Now, with great pleasure,
I introduce you to the BEAST!"
Zarbon, Dragon Ball Z

A Power-Upgrading Deformation will make a character or creature much stronger but also make them look at the least inhuman and at the worst horrendous — and the process isn't likely to be pleasant or pretty either.

Unlike the Psycho Serum where an ugly appearance can be a side effect, for the Power Upgrading Deformation the newly ugly appearance is the source of the enhancement: like sprouting Combat Tentacles, pincers, supermassive muscles, My Brain Is Big, grotesque Cybernetics, etc. Because of this it would technically still be considered a Magic Enhancement or Super Serum and not Psycho Serum.

If the setting has a Bishōnen Line, this drug, technology or spell will take the character to just before the return to prettiness (or if already there, start the cycle over). It's also worth noting that protagonists and main villains may get off easy with alterations that are weird, but cool-looking (or not even weird at all) and way more powerful while Mooks and secondary characters aren't so lucky.

The deformation may be a mix of: permanent (requiring a cure to remove) or temporary (granting a Super Mode), and perfectly stable (no more mutations) or continuously changing (risking falling to The Corruption or Power Degeneration). Because its effects are so nasty taking it tends to be treated as a Godzilla Threshold, with only the direst of situations meriting it. Villains like the Mad Scientist and Evilutionary Biologist will delight in kidnapping victims to use this on... usually paired with a Mind-Control Device of course! note  On the other hand, some villains may take it themselves, become a One-Winged Angel and proclaim A God Am I! Truly, Evil Makes You Monstrous. Mind the Clipped-Wing Angel from overdosing.

