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Voluntary Shapeshifting

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Druids can get unbearable sometimes.
"If comic books, cartoons, and Sci-Fi Original Movies have taught me anything, it's that shapeshifting comes with a bunch of boring rules and restrictions that limit its potential Turn-Into-a-Bulldozer-Whenever-I-Wantity. 'You can turn into a machine gun but not bullets, contemporary jazz turns you back to normal, you can only turn into presents your grandma's knitted for you.' Crap like that."

A character with the power to transform and reshape their body. This trope comes in a wide variety of forms, but can be classified by exactly what the character can transform themselves into.

Most commonly, a character is limited to a specific set of one or more "alternate" forms, or a specific "class" of things he can change into (animals, machines, elements, etc.) Sometimes, there's a specific feature that they are unable to conceal, like hair color or voice, that others can use to identify them regardless of what form they are in. If the only thing they are able to change is hair/eye color, they have Kaleidoscope Hair/Eye Colour Change.

Usually, the character can transform simply by thinking about it, but occasionally they may use a gadget or a magic phrase.

Magic Pants are almost always in effect, unless the shapeshifting character demonstrates or mentions they are simply molding what looks like clothing out of their body cells for the common decency of those around them. (In which case, it's best not to think too much about that... whoops, too late.)

Many Superheroes have this power, along with nearly all gods and Sufficiently Advanced Aliens. Some of them are Shapeshifting Tricksters and Reality Warpers.

Many with a flexible transformation scheme also have a tacked-on bonus ability to alter their shape in any way they wish; i.e., adopt a clay-like consistency and sculpt themselves blob-style. The stretchy, ultraflexible body of a character like Plastic Man or Elastigirl is a milder form. Others may use a Partial Transformation to "mix and match" elements of their human and transformed states.

Being able to form limbs into stabbing weapons and reform oneself after being blown apart by explosives has become an almost standard ability of the clay-consistency metamorph in recent years, probably due to the popularity of the T-1000 character from Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Quite a few Shifters boast Elemental Powers, with water-based powers being particularly popular. A potent Healing Factor is also often packaged in, considering they can restructure their body at will.

Exactly where their extra body mass comes from (or goes) when a shapeshifter transforms from one size to another is known as Shapeshifter Baggage.

Can be used for Narrative Shapeshifting. The Shapeshifting Seducer finds picking up partners at bars is fairly easy, regardless of sex or preference, and is likely to be rather open-minded themselves about whom they choose.

Sooner or later, a Phlebotinum Breakdown may leave the character suffering Involuntary Shapeshifting or Shapeshifter Mode Lock, if only temporarily. If badly beaten or near death, they may have a Superpower Meltdown and lose control of their power, resulting in a Shapeshifter Swan Song. If the character isn't very used to morphing shapes they may have Limb-Sensation Fascination after each change. Such a character might also be Otherworldly and Sexually Ambiguous.


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    Eastern Animation 
  • Noonbory and the Super 7: Noonbory's sidekick, a yellow blob-like creature named Mamby, can shapeshift into just about anything, including a parachute, a pair of scissors, etc.
  • The Latvian cartoon Fantadroms features a shapeshifting cat robot named Indrikis as its main character. Receklite, one of the show's secondary characters, is also a cat robot with this ability.
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Mighty Little Defenders, Wolfram, with the help of a machine owned by General Wolf, creates mud golems that can change their shape to resemble anyone and use this ability to disguise themselves as they go after the goats.
  • The eponymous main character of Lamput, being a blob without a definite shape, can shapeshift into whatever form he pleases and often does this to outwit the docs who are after him.
  • Gypsy Tales: In "The Gypsy Woman and the Devil", the devil transforms into a rich young man to entrap Vunida. He transforms into a black jackdaw when he curses her to turn into a cherry tree.
  • In Happy Heroes, one of Kalo's main superpowers is the ability to shapeshift. Major forms besides his standard humanoid form include a one-eyed cephalothorax form he take in his earliest appearances, a jet pack, a sword and a Rubik's Cube.
  • GG Bond: In Seasons 7-9, the pigs have the ability to shapeshift into stronger animalistic forms, with GG Bond initially having all the transformations before they're spread throughout the team. GG Bond transforms into a tiger, Phoebe transforms into a crane, Super Q transforms into a bear, S-Daddy transforms into a deer, and Bobby transforms into an ape.

