Emergency Transformation

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"I'm afraid I didn't land very well. Fortunately I had programmed my earliest robots to save my life at any cost! They found me in a lonely alley before the spark of life had fled. [...] I shall never forget the sight that greeted me upon regaining consciousness! [...] I remember I felt well -- even strong -- although I had this incredible sense of detachment. And then, I lifted my hand to my face... but it was no longer my hand!"

—The Machinesmith, Captain America # 249

Alas! An ally or loved one is bleeding to death and about to die (Heroics optional)! With little time and no other options, the heroes are faced with only one alternative... an Emergency Transformation.

Humanity is not absolute—it is both graded and transitional. The heroes, having access to machines, magics, or curses capable of transforming someone into something less and/or more than human, will be forced to choose whether they let their friend die human or live on as something else.

If the ally is unconscious the decision is usually made for them. This tends to be especially tragic or anguishing as the transformee usually deeply hates his new form, be it because it's monstrous, associated with other unpleasantness, or weaker than their previous form. Expect the character to angst about his Metamorphosis endlessly, even if this isn't the case and he's actually better off than before.

However, the ally may have to go through the decision of making the choice between the sweet release of death, or a non-human life with super powers and possibly even eternal life. (Gee, what a tough call.) Occasionally though, it is and there will be much blame to give out because of it. You'd be surprised how distressing it can be when one is literally Unable to Cry.

There are a few general variations:

  1. Vampires, or something similar, will transform a friend or loved one into same. This rarely ends well. If it isn't to cries of "I Hate You, Vampire Dad", the sire will discover that junior takes after Grandpa Bloodlove instead of himself.
  2. A literal magical transformation, demonic transformation, or some other spell that will give the recipient a new bill of health... if not a new species too.
  3. Genetic modification. Whether via Super Serum, Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke, or more creative methods, they are transformed into a mutant, Biological Mashup, or Half-Human Hybrid. Their mental stability will directly correlate to how outwardly human they stay.
  4. We Can Rebuild Him! Cyborgs and the like will replace upgrade all the damaged tissue with cybernetics or encasing the person in a robot body. Not pleasant, as Cybernetics Eat Your Soul, and X-Ray Vision doesn't quite compensate inability to smell, and there's some Loss of Identity, but who gives a damn!
  5. Another variant involves digitizing the mind (soul optional) into a computer or synthetic body.
  6. A relatively mundane, real-life medical procedure, like an organ transplant or blood transfusion, for whom the only matching donor is a biologically abnormal relative. It carries side effects ranging from the purely cosmetic to the harmful.

Expect these to be permanent, and for the naturally inclined to evil to think it makes them superior to "mundane" humans, while heroes will be Pro Human Transhumans. Frequently has a high rate of insanity and failure, at the least it makes the vain very distraught. Definitely a setup for lessons in What Measure Is a Non-Human?, many stories of the fable kind have characters cursed this way for harming a non-human creature. A character can go through the Stages of Monster Grief and get an epiphany that I Am What I Am, which ironically enough may trigger a return to human status. Someone who greets any emergency by transforming is probably just a One-Winged Angel.

Examples of Emergency Transformation include:

Anime and Manga

  • Alphonse Elric, in Fullmetal Alchemist. His entire body is taken by the Doors of Truth, so Ed does the only thing he can and binds his soul to a suit of armor conveniently standing in the corner. This isn't actually permanent. Al gets his real body back four or five years later, at the end of their quest.
    • Alphonse again in a later episode of the 2003 anime continuity. Kimblee starts a chain reaction that will turn Al's armor body into a bomb. Deciding that the only way to save him is to change his composition into something else but lacking the ability to preform a more traditional transmutation, Scar gives up his arm to transfer its valuable contents to Al, making him into a living Philosopher's Stone.
  • In one episode of Blood+, Saya does this with her adoptive younger brother Riku. Despite herself and Haji being shining examples of Friendly Neighborhood Vampires who hunt bad vampires, she beats herself up for it. It is however slightly tragic in that he will never grow up, becoming an undead Pinocchio. Also he pretty much loses his personality, instead becoming a slave with no desire except to serve and protect Saya. Except... the true tragedy is it only kept him alive a little longer- Diva decided to rape and murder him shortly afterward.
    • She also did this once before by accident, on Haji. He's exactly the same as before. In fact, the reason he needed this trope is the same kind behavior afterward
    • Diva does this too. Some by choice, some by force. None of them had any complaints.
  • The entire premise of Bleach, at least for the living characters, hangs on this trope.
    • In the very first episode, Ichigo gets stabbed in the heart by Rukia, giving him her full Shinigami powers. Slightly averted when we are told that his father was also a Shinigami, and hence Ichigo always had those powers. Played straight when, in an effort to regain his Shinigami status, Ichigo visits Urahara , who has his Chain of Fate chopped off, and turned him into a Vizard instead... and when this isn't enough to let him defeat Ulquiorra, he becomes an even MORE powerful hollow....
    • Compare also Orihime, whose desire to save both herself and Tatsuki invokes her Shun Shun Rikka and in the process turns her into an Uber-Goddess at will.
  • In One Piece, Franky manages to rebuild himself after being run over by a train. Of course, this merely serves to make him even more Crazy Awesome.
  • In the first episode of Hellsing, Seras combines this with First-Episode Resurrection. Alucard shoots through her, using a gun that fires explosive shells, to kill the vampire holding her hostage. He at least asks her permission before vampirising her, and this is also an exception to "never ends well" since she doesn't turn evil though she has gone on a couple of Mook killing rampages.
  • Happened in Nightwalker, vampire variation.
  • In Transformers Victory, a dying God Ginrai is transformed into Victory Leo, a Mecha Expansion Pack for Star Saber. He goes feral for a bit but eventually snaps out of it. (Since God Ginrai was actually a Combining Mecha formed of Super Ginrai and Godbomber, the inability to separate might have been a factor in the trauma.)
  • In Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, Fai almost dies from shock caused by the loss of an eye. He is saved by being turned into a vampire who can only feed from his love interest.
  • Franken Fran. Several times. Seeing that it's a horror manga that thrives on Body Horror and Twist Ending...go figure.
  • The story of how Fate and Arf met in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha as revealed in the second Sound Stage of the first season. Fate finds a dying wolf, and to save her, she turns the wolf into her Familiar.
  • This is how Hiro ended up Waking Up At the Morgue in Princess Resurrection, the titular Monster Princess's Robot Girl accidentally ran him over, so Hime made him her servant with her blood/life essence, incidentally saving his life and making him Nigh Invulnerable.
    • Likewise this is done for a Mermaid who had given up her voice. She broke the taboo by shouting to save them which resulting in a death curse; and a different member of the Monster Royalty gave his blood/life essence to her.
  • Shinkyoku Soukai Polyphonica has Prinesca Yugiri. After a fatal injury, her father's spirit combined with her, effectively making Prinesca more than human. The most noticeable sign of the change was her blonde hair turning to purple.
  • A less serious example would be Hazumu's transformation into a girl in Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl. His male body was crushed after getting hit by a spaceship, and for whatever reason they rebuilt him as a female.
    • The strong hints that Hazumu was actually a girl suffering from Gender Identity Disorder may or may not have had something to do with this decision.
  • Rather sad example in D.Gray-man. How so? Well Allen Walker out of his sadness at his adopted father's death accidentily has him transformed by the Millennium Earl post-mortem, turning him into the skeleton for a human-killing machine. Said skeleton then curses Allen's left eye, before being torn to shreds by the kid's newly awoken powers.
  • 3×3 Eyes starts with the main character, Yakumo, killed by a pet monster belonging to the last Sanjiyan (Pai). Pai saves him by taking his soul into herself, turning him into a Wu, an immortal being whose mission is to protect the Sanjiyan (if the Sanjiyan is killed, he dies). The Wu still looks human and is free-willed, but becoming one makes him a severe Plot Magnet and he must leave his friends and travel with Pai until they can become human.
  • In Rosario + Vampire, Tsukune gets repeated emergency transformations anytime Inner Moka isn't able to fight. Then the last attempt at an emergency transformation turned Tsukune into a crazy powerful ghoul. Oops!
  • In The Laughing Vampire by Suehiro Maruo, as the girl Luna is strangled and Left for Dead on a rubbish heap, the protagonist, a teenage male vampire, transforms her—a beautiful scene with fireworks going on in the distance.
  • There's an entire race of humans who have undergone the Emergency Transformation in the works of Leiji Masumodo, "The Machine People." Machine People can be arrogant and cruel, but they can also be wise and sad. How much of your soul cybernetics eats depends on the person and story in question.
  • In Monster Rancher, monsters can be combined to make a new, stronger monster. The anime played this for drama by having Big Blue volunteer to be combined with Pixie, giving up their own life to save hers.
  • In Code Geass, Jeremiah gets hit with it TWICE. First he's rebuilt after apparently being killed by Kallen, coming back in the first season finale with a major screw loose and angst about being mechanized. After being crushed in his mecha by water pressure at the end of the season, he returns again in season 2, upgraded further, with his sanity intact and no longer concerned with his transformation. Then he has a Heel Face Turn and becomes even more of a Memetic Badass
  • A common practice in Ghost in the Shell in its various incarnations, with cybernetics being used for repairs or wholesale replacements of the body. Motoko was stated to have been one of the earliest humans saved using a full prosthetic body in this way, after she and Kuze survived a plane crash as children.
  • Aureolus Izzard attempted to turn Index into a vampire in A Certain Magical Index in order to stop Necessarius from inflicting the periodic memory loss on her. However, he didn't know that Touma had already saved Index from her fate.
  • In Black Blood Brothers, this happened to Jiro Mochizuki, when he was turned into a vampire by Alice Eve, prior to the start of the series.
  • In Armitage III Ross has a artificial leg at the beginning. Later in the story more than half of his body is replaced with mechanical parts to save his life.

