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Toon Transformation

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Technically, he's an illustration.

"I... I'm a cartoon!"
Richard Tyler, The Pagemaster

A real, living, breathing, three-dimensional person gets transformed into a cartoon character — usually an animated version of themselves. This sometimes occurs as a side result of travelling into an alternate cartoon dimension. If this happens in film media, the work usually ends up mostly a cartoon.

Not to be confused with Medium Blending or Art Shift.


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  • Burger King did a campaign called "Simpsonize Me" in conjunction with the release of The Simpsons Movie. This included a commercial where Kang and Kodos transform live-action people into cartoon Simpson characters. While most people become characters that at least visually seem to match their cartoon counterpart, some transformations border on Victimized Bystander territory, such as a slim cop becoming the fat Chief Wiggum and a bride turning into Selma Bouvier - leading her husband-to-be to scream in shock and try to run away.
  • There were a handful of "Crunchatize me, Cap'n!" commercials for Cap'n Crunch cereal in which the kids would get surrounded by a hail of cereal and emerge as cartoons.
  • Some Esurance insurance commercials had Erin Esurance turn live action people into cartoon characters.
  • In the late '90s, Kids' WB! had a "Kids WB! Yourself" series of commercials where fans of the show would go into a magical booth and emerge as cartoon characters.
  • A Japanese commercial for Lotte Fits' gum had a man interacting with several women who spontaneously transformed into characters from Haruhi Suzumiya, perhaps in his mind. It contained, oddly, three Yuki clones in cat ears.
  • A UK advert for Sky Movie Channels has a family "entering the world" of Sky Movies, becoming Muppets in Muppets Most Wanted, minifigs in The LEGO Movie and CGI characters in Frozen (2013).
  • Some commercials for Hostess snack cakes did this in the early 1970s. A distinct musical note marked the transformation point.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In the strictest sense not really an anime example per se, but this was what a company called Toon Makers had planned for Sailor Moon if they had gotten the rights instead of DiC's eventual edited translation. They were going to have the civilian scenes filmed in live action and then the girls would turn animated in a very Filmation's She-Ra: Princess of Power-esque style when they transformed. Also they were going to go literally sailing... in space... for 25 years the only available clip of this was recorded from a convention screening on a camcorder therefore very low quality and cacophony of attendee laughter - See here - that was commonly nicknamed "Saban Moon" due to people assuming the company who made it was Saban. However in 2022 YouTuber Raven "Ray Mona" Simone unearthed the full pilot from The Library of Congress.
  • In early Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pegasus' Toon Monsters consisted of this — rather than summoning them, he had to use Toon World to turn either his own monster or stolen enemy ones into Toons. Once Duel Monsters became a real game, this shifted in line with the real-world rules.
  • Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi has the Western-inspired film noir world, where characters who get shot don't die, but instead get turned into small goofy-looking cartoony versions of themselves that nobody can take seriously anymore. Some of them seem to consider it a Fate Worse than Death.

    Comic Books 
  • The Marvel Comics character The Awesome Slapstick. Junior high school class clown Steve Harmon's molecules stretch across 3741 dimensions, turning Steve into a cartoon clown.
  • In relation to the Roger Rabbit deleted example below, Dylan Dog enters the cartoon world to pursue a homicidal pink rabbit, and gets an "actual" (toon) dog face over his own head. Much like Eddie Valiant, he is eventually able to remove it. In the story a guy ends up in the toon world after falling into a coma, and by the time Dylan gets to him, he has almost completely turned into a cartoon of himself, and initially refuses to return to the world of the living, especially since his girlfriend died and became a Jessica Rabbit-inspired toon. However, she commits a I Want My Beloved to Be Happy by pretending that she hates him and that convinces him to wake up to reality.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) special, Sonic Live. Sonic pulls two live-action kids into their television screen, turning them into cartoons.
  • The voice actors of Yo Gabba Gabba! become animated in a foreign 2008 comic.

