Baleful Polymorph

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
You wish for me to cow your enemies? I can do better than that...

Are you ready?
Transformation central!
Reformation central!
Transmogrification[1] central!

Dr. Facilier giving some fine print, The Princess and the Frog, "Friends on the Other Side"

A character gets hit with a spell, Curse, or Transformation Ray, causing an instantaneous and involuntary transformation into some sort of animal creature (whether real or fantastic). This will render them useless in combat, until they can revert to their usual form by some means. Frogs, mice, chickens, pigs, and sheep are common.

In role-playing or video games, this is frequently a Standard Status Effects that will disable or greatly weaken most attacks and magic, but will rarely affect the victim's Hit Points or armor. People may get turned into toads, but—hot damn—those toads will be Made of Iron! A notable exception is when insects are involved, in which case the victim is not long for this world.

This is common in fiction, as it's a way for a spellcaster to defeat a foe with magic without simply killing them. It's also generally less permanent and more palatable than actual death. Often requires a hero to find the magic "cure" to turn his friend back into a person. This can be also be used to show a specific aspect of the character's personality, such as greedy persons turned into pigs, or cowards into chickens.

Occasionally in fiction a character may manage to save the day while still under this effect, sometimes through use of the animal form's abilities. This will lead to the Aesop that it's brains, not strength that's important. Or that courage is more important than size. Or that you can lay an egg and still feel like a man.

Turning someone into an animal may be accompanied by a graphic Transformation Sequence that will ruin your sleep.

Whether or not a Baleful Polymorph is effective against a Voluntary Shapeshifter varies, depending on whether or not it also imposes a Shapeshifter Mode Lock—otherwise the shapeshifter can just transform themselves back to normal, or at least something else.

Depending on the method, clothing may be transformed as well, or it may not, resulting in Empty Piles of Clothing. (Which means, naturally, that when they get turned back they're going to need those clothes back...)

See also Taken for Granite and Unwilling Roboticisation, which are much less likely to be played for laughs and much more likely to be permanent.

Can be used as a Karmic Transformation. See also Emergency Transformation, Shapeshifter Mashup and Beauty to Beast. Compare Spawn Broodling, in which the "Baleful" part is Turned Up to Eleven. Contrast with Hybrid Overkill Avoidance, where the subject is immune to further polymorphing because they're already supernatural. Compare Involuntary Shapeshifter.

Examples of Baleful Polymorph include:

Anime and Manga

  • Dragonball Z villain Captain Ginyu (who has the ability to permanently switch bodies with his opponents) is defeated when he is tricked into switching bodies with an ordinary, powerless toad. When the planet he is in explodes he is transported along with everybody else to the earth, where it's implied he lives the rest of his toady life.
    • In the final saga, Majin Buu turns Vegito into a candy ball. Said candy proceeds to kick Buu's ass. Buu, considering Vegito to be even more dangerous as what basically amounts to an absurdly powerful living bullet,[2] decides to change him back. Now that's entertainment.

"I'm no ordinary candy! I'm a jawbreaker, the strongest candy there is!"

  • In a story of one the Mazinger Z manga versions, a race of giant, man-eater, fish-alike, humanoid Eldritch Abominations from another dimension named Chip Kamoy tried to invade Earth. They kidnapped a normal human girl and transformed her into a mermaid-like being to communicate with humans. Later they trapped The Hero Kouji Kabuto and she helped him to escape. In punishment she got executed by the Chip Kamoy.
  • In Spirited Away, Chihiro's parents are turned into pigs.
    • And in the same movie, a giant baby is turned into a very fat mouse (or at least something similar), and a large bird is turned into a tiny black hummingbird-thing. This trope is used a lot in Miyazaki movies, it seems...
  • In Ruin Explorers, Ihrie turns into a rat every time she uses her magic, a curse from her old master.
  • This trope is central to the plot of the ero-manga Tentacle Lovers, wherein a young man is turned into a small, cute tentacle monster after a foreign princess botches a summoning spell. Played with by the end, wherein the Princess managed to make a new body for the protagonist, and transfers his soul into it. However, because it was designed from her memory (and the two had several Mate or Die moments), his new form was a bit more... endowed... than it used to be.
  • In Dokkoida?!, Hyacinth's henchman Pierre has the ability to morph into almost any animal when whipped. The animal is always random, and never anything useful. However, in the past (i.e. before the start of the series) he morphed into animals that were quite threatening indeed, leading to Hyacinth's status as an A-class villain.
  • Uzumaki features some people who transform into snails, and one couple who become snake-like. This isn't too bad for the snailized people until the un-snailized people start looking for food.
  • Ash Ketchum gets turned into a Pikachu at the end of an episode of Pokémon thanks to a rather careless magic spell. Luckily for him it only lasts for a while (unluckily for the audience we barely see him do anything in this time).
    • Pokemon also had Sabrina, who while suffering from Literal Split Personality turned some people into dolls with her psychic powers.
  • Ranma ½, natch. While many of the springs can be Cursed with Awesome or Blessed with Suck dependent only upon your feelings towards that curse and the situations of your life (Boy/Girl, Panda, Child, etc), the various little animal springs (like Cat, Duck and Pig) lean pretty heavily towards Blessed with Suck. Especially seeing as how other springs include Yeti-Riding-Ox-Carrying-Crane-and-Eel and Ashura.
  • Played with in Naruto: Jiraiya interrogates two ninja he capture by turning one into a toad and threaten to do the same to the other. However, the databook entry for this technique stated that all he did was summon a toad and put the guy inside the toad.
  • Referenced in Mahou Sensei Negima: The penalty for flagrantly breaking The Masquerade is getting turned into an ermine. This may or may not be the case with Chamo, but it's best not to discuss that.
    • In Negima!?, Negi does get turned into a Chupacabra, but he gets better.
  • In Nyan Koi, Junpei will turn into a cat (which pretty much kills him, since he's allergic) if he doesn't perform one hundred good deeds for cats.
  • Tomoe from Kamisama Kiss likes to transform an opponent into a game animal of some kind and than try to cook them alive.
  • Inverted in Princess Tutu—Ahiru is actually a duck to begin with and gets turned into a human girl, but certain circumstances will cause her to revert to duck form ...
  • Used in Sailor Moon, when Wiseman tricks Esmeraude int putting a crown that would boost her powers. It turns her into a mindless dragon instead.
  • An All There in the Manual example in Fairy Tail: Kinana was turned into a snake ten years ago and made to fight alongside Cobra, until Marakov turned her back. She doesn't have any memories of being a snake.
    • Though the anime has hinted at it, if only to help fill up the episode.