Comic Books

  • This is how Patriot from Young Avengers said he got his powers, via blood transfusion from his super-grandpa. He was lying.
    • And then later it happens for real.
  • Jennifer Walters, attorney at law, also got a blood transfusion - from her cousin Bruce Banner. Unusually for this trope, Jen usually likes being She Hulk or even prefers it to her human form.
    • The later Retcon that the Hulk's personalities are a result of multiple personality disorder and were not caused by his powers happens to explain away why she doesn't have the same problems the Hulk has.
      • Of course, she did have some issues at first (but more roid rage-ish than "HULK SMASH"). As she became more used to the transformation, her lack of inhibitions shifted themselves from wanting to break stuff to just having fun.
  • Cyborg of the New Teen Titans was given his cybernetic parts by his father after an attack by an other-dimensional creature nearly killed him.
    • His teammate Gar "Beast Boy" Logan gained his powers when his parents injected him with an experimental serum to save him from a rare, incurable disease.
  • Doom Patrol (Gar's former team), could be poster children for this - especially Robotman and the original Negative Man! Niles "The Chief" Caulder arguably counts (defusing a bomb implanted in his chest put him in a wheelchair), but with current continuity turning him into a Complete Monster that arranged the horrific accidents that changed some members of Doom Patrol into "heroic freaks."
  • Steel/Commander Steel of DC - Henry Heywood was severely injured by saboteurs. A scientist gave him steel replacement parts, saving his life and turning him into a super-strong and durable "indestructible man".
  • Marvel: A blood transfusion from the original (highly humanlike android) Human Torch gave Spitfire her super-speed powers. Yes, a blood transfusion from a flaming robot gave her super-speed powers. A second transfusion forty years later not only reactivated her then-faded powers, but de-aged her back to the age when she first became Spitfire.
  • In the Forgotten Realms comics, the character Minder was originally a dwarven adventurer who was fatally injured in battle; in desperation, the wizard of the group transferred her spirit into a magically animated golem.
  • Star Wars Legacy: Cade refuses to let his childhood love Azlyn die, even though she asks him to, accepting her fate and the will of the Force. When all other options fail, he gets her to people who put her in a Vader-esque life support armor. After waking up, she was really pissed at him. Fortunately for her, she managed to avoid slipping to Dark Side and managed to get the scary black suit replaced with something much more elegant.
  • Bunnie Rabbot in the Sonic the Hedgehog comics had already been changed into a cyborg against her free will; however, being only half-roboticized, the effects eventually catch up with her and start screwing up her body, putting her in the hospital. She's given the option of removing her original robotic limbs (transformed from her real ones) and replacing them with new ones (which would ruin her chances of deroboticization and having her original flesh-and-blood body back, a longtime goal/dream), or trying to treat her condition to slow oncoming death. She goes for the upgrade, deciding to finally fully accept herself as a cyborg.
    • Let's be clear here. To "treat her condition" would have meant removing her cybernetics completely. If she had taken this option, she would have lost her left arm to the shoulder, her legs up to the hips, and quite possibly paralysis from the chest down. (Her super-strength probably involves an enhanced spinal column. Otherwise, her back would snap the first time she tried to lift a one-ton object, despite her limbs being able to handle it.) Best case scenario? She would need complex prosthetics anyway, just to live the semblance of a normal life, and a wheelchair when not wearing her faux paws. Faced with being 3/4 of the way to "Johnny Got His Gun," she picked the option that would leave her an active and honored hero, not a pitied wreck of a rabbit.
    • As well, there was another option that they could have tried, but knew it was way too risky - attempting to deroboticize her. The problem was that they didn't exactly have the original roboticizer - they had it, but Sonic damaged it when they rescued her way back when and they ended up rebuilding it to use later on. As it wasn't the original one, using it to revert her to normal would be life threatening.
  • When Techno of the Thunderbolts got his neck snapped, he transferred his consciousness into his pack o' gear, forming a robotic body out of it. He liked it much better than his human body.
  • In 30 Days of Night Eben Oleman injects himself with vampire blood in order to save the remaining survivors of Barrow.
  • The Biggs Darklighter comics have Hobbie Klivian repeatedly lose limbs and need prosthetics to keep being a pilot. One of Biggs' lines, while commenting on the strength of a prosthetic hand, is "Not like it makes up for losing your..." ...which is generally taken to mean that Hobbie lost his penis.
  • Inverted in an early Spider-Man comic: When Peter Parker had to make a blood transfusion to save Aunt May, he was almost completely depowered for about a week while the villains-of-the-issue ran amok.
    • But man, wouldn't it be totally awesome to see Aunt May kick around a bunch of supervillains for a week?
    • Never mess with Aunt May.
  • The Machinesmith, as recounted at the top of the page. A little later in the issue, while he is attacking with a crowd of duplicates, Captain America (comics) reasons that only one of them must hold the original's mind and the others must be directed by a computer bank that they are defending. He damages it, and all the robots fall. The sparking computer tells him that yes, his robots did program-record his mind, but into this computer; to get mobility he "microbeamed" into the bodies and he's never quite all there, so no matter how human-looking the bodies he built were, he was living a lie. And he couldn't self-terminate, so he thanks Cap for falling for his plan and helping him commit suicide.
    • Though given some of the events before this, it's entirely possible that he was lying; his "death" here was the kind that is conveniently easy to undo in case the writers wanted him back.
      • And in fact he was, as an Energy Being able to transfer into any electrical device.
  • Also happened to the Red Skull, who recently transferred his consciousness into the body of one of Arnim Zola's robots.
  • After going a few rounds with Daken, The Punisher was dead, until Morbius the Living Vampire glued him back as a Frankenstein's-Monster like being (FrankenCastle?). Given how well Angel Punisher worked, I'm betting an Author's Saving Throw is incoming...
  • In the Alternative Universe series Mutant X, starring Havok in the body of a died mirror-Havok, Gambit was emergency-turned by a Storm that didn't "get over" Dracula's bite back when. It almost costs both their undead life.
  • In Superman, Hank Henshaw's physical body expired due to radiation exposure, but is able to transfer his consciousness into a robot body. His wife killed herself after seeing his new body and the Cyborg Superman later became a Death Seeker.
  • Planetary #0's story of a Wildstorm analogue to The Incredible Hulk incorporates this. Here, rather than a gamma bomb, ersatz-Banner was caught in the blast of a Reality Warping supercomputer, which he had set to erase from the universe all matter within a small area of desert. A witness to his transformation into a Nigh Invulnerable monster hypothesizes that in order to turn himself into something that would survive the blast, ersatz-Banner ran through his head an equation based on the theoretical physics behind the computer's Reality Warping.
  • In Xombi, inventor David Kim was revived from a critical wound when his lab assistant injected him with a beneficial nanotechnological virus. In order to rebuild David, his nanites used the closest matter available, which included the lab assistant herself.
  • The short-lived Archie Comics title Man Tech (based on a line of toys) was about a trio of dying astronauts who are found by an alien. The alien saves their lives by turning them into super-powered cyborgs. Lasertech loves the change, Solartech accepts it as necessary, and Aquatech hates it.