    Fan Works 

  • The 31 Minutos Big Damn Movie was originally going to have a scene on which Tulio and his friends, all puppets by the way, became cartoon characters after entering a mysterious place called "The Sea of Irresponsability". However, the scene was cut out because of budget issues.
  • In The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, Boris, Natasha and Fearless Leader become live actors as they go through a television screen. When Rocky and Bullwinkle do the same, they simply turn into Cel Shaded versions of themselves, a discrepancy that is Lampshaded later on.
  • The fish in the film adaptation of The Cat in the Hat starring Mike Myers.
  • The Congress, where Robin Wright and other people take drugs to meet in some kind of collective hallucination that looks like a world of toons, where she turns into an animated caricature of herself. In Ready Player One fashion, in the animated realm people can take different variations of the chemical drug to change their animated appearance into a historical figure or various fictional characters.
  • Cool World is an in-verse sitch, apparently. Any "human" who is killed by a "doodle" resurrects as a doodle themselves. The artist is also afflicted when the dimensional barrier is broken. Holli's goal is to become "real" by having sex with a human. It works, but the effects are unstable, and she starts going back and forth between cartoon and live-action.
  • Enchanted:
    • In the first film, where it's also the invert: A cartoon princess becomes a live actor in real life. However, a straight example occurs when Nancy ends up falling in love with Prince Edward and goes back with him to the cartoon world to marry him.
    • Disenchanted, the sequel, applies this to Morgan when she travels to Andalasia. She actually regains her more normal memories and personality rather than the ones brought on by Giselle's "Fairy Tale Life" wish in the process.
  • The Fat Albert movie has an inversion. Fat Albert and the gang start out as cartoons, then become live-action when they jump through the TV screen.
  • Hoomania is about a boy who gets transported into a board game where the pieces come alive. The scenes in the board game world are done in Claymation.
  • The Incredible Mr. Limpet has Don Knotts as a cartoon fish fighting Nazi subs.
  • In the 1996 movie adaption of James and the Giant Peach, James, and an assortment of insect and arachnid friends, become stop-motion figures when they go inside the peach. Justified, since it is a magic peach, enchanted by crocodile tongues.
    • Subverted at the end of the film where even though James changes back after climbing out of the peach, the insects all remain stop-motion.
    • This is because the transformation was done by the tongues themselves. James' change-back was due to coughing his up.
  • Happens to Milo the Jack Russell terrier at the end of The Mask after donning the Mask of Loki to fight off Dorian Tyrell's mooks.
  • The Pagemaster - A prominent example. A wave of paint covers the library, turning the main character and the library into living illustrations.
  • The 1970 movie The Phantom Tollbooth, in which Milo enters a tollbooth, which makes him animated (he messes with this quite a bit, realizing what the tollbooth does), to get to the Kingdom of Wisdom.
  • The end credits of the TV movie Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension, in which the rock star Slash plugs into a tricked-out amp, with a spark of electricity that travels down the wire to his bass, which spreads to his body turning him from live action to animated.
  • In Rock-A-Doodle, the owl sings musical notes, turning the little boy into an animated cat (as well as his room).
  • This happens to LeBron James when he falls into the Looney Tunes universe in Space Jam: A New Legacy. Conversely, this didn't happen to Michael Jordan in the first movie aside from him being affected by Toon Physics in some scenes.
  • Stay Tuned, where Roy Knable and his wife Helen get Trapped in TV Land, and at one point they become cartoon mice menaced by a robot cat.
  • The 1991 film Volere Volare, at the time touted as the "Italian Roger Rabbit", features a man dubbing sound effects for old cartoons suddenly turning into a cartoon character himself — with cartoon Male Frontal Nudity!
  • A Deleted Scene in Who Framed Roger Rabbit originally has Eddie Valiant gain an animated pig's head over his own head when he enters Toontown. Thankfully it isn't permanent—a quick shower is enough to wash the paint off, which is why later in the movie he is seen showering when Jessica Rabbit visits his apartment despite it being the middle of the day.
  • Zig-zag: Yellow Submarine caps off with the live action Beatles telling what they took with them from the movie as souvenirs (Paul's "love" appears in his hand animated), with John telling the others that singing will stave off an impending Blue Meanie attack.

  • There is a book called The Painted Cat about a world where many people are affected by a disease that causes them to permanently transform into toons during puberty. Is also possible for humans to turn themselves into toons temporarily using special paint and prosthetics.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Angel episode "Smile Time" Angel finds himself turned into a muppet-like felt puppet. Not strictly speaking a cartoon, but related.
  • The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie The Banana Splits In Hocus Pocus Park has a live action little girl and the normally live action costumed Splits turning into cartoon figures after entering a mysterious billboard.
  • The second Eureka Christmas Episode "Do You See What I See", in which a wave of color turns the city into multiple styles of animation and cartoony effects, which also makes Jack's jeep come alive (and be voiced by Jim Parsons), Andy becoming a cartoonish robot, and Jo becoming a Disney-like princess. All of this was the result of an interactive storybook unexpectedly interfering with a large-scale holoprojector.
  • A 1980 TV special called The Fantastic Funnies had a live-action Loni Anderson (WKRP in Cincinnati) transformed into a Daisy Mae-type toon so she can meet all the comic strip characters.
  • There was a lot of this going on in the (partially animated) Farscape episode "Revenging Angel," which transitioned between "live action in the real world of the show" scenes, and the "live action cartoon scenes" and "animated cartoon sequences" inside John Crichton's head.
  • The intro to the TV special Free to Be, You and Me has all of the carousel riders eventually turning into animated characters when their horses detach from the carousel. They are also seen turning back during the ending sequence.
  • This happens on Fringe, and even allowed Leonard Nimoy to make a guest appearance after what appeared to be his last live-action TV appearance.
  • In Life On Mars as a result of accidentally ingesting a drug which one depends on whether Sam's really in a coma or really back in time, Sam has a hallucination in which he, Gene Hunt and a random sexual predator are all rendered in the same stop motion animation as in Camberwick Green.
  • In the Odd Squad episode "Olive and Otto in Shmumberland", the two eponymous agents end up being zapped into a Shmumberman comic book by using the Put-Away-inator and the Save-It-For-Later-inator gadgets at the same time. As they're falling into it, they transform into animated comic-book characters, and only turn back into their normal live-action selves when they are able to get out of the comic book.
    • The trope is inverted for Shmumberman himself, who turns live-action when he is zapped out of the comic book and becomes animated again when he's transported back in.
  • The 2006 Cartoon Network television movie Out of Jimmy's Head, where Golly temporarily turns Jimmy into a cartoon knight on a horse, to save Robin from being run over by a train.
  • If there had been another season of Quantum Leap, there were plans that Sam would leap into an animated character.
  • In the Supernatural episode "Scoobynatural" (a crossover with Scooby-Doo), Sam, Dean, and later Castiel all end up trapped inside the cartoon show, transforming them into animated characters in the process. As it turns out, the ghost in the episode is also from the "real" world.