Compare Dangerous Forbidden Technique, Evolution Powerup, One-Winged Angel, Hulking Out, Cursed with Awesome and Transformation of the Possessed. See also Beauty to Beast and Deadly Upgrade. Pretty much all Lovecraftian Superpowers result in this. Contrast With Great Power Comes Great Hotness and Bishōnen Line, when power makes you more attractive.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Berserk:
    • When Zondark is unable to defeat Guts, the Count makes him swallow a part of him. This not only makes Zondark physically more powerful, but gives him the ability to grow Combat Tentacles to replace lost limbs. The Count himself is one of the many Apostles, who have all been originally human. The Apostles can assume a human form but when they go One-Winged Angel "deformed" is an understatement.
    • Guts receives a set of magic armor, the Berserker Armor, that ups his already amazing combat abilities to the point where he seems almost untouchable, and even Apostles have difficulty fighting him. However, he's been warned that using it for too long will result in him losing his humanity. He's already begun to feel the effects: there's a white streak in his hair, and he's lost some of his sense of taste and colors are dulled in his vision. It's implied that the Skull Knight, an undead armored skeleton, was turned into what he is via many years of using the Berserker Armor.
  • In Black Clover, Dante's Body Magic lets him regenerate even his entire torso, but it has his flesh grotesquely reform himself into a powerful muscled giant. Dante himself states that he'd rather not use it because he hates how ugly it is when he regenerates or transforms.
  • Bleach gives us Ichigo's Hollowfication, as well as the Visoreds who have similar powers. By tapping into their inner Hollow, they gain immense strength and speed, but have a bone-like demonic looking mask grafted onto their faces in the process. It is only temporary though. The mask can be broken off in battle, and it'll eventually crumble away in time. The mask's appearance varies from person to person, but all of them stop looking human.
  • In Claymore, this is how the titular Super Soldiers are made, grafting in a piece of demon flesh to give them some of its powers, but they eventually succumb to The Corruption, if they don't give in to their Superpowered Evil Side.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • The earliest example is the Oozaru, or Great Ape, transformation, which turns Saiyans into giant apes when they look at the full moon and multiplies their power by ten. Certain forms of Super Saiyan, most notably Super Saiyan 3 and 4, can fall into this if you don't like bald protruding brows or fur all over your body.
    • Broly and Kale become more monstrous the more they enter their "Legendary" aka berserker state.
    • Zarbon has a powerful second form, but it makes him look fat and ugly (whereas his normal form is a Bishōnen), so as a matter of vanity he avoids using it.
    • Frieza's transformations progress down this line, most notably his third form which turns him into a Xenomorph Xerox. This gets inverted with his final transformation, where he crosses the Bishōnen Line and becomes more basic and appealing than his first appearance (which arguably makes him more terrifying). His transformations overall are another kind of inversion: he's actually suppressing his full power, and the transformations are to restrain it.
    • Fused Zamasu initially averts this, but soon his Healing Factor can't cope with his semi-immortal body and the left side of him melts.
  • Played With in Dragon Half. Mink is told that if she undergoes a second shedding, she'll become incredibly powerful, but a hideous monster will appear. Fearing that this means that she will turn into a monster, she tries to avoid a second shedding. Finally in the climax she is forced to undergo the second shedding to become strong enough to defeat Azatodeth, and the monster appears as a birthmark on her butt.
  • Similarly to the Fate/stay night example in Visual Novels below, Lancer of Black in Fate/Apocrypha, who is Vlad the Impaler, has the ability to tap into the legends surrounding him to transform into a vampire. In this form, he has an immense amount of raw power (the strength of a Servant in this series is greatly influenced by their fame, and Dracula's legend has far outgrown the fame of the man he was inspired by), but he also turns into something inhuman in both body and mind. Vlad himself absolutely hates this ability and refuses to use it, as he believes these legends tarnish his true legacy.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Envy does this a lot, and the results are horrifying. They can become a giant, eight-legged, reptile with masses of pulsating human bodies fused into their skin. They become much more powerful in this form, and Envy themself has remarked that they can't exactly pull any punches that way. However, they use it only when someone pisses them off, as it turns out it's actually their true form, and they hate it.
    • Greed/Ling also has this to a lesser extent with his Ultimate Shield, however, he rarely covers the entirety of his body since it replaces his normally attractive face with a much more monstrous, fanged one.
  • The Zoanoids in Guyver are basically mutated humans whose new (revolting) forms are always tailored to give them a specific strength or super attack. Zoalords are however higher on the Bishōnen Line and look far less ugly than their underlings. This seems to be at least partly design philosophy rather than anything inherent to the process. Later developments give us the relatively more human-looking Bio-Freezer, Libertus and Griselda zoanoid forms.