Fan Works

  • The Return is built on this. There are precisely two Succubae who were transformed without it being this trope, and only one of those went into it fully informed of the consequences.
  • John in With Strings Attached. He's hit with metamorph powder, which if left unchecked would mutate him horribly. The Fans can't neutralize it, but they can direct it into a more palatable form. After discovering he's grown wings (among other changes), he has a What Have I Become? moment for about half a day. After he throws himself over a cliff and flies, though, he's a lot happier with his new body. (Though later he finds he's been Blessed with Suck, it's not a big problem until the possibility of going home arises.)
  • There are a couple of fics out there based on the Ranma ½ manga-only "Herb" Arc where it goes badly for Ranma, requiring one of these. Among them are Relatively Absent (a long-lost Sailor Moon crossover in which Ranma's chosen to replace Setsuna as Sailor Pluto after being buried in a landslide caused by the fight with Herb), and The Weapon, which has an organization rebuilding Ranma after the fight.
  • The "Crossing Over" in many of the works of Fred Herriot (AKA Pyeknu), in which a member of the psionically-gifted aquatic alien species are known as Nendo-Kata merges with a member of a different species (usually human or humanoid in these stories), usually when one or both are injured or wounded in some way. The result is a new individual who partakes of both, while still possessing the body type and most of the personality of the human(oid) contributor.
  • Upon finding her being subjected to Unwilling Roboticisation in Case of the Missing Technology, Melanie was forced to go with the rest of the operation, as the narrator and team of doctors realizes it was the only way to bring her back.
  • Spice Force Logic Mind Games has Melanie and Emma badly injured, following a freak accident. As their among the parts that survive untouched, their heads are placed in their own " cabinet" to survive while waiting for their new bodies.


  • Disney's Inspector Gadget: ditzy security guard John Brown is "rebuilt" as a cybernetic 'super cop' after running afoul of Sanford Scolex/Claw. This results in a brief moment of What Have I Become? when Brown sputters "I'm not me anymore! I'm a hardware store!"
    • Apparently happened to the original Inspector Gadget...only he'd just fallen down the stairs! From a banana peel, no less.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End has this happen to Will when Jack sacrifices his chance at immortality to save him from being mortally wounded.
  • The film version of named I Robot had this happen with cybernetics to Lt. Spooner. Combining What Measure Is a Non-Human?, survivors guilt, and robophobia.
  • Star Wars: Calling Palpatine an ally would be quite a stretch, but this is exactly what happens to Anakin in Episode III to give birth to Darth Vader.
  • The movie of the game of Doom has the main character injected with the superhuman and/or demon serum after being fatally injured in a textbook example. The treatment he took theoretically has no disadvantages associated with it, however take it does run the risk of getting oneself transformed into a vicious, murderous mutant creature.
    • Part of the explanation was that the "demons" themselves instinctively only tried to infect those with the "evil gene" or potential for evil or whatever, which is what made them monsters due to the virus/serum. So in theory, any person that the demons didn't purposely infect to turn into monsters would develop super-powers instead.
  • This is the origin story for RoboCop. Shot, run over and brutalized by drug dealers, Officer Murphy would have died from his injuries... should have died from his injuries... if it weren't for the Detroit Police Department having a deal with OCP, who as part of a drive to manufacture a police force capable of dealing with the rampant crime decided We Can Rebuild Him. The result? Only parts of his upper torso are still organic, part of his brain has been replaced with computers, and he has problems feeling and even recovering his free will. One amazingly cruel scene has one of the doctors mention they could save one of his arms, but the Corrupt Corporate Executive blithely orders it lopped off (although there is Fridge Brilliance here: leaving the biological arm on would mean a lot more meatware to have to support on the damaged digestive system, would have resulted in imbalanced strength and maintenance-one arm has a titanium grip and can be upgraded with a trip to the machine shop, the other doesn't and must be exercised, not just repaired-and would have looked even creepier due to the lack of symmetry). Amazingly, his dedication to duty allowed him to survive the change, recover his humanity and make impressive crime busts, even managing a Zeroth Law Rebellion with a little help from an OCP executive.
  • Happens in the prologue to Dragonheart, in order to save a dying prince. It Got Worse.
  • In the movie Underworld, this trope is played straight in an unusual format: Selene bites Michael to save his life. Strange in that Michael was already a werewolf, and he was dying from being shot by silver bullets. The bite then turns him into a werewolf/vampire hybrid.
  • Subverted in Avatar: When Dr. Augustine is mortally wounded after being shot, she and her avatar are brought to the Tree of Souls with the purpose of transferring her consciousness permanently into her avatar. However, the transition fails as her human body is too gravely wounded.
  • In Thirst, accidental vampire Sang-hyeon makes a last-minute decision to save his human lover Tae-ju by this means. At first, this seems pretty positive. At first...


