Follow TV Tropes


Temporary Bulk Change

Go To
"Now, now, I'm sure it's nothing to worry about... although such a rapid weight loss in such a short space of time is most unusual."
Doctor, Robotboy, "Tummy Trouble"

In western animation and anime, you can have a character whose size can moderately or drastically change for just a few minutes as the scene calls it, or even for the whole episode. Characters may either gain weight, lose weight, grow muscles, or be inflated with air or liquid according to the script. However, when the scene or episode ends, the affected character will usually be back at their regular size as if nothing ever happened.

While this can be caused by magic, superpowers or science, it can also be caused by something that can realistically change someone's size. Even if this is the case, though, it'll likely happen at an unrealistically quick pace. Seldom will a character experience health issues from either the change to or the reversion from the new size, and if this temporary size is bigger than their normal size, they'll never suffer from excess skin, even if they lose the weight in an instant.

When used over the course of an episode, it may be an element of A Weighty Aesop. Shorter-term instances may be used for sight gags or fat jokes.

Rarely used in live-action television and/or film since the actor often has to wear heavy padding and special make-up, which is expensive and makes them very uncomfortable.

Not to be confused with Your Size May Vary, where stylistic change may make someone merely seem larger or smaller without necessarily changing bulk. Contrast Sizeshifter, Incredible Shrinking Man or Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever. Compare Balloon Belly. The Heavy Voice is sometimes a side-effect of this trope.

Examples with their own pages:

Other Examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • The innuendo-tastic mascot of UK price comparison site had her weight rise by "37%" (actually more like 100% minimum) by magic in comparison to car insurance bills, making her pull out an exercising bike from her pocket and slim down to her normal size in two seconds flat.
  • This advertisement for Malabar bubble gum features a woman who can inflate another woman's bottom by inflating her bubble gum, and so it temporarily inflates to very large proportions.
  • A Turkish ad for Cheetos features two boys being harassed and embarrassed by a bully at a swimming pool. When the bully gets up on the diving board, flexing and trying to impress everyone, they get their payback by magically blowing him up to a perfectly spherical ball.

  • Happy Heroes: In Season 2 episode 10, Big M. unleashes a flying saucer that causes people to gain ten pounds every time they say something honest, effectively forcing them to lie if they don't want to become so fat. The effects of the saucer, including the victims' gained weight, are reversed by the end of the episode.
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Joys of Seasons episode 57, Wolffy, after eating through a wall of cake that was set up by Paddi, becomes much fatter than usual. When he goes back to Wolf Castle, he exercises the weight off, and by the next scene he is back to normal.
  • In Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs, the title female character keeps her thin, perfect hourglass figure through the use of her red, magical shoes. Once she takes them off her waistline increases significantly.

    Comic Strips 
  • Peanuts: Snoopy's brother, Spike, went through this when he first came to visit. Lucy, who was taken aback by his scrawny physique, decides to fatten him up. He returns to the dessert where he slowly loses the weight he gained. By the time he visits Snoopy a second time, he's skinny again.
  • Ever-shallow Curtis briefly lost his crush on Michelle when she returned from France big enough to crush him. The next time we saw her, she was as svelte as before the trip.
  • There have been several Garfield arcs where the titular fat cat binges on massive amounts of pet food and becomes enormously round—to the point where his paws can't touch the ground because his belly is propelling him upwards. These arcs usually last about a week, with Jon forcing Garfield to diet until he's back to his still-fat but mobile self. It might also be counted as Early-Installment Weirdness, as later strips (along with the series Garfield and Friends) have Garfield regularly eat enough food to feed twenty fully-grown humans and not change size at all.

