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"A snake, am I? Perhaps you'd like to see how sssssnakelike I can be!"

"I will not turn into a snake. It never helps."
Evil Overlord List, Rule #34note 

There's probably something symbolic about the tendencies of a villain to turn into a snake. In the West, there is a strong established symbolism for snakes as symbols of evil from The Bible (most famously the serpent in the Garden of Eden) and Norse Mythology, and there's Orochi in Japanese Mythology. Adding onto this, there is the fact that when walking in the wild, it's generally not a good idea to stop and pet a snake.

Of course, the result of all that symbolism is that when a villain turns into a snake there can be no doubt about the evil nature of a foe, and it gives The Hero a comfortably scary and suddenly less human foe to kill.

Villains do love their symbolism and cliches, however, so despite how often this trope tends to end with the villain chopped up on the hero's sword, (usually rather easily too) villains everywhere still love the order Squamata because, of course, Snakes Are Sinister. Think about it for a second: how often have you ever seen a villain turn into, say, a bear, a rhino, a lion, a koala, or something else that would actually be useful?

This trope is not strictly limited for the bad guys; indeed, there are arguably just as many places around the world that revere snakes as much as other places dislike them, and, if done properly, a serpentine hero can easily satisfy the Rule of Cool. However, when it's the good guys doing this, they typically turn into dragons instead of snakes. That said, villains turning into dragons is not unheard of either.

It isn't also limited to just snakes either. Usually all Reptiles Are Abhorrent, and even if isn't. They are still included. These other reptiles include lizards, crocodilians, turtles, and even dragons.

Extra points if the protagonist is female.

A specific variant of One-Winged Angel. Villains transforming into a dragon can fall under Dragons Are Demonic. This can also overlap with the Reptilian Conspiracy in instances when Snake People make themselves look human before revealing their true forms. If you're looking for video game characters being shown as grotesquely oversized compared to their surroundings on an overview map, that's over at Units Not to Scale. Also not to be confused with Make My Monster Grow.


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  • A drug PSA features a drug dealer who gets more snake-like towards the end. JonTron had a field day with it.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Orochimaru from Naruto probably takes inspiration from his namesake Orochi and does this in the series. He gets taken out by a certain Ineffectual Loner after said loner's Face–Heel Turn. Though his chances as a snake were probably better than a drugged-up old man who was near-dying, and he apparently didn't have a choice in the matter.
    • Rather, Orochimaru takes his inspiration from the original Orochimaru, who likely gets it from his namesake Orochi.
    • Later, he takes on a Hydra form to fight an attack called Susano, named for the god that killed the eight-headed serpent Orochi. It doesn't go well for him — he was mythologically doomed to lose that fight.
    • In contrast to the above, Kabuto turning into a snake let him escape a trap and kidnap someone on his way out. He later "evolves" this snake form into an Evil Counterpart to Naruto's Sage Mode, changing from a snake to a dragon.
  • A Monster of the Week from Inuyasha does this. Notable as he actually put up a pretty decent fight while in humanoid form, (thanks to a magic trident) but got carved up like a Thanksgiving turkey post-transformation. Played with in that the monster was a water snake spirit who stole the trident from the local river goddess, so he didn't change into a snake, he changed back from his assumed human form.
  • One Piece has Zoan Devil Fruits, so of course there are reptile-based ones. In fact, two specific "families" of reptile Zoan Devil Fruits have appeared in canon; the Snake-Snake Fruit, which turns the user into a specific kind of snake, and the Dragon-Dragon Fruit, which is actually a family of Ancient Zoan Fruits that covers dinosaurs.
    • The first Snake-Snake Fruit-users were the Boa sisters Marigold (King Cobra) and Sandersonia (Anaconda). Ironically, their little sister Hancock breaks the theme by instead having a Paramecia that lets her petrify anyone who thinks lustful thoughts about her. Marigold and Sandersonia actually fare pretty well against Luffy…up until the point where he stops holding back.
    • A Mythic Zoan branch of the Snake-Snake Fruit tree, the Yamato-No-Orochi Model, turns up in the Wano arc. Fittingly, it's been consumed by the evil Shogun of Wano, Kozuki Orochi... although he's so pathetic that he's a complete waste of the fruit's powers. The main purpose of it turns out to be allowing 7 different people who have good reason to want Orochi dead to get their own turns at decapitating him before he dies for good.
    • One of the Supernovas, the most formidable pirates to set sail during the timeframe of the series, is X Drake, who has the Allosaurus model of the Dragon-Dragon Fruit.
    • Most of the other Dragon-Dragon Fruits appear during the Wano arc, in the hands of high-ranking members of Emperor Kaido's Animal Kingdom Pirates: King has the Pterodactyl fruit, Queen has the Brachiosaurus fruit, Sasaki has the Triceratops fruit, Ulti has the Pachycephalosaurus fruit, and Page One has the Spinosaurus fruit.
    • Kaido himself has the ability to transform into a massive Eastern dragon. Ironically, it turns out his fruit is classified as a Mythic Zoan model of the Fish-Fish Fruit! (A reference to the Legendary Carp of Chinese and Japanese folklore.)
    • Momonosuke has the same ability as Kaido, as he's eaten an artificial replica of Kaido's fruit created by Dr. Vegapunk.
  • Buso Renkin: At the beginning of the series, one of Kazuki's teachers morphs into a mechanical, king cobra-like creature that is covered in spikes and large enough to swallow a person whole.
  • Umineko: When They Cry: During the climactic fight at the end of the first anime season, Beatrice summons meta-Kinzo, who immediately gives an Evil Laugh, turns into a dragon, and tries to eat meta-Battler's face, only to be stopped by a non-magical explanation and blasted to pieces by a multitude of flying spikes that accompany Battler's signature dramatic gesture.
  • Inverted by Mobile Fighter G Gundam's Cobra Gundam, which starts off as a Naga and can separate into a humanoid Humongous Mecha and a mechanical snake, operated by the pilot's pet snake.
  • In Berserk, the Apostle form of the Baron of Koka Castle is a disturbingly Freudian snake-monster who actually manages to land a few good hits on Guts (although, pretty much every Apostle lands many good hits on him). He still doesn't last very long though, due to Guts unloading his Arm Cannon right into the Baron's face and then hacking him in half in one blow with the Dragon Slayer.
  • Claymore has Ophelia turn into an Awakened, resulting in her becoming a massive snake-like being with lots of blades. At first, it helps against Clare, until she realizes it herself by seeing her reflection, after which she has Clare to play a game of kill or get killed.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist
    • Near the end of Fullmetal Alchemist (2003), Envy turns into a giant serpent in order to cross the Gate and kill his father, Hohenheim. He ends up getting stuck in Germany, where he's captured by the Thule Society and used as a giant Ouroboros to activate their transmutation circle and open a portal to Amestris. However, this process does accomplish the one thing he really wanted: killing Hohenheim.
    • In the manga and Brotherhood anime, Envy tries it again on Mustang after revealing he was the one to kill Hughes... but Rule 34 of the Evil Overlord List kicks him hard when Mustang demonstrates that all Envy did was give Mustang an easier target with his flame alchemy.
  • A recurring antagonist in Shakugan no Shana lives to be recurring only because he shapeshifts into a small snakelike creature to escape a losing battle.
  • Fairy Tail: While it doesn't turn them into dragons, first-generation Dragon Slayers are capable of using an advanced magic ability called Dragon Force, which immensely increases their magic power and gives them visible scales on their bodies. Natsu is first seen using it during his fight with Jellal, and Wendy and Gajeel are seen using it against Ezel and Bloodman, respectively. However, the Dragon Slayer in question must consume A LOT of magical energy to enter this state. Second and third-generation Dragon Slayers, like Laxus, Sting and Rogue, are capable of using it at will, but it lacks a lot of "oomph" compared to the real deal.
    • Acnologia and Irene Belserion, however, are capable of turning into full-fledged dragons.
    • In the sequel series the fifth-generation Dragon Slayers (or Dragon Eaters) are introduced, they do have Dragon Force but consider it a Dangerous Forbidden Technique: they do gain a transformation and an incredibly powerful form, but they slowly and inexorably undergo Dragonization and irreversibly become true dragons.
  • Medusa the Serpent Witch from Soul Eater turns into a small snake to escape when her main body is cut in half. This is after her band succeeded in releasing the Sealed Evil in a Can; so definitely a win, while her opponent thinks he killed her so hard it destroyed her soul.
  • An inversion in Yu-Gi-Oh! in the Waking the Dragons arc: the secret of the three dragons is that they were actually knights transformed by Dartz in an attempt to weaken them. Yami Yugi transforms them back into knights in order to defeat Dartz.
  • Yasha from Cutey Honey turns into a giant monstrous lamia in her final battle against Honey. She puts up a decent fight due to her impenetrable scales, but it turns out gravity combined with the spikes at the bottom of Yasha's lair are enough to tear through her scales.
  • Divine Ancestors in Campione! have the ability to gain a massive increase in power by transforming into their primordial form, a dragon or serpent. This comes at a cost as doing so sacrifices their eternal youth and hampers their ability to regain their lost powers.
  • In Part 7 of Jojos Bizarre Adventure, there is a Stand called "Scary Monsters" that allows its user Dr. Ferdinand and, later Diego Brando, to transform himself and anyone he injures into dinosaurs.
  • Hana the Fox Girl's Haru Sakamoto is an inversion. She was born a snake but has the ability to transform into a human. She was adopted and raised by a human couple who saw her hatch and change.
  • In The Wonderful World of Puss 'n Boots, Lucifer the ogre shapeshifts into a three-headed dragon in an attempt to kill the heroes and impress his forced-fiancée Princess Rosa with his sheer power. Unfortunately for him, it doesn't work as she faints at the horrific sight of him. But fortunately for him, he's so powerful that all the heroes can do is run for their lives or else get burned alive by his fire breath.
  • In 3×3 Eyes we have Hua She, a snake demons who spends the entire second series as the human consciousness of the protagonist, Pai. After she sacrifices herself to stop Benares, she undoes the spell and returns being a small harmless snake... only for Parvati to actually give her a human identity which plays a bigger role during the fourth act, Trinetra. Benares himself usually appears as a human (well, a really big human) but when Yakumo tries to seal him away with Genma Hoshin he forcibly assumes his true form: a colossal, mindless wyrm made of brilliant energy. Benares willingly undergoes a draconic-snakelike transformation for the final battle.
  • Tales of Wedding Rings has a heroic example in Saphir, who once used the Ring of Water to transform herself into an enormous dragon and devour the kraken that was menacing her friends.