  • High School D×D: Issei sacrifices an arm to temporarily gain Balance Breaker. This sacrifice is not actually losing the arm, it's that whenever the energy in the arm builds up too much it begins to look like a dragon's rather than human. Played even straighter later on. After being being resurrected using the power of Ophis and Great Red Issei's true form is that of a humanoid dragon. Normally Issei subconsciously uses his devil powers to shapeshift so that his appearance seems unaltered but on the rare occasions that this is blocked or dispelled the results are startling.
  • Jagaaaaaan: The Fractured Humans gain lovecraftian superpowers from the Frenzied Frogs which have to merge with them in order to happen. The power-up comes with a disturbing physical change that they can't control and makes them stand out like a sore thumb when among ordinary humans. That the change is permanent tends not to bother them, as they're far too out of their minds to care.
  • Musuko ga Kawaikute Shikataganai Mazoku no Hahaoya: Demons have the ability to "demonize" or "demonify", which transforms parts of their body and increases their power. The process varies slightly from demon to demon, but generally involves arms and legs becoming much more scaly and reptilian-looking in nature. One way to gauge a demon's power is by how much of their body they can demonize at once. Main character Lorem is able to change her entire body.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • The Nomu are ordinary people who have been forcibly modified through an unknown procedure and had numerous Quirks implanted in them. The result is a monstrous being with no free will, an exposed brain, eyes implanted in that brain, and beak-like mouths.
    • Villain Muscular takes Hulking Out to its grotesque logical conclusion. Instead of growing thicker muscles under the skin, he gains full control of his musculature, stretching or spawning extra layers and using long fibers like tendrils. He can even encase himself in a writhing mass of muscle for defense.
    • In My Hero Academia: Vigilantes, the Villain Factory kidnaps people and performs numerous surgeries that mutate them and make their Quirks permanently active. They're powered up as a result, but can't ever return to their previous human appearance.
  • Naruto:
    • The Cursed Seal Transformations (courtesy of Orochimaru). It grants the likes of The Sound Four, Kimimaro and Sasuke an immense power boost, but it also changes users into fleshy horned dark-skinned monstrosities. Only Tayuya somewhat averts this, looking like a Cute Monster Girl compared to the males.
    • Naruto and Gaara when tapping into their Jinchūriki chakra would uncontrollably start taking on the characteristics of their respective Tailed Beasts (Kurama and Shukaku), i.e getting sharp teeth, claws, fur, scales, exoskeletons, increased sized and Hellish Pupils. Killer B averts thanks to taming his Tailed Beast Gyūki and is able to use Tailed Beast chakra without transforming, B teaches Naruto how to do the same. There are also partial transformations were only a limb becomes monstrous or in Killer B's case, a few tentacles come out of his back.
    • The Ten-Tails Jinchūriki transformation turns Madara and Obito pale and scaly.
    • Sage Mode can also have this effect, as Naruto became frog-like when he didn't properly balance his chakra with the natural energy when he mastered it the only noticeable change was horizontal slit pupils. Jiraiya however, failed to balance it resulting in his Sage Mode becoming quite warty, he even dislikes using this form because it "displeased the ladies". Jugo, Kabuto, and Mitsuki have no such qualms with their respective Sage Modes, becoming horned and monstrous or even Scaled Up in Kabuto's case.
    • Played with in regards to Kaguya. After she ate the chakra fruit, she grew horns, spikes out of her back and a Third Eye... but otherwise she looks beautiful. Played straight with her unstable Tailed Beast Transformation when she becomes an eldritch mass of monsters, but she got better.
  • One Piece:
    • Devil Fruit Users certainly can go through this as the Superpower Lottery can distort the user body into all kinds of crazy shapes, though most users can shift back to normal. Nami and others in East Blue were very freaked out at seeing Devil Fruit Users for the first time.
      • With Paramecia types, while some Fruits in this category don't affect the body at all, others like Luffy's Gomu Gomu No mi allows him to transform into bloated or even monstrous (e.g Gear 4) shapes. We've seen some Paramecia Fruits that transform the user's bodies into blades, spikes, springs, extra limbs, gooey substances and much more.
      • Zoan types can be more horrifying than Paramecia types, as their Animorphism can turn users into often freakish hybrids (Chopper in particular went through a lot of trauma being ostracized for his appearance) though the advanced strength is pretty Worth It in most user's minds. Kaku clearly wasn't happy with his bizarre giraffe form, though he adapted well enough.
      • Logia types can be mixed bag a despite being essentially Blob Monsters, this type of Fruit doesn't usually alter the user appearance, only their shape. Played straighter with the likes of Enel, Caesar Clown and Monet who become scarier looking once they get serious.
    • Arguably Busoshoku Haki does this to some extent, as Haki users have their skin, arms and legs become blackened and even veined. Full body Haki, in particular, turns the user into an imposing black figure.
  • The Tavoo/Taboo race in Psyren all have a core known as an Illuminus, which heightens their psionic abilities, but often disfigures them to the point of not even looking human anymore, usually taking on an insectoid appearance instead. The few exceptions are the high-ranking W.I.S.E. members, and several others such as Tatsuo and Alfred.
  • Similar to the Claymore example, if the Magical Girls of Puella Magi Madoka Magica fall into Despair Event Horizon, they will turn into Witches. This is actually a subversion, since Witches lose their sanity and acts purely on instinct, making them less effective in actual combat.