    Fan Works 
  • Like the show its based on, see the Western Animation page for that, Family Guy Fanon does have an original instance of this trope in Season 4's "A Star is Born... Kind Of". In the B-plot, Peter's father Francis becomes as obese as Peter after accidently falling into a vat of lard during a factory tour at the Quahog Lard Factory. Peter helps Francis feel better by showing him the joys in being overweight, which makes Francis realize that being fat's not all that bad and begins to bond over their shared love of food. However, the two eat so much and gain so much weight that they get stuck in a booth at one of the restaurants they stop at and need to be hoisted out by a cranes. This, alongside the cranes breaking from their weight and getting injured, gets them to call it off and get some liposuction, restoring Francis to his original size and making Peter skinny again like he was in "He's Too Sexy For His Fat". Though Peter remarks he'll be back to his usual size by next Sunday.
  • In Imaginary Seas, the muscles of Percy's arms briefly bulge in size while he's using his Stout Arm of Brutality skill, allowing him to easily thrash Lostbelt Chiron with brute force.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Happens to Sam, the protagonist of Birthday Boy. After wishing on a star to have his birthday celebrated everyday, and said wish coming true, Sam enjoys cakes, sweets, breakfast-in-bed and other extravagant food every day. Which results in him growing, by the book's own words, "very, very large". His behavior also changes as he becomes a spoiled, selfish, grumpy Fat Bastard. However, when his grandpa goes missing and nobody cares due to everyone obsessing over his birthday, Sam has a Jerkass Realization and goes searching for him, resulting in him losing all the excess weight he gained due to his gluttony and laziness.
  • In Dr. Franklin's Island Arnie is turned into a big, powerful snake over the course of at least a month. When he's turned back more rapidly his mass is conserved and he's enormously fat, but loses the weight quickly.
  • In the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser story Lean Times in Lankhmar the titular heroic duo part ways, and their new life causes them to know this trope in opposite ways. The svelt and slender Mouser gains a large belly due to a lazy life of riches, while the muscular Fafhrd becomes lean and skinny due to an ascetic religious lifestyle. By the next story, Their Mistress, The Sea, they have to exercise a lot to return to their original body shapes - the Mouser to lose his extra-fat, Fafhrd to regain his original strength.
  • Milly, Molly: In "Junior Joe", Junior Joe starts exercising, which temporarily causes him to lose weight, but for the rest of the series, he's still chubby, he's just now Acrofatic.
  • The Miss Nelson/Viola Swamp books. How the heck did Miss Nelson drastically lose enough weight to play Miss Swamp and then go back to normal, again?
  • In The She Hulk Diaries, everyone wearing the clothes made by designer X (in reality the pranking villain nicknamed "Super Brat") instantly becomes obese. Fortunately She Hulk is there to help remove the clothes, which immediately reverts them to normal.
  • In the Federation of the Hub story "Trouble Tide", a symbiotic lifeform gives mammals the ability to survive in the deep sea. When they return to the surface, the extra structures it grows are converted to body fat. That works fine for the seal-like native lifeforms, but it leaves the story's human protagonists so dangerously obese that they need days of surgery and months of dieting to recover.
  • Roys Bedoys: In “Roys Bedoys Loves Video Games”, when Roys starts playing his video game too much, he becomes fatter due to lack of activity. He’s back to normal size by the next story.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the first 3 episodes of season 2 of ThirtyRock, Jenna, because of her eating 4 slices of pizza during all of her performances of Mystic Pizza: The Musical, Jenna has gained a pot belly that only lasts until episode 4.
  • Big Wolf on Campus:
    • One episode has Merton go from thin to morbidly obese in a matter of days after befriending a group of black-clad teenagers. It turns out they're actually Spider People who are intentionally fattening him up to eat.
    • The season one episode "The Wolf Is Out There" focused on Tommy noticeably gaining weight as a result of his appetite going out of control thanks to his wolf-side. While he doesn't balloon up to the same size as Merton, his weight's noticeable that people start making fun of him for it (specifically Tim and Travis, even though they're both much bigger than Tommy) and he splits his pants.
  • In an episode of Good Luck Charlie Amy bloats up (making her look mordibly obese) after suffering an allergic reaction.
  • In the puppet show, Between the Lions:
    • The pigeons Walter and Clay got extremely fat after eating all of the popcorn in order to clean up the roof garden in The Popcorn Popper. Instead of flying, due to their heavy weight, they roll away instead. Luckily, they return back to normal by the next episode.
    • In another episode, this time being The Good Seed, the pigeons eat an entire bag of seeds, only to get fat again. They, of course, return to normal by the next episode.
  • In "The Rough Patch," an episode of How I Met Your Mother, Barney develops a small Balloon Belly due to being in a comfortable relationship with Robin; the characters call the weight gain "relationship gut." However, both he and Robin are actually miserable together, which manifests in different ways. Robin grows extremely stressed and becomes haggard and exhausted, while Barney can't stop eating and eventually becomes so huge that he needs to sit down and rest while walking to a table in the gang's favorite pub. Interestingly, Ted admits to being an Unreliable Narrator in this case—he explains that Robin and Barney didn't really change that drastically, but from his perspective, they became totally different people. When Barney and Robin break up at the end of the episode, they instantly revert to their previous selves.
  • In the Married... with Children episode "Live Nude Peggy", Kelly was trying to gain weight for a weight loss commercial, but the weight all went to her butt, and she didn't get the role in the commercial. She did lose the weight before the next episode.
  • At the end of the Phil of the Future episode "Unification Day", the whole Diffy Family was eating meatloaf for the last 3 months, because Pim tried using spray meatloaf to cheat in cooking class, and the only one who gained weight was the father, Lloyd, but he gained it all in his behind. Before the next episode, and the rest of the series, he lost that extra weight.
  • That's So Raven has "Food for Thought," an episode which points out that too much junk food leads to terrible health. Raven's high school cafeteria is bought out by a fast food corporation which slowly introduces more and more insane amounts of unbelievably fatty foods until even the halls are full of freebie hot snack machines to keep them hooked. Obviously, almost every student is said to be getting noticeably fatter, even though no actual change is visible. However, Raven does have a vision of a Big, Fat Future in which everyone in the school grows a gigantic behind because of the unhealthy cooking.
  • In Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, Ramirez is a Big Fun type of guy, during his transformation into Kyoryu Cyan his belly shrinks to a more normal size, resembling an inverse Balloon Belly (complete with a Wacky Sound Effect).
  • During Lois's fifth pregnancy in Malcolm in the Middle, Hal starts Gaslighting her by tricking her into eating high-calorie food despite her doctor's orders specifically because he's trying to keep her big and sexy. He gets caught by the end and Lois eventually loses her pregnancy weight when Jamie's born.
  • In the Wings episode "When A Man Loves a Donut", Brian has put on a large amount of weight from over eating, but loses the weight completely in the next episode.
  • In the Desperate Housewives episode "If...", Susan's relationship with her her husband, Karl, is straining, so she drowns her sorrows in baked goods, putting on weight in the next scene, but loses the weight in the next scene 6-7 minutes later.