    Card Games 
  • There's a Magic: The Gathering card for everything: Form of the Dragon. The card has found a home in at least one successful combo deck (Enduring Ideal) as a powerful finisher.
  • The Munchkin Conan expansion has the monster modifier "...That Turns Into A Giant Snake." Rather amusingly, you can put it on a giant snake. The card specifically says it turns into a different giant snake.

    Comic Books 
  • The Marvel Comics character Moondragon, who despite her name was a human with psychic powers and Arrogant Kung Fu, turned into a literal dragon to save the day, and was "killed" (the whole Energy Being part) by Ultron, an evil robot that resembles a Knight in Shining Armor.
  • The Marvel Comics Fear Itself crossover ended with the Serpent, a humanoid Asgardian god whose name is more of a nickname/title due to his nature, abandoning his human form and all if its powers to turn into a giant snake that is easily sliced up by Thor for no apparent reason.
  • The Incredibles comic arc, City of Incredibles has Shifty taking on the form of a dragon after having his shapeshifting powers enhanced by a superpower virus, only to be taken down by the family after they powered up on the same disease.
  • In the video for the game Dragon Strike, as well as its tie-in Marvel comic, Teraptus turns into the giant dragon Darkfyre.
  • In the Omega Men comic book, turning into a giant snake was Demonia's only real superpower. It did, however, make her quite tough in a fight. All things considered, it is unsurprising that Demonia turned out to be The Mole.
  • The Last Temptation graphic novel by Neil Gaiman and Alice Cooper (yes, you read that right) has The Showman turn into a giant snake at the end, but he doesn't actually attack the hero. He just messes with his head a bit, and scares him away. If this story is meant to tie into Cooper's song "Welcome To My Nightmare", (which many of his fans believe it is) then it was an entirely successful head-mess, because by then, Stephen is a Serial Killer.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street comics:
    • In Nightmares on Elm Street, Freddy appears as a dragon to Alice in the Wonderland dreamscape. He carries the form to the climactic confrontation.
    • In New Line Cinema's Tales Of Horror, Freddy turns into a giant snake, coils around his crazy fan and informs him that their supposed partnership could never work, as he won't be able to eat souls of those who weren't killed by him personally.
  • In "Pikappa", the reboot of Paperinik New Adventures, Vendor developed a gas that transforms people into dinosaur-like creatures.
  • Dragons in Gold Digger all have the ability to disguise themselves as humans, and several dragon characters have in fact been Mode Locked in human form. Generally, the dragon population is divided on the opinion of whether a race of talking mammals like humans is adorable ("They're like little talking bunnies! I want to play at being a bunny too!") or disgusting ("They're like little talking rats!").
  • In the Vampirella story "She who Waits" the Cobra Queen can transform into a giant cobra.
  • Legends of Baldur's Gate: As befits someone associated with the Cult of the Dragon, Deniak turns into one. It's probably not quite what he was after — he wanted draconic power, not shape.
  • In New Teen Titans #5, they were mind-controlled. One guess which form Changeling took when developing a crush (their pun, not mine) on Zatanna'.
  • X-Men villain Scaleface has the ability to transform into a dragon-like reptile creature.

