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Transformation of the Possessed

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On the bright side, she can declare the demon as a dependent come tax season.

Being demonically possessed rarely works out well for the host, however, every once in a while things go From Bad to Worse. Perhaps it's just that Evil Makes You Ugly, Evil Makes You Monstrous, or that your body is the plaything of the mind, but when the body your mother gave you has a new landlord there is a nasty tendency for you to be remodeled, and possibly shown off.

Sometimes justified in narration as the host becoming the new body of the guest either as a intrinsic feature or as a deliberate action on the part of the guest. In extremely unfortunate cases, the host body also suffers from Possession Burnout which will quickly destroy it.

Compare and Contrast: Glowing Eyes of Doom, Power-Upgrading Deformation, Red Eyes, Take Warning, and Viral Transformation



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Animals possessed by spirits in Berserk get deformed human-like faces. The cultists in the Conviction arc also undergo a transformation when the spirits possess them.
  • In Bleach, when Kaien is possessed by Metastasia, he first gets hollowed, empty eyesockets, then he starts sprouting tentacles from his limbs, sockets and mouth.
  • Apparently happens in Blue Exorcist. Father Fujimoto is definitely an example. So is Toudou, later on, although it does seem to depend on how powerful the demon in question is. Basically, all the demons seen were originally non-supernatural things from Assiah, with every monstrous or odd specificity caused by this trope.
  • Dragon Ball GT: Once Baby chooses Vegeta as his permanent host body, he slowly does this to Vegeta. At first, it's just Facial Markings and white hair, but as Baby becomes more powerful, eventually Vegeta looks nothing like himself.
  • Dragon Ball Super: Watagash is able to possess others and shift their forms, the transformation depending on how much evil and hatred the host has in their heart. When he possesses Barry Khan, he shifts into a large ape-like form, and then a Kaiju-sized reptilian beast that no longer resembles Khan at all.
  • Taken to extreme proportions in Fullmetal Alchemist. When Envy is reduced to their parasite form they persuade May to go to the catacombs under central where they are attacked by a hoard of mannequin soldiers. During the chaos Envy manages to possess not one, but all of the monsters and proceeds to assimilate them, turning the mass of mannequin soldiers into their true form and then into their preferred form.
  • Kagerou Project: This happens to Konoha when he is possessed by the series' Big Bad, The Wide-Open Eyes Snake; the transformation turns his hair, shirt and boots black, makes his skin even paler, and turns his eyes bright yellow. The manga also adds scales to his design, to make it more clear who's possessing him.
  • Mob Psycho 100: Dimple the spirit is a non-villainous example (at least after getting curb-stomped by Mob). Whenever he possesses a host, said host gains his signature Blush Stickers.
  • Naruto:
    • Happens to Gaara during the Chuunin Exams when he (purposely) goes to sleep and lets Shukaku take over. Naruto has to (literally) beat some sense into him.
    • The Edo Tensei technique works by taking some genetic material of a deceased person and forcing them into a still-living body. This transforms the host's body into that of the deceased person's, killing the host in the process but allowing the body to become animate.
    • The bodies of Orochimaru's hosts change to have the same pale-white complexion as he does, then he uses a shapeshifting technique to get a Shapeshifter Default Form identical to his original body.
    • When Naruto has a demon cloak with four or more tails, the nine-tailed fox is controlling him.
    • In Chapter 679, Black Zetsu/Kaguya inflicts this upon Madara.
  • The standard Monster of the Week of the Pretty Cure series is a possessed object transformed into a rampaging beast which the heroines fight, defeat and purify. The level of transformation of the objects greatly vary within the series, sometimes to the degree the monster barely resemble the object it controls i.e an electrical transformer tower Zakenna that looked like a Kaiju, a trolley Kowaina with the likeness of a pudgy penguin and a catching net Nakewameke with the appearance of a stereotypical mariachi, complete with Gratuitous Spanish (¡AMIGO!) to name a few.
  • Sailor Moon: Season 3's Mistress 9 has the transformation come in stages. While relatively dormant, her host, Hotaru, grows steadily weaker and while in (brief) periods of direct control, undergoes an Evil Costume Switch and Glowing Eyes of Doom with Face Framed in Shadow. After gaining complete control, however, she ages Hotaru's body into her mid-20's,grows her hair down to the floor and starts wearing an all black outfit.
  • In Soul Eater, when Medusa loses her body, she possesses a young girl and twists her appearance into a younger version of herself.