    Tabletop Games 

    • When Brutaka is infused with gaseous antidermis, it causes his muscles to grow, but the effect wears off after a short while. Later on, he absorbed liquid antidermis, and the effect became permanent.
    • In the Karda Nui arc, the light-energy emanating from the area boosted Takanuva's natural light-powers, causing him to grow considerably larger than his fellow heroes (to a $30 price-point titan-sized set, as opposed to the regular $13 canister sets). When he left Karda Nui, he shrunk back to his original size.

    Video Games 
  • Similar to Roshi (as he's a Expy of him), Tung Fu Rue in Fatal Fury hulks out after losing a fourth of his health and becomes radically larger and more muscular. After getting knocked to one-fourth of his health, he shrinks back to normal. In later games, the trope is discarded, and Tung Fu Rue's "muscle" self is actually his Battle Aura.
  • Queen Oren in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds goes from a svelte fish woman to a giant Brawn Hilda when the Shady Guy steals the Smooth Stone from her fountain. At one point, she is shown immediately getting bigger upon gulping down a fish, and the other Zoras maintain that Link must get the stone back before she gets even bigger.
  • Whenever Wario (already a Fat Bastard to begin with) eats the cake thrown by the Cook enemy in Wario Land II (or also the apples in 3 and 4), he turns into Fat Wario and is able to KO enemies by walking into them, break through certain blocks by jumping on them, and weigh down floating platforms.
  • In the Metal Slug series, getting too many food items in a row will fatten your character (with an appropriate "Uh-oh, big!" from the announcer), slowing them down, but making their shots more powerful (because the guns and bullets somehow get fatter as well). They will lose the bulk after a while, but there are two ways of slimming back down faster: by getting the "diet" item, or dying.
  • Fat Princess: 'Rotund' may be how the titular princess(es) are depicted, but unless you keep that cake coming they'll slim down very quickly, making it all the easier for the opposing team to carry her off.
  • In Street Fighter V, Seth can temporarily bulk themselves up when doing a move they've copied from certain opponents (Zangief, Abigail, Birdie and Balrog all come to mind) via their first V-Skill, presumably out of animation consistency.
  • ARMS has two characters who can do this: Max Brass, who can bulk up his muscles via charging up his ARMS to give himself armour for tanking weak attacks, and Lola Pop, who can inflate her whole body to block and parry attacks.
  • Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story:
    • The plot is kickstarted by Toads contracting the Blorbs; an ailment that causes them to swell up into a large spherical shape.
    • Bowser is fed a ton of high-calorie food until he gains so much weight he gets stuck in the floor.
    • Peforming the Snack Basket Bros. Attack has Luigi chow down on a series of desserts, bloat to a massive size, and slam into the ground, creating a shockwave.
  • In Yume Nikki, one of the Effects that can be found is the "Fat" effect, which causes Madotsuki to gain weight. Selecting it again in the effects menu will turn it off, turning her back to normal.