    Comic Books 
  • Following The Death of Superman, Superman is given a massive power boost when the Eradicator's Heroic Sacrifice restores his powers. However, doing so caused him to caused his body to start bulking up and lose control of his strength. He fixed this by having the Parasite drain away the excess power, but doing this turned him from a normal humanoid with a purple body to a leech-like creature.
  • The Thing of the Fantastic Four is perhaps one of Marvel Comics' most iconic examples. After passing through a cloud of cosmic radiation he grew a super tough rock-like hide and Super-Strength to match. The downside is that unlike Reed, Sue and Johnny he can't turn his powers on and off, and is always the same huge frightening rock monster; an issue which has caused him no end of grief and in some continuities even suicide attempts.
  • In The Incredible Hulk, Dr. Banner transforms into a giant green rage monster and has Super-Strength.
  • In the New 52 reboot of Animal Man, Buddy Baker now actually physically changes shape when he uses animal powers. The transformations are NOT pretty.
  • In The New Universe in general and DP7 in particular, the White Event makes people suddenly have power-related mutations, many of which are like this. Moreso minor characters than the main ones, which for all their complaints are really not that bad.
  • Ultimate Marvel:
    • Ultimate Fantastic Four: Reed Richards, in his identity as The Maker, distorted his skull into an odd shape to better reconfigure his neural structure. Similarly, Rhona Burchill, the Ultimate version of The Mad Thinker, has a deformed skull from transplanting extra brain matter from her brother into it.
    • Ultimate X-Men: While taking the drug Banshee, Angel manifests a more avian physiology, becoming a humanoid eagle creature.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon):
    • San and Vivienne Graham initially suffer this when they become Two Beings, One Body. Their first hybridized form is a One-Man Army against Jonah's mercenaries despite being crippled by an inability to access its bio-electricity and despite excruciating, movement-limiting chronic pain, able to survive and regenerate damage that would've blown Vivienne to bits when she was human; and it overall looks like a quadrupedal Monstrous Humanoid with a bony tail and an extreme, badly visible case of this nasty disease, not to mention Vivienne's head becoming skull-like and developing ingrown fangs. This trope is inverted by Viv and San's transformation into their second form, which though even more beastly is a lot more natural-looking than their diseased first form.
    • The Many's assimilated victims most certainly suffer this. Whilst gaining a Ghidorah-like Healing Factor and lack of concern for pain; infected Skullcrawlers look pretty diseased and half-rotting, whilst infected humans basically become Monstrous Humanoids who are half-made of bone cancer (look that up on Google Images to see how horrible it is), then when they merge into Kaiju-sized Mind Hives they become little more than half-melted tumors with human features. And that's not even going into when the Many's forms perform Fusion Dances!
  • Child of the Storm has this as a staple of Phoenix hosts who turn/are turning to the dark side. While Phoenix hosts are unsettling enough to begin with, they look more or less as they normally do. A Dark Phoenix, on the other hand, even a baby one, is a Humanoid Abomination with elongated features, burning white Glowing Eyes of Doom, and cracks in the skin that reveal yet more burning white light, implying that the host's physical form is merely the shell for something horrifying that's growing within. This is proven by Surtur, a fully-fledged example, who's long since graduated to Eldritch Abomination — and his empowered minions are arguably worse.
  • In Origins, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands/Halo Massive Multiplayer Crossover, this is discussed by an ex-Cerberus Phantom. The cybernetics process turns skin blue, leaves hardware sticking out, blood tends to seep out and cake in places, etc. In exchange, her weak biotics are massively enhanced (the Systems Alliance believed making such minimal talents military-grade to be excessively risky). Implied to apply to all Cerberus troops to some extent, as her engineer friend is just as ugly as she is.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Doctor Strange (2016), the disciples of Dormammu (such as Kaecilius) tap into the power of the Dark Dimension, at the cost of having their skin around the eyes to decay and turn purple. Strange is quick to note to Kaecilius that Dormammu's "blessing" seems like a crapshoot.
  • Mortal Kombat: Annihilation plays this straight, when Shao Kahn and Liu Kang upgrade their final battle by transforming into winged reptiles, and the transformation looks quite painful. Of course, it doesn't help, and both turn back into their normal forms to finish the fight.
  • A variation in Oz the Great and Powerful. While Theodora is already a witch, she doesn't really use her powers much, especially the destructive ones. It's not until her scheming sister Evanora convinces her to eat an apple that would take away her ability to love that Theodora turns into the Wicked Witch of the West we all know. The transformation also turns her skin green and gives her a pointy nose.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean, Davy Jones and his crew are immortal, but have spent so long neglecting their job of Psychopomp for the dead at sea that they've become half-morphed into sea creatures. On the plus side, they're now fully amphibious. It's not clear if their ability to walk through walls/teleport from ship to ship is part of their curse, but it's a great plus either way. By the fifth movie, Will has likewise begun to turn into a sea creature. His son and Barbossa's daughter manage to break the curse, and Will returns to Elizabeth.
  • In the live-action Street Fighter movie, the project behind creating Blanka is basically an attempt at creating mutant Super Soldiers and brainwashing them.
  • The Titan involves a project to transform volunteer test subjects into a new species of humanity who can survive on Titan. The scientist in charge of the project when giving a Rousing Speech tells them they will become like super men, but they're not so happy about the physical transformations (not to mention their tendency to go insane and kill their partners).

