Grand Theft Me

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
    Get out of my body!

    "No, I Robotboy! Protoboy take body, pretend be me!"

    Robotboy, "The Old Switcharobot"

    When one character forcibly and deliberately swaps bodies with another.

    There are two main versions of this:

    • In the first case, the goal is to "upgrade" one's body; an ailing character (dying, elderly or disabled) swaps bodies with someone who is young and healthy, or a Muggle swaps bodies with a super-powered person, or both.
    • In the second case, the goal is to deceive the rest of the world; a character who is imprisoned or wanted for heinous crimes swaps bodies with an upstanding member of the community, or at least someone without a rap sheet. This version does not necessarily require swapping bodies—all they really need to do is find a way to look like the person, research that person, then kill them and take their place in society—but a body swap just makes that last step easier (and with fewer messy consequences).

    Except when stealing a body for its super-powers, the perpetrator seldom cares much about the victim, choosing whoever seems young, strong, attractive, and convenient. Often this is The Hero, and it sets up an episode plot. Sometimes, the perpetrator holds a competition to find the strongest in the land, with this as its hidden grand-prize. Other times, the target is the perpetrator's own offspring, who may or may not willingly volunteer; this is especially heinous if the offspring was a sympathetic character.

    Grand Theft Me almost always involves stealing the victim's identity as well; with the second type, in fact, that's the whole point. A common strategy is to name the patsy as one's heir, then do the swap and kill the old body off. Alternatively, the old body can be committed to a mental hospital, since no one will believe the ranting of an old man who thinks he's a twenty-year-old. If the replaced person is a main character, this often sets off a Spot the Imposter plot.

    Oftentimes, this is conducted in secret, and the villain reveals his true identity after a whole story spent as someone else. Especially disconcerting if his new body is the Girl of the Week. (See Showing Off the New Body.)

    A more modern version is the idea of raising a clone for the purpose of brain transplant (or, more realistically, replacement parts); whatever happens to the original body after the swap is irrelevant.

    A subtrope of Body Snatcher, and the dark cousin of Freaky Friday Flip. Sometimes, a villain attempting this type of swap can start a Freaky Friday plot, or both could occur in parallel, as the required Phlebotinum is the same. If it's not a human doing the possessing, it's Demonic Possession. If it's done by multiple beings at the same time, it's Many Spirits Inside of One. If a character is capable of doing this several times in a row, it's Body Surf. Compare Heart Drive.

    Certain characters can break this, partially or completely, if the thief tries to go against an Intrinsic Vow.

    It was first featured in modern fiction in the H. G. Wells story The Story of the Late Mr. Elvesham.

    Examples of Grand Theft Me include:

    Anime and Manga

    • In Keroro Gunso, alien invader frog Kururu, following the orders of his commander Keroro, creates a Gashapon machine that steals the body of the one who activates it, allowing anyone else to swap bodies with that person afterwards.
      • In the manga, Keroro switched bodies with Natsumi and irritated her to the point where she attacked him in her own body. That was actually his plan since the start. He recorded the footage and gave it to his father, claiming that he was the one attacking a human girl in the video.
      • In the anime, season 2 (Japanese season number), Keroro stole Natsumi's body to find her "weakness", but the situation quickly devolved into a Freaky Friday Flip.
      • Later in season 6, Kururu switched bodies with Natsumi's grandmother, using that to make her obey him and Keroro. In the same story, after discovering what had happened, Natsumi switched bodies with Keroro's mother and had her revenge. However... Keroro's mother just disappears with Natsumi's body afterwards, wanting to sightsee Earth. Eventually she goes on a date with Giroro, buys a bikini and goes to the beach with him.
      • In season 7, Keroro planned to switch bodies with Tamama, but everything goes out of control and he ends up switching accidentaly with a human girl, Momoka... who decides to not tell anyone about the situation in order to hang around with her crush, Fuyuki, for longer. And the Fuyuki who was with her turns out to be Tamama, who switched bodies with Fuyuki and locked the real one, who was in Tamama's body, inside a cardboard box.
    • In RahXephon, the human Big Bad migrates into the body of his female assistant, who gave herself willingly, if only because he's a master manipulator who raised her from a small child. In fact, he's been doing this repeatedly (generally with clones of himself) for the past several ten-thousand years in order to stay alive.
    • Fullmetal Alchemist has two examples. The first one is Ling Yao, a Xingese prince that went to Amestris seeking the immortality in order to become emperor, so when Greed tried to take his body he accepted so he would be able to achieve his goal. And the second example is Pride, who tried to take Ed's body after his own body started to collapse.
      • Among the alchemists seeking the Philosopher's Stone in the 2003 anime version is one who wants to use it to transfer their soul out of their current decaying body and into that of a new host. Dante, who also happens to be the main villain.
        • And of course, also in the 2003 anime, Ed steals the body of his alternate universe counterpart for about an hour before the counterpart dies, though he was forced into this by the villain and didn't want to steal said body.
    • In Naruto, Big Bad Orochimaru is intent on becoming immortal by transferring his mind to other bodies. He seems to have a preference for angsty young males, too.
      • Also, this is basically the trademark jutsu of Ino and the rest of the Yamanaka, though unlike most variants of this trope, it's a temporary thing and their hosts are able to regain their bodies in a short time.
      • In Shppuden it turns out Pain is actually a series of bodies taken over and controlled by the piercings all over the various bodies. It's worth mentioning that we are talking about dead bodies here.
    • Thriller Restaurant does this when Anko's wart takes over the real Anko's body and mind, as well as forcibly trading faces with her victim. If it wasn't for Shou and his wasp, the wart would've been the only Anko left.
    • Bleach's 8th Espada, Szayel Aporro Granz, has the Gabriel ability. It allows him to steal the spirit particles of someone's body and recreate himself after being killed, essentially resulting in a Grand Theft Me (only with the extra that the new body looks like the old one).
    • Kira of Angel Sanctuary has spent thousands of years switching into and out of human bodies (with the promise that he'll fulfill whatever wish they want, so long as he gets to take control).
    • Shortly after Goku's long-awaited arrival on the planet Namek in Dragon Ball Z, the leader of the Ginyu Force reveals his special ability of switching bodies at will. Naturally—in the dub, at least—he keeps his own voice in Goku's body (and Bulma's, later) and vice versa.
      • This is true in Japanese too, at least for DBK.
      • And in the Dragonball Z movie, World's Strongest, Doctor Willow is a scientist who lost his body in an avalanche. His brain is living in a giant mecha until he can find the world's strongest fighter and take their body.
    • Cibo from Blame pulls of the heroic version of this a few times. First she hijacks Sana-Kan's body after her own went all head-asplode-y. After the evil robot manages to break through all the Mind Rape ten or so years later Cibo takes over of her past self's who was unfortunate enough to be shunted into the fight by the gravity furnace.
    • In Record of Lodoss War, Karla the Grey Witch did this to both the priestess Leylia and the thief Woodchuck. Leylia got better. Woodchuck did NOT.
    • In Code Geass, Empress Marianne Vi Britannia has a Geass with this effect, allowing her to survive an assassination attempt without her enemies realizing by jumping into the body of a little girl who happened to witness the shooting. From that point in, she spent most of her time dormant, but could take full control of the girl's body whenever it was convenient.
    • In MPD Psycho, personalities can be transferred, copied, split and joined in any body with apparent ease (at least for the Gakuso experiment subjects). It's a common thing to do when the host body is captive or dying, or simply as a backup. Also, several high-ranking Gakuso members and patrons have younger clones for obvious reasons.
    • The Dr. Evil from Steam Detectives kidnapped the hero's nurse sidekick and put his brain in her body after his own body got blown up. Afterwards he wore a black trenchcoat and mummy bandages to conceal his/her identity.