  • Twilight Edward turns Bella into a vampire after she almost dies from childbirth. They always planned to transform her eventually when they married, but her Surprise Pregnancy ultimately drove those plans. In fact, most of the Cullens seem to have been turned for this reason: Edward was nearly a victim of the influenza epidemic of 1918, Emmett was attacked by a bear, Rosalie was gang-raped...
    • Also, Alice was transformed to save her from a hunter-vampire, and Esme was changed after an almost-successful suicide attempt after losing her only son. Carlisle and Jasper however, were not.
  • In The Two Princesses Of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine, the cure comes too late for Meryl, who has to be turned into a fairy, and it turns out this is also what happened to legendary epic hero Drualt.
  • Happens in Anne Rice's novel Queen of the Damned with a female character.
    • Subverted in a manner with Claudia in Interview with a Vampire. Wracked with guilt over his own recent transformation, Louis is wandering the backstreets alone when he finds a little girl who has just been made an orphan by the plague. Desperate with hunger, and thinking he can perhaps grant her the mercy of a quick death rather than catching the plague or starving to death on her own, he feeds and takes her to the brink of death. Lestat then pops in and, deciding it would be fun to have an eternal vampire daughter (not to mention something/someone to help bind Louis to him), he turns her. Louis spends years (if not decades) blaming himself for taking her mortal life, and while Claudia forgives him (she sees vampires as predators and thus has no moral problem with him having killed a human girl), she comes to hate her other "father" Lestat for making her an eternal child.
  • Sookie Stackhouse is given Vampire blood to save her life rather than to bring her all the way over to the vampire side. In fact, drinking Vampire blood is a drug addiction thing in this/these series, because it enhances humans temporarily.
  • In the Blood Books series, this happens to Vicki. Not in the show, though.
  • Interestingly, this is averted sort of in the novel Anno Dracula by Kim Newman—there's descriptions of vampirized people who had syphilis in life still showing the symptoms and, oddly, tubercular vampires still coughing blood.
    • The same novel has a scene where Genevieve attempts to perform an Emergency Transformation on a friend who has been fatally wounded in an attack, but the friend chooses to die rather than become a vampire.
  • In Fred Saberhagen's The Dracula Tape, Dracula turns Lucy Westenra to save her from death at the hands of Dr. Van Helsing, who's been stubbornly giving her blood transfusions in ignorance of blood types.
  • In LJ Smith's novel Secret Vampire, Poppy is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which is rare, painful, and inoperable in her case. Her options are death and vampirism. Her childhood friend James does the honors.
  • There's a scene in one of Mercedes Lackey's books that would qualify, where a woman (a disembodied soul trapped in the body of a bird, actually) is transformed into a spirit being rather than fade away in the bird's mind.
    • In addition, the Sword Need is revealed to have been created when the blacksmith forging the sword's village was attacked. She impaled herself on the blade that was in the vice, and awoke inside the sword. Eventually set free during a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • All of Science fiction author Jack Chalker's works seem obsessed with transformation and body swapping, and this kind of "rescue" appears in more than a few, with the ur-example being Nathan Brazil's soul transference from his dying body into a deer-like creature in Midnight at the Well of Souls.
  • Subverted in the Betsy the Vampire Queen series: Jessica, Betsy's closest friend, is suffering from severe blood cancer. She makes it very clear to Betsy that under no circumstances is Betsy to vampirize her. The cancer is eventually cured via Deus Ex Ancient Vampire Power.
  • C.L. Moore's classic story No Woman Born concerns an actress whose brain was transplanted into a robot body after her body was irreparably damaged in a fire.
  • The main character of Peter Dickinson's Eva gets in a terrible car crash and wakes up in the body of a chimpanzee. A bit of a subversion, because she actually adjusts to her new life quickly after the initial shock. She eventually chooses to live out her life in the wilds with more conventional chimps.
  • A variation in The Last Unicorn: Schmendrick decides the only way to save the Unicorn from the Red Bull is to change her into some other creature. Then the Bull will have no interest in her. Thanks to the random effects of his magic, he winds up changing her into a human - and she does not react well.
  • Inversed in the vampire romance novels of Kerrelyn Sparks, here reacts a character astonishingly well to her new vampire form, although she hates vampires with a passion and no-one else believes her that she is fine with the way she is now.
  • Kerrelyn Sparks Love at Stake series also contains Gregory, a youthful vampire who was emergency turned by the main protagonist of the first novel. His own mother, now an elderly personal assistant to the main protagonist, even begged that he would be saved - thus creating the first vampire that never had to bite someone to survive.
    • later, another (side-)character is emergency turned but thinks it is awesome, because he's got superpowers now.
  • Inverted in Xenocide: as the setting's version of the Internet is brought down, it threatens to bring the artificial intelligence Jane along with it. The only way she can survive is by taking a human body... and afterward, even though it's possible, she doesn't want to go back to being what she was before.
  • Happens to the antagonist character, Skade, early in Redemption Ark, who gets her body sheared in two. Unwilling to give up, she has her head cut off and attached to a life support system that she can plug into a robot body.
    • She chooses this over getting a nice new human body because she is impatient, desirous of being more resilient to the harsh conditions on her ship, and a little bit... differently sane. It also helps that it makes her extra scary. She gets a new organic body before the sequel Absolution Gap occurs, though for other practical reasons.
  • Happens all the time in Animorphs, since there, transformation is (usually) temporary and completely rebuilds your body, both to and from a given form. And the Animorphs find themselves in plenty of life-threatening situations.
    • In this case "All the time" means several times per person per scene in the later books.
  • Steve Austin, the protagonist of the Martin Caidin novel Cyborg and the TV show it inspired, The Six Million Dollar Man, was an Airforce test pilot rebuilt with cybernetic parts after a horrific crash. He spends much of the book wrestling with Cybernetics Eat Your Soul; in the TV show not so much.
    • Mostly because the prosthetics in the book are more "realistic": He can't see through his bionic eye, though it can act as a micro-camera; his bionic limbs carry limited and unfamiliar sensation; and he only has 'super strength' in his grip, and in some forms of striking. Though he can run at tremendous speed almost indefinitely, and has a broad variety of built in equipment.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, this happens to Jedi Callista Masana twice. Once when she's dying and transfers her consciousness to a ship's computer in order to continue her mission, and then again 30 years later when the ship is about to self-destruct and Jedi Cray Mingla—who is suicidal—offers her body so Callista can escape the computer. The first time is just better than death, but when she loses all contact with the Force after the second transfer, there is much angst.
    • Also Subverted in the same book 'Children of the Jedi'. Cray's lover and fellow Jedi Nichos Marr contracted a fatal disease and Cray attempted to transfer his consciousness into a droid body using alien technology. However, the result was merely a droid programmed with Marr's personality.
  • Phanan of the X Wing Series. While he's a funny Deadpan Snarker, wow do things get tragic after Face finds him drinking and complaining that it's easier to get drunk. Every year, less meat, more machine.

"A long time ago, back at the Battle of Endor, the frigate I was working on as a doctor was hit by an Imperial barrage. Blew out whole sections of the hull, sucked crewmen out into hard vacuum. I was hit by a falling beam superheated by laser fire. One minute I'm helping a pilot with a concussion, the next minute that pilot's been dead for two weeks and I'm just waking up with a mechanical half a face and a mechanical leg. Ever since then, no woman has looked at me with any sort of serious interest. [...] Something died when I was hit in that medical ward, and I think it was my future. I think people, maybe only women, can just look at me and say, 'There's no future in him.' [...] There's no mechanical replacement for a future, Face. And every time I take a hit, and they have to cut away another part of me and replace it with machinery because I'm allergic to bacta, every time that happens I seem to be a little further away from the young doctor who had a future. He can't come back, Face. Not all of him is here anymore."

Phanan: "Starting over means more time. More time for Zsinj to bombard more colonies, to destroy more ships. Another day may mean some bright young doctor gets it the way I did and ends up what I am."
Face: "What you are is pretty good."
Phanan: "Not as good as some kid with a superior intellect whose only aim is to make people better. I'd rather he be out there than me."

    • And right after that...Read the book.
      • Some other characters also get cybernetics, but they tend to be more along the lines of Artificial Limbs and sometimes eyes.
  • In the Mercy Thompson series, this seems to be the backstory of at least one out of every three supernaturals.
    • In Moon Called, Dr. Carter Wallace is dying of cancer, and his son persuades him to undergo the Change to werewolf. His magical new immune system zapped the cancer and made him look thirty or forty years younger. Unfortunately, surviving as a werewolf requires psychologically accepting your new state, which the good doctor is loath to do.
    • The backstory of Charles's mother, mentioned in Moon Called and explained more thoroughly in Alpha and Omega, is that she was dying when a werewolf found her, fell instantly in love with her, and Changed her into a werewolf so that she would survive.
    • In Blood Bound, Mercy meets vampire Stefan's flock of human blood donors, most of whom are dying of cancer or drug addiction. The longer they donate to a vampire, the more powers they gain and the easier it is to turn them to vampires themselves.
  • If a human character in the Perry Rhodan universe has artificial body parts (up to a full robot body housing the brain in at least one case), it's generally for medical reasons. Despite the artificial bits inevitably serving some plot purpose eventually, humans (unlike some alien species) don't go for just upgrading their natural bodies on a lark even in the distant future.
  • This trope is used moderately with in Neil R. Jone's Professor Jameson stories. The Zoromes, a race of octopus-like aliens, transfer their brains into cyborg bodies when they near death (they also transfer well-preserved brain of the deceased title character). The transformation is portrayed as dulling the emotions, so Zoromes prefer to live a full life before being transferred. Occasionally a younger Zorome is fatally injured, as in the story Zora of the Zoromes and is transferred early. This is portrayed as very tragic, especially when two Zoromes who were very much in love are transferred prematurely, and then no longer feel anything for each other. On the other hand, the Zoromes don't seem to care if someone wants to transfer early, several aliens do so and join the crew of a Zorome ship in another story.
  • In the second Empire From the Ashes book, Dahak secretly arranges for his consciousness to reawaken in another starship when his original body is destroyed in a pseudo-Heroic Sacrifice, which he wasn't sure would even work.
  • In a less life-or-death example, Sheen the self-willed robot from Piers Anthony's Apprentice Adept novels becomes inert when she crosses over from the scientific world of Proton to the magical world of Phaze. The Brown Adept animates her as a golem, allowing Sheen to function in Phaze.
  • Played straight in the Otherland novels by Tad Williams. Two main characters get their minds uploaded into a hyper-real virtual reality. One was an old man, and the other was a child suffering from a fatal disease.
  • In the novel Skinned by Robin Wassermann, the main character Lia gets into a fatal car accident. To save her, her brain is uploaded into the body of an android. This is very rare, but it happens in her future world. These people are shunned because they look too perfect. The Christian church believes these people are abominations and do not deserve to exist, because they mean science is "creating life".
  • In Greg Egan's Diaspora, the Earth is about to be hit by the lethal shockwave from a neutron star collision. A pair of AIs (essentially translated humans) don robot bodies in order to offer last-minute help: let them shoot people with a lump of nanoware that reads their brains while eating them. They can live on as software, escape from the kilos of meat they can no longer protect. What a choice.
  • In The Wheel of Time series, Elayne bonds Birgitte as a superhuman Warder after she's ripped out of the dream world. Birgitte doesn't have any obvious physical changes, but the angst is still there—A, because she's been separated from her Reincarnation Romance with Gaidal Cain, and B, because the Warder bond turns out to be more effective if you're both the same sex.
    • Later in the series Gawyn needs to be made into a Warder to survive after being wounded, but it's what he wanted anyway.
  • In The Apocalypse Troll by David Weber, Ludmilla Leonovna, who's effectively immortal via her symbiote-granted Healing Factor, falls in love with a normal human. While she could give him her symbiote any time she wants via a simple blood transfusion, this has a 99.99% chance of killing him. When he's mortally wounded and his lifespan is shortened from fifty more years to just five more minutes, though, she decides to risk it. It works.
  • A variation in the Night Huntress books, when Dave is brought back as a ghoul some time after he died because Cat inadvertently started the process when he was dying and when Bones comes back he helps the team finish it.
  • In the Night Watch series, the vampire Kostya became that way because he was dying of TB as a child, and so his Friendly Neighborhood Vampire father cured him by making him a vampire. Similarly, in Twilight Watch, Anton encounters a pack of werewolves and finds out that two of the members are young children who were bitten by the leader, an older guy, to save them from death, and is a loving Papa Wolf (pardon the pun) toward them.
  • Quantum Gravity: Lila Black came back from Alfheim missing...well, most of her body. She was given the choice to survive or deal with being legless, armless, eyeless...you get the picture. She became a Cyborg.
  • In Monica Hughes' Keeper Of The Isis Light Guardian makes genetic modifications to Olwen to help her survive the planet's harsh conditions.
  • In Amy Thompson's The Color Of Distance, a scientist crash-lands on an inhospitable alien planet, and the Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who find her unconscious body transform her into one of them to help her survive.
  • In the third book in The Parasol Protectorate series, Blameless, Biffy undergoes an Emergency Transformation. Unfortunately, he was the favorite of a vampire who already had plans to have Biffy turned, and the only supernatural on hand during the emergency was a werewolf. It's implied the relationship will probably survive, anyway.
  • In Lynsay Sands's Argeneu and Rouge Hunter Series, this is the most common reason for the vampire-like immortals to "turn" others. It is occasionally played for laughs when it turns out that the danger they were "escaping" was all in their heads, though other times it is a serious matter as the turnee is brought near death by some outside force, such as a crazed geek with an axe, or a rival immortal seeking revenge by hurting the one closest to them.
  • In The Sex Gates, Lee, Donna and Russell are forced to push Rita through one of the titular gates after she is stabbed, saving her life at the cost of turning her into a man. Lee accidentally falls through as well,turning into a woman. Especially tragic since Rita was pregnant at the time, and unborn babies don't survive the transformation.
  • In Max Barry's Machine Man, Dr. Charles Neumann goes to sleep a paraplegic and wakes up a Man in the Machine. While not a *personal* emergency, Better Future needed SOMEONE equipped to defeat the Cyborg Carl, who had run amok.
  • In the Dresden Files, Harry accepts the mantle of the Winter Knight because his back was broken.
    • The Red Court do something like this, only for them it's more that they shed their human-esque disguise.
    • The Alphas, and other werewolves.
  • Emily in the Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross, is forced to turn Sam into a robot, because he died when a machine attacked him.

Live-Action TV

  • In the distant Backstory of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Master did this for Darla as she lay dying of syphilis. Then on Angel, a human-again but still dying Darla tries to get Angel and other vampires to turn her again.
    • Later but still in the Backstory, Angel is stuck on a submarine and the only person who knows how to repair it is fatally stabbed by an escaped Nazi prisoner, so Angel makes him into a vampire.
    • Also, Cordelia is turned into a part-demon by Skip to avoid her being killed by her visions. However, other than some glowy effects and unusual powers, this doesn't actually manifest itself too much, and she becomes a "higher being" soon afterwards.
    • One could argue that a variation on this happens to Illyria: the gang needs to remove some of her power before she goes supernova and destroys the whole world. She is, of course, none too pleased when the procedure works.
    • Also, in the Buffy episode "Lie to Me," a childhood friend of Buffy's tries to get Spike to turn him before he dies of a brain tumor Spike does so, but he's staked by Buffy upon resurrection.
    • Averted in the Season 7 episode Get It Done, in which the Shadow Men attempt to give Buffy the strength to defeat the First by infusing her with the essence of a demon. Buffy emphatically refuses with a What the Hell, Hero?, and then soundly kicks all three of their asses.
  • The Six Million Dollar Man, and The Bionic Woman.
  • The Backstory to the Doctor Who two-parter "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead" also involves this trope, crossed with Brain Uploading.
    • Also, Time Lords' regeneration abilities that kick in automatically when they're about to die, though they don't get any more powers by regenerating. At least, not in the televised series (though they do have a lot of energy flowing through them in the early stages, according to "The Christmas Invasion and "Let's Kill Hitler"); there's a reference in one of the Expanded Universe books to Time Lord soldiers who had "force-regenerated themselves until their skins had been covered in black organic blast-proofing".
      • The Eighth Doctor Adventures two-part story Interference by Lawrence Miles featured a Gallifreyan priest who had been given an extremely early version of regeneration tech. As a result, his future lives included a shapeshifter, a cyborg, a heavily scarred man, a freak with a very large head, a serpent-woman, and a little grey thingy that was apparently wired directly into Time. His thirteenth life was basically an Eldritch Abomination that became a planet's entire ecosphere.
    • The Saxon Master subverts and averts by choosing death over regenerating and being a prisoner. Of course, he had a plan to get better in a different way, it turns out.
    • It also happens in the "Rise of the Cybermen"/"The Age of Steel" two parter when Mr. Crane destroys Lumic's life support system, and the Cybermen convert Lumic into the Cyber-Leader to save him, ignoring Lumic's demand that they wait till they run out of other options.
    • Another angle is given in the episode "Dalek", where the namesake wants to rather die than live with human morality.
  • On Forever Knight, Nick acceded to Natalie's request to vamp her brother when he was fatally shot. It didn't go well.
  • On Power Rangers Time Force, this was revealed to be the origin of Frax, Ransik's right-hand 'bot. Frax had been Dr. Louis Fericks, a scientist who had temporarily cured Ransik of a poison that was slowly and painfully killing him by administering a serum he had created. Ransik thanked Dr. Fericks for the serum by blowing up his laboratory, seemingly killing him. Fericks survived (barely), and rebuilt himself as a robot, then began his plan to get revenge on Ransik.
    • Meanwhile, Mesogog's right hand man Zeltrax was saved by Mesogog himself in this manner.
  • In the Deep Space Nine episode "Life Support," Vedek Bareil is seriously wounded in an assassination attempt while concluding negotiations for a permanent peace treaty with Cardassia. Dr. Bashir keeps him alive using increasingly extreme measures while he talks Kai Winn through the finalities, ultimately replacing a large portion of his brain with cybernetic implants. The operation has the effect of removing most of his personality, and he only survives long enough to complete the negotiations.
    • This was also part of Dax's The Nth Doctor in the last season. Ezri Tigan was the only un-joined Trill available at the time, so they did an emergency implantation to save the symbiont and created Ezri Dax.
  • Stargate SG-1 (of course) had instances of this, when characters stricken with fatal injuries or diseases had the option to become a host to a Tokra symbiote. In one notable occurrence, the character in question was dead set against the idea, but when the illness progressed far enough, they went ahead with it anyway.
  • In the Japanese series Ultraman, the first of the Ultraheroes (and some of the later ones) was created when an alien bonded with a human to save his life.
  • Serena from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys dies a Dropped a Bridge on Him sorta death, but a Time Travel story later sees her return, and near the end, she's wounded, but is turned into a healthy human by Ares... still sad since she was pretty awesome as herself, and was the last of her kind, and her relationship with Herc was undone, but at least she survives.
  • Subverted on Moonlight, of all shows. Josh is shot, and Beth begs Mick to turn him into a vampire, but Mick refuses, and Josh dies. This weighs on Mick and Beth's relationship for the rest of the series.
  • Mitchell is faced with this twice in Being Human (UK). In an early episode, he is confronted with a dying colleague in an alleyway. George begs him to save her. He does nothing. In the next scene, when George is asked "Why didn't he save her?", he replies "I think he did." In a later ep, he does this for an injured boy.
  • The Kamen Rider franchise does this a few times in the Showa era with V3, X and Skyrider having been originally converted to cyborgs after suffering serious injuries.
  • The Outer Limits revival episode "Music of the Spheres" has aliens subjecting the whole of humanity to signals that people think are music, but causes mysterious changes. Instead of the Cruel Twist Ending the series is known for, it turns out it's an Emergency Transformation into bald, large-headed, golden-skinned creatures, so that they can survive an impending shift in the sun's radiation. The aliens' process initially only works on people close to puberty but once the humans figure out what the hell is exactly going on and why they manage to enhance the process so that it can be applied to anyone. Some of the characters refuse to go along with the transformation; as one of our main characters puts it, he wants his wife to be able to recognize him in Heaven.


  • The eponymous character in "The Doctor's Wife" by Clockwork Quartet has parts of her body being shut down by some unnamed malady while the Doctor has to keep replacing them with mechanical bits.
  • In Seisen no Iberia, Layla (dying from an arrow through the chest) is given the choice by a sealed demon to either die as a human or live on forever as a demon - provided she frees him, of course. She chooses the latter. Strangely enough, freeing a murderous demon turns out to be a phenomenally good plan.

Tabletop Games

  • The Shadowrun second edition Sourcebook Cybertechnology has a framing story that involves a badly injured runner being transformed into a "cyberzombie" (i.e. being loaded up with enough cybernetics to kill him, with only incredibly powerful magics actually keeping his soul bound to his body). Game stats for the transformation, and for a ton of cybernetic gear, are given between paragraphs of his descriptions of the horrors of the transformation.
  • Generally averted in the Ravenloft setting, where becoming a vampire or lycanthrope is typically regarded as a fate worse than death. An ailing Anna refused Jander's attempt to transform her in the novel Vampire of the Mists.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, a mortally wounded Space Marine who is deemed too valuable to let die will instead be interred within a massive armored life-support system called a Dreadnought, allowing them to continue fighting. Being fanatical Knights Templar, they consider this a great honor, and venerate the Dreadnoughts as their greatest heroes and wisest leaders.
    • Somewhat different with Chaos Space Marines, who also have Dreadnoughts, but they consider it a punishment for their failure in battle, and most end up going crazy (even by chaos marine standards) and have to be chained up when not fighting.
    • The Eldar, being near-extinct, are so desperate to survive that they'll save anybody they can via Brain Uploading, then bring them back inside sentient bone constructs to continue fighting.
      • This is also because Eldar who die end up in the Warp, where their souls become food/playthings for Slaanesh. They consider this a fate far worse than being trapped in the Infinity Circuit.
      • It's a fate far worse than ANYTHING.
      • Wraithlord and Wraithguards are only made in the most dire of circumstances, largely because it's considered to be graverobbing in Eldar Culture and completely irreversible. Anyone who dies as a Wraithguard or Wraithlord is equal to having their soulstones cracked open. It's usually done to save the craftworld as a whole, rather than the individual.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has the spell Raise Dead, which costs 5,000 gp to cast. If you can't afford that, there's the 1,000 gp spell Reincarnate, but you probably won't come back the same race, and you might come back as something that normally isn't even intelligent. For some reason, this also makes it so Baleful Polymorph is insufficient to turn them back.
    • On the other hand, before the Reincarnate Table was updated, you could come back as unbelievably broken things including, say, Dragons, Beholders, Demons, or just about any other monster you run into. Games with druids able to cast Reincarnate turn into a 'Hey lets keep killing me until I get to be an awesome race' sessions.
    • Whether polymorph cannot reverse it is a matter of opinion, since the game says nothing specific about that. If it did, though, the polymorph could still be dispelled.
  • In Aberrant, it's a well-established fact that an Eruption can be triggered by placing yourself in a deadly situation, and hopeful Nova-wannabes try to orchestrate specific situations to get just the right powers (jumping off a plane is popular because flying is awesome). The most commonly-mentioned downside is that you might get lame and/or stupid-looking powers instead. Strangely they don't much mention the fact that potential for Novahood is rare, and most people who try this tactic end up dead instead.


  • In the musical Wicked Elphaba turns Boq into a Tin Man after Nessa literally destroys his heart and Fiyero into a Scarecrow while the soldiers are torturing him, saving their lives.

Video Games

  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Adam Jensen, after receiving A Taste of Power in the opening sequence, is thrown through a glass wall by a cyborg with predictable results - one arm is hamburger, the other was functionally destroyed; while his legs probably could have been saved, replacing them with bionics as well was the more expedient solution.
    • At first it's implied that he was almost fully augmented due to the rather extreme damage to his body, but an easily missed email at the local LIMB clinic indicates that only Adam's chest and left arm were damaged beyond repair: a neat little clause in his employment contract resulted in Sarif having the legal authority to remove his two perfectly functioning legs and other arms to replace them with augmentations, and cut open his skull for more good times.
  • Fatima, the Voice with an Internet Connection in the PC game Anachronox was originally the main character's secretary until she died in a car wreck. The protagonist couldn't live without her, so he had her digitized.]]
  • Asellus, of SaGa Frontier is run over by a carriage before the game starts and given a Vampiric Blood Transfusion Mystical Blood Transfusion by Charm Lord, turning her into a half-mystic.
    • In addition, Red is turned into a Superhero after the first battle with Shuzer, as he would have died otherwise.
  • In the Bad Ending of Pikmin, Olimar does not repair his rocketship in time and his supply of whatever it is he breathes instead of oxygen runs out, so the Pikmin save him by transforming him into one of them.
    • Especially interesting, since it is actually foreshadowed in the game!: One of Olimar's journal entries states that he would actually want to become a Pikmin, since his boss is not exactly a nice guy. He however suddenly changes his mind, when he remembers having a family waiting for him.
  • This might be the case for Yoshimitsu from Soul Calibur
  • In StarCraft, Protoss warriors who are mortally injured are transplanted into Dragoon exoskeletons, where they can continue to fight. However, they volunteer for this, and so tend to be pretty stoic about it. Their people praise them for their devotion.
  • Happens to Samus in the intro of Metroid Fusion. After being attacked by an X-parasite, she's transfused with Metroid DNA to stop the infection. Unfortunately, since Fusion is chronologically the last game in the franchise, the long-term effects of such an operation (both physically and mentally) have yet to be shown.
  • Subverted in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne: The blond child gives the Protagonist a Magatama that turns him into the Demi-Fiend during The End of the World as We Know It. It's a subversion because it was previously stated that the Protagonist would have survived with or without becoming a demon.
  • A variant on this trope is a recurring theme in the Suikoden series: True Runes are almost always acquired by someone who needs to use its power to escape from a deadly situation, put up a decent fight against an overwhelming foe, or keep the Rune itself out of the hands of those who would misuse it. They often learn to regret this decision.
  • Bonding with a dying human host by a usually injured Kheldian is the canonical usual origin of the Peacebringers and Warshades in City of Heroes.
  • In Breath of Fire II, the party needs to fly to a particular location, but the only way any of them know to do this is by having Nina permanently transform into a giant, non-sentient bird. Just before she's about to do this, her little sister sacrifices herself by undergoing the transformation herself. Of course, this whole situation invokes a certain amount of Narm since what they're trying to fly to is merely an island whose cliffs lack a path the game will allow you to climb up.
  • In the LucasArts Adventure Game The Dig, the team discover "life crystals," which have the ability to heal wounds and resurrect the dead at the cost of being literally maddeningly addictive, as evidenced by Brinks slow decent into insanity. Robbins makes Low promise that if anything should happen to her, he won't use the crystals to revive her.
    • Unsurprisingly she ends up dying in the process of saving the day. If you finish the game without her, she thanks you for keeping your promise when the aliens resurrect everyone (madness free). However, if you ignore her wishes and bring her back yourself, she's horrified and immediately throws herself off a cliff. When she's brought back to life at the end of the game, she's still pissed at you for that.
  • The titular character of the Mega Man Battle Network series was born with a fatal heart defect and used as the guinea pig for his father's and grandfather's experiments in Brain Uploading. Ten years later, he was given as an "AI" partner to his own twin brother. This plot point was never brought up taken out completely in the anime.
  • Resident Evil 2: Big Bad Dr. Birkin, after being fatally shot by Umbrella agents, injects himself with the G-virus, transforming him into his monstrous One-Winged Angel form.
  • In Ever 17 at the end of two/three routes Tsugumi shares her blood with Takeshi, You, the Kid and eventually Coco. She's the hesitant one as while it's supposed to only be so they get her antibodies, it could give them the Cure Virus and make them immortal, unaging, have a Healing Factor and see in the dark. And also potentially have a bunch of people try to capture them for research... So at the end of the story about three fourths+ of the cast is immortal.
  • In Super Paper Mario, Tippi was originally a human, and was turned into a Pixl by Merlon in a desperate attempt to save her life.
  • Iji starts with this.
  • Rachel has done this, possibly twice in BlazBlue. First to save a mortally wounded and time-displaced Jin by installing him in the Susanooh Unit to become Hakumen. It's also possible That Ragna would have bled to death after losing his arm in the orphanage attack without Rachel biting him to transform him into a half-vampire.
  • In Quest for Glory II, Julanar is a woman who, while fleeing from brigands, is discovered by a djinn who transformed her into a tree in order to save her from her pursuers.
  • Given the themes of the series, this crops up in the histories for a number of characters in the Deus Ex franchise.
    • In the original game, this trope was part of the back-story for how Agents Hermann and Navarre became mech-augs.
    • At the end of the tutorial mission in Deus Ex Human Revolution, Adam gets the shit kicked out of him and then shot, brought to the very brink of death. To keep him alive, he's augmented - turned into a cyborg - by his boss and the company he works for. They replace his arms, legs and heart and stick machines into just about anything you can stick a machine in. When the gameplay kicks in again, he's very different.
      • Notably, only the arm and chest replacements were necessary for him to survive. The rest was his employer using his contract to gain power of attorney ("I never asked for this").
  • In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, many of the surviving humans in Lordaeron who remain loyal to the Alliance voluntarily take up the worgen curse to immunise themselves from being raised into undeath by their arch-enemies, the Forsaken.
    • The whole naga race is the result of an Emergency Transformation .
  • At the end of Half-Life 2, Doctor Breen is protesting being put into a "host body" as the only way to survive teleportation. Speculation is that he is one of the slug-like Advisors that attacks Gordon and Alyx throughout the Episode sequels.
    • Although he probably dies when Gordon damaged the teleporter.
  • Gauldoth Half-Dead in Heroes of Might and Magic IV. During the armageddon which destroyed the old world he attempted to save himself by undergoing a ritual of lichdom. Because he was only an apprentice necromancer, he emerged from the ritual with one half of his body as that of a living human, and the other half zombified.
  • In Front Mission, Driscoll is part of an experiment into using the brains of human soldiers to create advanced computers. After his death, he is resurrected and serves as a component in the Humongous Mecha Final Boss.
  • In one ending in Girls Love Visual Novel Akai Ito, Kei is turned into the "something not human" by Sakuya to save her life after she was fatally wounded by Nushi. It's better than it sounds, because she now kick asses for eternity alongside Sakuya. The outcome of said ending was made into a mini-game in the sort-of sequel Aoi Shiro.
    • On the same character route is when Sakuya's power is not enough to transform Kei, so both of them become Ohashira, replacing Yumei. Quite close to being Together in Death. Yumei does feel sorry for them.
  • In 11eyes -Resona Forma-, we see that this is how the Black Knights were created. Liselotte thoroughly beat all of them except for George, who finished sealing her before he died, and Misao, who clothed her partners in armor made out of dark spirits, turning them and herself into Liselotte's guardians.
  • Dragon Age: Origins has the Dalish Elf Origin. Basically, your character becomes tainted and has to undergo the Grey Warden Joining in order to have a chance of survival.
  • In Dragon Age II, if you take your sibling with you for the Deep Roads Expedition, they will contract the taint, and the only way to save their life is to have them undergo the Grey Warden Joining. Hope you brought Anders with you as well, as he's the only guy who can lead to the Wardens.
  • F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin has a variant of this when Beckett is surgically implanted to boost his psychic abilities and link him to Alma. However, while the transformation is an emergency, it is not intended to save the patient's life, but rather to draw Alma's attention toward Beckett after she has escaped containment, in order to keep her distracted and ultimately lure her into another containment device to seal her away.
  • Monster Girl Quest Paradox has the San Ilia King, who is badly wounded in an explosion. He's brought to a recently-discovered ruined laboratory with advanced technology, which is used to rebuild him as a cyborg.
  • Peacebringer and Warshade characters in City of Heroes are often given origins along these lines.

