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Shapeshifting Heals Wounds

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A Shapeshifter who can use their transforming ability to heal the wounds sustained in one form, or at least prevent themselves from bleeding out by changing to a healthier body.

The wound that can be healed varies depending on the intensity: flesh wounds, normal organ wounds and hemorrhages may be able to be healed this way, while wounded heart or brain may be hard, if not impossible, to heal. Likewise, lost limb could also be regenerated this way, but destroyed head might not be possible to heal.

May be justified by the way the shapeshifting works: if it causes the cells to morph and regenerate (Shapeshifter Baggage and all that), it can also logically heal wounds. The "rapidly regenerating cells" may be a Required Secondary Power that can also be exploited as a Healing Factor.

Often happens in case of Sequential Bosses who undergo One-Winged Angel; after losing their HP in their initial form, the transformation comes with a new health bar.

May be used to extend a Shapeshifter Showdown. Compare Shape Dies, Shifter Survives. May justify Shapeshifter Longevity if shapeshifting counteracts the effects of aging.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bleach: When an arrancar activates their Resurreccion form, any and all injuries they received beforehand are instantly healed.
  • Chainsaw Man: Denji and the other Weapon Humans will regenerate from basically anything when the trigger for their weapon forms is activated.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Frieza is a villain with a number of One-Winged Angel forms, and as he successfully transforms into the next form, the previous form's damage is healed, as shown when he loses part of his tail in his second form, but as soon as he transforms into the third, the tail has regrown.
    • Cell's take on the One-Winged Angel is more parasitic, in that he literally needs to consume other characters to attain his new forms - but each one always has him end in perfect health despite the damage he took previously. It's justified in his case, however, as he has From a Single Cell regeneration, and the increase in power allows him to heal the damage he might have taken.
  • Tamago of the Big Mom Pirates from One Piece can only transform into a new form when his previous one has been beaten, becoming progressively more like a giant rooster as he goes. Naturally, once he's taken on the new transformation, any injuries he's incurred from the previous one disappear.
  • Played straight and inverted in Sai: Taker - Futari no Artemis: To survive a lethal wound, Kyouya was given a device that turns him female. However, if he changes back by removing it, his original injury returns. Thus, while he can technically change back and forth at will, he's effectively stuck female for the foreseeable future.

    Comic Books 
  • During the original Secret Wars (1984), Wolverine severed Absorbing Man's arm at the bicep while Creel held the properties of rock, something he'd apparently never had happen before. At the suggestion of his Love Interest, Absorbing Man held his arm perfectly in place before shifting back to human form, successfully reattaching the limb without enduring blood loss. Of course he mentions he felt like throwing up afterwards.
  • Inverted with the Lizard (a Spider-Man villain), a biologist who lost his arm and experimented with lizard DNA (since lizards can grow back their tails). He regained his arm, but soon transformed into a Lizard Man with an evil personality.
  • Mystique is sometimes stated to have a limited healing ability as a secondary effect of her body control. If counts enough for a healing factor draining vampire in Wolverines to target her.
  • Kamala Khan from Ms. Marvel (2014) has a limited healing factor which seems to be both connected to her morphing powers, because she can't use them while she's healing, and Cast from Calories, because she becomes utterly ravenous as well. It hasn't come up much after introduction though, only referenced after saving her from a gunshot wound when she squees over working with Wolverine.

    Fan Works 
  • This happens in Dæmorphing as in Animorphs canon, but characters are more aware of and willing to exploit it, doing things like starting to morph after being wounded and reversing the morph as soon as the injury is repaired.
  • The Flufferverse defies this in the case of Tobias; he notices that his wounds don't always heal when he morphs, unlike the other Animorphs.
  • In Disappeared Ships, Carrots and All the Rest, an Alice, Girl from the Future fanfic, Rat claims the broken rib he got in his human shape will get healed in a couple of hours if he returns to his original form.
  • The Mountain and the Wolf: Theon Greyjoy gets hit by a spell that turns him into a Chosen Champion of Chaos, restoring his lost genitals.
  • In Belonging by Writerzero, Beast Boy Takes a Level in Badass by, among other things, learning how not to carry wounds over when he shapeshifts.