    Comic Books 
  • Judge Dredd: The Dark Judges tend to possess people solely to asssist them in finding new corpses for their spirits to occupy after the destruction of the previous one, but Judge Mortis once possessed the Chief Judge and directly decayed his body into the cow-skulled monster that he is.
  • Iron Man villain Fin Fang Foon an alien shapeshifting dragon kaiju space navigator was killed, at least once, only to possess a convenient human to transform into his default form notably by assimilating earth reptiles.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1987): When Deimos possesses The Joker, the fear god transforms the Joker's hair into venomous snakes and his feet into the taloned things Deimos himself possesses.
    • Wonder Woman: Warbringer: When Phobos, Deimos and Eris possess humans to take form in the human world, those they are possessing are altered to look like the war gods within a minute or so, with their eyes turning into pupil-less light sources first.

    Fan Fiction 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Casper, Dr. Harvey, shortly after getting possessed by the Ghostly Trio, is morphed into Clint Eastwood, Rodney Dangerfield, Mel Gibson, and the Crypt Keeper. note 
  • When Carolyn is possessed by the ghost of Bathsheba in The Conjuring, her body visibly distorts to more closely resemble the witch, including a more prominently hooked nose, straightened and ruined hair, and wounds opening on the skin. Most of these, except the wounds, vanish almost instantly when she is banished.
  • Happens twice in Constantine. In the beginning, when the soldier demon inhabits the young woman her face is covered with blotches. When Angela Dodson is possessed by Mammon (Lucifer's son) near the end the change is much greater. In each case, once the possession ends the skin changes disappear.
  • In Demon Knight, this is the fate of everyone possessed by demons. The last transformation in the film of a young boy is especially grotesque.
  • This is what happens to June Moone in Suicide Squad whenever she transforms into the Enchantress. Once the Enchantress is killed off by Task Force X, June bursts out of the skin of her possessor.
  • The Devil Inside plays it straight, but in fairly plausible ways. Those possessed sport freakish flexibility, dilated eyes (a line of dialogue indicates that the human eye can dilate to 9 mm, 11 mm under the influence of some drugs, but possession can force it further), and red eyes. All could be explained by actual physical symptoms.
  • The Candarian demons in the Evil Dead series use this in a variety of ways.
    • In the original film the only change was in the eyes (and spreading black veins in one case), but physical damage inflicted on the host quickly reached gruesome levels.
    • Evil Dead 2 had a greater degree of Body Horror, including a possession victim with an extremely long neck.
    • Army of Darkness had Sheila acquire ghostly pale, mottled skin, sunken eyes and a heavier brown when she was possessed; the rest of the Deadites (particularly Evil Ash) took on a rotted appearance (even without any injuries).
    • Finally, the 2013 remake only gives the possessed yellow eyes by default, but they then inflict gruesome injuries on themselves, apparently to match the documented appearance of whatever spirit is possessing them.
  • The Exorcist had a pretty gruesome transformation when the demon Pazuzu manifested within Regan.
  • Ghostbusters (1984): When Dana Barrett and Louis Tully become possessed by Gozer's demonic Terror Dogs, they don't just gain demonic powers such as levitation, telekinesis, and glowing red eyes. Upon completing their demonic tasks Dana and Louis transform into the monstrous hellhound forms of their possessors.
  • Legion: various angels do odd things to the bodies they inhabit.
  • The Matrix: The Agents are Machine programs who manifest inside the Matrix by taking over the bodies of people who are still plugged into the program, which alters their physical appearance to that of the agent. Obviously, it's easier for them to do since the whole thing is a simulation. If an Agent is ever killed (no small feat), their host body turns back.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge: Every time Freddy possesses Jesse, he forcibly converts Jesse's body into his own form.
  • Happens to the Chosen One in John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness. Satan, in the form of an evil green fluid, enters the mouths of his victims to control them, but the Chosen One ingests the lion's share of the fluid and becomes the personal vehicle of Satan himself. (This causes said Chosen One's body to appear progressively rotten and decayed as the movie goes on.)
  • Scalps features transformations whenever the homicidal spirit possesses a victim.
  • In Warcraft (2016), fel magic's calling card is its mutation of everyone who comes in direct contact with it.
    • The orcs empowered by Gul'dan turn green.
    • Blackhand, when empowered by Gul'dan, regrows his hand around the claw he's been wearing on the stump of the previous one but with sickly-looking flesh, grows skin on the spines he's been using as a cape, and looks less orcish and more bestial, with more teeth among other things.
    • Gul'dan himself sprouts a crown of horns on his back from oft usage of fel.
    • When he's fully corrupted, Medivh's skin wrinkles and turns dark blue, and he starts to sprout horns from his chin.