    Fairy Tales 

    Films — Animation 
  • Genie from Aladdin may be the best known of the trickster subtype.
  • Merlock from DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp has a talisman that allows him to turn into non-anthromorphic animals.
  • One of the antagonists of Happy Heroes: The Movie, the aptly-named Transformation M./Shapeshifter, morphs into the shape of Doctor H. for much of the movie and does so well at mimicking his behavior that it even fools the Supermen at first.
  • Pain and Panic from Hercules can turn themselves into any number of animals. They can even shapeshift together to make larger creatures they couldn't be alone.
  • Jacklyn from Igor pulls this off using special pills.
  • The Incredibles:
    • Elastigirl can reshape herself into different forms like a makeshift boat or a parachute, thanks to her elastic powers. In the sequel, she takes on a glider shape similar to a flying squirrel to travel quickly through the city.
    • Jack-Jack is classified a polymorph by Edna Mode in the sequel. He essentially shapeshifts on the molecular level. This grants him a wide range of different abilities such as setting himself on fire a la Human Torch or turning into a demonic-looking creature when he gets angry.
  • Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi from The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is a brick-built character who can turn into... well, whatever she wants to be.
  • Dave the octopus from Penguins of Madagascar, who manages to disguise himself as a human, although downplayed in that he needs to wear a wig and clothes.
  • Merlin and Madam Mim from The Sword in the Stone are powerful magic users who can use magic to take on various forms. Merlin throughout the movie teaches life lessons to Arthur by turning himself and Arthur into various animals such as a squirrel, fish, and a bird. During her Villain Song Madam Mim performs feats such as shrinking, turning herself into giant, giving her face porcine features, and even making herself look young and beautiful. She also tries to kill Arthur (who is still in bird form) by turning into a cat. During their Wizard Duel, Merlin and Mim turn into various animals to fight each other. Mim cheats by turning into a dragon when earlier she said it was against the rules to turn into something like a pink dragon (she uses Exact Words by claiming she never said it was cheating to turn into a purple dragon). Merlin wins by turning himself into a germ, making Mim horribly sick and bedridden.
  • Morph in Treasure Planet.
  • In Turning Red, after her initial Power Incontinence, Mei learns to control the panda transformation and use it to her advantage.
  • Ralph, The All-Purpose Animal from Twice Upon a Time has the power to change into any animal.

  • Lone Wolf:
    • The Helghasts from the gamebook series (and its spin-off Legend of Lone Wolf novels) are undead able to take human shape, making them perfect spies and assassins for the Darklords.
    • The Nadziranim ("dark sorcerers") can turn into vicious monsters when they have to fight. Their familiars the Liganim also seems to have many shapes.
    • The Deathstalker and its mate, introduced in the New Order Kai series, went on a killing spree in a city and used its shapeshifting abilities to evade detection. Its natural form is some sort of horrible ape-like thing.