    Film - Animated 
  • Beauty and the Beast: Once the Beast is transformed back to his human form, the stab wounds inflicted by Gaston are healed.
  • Kubo and the Two Strings: Kubo's mother suffered from significant brain damage from a concussion, which was reversed when they were reborn as the Monkey.

  • Animorphs: The fact that morphing heals all wounds is mentioned Once an Episode and is crucial to the team's continued survival, having recovered from horrific wounds up to and including limb loss. It is, however, very tiring.
    • The auxiliary Animorphs were recruited thanks to this, by offering the morphing power to severely wounded or paralyzed teens who couldn't be restored via surgery. Some of them still couldn't be healed by the morphing process because they had genetic conditions, so their afflictions return when they demorph, but being able to spend up to two hours as an animal that moves more gracefully than any human ever could (or able to communicate via thought-speak) is a good enough substitute. This also works on Tobias' mother, who was rendered blind, covered in scars, and amnesiac after a car accident. Morphing heals her eyes and makes her scars vanish, but memories are still gone.
    • In #24, the Helmacrons are encountered for the first time (one of the smallest known species in the universe with inversely-proportional egos, whose ships can be mistaken for children's scifi toys). They steal the morphing cube and use it to power a Shrink Ray that brings the humans and Tobias down to their size (and morphing animals still keeps them at the reduced scale). The issue is resolved by acquiring a new source of DNA unaffected by the shrinking ray (that happens to be perfectly suited to overpowering flea-sized aliens: an anteater).
    • In #15, the team morphs hammerhead sharks, which starts off badly as Marco cuts his foot on a seashell before morphing, leaving a trail of blood in the water but no wound. Unable to identify the source of the blood, the sharks start attacking each other before they get their senses under control.
    • In #32, Rachel gets cut in half while in starfish morph, both halves remorphing to human in desperation. Then it turns out she underwent Literal Split Personality into an unbalanced berserker and a cringing coward. They're restored at the end by each personality acquiring the other's DNA and simultaneously morphing to the other while in contact with each other (and applying enormous amounts of electricity).
    • In #14, Cassie realizes the racehorses acquired by the team to infiltrate a herd of wild horses look too good compared to the scruffy and weather-worn real herd, and has the team roll around in bushes and dirt to better fit in. She notes that their thoroughbred morphs still look better than the wild horses.
    • In #28, the team acquires cows to infiltrate a slaughterhouse. Unfortunately, Ax and Tobias both acquire a steer (a gelded male cow), so when they morph at the same time Cassie now has to deal with two very large, very territorial, very aggressive bulls staring each other down and getting ready to fight. She promptly lampshades how they Didn't Think This Through.
    • In #42, its shown that this applies to diseases as well. Rachel realizes that Marco had unknowingly contracted rabies from a dog bite, but morphing into a cockroach cured him of it.
    • Naturally, there are several instances where it doesn't happen as a Drama-Preserving Handicap:
      • In Megamorphs #2 Tobias' wing gets broken and isn't fixed after demorphing, while surrounded by hungry dinosaurs. It gets healed later by the aliens who lived on Earth in the Cretaceous, but no explanation is ever given for why it failed to work in the first place, though he does passively blame the Ellimist for it (who had given back his morphing power to begin with).note 
      • In #41 (one of the bigger Bizarro Episodes in the series), Jake is propelled into a Bad Future where Rachel is reduced to a wheelchair-bound wreck. The morphing technology failing to fix her also goes unexplained. Of course, the whole thing turns out to be All Just a Dream, so there's that to consider.
      • In #40, two Andalites are found living on Earth, but both of them have disabilities that can't be fixed by morphing: one has a genetic disease that's part of his Andalite body and so returns whenever he demorphs (essentially Andalite AIDS), the other lost his tail and can't grow it back via morphing, which makes him a pariah among Andalites (as seen by Ax's disgusted reaction, calling him a "vecol"). The latter's case is apparently because he can't morph at all, due to an apparent genetic abnormality.
  • Subverted in Harry Potter: Peter Pettigrew cut off his own finger before faking his death by living as a rat for more than a decade, and the missing digit was used as proof that he had been masquerading as Ron's pet rat Scabbers (before he was forced out of the transformation).