    • In the All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku OVA series, Eimi plots to kill fellow Robot Girl Nuku Nuku and take her body, because Eimi's body is unstable and expected to explode soon.
    • In Katekyo Hitman Reborn, Rokudo Mukuro's goal is to take over Tsuna's body (the reason being that he can take revenge on the mafia by using Tsuna's status as the Vongola boss). He has also bodyjacked other characters before, which is how we find out that he can't just be killed.
      • And now we have Deamon Spade, who successfully pulled this on Mukuro.
    • Ghost in the Shell, a Cyberpunk world of removable brains and standardized artificial bodies, makes this ridiculously easy.
    • In his debut in Ghost Sweeper Mikami, Dr. Chaos intends to do this to acquire Mikami's in-her-early-twenties body, and leave aside his original over-one-millennium-old body. However, while he does make a good move in swapping souls with her hapless assistant Tadao Yokoshima, he didn't do terribly much research into him, like his more lust-addled tendencies...
    • In the After War Gundam X Sea of Lorelei arc, there's actually an heroic example of this trope. If you're a Girl in a Box with huge Psychic Powers who has been forcibly kept inside your capsule for 15 years and know that the enemy is searching for you so they can force you become their Barrier Maiden... well, what can you do? Possess the body of a teenage girl who not only has similar powers, but is the adoptive daughter of your former pupil, now a Badass Team Dad and leader of the heroes of the story. That way you can guide the group towards you, thwart the enemies's plans, and finally meet with your now grown-up pupil one last time so you can say goodbye before you can finally pass away in peace.
    • Soul Eater's Medusa does this to a little girl named Rachel. In the manga Medusa moves from Rachel's body into Arachne's after getting Maka to kill her; in the anime, Maka manages to Take a Third Option and exorcise Medusa out without harming Rachel, then kills her.
    • In Kaguyahime, clones are created to be used as organ donors for important personalities. The clones of course really resent learning this. It's played straight, albeit mildly, when the clones are killed and their organs transplanted... but then inverted when the cells of the clone attack the original's body until, somehow, the clone's personality and memories takes over the original's. Also, in one case, the transplant occurred the other way around and the clone was brainwashed to have the original's personality.
    • The manga Seinei (Baptism of Blood) by Kazuo Umezu. An aging movie star suffering from a disfiguring skin condition has her brain transplanted to her young daughter, and assumes the girl's identity -- or so the reader is led to believe. The Reveal is a cop-out that makes no sense whatsoever.
    • Inverted in Birdy the Mighty, where a powerful warrior accidentally mutilates a regular guy so she allows him to take over her body (however she maintains the ability to take command again at any point).
    • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Dio Brando of WRYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY fame lost his body and decided to rip his arch-enemy Jonathan Joestar's head off and replace it with his own. He keeps this body for the whole of the third major arc and its anime adaptation.
    • Azalie uses white magic to trade places with Childman in Sorcerer Stabber Orphen. The reasons for this are very, very twisted: it's in part revenge because she believes he tried to kill her when she became Bloody August, in part an Evil Plan against the Tower of Fangs in itself, and in part to be close to the man she's been in love with ever since she was a teenage girl.
    • Pandora Hearts: Chapter 39 shows that Glen has no permanent body of his own and must possess others to continue ruling the Baskerville household. 100 years ago, Gilbert was chosen to be his host.
    • Near the end of Eternal Sabbath, Isaac abandons his dying body and takes over Shuro's - while shunting Shuro's mind into his own body, which he set on fire while leaving. However, Mine and Sakaki arrive just before he does this, and Shuro hides his mind in Mine's head without Isaac's knowing it.
    • Star Driver: Kou a.k.a. Needle Star's first phase power is to pull one of these - and she can let someone else take over a second person's body at the same time.
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, one of the Big Five, Nesbitt, takes over Tristan's body after he deliberately loses a duel in order to save Joey's sister, Serenity.
      • Also happens in Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Series. Tea is mind controlled by Crump, which doesn't happen in the original series. It is corrected when Marik Ishtar forcibly evicts Crump a few episodes later, especially since Crump was trying, and failing, at impersonating Tea.
    • The increasingly sympathetic but always horrifically monstrous Doctor Jizabel 'Death' Disraeli of the Count Cain series acquires an assistant within Delilah during Godchild, a middle-aged man with a hormone deficiency giving him the appearance of a young boy, working for the villain in hopes of a cure. They inadvertently bond, with Cassian developing paternal feelings toward the pathetic serial killer, and eventually Cassian dies saving Jizabel in a very touching scene...Jizabel then transplants Cassian's brain into the skull of a recently deceased mutual enemy.
      • Cassian therefore has his dream, but he has the face of a man he really, really hates, has lost his own physical skills and identity, and has to live in hiding. He can't take the High Priest's identity firstly because he couldn't pull it off, secondly because the man was a major figure in the evil cult of evil, and thirdly because he committed a lot of very public crimes before dying. Cassian apparently hides in the sewers of London for a few volumes before reappearing in the finale to be mysterious and helpful.