    Fan Works 
  • Protagonist example: This is how Violet, of all people gains the power to stop the Big Bad in Rise of the Galeforces. A surprisingly interesting example in that Ludlow was the one who gave Violet that power in the first place, attempting to turn her into his own personal Tyke-Bomb. Velociripper makes matters even worse (for the antagonists, anyway) when he gives Vi a dose of his devolution ray, momentarily trapping her in her Tyrannosaurus rex form. Needless to say, she immediately goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, cripples Ripper in single combat, destroys most (if not all) of the villainous forces, and fights the Big Bad's tank. Really!
  • Child of the Storm has both heroic and villainous examples. In the former case, Loki transforms into a giant serpent to hold a zombified Kraken still so Thor can get a clean shot in on it. In the latter case, in the sequel, Selene Gallio transforms into a black long wyrm (fire-breathing dragon with no wings), in an attempt to destroy her enemies, getting into a fight with Sue, Harry Dresden's zombie t-rex in the process — Dresden and Wanda actually quote the Evil Overlord List, with Wanda noting that Strange made her memorise it, and speculates that he might well have written it. It doesn't work, as Wanda Maximoff drops Dresden on her back, he uses his staff as an improvised spear and lightning conductor into her brain.
  • In the Eleutherophobia series, Tom's (the real Tom) preferred battle morph is a king cobra. He mainly uses it to inject venom into morph-capable opponents, giving them enough time to demorph before it kills them; the only person he's killed this way was his Yeerk, and he deserved it.
  • Actual Pacifist Protagonist example: George in With Strings Attached discovers he can become a red dragon at a very opportune moment about two-thirds of the way through the book. Though it does make him think of his wife as... tasty.
  • The heroes and the villain both did in Royal Occupation of the Facing the Future Series.
  • 3 Slytherin Marauders has a (anti)-heroic example when Tom Riddle discovers his animagus form is of a great black dragon.
  • In The Darkness Series Harry learns how to transform into a sea krait using "parselmagic."
  • Count Logan once Dr. Beljar takes over in The End of Ends.
  • Harry Potter also does this in Oh God, Not Again!, having become a snake Animagus before getting sent back in time. He only uses this to capture Wormtail, though.
  • In the Madoka fanfic Seeing Clearly, antagonist Anzu Anzai's witch form is a giant snake, and is named after the Egyptian snake god Apep.
  • In Harry Is a Dragon, and That's OK, the climax involves Voldemort taking a leaf out of Harry's book and making a flash-grown Hungarian Horntail into his newest body.
  • Vow of the King: Tatsuki's powers let her transform into draconic form. As her powers grow, her size goes up as her transformation progresses further.
  • Voyages of the Wild Sea Horse: Lilith is a Sky-lander with a model of the Snake-Snake Devil Fruit that lets her turn into a cobra. Her full cobra form is "merely" 160 centimeters long, which makes it as big as she is in her human form. Hybrid form, on the other, turns her into a 616 centimeter long snake woman, which makes her roughly two meters bigger than Miriam, who was previously the biggest person aboard.
  • In the Warrior Cats Multiple Animator Project "Serpent Sol", Sol transforms into a giant snake for his final confrontation with Squirrelflight and Feathertail.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Disney Animated Canon makes loving use of this trope in stories where magic is an option:
  • Bartok the Magnificent: An unintentional example, where the villainous Ludmilla steals and drinks a magic potion under the belief it would make her ten times more beautiful. However, the potion actually makes people's appearance ten times what they are on the inside, she transforms into a giant ugly purple dragon.
  • In The Return of Hanuman, Rahu and Ketu's henchmen turn into their true forms; which are dragon-like creatures, in order to snatch Rahu and Ketu's snake staff from Maruti. They failed because Maruti tricked them and eventually their necks get twisted and tied up.
  • Wizards: The prologue has Blackwolf turning himself into a snake during his battle with his brother, Avatar. Avatar responds by turning himself into an eagle before banishing Blackwolf to Scortch.
  • In G.I. Joe: The Movie, Cobra Commander, former leader of COBRA, is punished by his masters in Cobra-La for his repeated failures in conquering the world by being turned into a humanoid snake that eventually devolves into a full, but human-sized, snake, with limited speech capacity. This somewhat bites Golobulus and co. in the ass towards the end of the film, when a vengeful Cobra Commander attacks Serpentor, CC's usurper and Cobra-La's new favorite, just when the Cobra Emperor is about to finish off new hero Lt. Falcon.
  • In Batman vs. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Joker mutates into a snake after being sprayed with Ooze.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Enchanted: Narissa pulls a Maleficent-crossed-with-King Kong when she turns into a dragon, kidnaps Robert, and climbs a skyscraper during a thunderstorm. Bad idea. The result is impressive, though. Still a strange move, though, considering that being Genre Savvy was one of her more dangerous villainous traits until that point.
  • The villainess in The Lair of the White Worm turns into a snake shortly before the good guys kill her.
  • In Dreamscape, villain Tommy gets the bright idea of turning into a snake-like monster, quickly resulting in his decapitation. By the President of the United States, no less. And not a President Action, either, but an old, overweight, out-of-shape President Target who hits him from behind with a shovel.
  • At first, Thulsa Doom of the first Conan the Barbarian movie seems to be doing this for no reason at all, but then subverts the expectations of the audience by fleeing through a hole in the wall made for a snake and getting to safety. (It's also in keeping with his character so far as he seems to have a thing for snakes: his religion worships them, he has a pet snake that Conan kills, he has snake arrows... no, really.)
  • In The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, the Emperor turns into a three-headed dragon, kidnapping Lin and managing to evade the heroes. He doesn't return to that shape, though. Later on, he shifts into a Kirin and was similarly unbeatable. In fact, it's safe to say that had he not been goaded into a fair fight, he'd have succeeded.
  • Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors turned into a serpentine creature to swallow a dreaming teen whole. He managed to gulp down her legs when Nancy appeared to haul her back out of his mouth. This scene could be considered foreshadowing, as we later learn that he absorbs/eats the souls of his victims to grow stronger.
  • The titular prince in the ending of The Snake Prince reveals his true, One-Winged Angel form at the end of the film, having been exposed to sulphurous smoke — as a giant snake monster. One of the rare non-villainous examples of this trope.
  • In the 1973 B-movie Sssssss, a Mad Scientist turns his lab assistants into king cobras.
  • In Yamato Takeru, the Big Bad Physical God Tsukuyomi turns into the Yamata no Orochi when he really feels like destroying.
  • In the climax of Maleficent, the titular fairy transforms her raven/servant Diaval into a dragon to do battle with King Stephan and his knights. After a brief tangle with some chains around the maw, he proceeds to wreak vengeance upon the throne room.
  • Sorceress Irendri in the ending of the fantasy film Once Upon a Warrior, befitting her as a snake-themed villain, have her turning into a green, snake-human hybrid monster, having snakes protruding from her hair, arms, and her lower body turning into multiple snake tails, which she use to brutally assault the heroes.
  • In The Kid Who Would Be King, Morgana has a humanoid snake-dragon form she becomes to fight Alex and his knights.
  • Mortal Kombat: Annihilation infamously worked the Animalities from the third game into the plot, with Liu Kang transforming into a dragon to fight Shao Kahn, who likewise becomes a hydra. In a subversion, neither really benefits from the arrangement, with the encounter not even lasting two minutes before they revert to their mortal bodies to continue the fight.
  • 47 Ronin: Mizuki, the witch who serves Lord Kira, is normally a Kitsune, but in the final battle, she transforms into a dragon to fight Kai.