  • In the second book of Robin Jarvis' Deptford Mice trilogy, The Crystal Prison, Madame Akkikuyu unwittingly performs a ceremony that will bring the Big Bad, the evil cat Jupiter, back from the dead. However, as his old body was destroyed by fire, he will need a new one. Thus he awards Akkikuyu with "the highest honour that is [his] to give"... she will be the new host for his spirit. In preparation for this, she begins to transform into a cat, much to her horror. However, before Jupiter can fully take possession of her body, she kills herself by jumping onto a bonfire.
  • True for most Denarians in The Dresden Files, though some of them choose to keep their human appearance.
  • Professor Quirell from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. As he's the willing host of Voldemort, the latter's face appears at the back of Quirell's head. Quirell wears a turban at all times precisely because of that, so he can conceal his master's existence. Unlike most other examples on this page, Quirell actually retains his mind, and works for Voldemort, as opposed to Voldemort directly controlling his body.
  • In Inheritance Cycle, when a human is possessed by spirits and becomes a Shade, it transforms their appearance, including turning their hair bright crimson.
  • Gods in The Kane Chronicles need a human or animal host to exist on Earth but can shapeshift it to look like anything they want. For example, Bast can change her cat host into a human.
  • The Locked Tomb: When spirits invade Colum's temporarily soulless body in Gideon the Ninth, its eyes become tooth-ringed voids from which long grey tongues protrude. The possessors also do an Exorcist Head twist to get a closer look at someone.
  • In Night's Dawn, possessors can reshape their hosts' bodies, but shouldn't because it's carcinogenic.
  • Old Kingdom: Dead spirits mutate the corpses they're summoned into, although their original occupants are (usually) mercifully absent by then. This is at least partially intentional: the newly animated Dead Hands in Goldenhand customize their bodies with claws, fangs, and an Abnormal Limb Rotation Range as they pursue some humans.
  • Played with in Perelandra, Dr. Weston's possessed body at first looks quite normal but as it is damaged beyond repair in the course of the plot (yet continues to move thanks to the devil inside it), it becomes horrible to look at and wholly inhuman.
  • Spellbent: Possession victims get funky eye colors. Their sclera (white of the eyes) turns red or in some cases purple, depending on the power level of what's possessing them.
  • In The Stormlight Archive, the Listeners (a.k.a. the Parshendi) can shift between a number of different physical forms by bonding to different spirits. The closest example of this trope comes in stormform, which they gain by binding a spirit of Cosmic Hatred and which comes with a large helping of This Is Your Brain on Evil.
    • Downplayed with the body surfing Fused; when a Fused's spirit inhabits a new body, it doesn't completely change, but will manifest enough of that Fused's distinctive features that people who are familiar with them can recognize them across multiple incarnations.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Demonic possessions eventually tend to disfigure the host in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. The iconic vampire Game Face is one example. Vampires also gain more demonic features with time such as permanent game faces and even hooves.
  • On Doctor Who, when the Master steals the Trakenite consul Tremas's body, he de-ages it by several years, restyles its hair, beard, and clothing, and causes a pair of black leather gloves to appear from absolutely nowhere in the process.
  • In Kamen Rider Den-O being possessed by any of the friendly —taro imagin gives the character a lock of appropriately colored hair and sometimes a change in wardrobe.