Comic Books

  • When Calvin and Hobbes use the Transmogrifier, like most of their cardboard box technology, it never turns out well. This might be why The Princess and the Frog used the word as well in the above song lyric.
    • Calvin was once turned into an owl by the Transmogrifier Gun, but accepted it when he realized that he wouldn't have to go to school. He was actually disappointed when the transmogrification wore off.
  • When Thor, in the Simonson era, is turned into a frog, the trope is subverted as he gets his hammer and becomes a super-frog. (And despite the description, that story was actually good.)
    • This led to a cover which asked the question, "What do you call a six-foot-six fighting-mad frog?" Open the comic and the first page, in huge letters, answers, "SIR!"
  • After the Fantastic Four defeat them, three Skrulls offer to turn into something else (and be hypnotised into forgetting their previous lives.) They are turned into cattle and put out to pasture. Which is very creepy after Fridge Logic sets in. In fact, that's not the last we ever hear of the Skrull-cows. The meat they are eventually turned into winds up giving a group of ordinary people superpowers. And cancer.
  • In Transfer of Power, The Authority's punishment for the superpowered monster that attacks them (depowered back into a hick) is to take him back home and change him into a flock of chickens. Just as the local bar turns out and the locals decide chickens are acceptable sexual partners. "Do you remember when heroes just used to take bad guys to jail?" (In this case, the reason they didn't is because the hick was empowered by G7. Yes, the seven wealthiest governments in the world. His jail stint would have been shorter than Paris Hilton's.)
    • Worse, actually: the locals are actually his brothers, who had just been complaining about a lack of anything to eat.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics, Dawn so far has been turned into a giant (well, at least she got to stomp Tokyo and fight a giant robot version of herself) and a centaur (uh, gave Xander a ride....).
  • In the comic book Fables, the realm Prince Charming came from had its fair share of cursed folks being turned into all sorts of talking animals. Of course, marriage to royalty would reverse the curse. King and Queen Charming disposed of the more troublesome ones by summoning the cook...NightmareFuel indeed.
    • Also, in a slight twist a rabbit named Colonel Thunderfoot is transformed into a human by the angry rabbit mother of a soldier who died after Thunderfoot sent him to battle. The terms of course were that Thunderfoot could only be turned back into a rabbit if he found a doe able to see past his appearance and love him. Judging by the end of the chapter, he is in rather bad luck on that score.
  • During the Infinite Crisis tie-in Day of Vengeance, the Spectre turns the Phantom Stranger into a rat, since he wasn't powerful enough to kill him.
  • Before Swing With Scooter turned into an Archie clone, its seventh issue featured a story where Scooter and his friends were turned into antropomorphic vegetables. Yes.
  • The mutant Masque of the sewer-dwelling Morlocks can alter the flesh of anyone he touches, in pretty much any way he can imagine; and he has a very twisted imagination.
  • Sersi of the Eternals is the Marvel Universe inspiration behind the legend of Circe, and often temporarily transforms her foes into harmless animals.
  • Circe the Goddess is a straight-up villain for The DCU and turns her foes into animals. This doesn't stick for Plastic Man, for obvious reasons, but does kinda turn him on.
  • All Fall Down: Entertaining children in hospital, the shape-shifter Phylum is permanently trapped in the form of a chimpanzee.
  • Exploited by Brian in the Knights of the Dinner Table a few times.

Fairy Tales

Fan Works


Peasant (who is clearly a human): She turned me into a newt!
Bedevere: A newt?
Peasant: ...I got better.

  • In Willow, Evil Overlord Bavmorda turns an army into pigs this way. The pig transformation was used as a temporary status effect in the NES RPG based on the movie.
    • The sorceress Fin Raziel is also subjected to this treatment, though Bavmorda turns her into a possum, not a pig.
    • And then Willow himself transforms her into... a bunch of other animals, with nary a pause in between she (finally) gets better.

Goat!Fin Raziel: Maad Maartigan...
Mad Martigan: What the Hell happened to you?

  • In Time Bandits, the Source of All Evil turns one of the dwarves into a pig.
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou?: After being drugged by the Sirens, Delmar believes that Pete has been turned into a toad. Despite the film's Magical Realism, he's mistaken.
  • The movie Russell is about a man who gets turned into a koala.
  • In Troll 2, people get turned into plant things by the goblins. Although if the reactions of one victim are anything to go by, it's not exactly painful.
    • In the original film Torok transformed the residents of the apartment complex into various magical creatures, judging by Peter's transformation it's quite painful.
  • The first live-action Guyver movie does this to Mark Hamill. Then he dies.
  • The film Ladyhawke had a double case of this, orchestrated by an evil priest. Two lovers are cursed so that the man, Etienne Navarre, becomes a wolf by night, and the woman, Isabeau, becomes a hawk by day. They can only both be human at exact sunrise and sunset, but they can never touch.
  • In Hocus Pocus, young Binks is turned into a black cat by the three sister witches, and is doomed to live forever with his guilt.
  • In Stardust, the hero is promised safe transportation, food, and lodging by a witch. She turns him into a mouse and puts him in a cage with some cheese.
    • As noted in the example in the Literature section, there is a practical reason for the transformation, rather than it just being a curse - the witch didn't want Tristan to take up a lot of space and eat a lot of food. Also, Lady Una is turned into a bird and back by the same witch. She seems rather pissed about it.
    • Earlier, the villain changes a farmboy into a goat to help pull her carriage. Later, she changes him into a young woman and the (real) goat into a man as a subterfuge. The drawback is that their voices don't change.
  • In Josepha Sherman's The Shining Falcon, Finist finds that a wolf really is a transformed man. His girlfriend, angry with him, hadn't really expected it to work.
  • This is used as a disturbing visual element in Black Swan, where the protagonist imagines herself morphing into an actual black swan as she struggles psychologically with her role in the ballet. Unless it's really happening...
  • Edmund from Rock-a-Doodle is transformed into a kitten by the evil Duke of Owls, and upon realizing that he's been tranformed, he cries out "Jeepers, I'm a all furry!"
  • In Bedknobs and Broomsticks Miss Price turns several people into rabbits.
  • In High School Musical 2, the "Humuhumunukunukuapua'a" skit is about a lonely Hawaiian princess who seeks to break the spell on a prince who's been turned into a fish.
  • Disney uses this a lot:
    • Beauty and the Beast has the Prince involuntarily transformed into the Beast by the Enchantress, along with the other servants.
    • In Cinderella, the mice and dog are turned into the footman and horses. Cinderella III: Twist in Time has the Stepmother steal the Fary Godmother's wand and ultimately turn Anastasia into a copy of Cinderella to steal the Prince away. While Anastasia might have been bullied into agreeing, she still seems rather upset about the whole thing.
    • In Aladdin, Abu is turned into an elephant and later a wind-up monkey toy. Jasmine's tiger is turned into a kitten.
      • And inverted when Jafar is turned into a genie, in an itty bitty living space.
    • In Alice in Wonderland, the protagonist changes size at alarming rates. While it does happen because she herself consumes various food and drinks, she usually is unaware of the exact effects of the consumption.
    • In The Little Mermaid, various merpeople are changed by Ursula into shriveled polyps.
    • In The Princess and the Frog, Naveen and Tiana are both involuntarily turned into frogs. (The voodoo man promised "green" in Naveen's future ...)
    • In Pinocchio, the wayward boys are turned into donkeys. Bit by bit.