  • Blue Öyster Cult: The titular character of Imaginos is a skilled shapeshifter, with examples given of him turning into a buzzard, a pony, and a pinwheel, as well as imitating various humans.
  • Tears for Fears: One of the Sybil dialogue samples from "The Big Chair" (the B-Side of "Shout") is "The devil has the power to assume a pleasing shape".
  • They Might Be Giants: The song "Shape Shifter" is sung from the perspective of a person who suspects that multiple people and things around him are changing their appearance. Considering TMBG's love of the Unreliable Narrator trope, however, this may just be a metaphor.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Quite a few dragons have this ability, depending on the story.
  • In Japanese Mythology, tanuki ("raccoon dogs") usually have this ability; often kitsune (foxes), jorogumo (spiders), and housecats (bakeneko and nekomata) can do this as well.
  • Happens in Celtic Mythology too from time to time.
  • Loki, the Norse god of mischief, and to a lesser extent, Odin. Both gods held the power to change shape at will, and most of Loki's stories hinge on this ability.
  • Proteus from Greek Mythology was an ocean god that specialized in shifting his shape, most commonly to avoid being caught and interrogated by heroes who wanted to make use of his prophetic abilities.
  • Selkies have the ability to change from seals into humans, then back again with the use of their coats.
  • Pookas and kelpies both have the ability to shapeshift, with their defaults being yellow eyed horses living in marshes and swamps. (The difference being that Pookas are generally more benevolent than kelpies, who are just mythological douchebags).
    • A similar Scandinavian water spirit known as the nøkken (in Norway at least; the name varies from region to region) could also transform into a horse, but his signature form was that of a handsome man with a violin. Its enchanting music would lure victims into the water, causing them to drown.
  • Various African myths and legends include shapeshifters (almost invariably Always Chaotic Evil cannibalistic witches) who take the forms of lions, leopards, hyenas, jackals, crocodiles, snakes, bats, dogs, pigs, water buffalo, geese, grasscutter rats, wildcats, and sharks. They use these shapes to kill and eat people, dig up graves, destroy crops, and other heinous acts.
  • Voluntary weretigers feature in the myths of China, Thailand, Bali, Java, and India.
  • In the Balkans, there are legends of weather-controlling sorcerers who can turn into snakes, eagles, or other animals. Usually these are good guys who protect their home villages, but then they're also prone to attacking neighboring villages.
  • In Mesoamerican folklore, the nahual is a person with the power to turn into an animal, usually a jaguar or puma.
  • In many Chinese legends, certain taoists, Immortals and demons can perform the so called "72 Transformations" to transform into anything they like, change size or even turn their bodies into elements such as stone and metal. The name doesn't actually refer to the number of transformations, but refers to the fact that 72 is considered the number of perfection, as it's obtained by multiplying 9 and 8, the two highest single-digit numbers of Yang and Yin, respectively.