  • Subverted in Feet of Clay: Angua changes to her wolf form to save Cheri from falling into a vat of molten wax. Unfortunately, Cheri was wearing her silver chainmail vest (she'd heard there was a werewolf in the Watch, not once picking up that she confiding her fears to the werewolf), causing burns to her cheeks and gums that are still visible when she turns back to human.
  • Books of the Raksura has an Inversion. If a Raksura's wings are injured, it can't safely shift back to human form until it heals; when Moon is forced to do so, the injury transfers to his human body's chest and back muscles and becomes much worse in the process.
  • In Loskutik And The Cloud, the Cloud recalls how they got rid of an awful toothache by turning into a sailboat, since a sailboat doesn't have any teeth.
  • Gone: In the Monster trilogy, the remaining pieces of the meteorite that created the Gaiaphage come to Earth and create a new wave of superpowered mutants. This time, they transform into monstrous beings for their powers, and they are granted this trope as a neat side-effect. When Malik suffers fourth degree burns at the hands of Peaks, Shade gives him a sample of the Rock so that his morphed form would end his agony.
  • Elemental Masters: In Blood Red, Markos and his clan can heal darn near anything with a single shift of form, including diseases. About the only time they would need a Healer or doctor is for an injury inflicted by silver.
  • Blood On The Reik: Mentioned in passing by Greta as to why she's good at healing (without being herself an example of the trope): as a favored Tzeentchian (god of change, mutation, and magic), it's simply a matter of moving flesh and bone around.
  • In The Dresden Files the werewolves are able to restore wounds in their natural bodies by shapeshifting into their own selves. However, this requires them to maintain concentration and doesn't work indefinitely.
  • In The Year of the Rat, whenever Alk turns from a rat into a human or vice versa, the wounds sustained in the previous shape heal completely.
  • Mistborn: Kandra are Blob Monsters in their native form, but can change soft tissues to mimic any living thing (though they can't create bones, teeth, hair, or the like, and need practice to mimic specific forms). As such, they can instantly heal cuts and bruises, and can only permanently be harmed by things like fire or acid that destroy the tissue or by breaking bones (which they cannot heal).
  • The Halfblood Chronicles: In Elvenbane, Keman figures out that the reason older dragons don't stay injured long is they use their shapeshifting to shift the wounded tissue from injured to intact. When he tries it, Keman finds it works, but also hurts like hell, since he's suffering the healing pain over several minutes instead of over several days.
  • The Mermaid, has Amelia, who can transform between a mermaid and a human woman and is hired by P.T. Barnum as an attraction. A man shoots her in the stomach to punish her for arousing men's lust. She falls into a coma for three days. Levi has almost given up hope for her when he has the idea to put her in the harbor, as being immersed in saltwater is what triggers her transformation. As soon as she transforms, she recovers completely, and when she turns back into a human she shows no sign of injury.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Legends of Tomorrow:
    • Whenever Nate Heywood uses his Steel powers, any injuries he sustained in human form will have healed when after he 'unsteels'.
    • With her full powers Charlie possessed this ability, after being shot and later having her Neck Snapped she momentarily seemed dead before (seemingly automatically) taking another form without the injury. She outright states her abilities make her immortal, as every time she shifted form her clock got reset, to the point that it's presently unclear what it would have taken to kill her (assuming she can actually die). Unfortunately due to John Constantine stripping her of powers (which only gradually come back) this no longer applies.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Changelings can regenerate wounds by reverting to their liquid state. However, it's deconstructed as this is a changeling's only method of healing. If some outside force that isn't the Great Linknote  invokes a Shapeshifter Mode Lock, the changeling will gradually deteriorate and decompose if they are unable to revert to their liquid state after 16 hours.
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., whenever Robbie Reyes turns into Ghost Rider, any injuries he sustained as a human disappear after he returns to normal. With the exception of one Wound That Will Not Heal — a crack across his skull.