  • In Roald Dahl's The Witches, the witches' plan to dispose of children is to turn them all into mice.
    • And in The Magic Finger this is the main character's special ability, although it so horrifies her that she never uses it unless she's really annoyed with someone.
  • In the Discworld novels, it's stated that Granny Weatherwax doesn't do this. Instead, she prefers to make people think they're frogs, which takes much less magic, is slightly less cruel, and is a lot more entertaining. The Discworld does, however, contain a few instances of turning people into animals and lots of threatening to turn people into animals. They usually, but not always, get better.
    • In Lords and Ladies, Ridcully uses Stacklady's Morphic Resonator to turn a bandit chief into a pumpkin. In accordance with the universal laws of humour, it's still wearing his hat.
      • He also turns a particularly annoying complainer into a frog, albeit briefly, in Soul Music.
    • In Sourcery, a University wizard in service to Coin the Sourcerer transforms Lord Vetinari into a small lizard, one of the few times anyone's gotten the better of him.
    • In Witches Abroad, Lilith, the quintessential "good witch" gone bad, revisits the Cinderella tale by turning animals into humans and vice versa. When upset at some coachmen getting drunk, she turns them into cockroaches - and steps on them.
    • The Librarian of Unseen University is a subversion: he's accidentally turned into an orangutan near the beginning of The Light Fantastic, but he prefers it so much (it's easier to fetch books from on high, for example) he refuses to be transformed back. His morphic field seems to have been permanently affected, as any other time he's transformed, he retains his red-orange orangutan fur. In later novels, his orangutan strength helps save the day.
    • And in Equal Rites one silly boy was turned into the "more fitting" form of a piglet.
    • In A Hat Full of Sky, Tiffany Aching temporarily gains the ability to transform an arrogant would-be wizard into a frog, though her magic isn't yet powerful enough to violate the conservation of mass, thus necessitating making a giant magical bubble of all the leftover matter from his body next to the frog, which is more horrifying in many ways than the frog-transformation itself.
    • The Tiffany books also have the Toad, who was once a lawyer who tried to represent a girl in a Frivolous Lawsuit on a fairy godmother. It was the judge applauding that really got to him though.
  • In Neil Gaiman's Stardust, a witch turns Tristran into a dormouse to carry him in her cart. In the novel, it's made clear that this isn't actually meant as a Curse. It's done for practicality: Tristan takes up a lot less room this way after him arranging for food, bedding and travel. It's also implied that the spell turns you into the animal you are most like. The witch also turns Tristran back once she's given him a ride. OTOH, she does find it amusing.
    • The witch earlier turned Tristran's mother into a bird as a punishment.
  • Morda inflicts this in Taran Wanderer. Taran resists because he is (unknowingly) carrying Morda's Soul Jar.
  • Circe appears in Percy Jackson and The Olympians, turning men into guinea pigs.
  • The Dresden Files not only consciously avoids using this trope, but the author has actually come up with a plausible reason why most "good" wizards have outlawed the practice.
  • Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea Trilogy makes a spell to shift another person involuntarily rather difficult, and making shifting yourself perfectly easy, but running a very real risk of forgetting how... and why... to shift out of the other form.
  • Gogu the frog AKA Costi in Juliet Marillier's novel Wildwood Dancing
  • In The Runaway Princess, a witch routinely turns princes who come to bother her into frogs. Although she's perfectly willing to turn them back into princes, most of them prefer to stay as frogs.
  • Sethra Lavode's favorite method of dealing with obnoxious Dzur heroes. Also, in a Monty Python and the Holy Grail Shout-Out: "She'll turn you into a newt." "I'll get better."
  • Draco Malfoy, the Amazing Bouncing Ferret, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
  • Polgara pulls one and a half of these during the course of the series. She permanently transforms Queen Salmissra into a huge serpent in the original books. In the prequel Polgara The Sorceress, she temporarily transforms one of the Cherek kings into a man-sized frog because she thinks a regular Dope Slap won't be enough to get the message across.
    • Queen Salmissra is a subversion, in that she comes to appreciate the transformation and never makes any effort to get turned back.
  • In Patricia A. McKillip's The Bell at Sealey Head, it turns out that the bell is the enchanted Queen Hydria, and the crows her enchanted knights.
  • This is basically the whole premise of Lady: My Life as a Bitch, with the titular character (among others) getting accidentally turned into a dog by a tramp.
  • This trope is the binding theme of Ovid's Metamorphoses.
  • The Harlan Ellison short story "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream". The title really gives it away.
  • Lucinda, a fairy of the gift-bestowing kind, doesn't think through the consequences of her 'gifts'. One of her favourites is turning people into squirrels, and she believes she's doing them a favour until she spends a week as a squirrel herself.
  • In one early short story from The Witcher saga by Andrzej Sapkowski, a young knight named Dani is under the spell that turns him into a giant hedgehog at day, and Geralt helps him remove it—the whole story is rather gleeful Deconstruction of the classic Beauty and The Beast plot. Of course, Dani is a Nilfgaardian prince who later went to become The Emperor Emhyr var Emreis, so it's a hell of a Chekhov's Gun...
  • The actual D&D spell has a notable use in RA Salvatore's Exile. As noted under Tabletop Games, the spell gradually takes over the object's mind, which in story terms makes for all kinds of tragedy and Nightmare Fuel.
  • Ironically enough the novel Polymorph, which is about a literal "baleful polymorph" (e.g. an evil creature which can assume any form) contains no examples of this trope, since it cannot transform others.
  • Tom Holt's work both plays this straight and subverts it. In Falling Sideways many, many characters get turned into frogs. In the J.W. Well's trilogy, the standard punishment for betraying the firm is being turned into office supplies. You retain some measure of sapience.
  • Patricia C. Wrede's Dealing With Dragons features a spontaneous example when Woraug turns into a toad, having lost the privilege of being a dragon by not acting dragon-like enough.
    • In the later books, it's mentioned that there are countless ways a careless person could be cursed and turned into a flower or animal or rock or something in the Enchanted Forest. When Mendabar and Cimorene get married and they're clearing out a meadow for the occasion, they find and disenchant several kings and princesses. In Calling on Dragons, Cimorene mentions how you have to be careful in the Enchanted Forest, because you could sit or walk on someone important without knowing it. And while it's more of a spell transfer than an actual transformation, we also get the annoying fellow with the long name getting turned into a sky blue, twelve-foot-tall donkey, floating above the ground and with giant wings.
    • "Frogmaker" is a slang term for a wizard in Magician's Ward, one of her stories of Regency England with magic. At one point, a French wizard remarks that if a certain friend of hers doesn't explain the situation more openly than he's been doing, she intends to live up to that nickname.
  • Kingdoms of Light's Six Man Band consists of a mage's pets (three cats, a dog, a snake, and a canary), turned into humans by the mage's dying spell. In the end, they are captured by the evil Munderucu and turned back into animals-- except that due to character growth, they not only remained sentient, but they became great cats, a huge wolf, a firebird, and a 40-foot python. Oops.
  • "Evil" Magician Trent of the Xanth series can transform anything into anything. When he was ousted, rumors spread that he turned his enemies into fish and left them to suffocate on dry land. Trent explains that he did turn some into fish but only in rivers or other bodies of water.
  • In Robert E. Howard's "The Tower of the Elephant", Conan the Barbarian remembers that Yara was said to have used a gem to turn a prince into a spider. Not that that will stop him from trying to rob him.
  • Rabadash, the Calormene prince from The Chronicles of Narnia, gets temporarily turned into a donkey, and is warned that it will happen again if he moves more than 10 miles away from the temple of Tashbaan.
  • Rosemary and Rue begins with Toby being turned into a fish by the Unseelie kidnappers she was tracking, and left in a koi pond at the Golden Gate Park Japanese Garden. It takes fourteen years for the spell to wear off.
  • Wild witch Molly Metcalf admits to once turning a fox hunting party into foxes for a day, feeling it would give the hunters some perspective.
  • More than a few Goosebumps books had this as a problem the kid-protagonist had to face, caused either through magic or technology.
  • This happens a number of times in Harry Potter, usually played for laughs. Justified in that one of the classes is Transfiguration, and a lot of students have bad aim.
  • In No Such Thing As A Witch, Nora and Todd find out that if four pieces of their neighbor's magic fudge are eaten together, it can turn you into whatever animal you're thinking of at the time. The first time this happens, it's to Todd and no one was expecting it. Towards the end of the book, Nora deliberately uses it to turn herself into a mouse to sneak into the neighbor's apartment. Todd also turns into a cat a few more times, with one of those times being nearly in front of a health inspector!
  • Treasure at the Heart of the Tanglewood is a bit confusing regarding this trope. It's made clear early on that there's something off about the knights who seek the Tanglewood's treasure, and it's eventually revealed that they're all animals, turned human by a sorceress and forced to serve her. Only that's a lie: they were humans the villain turned into animals, and the sorceress turned them human again, and then the villain turned them into animals again.
  • Subverted in the Extended Universe novel King's Quest: The Floating Castle. A witch turns Prince Alexander into a frog against his will, but he later realizes it was so he could more easily sneak into the Evil Sorceror's castle he needed to infiltrate, then simply get turned back by a kiss from a captive princess also within and finish his mission from there.
  • A non-animal example occurs in Sideways Stories from Wayside School in which Mrs. Gorf transforms her students into apples.
  • This is the plot of Apuleius's The Golden Ass from c. 150 CE, one of the earliest surviving novels.
  • In Devon Monk's Dead Iron, Cedar's brother Wil was permenantly turned into a wolf—with, fortunately, his own mind—as opposed to Cedar's Involuntary Shapeshifter.
  • In the third of C. J. Cherryh's Rusalka trilogy, Pyetr Kochevikov says to his daughter Ilyana that she wouldn't want to turn him into a toad by accident; she'd much rather do it on purpose. She replies primly, "That's not funny, father." She'd earlier said, too, that it's impossible to physically turn anyone into a toad, though a wizard could make someone believe he or she was a toad.