  • Animorphs:
    • In the second-to-final book, The Answer, Jake morphs an anaconda on the cover. He uses it in the book to convince the Taxxons to turn on their Yeerk overlord and go nothlit, in order to escape their constant, mind-breaking hunger by turning into animals that only need a good meal once every few months.
    • This also plays into the final book. Rachel has snuck aboard Tom's ship, hoping to defeat his rogue Yeerk army. She transforms into a Grizzly Bear and he sends his minions after her after they have each changed into equally fearsome and tough creatures. Rachel has just enough of an opportunity during the battle to check on Tom as he hangs back and transforms — into a very small but very poisonous snake. Rachel defeats each of the minions, but his small size and her poor vision makes it difficult for her to track him. He successfully bites and poisons her, but she (with help) impales him on her claws and then bites him in half. She demorphs, exhausted, and another minion, transformed into a polar bear, kills her with a single blow.
    • Series author K. A. Applegate seems to have a thing for giving snake morphs to Smug Snake characters. Marco (admittedly a hero, but his ego can sometimes get the better of him) and Tom both have cobra morphs, while David acquires a rattlesnake for maximum heel factor in The Solution. Ax meanwhile has a rattlesnake morph, but rarely uses it. The first time he does, it's for an assassination mission.
  • In The Once and Future King Scaling Up is explicitly described as being the ordinary strategy of a wizards' duel:
    At the first gong Madam Mim immediately turned herself into a dragon. It was the accepted opening move...
  • Beren and Lúthien: Sauron at one point becomes a snake in an effort to defeat Huan, the Hound of Valinor. It wasn't any more successful than any of the other forms he tried.
  • Chronicles of Narnia:
    • The Lady of the Green Kirtle does this in The Silver Chair. Lewis was definitely being symbolic in this case, but it's still a dumb move, especially when confronted by a Stupid Good hero who Wouldn't Hit a Girl but has no problem cutting a giant serpent in half. The same villainess apparently used her serpent form to assassinate the queen of Narnia, some years previously and had pulled it off without a hitch, though.
    • In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Eustace, up to now a Jerkass protagonist, is turned into a dragon for being greedy (again, symbolic). It's a Literal Transformative Experience, since being an old-style gangly ugly dragon, having a metal ring digging painfully into his arm the entire time due to his increase in size, inability to communicate and finally understanding how much of The Load he is have wonderful effects on Eustace's personality.
  • In The Belgariad, the kingdom of Nyissa is heavily snake-themed, with their patron god Issa having been a snake god (who's Not Quite Dead, but not particularly active), and their Queen Salmissra — originally Issa's handmaiden, who he fell in love with, then, unfortunately, forgot to make immortal, meaning that when each dies (after their lifespan and youth is dragged out as long as possible via some very weird drugs), they're replaced by an Identical Stranger. Since they're conditioned for the role from childhood, they tend to end up with broadly the same personality, enough that the immortal Polgara tends to treat them as all being the same person — though as the prequels show, this isn't invariable, and some are quite different. The latest Salmissra, in the second book, decides to interfere with Garion, having him drugged and kidnapped since he is The Chosen One, and she's got ambitions to have him as her consort and gain immortality that way. Polgara, his many times great aunt and foster mother takes very poorly to this and decides to give Salmissra immortality by turning her into a giant snake. As it turns out, though, everyone from palace eunuchs to Salmissra herself is actually quite happy about this, as Nyissans love snakes and the lack of drugs means that she's much more rational and easy to manage.
  • In The Chronicles of Prydain, when Evil Overlord Arawn, (based on the Celtic God of the Dead, who shares the name), master of terrible armies and incomprehensible Black Magic is finally confronted face to face, he promptly turns into a serpent and dies within a paragraph or two, managing only to kill the slightly less evil queen before falling to everyone's favorite assistant pig keeper.
    • Justified as he was trying to get the hell out of his invaded castle.
  • In The Death Gate Cycle, the ultimate evil beings are shape shifters that like to take the form of giant dragon-snakes, probably meant to resemble wingless Chinese dragons with a more snakelike head. In a final confrontation with the heroes, one of them reverts into this shape, growing too large, and his head hits the roof of the room they're in, which is inscribed with death runes, thus killing him.
    • Somewhat justified by Fridge Logic, as the chamber the Final Battle took place in was filled with magical energy that was anathema to the serpent — he was likely dying by inches from the moment he entered it (which he only did out of desperation).
    • At the climax of the first book in the series, the Evil Sorcerer antagonist pulls a more traditional version of this trope, turning himself into a giant snake, but he dies quickly because he'd already been fatally knifed in human form and the wound carried over.
    • A protagonist turns into a dragon during The Siege in the sixth book. He kicks a lot of ass (mostly off-screen, but considering what he's facing it's still badass). It's only a partial success because he ends up missing in action. The seventh book reveals why: he was defeated and captured by a real dragon. How powerful is that? ''One person in the entire series has defeated one in battle.
  • The universe of Steven Erikson and Ian Cameron Esslemont, best known from the Malazan Book of the Fallen books, features the Soletaken, who can change ("veer") from humanoid to beast form. Some Soletaken veer into draconean forms, which is powerful, but also occasionally Played for Laughs or the Rule of Cool in order to underline the series's theme of ancient or powerful creatures being too long out of touch with the world and just as susceptible to a brick in the head as any mortal. Examples:
    • In book one, Gardens of the Moon, several Tiste Andii Soletaken veer into their draconic forms to better be able to confront Raest, the Jaghut Tyrant. He chases them off.
    • Also in Gardens of the Moon, Anomander Rake veers into his draconean form before he attacks a Demon Lord that has been set free in the city of Darujhistan. He eventually sembles back into his Tiste Andii form because he'd rather not destroy half the city with his draconean bulk, though.
    • In book three, Memories of Ice, Anomander Rake — being on the pragmatic side of things — veers into a dragon in order to harry a bunch of enemy troops away rather than having to kill them.
    • In the fourth book, House of Chains, the Tiste Liosan Osserc veers into a dragon in order to fly his son L'oric, who had come seeking him unbidden, out of the crumbling memory of the desert Raraku, since it's much easier for dragons to travel between realms and Osserc wants to get rid of L'oric again as soon as possible.
    • In the prologue of Midnight Tides, the fifth volume, Silchas Ruin, and Scabandari Bloodeye use their draconean form to better be able to attack the flying fortresses of the K'Chain Che'Malle, which they couldn't have reached otherwise.
    • In the seventh book, Reaper's Gale, the mage Quick Ben uses the ability of the demi-goddesses Menandore, Sheltatha Lore and Sukul Ankhadu to turn into dragons against them. Since all dragons, true or not, have a bad case of the Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, he waits until they all veer in order to attack him, then leads them into turning on each other.
    • Also in Reaper's Gale, in a deliberate anticlimax, Silchas Ruin veers into a dragon in order to attack the city of Letheras because he feels like it, only to be driven off by a couple of soldiers with grenades who shout that they'd had enough of dragons for the day.
  • In the Dragon Knight series, James actively avoids turning into his dragon form during battle unless he needs to intimidate his enemies. While he is big and scary, he's also extremely vulnerable and unable to move as quickly or nimbly as a human foe.
  • During a Shapeshifter Showdown in an early Discworld novel, at one point the wizard transforms into a snake. Granny Weatherwax transforms herself into a snake charmer's basket as a counter.
  • Doing this is the villain's primary goal in Orson Scott Card's The Magic Box, and a pretty well justified one too, given that dragons are extremely powerful in this book. It almost works, but a minor character with a gun realized that transformation needn't be a free action.
  • The Pirates of the Caribbean: Jack Sparrow book, City of Gold concludes with voodoo witch Madame Minuet fusing with her two new allies into a three-headed serpent to try and take down the young pirate.
  • Mister Monday transforms into a giant snake in the first book of the Keys to the Kingdom series, He ALMOST succeeds in killing Arthur, until Arthur gets Suzy to write on him with her fingers and a bottle of ink, causing him to be attacked by hundreds of text-destroying, acid-spitting, Nithling-snakes.
    • Made creepier by having his face perfectly intact on top of the snake's head with the normal snake mouth beneath it.
  • In The Dresden Files, Cassius's Denarian form is a snake-man. He manages to present a significant threat for a while, until two very angry Knights of the Cross and a wizard corner him and he gives up his coin to avoid being killed.
    • ... upon which said wizard breaks Snakyboy's newly re-acquired kneecaps.
  • In Curse Of The Wolf Girl the Big Bad's dragon really can turn into a dragon and manages to put up a good fight and has Malveria's army on the ropes. Of course, there remains the issue that the reason there are no true dragons left is because Malveria killed them all years ago, and turned them into dragon-scale outfits. It ends about as well as can be expected when Malveria turns up to take charge personally.
  • Averted, as well as inverted, in the Harry Potter series. In a world where wizards can, with hard work, learn to transform into an animal that (arguably) fits their personality, Voldemort is: the last descendant of a man known for talking to snakes, an inheritor of this ability, member of a House whose symbol is a snake, commander of a giant serpent, owner of the pet snake Nagini, and wearer of a face repeatedly described as "snake-like". At no point does he turn into a snake. (Although events in Order of the Phoenix may confuse one into thinking so.) However, in Deathly Hallows, Nagini is at one point disguised as a human.
  • The novel Brothers in Arms inverts this trope: the Dark Action Girl Kitiara is trying to kill a dragon and her only chance to do so is when he is in his vulnerable human form, rather than in his nigh-invincible natural shape.
  • In the fourth Fablehaven book, inverted with Gavin, Kendra's "boyfriend," turns back into his true self, the demonic dragon Navarog. He could have easily killed all the heroes then, but he decides to revert to his human form and capture Kendra, allowing the small fairylike dragon Raxtus to bite him in two.
  • Played straight by a female Dark One at the conclusion of The Wizard of Sunset Strip. Probably a tribute to Sleeping Beauty, as the battle in question takes place at a reconstructed Disneyland.
  • During Galaxy of Fear, the heroic shapeshifter Hoole has at least two snake forms, one for stealth and the other suitable for combat. Bad things happen more than once when he does, notably while on Kiva. He once fights another shapeshifter, his own clone, and both take snake forms during their Shapeshifter Showdown. The battle is a draw and ultimately the deciding factor is another character going Spot the Impostor.
  • The Dragonlord Chronicles books from Mystara feature Sir George Kirbey, a seemingly human knight who is actually a sort of small were-dragon called a drake. Further, it is eventually revealed that the hero Teldin is a descendent of the dragons' gods, and he becomes one himself.
  • Inverted in Good Omens: Crowley was originally known as Crawly, aka the snake that told Eve about the Fruit of Knowledge. In modern times, he takes on the appearance of a human male (with shades to hide his snake eyes and has a tendency to hiss) but never turns into a snake.
  • Underworlds: Loki transforms into the eponymous Ice Dragon to battle the kids in The Ice Dragon.
  • In The War of Embers a character is permanently turned into a dragon. Doubles as Rule of Cool and Cursed with Awesome as he also gains their magic but has to deal with the social and mental consequences of being a dragon.
  • Lung of Worm slowly metamorphoses into a dragon as he fights.
    • Not surprising. Lung is Chinese for Dragon.
  • In Robin Jarvis' Thomas, the villainous adepts of a serpent cult known as the Scale have the ability to tear off their mammalian flesh and assume the forms of reptiles.