  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, when the Pah-Wraiths possess someone, the person's sclera becomes red.
  • Supernatural:
    • Averted with most run-of-the-mill demonic possessions in the show. It's why it's so hard to tell if someone is possessed, as they look fully human to most humans.
    • Nick, who is possessed by Lucifer in Season 5, goes through a gruesome breakdown because he's not the archangel's true vessel. Sam is, and when he is possessed by Lucifer, his body does not break down.
    • Season 7 introduces the Leviathans, a race of eldritch abominations that predate humanity. In order to interact with the physical world after returning to Earth, they possess anyone available. This completely overrides the host's personality to the point that exorcism isn't even discussed, and they are left with black blood, a Horror Hunger, and the ability to morph their entire face into a Lamprey Mouth when feeding. They are also nigh-unkillable and super strong.
  • Downplayed in Twin Peaks: The Return: Mr. C's body is not directly changed by years of being possessed by BOB, but his style of hair and dress are drastically altered to resemble those of BOB.
  • Ultraman Cosmos: Chaos Header transforms those it possesses into "Chaos" versions where they gain a different, fiercer appearance and red eyes.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Demon: The Fallen, Demons knowledgeable in the lore of transformation can make permanent alterations to its host.
  • Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 & 4.0: Many fiends find remodeling their new body to their advantage and extensive remodeling can result in being completely replaced.
  • In Ravenloft, this is how fiends gain physical form in the Domains of Dread, in a process known as Transposition. It is a five-step process that gradually transforms the body of the fiend's victim, advancing in a manner similar to how a person can be corrupted in Ravenloft by committing acts of evil, before culminating in the final step where the fiend takes the place of the victim on the Material Plane and condemns the victim's soul to an awful fate in the Outer Planes. Because of the nature of the Domains of Dread, this is just as much of a trap for the fiend involved as any other evil being caught in the Mists.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Daemons will alter the body of their host, moulding it into one more suitable for them. The host rarely lasts for very long. They can do this to things as well as people, by the way, as even machines in this setting have souls to devour. Swords, guns, giant robots, city-sized, planet-wrecking starships, entire sodding planets...
    • Lucius the Eternal, the Champion of Slaanesh, gets his epithet because whoever kills him slowly turns into him. Once the transformation is complete, the killer is just another screaming face trapped in Lucius' armor.
  • The Fomori in Werewolf: The Apocalypse. When a bane (an evil spirit of the Wyrm) possesses a human body, that person's body is hideously mutated with whatever the Storyteller picks from a grab-bag of disgusting Body Horror-based powers. Examples include multiple limbs and mouths, corrosive puss boils, and internal organs replaced by infectious fungus.
  • Likewise, the spirits in Werewolf: The Forsaken can do this to their hosts, but only at the point where they've either destroyed the host's consciousness or irreversibly taken over their soul. In any case, the body starts to take on elements of the spirit possessing it — for the Hosts, this is usually the creature the Host derives from (examples include spiders, rats, crows, worms, fungi, etc.), but for the Spirit-Claimed, the possessed takes on elements of its nature (a fire elemental will give its host bright eyes and blisters, a death spirit will make its host look gaunt, etc.).
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:

    Video Games 
  • In Diablo, this happens to Prince Albrecht when he is possessed by Diablo, and following the hero's sticking of Diablo's soulstone into his own head, he winds up possessed as well, and becomes the new Diablo in Diablo II. In Diablo III, Leah suffers the same fate when her own mother, who had her with the Diablo-possessed Aidan, uses the Black Soulstone, with all seven Great Evils inside, to turn her into a vessel for Diablo's rebirth as the Prime Evil. She transforms into Diablo when Imperius tries to incinerate her to draw Diablo's true form out.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: Lohse gains a greyish pallor, Tainted Veins, and Black Eyes of Evil when her demonic Enemy Within is affecting her, though the ordinary appearance of the demon's primary host suggests that it can suppress the physical changes at least sometimes.
  • In Doom 3 (and, quite possibly, the old Doom games) demonic possession turns people into zombies.
  • Dragon Age:
    • This eventually happens to anyone possessed by a demon.
    • If a Darkspawn Archdemon is killed by anyone but a Grey Warden, its soul will simply jump to the nearest Darkspawn. Corypheus (second and third game spoilers) has a similar power, what with being one of the Magisters who became the first Darkspawn. Unlike an Archdemon, however, he can posses Wardens and survive the process.
  • Grim Dawn: This is what makes living creatures possessed by the Aetherials so dangerous; quickly enough, the body starts to mutate as the aetherial in question figures out how, and starts developing new powers and combat alterations. And the more control they have, and the longer they've been in charge, the worse it gets; regular possessed usually just have a few alterations and rely on the body's previous capacities, while older ones can get new magics and grow to enormous size. And the Aetherial Vanguard, the ones that set the titular apocalypse in motion and have been in control the longest, include titanic monstrosities that were once regular men, up to Theodin "the Flesh Shaper" Marcell, who has practically turned his host into an Eldritch Abomination of meat and aetherial energies.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • When "Ansem"/Xehanort's Heartless takes control of Riku's body in the first game, he transforms it into one resembling his own before he became a Heartless.
    • When Master Xehanort possesses Terra in Birth by Sleep (creating the being who later possesses Riku), this act immediately turns Terra's hair white and his eyes gold. As Terra already bears great resemblance to Master Xehanort in his youth, Terra-Xehanort virtually becomes a dead ringer for his original incarnation.
    • When Vanitas possesses Ven in the same game, it turns Ven's eyes gold and gives him Vanitas' outfit.
    • One of the major reveals of Dream Drop Distance involves the true scope of Xehanort's plans: Organization XIII was originally created so that Xehanort could find candidates to divide his heart among as part of a greater plot to eventually gain access to Kingdom Hearts. This is why Nobodies like Xigbar and Saïx have physical features their original selves didn't possess, such as gold eyes, Pointy Ears, and lighter hair colors—they're slowly turning into Xehanort, and thus taking on his general appearance. As Kingdom Hearts III reveals, the rest of the "real" Organization's members all at least possess gold eyes, with the possible exception of Xion, though she is a character whose Appearance Is in the Eye of the Beholder.
  • Kirby games show this as a possible side effect of being possessed by Dark Matter. For instance, King Dedede grows a Belly Mouth, and a friendly Waddle Dee becomes a Waddle Doo. This is always undone once they're freed from its control.
  • Legacy of Kain: Raziel learns to occupy corpses and shape them into an image of himself.
  • When an Ing from Metroid Prime 2: Echoes fuses itself to a host, the host takes on a darker, mutated appearance as a direct result, with Spikes of Villainy and a single, huge compound eye taking up most of their face.
  • Persona 5:
  • In Shin Megami Tensei IV, reading certain kinds of books will transform the reader into demons; this trope is implied in the process. It's most clearly seen in the case of Ogun and Dantalion, though Issachar and the victims of Red ingestion might also count.
  • Soul Series: Those who would wield the cursed blade Soul Edge become enslaved by its desire to feed on souls. Part of this process typically involves growing a hideous claw on one of their arms. The only exceptions to this seen are Algol (whose Heroic Willpower allowed him to completely override Soul Edge's evil influence), his son Arcturus (presumably because he was killed by Algol in self-defense not too long after stealing Soul Edge and attacking his father), and Cervantes (who suffered no physical deformities when he was using it, though the non-canon interquel Soulcalibur Legends retroactively gives him the mutated arm to line up with all the other Soul Edge wielders). Interestingly, Soulcalibur V shows that game's Nightmare (Soul Edge using Raphael's body as a host) being able to voluntarily suppress the deformities and take on a regular appearance in order to blend in as Graf Dumas.
  • In the 2010 remake of Splatterhouse, the Terror Mask transforms Rick, a somewhat scrawny college student, into a hulking overly muscled top heavy behemoth with glowing yellow eyes. The Terror Mask can mutate Rick even more by making bone spikes erupt out of his body as a Super Mode, though it dials it back when it realizes that Rick's body cannot handle the strain for long.
  • Super Robot Wars UX: Noval Dilan becomes the physical embodiment of Kali Yuga (with Durga's appearance) and grows to the size of a planet.
  • Tales of Destiny: Hugo's body takes on Miktran's appearance in the remake when he became strong enough to possess him completely, though it's implied he used the Eye of Atamoni to do it and it wasn't a necessary part of the takeover.
  • Tekken 5 reveals that Jinpachi Mishima, the founder of the Mishima Zaibatsu and Heihachi's father, was imprisoned under the family estate and dojo Hon-Maru 40 years before the events of the game by Heihachi. After he died, a demonic entity took control of his body bringing him back to life once more, and Jinpachi has no control over it. The demon also completely twists Jinpachi's physical form to go One-Winged Angel: spikes grow from his elbows, on his back, and on his legs; he acquires a second mouth that replaces his stomach; his skin turns purple and gains muscle structure; and his eyes turn yellow with a red aura around him.

