Evolution, in reality, is a giant amalgam of changes over time caused by stressors or preferential mutations.
In fiction, it is much more likely to be divided into neat little sections that correspond to various levels. In many cases, there will be a direction that evolution is moving toward, generally ending at Energy Beings or the Ultimate Lifeform.
While it's most common for Goal-Oriented Evolution to overlap with Evolutionary Levels with "[Ultimate Lifeform of some kind] is the next stage of human evolution!" muttered by an Evilutionary Biologist about how humanity has stagnated in the evolutionary pool kind of way, it's still possible to separate them, despite how closely related the two are. Goal-Oriented Evolution, alone, just ends with some sort of supreme being, levels between start and finish un-discussed. Evolutionary Levels, alone, generally has a "next stage" that may include animals that haven't "improved" by most peoples standards.
When it's one animal, or evolution is more like a metamorphosis, that's Evolution Power-Up. You can move forward and backwards along the various levels with the aid of a Devolution Device (any thing where you can only move backwards because forward won't work because evolution hasn't been decided yet, is likely doing that rare instance of averting Goal-Oriented Evolution).
Subtrope of Hollywood Evolution. See Intelligent Gerbil for the way animals always evolve into sentient humanoids. See A God Am I for one end result of sufficient hopping through Evolutionary Levels. See Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence for another. For super power inheritance, see Lamarck Was Right and Superpowerful Genetics. For cases where one jumps levels through use of technology or magic, see Transhuman. And when each generation is on a higher "level" than the previous one, get ready for some Goo-Goo Godlike action. For villains using this, see The Social Darwinist, Evilutionary Biologist, Evil Evolves and anyone who believes in Goal-Oriented Evolution. Sometimes, a creature may have Lego Genetics to skip up the steps.
The Ultimate Lifeform is at the top of these levels.
No real life examples, please; Real Life does not work this way. Discussion of what effect belief in the existence of this trope has on real life belongs on the Analysis subpage.
Anime and Manga
- GaoGaiGar: Guy Shishio and his girlfriend Mikoto are transformed at the finale of the series into Evoluders, which is stated as the pinnacle of human evolution. As shown by Guy in the later OVAs, Evoluders are able to run as fast as a bullet train, are incredibly strong, can fly, and can survive in the vacuum of space thanks to a nifty green aura they can generate.
- Mobile Suit Gundam: Newtypes were originally written as the next stage of human evolution, but later series distance themselves from this conception. The finale of Gundam X explicitly debunks the notion; it is, however, set in an alternate universe to the majority of the series featuring newtypes, and doesn't use the term newtype in the same fashion as them, so whether this holds for the other series or not is questionable.
- Mobile Suit Gundam 00: The Innovators appear to play the trope straight, with the minor difference that the "evolution" was not entirely natural: it requires the person to be exposed to GN Particles, which do not occur naturally on Earth. By the series' Distant Finale, set 50 years after the conclusion, it is stated that fully 25% of humanity have become Innovators, with the implication that eventually the entire human race will have metamorphosed.
- Mobile Suit Gundam AGE: The X-Rounders are said to be an inversion of the concept. Rather than being more advanced, their powers come from tapping into more bestial, instinctive areas of the brain that modern humans no longer use.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: As a form of Goal-Oriented Evolution, the humanoid shape is considered the best for using "spiral energy" making humans themselves the top level.
- Black Jack: A mid 90s movie featured groups of people who had developed incredible and highly advanced abilities in a variety of fields, including athletics and art, used the "next stage" terminology. They developed extremely dangerous side-effects also, and it was eventually revealed that, apparently, limited exposure to chemicals found only in a remote desert migrated across the world and advanced certain individuals by accentuating their natural and pre-existing talents.
- Devilman Lady by Go Nagai: The reasoning behind humans suddenly transforming into monsters in the anime adaptation is that they are flukes in the first stages of humanity's next evolution and based on the transformee's talents and personality (e.g. a talented swimmer grows gills and scales, someone with severe A God Am I might become an angel, etc.) The main character is a frail young model that represses all feelings, thoughts, and urges unsuitable for a Yamato Nadeshiko. She transforms into a violent, muscular demon with no inhibitions.
