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A familiar path with new steps taken
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WARNING: DUE TO THE NATURE OF THIS COMIC, THERE ARE UNMARKED UNDERTALE SPOILERS AHEAD AND ON THE OTHER PAGES.

Storyshift (Tumblr link) is a piece of Undertale fanfiction by voltrathelively that asks the question: What if the characters changed places? To answer this, it shifts the ten main characters (Asriel, Napstablook, Toriel, Sans, Papyrus, Undyne, Alphys, Mettaton, Asgore, and Chara) into each other's roles, potentially going to go several times with different assignments to each role. note 

As of April 19th, 2017, Voltra has announced that Storyshift is under hiatus due to people leaking talk about a reboot. It was later confirmed/reiterated that the AU will eventually return with said reboot, revamping the story, character designs, and area layouts.

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    List of All Shifts 
  • Shift 1:
    • Napstablook replaces Asriel as the one whose consciousness was put into a flower to become Boogie.
    • Alphys replaces Napstablook as the person who periodically inhabits the Ruins.
    • Papyrus replaces Toriel as the caretaker of the Ruins.
    • Chara replaces Sans as a sentry outside the Ruins and the judge of your every action.
    • Asriel replaces Papyrus as the other sentry outside the Ruins.
    • Toriel replaces Undyne as the Captain of the Guard, and your pursuer throughout Waterfall.
    • Asgore replaces Alphys as the Royal Scientist and creator of the Amalgamates.
    • Undyne replaces Mettaton as your enemy in Hotland.
    • Mettaton replaces Chara as the one who planned to cross the Barrier.
    • Sans replaces Asgore as King of the Underground.

  • Shift 2:
    • Toriel replaces Asgore
    • Asgore replaces Toriel
    • Sans replaces Alphys
    • Papyrus replaces Undyne
    • Undyne replaces Asriel
    • Alphys replaces Chara
    • Napstablook replaces Sans
    • Mettaton replaces Papyrus
    • Asriel replaces Napstablook
    • Chara replaces Mettaton

  • Shift 3:
    • Toriel replaces Napstablook
    • Asgore replaces Mettaton
    • Sans replaces Toriel
    • Papyrus replaces Asgore
    • Undyne replaces Sans
    • Alphys replaces Papyrus
    • Napstablook replaces Undyne
    • Mettaton replaces Alphys
    • Asriel replaces Chara
    • Chara replaces Asriel

  • Shift 4:
    • Toriel replaces Sans
    • Asgore replaces Papyrus
    • Sans replaces Mettaton
    • Papyrus replaces Napstablook
    • Undyne replaces Alphys
    • Alphys replaces Undyne
    • Napstablook replaces Chara
    • Mettaton replaces Asriel
    • Asriel replaces Asgore
    • Chara replaces Toriel

  • Shift 5:
    • Toriel replaces Mettaton
    • Asgore replaces Napstablook
    • Sans replaces Asriel
    • Papyrus replaces Chara
    • Undyne replaces Asgore
    • Alphys replaces Toriel
    • Napstablook replaces Papyrus
    • Mettaton replaces Sans
    • Asriel replaces Undyne
    • Chara replaces Alphys

  • Shift 6:
    • Toriel replaces Chara
    • Asgore replaces Asriel
    • Sans replaces Napstablook
    • Papyrus replaces Mettaton
    • Undyne replaces Papyrus
    • Alphys replaces Sans
    • Napstablook replaces Alphys
    • Mettaton replaces Undyne
    • Asriel replaces Toriel
    • Chara replaces Asgore

  • Shift 7:
    • Toriel replaces Alphys
    • Asgore replaces Undyne
    • Sans replaces Papyrus
    • Papyrus replaces Sans
    • Undyne replaces Chara
    • Alphys replaces Asriel
    • Napstablook replaces Toriel
    • Mettaton replaces Asgore
    • Asriel replaces Mettaton
    • Chara replaces Napstablook

  • Shift 8:
    • Toriel replaces Papyrus
    • Asgore replaces Sans
    • Sans replaces Chara
    • Papyrus replaces Asriel
    • Undyne replaces Toriel
    • Alphys replaces Asgore
    • Napstablook replaces Mettaton
    • Mettaton replaces Napstablook
    • Asriel replaces Alphys
    • Chara replaces Undyne

  • Shift 9:
    • Toriel replaces Asriel
    • Asgore replaces Chara
    • Sans replaces Undyne
    • Papyrus replaces Alphys
    • Undyne replaces Napstablook
    • Alphys replaces Mettaton
    • Napstablook replaces Asgore
    • Mettaton replaces Toriel
    • Asriel replaces Sans
    • Chara replaces Papyrus

NOTE: Only tropes that apply to this fanfic's divergence from canon (eg. events, character designs etc.) should be cataloged here.