    Comic Books

    • In Vertigo Pop: London, an aging British rock star, an amalgam of Mick Jagger and some others, picks up a young indie-rock protege, and attempts to use a magic hookah he picked up from a guru in the sixties to switch bodies with him. To set it up, he builds a career for the kid, while faking an increased dementia that he is the kid, so when the swap happens, they'll lock him up. He relents, and takes himself to find the guru. At this point, the guru is now a young woman.
    • An excellent story, from the anthology Heavy Metal: in a certain land, a tournament is held every so often to choose the strongest man to be the new king. Entrants must be vital and free of diseases. Every winner becomes a cruel tyrant, but the hero of the story (called weak and frail all his life) wants to become ruler and end the reign of evil. He wins, and at his "coronation", he's drugged, bound, his skull is cut open by robot surgeons (after he wakes up), his brain is crudely removed over his screaming protests, and the brain of the previous king is transplanted from his freshly-dead, used up, obese corpse. In death, however, the hero is victorious. The stress of the surgery sets off his congenital heart defect, and the tyrant is slain.
    • The DC Golden Age supervillain known as the Ultra-Humanite had this as a constant modus operandi, swapping with, among others, a young fashion model and a white gorilla.
      • In the Elseworlds miniseries The Golden Age, the Ultra-Humanite is revealed to have joined the Nazis, transferred his brain into the body of a captured American hero, and returned to the US as America's favourite returning son. He runs for Congress and then holds a search for a truly exceptional young hero to become America's Greatest Ever Hero, Dynaman. Unbeknownst to the people, and especially to the new young hero, he's also saved Hitler's brain...
      • In Superman Batman Generations, another Elseworld, it's revealed that Ultra transferred his brain into the body of Lex Luthor after the pair were nearly killed in the very first story. This may well be a Lampshade Hanging on the fact that, in the very beginning, Ultra and Luthor were extremely similar (bald evil genius scientists who battled Superman).
    • In the Image series Invincible, a villain duo named the Mauler Twins have made this their entire gimmick, as they have perfected a method of cloning, accelerated aging, and memory transfer that is perfect. Too perfect—both of the "twins" constantly argue over which one of them is the clone and which is the original. This is somewhat necessary: When one of them is, by virtue of his scars, definitely the original, he refuses to do any work and treats the other one as inferior until the other clone poisons him and clones himself anew, setting everything back the way it was.
      • Another character hires them later in the series to do the same for him, because he was born with so many crippling deformities that he's spent his entire life in a fluid-filled jar—even the air is poison to him. A bit closer to the original trope in that they clone someone else for him to transfer his mind into, but also a bit more different in that when the process is done, the clone kills the original, with his full consent.
    • Green Arrow is targeted for this in the "Quiver" storyline—but it actually works out in his favor; the villain had planned ahead and transferred his vast fortune to Green Arrow's ownership. When he winds up dying instead, GA gets to keep the money.
    • In Hack Slash, the horribly-burned Laura does a Body Swap with Vlad for this purpose.
    • Wolverine villain Cyber did this to come back to life. He chose a powerful and dimwitted young mutant named Milo to be his new body and later had adamantium laced into his skin. This bit him in the ass because his new body also had a heart condition that caused Cyber to go into cardiac arrest. So Cyber needed heart surgery; something that was pretty much impossible thanks to his adamantium skin.
    • Captain America villain the Red Skull uses this as his form of immortality. At first he used a clone of Cap, pointing out that it was doubly suitable not only to tweak his nemesis but also because Cap is a "perfect Aryan." Since then, he's had to find other "hosts."
      • In Captain America: Reborn, the Skull even attempts to do to this to a resurrected Cap, who had just been pulled out of time. It didn't stick.
    • Loki did this at one point in Thor- using Sif's body, while she was stuck in the body of a dying, elderly Midgardian.
    • In one '80s X-Men story, the Hellfire Club attempts to take the X-Men down by having the White Queen switch bodies with Storm. Turns out that controlling the weather without causing a disaster is much, much harder than Storm makes it look.
      • On the other hand, when she inadvertently took over Iceman's body after having spent a long time in a coma, she proceeded to use his powers in ways he never even imagined before, which gave him a some self-esteem problems for awhile.
    • In The Metabarons, Honorata transfers her consciousness into the body of Oda, her son Aghnar's wife. Aghnar isn't aware of this until after Oda-Honorata already bears him a son. Things get worse from there.