- Hunter X Hunter: The chimera ant queen transfers the "most worthy" DNA of whatever she eats to her progeny, resulting in every batch of eggs giving more powerful (and human-like, since humans are the best food) ants than the last, culminating in the King being the supreme being.
- Getter Robo: A major theme, since the energy that powers their Humongous Mecha is the spirit of evolution itself, or taken another way, the embodiment of life/survival itself.
- Elfen Lied: The Diclonius. Well, probably. Maybe. The conspicuously nameless government agency claims they're our evolutionary superiors, genetically programmed to take over the earth in cold-hearted genocide. The protagonists quickly find out that, at least, they're not cold-hearted at all.
- One of the ideas in Stardust Memories is that evolutionary levels are contagious on a mass scale—if a world has primitive life, and it's visited by humans, that primitive life will rapidly evolve to fill all evolutionary niches required in order to produce human-like creatures. Unfortunately, it may hit an evolutionary dead end during the attempt . . .
- Marvel Comics
- X-Men All mutants comics dub mutants "homo superior", the "next step" in human evolution. A long-established but seldom-mentioned trait of Marvel's mutants is that they're a little tougher than a normal human of the same frame. E.g., In her solo comic, Dazzler mentions that one of the advantages of being a mutant is that she doesn't get tired as quickly as normal people, and the old Marvel-based Role-Playing Game gave all mutants + 1 level in the Endurance stat.
- Mr. Immortal, who is so evolved that he's not just "homo superior", he's "homo supreme".
- Excalibur: One issue (written by Chris Claremont) says that all mutants are just a bit more in every department. Nightcrawler, for example, healed from his broken leg a bit faster then a regular human would. Nightcrawler doesn't have healing powers, he's just That Awesome because he is a mutant.
- A more modern-age interpretation is a little closer to real biology: the radical mutations present in mutants aren't always going to make them "superior"; in fact, it seems the vast, vast majority are, in fact, Blessed with Suck
- Sometimes, Galactus is said to target worlds at the "apex of their evolution" to devour. For evolution to have an "apex", it has to be a finite process with multiple levels, and a highest, "best" level.
- The Kree, one of their subplots involved them being "unable to evolve" and needing Half-Kree Hybrids to further their "evolution", suddenly turning the whole race into the "self-evolving" Ruul.
- X Men: In the movies, despite insistence from Magneto that they are "homo superior," it's established that mutant powers are actually a result from a simple genetic carrier, "the mutant gene".
- Evolution: The aliens started out evolving to fit the ecological niches they found themselves in, but were eventually shown as evolving along a fixed path, becoming dinosaur-like things and then primates for no reason. In addition, despite the rapid evolution that was the point of the film, there was no sense that the creatures were going through multiple generations particularly rapidly. (There was also a cartoon series based on the movie that made the same mistakes, only more so.) One interesting aversion, however, is that the final form achieved by the creatures when forced through rapid evolution was essentially a giant amoeba. It's explained that this is the most efficient form for its particular environment so it can be considered the best adapted even though it's one of the simplest.
- Creature from the Black Lagoon: The titular creature as "the missing link" between man and fish, being a clawed, super strong, bipedal amphibious dinosaur from the Paleozoic. In the third movie they even try to "evolve" him into near human, and educate him. This ends badly.
- She by H. Rider Haggard: The climax has the title character take another bath in the life-giving flame, which takes away her youth. Her dying form is described as being like a monkey. Darwin's theories had only recently entered the public consciousness when the book was written and the whole story is about the fear of "devolving" since people were scared that it might work backwards at the time.
- Odd John by Olaf Stapledon: The titular character is one of a new species of supermen who happen to be born here and there around the world at roughly the same time. This story is apparently the origin of the term "Homo Superior" for such beings.