  • Metamor City, the non-canon spinoff to Metamor Keep, takes place after the curse has been manipulated to the point where the cursed can assume their pre-curse forms for up to twelve hours at a time, but they need to spend an equal amount of time in their fully cursed form.
  • Shapeshifting is the hat of Jupiter spies in The Thrilling Adventure Hour "Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars" episodes. On multiple occasions, Jupiter spy Jib Janeen infiltrates the group by posing as one of the main characters with the rest none the wiser until it's too late. This being a comedy series, the joke comes from the fact that the the characters are fooled despite the fact that Jib Janeen makes absolutely zero effort to hide his voice and mannerisms while in disguise. His initial appearances feature him singing the Sparks Nevada theme song as either Sparks or Croach and, in the latter case, being so hammy as Croach that Sparks' actor Marc Evan Jackson can't help Corpsing.
  • Void from The Chimera Program arc of Cool Kids Table can reshape their body however they want, including becoming larger.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons is filled with creatures, races, classes, spells, and items that allow characters to shapeshift.
    • Dopplegangers can only take humanoid forms, but can mimic any individual or type of humanoid they please, including clothes.
    • Changelings (theorized to be descended from dopplegangers) can likewise assume other humanoid forms. Changeling wizards can confer a shapeshifting power to their Familiars.
    • True lycanthropes (i.e. born, not infected) can switch between humanoid and bestial forms at will. Infected lycanthropes can learn to control their shifting to an extent, but voluntarily changing into hybrid or animal form automatically changes their alignment based on which variety they are.
    • Deep dragons are natural shapeshifters, and gain a number of alternate forms as they age. The first is that of a winged snake, and they later gain access to a humanoid shape.
    • Druids' Wild Shape ability allows them to take the form of wild animals. The prestige class "Master of Many Forms" focuses pretty much on that ability alone.
    • Primevals can take the form of a single animal species at will, although it must be a prehistoric beast such as a dinosaur, megafauna or dire animal. They can only do this once daily when starting out, but gain additional daily uses as they level up.
    • The Polymorph subschool of spells focuses on turning living things into other sorts of living things.
  • Exalted:
    • The Lunar Exalted have the ability to change into animals that they have eaten. Also humans, though they can eventually learn to add new human forms to their repertoire non-lethally. There aren't really all that many limits on what a Lunar can and can't turn into, as some of their Knacks allow them to acquire the forms of plants, elementals, demons, gods, raksha, and even geography.
      "Hey, guys, I was just wondering — was this mountain always here? Because I distinctly remember a lake which used to be here..."
    • The Lunars' patron Luna, the shapeshifting god/dess of the moon, is able to take virtually any form in existence (and some that aren't).
  • Godforsaken: A character who Takes Animal Shape is a shapeshifter that can take the form of an animal, with full control over their transformation and mind in either form.
  • Paranoia. The Polymorphism mutant ability allows a character to change his shape enough to another humanoid form (for example, to impersonate another human being), but no more than that.
  • Golden Sky Stories. Being that the players are magical animals (called henge), they can take on multiple forms such as Talking Animal, Little Bit Beastly and fully human.
  • GURPS has lots of ways to do this but the Morph version of Shapeshifting allows the user to become virtually anything they have seen before (within point limits). There are numerous spells that allow the user to alter their shape as well.
  • Hero System does this with the Shape Shift power. This in and of itself only allows "cosmetic" changes (that may not even affect all senses), however — for the shapeshifter to be able to significantly change size and/or mass as well they would have to pick up Required Secondary Powers like Growth, Shrinking, Density Increase, or Stretching, and a shapeshifter who is also supposed to be able to adopt actual traits of multiple mimicked forms would be a prime candidate for a Variable Power Pool.
  • Night Wizard as a number of playable classes which can do this, most notably the Tamer/Magic Beast User, whose main gimmick is transforming body parts into various forms to grant himself various abilities.
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse's The Naturalist can change between three animal forms at will, gaining a fourth during the OblivAeon event.
  • The Splinter: All avatars have this ability. Each race has three forms that they can switch between. In fact, beings in the Realm that can't shapeshift aren't even considered truly sapient.
  • Warhammer: The Changeling, a powerful Daemonic Herald of the Chaos God of Magic, is able to alter its form at will, using this ability to advance the plots of its nefarious master and generally spread as much chaos and misdirection as possible. It is said that the Changeling has taken on so many forms over the course of its existence that it has forgotten its original form.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Vampires from early editions can alter their shape and appearance in order to resemble other alien species, which they use to infiltrate their societies.
  • The World of Darkness: Multiple games include variants of this.
    • Mage: The Ascension: Mages can shapeshift depending on the magic used. Life is a pretty common one.
    • Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem have a vampiric discipline known as Protean, which allows for limited shapeshifting. Though the first few levels allow the changing of a single feature (eyes, claws, get fur and such), higher levels allow a character to shift into any form normally associated with vampires (i.e. wolves, bats, mist).
    • Werewolf: The Apocalypse and Werewolf: The Forsaken have you play as a werewolf with five forms ranging through man to hybrid to wolf. Shapeshifting is controlled by the player for the most part. The game is based on werewolves, but sourcebooks allow players in the Old World of Darkness to play a variety of were-animals (big cats, ravens, rats, coyotes, bears, foxes, hyenas, spiders, snakes, crocodiles, lizards, sharks), most of which have either five or three available forms. New World of Darkness sourcebooks open up an even wider range of shapeshifters.
  • World Tree (RPG): Bonstables can take on the form of either any Prime species or of silver-winged birds.

    Theme Parks 

  • BIONICLE has quite a few. One example is Krahka, a Rahi who can transform, perfectly imitate and even gain some memories of any living thing she sees. Another example is the Makuta, a race of evil beings, one of which is the Big Bad, that are made of energy and have shapeshifting armor.