    Visual Novel 
  • This is how the Kurain Spirit Channeling system works in the Ace Attorney titles. It comes in handy more than once, allowing a widow to see, hear and speak to her fallen husband one more time, allows a medium to hide from a vengeful spirit that wants them dead and allows a spirit to hide the fact that they have died from a friend of theirs, in order to keep their spirits up.

    Web Animation 


    Web Originals 
  • Noted in the Whateley Universe as one possible consequence of a low-powered Avatar-type mutant hosting a too-powerful spirit as the spirit will make changes to the Avatar's body to make itself more comfortable. And the Avatar trait is already all about being superhumanly good at this sort of thing...

    Western Animation 
  • In Adventure Time, the Ice Crown causes a physical transformation in its wearer, whom it tries to impose its own will on. As the person falls further and further under the Crown's control, they begin to develop blue skin, long white hair, and fangs (although some of these traits can vary depending on circumstance).
  • In Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, the Joker is actually Tim Drake acting under the control of an implanted chip containing Joker's personality, memories, and genetic information. When the Joker chip takes control, it transforms Tim into a clone of the Joker. "Joker" has access to all of Tim's memories in addition to his own and can even make his voice sound like Tim's (which he does to keep Tim's wife from being suspicious of her husband working late hours). "Joker" tells Terry that while he still has to revert to Tim Drake every now and then, he's getting stronger and soon will be able to maintain control full-time. Thankfully, Terry is able to destroy the chip and free Tim from the Joker's control.
  • After being possessed by Zordrak in an episode of The Dreamstone, Amberley gains a pair of extremely evil looking glowing eyes.
  • In the Gravity Falls episode "Sock Opera", when Dipper is possessed by Bill, he gains creepy yellow eyes, and teeth that should probably not be on an animated character.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: The ghost of Shendu (a dragon-demon-wizard) usually gives his host glowing red eyes when in control. While he's not capable of transforming his host's body under his own power, he once tried to do so manually with potions.
  • In The Legend of Korra, when a human is possessed by a spirit, the human's body starts to change to resemble the spirit. If the spirit stays inside too long, the host will die.
  • Happened a few times in The Real Ghostbusters, most notably in the episode 'If I Were A Witch Man', where we see the ghostly-witch Kestral possess two people — one of which being Egon Spengler — and she turns their bodies into the old stereotypical witch look (or in Egon's case, an old man).
  • An interesting case occurs in Wakfu when Anathar possesses Adamai. It seems like the transformation isn't solely due to his own power but also because he's exploiting and supercharging the natural shapeshifting abilities of his host. The result is a drooling grotesque mockery of a full-grown dragon with eyes all over its body that is strong enough to face Phaeris the Powerful in single combat.


Video Example(s):


Ghostbusters (1984)

Dana Barrett and Louis Tully, both under demonic possession, transform into the hellhound forms of their inhabitants after summoning Gozer.

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Example of:

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Main / TransformationOfThePossessed