- Last And First Men by Olaf Stapledon: After leaving a dying Earth and settling on Venus, humanity goes through eighteen stages of evolution, each adapting to their unique environment. For example, the dwarf "Ninth Men" who are limited by size due to excessive gravitation, the flying "Sixth Men" who live a harsh existence competing their seal-like relatives, and the "Tenth to Seventeenth Men" whose sentience reemerges after the "Sixth Men" civilization crumbles into savagery.
- The Man Who Evolved: The whole premise of Edmond Hamilton's 1931 short story. In the story, a man uses a modified form of radiation to evolve himself in minutes. In the end, he eventually evolves into protoplasm, since, for some reason, evolutionary levels apparently go in a cycle.
- Hamilton liked the idea that radiation caused evolution, since he took the implication to be that worlds without radioactive elements would have little to no evolution. "Devolution" takes another approach to the same problem: the highest form of life to ever exist is a kind of alien bacteria that forms a benevolent Hive Mind. All life on Earth is descended from some of that bacteria that was stranded here, but evolution has weakened rather than strengthened us, costing us our unity.
- In Robert E. Howard's "The Hyborian Age", the Backstory to Conan, the fall of the Atlantis produced devolution:
Among the forest-covered hills of the northwest exist wandering bands of ape-men, without human speech, or the knowledge of fire or the use of implements. They are the descendants of the Atlanteans, sunk back into the squalling chaos of jungle-bestiality from which ages ago their ancestors so laboriously crawled. To the southwest dwell scattered clans of degraded, cave-dwelling savages, whose speech is of the most primitive form, yet who still retain the name of Picts, which has come to mean merely a term designating men — themselves, to distinguish them from the true beasts with which they contend for life and food. It is their only link with their former stage.
- Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End: The book is fundamentally about most of humanity evolving beyond their corporeal forms into a mass consciousness and merging with a universal psychic gestalt. (If this sounds familiar to anime fans, Hideaki Anno has cited the novel as a major inspiration for Neon Genesis Evangelion.) The story also features the Overlords, alien creatures that are an evolutionary cul-de-sac of sorts, who are apparently unable to achieve this level of evolution for some reason.
- 2001: A Space Odyssey: The series discusses the "evolution" of the Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who brought The Monolith to Earth. Read literally, it's an example of this trope, but is actually a case of a species reaching a point technologically where they can perform Brain Uploading into machine bodies and then finally turn themselves into Energy Beings — self-directed evolution rather than natural.
- In The War Against the Chtorr, it's stated that since Chtorran lifeforms have a billion-year evolutionary head start they have a massive advantage over Earth lifeforms.
- Discworld: The God of Evolution's personal project, the creature he's been working to perfect for centuries: the cockroach.
- Another Discworld example: In Carpe Jugulum, Lord Magpyr refers to fairies and Igor as evolutionary cul-de-sacs, although he was probably just being arrogant and mean, rather than making any thoughtful judgements on their place in the world.
- Tomorrow Town by Kim Newman: Parodied, one of the claims made by the futurists who have set up shop in the titular town is that they have evolved beyond their 1970s contemporaries, or 'yesterday men' as they are called. Of course, like most things to do with their "futopia", they're quite, quite mistaken.
- Time Traxx: Humanity is depicted as being on the cusp of an evolutionary advance granting some (almost realistically) minor abilities such as greatly enhanced agility and the ability to "time stall" (Nothing strange and extratemporal: the term refers to an ability to alter the way the brain processes sensory data giving the perception of time slowing down). An episode featured protagonist Darien Lambert meeting a young boy with enhanced athletic skills similar to what's described above. Darien wondered if this boy might be the "missing link" between the present humanity and future humanity. In the end, it turns out the boy is himself from the future, brought there by his father when he was very young.
- Star Trek: Evolution may indeed work differently in the Star Trek Universe thanks to Ancient humaoids. Spock explains:
"The actual theory is that all lifeforms evolved from the lower levels to the more advanced stages."
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: One episode had an alien developing Healing Hands and other superpowers because he himself, not his species, was on the verge of an "evolutionary leap".