  • Chrysalis (RinoZ): Monsters routinely consume each other's biomass in order to mutate their body parts into superior forms. However, humans who eat biomass undergo a partial uncontrolled transformation into that monster type, leaving them swollen and misshapen but with potentially useful abilities, like acidic saliva or a hardened carapace. Most importantly, they are able to survive in the mana-rich Dungeon without becoming sick. It's not a tradeoff that most people would make, but the Abyssal Legion offers condemned criminals the option to eat biomass and become auxiliary soldiers instead of being executed.
  • In The Elric Saga, human soldiers pledging allegiance to Chaos gradually turn into monstrosities who are part-man, part animal. This makes them harder fighters but at the expense of human intellect and intelligence.
    • Michael Moorcock returns to this theme in the Hawkmoon books, where the elite legions of GranBretan are human in form but wear realistic beast-masks according to their animal totem. And behave accordingly. Here, the degradation is more symbolic and internalized. And just as terrible.
  • In A Macabre Myth of a Moth-Man, both the titular Moth-man and Ozzy were horrifically mutated (they both used to be normal guys), but also became much more powerful as a result.

    Live-Action Television 
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider Double: Beyond the initial transformation into a superpowered monster, some Dopants can increase their power by transforming into even more inhuman forms, whether that's just a more elaborate costume or a CGI monster.
    • Kamen Rider OOO can temporarily transform his legs into grasshopper legs, which he only does to perform his Finishing Move. Kazari also experiments with this when he absorbs Core Medals that aren't his matching type, which doesn't deform him but does cause the Yummies he creates to become disgusting animal hybrids, such as a lion monster with jellyfish forming cancerous growths on its body.
    • Kamen Rider Fourze: Some of the Horoscopes have Supernova transformations that work like this. It's most notable with Scorpio and Cancer, who both turn their lower bodies into giant monsters while in Supernova form. The Big Bad is the only one whose Supernova form instead crosses the Bishōnen Line.
    • Kamen Rider Revice can temporarily transform his legs into dinosaur legs by stamping himself with the Rex Vistamp, which he only rarely does. Kamen Rider Demons can similarly mutate his body by using more Vistamps to give himself different powers, with the second user being especially fond of loading two or three on at once so that the resulting form is a barely-human monstrosity.
  • In Runaways (2017), as seen in Doctor Strange, tapping into the power of the Dark Dimension causes the skin around the wielder's eyes to blister and decay. Nico Minoru accidentally finds this out the hard way, without realizing what she is doing.

  • In Celtic Mythology, Cúchulainn's ríastrad (battle frenzy, sometimes translated as "warp spasm") makes him extremely strong but also transforms him into a hideous monster. The Táin Bó Cúailnge spends four paragraphs describing his transformed appearance in elaborate detail.

    Tabletop Games 
  • For a Lighter and Softer version, the Child of the Sun in Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine can gain skills and minor powers by sprouting additional tendril-limbs. These powers tend to be based on the hopes and dreams of other player characters.
  • Several examples in Dungeons & Dragons. The one most easily available to players is probably the race of shifters and saurian shifters, who can a few times per day become more animalistic, improving their stats in addition to another bonus such as a bite attack or a swim speed.
  • Infernals in Exalted have access to the Malfeas charms "By Rage Recast" and "Devil-Tyrant Avatar Shintai". When the Infernal's anima banner flares, Rage Recast means they manifest a selection of mutations from a library it grants them — because after the first couple of rounds you really want the guy running on radiation and crazy to gain an extra two feet of height and sprout batlike wings. The Shintai is even more extreme, manifesting the entire library at once - which, at high Essence, can provide a great many fangs, tentacles and horns.
  • Princess: The Hopeful: This is a core part of the Darkness's stock in trade. Many Umbrae have hideous deformation as the drawback, and even quite a few Calignes do horrific things to their user's bodies. And of course, there are the Cataphractoi, and their Dark Transformation power, which transforms the normally human-shaped Cataphract into a hideous but extremely powerful monster.
  • Bio-Borgs in Rifts. Through the rather horrible magical art known as Bio-Wizardry, the Splugorth can transform mortal beings with a number of magical augmentations to turn them into living weapons. They get their name because they're basically an organic version of a mechanically enhanced cyborg. Most of them are of the Body Horror variety, though a lot of them can be hidden with some effort, and some are completely internal. But since this augmentation is normally performed on slaves, the Splugorth don't really care what the result looks like, and the slave doesn't get any say in the matter.
  • Systems Failure: One of the experiments NORAD has taken to try to win the Bug War is splice Bug DNA in volunteers to grant them powers. NORAD Splicers end up getting random insectile features as a side-effect, which tend to freak out the common human more often than not (and considering how much on the brink humanity is, it's an understandable reason).
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade, a Gangrel's animal features can be this, depending on the Storyteller. For example, permanent claws might be practical for a variety of reasons, but big ones don't exactly look that great on humans. Antlers could also be used as a defense, but try hiding those.
  • Just about every Chaos mutation in Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000, since these mutations include things like Combat Tentacles, pincers, extra mouths, cancerous growths...
    • In 40K, most augmetics (metal replacement parts, ranging from bionic eyes to replacement arms to Doctor Octopus-style dendrites) are rather crude and ugly (ork versions are even worse). The Adeptus Mechanicus see the replacement of flesh with metal as the ultimate way to better themselves, so naturally they get the worst reactions from normal humans.
    • Even becoming a Space Marine, the de facto "heroes" of the 40K universe, involves some pretty gruesome procedures, like the addition of extra organs, genetic modifications that lead to superhuman size and musculature, metallic/ceramic replacements for your skeleton, and an implanted "second skin" that interfaces with your Powered Armor. Worse still, many of these upgrades are based on non-renewable implants that have to be harvested from dead Space Marines so they can be passed on to new recruits!

