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Transformation Conventions

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If an animated series features an episode in which the characters change into animals, or objects such as via a Transformation Ray or other piece of Applied Phlebotinum, the transformations, even if supposedly random, will often be surprisingly suitable, playing on Animal Stereotypes.

A Genius Bruiser or Gentle Giant will become a bear, rhino, elephant, or other large mammal, which only increases their close combat abilities. The Speedster will become a cat or bird, which makes them faster. The Lancer will become a wolf or other canine, and the leader will also receive a suitable form, like a lion or bird of prey. The chance of any given female character becoming a cat will be quite high, as will the odds of one character receiving an "ironic" animal form; for example, a taciturn, moody character becoming a fluffy bunny.

Oftentimes, it overlaps with Personality Powers (superpowers align to thematically appropriate personalities) and Animal Motifs (the use of animals to underline a theme or make a statement about a character).

Sister Trope of Karmic Transformation (someone turns into something they envy/hate/believe they're better than) and Rule of Personification Conservation (if characters aren't human, there's usually a reason why). Compare Morphic Resonance (no matter what form the shapeshifter takes, they still retain some identifiable traits of the original form).


Examples:

Anime & Manga

  • Tokyo Mew Mew: Ikumi Mia and Yoshida Reiko have stated that the kemonomimi have given suitable animal forms. Ichigo is a cute and wilful cat, Minto a prim and graceful bird, Retasu a sweet and shy porpoise, Bu-ling a lively and talented monkey, and Zakuro, well, a "lone wolf".

Comic Books

  • Super Friends: In an issue of the modern comic, the JLA turned into various non-human primates. Superman became a gorilla (which is the strongest primate), Batman became a gibbon (one of the more agile primates), Green Lantern became a chimp (which uses tools), Flash became a patas monkey (which is the fastest primate), Aquaman became a proboscis monkey (which swims), and Wonder Woman became a bonobo (which is sexy...I mean peaceful).note 

Films — Animation

  • Beauty and the Beast: The Enchantress' curse is a Forced Transformation onto all beings in the castle; as it's intended as a punishment for the prideful prince, the outcome draws from each character's personality (and name).
    • Prince Adam becomes a hideous beast to reflect his inner self being flawed and ugly.
    • Lumière is turned into a candelabra in a reflection of his jovial, optimist disposition.
    • Cogswoth is transformed into a mantel clock, which matches his uptightness Britishness.
    • Mrs. Potts and her many children are, respectively, a teapot and cups. This is used to highlight the fact they are related and Mrs. Potts' motherly nature.
    • Babette, the maid, is morphed into a feather duster, which alludes to the cleaning duty that is part of her job.
    • Madame de Garderobe is, predictably, a wardrobe. She's a lady-in-waiting, a job that often involves helping the royals dress up.
    • Maestro Forte is an organist and composer. Does it surprise anyone that he's turned into a pipe organ?
    • Angelique is the castle decorator, something that matches nicely with the fact she's transformed into a Christmas angel ornament.
    • Axe becomes, well, an axe. What he becomes is closely related to his job as head of the boiler room crew, seeing that a lot of lumberjacking is needed.
  • Turning Red: Even though Sun Yee is a Animal Lover in general, her favorite animals are red pandas. It's a no-brainer that, when blessed by the deities, she and her female descendants are granted the ability to shapeshift into red pandas, if gigantic ones. Additionally, while red pandas are native to China where Sun Yee is from, they happen to roughly match the colours and pattern (though inverted) of the Canadian flag and Mei, Sun Yee's descendant, lives in Canada.

Literature

  • Animorphs: While the team often uses the same morph, everyone's main combat morph is at least tangentially related to their personality: The Big Girl Rachel goes elephant or grizzly bear, The Leader Jake goes tiger, Cassie the Friend to All Living Things goes wolf, while Ax and Tobias keep their usual bodies due to being an Andalite with a bladed tail and stuck in the body of a hawk respectively. Subverted with Marco, who's a snarker and usually the first to look for holes in a plan, who has a gorilla that brute-forces his way through enemies (and despite being acknowledged as the single worst driver of the bunch, is the only one with a morph capable of driving).
  • Everfound: As a furjacker, Jix prefers to possess animals and his body has shifted to become more cat-like, developing spots on his body and growing fangs, his ears have shifted higher, and his skin has the feel of fur.
  • Harry Potter:
    • There are two things that reveal a lot of a character's personality through animal manifestations. The first is the Animagus transformation, only possible after a time-consuming, complicated ritual. To put some examples, James Potter is a vain braggart yet noble at heart, so he becomes a stag; Sirius Black is loyal, stubborn, and mischievous but also tied to grief and death, so his form is a Grimm-like dog; Peter Pettigrew is a sneaky Dirty Coward who follows the strongest leader, so he's a rat; Minerva McGonagall is the Head of Gryffindor (a lion-themed House), as well as a strict, elegant old woman, so she's a cat; and Rita Skeeter, an unscrupulous journalist, is a blue beetle (as in, bugging people).
    • The second is the corporeal Patronus, which can coincide with a character's Animagi form (e.g., McGonagall) or, more commonly, match the memory that powers it. For instance, Harry Potter's deepest desire is the love of a family, so he casts a stag. Meanwhile, Nymphadora Tonks' love for werewolf Remus Lupin causes her Patronus to manifest as a wolf.
    • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Invoked by Barty Jr. while disguised as Alastor Moody. In retaliation for Lucius Malfoy weaseling his way out of Azkaban by claiming he was under the Imperius Curse, Barty turns his son Draco (a whiny, slimy bastard on his own) into a white ferret. Ferrets are associated with being slippery. Also, both Lucius and Draco's hair is very light blonde.
  • Metamor Keep: Because several of the characters are Author Inserts of people who happen to be furries, this is actually the case with various characters:
    • Charles who is very intelligent and very stealthful became a rat, and it's noted that this an appropriate body for him by several characters in canon.
    • Cedric who is a very traditional knight noted for being very brave and on task becomes a horse.
    • Thalburg who is ornery and bi-polar became an alligator.
    • Pascal who was very flirtatious and young minded became both younger and female,
    • Wessex who was always the runt growing up and had moved to Metamor to try and prove himself an adult before the curses became eternally a child.
    • Loriod is a corrupt power-hungry jerk who liked being in charge of other people, and she became a man.
    • It is suggested that Dame Seranima suffered from Gender Identity Disorder when she was a man, no surprises what she turns into.

Video Games

  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: Forceful transformation is one of the consequences of the "magical air" of the Dark World. It is implied that almost all of the monsters in the world, including Big Bad Ganon, are greedy and cruel humans transformed. And Link, of course, becomes a cute fluffy bunny as per his nice nature. Very life-affirming, but totally useless in fighting said monsters.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: The Twilight Realm transforms Link into a far more noble and combat-worthy wolf. Because the Triforce glows on Link's hand right before he transforms, we can assume that the Triforce intentionally caused this transformation to both protect Link and enable him to complete his quest.

Webcomics

  • Panthera: Jason, The Leader of the group, transforms into a lion called Leo; lions are traditionally regarded as the kings of beasts. Kira, his hot-tempered girlfriend, becomes a tiger called Tigris and gains the ability to spit fire.

Western Animation

  • Ben 10:
    • Ben 10: Frequently, the Omnitrix overrides Ben's choice of Alien Hero to match plot or comedy requirements. In the first episode, after Ben has been introduced as a temperamental slacker, the first extraterrestrial the Omnitrix picks for him is Heatblast, a magma-based alien.
    • Ben 10: Alien Force: Additionally, the appearance of the alien form matches the person wearing the Omnitrix. Ben's Grey Matter form is an innocuous-looking small humanoid with those big, green eyes of his. Meanwhile, Albedo's supreme Grey Matter form is a cylindrical monstrosity with three red eyes and a wizened old man's face. Albedo is Ben's Evil Counterpart.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: In "Operation: G.R.A.D.U.A.T.E.S.", the children of the world are transformed into animals and the end result follows National Stereotypes. Japanese KND Numbuh Three becomes a crane, fat Numbuh Two becomes a hippo, and Australian Numbuh Four becomes a koala. The best, though is the misanthropic Irish operative Numbuh 86 becoming a dog, at which a bystander comments, "Well, that figures". The Big Bad of the series, a shadowy man known as "Father", is hit with the animal transformation as well. He turns into a panther. Funnily enough, he still has the smoking pipe he always has sticking out of his mouth.
  • Hercules: The Animated Series: In "The Song of Circe", the sorceress Circe turns Herc, Adonis, and Icarus into animals. Cloud Cuckoolander Icarus becomes a duck-billed platypus and the vain Adonis changes into a peacock. Hercules, for some reason, is turned into a ring-tailed lemur, albeit a super-strong one.
  • The Life and Times of Juniper Lee: In "The Great Escape", June and a bunch of magical creatures are turned into animals so they can be kept captive and have their own magical powers drained from them by another magical creature named Gigi.
  • Teen Titans (2003): In "Bunny Raven", Mumbo changes the Titans into animals; it kinda fits their fighting styles. Cyborg becomes a bear due to him being The Big Guy and possessing a muscled physique; Starfire is changed into a tiger because she's not only inhumanly strong but more agile; Robin is a monkey by virtue of his acrobatics and flexibility during combat; and Raven becomes a bunny as the ironic transformation (she's The Stoic). As for Beast Boy who can already change into other animals? He gets changed into a lamp limiting his transformative abilities to inanimate objects.
  • Totally Spies!: The two times one of the girls has been turned into a half-human hybrid, she has become a Cat Girl; Clover in "Wild Style" and Alex in "Nine Lives". The reason is not only that cats are animals associated with feminity (something each member of the trio has in spades) but also that they are spies. Spies, like cats, must be stealthy, graceful, and agile.
  • Transformers:
    • Most of the Transformers turn into something that suits either their personality or their function. 'Old' Transformers often choose military and public service vehicles, while 'young' Transformers have a tendency to choose new, hip, fast, and badass cars. This happens even when they don't personally choose their alt mode. Hence, for example, the medic Ratchet becomes an ambulance, the dedicated soldier Ultra Magnus becomes a car carrier—fitting because he is a pillar of strength that the other Autobots rely on—, and Sentinel Prime becomes a Snow Plow because he's stubborn and a dipshit.
    • There are also ironic cases. For instance, Manta rays are gentle, easygoing creatures, but Depth Charge, who turns into one, is belligerent, violent, and obsessed with vengeance. Worth pointing out that Depth Charge's other alt mode is a much more suiting starfighter, so he fits the trope twice in two different ways.
    • Transformers: Prime: Soundwave transforms into a Reaper UAV; an Attack Drone. This is very fitting of his personality as The Spy Master of the Decepticons. He's also The Blank and The Voiceless, referencing how drones are unmanned—there's nothing in there but it's capable of gathering intel all the same.
    • Beast Wars: Rattrap transforms into a giant robot rat. Not only does his name make the choice evident but also the fact that he's a world-class spy, a consummate survivor, and sometimes cowardly.
  • Visionaries: Both heroes and villains are all given their animal forms by a wizard, Merklynn, based on the abilities and personality traits they display in the quest to reach him. So, justified.


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