    Web Animation 
  • Happens frequently on Mighty Magiswords courtesy of the Muscly Arm Magisword, one of the most common Magiswords used on the show. When used, one or both arms of either the holder or the target becomes extremely muscular as the name implies. The rest of the body, however, doesn't usually gain any muscle. However, as shown in the episode "Warts and All", accidentally throwing in the Muscly Arm Magisword into a volatile potion will make anyone caught in the blast radius very muscular all over, not just in the arms. Prohyas and Witchy Simone got back to normal seconds later, the fly that the temporarily frogified Vambre was going to have for a snack, not so much.
  • Nora in RWBY Chibi at one point gains a Balloon Belly mere seconds after swallowing an entire cake whole, and returns to normal in less than a second after a single belch. (An observing Yang, meanwhile, has just finished a rigorous Training Montage to lose weight, and is less than amused.) In a later skit, she balloons a second time from eating an entire stack of pancakes (and the Geist Grimm possessing them), again in one bite, and asks for one more afterwards.

    Web Comics 
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Nanase and Ellen play Fable II and Nanase uses the XP she's earned to become more powerful which results in becoming taller and bulkier. She also consumes pies to keep her HP up which results in becoming fatter. She then assures Ellen that celery will fix that and, according to Dan in The Rant, she's right.
    • Susan similarly grows fatter in a similar game, "Parable", after testing out a potion [1] given to her by Dea Elsee the alchemist, after removing her cool Victorian-type suit beforehand.
  • In The Fox Sister, the dog Soot Bull gorges himself on Alex's gift of leftover bulgogi, and for the rest of the day is much tubbier than usual. Yun Hee even comments on it.
  • The Petri Dish:
    • When Thaddeus and (possibly) Bob get superpowers, they grow muscles. When the powers go, so do the muscles.
    • Downplayed in one strip where Thaddeus gets a slight belly and it takes a few strips for him to lose it.
  • One story arc in Sequential Art had Art being temporarily fattened up thanks to a prank pulled by Scarlet and her sisters. After struggling to lose weight for several strips, he's returned to normal size after alien robots who want to eliminate him because he's Walking Techbane shoot him with a disintegrator ray, but only manage to burn off the excess bulk.
  • This is a power (well more of a curse) of Aisha from Slimy Thief. When she touches water she absorbs it and gets fatter but losing the water slims her down.
  • Serix: Since Rees's heavyset appearance comes from overeating rather than being the way her synthetic bodies are designed, she is visibly thinner after being killed in battle and transferred to a backup. She regains the weight by the time the next chapter starts.
  • In Star Impact, Lily's special glove power is to temporarily buff up whatever part of her body that she wants. This is shown to have more applications beyond a mere Right Hand of Doom Enhanced Punch, however, as she can also use it to buff up her leg muscles to dart in and out of her opponent's range and perform withering hit-and-runs, and can also buff up her abdomen to better soak up body blows. Even without using it, she can be zippy and nimble while still being able to hit like a truck at any moment, and Stryker points out that, on paper, she has no real weaknesses.
  • The fox in Tally Ho! learned too late not to eat the gravy meant for Sigfried. He became an immobile furry ball, but it lasted only two strips. Not to say he was fortunate, because the end of his digestion felt horribly thorough.
  • Rak Wraithraiser from Tower of God once got shrunk to half a man's height (he was initially 4 m tall) because he accidentally bumped into Yu Hansung and didn't apologize, instead he made comments about how small and unnoticeable he was. So Yu Hansung kept bumping into the chibified Rak over and over, saying how he was so small he didn't notice him. Justified in that Compression is an often used supernatural technique in this series.


Video Example(s):


Captain Underpants

After swallowing a mouthful of radioactive cafeteria leftovers, Captain Underpants gains superpowers, and a temporary Superman-like physique along with it.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / TemporaryBulkChange

Media sources: