Transformation Fiction is a genre of fiction depicting a transformation or shapeshifting of one form or another. Whether it's a willing transformation or not depends on the piece of fiction, as well as whenever it's reversible or not, and whether they can transform or shapeshift into more than one type of being. The transformation would most likely be depicted as a Bit-by-Bit Transformation, but this isn't required.
While a piece of Transformation Fiction might have some Author Appeal or be slanted towards specific Fanservice, transformation can also be used to explore such themes as gender roles, racism, feelings of isolation/not belonging, and the maturation process.
Types of transformation seen in Transformation Fiction include but are not limited to:
- Gender Bender - Male to female is most common (First Law Of Genderbending at work), but female to male or either to hermaphrodite are not unknown. This does not include characters who are Transgender or Crossdressers, though they may also appear.
- Animal Transformation - Human to either anthropomorphic (furry or kemonomimi) or "normal" animal.
- Species Transformation - Human to alien or magical being.
- Human Transformation - A non-human to a human.
- Age Change - Both Overnight Age-Up and Fountain of Youth.
- Cultural/Ethnicity Change - Black Like Me, White Like Me and so forth. Relatively rare, possibly because Race Tropes are likely to trigger some readers' Berserk Button, and thus it can be easier to deal with them through Fantastic Racism if the author is interested in approaching those subjects.
- Mental Change - The character becomes Not Himself.
- Mind Swap - Can be any of these, but applied to two characters at once, sticking them with each other's bodies in a "Freaky Friday" Flip plot.
This genre is Older Than Dirt. Almost every world mythology has tales involving Baleful Polymorphs, Emergency Transformation, Transflormations, and Shapeshifters — the Youkai; The Fair Folk; Skin Walkers; the Norse, Greek, and Roman gods; the Djinn of the Middle East, the Coyote and Raven tales of Native American Lore and many more.
The transformation can be Played for Drama in a Beast and Beauty, Fish out of Water, or Freakiness Shame tale. Played For Fear with Transformation Horror or Played for Laughs or as An Aesop in a Trickster's tale. Transformations can begin The Hero's Journey and can have the story end either in a Downer Ending or a Bittersweet Ending, although examples of them ending with a Happy Ending also exist. Compare Henshin Hero (which is more about switching back and forth from a superpowered form). Compare Xenofiction (stories told from the viewpoint of a non-human-like character) See Transformation Causes for a list of possible ways one would transform or shapeshift into a different form within the story.
As an important note, having a being who transforms or shapeshifts throughout the story doesn't mean the work's of this genre. In order to count, the transformation(s) have to be the focus of the story in some way.
- What makes Digimon Frontier different from the other Digimon series is the fact that instead of having Digimon partners, the chosen instead, transform into Digimon themselves so that they could save the digital world from threats.
- Fruits Basket is about the protagonist discovering a family who has a curse linked to the Chinese zodiac, which involves them unwillingly transforming into the creature they represent when they are weak or when they are hugged by a member of the opposite sex.
- The title of Help! I'm a Fish sums up the fact that it's about a group of people being transformed into fish. Of course, this is only part of the plot - the other part is to obtain the potion that'll reverse the transformation effect from a gangster fish who got partially transformed into a human by said potion and became sentient as the result.
- Merlin transforms Arthur and himself into animals several times in Disney's The Sword in the Stone, including into squirrels, fish and a full on Shape-Shifter Showdown with Madame Mim.
- The Princess and the Frog is about two people being transformed into frogs and are trying to find a way to transform back.
- The Little Mermaid (1989), like the original, involves the titular mermaid transforming into a human so that she could be with her love. It goes further than the original story, though, by showing how she tries to adapt to society.
- The back story of The Beast from Beauty and the Beast is that he was a human prince cursed into his current form as Laser-Guided Karma by a previously-disguised witch he refused to give hospitality of. The plot of the form involves him trying to win the heart of Belle (the titular "Beauty"), since the only way to break the curse is if he falls in love and whomever he fell in-love with loved him back.
- In The Emperor's New Groove, the titular Emperor Kuzco is changed into a llama. The movie is mostly about him trying to get back to his palace and finding a cure.
- The Incredible Mr. Limpet: Mr. Limpet gets transformed into a fish after wishing for it really really hard.
- The remake version The Fly (1986) is a horrific form of this, as the protagonist is accidentally fused with a housefly in a transportation machine, and gradually throughout the story morphs, physically and emotionally, as the fly's DNA takes over.
- The Animorphs book series are about a group of teenagers being granted with the ability to shapeshift into any animal they touched by an alien. (The teens are eventually joined by a relative of said alien as the books go on.)
- The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka is a surrealist novella that begins with the main character waking up to find himself transformed into a giant bug.
- The Switchers trilogy are about a group of protagonists with the ability to shapeshift. The trilogy explores into the possibilities of such power as well as the downsides in using them.
- Chakona Space: Dale Perkins (AKA Goldendale) gets his story kicked off by a Teleporter Accident. Several other stories wind up doing a little of this for similar reasons.
- The Colony, a fan-made series loosely connected to the Chakona Space universe, starts with the occupants of an airliner getting turned into Chakats and dumped on an uninhabited alien planet for no discernible reason.
- Metamor Keep is a shared writing universe based on a kingdom under a Curse that transforms anyone who spends too much time there into either an anthropomorphic animal, the opposite gender, or a child. Many of the original authors are also associated with the Transformation Story Archive.
- Ovid's Metamorphoses is a collection of poems about Roman mythology revolving around a central theme of people transforming or metamorphosing in various ways.
- Everything written by Jack Chalker. EVERYTHING. He is perhaps THE single most prolific professional scifi/fantasy writer of transformation, involving practically every trope on the list. Which is not to say he doesn't also delve into other interesting scifi concepts besides that, but it's there.
- in Edmund Plante's little-known 1980's SF/Horror novel Transformation the pregnant heroine is gradually transformed into a psychic slug-and-lizard hybrid by an alien virus. The nominal plot (something about preparing earth for a benign invasion) serves primarily as an excuse for a detailed description of the process.
- In H₂O: Just Add Water, three teenagers end up in getting turned into mermaids after swimming in a magical pool of water while a full moon was over it. While they do have human forms, if a single drop of water is on them for 10 seconds, their tail returns to replace their legs. This complicates their personal lives as they aim to keep their transformation a secret, even from their families.
- An arc within the South African newspaper comic Madam and Eve had Mother Andersonnote taking experimental drugs that briefly turned her into how the comic portrays the African cast, complete with the ability to speak Zulu, laughing at jokes mocking madams (despite being a madam herself) and even buying Mieliesnote from the Mielie Lady instead of pelting her with her sling shot. It lasts for a couple of strips before she turned back due to the strip's Status Quo.
- The plot of almost all the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games involves an amnesiacnote human who had been transformed into a Pokémon, as well as they and their partner's attempts to find out who they were originallynote , how they've turned into Pokémon and why they've turned into Pokémon.
- The main gameplay element of Dr. Muto is the Mad Scientist in question's ability to transform into various animals. You start off with a mouse form and collect more by gathering DNA samples.
- A few games in The Legend of Zelda series involve transformation as a focus of the plot:
- In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, the plot's kicked off by the Skull Kid transforming him into a Deku Scrub. When he transforms back, he is given a mask that'll allow him to transform between his Hylian form and his Deku Scrub form at will. He can then find a few new masks to transform into members of various other races, namely Goron, Zora and a deity.
- The story of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess involves transformation between a wolf form and a Hylian form. Initially, this transformation only happens whenever he visits the Twilight realm. However, after he has been cursed to assume the wolf form even outside said realm and then having said curse removed by the Master Sword, he gains the ability to switch between forms at will.
- The plot of Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap involves the main character slaying a dragon, and getting transformed into a lizardman as a punishment. As the game progresses, he transforms into more animal-man forms with different abilities.
- One of the main gameplay gimmicks of Threads of Fate involves transforming into various monsters you've slayed throughout the game.
- In String Tyrant transformation is a major part of the game, the enemies wandering the halls will transform the player and the player will then hunt down and transform their former friends.
- Searching for the term "TF" on art sites like DeviantArt tends to bring up pictures or pieces of literature of someone transforming into a creature or pre-existing character, alongside some stuff related to Transformers.
- The Transformation Stories Archive is an old (currently defunct) site dedicated to amateur writing about transformations.
- Shifti is another web story archive dedicated to transformation stories,
- The titular character of Ben 10 has a watch that allows him to temporary transform into a limited variety of aliens.
- American Dragon: Jake Long focuses on a teenage dragon in New York with the ability to shift to and from human form. Dragons serve as the protectors of the secret magical realm, using their human forms to blend in the mundane world while their powerful dragon forms to fight off magical threats and the Huntsclan.
- The titular character of Martin Morning inexplicably transforms into a new character every morning, with his environment and past often changing as a side-effect as well. For example, in the episode "No Pictures, Please!", where Martin wakes up as a movie actor, his room is filled with posters of various movies he's acted in, and a talent manager and makeup artist are waiting for him in the kitchen to take him to the film studio to act in a new movie.