    Live-Action TV 
  • This was actually the end goal of the Mayor from Season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which he'd spent a century working towards and built all sort of elaborate machinations around. He promptly gets taken out, of all things, by Buffy exploiting his love for his pseudo-adopted daughter. Oh, and a stockpile of well placed explosive, while a bunch of high schoolers mostly armed with crossbows and such fight off his minions.
    • But hilarious-aside from his undeniably evil aspirations, he's been characterized as a personable, mildly absent-minded guy who doesn't like swears. His only comment on his seconds-nigh doom? "Well gosh!"
  • In Chinese Paladin 3, one of the heroines turns into a snake to get an extra edge in combat.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the climax of "Kinda", the Mara, a malevolent entity that possesses both Tegan and a member of the titular tribe, is revealed to be a giant snake after being exorcised by the Doctor and the rest of the tribespeople. The Mara reappears in "Snakedance", where its serpentine form is shown much more frequently.
    • The Master briefly turns into a gelatinous, cobra-like creature during the TV movie after being seemingly reduced to ash by the Daleks, and slithers down Bruce's throat while he's asleep in order to possess him.
  • In the final battle of the Ryuki arc of Kamen Rider Decade, Decade uses the Final Form Ride to force Ryuki into changing into a leaner version of his own contract monster, Dragredder. Ryuki as Dragredder tears the enemy's shark contract monster to pieces before they use Ryuki's finisher, with Decade taking Ryuki's part and Ryuki-as-Dragredder taking Dragredder's part, to temporarily blow up the enemy himself. Naturally what makes it work in this instance is that the good guys did it.
    • Kamen Rider Kiva had his own heroic example one year earlier — Emperor Form: Flight Style turns him into a winged dragon with an impressive Breath Weapon. There are two accounts of how he got it — in the Non-Serial Movie, it's forced on him by the villain, and he's unable to control it until he gets a cooldown-hug from Otoya. He reverts to normal until the villain uses his own One-Winged Angel form. In the actual series, it's just an extension of Emperor Form that he unlocks late in the series and has no problem controlling.
  • A variant occurs in the Red Dwarf episode "Polymorph" when a shapeshifting Emotion Eater turns into a snake. It works because it wasn't for combat reasons, but to freak Lister out (as he is scared of snakes). It helps make him even more scared until the beast assumes its true form and drains him of his fear.
  • Inverted in Stargate SG-1: The Goa'uld are actually snakes that turn into humanoids (sort of).
    • More like Double Subverted or just Played With. Physically, Goa'uld are foot-long, water-dwelling worms with big fangs on a round mouth and a fin or frill below their heads — basically, snakes with Spikes of Villainy. However, they are also Puppeteer Parasites who take over the bodies of humans and other species. However, some Goa'uld ruled over humans as God Emperors, most of whom used some kind of totem animal as an icon, and the Big Bad for the first several seasons happened to use a snake as his icon. So there's a snake inside a human, whose Mooks are ordered to dress up as snakes...
  • Once Upon a Time: As fitting with her original tale, Maleficent can turn into a dragon. Her daughter has the ability, too, though she hasn't quite learned how to control it yet.
  • Very rare heroic example: in Manimal, to get his girlfriend (?!?) out of a quicksand peril. The girl is a bit ophidiophobic, maybe a giraffe would have been a better idea...rats, not enough money for the FX. Played with in another episode: the snake is actually real and the girl, who played Fearless Snakecharmer, promptly faints when Manimal comes to the scene.

  • In The Mechanisms concept album "The Bifrost Incident", Odin turns into Jormungandr, the World Serpent, after being fully corrupted by The Old Gods.

    Music Videos 
  • In the Robbie Williams music video "Radio", Robbie becomes something like this at the very end.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Classical Mythology: The river god Achelous turns into a serpent to fight Hercules for the hand of a princess called Deianeira. He loses, and in one version Hercules rips off one of his horns, which was used by the nymphs to make the Horn of Plenty.
  • Chinese Mythology: "The White Snake" tale has Madame White Snake forcibly morphed into her original form when she is captured by the monk Fa Hai.