    Web Animation 
  • The Imposter from the Supermarioglitchy4's Super Mario 64 Bloopers episode of the same name can shapeshift into anyone. He has even tricked SMG4 and Starman3 into believing that MarioMario54321 was acting weird and Mario was dancing to a Rickroll.
  • In Appisote 19 of Da Amazin OT Advenchr, Lite lands on Pluto after getting kicked in the ass BY an ass, where an alien shapeshifts into Nascar to fool him.
  • Homestar Runner: In the Strong Bad Email "shapeshifter", Strong Bad points out all the downsides to shapeshifting, such as the restrictive rules like only being able to turn into balloon animals, or half of a person, and the unintended consequences, like turning into a $100 bill, being picked up in the wind, and being stuffed in someone's sweaty pocket. Another "rule" that he points out is that all shapeshifters need to have a cool shapeshifting sound effect, such as "DWAYNE!"
  • RWBY: On the world of Remnant, living beings possess Aura, spiritual power that allows them to perform super-powered feats known as Semblances, and which can be amplified through the use of a substance called Dust. However, it's not magic, which everyone knows is just a fairy tale. What people don't know is that there's a secret brotherhood of very powerful people working very hard to make sure the world doesn't find out magic really exists. One member of this group, Qrow Branwen, has the ability to transform into a crow. Because it's a magical ability, he keeps it secret and only a select few people know about it; those that learn about the ability tend to get freaked out about it, strongly implying that the world views shapeshifting as impossible. Qrow's twin sister Raven, who abandoned the brotherhood long ago, has the same ability. Qrow has greyish-red eyes and Raven has ruby-red eyes; their bird forms retain these colours, giving away their identities to those who know what to look for. The twins were not born with this magical ability, but were granted it by the leader of the brotherhood, Professor Ozpin, who once possessed vast magical power that he claims has been dwindling over the many thousands of years that he has walked the earth; whether or not he can shapeshift or only pass on the ability to others is unknown.
  • Dreamscape: Keedran can change between an angelic and a monstrous form.