  • The Transmetals of the Beast Wars toyline gain organic aspects in their robot modes (e.g. Optimus Primal and Cheetor sport fur on their chests) and mechanical aspects in their beast modes. They're much more powerful than regular Maximals and Predacons as a result, and even gain a tertiary "transport" mode that allows them to travel faster (e.g. Megatron gains hoverjets, allowing him to fly in his T-rex mode, while Rattrap can fold up his legs in rat mode, turning him into an approximation of a hot rod racer).
    • The Transmetal 2 upgrade is even closer to this trope, as exemplified by Cheetor's Transmetal 2 form being hunched over with visible engines on his back. Megatron's upgrade into a dragon form makes him much more powerful, but he loses his right arm (replaced with the dragon's head).
  • In the fifth story line of BIONICLE, the Toa Metru are captured and injected with Hordika venom, which turns them into half-animals. Downplayed in that while greatly increasing their physical strength, it also degrades their elemental abilities to some extent. The real downside, however, is they can't use any masks of power.

    Video Games 
  • The Binding of Isaac has this as du jour — nearly half the passive items upgrade Isaac at the cost of visually maiming him. For example, a coat hanger goes straight through Isaac's head, to increase the firing rate of his tears; a lead pencil goes into his eye to make him fire a periodic burst of tears; and most Devil Room items turn Isaac's appearance ashen-skinned if not outright demonic. The sole exception is Angel Room hardware, that rarely worsen Isaac's appearance.
  • The basis for Splicers in the first two BioShock games. Specifically, they were users of a gene-modifying substance called ADAM, and along with the many cosmetic uses that it can be applied to, specially-prepared batches can give the user superpowers in the form of plasmids; unfortunately, abuse of the substance has resulted in addiction, disfiguration, and insanity. The main characters can also suffer a few of the tamer side-effects when they have plasmids equipped: Incinerate! clearly burns the wielder's hand; Winter Blast causes icicles to grow through the user's flesh (complete with blood); finally, Insect Swarm results in a mixture of nasty-looking stings across the hand (in Jack's case) or a honeycomb forming out of the palm (in Delta's case).
  • BioShock Infinite has Vigors, later revealed to be derived from early Plasmids. Vigors are drinkable plasmids that give the user powers similar to the first two games and generally serve the same roles with Possession/Hypnotize, Murder of Crows/Insect Swarm, Shock Jockey/Electro Bolt, etc. Other Tonics introduce new attacks that serve as support in combat like Bucking Bronco,note  Return to Sender,note  and Undertow.note  All of these warp Booker's hands to match their abilities and they were going to cause people to turn into Vigor Junkies, people who turned into Splicers from excessive ingestion of Vigors but instead of tumorous growths they gained massive crystals growing out of their bones and skin. Characters such as the Zealots of the Lady and Cornelius Slate,note  while early artwork was integrated as Frosty Splicers, who overdosed on the "Old Man Winter" Plasmid.
  • In Borderlands 2, one of Krieg's ultimate abilities is "Release the Beast", in which if he activates his action skill when at 1/3 of his health, he transforms into a Badass Psycho: His torso and right arm grow in size while his left arm shrivels up into a tiny stump. During this state, his melee damage and damage resistance are massively increased.
  • Mutating in Cataclysm carries this as a downside. Each mutation has a visibility and ugliness rating, and visibly mutated players may have a harder time talking with other survivors.
  • Dr. N. Brio's appearances in the Crash Bandicoot series usually involve him drinking mutagen and turning into a hulking green monster (though by the time of Crash: Mind Over Mutant, it seems like he needs the mutagen to keep from transforming). At the end of Mind Over Mutant, Dr. Cortex samples the mutagen himself, with similar results.
  • This comes up in Deus Ex; some cyborgs dislike the protagonist because they had to sacrifice their ability to look normal (thanks to the fairly obvious nature of their implants) while the protagonist's nanomachine based augments have barely any cosmetic effects (not to mention rendered them obsolete).
  • Bydo-derived Organic Technology from R-Type, under certain circumstances. For example, if the Claw Force is detached from the fighter too long, it temporarily mutates and goes on a rampage.
  • In Devil May Cry:
    • Whenever Dante and Vergil tap into their demon blood aka activate Devil Tigger they turn into armored insectoid humanoid demons. Dante, in particular, gets more a variety of monstrous Devil Triggers in the later titles. Even Lucia from the second game becomes much less attractive in her DT. Averted with Trish and to a lesser extent Nero from Devil May Cry 5 as the former just gets a Battle Aura and latter whose Devil Trigger is much more handsome than his father and uncle's transformations.
    • Arkham got this twice over, first when he sacrificed his wife to become a demon but messed the ritual up and became a Monster Clown instead, then in the Final Battle, he gets the power of Sparda through the Force Edge but soon dissolves into a hideous, amorphous blob. Dante lampshades it saying Arkham looks nothing like his father Sparda, using himself as proof.
    • Backstory and supplementary material of Devil May Cry 4 mentioned that Nero obtained his Devil Bringer arm from a shoulder injury that transformed his arm into hard, demonic flesh, but it came along with the benefits of a Power Fist (mostly Super-Strength). This gets inverted by the end of Devil May Cry 5; Nero regains his Devil Bringer arm and most powers stored within it after the old one was torn off by Vergil, but the new arm manages to match itself with his "human" appearance, and only becomes demonic flesh when he's in Devil Trigger form.
  • In Digital Devil Saga, everyone infected by the demon virus has access to demon form, which is stronger than human form. Said demon form ranges from looking vaguely humanoid (most of the main characters), to slimes, to animalistic, to the worst looking of Shin Megami Tensei demons.
  • Consuming the magical monster meals you cook in Dungeon Munchies grants you incredible powers and useful buffs... at the cost of horribly mutating your zombie player character, giving him fish tails, giant insect wings, or a grotesquely muscular arm. (Yes, singular.) Your necromancer/boss Simmer also gives you "employee benefits" in the form of "Forced Surgery," attaching an extra pair of feet to your own, extra arms around your waist for climbing, or a new posterior with a compressed air tank built in.
  • Becoming a ghoul in the Fallout universe. The main perks are immortality and radiation immunity, at the cost of looking like a rotting corpse due to radiation exposure. Though the upgrade only applies for the lucky ghouls that retain their memories and sentience.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • In Nexus Clash, handing out power-granting deformations is the life mission of the Evil Elder Power Tholaghru, when he/she/it isn't doing it to the landscape itself. The Wyrm Master gets it the worst, but anyone who pledges to Tholaghru gets a deformed abomination growing inside of them which hatches from their corpse if they die.
  • A number of human enemies from the Monster Girl Quest series experiment on themselves (or on others) to gain the same attacking capabilities as monsters, by infusing their bodies with monster DNA to sprout Combat Tentacles.
  • Downplayed in Pokémon, where The Power of Friendship allows some fully-evolved Pokémon to undergo a further transformation called "Mega Evolution". Unlike regular Evolution, Mega Evolution usually results in a Pokémon that's still recognizable as its original species, but with parts of its body becoming bulky and overgrown (and occasionally a Shapeshifter Mashup of previous forms). This reflects the nature of the process as a temporary Super Mode rather than a normal stage in their lifecycle. Some Pokémon become this when you apply Fridge Logic. For example, the mushroom parasite covering Paras completely takes over it when it evolves. It's even portrayed in the sprite art as having pupil-less zombie eyes.
  • Deconstructed in Read Only Memories. Jess, a cancer patient, was able to recover from her condition via experimental gene therapy. Unfortunately, the genes in question were mostly derived from insects, causing her appearance to become bug-like and frightening, to the point where she lost her job. Fortunately, later therapies replaced the insect genes with cat genes, allowing her a much less horrifying visage. However, she is still traumatized and bitter over how quickly her life fell apart while she was a half-insect hybrid.
  • Resident Evil runs on this. The boss will inevitably be a normal human who becomes a grotesque abomination mere minutes before the battle starts. Often happens more than once per game.
  • In the main Shin Megami Tensei series, human-demon fusion is quite likely to leave you like this, in IV, some of the poor bastards who chose to become Demonoids were hit with Fusion Errors. If you're not careful with Reds, in the same game, you will end up as a shambling undead. Or worse. Technically speaking, the Demi-Fiend is also an example, as the parasite warped his body into that of a demon, even if he still closely resembles his human form, the horn he got was noted by Word of God to be a primitive sensory organ that grants him much of his demonic power, and the Power Tattoos are actually lines of demonic lymph coursing through his body.
  • The monsters of Soul Sacrifice suffer this regularly. From tragic figures, unfortunate victims, to monsters from the get-go, there is no shortage of humans that are transformed into horrific, gut-churning, nightmare-inducing monsters, just enough human traits left for you to know what they once were. The sorcerers who exterminate them for a living are not spared, either, as their right arms can gradually grow more corrupted and inhuman because of the magic they use, and this is not even going into the Black Rites which totally sacrifice a body part like their skin for great power.
  • In many Star Wars games, descending deeper and deeper into the Dark Side often results in the player character's skin becoming pale and fallow, with visible dark veins. In Star Wars: The Old Republic, a Sith player character can encounter a member of the Dark Council (the leaders of the Sith Empire) and observe that she's actually very attractive, especially for someone so powerful in the Dark Side (for comparison's sake, several Sith rely on illusions to make themselves look better than they really do). She jokingly responds that if she could only teach others her secret, it would make an excellent recruiting tool (since many Force users point out the deformation as a reason they don't want to dabble in the Dark Side).