  • Wyvern from The Chimera Program arc of Cool Kids Table, as per her codename, can become an enormous draconic creature. She doesn't manifest fire or wings at this stage, however.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons a druid can take the Paragon path of the coiled serpent, where you have the ability to scale up. what you do with this ability and whether you die or not is at the player's (or more realistically, the DM's) discretion.
    • Inverted by an NPC from the Carnival Ravenloft supplement, a snake familiar who had a Heel–Face Turn and abandoned her evil master after he turned her into an elf.
    • Also, many types of D&D dragons are depicted as being able to shapeshift into human form. Some even fall in love with humans.
    • Many yuan-ti can also transform into full-on snakes — though their normal forms are already a mixture of serpentine and human features, looking progressively snakier as you go up through the Fantastic Caste System (in an inversion of the Bishōnen Line).
    • Mystara has a race of small dragon-like creatures called drakes who can become human at will.
    • Back in 3.5, the spell Dragonshape lets you instantly turn into an adult red dragon. There's also the variant spells Least and Lesser Dragonshape, which turns you into a pseudodragon and a young red dragon, respectively.
    • The 5th edition has the ninth level spell True Polymorph, which, among other things, allows its user to transform any creature into another creature of equal or lower level or challenge rating. Coincidentally (?), two creatures of challenge rating 20 are the Ancient Brass Dragon and the Ancient White Dragon. So it's perfectly possible to see a high-level wizard or warlock turn into a giant dragon in a pinch.
    • A slightly less impressive result may be attained at lower level with the regular Polymorph spell, which only allows transformation into beasts as opposed to any creature. Coincidentally (?), the highest challenge rating beast one can transform into just so happens to be none other than Tyrannosaurus rex. (Which may or may not count as Scaling Up, given that it is now known T. rex was feathery instead, although common public perception of it remains as a reptilian creature.)
  • Pathfinder includes a versatile spell, Form of the Dragon, with three variations for Medium, Large, and Giant dragons, and the user choosing which dragon to turn into. Draconic sorcerers get access to all three versions as bloodline spells. Characters with the Dragon Disciple prestige class — which generally, but not always, requires being a draconic-blooded sorcerer or bloodrager to start with — slowly transform into dragons as they level up.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade the Followers of Set, one of the 13 main clans, have an entire set of powers related to becoming a snake, called Serpentis. The 1st power lets you immobilize someone with your gaze, the 2nd grows a razor-sharp tongue to use as a weapon, the 3rd gives you armored scales, and the 4th turns you into a giant cobra.
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse has a double-helping of this trope: the 1st Edition Players Guide introduced us to the Mokole, a race of were-saurians whose relationship to the sun is similar to the wolves' relationship to the moon, while the 2nd Edition Players Guide introduced the Nagah, a predominantly Asian and Middle-Eastern race of were-snakes who functioned primarily as assassins.
  • Exalted: The real form of the Unconquered Sun (the de-facto and de-jure Big Good of the settings) is a gigantic golden dragon with tons of HP and an attack that does unlimited points of damage.
  • Chuubo, the titular character of Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine, has the ability to turn into a giant 108-meter snake at will. The name of that power? "It Probably Wouldn't Help." Sure enough, there is an actual law of physics in that game (backed by the rules) which states that turning into a snake cannot help you.
  • Parodied in Munchkin with a monster modifier card "...That Turns Into a Giant Snake." Even monsters that would logically be more powerful in their original forms, like a Plutonium Dragon or Cthulhu itself, gain an advantage by scaling up.

  • Happens twice in Der Ring des Nibelungen, to the same Leitmotif. In Das Rheingold, when Alberich is demonstrating the shapeshifting powers of the Tarnhelm, he first transforms into a dragon, and Loge pretends to be frightened. (Wagner's actual word, Riesenwurm, literally means "giant worm.") In Siegfried, Fafner has already transformed himself from a giant into a dragon. Since he has the Artifact of Doom, his fate is sealed.

  • From various BIONICLE works:
    • The (already enlarged) Fenrakk spider is transformed into the Kardas dragon after the Toa Inika made him and his rider Vezon fall into magma. As a subversion, this was an involuntary transformation on their part — it was the work of the Mask of Life, which tried to protect itself by upgrading its guardians. The Toa realize that if they kept on defeating it, it would only come back more powerful, so they freeze the dragon and Vezon in time with special ammo and then take the Mask from them easily.
    • Makuta Miserix had a fondness for reptiles, so he turned into one whenever a battle broke out.
    • Inverted with Krahka: she tended to turn into a smaller snake to sneak away or avoid detection.