    Myth and Religion 
  • This is notably subverted in many traditional werewolf legends, where a werewolf is identified in human form by having an injury analogous to one that was inflicted on their wolf form.
  • The Trojan Cycle: On returning from Troy, Menelaus is advised to seek the sea deity Proteus to learn what became of his brother Agamemnon. Proteus successively turns into different wild animals and even a tree, fire and water, but Menelaus keeps fighting until Proteus finally surrenders, telling him that his brother was murdered along with the unenviable fates of other Greek heroes.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ars Magica: Zig-zagged by lycanthropes. Unlike most shapeshifting, their wounds are healed when they revert to human form — a small mercy from a Curse that drives them out of their minds in beast form.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • 1st Edition Advanced D&D:
      • While under the effect of a Polymorph Self spell, a wizard can change his shape. At the end of the spell, when the wizard returns to his normal form he regains 1-12 Hit Points.
      • Each time a druid changes form (including human to animal and animal to human) they heal 10-60% of the Hit Points of damage they have taken.
    • 3.5 Edition: Downplayed with the Polymorph and Shapechange spells, which restore Hit Points equal to a full night's rest when the target transforms. However, Shapechange lets them transform once per turn, so they can quickly heal completely.
    • In 5th edition, a druid can shapeshift into an animal form with full hit points (some can even heal themselves once per transformation), but any damage that reduces the animal form's HP to below zero reverts the druid and is carried over to the druid's regular form, and while the druid can shapeshift again to a form for more hit points, the damage to the druid's body isn't healed. The strategy is known as "the onion" by some since each form must be defeated individually to beat the druid once and for all. For most of the game, a druid is limited to two transformations a day, but at the highest levels the druid can transform as often as he wants.
  • Hero System: Specifically averted in both 5th and 6th edition — the description of the Multiform power notes that all damage carries over to the new form, which hopefully has enough STUN and BODY to survive the carryover. The example in both editions is a character who takes 30 BODY in tyrannosaurus form, then tries to shift to his fish form that only has 5 BODY.