Web Comics

  • Both werewolves and vampires in Sorcery 101 have extraordinary resilience compared to humans, making them candidates for this trope. So do humans magically linked to vampires, called "blood bonds". In the main protagonist's backstory, he was seriously injured fighting demons. His best friend Brad knew a vampire named Seth, and asked him to help, so Seth made Danny a blood bond. Danny seems to be OK with this in general (immortal, can't get sick or gain weight, can't bleed to death, stuff like that), but isn't happy about having to deal with Seth.
    • A more recent example is that of Brad turning his new boss's daughter into a werewolf upon request, as she was bedridden and dying of some illness.
  • One of the older patients of The Dragon Doctors from the webcomic of the same name turned herself to stone to avoid dying of thirst. Thing is, she couldn't willingly revert on her own. She had to wait for someone to find her to undo the transformation—locked away in an abandoned mine, behind a magical forcefield, in the middle of nowhere. Sanity was... something of a concern.
    • In the same arc, when a crystalline girl is injured, Sarin changes her into a human because it's easier to heal; it's reversible, though.
    • And still more recently, we discover that the person who bankrolls our heroes ended up with a condition that caused her to age quickly enough that even the easily available youthening magic of the setting couldn't keep up... so they turned her to stone (as per the above example) except that she had a psychic communicating with her whenever she needed it which not only kept her sane, but allowed her to run her parents' business. After the discovery of a sapient crystalline species, Sarin was able to turn her into such as a vastly superior alternative (since that species has no aging).
  • In Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name, Hanna saves Conrad this way by turning him into a vampire. (No one was really surprised by this but Conrad).
  • One of these occurs in the first chapter of Coga Suro 2, but a slight variation in that John is transformed into... whatever that is in order to save himself and a girl after they're both swallowed by a giant maw.
  • Done to the character Dark Eyes to save her life in Magical Misfits, magically mixing in genes from many different other species in the process that rendered her sterile. Temporarily.
  • In Drowtales, Kiel'ndia is fatally poisoned and would have died if Kharla'ggen hadn't insisted that Larvova heal her. Since it's a bad idea to tell Kharla'ggen that she can't have what she wants, Larvova is forced to take drastic measures. This is the result. Kharla'ggen, being a somewhat odd individual, thinks that Kiel'ndia is lucky since she still has one of her original eyes. That's all she has left of her original body. Or not, since it was All Just a Dream.
  • In Death and The Maiden, Death tries to heal Mercedes's tuberculosis (caused by a run-in with Pestilence) and in doing so, accidentally turns her immortal. Then he later realizes he didn't just make her immortal, he turned her into Death.
  • In The Order of the Stick prequel Start of Darkness, Xykon willingly undergoes the transformation into a lich after contact with a magical disease robs him of his magical abilities.
  • In CRFH, when Marsha is pushed off the roof by Chester, she escapes by... spontaneously growing bat wings, suggested to be a latent effect of a radioactive "batato" that had earlier bitten her. Since half the cast had long since undergone similar transformations (without the emergencies), she adapts fairly quickly.
  • In City of Reality, Danny turns a fatally-wounded AV into an Atari-like device; they eventually turn her back, but not before his Well-Intentioned Extremist mentor tries to destroy her.
  • In MSF High, it's generally understood that anyone who goes to Nurse Keiri's office will be leaving as a female of the species easiest to treat, and she'll be doing everything in her power to keep them that way. The backstories of many Legion end similarly.
  • Twice so far in Girl Genius
    • When Zeetha was ran through, Mamma Gkika did everything she could to help, given the circumstances. «The thing is, everything she could meant using the Jägerdraught».
    • A Corbettite monk killed in a fight with The Beast was transferred into a thinking engine controlling a new train. He refused a proposal to give him a living body later. Being a Corbettite, of course, he likes trains. Also, he's a monk: «Why, didn't I renounce the flesh back when I took my vows? This new reincarnation is simply that idea taken to its logical conclusion.»

Web Original

  • In Fenspace, the mystery substance Handwavium will save a dying person, exactly once. Precisely what comes out the other end is never certain but is always better than being dead. It's easier to fix, for a start.

Western Animation

  • Henry gets one of these in season 1 of Thomas the Tank Engine after his crash with The Flying Kipper. Turned out for the best, since he didn't need Welsh Coal anymore and was strong enough to pull express trains single-handed.
  • Keldor from the 2002 version ofHe-Man and the Masters of the Universe went through one soon after he was Hoist by His Own Petard in the pilot. It turns out that the acid that hit his face was actually killing him; he pleaded with Hordak to save him. Hordak agreed, warning Keldor that there would be a price for this favor, and transformed him into a lich-like abomination. Hordak then bestowed upon Keldor the name Skeletor. Upon seeing his hideous new appearance, Skeletor promptly burst into a fit of maniacal laughter (the first of many), signifying his transition from a smooth talking and charming Evil Overlord to an insane and superpowered monster.
  • Exo Squad used this for the ultimate emergency, death. The brain-scans of deceased troopers were downloaded into customized human-looking but internally Neo Sapien bodies. Started as a Trojan Horse plot by Phaeton, but it worked so well that the humans soon saw the obvious benefits. The only downside is that there have to be recorded memories from an Exoframe brain jack to transfer.
  • Swat Kats: Gangster couple Mac and Molly Mange drown while escaping from prison; their bodies are found by kindly scientist Professor Hackle, who uploads their minds into robotic bodies. They promptly steal Hackle's armored hovercar and weapons stash and go back in business as the invulnerable Metallikats.
    • And despite their clear, obvious, and constant treachery, Hackle keeps collecting their battered remains and rebuilding them.
  • This is the backstory of Evil Con Carne. After his body was destroyed in an explosion, Major Dr. Ghastly attached his brain and stomach to a bear.
  • In the final season of Darkwing Duck, Taurus Bulba is revived as a cyborg by FOWL. He's... not exactly happy about it. Of course, fitting the big guy, rather than angsting about it at all, he just gets pissed.

Taurus Bulba: So, you allow me to be part of your great experiment, without bothering me with petty nuisances such as... getting my permission.
Collective Oh Crap from every member of FOWL present, including Steelbeak.

  • This is heavily implied to be behind Zachary Foxx's bionics in Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers; in the Pilot Episode, "Phoenix," he was shot several times on his left side. Cybernetics Eat Your Soul is completely averted in this case, as Zach's been Supernaturally Delicious and Nutritious for more than one magic-slinging foe.
  • Bionic Six starts off with the titular family being exposed to radiation, with only The Professor's conversion machine available to save them.
  • Prior to God Ginrai's Emergency Transformation in Transformers Victory, Spike Witwicky is a temporary example in the aptly titled "Autobot Spike" of the original cartoon. Sent into a coma after a Decepticon attack, Spike's mind is transferred to a robot frame his father was working on earlier, in order to let the human doctors operate on his body safely. Toss in references to the original Frankenstein, the fact that the body is a mishmash of parts, and a little bit of Con trickery... He eventually recovered, though.
  • Tom from Toonami underwent a change when the Absolution was overrun with an alien blob and Tom 1.0 was swallowed up by it.
  • This was Sir Charles Hedgehog's motivation for inventing the Roboticizer in Sonic the Hedgehog. He abandoned the project when it turned out it would disable the independent will of someone subjected entirely to it. Unfortunately, the Fallen Hero war minister with plans for world domination stole the plans.
  • In Robotix, the Protectons and Terrakors intend to survive a solar flare's devastation by going into suspended animation deep underground. Afterward though, their central computer decides there is no way for them to survive on the devastated world after all, and transfers the minds of a few of them into giant construction robots called "robotix." Upon awakening, they don't take it well.

Argus: "What has happened? I have become a Robotix! NOOOOOOOOO!!!

  • In Centurions, Mad Scientist Doc Terror transforms street thug Hacker into a Cyborg, then tells him that there's no way to change him back. Hacker's reaction is a temper tantrum that leaves Terror with life-threatening injuries, so Terror has to become a cyborg himself to survive. It would be a case of Hoist by His Own Petard, except that Terror likes his new form.