- Star Trek: Voyager: humans "evolve" into... salamanders. This was so poorly received that the episode has been officially retconned out of continuity.
- The Tomorrow People: The entire premise revolved around "the next step in human evolution".
- Heroes: The voiceovers at the start and end talk a lot about how the next stage of evolution comes about.
- Jekyll: The nasty team of goons after Dr. Jackman want him because he is "the next stage in human evolution". In this case, it is implied that the original Jekyll had hundreds of kids, becoming responsible for many, if not all cases of identical twins and so forth.
- Stargate SG-1: All sentient species apparently evolve "towards" ascension. The level right before evolutionary ascension, people will have all kinds of Psychic Powers, such as mind-reading, telepathy, healing powers and some kind of super-intelligence.
- The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon fails biology forever because he believes "[he] is farther down the evolutionary line" than the rest of humanity, and has smaller incisors and pinky toes than everyone else. Given that he explicitly does internet searches to find out anything about biology (like why his stomach might be hurting), he probably doesn't know half as much about biology or medicine as he thinks he does. Not that it would stop him believing that he's superior anyway.
- In the Magic: The Gathering card game, the Slivers seem to be an insectile species that have evolved the ability to evolve faster and share genetics through some sort of psionic link, resulting in not just momentary changes to genotype but also phenotype when two different varieties are in proximity. In addition, some flavor text references Evolutionary Levels. The Ghostflame Sliver, for example, seems to be a reference to the common misunderstanding of the punctuated equilibrium theory, as they are "on the cusp of evolution", but it's most notable in the Sliver Overlord, which declares it the end of evolution. Then again, the Slivers evolve so quickly partially by devouring other life forms and adapting their advantageous genes to their offspring, grow rapidly to adulthood, are semi-sentient, act in concert, and are almost virus-like in their ability to infest, consume, and spread rapidly, so it might just be an intimation that the Slivers will kill everything on the planet, halting evolution permanently.
- Using the concept of "evolution being to better adapt for survival" is the sliver's end game. During the the Planar Overlay of Rath onto Dominaria (essentially a bridge between Phyrexia and Dominaria), the slivers are destroyed when the location of their hive is overlaid onto a volcano. A few sets later, some scientists are tasked to artificially recreate slivers that are true to the lost species. Once this is accomplished, the artificial slivers gain sentience, break free, kill everyone, and escape into the wild, where. One card's text reads "Death couldn't contain the slivers. What made us think we could?", spoken by one of the scientists.
- By that same concept one could make a case for the Sliver Overlord being the "end of evolution" in that it has the ability to grab any sliver in the deck. This gives it (not really, but good enough for fluff purposes) the ability to react to any change by making itself and all other slivers able to thrive with that change. If evolution has an end it's at the point that a creature will always be ideally suited to its situation, no matter how that circumstance changes.
- Many superhero Role Playing Games — like Mutants and Masterminds and the original Marvel Superheroes Role-Playing Game — include, among the list of powers available to players, some sort of "Hyper-Evolution" power that lets a hero shift up and down along their "evolutionary path," generally affording them the ability to "devolve" into cave-man form (temporarily lower their intelligence to raise their strength) or "evolve" into frail but hyper-intelligent (and possibly psionic) "future" form.
- The write-up for the "Evolution" power in MSH even lampshades it: "This is comic book evolution, people, the kind where super-strong cavemen eventually evolve into giant brains with vestigial limbs."
- Pages from the Mages Played With this. The spell "Evolve" changes a normal animal into an intelligent and more or less human-like form. The punchline is that glorified name aside, the spell just permanently transforms the target halfway to its caster (presumed to be a human smart enough to use a 8-level spell), using his own blood sample(!) as a component.
- The Tyranids in Warhammer 40k avert this. While they "evolve" at a hyper-accelerated rate(accomplished by devouring entire biospheres, then using the material to spawn custom-creatures) most of these creatures are short-lived, and allow their superiors to devour them once they've served their purpose. It's bizarre and science fictiony, but the sheer fact that it's portrayed as being generational makes it closer to Real Life evolution than most of the examples on this page.