    Video Games 
  • In the Kingdom Hearts series, Maleficent sometimes turns into a dragon at times of danger. She'd tried it ten years earlier against an Action Girl with the same type of weapon, as well as Prince Phillip himself. The result? She survives. Barely.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • The Dragonlord in Dragon Quest I turns into a bipedal, black-winged, violet dragon after defeating his normal human form. It only partially works for him because unless you've procured Loto's/Erdrick's Sword, your attacks will only do scratch damage to him, making the fight take a while. It's still quite possible to defeat him with the Flame Sword, and possible in theory with the weaker buyable weapons.
    • In later games, the Be Dragon spell, or Puff as it is now known, appears a handful of times. It allows the user to transform into a fire-breathing dragon for a few turns. Very effective, especially in Dragon Quest III where it was introduced; in that game, it's the only reliable way to kill multiple Liquid Metal Slimes in a single battle.
    • The Lord of the Dragovians from Dragon Quest VIII also transforms into a large, ferocious dragon.
  • Eye of the Beholder 2 has Dran Draggore turn out to be a Dragon. Of course, the dragon is still vulnerable to the attack+ side-step maneuver.
  • The World Ends with You: The Final Boss first fights you in his human form, which is a tricky fight because his attacks are fast and unpredictable and can hit very hard. Then he turns into a giant snake, which is generally easier because its attacks are much slower and easier to avoid. Then he turns into an even bigger dragon and traps all your partners in bubbles.
  • Mega Man Star Force: Lovable Alpha Bitch Luna turns into Queen Ophiuca when she accepts the FMian Ophiuchus' offer and allows herself to be possessed. The possession turns her into a lamia-esque being, complete with a snake-like tail.
  • The MacGuffin in Tomb Raider II was a magical dagger that would turn those who stabbed themselves through the heart with it into a dragon. Having said dagger removed would kill them. In the intro, the ancient emperor who originally owned the dagger is killed when he gets too close to a wounded monk, while the Big Bad of the game is killed when Lara shoots him a bunch of times, then pulls out the dagger.
  • King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder!. The showdown with Mordack involves him shapeshifting into various forms, which Graham must counter with some spells he learned very conveniently about five minutes earlier. One of which is a dragon (defeated by turning into a rabbit, too nimble for the dragon to hit). Straight after, it's a snake (obviously countered by a mongoose).
  • Simon the Sorcerer. At one point, you partake in a "wizard's duel" (read: magical rock-paper-scissors) with a witch. Upon winning three rounds, the witch transforms into a dragon (breaking the rule she set at the start). This is completely ineffective, of course — you just transform into a mouse and escape through the small mouse hole in the wall.
  • Draconis and Abazigal from Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal revert to their true forms — adult dragons — upon being whacked sufficiently while in human form. While you still kill them, the 'partial success' part is because Draconis' dragon form is a challenge (or at least a bloody annoyance) and is widely considered to be an actually difficult boss. Abazigal, however... Isn't.
  • After being thrashed sufficiently by Isaac's team in Golden Sun, antagonists Saturos and Menardi transform into a single two-headed dragon. While the Fusion Dragon is a more powerful boss than either opponent separately, team Isaac still wins. In the sequel, the final boss is actually another fused dragon comprised of three of the heroes' parents.
    • The Flame Dragons in TLA were transformed Agatio and Karst, as the Wise One wanted to keep them from being the ones to restore Alchemy. The Wise One was successful. Agatio and Karst were not.
    • In all these cases, the dragon shape really is far more powerful (especially in the case of the Doom Dragon), but results in a nasty case of Antagonist RROD when it wears off. A line of Saturos's before his transformation suggests he knew about this which would explain why he and Menardi were Driven to Suicide after their defeat as the Fusion Dragon. In TLA, everyone who transformed was explicitly stated afterward to be too weak to withstand Mars Lighthouse's environmental hazards which is how Agatio and Karst died. The heroes' parents were saved by Deus ex Machina.
  • In a heroic version, Aelia of Valkyrie Profile turns into a dragon briefly during her Finishing Move to fire a giant beam at enemies. It only partially works because it's a bit weaker than most anyone else's finishing move, and is even less useful when you consider the one hit does little to help the Combos.
  • One of the minor villains in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura is Kraka-Tur, a human who, tired of being bullied for his weakness, killed Arcanum's last dragon by feeding him poison and used his blood in a magic ritual which turned him into a dragon, a crime for which he was banished. While the transformation gives him impressive strength and fighting prowess, he still has the personality of a coward.
  • The top-tier transmutation spell in Dungeon Crawl is Dragon Form which turns the player into a dragon. Whether or not it helps depends on the player's skill. On the one hand, the player is rendered vulnerable to cold and loses the benefits of any magical items other than rings. But the player is also a dragon, and, capable of breathing fire on enemies and, with sufficient skill in unarmed combat, tearing even other dragons to shreds in hand-to-claw combat.
  • The Final Boss of every Aladdin Licensed Game has Jafar transform into his giant snake form from the movie, including Aladdin (Virgin Games) (where the snake really is his final form) and Aladdin (Capcom) (Where the snake is so big that his body makes up the entire ground you fight him on).
  • This is the main character's signature ability in the Breath of Fire series. He usually starts out as a human from a Lost Tribe with the power to transform into dragons, and throughout the game, he gradually acquires bigger and more powerful dragon forms to use. In the fifth game he only has a single transformation and has to avoid overusing it.
    • Major antagonists in the series usually have a similar power: Emperor Zod in the first game, Teepo in the third, and Fou-lu in the fourth all fight the party in their dragon forms, the last more than once. The situation in the fifth installment is more complicated, but the technical final boss and the Superboss are still both dragons.
  • The Manaketes in Fire Emblem provide both heroic and villainous examples of this in the dragon variety, and are a force to be reckoned with for those not fortunate enough to have a dragon-slaying weapon on hand. They're not so much becoming dragons as they are reverting to dragons, though, having been forced to take human forms to avoid losing their minds.
  • In EarthBound (1994), the dragonite item turns one character into a dragon and damages every enemy for a ton of damage.
  • One of Liu Kang's finishers in the Mortal Kombat series is to turn into a dragon and bite the opponent in two.
    • Likewise, Shang Tsung's animality from Mortal Kombat 3 had him turn into a glowing green giant cobra that swallowed the victim whole.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, Flemeth turns into a dragon and is one of the hardest fights in the game.
    • She does it again in Dragon Age II, although that time she helps the player.
    • In Dragon Age: Inquisition Morrigan can potentially turn into a dragon at the climax if she drank from the Well of Sorrows.
  • In Mystaria: The Realms of Lore, one character, Ashe, can change into a dragon at will. While he doesn't have quite the variety of abilities as a dragon as he does while human, he's so ridiculously powerful as a dragon that there's almost literally no reason not to be a dragon at all times.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • The Ka Po' Tun, an Akaviri race of "tiger folk", hold dragons in high reverence. Their ultimate goal is to become dragons, with their leader, Tosh Raka, being the first and (so far) only one known to succeed. He now rules them as a God-Emperor and, once their Arch-Enemy Tsaesci are eliminated, he intends to invade Tamriel. (The continent where all of the games to date in the series have taken place.) Maybe — the only source for this is the book Mysterious Akavir, which both reads as unreliable and by the time of Skyrim is over two hundred years old with no sign of a Tosh Raka-led invasion.
    • This trope plays into why the Argonians subject to Fantastic Racism by the other races.
    • In Oblivion, Martin pulls a heroic version of this at the end of the main quest, becomingnote  the avatar of Akatosh, the draconic Chief Deity of the Nine Divines pantheon, in order to defeat the Daedric Prince Mehrunes Dagon
    • Skyrim contains plenty of actual dragons, but the only thing that comes close to this trope downplays it. Dragon Aspect is a Shout that — true to form — is the Signature Move of Miraak, the Big Bad of the Dragonborn expansion, and The Last Dragonborn can learn it as well. While the user does not literally become a dragon, an ethereal outline of dragon scales and horns does surround them and they gain dragon-like features — a tough hide that boosts armor, a boost to physical strength that empowers melee attacks, higher resistance to fire and frost elemental damage and more powerful Shouts with a shorter cooldown.
  • In Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, this is Casey Lynch's powered-up form.
  • In the PS1 Strategy RPG Saiyuki: The Journey West, one of the characters is a dragon princess who can transform into her true form in combat. One of the other playable characters can turn into a monstrous turtle in the same way. (And if fish scales count, yet another of the playable characters transforms into a fish monster) On the villain's side, there's a dragon queen and a snake man, who you fight in both forms in separate battles.
  • In Final Fantasy XIII-2, the Big Bad Caius Ballad has the ability to become his Eidolon Bahamut, a process that is normally fatal but doesn't bother him at all because he is immortal. As the Final Boss he becomes a different more powerful dragon and summons two more to aid him for good measure.
  • In Faria, after the Big Bad's first form is defeated, he uses the powers of the King's scrolls to transfer his soul into a dragon.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • The big bad from Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven transforms into this for the final battle. While he loses his incredibly accurate instant death attack, he becomes such a massive Damage Sponge that it can take hours to beat him. He also gains an attack that's able to wipe out any party member that isn't the Stone Wall caught in its radius, so he doesn't lose much by changing.
  • Dark Is Not Evil heroic example from the titular character from Bayonetta 2 when she obtains the ability to transform into a giant snake in order to swim quickly underwater, aptly named Snake Within. Her mother, Rosa, also gains a similar ability called Cobra Within.
  • Klonoa: In Door to Phantomile, during Joka's boss battle, he frequently transforms into a creature resembling a cross between a turtle and a lizard. What's worse is that Joka's clownish appearance carries over to his reptilian form, making it a literal Monster Clown.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
  • Blackhorn from the NES version of Astyanax transforms into a dragon upon his first defeat at the top of his tower, and is quite a bit harder to defeat.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic III: This turns out to be the Nighon Overlord Mutare's goal in her campaign in Armageddon's Blade, which she succeeds at in the second-to-last mission. She turns up again in Heroes Chronicles, leading an army of dragons to conquer more lands after establishing dominance over Nighon. For this trope, it was unusually successful — it did lead to success for quite a while after her transformation, it just eventually led her to being too greedy and ambitious and overreaching.
  • In Demon's Crest, Phalanx uses the Crest of Heaven to transform into a giant demonic naga if you complete enough levels to make the game its longest.
  • In Astyanax, after defeating the Big Bad Blackhorn in his standard Evil Sorcerer form, you fight him again on the last screen of the game where he's turned into a giant dragon.
  • The Wyrmic class in Tales of Maj'Eyal have skills that allow them to transform into several different kinds of dragon, including elemental, Draco Lich (Undead Dragon), and Draconic Abomination (Scourge Dragon) types.
  • Dragalia Lost gives anybody who possesses the ability of "dragonblood" the ability to shapeshift into a dragon they've created a pactstone with. Most notably, all of the royal Alberian family has this ability, though there are a few exceptions, such as the twelve Wyrmclan leaders of Hinomoto (incidentally, they call pactstones "soulpacts" over there.) In-game, however, any playable character can shapeshift as long as they have a dragon equipped, forming the game's main "gimmick."
  • Edgar Oinkie from Anarchy Reigns invented a Super Serum he calls "the Juice" that can temporarily give him the bulk, scales, and claws of the settings Mutants.