    Music Videos 
  • The hero of the music video for a-ha's "Take on Me" switches between being a drawing and live-action several times.
  • In his video "Wasting Your Time," Carlos Jean turns into a cartoon character after playing a toy piano and washing his face.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In the PBS Kids Sprout original series The Chica Show, two eggs hop out of a cuckoo clock, and Kelly, Chica, Stitches, and Bunji become animated. Kelly says "Time to dress up and play" and the cartoon is shown.
  • The '90s intro to Plaza Sésamo, where some of the puppets and kids get on a bus, and go through a strange rainbow, taking them to an animated Plaza Sésamo.
  • In the Sesame Street DVD special Elmo's Alphabet Challenge, Elmo, Telly and Abby Cadabby enter Abby's tablet computer and become CGI versions of themselves. At the end it's inverted, when the antagonist of the computer game follows them back to Sesame Street, and becomes a Muppet.

  • The late 90's/early 00's show at Disney MGM Studios, Disney's Doug Live!. It's the invert this time: Doug's animated friends jump out of the projected screen, and become live actors.

    Video Games 
  • Most of the toons from Bendy and the Ink Machine are former employees of the animation studio. Ink Bendy is the only one who wasn't originally human. Due to having no soul he wandered aimlessly around the building then turned psychotic after being locked away for years.
  • In Skullgirls, Peacock used to be a girl named Patricia, but after being rescued from slave traders by the Anti-Skullgirls Lab, she was turned into a living weapon. Due to her love of cartoons and the psychological trauma she recieved from the slave traders, the weapons mostly manifest themselves as typical cartoon gags such as a falling flowerpot, Cartoon Bombs (that are alive) and using a Portable Hole to teleport.
  • In Stay Tooned!, once a group of cartoon characters jump out of your TV, the CGI apartment building you're in gets "tooned" into hand-drawn graphics. A live-action boy even gets changed in the process. Your objective is to search the apartment building and find the remote control that can send the toons back to TV Land and reverse this trope.
  • In Toonstruck, Drew is injected with a "mutagen ink" by Count Nefarious that will gradually transform him into a Toon, leaving him unable to leave the cartoon world. When he does return to the real world later on, the stuff finally kicks in, Drew transforms, and he's immediately sucked back into the cartoon world.

    Web Videos 
  • The Cartoon Man saga revolves around several people who "transform into cartoon characters." However, aside from one character's eyes, they remain live-action. However, he transformation causes them to take on a more over-the-top appearance, act like cartoon characters, and operate under Toon Physics.
  • Hewy's Animated Movie Reviews has a studio in the second dimension, where Hewy can host guest co-reviewers who are 2-D themselves. It gets destroyed when he tries to duplicate Flint Lockwood's food machine from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
  • When sent to Cartoonland in Season 2 of World's Greatest Adventures, Rufus is transformed in an animated chalk-drawn stick figure.

    Western Animation 
  • Kidd Video: The band goes through a mirror after being taunted by Master Blaster (the Big Bad), and goes to the Flipside (an animated world) through a mirror.
  • A later episode of The Real Ghostbusters had an evil spirit take the form of cartoon character Sammy K. Ferret, who comes to the real world and starts transforming people into toons (including Egon into a bird, Ray into a pig, and Winston into a dog.)
  • The direct-to-video series The Wacky Adventures Of Ronald Mc Donald had each video being an animated adventure with a live-action Framing Device, the first three having the transition to the animated portion represented by the live-action Ronald going down a slide into a ball pit while transforming into his animated incarnation.
  • Each episode of Wild Kratts starts with the Kratt Brothers in live-action form, talking to the viewers about animals. They then ask a question "What If?" and magically transform into cartoon characters.

  • The direct-to-video series Secret Adventures was mainly in live action, but Once per Episode, the main characters would go on an imaginary "secret adventure" where they would turn into cartoon animals in order to learn a lesson relevant to the plot of the episode.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Turning Into A Cartoon


Love Power

Queen Nancy sings a song about the power of happy memories of family life as Morgan brings her stepmother Giselle's magic memory tree back to life.

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Main / OdeToFamily

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