    Video Games 
  • In many Super Mario Bros. games, getting a Fire Flower powerup allows Mario to gain two hitpoints / Single Use Shields, since getting hit while in Fire Mario form drops him to his Super Mario form rather than the standard Mario one.
  • Averted in Starcraft: Zerg structures are made by a Drone making a cocoon that morphs into the structure, so if the drone is damaged the structure will be as well. Similarly, Zerg creatures that undergo metamorphosis into other forms retain their partial HP.
    • Played straight in StarCraft II however, with any Zerg unit which undergoes a successful transformation healing to full.
  • Warcraft III:
    • The Blood Mage's Phoenix summon automatically turns into an egg (with very low total HP, but fully healed) when it dies (unless over water or impassable terrain), and if the egg survives, turns into a Phoenix with full health. To balance this, the Phoenix has negative HP regeneration, and will still die and be reborn without being attacked once. This can lead to Artificial Stupidity where the AI's Blood Mage summons a Phoenix as it leaves its base, resulting in a nearly-dead bird by the time it arrives at the enemy base.
    • Wisps are Night Elf spirits that are consumed as they grow into giant mobile trees that serve as Night Elf buildings. Unlike Starcraft's Drones, the tree's life isn't linked to the wisp's and finishes construction fully healed (if it wasn't attacked in the meantime).
    • Avatar and Metamorphosis are two abilities that grant enhanced combat abilities while they last (like spell immunity or a ranged attack) along with increasing the caster's current and maximum life by 500.
    • An accidental version with destructible gates, which return to full health when switched from open to closed by default.
  • Dawn of War:
    • A variation occurs with the Nightbringer's transformation of the Necron Lord: while the Nightbringer takes no damage (being completely invulnerable), the Necron Lord's HP percentage is transferred over the Nightbringer's and the inverse is true as well when he reverts back to the Necron Lord. But any damage inflicted by the Nightbringer is transferred to its health and the Nightbringer didn't have a natural health regeneration.
    • The Deceiver's transformation of the Necron Lord plays it straighter: while it shares some of the same properties (invulnerability and health percentage transfer in both ways) as the Nightbringer's, the Deceiver gradually regenerates health instead of regaining it by attacking. This can be downplayed if the Necron Lord is equipped with the Phylactery upgrade which triples its regeneration (but not the Deceiver's), making it more effective than the Deceiver's transformation but vulnerable.
    • Chaos Champions and Sorcerers can be sacrificed to summon a Bloodthirster of Khorne, a humongous Big Red Devil who is summoned at maximum HP due to having negative HP regeneration when out of combat.
    • The Chaos Lord can similarly be transformed into a Daemon Prince at full HP, no matter how low their HP was before transforming.
  • Averted in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: After Ganondorf transforms into the monstrous boar Ganon, the scar on his humanoid body's chest is not only still visible but even bigger (running along the boar's entire underbelly), serving as the Weak Point for Link to tear into once Ganon has been knocked prone.
  • In Gladius, units who shapeshift recover a percentage of their HP each time, whether it be to or from their original form. This can be taken advantage of by having a very wounded shapeshifter repeatedly shapeshift until they're in fighting shape again.
  • Activating a Drive Form in Kingdom Hearts II refills Sora's HP. Each Form even comes with a 1-AP ability to make it a Reaction Command when Sora's HP is low.
  • In Dwarf Fortress, werecreatures instantly heal all injuries every time they transform. Since this is the only way to heal permanent injuries such as nerve damage and missing limbs, some players of Adventurer mode will deliberately become werecreatures with this in mind. This has led to an interesting side effect where cutting a werecreature to pieces and reanimating the pieces as a Necromancer caused each body part to eventually regenerate into a full-sized clone of that werecreature.
  • Project Altered Beast: Lorewise, at least, Luke can technically regenerate from injuries as he transforms into one of his beast forms. In a subversion, he has a Wound That Will Not Heal on his chest, courtesy of his rival, Brad, whose Weretiger claws are laced with a certain virus that causes cellular necrosis; Luke retains the scar even in his beast forms. In gameplay, he retains his current HP whenever he transforms.
  • Final Fantasy XVI: Eikons are fully capable of regenerating entire lost limbs in seconds. At one point, a Dominant missing his hands transforms; his Eikon manifests without hands, but soon regrows them. It's unclear if this would have healed the Dominant, since he doesn't survive the fight and his corpse isn't in a state to make it obvious.

  • Subverted in 8-Bit Theater: A duplicate of Black Belt ends up Taken for Granite early on and White Mage later tries to unpetrify him. Unfortunately, he got the top of his head sheared off after landing upside-down in a pool of Mountain Dew. White Mage thinks she can heal him anyway, but once the petrification effect is reversed, the head wound remains and quickly empties him of blood.
  • In Newman, the titular character gets one of his legs blasted off while pushing his friends out of the way of a monster's energy blast. He looks done for as he's bleeding out and goes into shock...until his werewolf transformation (which he got in an earlier story arc) triggers and saves him. When he comes out of it after everything is said and done, his leg is shown to have regenerated.
  • Ariel in Drowtales has natural shape-shifting abilities and at one point freaks out an enemy by visibly repairing some superficial lacerations, but it's subverted when she explains afterwards that she just moved the skin and the damage below is still there. She's also later unable to reattach her severed arm though it's suggested she might have succeeded if she got it back sooner.

    Western Animation 
  • Gargoyles: A gargoyle turned to stone in sunlight will turn back at sunset with most of their wounds healed.