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Superpower Silly Putty

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There are characters who gain New Powers as the Plot Demands, and then there are these. One minute, they gain cool fire powers, and the very next, they lose that ability and transform into a Green Lantern Expy, or some weird and wacky powers that they may or may not want or need.

A Sister Trope to Unfazed Everyman. Where an Unfazed Everyman is a normal person surrounded by weirdness, but who stays normal nonetheless, someone who is Superpower Silly Putty is one who is transformed by the weirdness. Numerous times. He never keeps the powers, however; he always manages to lose them just as he is getting used to them. Don't expect him to know exactly how to use them during the duration.

Pretty much a Dead Horse Trope by now, it was used quite frequently in the Silver Age.

A subtrope of Superpowers For A Day.

Not to be confused with Plastic Man, a literal Silly Putty superhero, or Rubber Man, for characters with powers similar to his.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Many stories in To Love Ru involve Rito subject to some kind of transformation, almost always by Lala's devices, which like everything leads to perverted antics. The most recurring is a sex-transformation (AKA "Riko"; he also switched bodies with a girl once), while one-off transformations include a dog (also via body swap), a hamster, a thermometer (which gets used rectally), and a pair of panties. This was lampshaded in a yonkama, where Rito spends the first three panels reminiscing on his many different transformation, exasperatedly revealing in the last that he'd been turned into a toilet.

    Comic Books 
  • There was a period in the Silver Age when Batman was either getting a superpower or experiencing a bizarre transformation (alien, genie, giant, merman, flat flying disc, etc) every month. It would always Snap Back at the end of the story.
    • It still happens every now and then. There's even an Elseworld based on Bruce Wayne becoming a Green Lantern. (Or a pirate, or a knight...)
    • And according to Grant Morrison, every single wacky Silver Age transformation is now canon. Albeit with most of them retconned into being hallucinations brought about by the sensory deprivation experiment he underwent in "Robin Dies At Dawn!", or by the many chemical weapons Batman's rogues tend to use.
  • Dial H for Hero is built on this trope, with the various runs having the protagonist(s) come in possession of a mysterious artifact that looks a bit like a rotary telephone dial without the phone attached. Pressing a certain sequence on it transforms the user into a "superhero", or at least something with (usually quirky) super powers, for a short period. The original comics would have about three transformations per story: each transformation was usually unique, and the latest transformation would be met with some kind of thought like "I wish I was (some previous transformation) again", because that form would have made solving the problem easy; some of them did occur multiple times over the course of the series, though.
  • The Superman family:
    • Jimmy Olsen, who had (and lost) so many superpowers, there is an entire collection called The Many Transformations of Jimmy Olsen.
    • In the Elseworld story The Nail Jimmy Olsen is the aide of Metropolis Mayor Lex Luthor because he has extensive experience of Meta-Human affairs due to his numerous transformations. Deconstructed when it is revealed that without Superman as his best friend, the transformations have driven him insane. And then Luthor used him as a guinea pig for grafting Kryptonian DNA to a human body. One short With Great Power Comes Great Insanity later and Olsen is the Big Bad, using Luthor as a Brainwashed puppet to bring down anyone who might be a threat to his dream of "New Krypton".
    • One comic (a lead-up to the New Krypton story) suggests Jimmy has had this happen to him so many times that it's made his mind impossible to read. Jimmy himself figures it out while being chased by a mind reading assassin. Long story.
    • And in Countdown to Final Crisis, Jimmy starts cycling through all his powers, and decides now's his moment to become a superhero... Mr. Action.
    • Jimmy's tendency to induce these transformations on himself eventually earned him the "My Brain Says No but My Mouth Says Go" Award in Craig Shutt's final Mopee Awards for the Comics Buyer's Guide.
    • Lana Lang also fell into this a lot in the Silver Age.
    • So did Lois Lane. In fact, the sheer amount of Silver Age Superman stories where either Jimmy, Lois or Lana get superpowers is the most frequent Running Gag in
    • At least Perry White got off scot-free, right? ...Oh.

  • In Monster (2009), Monster Dionysus had a near-fatal exposure to basilisk venom, He wakes up with a different superpower - some awesome, some trivial, some cool but flawed - every time he goes to sleep. His skin also turns a different color for each such power, so he can usually tell what ability he'll have by checking if he's blue, green, glowing yellow, etc.

    Western Animation 
  • In one of the first few episodes of Alienators: Evolution Continues, Wayne Grey is used as a human guinea pig to develop a vaccine against a virus the aliens were attempting to spread. The cure leaves him Not Quite Back to Normal, and from that episode on he manifests random mutations when alien activity peaks again.
  • Darkwing Duck:
    • Despite being a Badass Normal, the titular hero will occasionally obtain a different superpower and/or go through other kinds of transformations including becoming a giant, getting turned into a dinosaur, being split in two and both sides becoming living forces of energy, gaining Super-Speed, Powered Armor, the ability to turn into anyone he looked again, and in one case was almost like actual putty when a formula he drunk to bulk up had the side effect of the mass going to different parts of his body.
    • Also, while not to the same degree, Launchpad and Gosalyn occasionally go through this, such as one time when Launchpad gained psychic powers, and a time when Gosalyn ended up turning into a slime creature.
  • The Emperor's New School takes the theme from the film it was based on and runs with it, having Kuzco be exposed to transformation potions so often, he could almost be considered a Voluntary Shapeshifter.
  • Johnny Test: Due to living with two supergenius sisters, the titular Johnny usually goes through many different metamorphosis, including becoming nearly every kind of animal there is and gaining actual superpowers on more than one occasion.
  • On Jumanji: The Animated Series, Peter was often transformed into all kinds of humanoid animals, usually as a sanction for trying to mess with the game's rules or Tempting Fate.
  • Ron Stoppable is hit with this quite frequently in Kim Possible, to the point that some fans have joked that he gives Jimmy Olsen a run for his money. Of note is that the first superpower he obtained — Mystical Monkey Power — actually stuck, he just couldn't get it to work full-time until learning to do so became a storyline throughout the final season.
  • Martin Morning changes into a new character (spy, robot, eskimo, etc.) every morning, although not all of his transformations are actually superpowered.
  • Agent Jay from Men in Black: The Series has undergone several mutations throughout the series: having been host to a shape-manipulating symbiote, shrunk to the size of a mouse, turned into one of the Worms, gained Super-Intelligence one episode, Super-Speed another, became a Human Torch Expy, and one time gained literal Swiss Army superpowers.
  • Paper Port: Every day, Matilda wakes up with a random power. Usually, it's of the What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway? variety, although that doesn't preclude her from still having fun adventures.
  • Clover in Totally Spies! tended to be subject to fanservice inducing transformations.
    • Similarly, Alex would always be the one to trade faces with the villain in the cases of a partial body swap machine. (Yes, there were multiple cases of this) Except when it came with a good dosing of physical transformation, then it belonged to Clover.