Live-Action TV

  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a witch, Amy Madison, turns Buffy into a rat with a spell. Later, Amy turns herself into a rat ... and can't turn back.
    • In the example above, Amy turns herself into a rat to escape burnage at a stake only to find out she no longer has the human voicebox necessary to invoke the magic to return to humaness.
    • It's also possible Amy was trying to turn the angry mob that had kidnapped her into rats rather than herself and just suffered a Magic Misfire due to her being tied up and thus unable to properly aim the spell.
    • Eventually in Season 9 (the comic series) this becomes Amy's final punishment after her complete surrender to darkness. Her attempt at revenge on Angel by harnessing Magic Town's power backfires (because Magic Town is a living, sapient town who sides with Willow and Nadia over her) and she is turned into a rat again; she wasn't seen again, so one can assume this time there would be no return.
  • One episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys uses a magic Bow and arrow belonging to Artemis to turn Herc into a pig for most of the episode, while Iolaus and Autolycus scramble to get him restored.
  • In Pushing Daisies, the children of Coeur d'Coeurs are terrified of aunts Lily and Vivian because they are reputed to turn unwary children into birds. That the aunts have taught at least one of their pet parrots to say "Help! She turned me into a bird!" may have contributed to the rumor.
  • In the very first episode of Beetleborgs Flabber turns the kids into rats by mistake.
  • An episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers season 3 has Kat, the future pink ranger, turned into a cat monster. The cure? She had to be "destroyed" by the Megazord. (Which was only a partial cure - she wouldn't recover from the Brainwashed and Crazy state for several more episodes.) Another episode in the same season has something similar happen to a teacher from Angel Grove High School.
  • The Married... with Children episode Psychic Avengers ends with the family turned into chimpanzees and Buck turned into a human by a gypsy.
    • The episode Field Of Screams has a subplot involving this, Bud, Buck, and the new bug powder Kelly advertised called "Springtime in Baghdad". The transformations weren't shown on-screen, but what Buck and Bud end up as show. Buck was turned into a different species of dog, then a turkey. Bud, on the other hand, grew breasts from the exposure to "Springtime in Baghdad" bug powder. By the episode's end, they had long, floppy ears. Doesn't it make you think what "Springtime in Baghdad" is made of?
  • Salem from Sabrina the Teenage Witch is changed into a cat for one hundred years as punishment for trying to take over the world. This punishment is fairly standard, as other characters suffer or nearly suffer similar fates. One episode has a former member of his gang visit after winning parole; he's having a hard time adjusting to being human again.
  • Omen, the Season 1 Big Bad on Dark Oracle, was trapped in the shape of a frog (named Nemo) by his mentor, Doyle, and can be changed back and forth by being kissed. It also inhibits his magic, much to the benefit of the main cast.
  • The Nickelodeon sitcom 100 Deeds for Eddie McDowd was about a bully who was transformed into a dog by a mysterious drifter and must perform 100 good deeds in order to turn back.
  • An episode of Love and Curses opened with three obnoxious fratboys being turned into carp. Since the witches promptly plopped them into a frying pan, though, the "less lethal" part doesn't apply.
  • Happens now and again in Charmed. The sisters have both turned people into animals and been turned into other creatures themselves. Usually this is because a spell backfires or has unforeseen effects, but sometimes it's deliberate.
  • In an episode of Merlin Morgana transforms Guinevere into a deer.

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

  • Nearly every mythological tradition has examples of the gods turning some unfortunate, or sometimes favoured, human into an animal, demon, angel, plant, or mineral; either permanently or temporarily. Sometimes, even the gods themselves are affected, usually as a punishment inflicted by a more powerful or Trickster deity. This is particularly common in Greco-Roman mythology.
  • Circe in The Odyssey takes revenge on Odysseus's men by turning them all into pigs, making this Older Than Feudalism.
  • The Ars Goetia has a particularly scary practitioner in Ose. A conjuror can have Ose transform someone into most anything else. The scariest part: the victim begins thinking that they've always been what they've just been turned into.

New Media

  • Descendant of a Demon Lord, Miri, the twice cursed, was turned from a female sorcerer into a male sorcerer. Then later on in her life, she was turned into a book. Well technically its more like her soul was bound to a book like magical creature or construct. While not completely immobile, her attempt to flee from Celes was compared to a snail in pace.

Tabletop Games

  • Named after the baleful polymorph spell in Dungeons & Dragons (previously called polymorph other, which turns involuntary targets into small, weak animals, physically and possibly mentally. There is also polymorph any object, which does Exactly What It Says on the Tin: you can turn pretty much anything into pretty much anything.
    • Turning them into something that would kill them (a non-lunged fish on land, or a non-flying animal in a situation where only a flying creature has a reasonable chance of survival) makes the spell easier to resist, as though the target instinctively knows what he's being turned into and that the situation is even worse.
      • The Book of Vile Darkness has a magic item that gets around this, as it allows single aspects to be changed (also applying a rule that if a creature becomes unfeasible it instantly dies); thus, a lethal change can be made through several otherwise harmless additions, such as giving a flying creature several dozen additional wings.
    • Though the duration is permanent, the subject gets a second save to retain their mental faculties and their special powers. Then again, succeeding on this save might be an even worse fate.
    • Some editions made this even deadlier, with a game mechanic called a System Shock. Any time a character's body is so dramatically and suddenly reshaped (not just by polymorph, it also applies to those subjected to petrification or Rapid Aging), a special Saving Throw has to be made to avoid dying from the trauma. Even worse, if the victim does survive, if magic is used to change him back it requires a second System Shock roll! Fortunately, in most cases, this is an optional rule; fans are split whether applying such a "realistic" side effect to magic is a good thing.
  • Mage: The Awakening has several spells like this, including one that not only turns the target into an animal but forces them to claw the way out of the excess mass.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40,000 see a particularly nightmarish variant of this as a staple of the daemons and sorcerers of Tzeentch. The demon gods grant gifts, usually in the form of mutations. Once you gain enough, there are two options. The first is a good one: badass daemon prince. The second is insanity, many eyes, and general fun and games. You live off grubs and act as cannon fodder. Fun. A common psychic power for Chaos Sorcerers in 40k, the ironically titled "Gift of Chaos", lets them immediately transform anyone, friend or foe, into a Chaos Spawn. Various editions of fantasy have also included various Chaos Magic spells that transform the victim into Chaos Spawn—some Tzeentchian spells instead allow the warlock to turn their victim into a Horror of Tzeentch.
    • Of course, the Orks aren't always that much better, given that their stronger Shamans or Weirdboyz have a nasty habit of turning people into Squigs (little bouncy things that are mostly Fungus and Teeth)
    • In the recently released Warhammer Fantasy Battle expansion, Storm of Magic, miscasting while standing atop an Arcane Fulcrum can result in a multitude of destructive and/or amusing effects, one of which turns all wizards on the table into frogs. There's also a Bretonian Cataclysm spell that can do the same thing.
  • Magic: The Gathering has a few of these. Ovinomancer, providing the page image, later got shout-outs in the Time Spiral block in the form of Ovinize and Pongify. More often, though, such "restraining" cards are meant to represent a new state of mind or magical bindings.
  • Exalted has Pattern Spider Touch, from the Charcoal March of Spiders Style. It allows you to fundamentally alter your opponent in some interesting way. Typically, it's used to punch people in the face and turn them into ducks.


  • Metus is changed into a snake in Bionicle

Video Games

  • Kid Icarus probably[please verify] did this first, by having monsters that can turn you into a mobile eggplant.
    • The third game, Kid Icarus: Uprising, introduces Tempura. In addition to making you unable to attack, it also tires you out more easily, and if a Tempura Wizard is present, it will try to eat you for a One-Hit Kill.
  • Wonder Boy III the Dragons Trap (and its TurboGrafx-16 variant, Dragon's Curse) revolves around the human protagonist being cursed into various animal forms for defeating the prior game's Big Bad and trying to lift the curse. Each form has its own abilities, strengths, and weaknesses, resulting in a Metroidvania-style progression.
  • Final Fantasy games have Pig and Toad transformations. The Pig effect (at least in Final Fantasy IV) does disable all spells... except for Pig. (Which makes sense; otherwise, it's just another Silence with a different curative item.) The Toad effect greatly reduces Attack and Defense and disables all spells except for Toad.
    • Casting Toad on your own party helps you pass a couple of obstacles in Final Fantasy III.
    • Final Fantasy IV begins with Cecil attacking the village of Mysidia, slaughtering townspeople, and taking their Crystal. When he returns later on, properly contrite, the villagers haven't forgiven him. Unfortunately, Mysidia is the Village of Magic. He gets polymorphed if he talks to the wrong villagers. (The way the spells work means that talking to them again undoes it.)
    • The Moogle status in Final Fantasy Adventure works similarly and also appears in the sequel, Secret of Mana.
    • Final Fantasy VI had Imp form, which while it didn't reduce your hitpoints or the strength of conventional attacks, it did make it impossible for you to use magic or special character powers. It was more of an annoyance than threat as by the time in the game when enemies start throwing it around you will have many ways to undo the transformation but need a full turn to do it after which you might get Imped again.
      • The Imp example is slightly subverted in that there is a series of Imp-specific equipment that can actually allow an Imped character to administer a beatdown.
        • In the early versions of the game a certain Good Bad Bug allowed Gau to Rage while Imped. And a certain other Good Bad Bug allowed him to equip a weapon. An fully decked-out Imp Gau was quite a Game Breaker, although it took up one of your Relic slots.
    • In Final Fantasy Tactics, a character whose Bravery goes below 10 becomes a literal chicken. The best way to do this is with Beowulf's aptly named Chicken attack, which reduces a target's bravery by 50. Chickens automatically run away from the action each turn, gaining 1 bravery point until they become human again, and their defense drops drastically.
    • Additionally, this is useful in the Bonus Dungeon, where treasures are controlled by a Randomly Drops statistic which isn't actually random but rather linked to your Brave stat. The unit that has the highest chance of finding the treasure? Someone who's been chicken'd.
  • The Ghosts N Goblins series traditionally includes enemies that can transform you into something helpless for several seconds. Over the years the forms have included frogs, babies, bees, old men, and young women young women.
  • Each game in the Heretic/Hexen series has a polymorph item. In Heretic, using the 'morph ovum' (an egg) would temporarily turn an enemy into a chicken. The chicken would then attack you, ineffectively.
    • Hexen had the Porkalator, turning enemies into pigs. Certain traps in the game also could turn you into a pig, or by having this item reflected back on you. Some secret passages could be navigated while in pig form.
    • Hexen 2 had the Seal of the Ovinomancer, which turned most monsters into sheep (incredibly tough sheep).
    • In Heretic 2 the morph ovum is back, but this time has a chance of turning an enemy (in PVP at least) into a giant chicken with 999 hit points and a deadly attack. This would be a deadly problem if it weren't for the fact that you can hit him with another blast to turn him back into the less dangerous human form.
  • In Dungeon Keeper a spell is available that turns creatures into chickens.
  • A mainstay of the Ratchet and Clank series are guns that transform enemies into harmless animals if targeted long enough: chickens in the first game, sheep in Going Commando, ducks in Up Your Arsenal, and cows in Size Matters.
    • Deadlocked had a weapon mod that could be attached to any weapon you had. So you could use it on your bomb launcher, and turn an entire room-full of enemies into various livestock (which includes pigs, even flying ones) all at once.
    • Fully upgraded, many of these weapons turn the resulting animals into living bombs.
  • Super Mario RPG has two such effects: Characters can be turned into scarecrows that cannot attack or use items (but can still cast spells) or into mushrooms that can take no actions but slowly recover health (albeit generally not quickly enough to compensate for the damage you take in the meantime).
  • This is a tradition of the Warcraft series, with the most popular animal being the sheep. In Warcraft III, using Polymorph on a flying creature (such as a dragon) would turn it into a flying sheep with little stubby bat wings. The Shadow Hunter's "Hex" ability was a hero unit version that turned the target into a randomly selected critter (with different options available for ground, air, amphibious and waterbound foes).
    • Warcraft II played this trope brutally straight; the Polymorph spell permanently and irrevocably turns the target into a sheep or other creature (based on the map tileset—a seal on an icepack, for example). These creatures do not retain any of the hit points or abilities of the original unit, and can no longer be controlled by any of the players... virtually making it a One-Hit Kill.
    • Even included in the spin-off Game Mod sensation Defense of the Ancients.
  • In World of Warcraft, a standard instance tactic is to have the mage (if present) turn one of the mobs into a sheep to keep them out of battle till struck. Plus, Elite Troll mobs of the magic-using type often turn high-threat PCs into frogs for a short period.
    • Mages can also turn mobs into Pigs and Turtles, and with the new expansion, Cats, Snakes, Penguins, and Polar Bear Cubs.
    • Shamans now have the spell Hex which turns the target into a frog for a short time. Unlike mages, they don't have a variety of forms to choose from but the hexxed target can also take some damage without transforming.
    • It's worth noting that these effects are all quite pointless on druids, who can break the effects by willfully polymorphing themselves into something else.
    • Probably best showcased in the TV spot - in French only - which featured Jean-Claude Van Damme explaining what he liked best about playing World of Warcraft'. The French word for sheep is "mouton," in case you were curious.
  • Vertigo in Primal Rage has a Finishing Move that turns the enemy into a cow.
  • In Lords of Magic, the Chaos Mage had the spell Polymorph Self, which turned units (not necessarily the Mage herself) into an elephant or a lion. And then there was Polymorph Other, which would turn the target into a goat, chicken, or goose.
  • In Nethack it is possible to transform into almost any monster in the game (sometimes unexpectedly). Without a special item, you have virtually no control over which monster, though—you could wind up a rat (with about five hit points, and all your human clothes and items scattered around you), a dragon (with all your human clothes and armor scattered around you, possibly in pieces), or anything inbetween. But at least as a dragon you can fly....
    • And blast your enemies with various breath weapons..
    • Or (if you're female) lay eggs which hatch into tame baby dragons!
    • But as long as you're not unchanging, when you run out of HP while polymorphed, you change back into your original form.
  • A boss in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne has an attack called Bael's Bane, a Curse attack with 100% accuracy that turns the afflicted into a fly. All their stats are dramatically lowered, their magic spells are reduced to a quarter-strength and worst of all, they become weak to Expel attacks (which the boss uses with alarming regularity). There's no way of curing this until the battle is over. Well, outside of death which is not an option for the hero. Your only hope of survival is to field a team that is immune to Curse attacks.
    • Also in the Digital Devil Saga series there is a boss called Bat, whose Atma form is the Mayan bat god Camazotz, that from the second fight on would use a spell called Curse of Zotzilaha, which turns characters into bats. The only differences are that your characters become weak to Force, rather than Expel (and of course, Camazotz abuses Force attacks), and there's no way to avoid it (it does wear off after a few turns, though). Thankfully, in Digital Devil Saga you do NOT get an instant game over if the leader is killed...
  • One of the main characters in Chrono Trigger is Frog, transformed from a boy into an anthropomorphic frog by the evil Magus. While Magus thinks he's using this trope, it's actually a subversion, since Frog loses none of his strength or abilities through this and becomes even more Badass after that. He actually ends up thanking Magus for cursing him with awesome.
  • Age of Mythology includes a chapter based on Odysseus's experience at Aeaea, with Circe turning Arkantos and Ajax into boars. They must then gore villagers (the much stronger guards are apparently not hungry) to protect Odysseus and his men until such time as they can be un-piggified. Also: Goatunheim. Don't use it though.
  • In Justice League Heroes, one of Zatana's spells turns enemies into rabbits. They retain their status as enemies, leading to such scenes as Superman frying said rabbits with heatvision.
  • In The Legend of Zelda a Link To T He Past, touching a certain dungeon enemy will turn Link into a giant pink bunny - still wearing Link's clothes, but unable to use any weapons or items. (Wears off after a minute, but all you can do is run, until then.)
    • The same form Link is turned into when he goes into the Dark World without the Moon Pearl.
    • In the same game, use of the Quake Medallion will turn all enemies on screen into blobs.
    • The Triforce of Power transforms people into creatures reflecting what is in their hearts, for example, the evil and greedy Ganon(dorf) was turned into a anthropomorphic wild boar.
  • Majoras Mask begins with Link transformed into a Deku Scrub (essentially a walking plant) by the Skull Kid. One of the first tasks you are given is to find some way to reverse this (and once you do, you can freely transform by donning a mask, though this causes Link to scream in apparent pain).
    • In the same game, Kafei is transformed into a child.
    • In Twilight Princess, Link spends a large portion of the game trapped in the form of a wolf; later he becomes able to assume the form at will by carrying the curse crystal around with him. In his wolf form, he has no access whatsoever to any of his rather sizeable inventory, including health potions, however he gains several new abilities he can only use in wolf form, and eventually becomes able to switch forms at will.
      • Pretty much anything touched by the Twilight becomes polymorphed into a monstrous version of itself. Then there's the Shadow Beasts, which are actually the peaceful Twili people, changed by Zant, and of course Midna, the titular princess, who was cursed with her implike form also by Zant.
        • Although there was that one line in Kakariko: "Those two shadow beasts came and carried her off! And when we went to rescue her, there were three!!"