- Most Pokémon have stronger forms they can "evolve" into under the appropriate stresses and circumstances. A better term might be metamorphosis, considering Pokémon was inspired by a rather imaginative idea of insect collecting. The word "metamorphosis" was probably considered too big and complicated for the target audience. This is especially obvious in several insect Pokémon such as Caterpie or Weedle, whose "evolutionary" paths are close parallels of real-life butterflies and wasps.
- However, the part about "evolution is always the same" is averted with a couple of Pokémon. Eevee has had new evolutions constantly discovered due to its "unstable genetics". So while it can evolve into Jolteon thanks to a Thunder Stone, if it levels up in a specific area with a special glacier that's covered in snow, it becomes the Ice-type Glaceon. A similar process occurs with Eevee's evolution Leafeon. Likewise, Nosepass and Magneton evolve into Probopass and Magnezone respectively when they level up in certain areas of Sinnoh and Unova. This actually makes sense in a way. The reason people couldn't get these certain evolutions before was simply because nobody had discovered the effects certain areas had on certain Pokémon. In other words, they adapted to their new environment. Yes, it happened in the matter of five minutes (or less with a Rare Candy) but it's still a slightly more realistic take on the usual fixed evolutionary lines. But while there are those sensical ones, there are also some nonsensical ones. Piloswine evolves into Mamoswine by leveling up and knowing Ancientpower...despite being able to learn Ancientpower as far back as its introduction in Generation II. The same goes for Lickitung and Rollout. And, regarding Eevee, you mean to say that there was no day versus night in Kanto? That's ridiculous....and yet, even in the remakes, oh so true.
- Sometimes metamorphosis is the best word, but most of the time what is happening is maturation. Small, immature Pokémon grow up to become bigger ones. Venusaur looks like a grown up Bulbasaur but because they were using sprites, showing them slowly growing was infeasible, so they had at most three forms to show them getting older as they fight more.
- All in all, the only straight example Pokémon seems to have is the vaguely fetus-like Pokémon Mew, which is supposed to be the evolutionary origin of almost every Pokémon in the traditional evolutionary sense... and evidences this by having their complete genomes integrated into its own — the "hardcoded future evolution" misconception not just written large, but in 50-story flashing neon pink letters.
- Mega Man X 8: "New Generation Reploids", by copying the DNA data of earlier models including Sigma who created them from behind the scenes, could change their form and abilities to best suit their environment, and have immunity from the Maverick Virus. They felt they were beyond the constraints of "the old world" and rebelled to make their own society. Maverick Hunter X, a remake of the first Mega Man X game, has an OVA prequel that brings up the implications of evolution involving Reploids several times: X himself is the main factor, as he can, as Dr. Light puts it, evolve as he fights and even influence the evolution of robots in the same way as life. Sigma gets the idea that Reploids likewise have potential, but are being held back by humans.
- The Commodore64 game Dino Eggs had as a hazard the possibility of getting bit by a spider and suffering "devolution" into a spider due to genetic contamination. Seriously.
- Kane in the Command & Conquer series believes Tiberium holds the key to the next stage of human evolution. However, this is closer to actual evolution; rather than just being more powerful, the Tiberium mutants in the series are more capable of surviving in the Tiberium-infested regions of the world (about 90% of it).
- E.V.O.: The Search for Eden. In each chapter, you start as a "basic" version of whatever the chapter is about (fish, amphibian, reptile, mammal), and you gain "evo points" by eating other animals, which you can then turn in to alter your body parts. Oh, and whenever you evolve a body part, you get the helpful message "MYSTERIOUS TIME STREAM EVOLVES YOU." Also, occasionally (say, when you're a reptile or mammal and have to do a water stage), you'll get the message "CHANGE IN CIRCUMSTANCES CAUSES EVOLUTION", followed by your characters feet becoming fins. Even if you're a mammal, or a bird.