    Fan Works

    • In the Axis Powers Hetalia fanfiction Parasite, it's revealed that Nations that die in accidents are reborn by stealing a body from one of their citizens, with said body morphing to look like the Nation and the body's former inhabitant being erased from existence. They don't like this, but there's no choice in the matter.


    • In All of Me, an heiress (Lily Tomlin) who was sick all her life wished to migrate into a younger, healthy body, that of a volunteer, upon her imminent death. The volunteer thought it was all superstitious nonsense, and only wanted to be named as the heir. Of course, it all went to hell, and the heiress ended up sharing brain-space with her lawyer, played by Steve Martin.
    • This is the basic plot of B-Movie and Mystery Science Theater 3000 subject The Atomic Brain; a bitter old, rich woman hires a Mad Scientist to develop the technology to move her brain into one of three beautiful, disposable housekeepers.
    • in the Syfy original movie Soulkeeper, an entire cult is made up of formerly damned souls now inhabiting the bodies of the living in order to experience earthly pleasures. Eventually one of the main characters is threatened with having his body stolen by the demonic leader, Simon Magus, who shoots himself in the head in order to die and allow his soul to possess another.
    • Also the central plot of Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode The Brain that Wouldn't Die, although there involves a woman's head (aka "Jan-in-the-Pan") being transplanted onto a new body.
    • This is the villain's plot in Being John Malkovich; all the major characters including Malkovich himself are more-or-less tricked into doing the work for him.
    • At the very end of the credits for X-Men: The Last Stand, there is an Easter Egg scene in which Professor Xavier, who was killed during the movie, is revealed to have implanted his mind into the body of a man who had been earlier revealed to have a functioning body, but no working mind. It is ironic because Xavier had lectured to a class earlier in the movie about the ethical dilemmas involved in such a transfusion of soul, so to speak.
      • Actually, in the comics, Xavier had a twin brother at birth. Because Xavier's power was so strong even then, he mind wiped his sibling and the comatose 'mindless' patient is implied to be that twin (Obviously for the more dedicated comic fans). The implication is that Xavier uses the body of the brother he inadvertently destroyed and if a 4th film is made, he will be back and still conveniently wheelchaired (fifty some years of atrophy can be hard to get over!
    • Roger Corman's film adaptation of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward ditches H.P. Lovecraft's subversion and plays this trope straight.
    • In Child's Play, serial killer Charles Lee Ray transfers his soul into a doll named Chucky and then spends much of the rest of the series trying to transfer into a human body. Until he suddenly has the epiphany that he actually digs being a killer doll and humanity is overrated.
    • In Fallen, starring Denzel Washington, this is the villain's major ability. Specifically, he (the serial killer's spirit) can transfer to any person and take them over as long as they're within range. At the end of the movie, after Denzel lures him out to a secluded cabin and poisons himself so that the spirit won't be able to transfer to a new body, the killer reveals he's able to possess animals as well.
      • It was actually revealed earlier in the movie, when he possessed a cat (otherwise having him possess one at the end would have been the worst kind of Ass Pull). It's possible he can only possess humans and cats, which would make more sense as to why he thought he'd be unable to find anything to possess in the woods.