    Web Original 
  • Codex Inversus: Transmuter snails are capable of self-transmutation by waving their eyestalks in precise patterns, creating magical sigils and effectively casting spells. A snail may give itself climbing or jumping legs to deal with a tall obstacle, then a tadpole-like tail to cross a body of water, then turn that tail into a prehensile tentacle to reach a piece of food, then grow bristling spines over its shell to fend off a predator.
  • Whateley Universe: A lot of the characters have this.
    • While Word of God states it is a relatively uncommon power, especially at higher levels, given the size of the Whateley Academy student body by the early 2000s, that still means about a dozen or so in any given graduating class (not counting those who have a limited form of it as a Required Secondary Power). This can range from "minor cosmetic changes" (Vamp) or "can only copy other people" (Bogus and Chaney) over "can turn into any natural predatory animal" (Feral) and super-stretchy abilities (Plastic Girl and Reach) to "any viable biological form in a range between 50-500Kg" (Reinforce) to "can change into almost anything you can think of without regard to size" (Jimmy Trauger). Jimmy T can turn into an 80-foot-giant, or 300 pounds of carnivorous protoplasm, or something from Alien. He just can't control what shape he'll be when he wakes up, and it takes him hours to revert back to his real form.
    • And those are just some of the mutants. The universe also features lycanthropes (like the tribe whose land the school itself stands on) and shapeshifting spirits and demons. For example, Carmilla's father Gothmog is normally an Eldritch Abomination...but he's also quite capable of taking human form when interacting with humans.
  • Facsimile of The Descendants has no known limits on her powers, and has been implied to have given up on 'real' clothing in favor of creating it all with her shapeshifting.
  • Many Nanocyborgs in Orion's Arm are capable of shapeshifting, but like everything else in that universe they're limited by the laws of physics.
  • All weres in Above Ground can shapeshift voluntarily after they become adults — being able to control the change is a sign of maturity. However, in moments of strong emotion, or with child weres, accidental shifting may occur.
  • Two of the heroes in The Questport Chronicles do this: one transforms into a dragon, the other into a vicious demon.
  • Elcenia: Elcenia-native dragons have this as one of the abilities they develop as they reach adulthood, and can transform into animals, though cannot control what they look like within a species.
  • Jaza from The Chimera Bazaar is a shape-shifting being, but has forgotten its original form, which makes its gender questionable.
  • In the Metamor Keep shared universe, those afflicted with the curse of Metamor can adjust the degree to which the curse transforms them to a degree. Age regressed can look like they're any age below twelve, the genderbent can alter the size of their "endowments", and theriomorphs can be anthropomorphic animals or feral animals, sometimes taurs. But at the time they can't return to their pre-cursed state.
  • Called the Morphing power in Brennus, coming in different strengths: Mindstar can just do cosmetic things; Bakeneko can change into anything organic, but cannot change her mass; Hemming can change into anything organic or inorganic within a range of one-tenth to fifty times his own mass.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-040 ("Evolution's Child"). SCP-040-1a was created by SCP-040. It has polymorphic abilities and can change its size, shape, color, and texture as necessary to act as outer clothing (e.g. a sweater) for SCP-040.
    • SCP-424 ("Nanomimes"). SCP-424 can take the form (but not the coloration) of any object or creature it has ever seen.
    • SCP-523 ("The Most Unhelpful Object On Earth"). When SCP-523 escapes from containment, it changes its form to that of a useful object. When someone tries to use it for a specific purpose, it changes to another form that's not useful at all for that purpose.
    • SCP-845 ("Liquid Polecat"). SCP-845 is a polecat that can change into a light brown liquid similar to water.
    • SCP-929 ("The Cuckoo"). When SCP-929 comes within three meters of an animal it will rapidly change into a younger version of the animal. It will stay in that form until the animal it's imitating dies or it's attacked.
    • SCP-953 ("Polymorphic Humanoid"). SCP-953 normally has the form of a small Red Fox, but can take the form of objects and living creatures, including that of an attractive Korean woman.
    • SCP-1536 ("Doppelgängers"). SCP-1536 can transform itself into any moving object or animal it sees, once every 16 minutes. SCP-1536 cannot be distinguished from what it copied by any known test.
    • SCP-1537 ("Akul'hil"). SCP-1537-A can change into an almost limitless variety of shapes. They can also increase their mass to up 3 times normal and make their skin as strong as steel.
    • SCP-1961 ("Transformation Booth"). SCP-1961-1 can take the form of any living creature of the same mass, including non-humans and SCP objects. They can retain human form for up to 4 hours but any kind of shock or strong emotions will cause them to melt down.
    • SCP-2054 ("The Double"). SCP-2054 is an entity capable of duplicating the form of a human being so completely that all of the science and technology of the Foundation can't tell the duplicate from the original. SCP-2054 is also able to copy the mind of the target well enough to convincingly impersonate them.
    • SCP-2750 ("Navajo Skinwalkers"). All member of the original SCP-2750 could change into at least five different animals found in the southwest U.S., such as crows, wolves, coyotes, eagles and foxes. Some members could change into nine or more types of animals.
    • SCP-2757 ("Dr. Wondertainment's Projector Fantastico™"). When the SCP-2757 projector is used with the film SCP-2757-1e The Valiant Crusaders, one of the powers gained by the experimental subjects is shapeshifting.
  • It's revealed early on in Running with Rats that Alix is a shapeshifter.
  • The Yao Fei Beastmen in Way of Choices can each shift back and forth between a human and a beast form.
  • Scrub Club:
    • Played straight for Gel-Mo, who can shapeshift into anything he likes (although he's still see-through and gooey).
    • Downplayed for Squeaks who can turn into different kinds of soap, but only soap.
    • Even more downplayed for the rest of the Scrub Clubbers, who can only turn into one thing (Taki always turns into a clock, Hot Shot and Chill always turn into faucets, etc).

    Web Videos 
  • Morphman from Save The Supers has this power, except that he always takes the shape of objects, still recognizable by their color scheme. This means (beyond an extra in the first episode) that there is no actor playing him; all his appearances are as (mostly) inanimate objects the rest of the cast interact with.
  • CellSpex can switch from her human avatar to her pony avatar at will, when she reviews an episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Though she apparently had to learn how to do this at will at some point, as the first time it happened, it just sort of... happened.
    Cell Spex: Really? So this is mandatory for anyone who wants to analyse an episode? (sighs) Whatever.

Alternative Title(s): Voluntary Shapeshifter, Voluntary Transformation


Yoruichi Trolls Ichigo

Yoruichi messes with the chaste Ichigo by joining him in the hot springs, first in her cat form then as a naked woman.

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