    Visual Novels 
  • Avaritia, the leader of the Black Knights in 11eyes, stays on the sidelines for most of the story. Come the final fight, he transforms into a gigantic black dragon. Kukuri and Shiori face him down, and, though it takes a hell of a lot of power from Shiori, they just barely end up victorious.

    Web Comics 
  • The Order of the Stick: Vaarsuvius at one point turns into a dragon... while inside another dragon.
  • Homestuck: When cherubs mate, they each grow into a serpentine form that is one astronomical unit (149,597,871 km, the distance between the Sun and Earth) in length. Then, in great hatred, they wage an epic battle around a black hole, and they conclude this battle with a position shaped like AURYN from The Neverending Story. It is implied, then, that this form is at least incorporated into Lord English's One-Winged Angel.
  • Slightly Damned: Moonshade transforms into a giant cobra with earth powers (which he acquired by killing his ancestor Moku the Snake) to kill the guardians Melli the fire bee and Meeros the mortori bird and unlike most villainous versions he succeeds, slaying Melli and seemingly driving away Meeros.
  • Scaled Up (not the trope namer):
    • Adrien, one of the main characters, often turns into a dinosaur against his will.
    • This happens to Patricia too in the 4th part of the Pilot comic thanks to User Override being turned on when she and Adrien time travel.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In Hercules: The Animated Series, Hercules and Adonis visits Nereus, an elderly, grouchy shape-shifter able to turn into various creatures. While attacking Hercules, Nereus transforms into a gorilla, serpent, and giant spider.
  • In an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Morgan LaFey turns into a dragon with obvious results.
  • Malchior in Teen Titans (2003), though he didn't so much transform into a dragon as he was transformed back to his real form. It still doesn't help him much (technically he was handing the entire Titan team their asses, but it slipped his mind that Raven, the one who unsealed him in the first place due to his manipulations, knew both the spell to put him away again and had the will to do it until she already brought the sealing book up).
    • Done again when Beast Boy gets an Evil Twin. It transforms into a cobra, just to show it's evil by using a form Beast Boy never would.
  • The classic Betty Boop cartoon "Snow White" ends with the Evil Queen turning into a dragon after her magic mirror blows up, and promptly being taken down by Betty, Koko the Clown and Bimbo the Dog. Considering that the highlight of the cartoon involves Koko being turned into a ghost-like creature singing "St. James Infirmary Blues" with the voice of Cab Calloway, this can be seen as the least bizarre moment in this cartoon.
  • The Evilutionary Biologist Grimsby Roylott turns himself into a giant snake-creature in order to slip into buildings through the air vents in the Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century episode "Scales of Justice" (Holmes aficionados will recognize this plot as being just barely Suggested by... "The Adventure of the Speckled Band"). It also helps in his fight with Holmes, but not as much as he'd hoped.
  • Danny Phantom: While the second episode that showed a dragon (transformable via a magic pendent) played this trope straight, the second, more evil one, was much, much harder for the hero to defeat. In fact, his abused little sister was the one who ended it, but not before he created some serious damage.
  • The Batman Beyond episode "Splicers" has the villains mix animal DNA with their own. While the lead villain uses DNA from several different animals, he winds up as basically an eight-foot-tall snake (at least until Terry overloads him with injectors and he turns into a monster). He puts up a fairly decent fight against Batman (certainly better than he would have as a human), but still loses in the end.
  • In W.I.T.C.H., Cedric's snake-man form is initially very effective; however, as the heroines become increasingly proficient in using their powers (and in battle in general) he's increasingly left in the dust.
  • Chase Young from Xiaolin Showdown often turns into an anthromorphic lizard when the going gets tough.
  • In TMNT: The Lost Episodes, the True Shredder, a human merged with a demon, has the ability to manifest his spirit avatar, which takes the form of a hideous dragon. In the Backstory regarding him, the Ninja Tribunal also transformed into dragons to do battle with and defeat him. In the climax of his battle with the Turtles, the Shredder once again transforms into a dragon, to which the Turtles, having trained under the Tribunal, also manage to manifest their avatars, which are dragons.
  • In Tenko and the Guardians of the Magic, Jana and Jason combine their starfire crystals to turn into a two-headed dragon.
  • Samurai Jack: In "Scotsman Saves Jack", the burly Scotsman tries to help an amnesiac Jack by retrieving his lost memories from a trio of sirens who hypnotize unlucky travelers. In the final battle, they combine into a fiery, three headed snake like creature and almost defeat the Scotsman before Jack finally remembers who he is and beheads (threeheads) the creature.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: One of the very few examples where it's a good character doing this. When Dee Dee was a baby she gave birth to an imaginary world called Koosland, with Peepers as her first creation, a cynical rabbit like creature who gave away so much happiness in the land that he left none for himself. One day, an evil animesque alien kidnapped him to use as an energy source. In the end, foiled by the efforts of Dexter and Dee Dee's other imaginary friend, Koosy, the alien warlord meets his demise by being stomped by Peepers, who mutated himself in a flesh-colored, evil-looking dragon.
  • Transmetal II Megatron. Considering all the bad guys who this doesn't work for, it seems ironic that he grows to hate his scaled up form despite it being responsible for his success.
    • The Golden One transforms into a dragon and back in The Transformers episode "Madman's Paradise".
  • In the series finale of Codename: Kids Next Door, Father transforms into a giant, black dragon. Still gets knocked into a pit, but unlike most examples, doesn't die.
  • Rare good guy example; the Bad Future episode of Conan the Adventurer has Jesmine do this to try and hold off Set, having earlier in this timeline been forcibly transformed into a serpentwoman. As she does so, she screams about how Set will "never touch her again".
  • Dino Squad is about a group of Teenagers With Attitude who can turn into dinosaurs, fighting a dinosaur who can turn into a man, who wants to turn every creature on Earth into a dinosaur.
  • The Defenders of the Earth episode "Dracula's Potion" also contains a rare example of one of the heroes turning into a snake, albeit involuntarily. The titular potion transforms most of the Defenders into the animals which best reflect their personalities; in Mandrake's case, the animal in question is a cobra.
  • In the Darkwing Duck episode "Jurassic Jumble", when the villain uses a ray gun that de-evolves anthropomorphic ducks into dinosaurs, the main character gets turned into a Godzilla-like dinosaur.
  • On one of The Fairly OddParents! pilot shorts, Vicky gets turned into a dragon at the end. In this case, it wasn't intentional on Vicky's part, but because Cosmo and Wanda lose control of their magic.
  • In Big Mouth and its spinoff Human Resources (2022), Love Bugs transform into "Hate Worms" when fueled by their clients' hate or their own hate. While some Hate Worms just look like worms, if they consume enough hate, they can grow into massive destructive snakes.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), Karai winds up mutating into a serpentwoman during season 2. This is an unintentional case, as she fell into a vat filled with mutagen meant for the Turtles, as the Foot Clan was going to forcibly turn them into vipers in a plot to kill their master Splinter. For added irony, Karai was starting to transition from villain to Anti-Hero at that point.


Snake Transformation

Chang Pang and Blanca transform in their snake forms for combat.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (15 votes)

Example of:

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