Storyshift contains examples of:

  • Accidental Hero: Mettaton!Undyne's manager in Shift 1. His intervention, during which he reminds Undyne that it's the scheduled time for her cooking show, momentarily stops her from chasing Shifty.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Some characters' text box head sprites look more touched up in this version, Asgore and Toriel's in particular (especially Toriel's).
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • Alphys!Asgore is more confident and assertive than his canon counterpart, stopping Mettaton!Undyne from killing Shifty with nothing but a stern talking to...and then punishes her by suplexing her through a wall!
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    • Toriel, due to taking Undyne's place as captain of the Royal Guard in Shift 1.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: Mettaton!Undyne initiates a fight with Shifty in the Hotland lab before Alphys!Asgore shows up to discourage her.
    • Endogeny appears in Snowdin (replacing Annoying Dog in stealing the second boss's attack), and Lemon Bread is encountered alongside Shyren in Waterfall.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Sans!Chara is a lot friendlier than their canon counterpart. However, a bonus entry where Papyrus!Asriel becomes king (bear in mind this involves you killing both their adoptive parents) starts to look a little familiar.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Subverted with Asgore!Sans At first, we only get Toriel's side of the story. From her perspective, it looked like Sans was all too willing to kill Chara, but we later hear Chara's side of the story and learn this was not the case. According to them, "there was hesitation" and there "wasn't any bloodlust". However, it remains ambiguous whether he would have killed Chara or not, because Toriel arrived just in time. Even more subverted when Shifty reaches New Home, where it's revealed that Sans declared war on humanity mostly because he was pressured by his subjects to do it, contrary to canon!Asgore who did it on his own in a moment of anger, even though he regretted it afterwards.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: The role exchanges between the characters have led to some subtle differences. For example, while Papyrus is still an exuberant, lovable goofball, he's also a good deal more mature, thanks to being apart from Sans for so long.
    • Asriel!Napstablook after the ruins fix up is also different. They aren't depressed so much as extremely apathetic. A less dramatic change than Asriel to Flowey, but a change nonetheless.
  • Alice Allusion: The new Fallen Human, representing the Curiosity trait, is named Alice. Her Croquet Mallet and Bowed Band fit as references to various versions of the Alice in Wonderland story, and Word of God confirms the reference is intentional.
  • And I Must Scream: While still present with the Amalgamates, this is considerably lessened in Shift 1. As Alphys!Asgore is more confident and willing to own up to his mistakes, the Amalgamates are out in the open and living alongside their component's families. Except from Snowdrake's mother.
  • Anti-Villain: In Shift 1, Asgore!Sans only declared war to humanity because his subjects, angry and vengeful after the deaths of Mettacrit and Mira, pressured him to do it.
  • The Atoner: After hanging out with Shifty, Toriel leaves, but not before promising to make amends, "starting with those who ran from [her]," namely her children.
    • After the dinner date with Shifty, Chara makes it a point to reconcile with Asriel after blowing up on him earlier.
  • Author Avatar: The Winged Serpent replaces the avatar of Toby Fox, the Annoying Dog to absorb the artifact. According to Word of God, the Annoying Dog is still around but in a different place.
    • And sure enough, he shows up during the Toriel hang out in the drawer again.
  • Badass Bookworm: Doctor Asgore Dreemur. Royal scientist well versed in robotics, cybernetics, human history, biology, and botany... and big and strong enough to suplex a now cyborg Undyne through his lab wall!
  • Berserk Button: Chara takes it rather personally if somebody even implies that people who suffered should be treated with caution, lest they turn evil.
  • Big Sister Instinct: In Shift 1, Lemon Bread angrily admonishes Shifty not to harm Shyren during their battle.
  • Bizarre Taste in Food: Sans apparently drinks ketchup soda.
  • Broken Pedestal: Undyne!Toriel reveals in her date that she used to be good friends with Asgore!Sans and blindly followed in his plan to break the barrier until she witnessed him almost killing a human child firsthand. She stepped in to take the child under her care but that incident had inspired her to work against his plan ever since. That child's name? Chara.
  • Carnival of Killers: Mettaton!Undyne decides to make a game show out of hunting Shifty and inviting some very skilled mercenaries to participate. These mercenaries include Final Froggit, Astigmatism, Whimsalot, Madjick, and Knight Knight.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: If Toriel, Asgore, Undyne and Sans are dead, Asriel becomes king of the underground.
  • Cyborg: Mettaton!Undyne.
  • Dreadful Musician: Zigzagged with Mettaton!Undyne. You accidentally crash her piano concert (which replaces "Undertale: The Musical" with OTL!Mettaton), and in her rage, she starts slinging her piano at you. One of the screencaps shows a metallic drum inside in place of the strings and hammers of a typical piano. Undyne was "playing" a player piano.
  • Death by Despair: Asriel!Napstablook dies this way, having lost all hope after finding out that their cousin had died of his injuries from the humans.
  • Driven to Suicide: Alphys!Asgore. After accidentally creating the Amalgamates and being apart from his family for so long, he's willing to let Shift take his SOUL.
  • Dysfunctional Family: A downplayed example - the Dreemurr family in Shift 1 is affected by the strain in Asgore's and Toriel's relationship, implied to be caused by occurrences in the lab (probably linked to the Amalgamates). Unable to forgive him for what he did, Toriel moved house from to Waterfall. Chara and Asriel however, quickly forgave Asgore and went to live by themselves in Snowdin. It's very telling that Asriel drops his cocksure facade and begins crying during the first meeting with his mother, and says that he wants the family back together. Although it should be noted that Asgore's and Toriel's relationship isn't as tainted as the one of their canon counterparts. In her date, Toriel calls herself an "old married woman" if Shifty flirts with her and she still uses his nickname (Gorey) when she refers to Asgore.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Toriel!Papyrus is perfectly willing to show Shifty the exit to the Ruins and talks about the previous humans passing through on the way there. He wonders why they have never contacted him since then and puts two and two together, leading up to the fight.
  • Fantastic Racism: According to the plaques in Waterfall, humans developed a lethal fear and hatred of magicians.
  • Flat "What": The dialogue box drops one when Endogeny steals Papyrus!Asriel's special attack.
  • For Want of a Nail: Lampshaded by Goner Kid.
    "Despite seeing the same places, the people are never in the same spot. The only thing that remains is how I fell."
    • This seems to imply that there may be some divergences from the plot to come.
    • In-universe example with Some things stay true for all paths, which list things that are the same across all shifts.
  • Genius Bruiser: Alphys!Asgore is the royal scientist, and strong enough to suplex Mettaton!Undyne through a wall.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Though just as motherly and compassionate as her canon counterpart, Undyne!Toriel is not the hand-holding, overprotective Goatmom you remember.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Undyne!Toriel never wears one, presumably to emphasize her stern yet motherly nature.
  • Humans Are Bastards: While friendlier than their canon counterpart, Sans!Chara makes it clear that they still aren't fans of humanity. This is present when you call them from Waterfall's Wishing Area, where they insist "beings like them" don't belong in the hopes and wishes of monsters. Most monsters share this mindset, because of the death of Mettacrit.
  • I Gave My Word: At one point, during one of her shows, Mettaton!Undyne forces Shifty to race up with a jar of honey and a can of fish sauce, promising that the first one would be spared. (And that the rest would face her wrath.) When Shifty wins, she let them go.
    Mettaton!Undyne: "... fine. I'm a monster of my word. But don't think this is the last time we will meet human!!"
  • Ignored Epiphany: Implied to be the case with Sans. After receiving a What the Hell, Hero? from Toriel while trying to kill Chara, he let the kid go with her. However, this didn't cause him to change his policies regarding humans, and he still wants the souls.
    • Subverted later when it turns out that he's revealed to be as hesitant as canon!Asgore and is implied to have second-thoughts about his plan.
  • In Spite of a Nail: For now played straight. Even if the characters switch places, the basic plot remains the same. The war between monsters and humans had the exact same outcome, Shifty is still trapped underground and tries to leave it, Chara and six other humans have already fallen before them, the king still has the same plan to use the human souls to cross the barrier, the Amalgamates still exist, there are still a captain of the guards, a royal scientist, a caretaker of the ruins... Divergences from the plot do happen though.
    • The character who makes that implication also hints that there is one character whose role will never, ever change: W.D. Gaster.
    • Killing Toriel, Asgore, and Undyne in Shift 1 will lead to Sans!Chara enacting the buttercup plan .
  • I've Come Too Far: The mindset of the King and most monsters in Shift 1, and one of the reasons why Asgore!Sans continues to enact his plan to harvest Shifty's SOUL to cross the Barrier. He thinks that now that the plan is almost over, and freedom is almost at reach, the monsters won't want him to give up at the last moment.
  • LARP: Sans!Chara invites you to join them in "Humans and Monsters" against Papyrus!Asriel, who calls himself the "Absolute God Of Hyperdeath". However, it is cut short when Asriel loses his cool over Chara's teasing and the ineffectiveness of his puzzles.
  • Lemony Narrator: The narration in Shift 1 is no less quirky or charming than it is in canon, due to the narrator being Mettaton.
    There you are, darling!
  • Magic Knight: Undyne!Toriel is more mage than knight, but the overall imagery is there.
  • Magical Girl Warrior: Mettaton!Undyne's Super Mode, Undyne Umbra, is this.
  • Mythology Gag: Mettaton!Undyne gives a variation of her canon pre-battle dialogue in response to her manager at her piano recital complaining about the human appearing on stage.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Canon!Undyne chased you across several wooden platforms/docks, throwing spears at you. Undyne!Toriel... uses her fire magic to illuminate the area, hanging back to watch your every movement instead. Monster Kid tells Shifty that she doesn't do that unless she's really intent on cornering her target. Played With, as she never intended to hurt Shifty but wanted to save them.
  • Parental Substitute: Alphys!Asgore is stated to be one for Mettaton!Undyne.
    Undyne's poster in Asgore's bedroom: "Thanks for being the dad I never knew could be real."
  • Peer Pressure Makes You Evil: In a way. In Shift 1, Asgore!Sans declared war on humanity and enacted his plan to use the Human SOULs because his subjects, desperate and angry after Mettacrit's death at the hands of humans, pressured him to do it.
  • Piano Drop: At one point in Shift 1, Mettaton!Undyne attacks Shifty during her recital by throwing her player piano at them.
  • Precision F-Strike: From Chara, and a low-key one, when they question Shifty about why they're so determined to go back up to the surface.
    Chara: Why the hell would you want that?
  • Sanity Slippage: One of the nastier Neutral Endings ends up with Chara falling into this.
  • Ship Tease: In Shift 1.
    • Unlike canon Papyrus, Asriel is still willing to date you, but wants to hold off on it until they reach the surface.
    • Some of Chara's comments also give off this vibe.
    Chara: "Oh hello there pretty mirror!"
    • Chara's reaction to being called cute by Asriel.
    Chara: (after Asriel leaves): He's not the one heating up in freezing cold because of one word.
  • Shout-Out: Mettaton!Undyne One-Winged Angel form in the Core brings Sailor Moon in mind.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Asriel and Chara, although with the caveat that Napstablook and Mettaton become their equivalents in the first shift.
  • Sssssnake Talk: The description on the Winged Serpent is narrated this way.
  • Stepford Smiler:
    • While Toriel!Papyrus does seem to keep his optimistic canon demeanor, it becomes increasingly obvious that he's quite lonely down in the Ruins.
    • Chara too, if their phone call outside the Ruins is anything go by. The Hotland hangout proves that they were suicidal before Papyrus reminded them of how much their family would miss them.
    Chara: ... despite all these fears, I will remain determined. For everyone's sake.
    • When you first meet him, you wouldn't guess that Asgore is so haunted by what he did with the Amalgamates that he has become suicidal.
  • Suplex Finisher: In Shift 1, Asgore suplexes Undyne into a wall as punishment for fighting Shifty.
  • Sweet Tooth: Chara. According to Toriel, they used "more sugar than powder" when making artificial lemonade.
  • Theme Naming: The X!Y format for referring to characters extends to fan-made music selections as well. For example: "Histrousle" uses the beat of "Nyeh Heh Heh!"/"Bonetrousle" backing up the melody of "His Theme".
  • Through a Face Full of Fur: Asriel blushes a bunch of times when interacting with Shifty.
  • Turns Red: Unlike canon Papyrus, the Papyrus!Asriel fight's projectiles completely change after a certain point, rather than saddling you with the need to jump. In addition, the fight is actually challenging before the switchover.
  • The Voice: In Shift 1, Mettaton!Undyne's manager intervenes during the Cooking Show and the piano recital, but stays off-screen. Until The Reveal in Undyne's hotel complex that he is in fact Shyren's agent.
  • Wham Episode: "I've Been Here Before," in which we discover the Shift 1 version of the backstory.
  • Wham Line: "The world turns on and on without me. This I know well. And yet I wonder. Despite seeing the same places, the people are never in the same spot. The only thing that remains is how I fell."
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Toriel gave Sans a good tongue-lashing on seeing him try to kill Chara.
  • Witch Hunt: According to a new addition to the plaques in Waterfall in Shift 1, the humans went on one of these. It's hinted to be the backstory of Sans!Chara given that they call themselves a demon in Undertale.
    The humans' cowardice refused to stop there. Over time, they became distrustful of magicians. 'They wear the skin of a human but hold a monster's magic?' 'What if they learn to take our SOULS?' In time the magicians were no longer considered human. Instead they were called demons. Neither monster or human, but something less than both.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: In Shift 1, the "Praise" action in the encounter with Whimsalot during Mettaton!Undyne's "game show" works like this. The first few uses give actual complements before quickly devolving into a “The Reason You Suck” Speech concerning Whimsalot bullying Astigmatism as a child.

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