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night: Rider has one ability that she never uses throughout the series: "Monstrous Strength". If she used it, she could amplify her already superhuman strength multiple times over, which would naturally be very helpful in battle. However, if she used that ability, it would also transform her into a hideous, monstrous form, implied permanently. Rider is shown to prefer death to actually using this ability, given what happened to her in her past life regarding her looks (her real name? Medusa).

    Web Animation 
  • In Qem-95's project, Qem's Life Problems: Episode 1 — Tanning, Qem gains the ability to blend in with his parrot red towel due to staying in the tanning machine for too long AND forgetting to put on his tanning lotion.

    Web Comics 
  • Empire Hunt: Charks are a special alchemic implant that allow a person to transform into a fantasy creature based on their imagination. Not only is their physical form fully-functional, their stats scale based on their new forms. The downside is that their original forms develop permanent rotten blisters across their entire bodies that make them look like Deadpool at best. Most chark users consider this to be Worth It - unless, of course, they're forced to take a Chark and then die as an ugly hulking monster for some noble's blood sports.
  • Short-lived Sidekick Girl villain Dr. Wright was obsessed with making everyone right-handed. He tried to do this trope by injecting his right arm with a Super Serum... promptly screwing up his center of mass enough that he couldn't stand and ultimately requiring the limb be amputated.
  • In Sidekicks, some supublics suffer from deformations when their superpower manifest, due to their genetics (and other factors).
    • Snatcher lost all of her hair when her powers manifested.
    • Hacky's body regressed into that of a young child's when his manifested.

    Western Animation 
  • The splicers in Batman Beyond used genetic engineering to become Half Human Hybrids, which generally while animalistic weren't ugly. When their boss fights Terry, he doses himself with a bunch of different serums and goes One-Winged Angel, becoming a huge, powerful, agile creature that retains his human intelligence. Terry manages to defeat him by giving him more doses of random drugs, pushing him into Clipped-Wing Angel territory, as he becomes more dangerous but also less stable.
  • Exo Squad sees a Neosapien who contracted Automutation Syndrome become a shapeshifter who disguises himself as a prisoner to attack Exofleet.
  • Kaijudo has The Choten's evolution drug, which transforms the series' normally one-form Mons into a new, stronger form.
  • Street Sharks has the gene splicing treatment that turns humans into sharks (and sea animals into monsters).
  • Every Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon had the Mutagenic Goo which made them more human-like, while also mutating humans into uglier mutants. Quite notable ones include Baxter Stockman (who was transformed into a fly-man) and the 2012 incarnation of the Super Shredder, which discarded the usual "giant Shredder with larger spikes" for "mutated humanoid that almost looks like Doomsday".
  • The Transformers: In "The Burden Hardest to Bear", Scourge forcibly inserts the Matrix into his chest, which ravages his body and mind, turning him into a grotesque lumpy freak. Still, a freak powerful enough to defeat Galvatron, taking leadership of the Decepticons for himself.

    Real Life 
  • The reason that steroids are so dangerous is the litany of side effects that comes with abusing them. Yes, steroids increase your muscles and your strength, but they come with very bad acne, allergic reactions, discolored skin and infections. They also essentially makes you a Clipped-Wing Angel version of yourself, weakening the bones, ligaments, and tendons in your body, which makes debilitating injury much more likely.

Alternative Title(s): Power Upgrading Deformity