- The creature stage of Spore is E.V.O. with better graphics. Oddly enough, Will Wright had intended Spore to be more scientific in its conception and presentation, but marketing won out, leading to massively bad reviews from the biology community for the missed opportunity.
- In Treasure of the Rudras, Mitra created an "Eternal Engine". Every 4,000 years, the weaker races are replaced by stronger ones to prepare for the return of the invaders that Mitra and her allies fought long ago, when Mitra was defeated, the need for the Eternal Engine is no longer required.
- In Super Robot Wars, Alfimi was created to be the "apex of human evolution".
- Psaro the Manslayer from Dragon Quest IV is revealed to be after the Secret of Evolution in order to build an all-powerful monster army to help him easily conquer the world. One of his generals, Balzack, showcases the fruits of Psaro's discovery; he's almost pathetically easy to beat in your first encounter with him, but one chapter later, he's gained about 150 kg, some nasty new attacks, and an extra "a" in his name.
- Amazingly enough, Geneforge manages to justify this. All the game's monsters are the result of genetic engineering, and the super-powerful ones were created when basic designs were modified. (These modifications are random, so you encounter a few screwups that are insane or slowly dying.)
- Much of the art work of the game is various schematics and plans for the Mons. Many have notations to things like lack of this causes mutation leading to death or including this gives fire breathing...
- The Big Bad of Star Ocean: The Last Hope seems to think that it's possible to create a "better" evolution that will save humanity from violence and sadness. Even worse, the heroes believe that it's necessary to "make our hearts worthy" in order to evolve.
- Mass Effect 2 gives us the vorcha, who are decribed as, essentially, living stem cell banks, allowing them to adapt to normally inhospitable environments over the course of a few hours rather than several generations. However, it is somewhat averted in the Codex when it explains that when an organ adapts, it cannot adapt in a whole other direction (can't adapt to breath water after it's adapted to breathing volcanic sulfur). Gameplay-wise, this means they regenerate very quickly, so you have to make sure its internal organs have STOPPED before you let off the trigger.
- In Mass Effect 3, the Catalyst claims that merging all organic and synthetic life is the 'next step in organic evolution'.
- Monsters in the What Did I Do to Deserve This My Lord games evolve under pressure: thus, presented as changes of individuals rather than species. However, the parent race does not mutate due to pressure; they merely have a higher chance of giving birth to a new form, and odds are just as good that you'll get a useless mutation. If they're being killed off by starvation, the survivors will give birth to forms that are better at hoarding food. If they're dying to predation, they birth Weak but Skilled forms that can paralyze those that eat them (and invading heroes). It's tricky to force this adaptation to occur due to the random nature of the game, but it's there.
- An overly long couch gag sequence in The Simpsons features the evolution of Homer. This starts with single-celled organisms, then goes from jellyfish to fish to lizard, rodent, monkey, ape... and finally to the modern Homo sapiens before showcasing several historical eras ending in modern Homer walking into his house. This showcases the supposed evolutionary levels misconception.
- And subverted for Rule of Funny; he meets Moe on the way who walks in the opposite direction... and devolves.
- Mighty Max used this. In one episode, a mad scientist named Dr. Zygote develops a ray that devolves anything to their prehistoric state. A bunch of human tourists become apes, Max's pet lizard becomes a dinosaur, and Virgil (a lemurian who is supposed to be the next step in human evolution) gets turned into a pterodactyl (?!) Later it's used by Dr. Zygote to turn a bunch of devolved mutated monsters into primordial ooze. He surmises that the ray "reversed their evolutionary path to the final quagmire, an evolutionary dead-end"—which really makes no sense at all. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owZqBj0vLXU&feature=related
- Then in another episode, Dr. Zygote uses the ray again to further evolve himself into a more advanced form, from a big brained alien, to a lemurian, to a floating giant brain, and finally into a flash of light. at the end, he "evolved beyond good and evil" and left. There was a subversion along the way, as he became a
chickenfowl-like humanoid similar to Max's Obi-Wan Virgil, who mentioned humanity will find the form enjoyable, much to Max's surprise. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jm B 5 N Dezi Mk
- Then in another episode, Dr. Zygote uses the ray again to further evolve himself into a more advanced form, from a big brained alien, to a lemurian, to a floating giant brain, and finally into a flash of light. at the end, he "evolved beyond good and evil" and left. There was a subversion along the way, as he became a
- Parodied in an episode of Futurama: the characters find the lost city of Atlanta, in which the human inhabitants have evolved into mermaids. When Bender points out that this should have taken millions of years, the mayor's daughter explains that the caffeine from the Coca-Cola bottling plant sped things up.