    • In one of the Oracle games, a later mini-boss has the ability to temporarily turn Link into a monkey, which greatly slows him down and leaves him unable to use weapons.
  • In God Hand, one of Shannon's more annoying moves in the first encounter with her is the ability to temporarily turn you into a defenseless chihuahua. She usually follows this move up by running toward you and punting you across the circus tent.
  • Sierra used this trope a lot in their adventure games, particularly the King's Quest and Quest for Glory series. In Quest for Glory I, for example, Baba Yaga turns the hero into a frog; in Quest for Glory IV, she turns him into a hedgehog. And the only way to get rid of the wizard Manannan in King's Quest III is by secretly putting a magic cookie in his porridge that permanently changes him into a cat.
  • This shows up in Chrono Cross; the party is volunteered for a magic show and turned into housecats. They're supposed to be turned back a few minutes after, but Sneff the magician throws his back out. You're left as cats for a while. This does end up having an effect in a few areas that barred other people from going through ... and let you grab an inventory item too.
  • In Wild ARMs 5, the Misery status turns your character into an adorable cat-version of themselves. Oh, and it disables all actions but Move. But it is also adorable.
  • Again I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream (the game), failing to beat the malevolent AI with the last character alive results in your character turned into an armless, immobile blob...for all eternity. Which is exactly how the original story ended.
  • The whole point of Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories is to dispel a region-wide version of this at the source by defeating the Evil Overlord.
    • A gameplay example can happen as a result of one of the Dark Sun's effects, which will transform one of your humanoid or unique monster characters into a specific species of monster or a random one, depending on the map. It replaces the character's weapon skills with the skills of the species they transform into, but the special skills the main characters and cameo characters possess are retained, which can result in some hilarity.
  • In the Eggerland games (Adventures of Lolo trilogy inclusive), Lolo can use Magic Shots acquired from Heart Framers to transform his enemies into eggs.
  • Shiren the Wanderer features this trope a few times - in that "You are what you eat" is taken quite literally. Eating enemy Meat will turn you into that particular enemy. Though your HP and strength remain the same, you will be limited to that particular enemy's attacks and will be unable to use items. You'll also take on said enemy's qualities - some good (able to fire unlimited arrows, will regenerate on death, move at double speed) and some bad (will take heavy damage if hit in the back or side, move at half speed) You can also become immune to every enemy in the game by eating meat that makes you invisible - since no enemy can detect invisible creatures, no one will hit you (though you still may die of hunger.) The enemies are the true victims of this trope, as throwing meat at them will cause them to turn into that particular enemy - without retaining any of their previous stats. Keeping Mamel Meat around to toss at a Death Angel may save your life!
  • The witch from Mendel Palace uses her powers of transformation to morph you into one of the dolls from her houses. This turns against her in the Sumo level, as any attempt to try and flip you over will lead your character to counterattack with a sumo stomp and send her flying into the wall.
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura's polymorph is described to turn the subject into any number of animals, but sheep were the most frequent. Few NPC's had and used this ability, and it was an effective neutralizer for any caster.
  • The Arcana Blaze of Gier, the Arcana of Shadow in Arcana Heart, has Gier turning the opponent into a black blob thingie that can only bounce around if it hits.
  • In Rogue you can sometimes find a Wand of Polymorph, which turns any monster you zap into another monster of random type. Depending on the RNG, you could indeed get a baleful effect (Dragon into Bat, for instance) ... or you could be toast (Dragon into Jabberwock, which is nearly as bad and now the monster has a free chance to attack).
  • Neverwinter Nights 2 features a 'mass fowl' spell, which can lots of enemies into chickens permanently, the verbal component sounds like chicken noises and cruel laughter. A similar 'mass frog' spell can be found in other variants of the D&D system.
  • Neverwinter Nights doesn't have it in vanilla, but the PRC as well as some custom haks in certain servers add this spell. It's called indeed Baleful Polymorph and transforms the caster into a chicken. Is one of the cases where the victim is heavily weakened, as he's reduced to a single hit point.
  • Lusternia's Wiccan class has Toadcurse, transforming players into an ineffectual (and easily stomped) toad for a period of time. Gods can also reduce players to maggots if sufficiently irked.
  • The Elder Scrolls series features the Daedric artifact Wabbajack. A nifty little toy that changes an enemy into something else. Problem is, it's Sheogorath's artifact, so the change is random. You could turn a bandit into a sheep, or a Daedroth... It's more fun than anything else.
  • One of the runewords in Diablo II has a chance of turning the user into an undead pigmy skeleton.
  • Maple Story:
    • Before the Big Bang, magicians get a skill called Doom, which temporarily turns monsters into snails. They retain the power level of normal snails, but in this game, small is deadly.
    • Hoyoung has a skill called Degeneration, which turns all mobs (except Bosses) within range into bugs, frogs, or lizards, doing a lot of damage and redusing their defense.
    • Some bosses (such as Cygnus) have an attack that can turn the heroes into Ribbon Pigs for ten seconds or so, leaving them helpless and unable to use any skills for the duration. Cygnus will even mock the victim by saying, "You look much better like this!"
  • In the PC game Fate, the player character is followed and assisted by a pet, either a cat or a dog. Feeding the pet certain kinds of fish will temporarily turn it into different kinds of larger, more powerful creatures (ranging from a sewer rat up to a dragon!). Using "flawless" fish will make the transformation permanent... until you feed it another fish, of course.
  • In Jak and Daxter The Precursor Legacy Daxter is turned from human to ottsel when Jak accidentally knocks him into a vat of Dark Eco. Over time he grows to accept, and even like his new form, because when given the chance to return to normal, he settles for a pair of pants instead.
  • In Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, one of the card combinations turns you into a skeleton, a common Castlevania enemy. It had a weak attack and could be killed in one hit, but there was a small chance that it would throw a Big Bone, which could one-hit kill anything (even bosses).
  • The Interactive Fiction game Enchanter features the CLEESH spell: change a creature into a small amphibian. In the third game, Spellbreaker, your magically-created shadow presumably casts this on the Guild of Enchanters; they continue the meeting without much difference, despite being frogs and newts.
  • Lands of Lore II: The Guardians of Destiny has Luther, protagonist and son of the original game's big bad. He's cursed to have uncontrollable transformations between his human form, a hulking beast, and a tiny swift creature. Over the course of the game, he finds a means to control these transformations.
    • However, Luther's transformations are anything but baleful. His beast form, while large and slow, grants super-strength, allowing him to push otherwise immovable objects out of the way, while his lizard form grants awesome magical abilities.
  • At one point in Ys II, Dalles transforms Adol into a goon (different from the kind achieved by the Transform magic), and he must find a cure.
  • In Achaea, one of the ultimate punishments the gods can use on mortals is "shrubbing" - turning you into a shrubbery. For all but the most foul offences, you will eventually get better.
  • Elves could use the "Polymorph Other" spells in Capcom's Dungeons & Dragons arcade games. It basically functioned as a Smart Bomb since the cute bunnies and frogs couldn't do anything to you and bounced off the screen.
  • Probably counts. In Bayonetta the final boss will throw spiral-galaxy shaped discs at the titular character. If she is struck, she turns into a defenseless, and so slow that she might as well be motionless, child.
  • CLEESH in Kingdom of Loathing turns your opponent into a frog. Bit of a Useless Useful Spell, it won't work on boss monsters, creatures that are already reptilian/amphibian, or the Country (yes, you can pick a fight with the entire country and try to turn it into a frog).
  • Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru (or, For the frog the bell tolls), the main character and his rival Richard can turn into frogs due to a suspicious potion a witch woman named Mandola sold to them.
  • Star Ocean: Till the End of Time has a number of mook-class enemies called 'Masques' which possess the "Vegiform" and "Cutey Pie" special attacks. These attacks temporarily change the target into a vegetable or a pastry, respectively. The target of the attack is rendered immobile and helpless while in this form.
  • The first two (or rather, five) Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games start with the player character transformed from a human into a Pokémon and stripped of their memories. The trope only applies in Time/Darkness/Sky, as the transformation was intentional in the first set of games.
  • In the last dungeon in Golden Sun: The Lost Age, you encounter and battle two Flame Dragons. Surprise, they were your Fire Clan antagonists, and being transformed against their will like this has drained so much energy that they're freezing to death (averting the Never Say "Die" variant of this trope). And then you learn the hard way that the Wise One's "miracle" to stop you was turning your parents into a dragon and forcing you to fight it.
  • In Portal 2, GLaDOS becomes a non-magical variant when Wheatley converts her main core into a potato battery.
  • Sonson in Marvel vs. Capcom 2 can turn her opponents into fruit, and then she eats them.
  • Toad Man in Rock Man 4 Minus Infinity can turn Mega Man into a toad if the rain he summons hits him. After Toad Man is beaten, Mega Man gets said ability and can turn said ability against Toad Man during the Boss Rush for an easy One-Hit Kill.
  • In NieR it turns out that all the Grimoire were originally humans who learned magic, and were forced into those forms to serve Project Gestalt.
  • In Solatorobo, Nero and Blanck turn into Caninu when The Order is given. Considering they considered themselves so much better than everyone else, the transformation upsets them greatly. Red himself is also transformed into his human Trance body, but he's less upset about the transformation and more upset about the mind control that comes with it.
  • Fantasy Quest: A dog turns out to be a man stricken with a curse, which makes you feel bad for having tried to play fetch with him before.
  • League of Legends' Lulu loves to leverage her powers of legerdemain against her litigants. Alliteration aside, she turns her opponents into small woodland creatures.
  • In the plot of Super Mario Bros 3, the Koopalings have stolen the wands of the Seven Kings, using the wands to turn them into animals. To restore them to normal, Mario must defeat the Koopalings and recover each wand.
  • Android 21 from Dragonball Fighter Z is similar to Sonson, she turns her foes into cake or candy in order to devour them.
  • In Mad Dash Racing, after the player beats the game, Hex's minions turn him into a pig and place a prize ribbon on him.

Web Comics

Vaarsuvius: Well, either I spontaneously decided to get in touch with my reptilian side, or I was just the target of a Baleful Polymorph.

  • In Slightly Damned, Kieri is cursed with a Baleful Polymorph (snow bunny) by water guardian Toski. She can control it a little, but sometimes involuntarily shifts to being a snow bunny or back to being an angel when she sneezes.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, Torg gave Zoe a necklace one Christmas, having found it inside of an Egyptian pyramid. It turns out to be cursed, and transforms her into a camel. Her friends eventually learn the necklace's history and change her back, but the necklace ended up binding to her in the form of a tattoo, and a pair of magic words spoken by anyone can turn her into a camel ("shupid") or human ("kwi").
  • In an El Goonish Shive filler strip, Dan Shive turns Melissa into a cat to shut her up. The cat's been seen in a few fillers since, but it's strictly non-Canon; Shive has expressed his distaste for this trope.
    • In-canon (and out), Grace occasionally gets hit with this trope...but she's a shapeshifter, so it doesn't do anything other than give her a new form to play with.
  • Princess Flibbage from Footloose has a notorious habit of transforming unimportant characters when she's annoyed.
  • Being a D&D based comic, the Baleful Polymorph effect has recently started to pop up in Goblins. Currently, with a guard who polymorphed into an ogre, and another who became a soulspike destroyer.
    • And then a few issues later came a polymorph that is pure Nightmare Fuel, where yet another guard is transformed over the course of several panels into dozens of snakes, which promptly go slithering off in different directions.
  • A fairly common affliction in The Dragon Doctors.
  • Trace hits the old Hight Templar with this; getting polymorphed in he Two Kinds setting is extremely painful. He made her look like a wolf Keidran (beast-man), and had the guards drag her off to a slave market. He also makes his ex-girlfriend's annoying little sister grow a set of cat's ears and thin fur, although it's unclear how "baleful" this was; she quite likes the look.
  • New World is largely based on this trope, as both Nicolo and Amanda love turning people into frogs, furries, or anything else comes to mind, usually throw genderbending into the mix as well.
  • Several characters in The KAMics have been unwittingly changed into various things. It usually happens to Gertrude & Brunhilda.
  • No Rest for The Wicked: the talking bear turns out to be Prince Orson. Perrault claims it, too.
  • Minions At Work: the perils of door-to-door.
  • City of Reality features the villain Hinto Ama, who wreaked havoc in the World of Magic with her transformation powers. Years later, the Manumitor is a man who seeks to undo the harm she caused by reversing as many of the transformations as possible, but is apparently capable of the same magic. This is because he is in fact Hinto Ama in disguise, seeking to atone for her past misdeeds.
  • Angel's stock in trade in The Good Witch, which she cheerfully applies to thugs, bullies...and random innocent bystanders.
  • Yeve the sorceress in Atland teleports her arch-enemy Mael, another sorceress, out into the middle of a desert...then turns her into a fish.
  • In Housepets, King was involuntarily changed from a human named Joel to a Welsh Corgi, by a Jerkass gryphon using Joel/King for the gryphon's own purposes.
  • In Roza her blood magic can manage this -- sometimes.
  • In Thalia's Musings, Hera is very fond of visiting this fate on Zeus's paramours. Io in particular was turned into a cow and then given to Thalia as a pet.
  • In Erstwhile, three women are turned into flowers.
  • In Crimson Flag Julian Urocyon found a staff that could transform Reyn into ordinary (non-anthropomorphic) foxes. He used it on the Red Queen and her bodyguard Bryce and planned to use it on the Red's entire military but was foiled by Lucian, though both of them were transformed in the process.
  • Cyanide & Happiness has a case that either failed or was more insidious than initially assumed. Toads are cool!

Web Original

  • In The Gamers Alliance, the scheming mage Shyralis accidentally activates a curse which turns her into a goat while the Great War rages on. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Thanks to DovSherman at Deviant ART, Mary Sue-ification now works like this too.
  • Fenspace has the Catgirling Machine. The "instantly" and "useless in combat" part of the ISO-standard Baleful Polymorph doesn't apply to these catgirls; however, there's no way for them to revert to human (or, if applicable, male).
  • SCP Foundation:
    • Dr. Kain (not to be confused with SCP-073, that Cain is spelled with a C, thought Dr. Kain has written an analysis on him and his brother, SCP-076); a brilliant researcher, an unspecified accident turned him into a humanoid dog-like creature. Thus far, he's managed to live with it without it hindering his job.
    • SCP-3270 is a painting of a cat that, over the course of several months, turns its owner into a cat. The victim retains their intelligence, personality, and ability to talk (and can talk to regular cats), and their lifespan remains the same as a humans', but assumes the typical habits and diet of a housecat. While there is no known cure, victims in Foundation custody seem rather content with their condition; having free housing where humans feed and lavish attention on them (as is the case with most cats) seems a lot better to them than their pevious lives.

Western Animation

  • The subversion of this trope would be when the transformed hero is just as or even more effective in their new form, like that episode of Powerpuff Girls where Mojo turns them into dogs, but they manage to beat him anyway because...they're superpowered dogs.
    • And the trope is actually averted in the sequel to that episode, in which Mojo tries the exact same scheme. He tells the girls that he has studied the last time extensively, and has taken special precautions, including not turning the girls into dogs. Too bad he missed the fact that, untransformed, they're superpowered girls, and are free to beat him up in the usual fashion.
  • Happens to Wonder Woman in the Justice League Unlimited episode "This Little Piggy". She still has her bracers, at least. Still, Batman's reaction was...nonplussed. They then made a toy of Batman walking a pig. Why, nobody will ever know.
  • In an episode of Gotham Girls, Zatanna turns three men into toads. The other spells she casts wear off quickly; it's not clear whether this one will wear off, but since they were as clear as the format would allow in their intention to rape her, it's not a pressing concern.
  • The Emperors New Groove features a slew of polymorphing potions going awry, and some of the results are much less than useful - becoming a turtle, a parrot, and a humpback whale are each pretty Baleful in their own right. The main character, Kuzco, is turned into a llama by Yzma by means of one of these potions. And then there's the entire palace guard, who get transformed into several different creatures, though their baleful-ness is apparently up to the individual:

Guard: Uh... I've been turned into a cow... can I go home?
Yzma: You're excused. Anyone else?
The rest of the troops: Nah, we're good!

  • Not important to the trope, but a funny anecdote: This leads to a series of events where the titular emperor is being transformed into numerous other things, until, finally:

Kuzco: Yay, I'm a llama again! ...Wait.

  • Thus, this is almost always happening in its spin off series The Emperors New School.
  • And of course Yzma gets her comeuppance when one of the final potions is used on her. And she turns into a fluffy little kitten. Cue Kuzco taunting her until he gets scratched.
  • Brother Bear is about an Alaskan Inuit trying to become more independent of the totem animal he receives (the bear of love), and he is turned INTO a bear by the spirits in order to truly understand why he attained this title.
  • In one episode, The Tick (animation) gets turned into a two-headed bluebird who can only speak in High School French and lays chocolate eggs. Let me say that again. The Tick gets turned into a two-headed bluebird who can only speak in High School French and lays chocolate eggs.
    • The Mad Scientist kid responsible for this had used his transforming machine for other purposes, like turning his entire PE class and coach into an ant colony (still doing the same climbing and running drills within their little ant farm, of course). When Arthur attempts to use the machine to turn the Tick back into his normal form, he struggles with the dizzying array of controls, turning the Tick into a blue dog, a blue sock, a blue houseplant, etc. before he finally notices the giant red button labeled "NORMAL" slightly to his right.
    • Partially subverted when The Tick rhapsodizes about how one can lay an egg and still feel like a man and protects his egg. Later turned in to squick when the egg is broken and he eats the chocolate.
  • Kim Possible was cursed with transforming into a monkey, but she got better (at the very last second).
  • The Monkey Talisman in Jackie Chan Adventures has the power to turn anything into any animal (and only animals; Jade found that part out the hard way when she tried to change a log into a death ray and got a manta ray instead).
  • The Legend of Zelda cartoon had Link turned into a frog, making him unable to resist eating flies, scaring people off with his face, and having difficulty with his motor skills. About half-way through the episode, it stopped being a hindrance and more of an unfortunate appearance.
  • The obligatory appearance by Circe in the ongoing cartoon of Disney's Hercules featured the personality polymorph, complete with Icarus, the resident weirdo, becoming a platypus.
  • One Episode of Teen Titans has the team transformed into various animals such as a bear, cat, monkey, rabbit and... a lamp? (Beast Boy had pointed out to the suddenly nonplussed villain how he transforms into animals already, so the villain had to pick something else. Even then, Beast Boy could still shapeshift, but only into various types of furniture.)
  • A Time Travel episode of DuckTales (1987) included a meeting with Circe, who, of course, turned Scrooge into a pig. A Carl Barks comic also had Magica use Circe's wand to turn Scrooge's nephews into animals to blackmail him for his Number One Dime.
  • Metus being turned into a snake by the Ignika in Bionicle: The Legend Reborn.
  • In the rebooted series of Yoohoo and Friends it is the central theme with polluting corporate executives being turned into cute, cuddly animals by Father Time and sent on missions to fix up the environmental damage they have caused.
  • In one episode of Ultimate Spider-Man, Loki turns Thor into a frog so he won't interfere with his Frost Giant invasion of Earth. He's not as strong as he once was, but he still has power over Mjolnir and human speech in this state. At one point, one member of Spidey's team suggests that White Tiger (the only girl of the group) kiss "The Frog Prince", an idea she immediately dismisses. Spidey gets Thor back to normal by tricking the Trickster God himself- he points out that nobody would be impressed by a god killing a frog, and reverting Thor gives him the opportunity to kick Loki's ass.
  • In Totally Spies!, this happens to the three protagonists a lot usually to Clover, who is the Designated Victim of any scheme that involves altering someone's appearance. Fans have theorized the show was developed with the intent to display every bizarre type of Fetish Fuel imaginable. More often than not, the girls are able to use this (much as they manage to use any curse) to their benefit in some way, and these stories often end with the villain getting a taste of his own medicine.
  • In most versions of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, mutations are not done with the recipient's intent or approval, but most victims are able to cope reasonably well.
    • Within limits, of course. In the 1987 series, April was likely very relieved when she was cured of the Cat Girl transformation that caused her to attack Splinter. She definitely didn't like the fish-girl transformation in a later season much either, though she was able to use it to help the heroes defeat the villain, as a fringe benefit was the ability to use sonar.
    • The crossover Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles versus Batman had way too much fun with this, with many of Batman's iconic villains getting mutagen-induced Karmic Transformations. Bane becomes a leopard-mutant, Mr. Freeze a polar bear (still packing a Freeze Ray and willing to use it) Harley Quinn, a hyena, Scarecrow a crow-mutant (does that mean he scares himself?), and Poison Ivy becomes a giant Venus flytrap monster (possibly the only known time mutagen creates a plant-themed mutant). And The Joker you ask? A nightmarish cobra-themed version of himself. In case anyone doesn't know, snakes eat turtles, making this a terrifying villain to all the heroes in this crossover.
    • The 2012 cartoon seemed to have a policy that said nobody was safe from being mutated, as it happened to both Kirby, Karai, and in fact, most of New York. This was especially bad because in most cases, mutated victims lost their minds. The one exception seemed to be April, but only because she had even bigger problems, being half-Kraang.
  • From The Life and Times of Juniper Lee episode "The Great Escape"; June discovers that the animals at a zoo are actually magical beings who have been kidnapped and turned into animals by a Vain Sorceress who has done so to feed on their life energy and remain young. June makes an attempt to rescue them but it turns sour, and she falls victim to the same curse. Her reaction to waking up as a lemur is rather realistic - as in, she panics.
  • An example you really have to see to believe… In an episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog, Courage unearths the bones of a prehistoric giant kangaroo monster. After Eustace breaks his leg, the doctor heals him by using one of those bones, and Eustace turns into a... prehistoric giant kangaroo monster. But it gets worse. He also goes nuts and goes on a kaiju-like rampage, so Courage breaks his own leg so the doctor can give him the same transplant and enact the same transformation, leading to this shows version of a kaiju battle, which leads to them having an art contest, and ends with Eustace getting all the cupcakes he can eat. It Makes Just As Much Sense in Context, but then, that tends to be true with most of the plots in this show.
  1. Calvin and Hobbes shout out, on this page for the same reason
  2. Note that reducing the surface area of an object while not reducing the force it exerts increases the pressure, hence doing more damage. Yay, physics!