- Also in Futurama, the Professor accidentally creates evolving robots, who evolve much faster than organisims. Within a few days, they go from microscopic plankton-esque lifeforms to murderous trilobites to dinosaurs to cavemen to modern humans to Energy Beings.
- One episode of Justice League Unlimited had Gorilla Grodd construct a "devolution" ray (his own words) that turned humans into humanoid gorillas... including Superman, who is not human at all. After his plan failed even Lex Luthor complained how stupid the whole thing sounded and used it as the pretext to take over the Legion sooner than he planned. The episode was based on a comic book crossover, JLApe, although it was careful not to mention (d)evolution.
- The Mega Man cartoon managed to take the concept of devolution to the next stage, when Dr. Wily made a chemical that caused robots to "devolve" into more primitive robots. This meant they went from robots designed to look like humans to robots designed to look like cavemen, getting stupider in the process.
- This was Bob the Goldfish's schtick in the Earthworm Jim cartoon. He tried various schemes to evolve himself into a higher form of life, in one instance using a contraption that stole "Evolutionary Energy" from other creatures, turning people into apes & Princess Whatshername into a ladybug & such. Interestingly, Jim's creator Doug Ten Napel is apparently a creationist, or at least a believer in some sort of divine intervention in the origins of life, humanity in particular. Fortunately, since it's all Played for Laughs, it's easy for people on both sides of the issue to enjoy.
- He evolved from a goldfish... into a goldfish. Dispite the fact that Bob himself had claimed evolutionary superiority before, he was very unhappy with this outcome.
- In an episode of The Spectacular Spider-Man titled Natural Selection, Martha Connors states that lizard DNA is more primitive than humans, to which Curt Connors, the unfortunate victim of his own experiment, responds: "I'm regressing."
- Spider-Man: The Animated Series actually invoked this trope between two humans when, after revealing to Harry that he was his father, the Green Goblin exclaims, "I am the ultimate evolution of Norman Osborn! Smarter, stronger, able to be more ruthless than he ever was." Wow.
- Of course, like most recent versions of the Green Goblin besides Spectacular's, the Green Goblin saying this is insane, so we have a bit of an Unreliable Expositor situation going on here.
- In one Pinky and The Brain episode, the Brain attempts to use radiation to evolve Pinky into a higher form of life.
- It's Pinky. Anything at all would be a higher form of life.
- One Prometheus And Bob had an evolution chamber that could evolve a club into a laser, and devolve it back. In the course of it, the monkey was evolved into a human, bob was evolved into a pink version of Prometheus, Prometheus devolved into a purple Bob, and the monkey evolved into a floating telekinetic brain.
- We also see a wolf evolved into a domestic dog and a piece of wood evolved into an aluminum baseball bat.
- The titular Ultimate Forms in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. The 'fast' part is at least justified in that the entire series revolves around a piece of Imported Alien Phlebotinum that can spontaneously rewrite a person's DNA.
- Word of God claims that the Ultimate forms are actually the projected evolution of a species based off of a simulated planet-wide civil war lasting millions of years.
- not the Innovades, who rather confusingly called themselves Innovators during the second season
- To their credit, though, the official backstory is that Pokémon evolution "isn't like Earth's other organisms". In other words, the terms "evolution" when talking about Pokémon and "evolution" when talking about any other organism are two different things.
- Homer sapiens?