    • Of course, the plot of Freejack, with the added bit of Time Travel; the host is kidnapped from the timestream moments before his historical death in a horrific car crash, so no one would miss him.
    • Millennium has the same premise.
    • In The Matrix Revolutions, Bane's mind gets overwritten by Agent Smith. Bane's body becomes Smith's gateway to the real world.
    • In both the film and play Prelude to a Kiss, a dying old man switches bodies with a bride on her wedding day.
    • Scanners ends with Revok and Vale in a psychic duel, and Revok completely destroying Vale's body, but there's a hint that Vale may have psychically switched bodies at the last second. Either that, or Revok ate Vale's consciousness, just as he said he would. "Everything you are is gonna become me."
    • The Twist Ending of The Skeleton Key.
    • Ra in Stargate was an elderly, decrepit alien before taking over the body of a teenage Egyptian boy.
    • The villain does this in X-Change. The protagonist also goes through several bodies and even steals one.
      • Robert Sheckley's novel Mindswap also fits the trope and is likely the inspiration for the movie.
    • In The Hidden, an alien slug takes over the bodies of humans as unsuspecting prey.
      • And treats it like a joyride. It just wants to listen to death metal, drive expensive cars, rob banks, and blow things up. For fun.
    • Unique variant: in Surrogates, the remote-control body of Peters is hijacked by not one, but two different characters, one of whom had Peters' real body murdered in order to use the robot as The Mole.
    • The central theme of the film Face Off.
    • The Mephisto Waltz. An elderly musician and his daughter use Satanic magic to transfer his mind into a younger man's body so they can openly have what no one will realize is an incestuous relationship. Physically, it won't be. Then the victim's wife steals the daughter's body with the same spell. Tagline for the film: "Brace yourself for the ultimate transplant. The human soul." Based on a novel by Fred Mustard Stewart.


    • Robert Adams' Horseclans series has the Witchmen; twentieth-century scientists who transfer their minds into new bodies to stay alive After the End. At first, this requires mechanical help, but they later learn to do without that.
    • A more benevolent version of this is the main driver for the aliens in The Host
    • In Ira Levin's This Perfect Day, leader and programmer Li Wei Chun's head (and brain) have been put on the body of an athlete, who volunteered for the honor.
    • In Piers Anthony's Xanth novels, the ability to do this is the Sea Hag's magic talent; she's lived hundreds of years by stealing the bodies of young women. She can't do it if her target knows what she's doing, but she raises them herself to make sure they don't.
    • In Isaac Asimov's Foundation and Earth, R. Daneel Olivaw announces his plan to bodysnatch Fallom at the end.
    • In the Miles Vorkosigan books by Lois McMaster Bujold, raising clones for brain-transplant purposes is a major industry in Jackson's Whole.
      • Speaking of Bujold, in The Hallowed Hunt the 'offspring' version of this trope was used. Earl Horseriver, descendant of the last Hallowed King, is in fact the last Hallowed King. A spell to keep him going to fight the invasion five hundred years ago by transferring his consciousness sequentially into each of his male blood heirs is still in effect -- and he can't stop it. Think about it.
    • Doro of Octavia Butler's Patternist series has this power; his lack of limitations on it makes him a nigh-unstoppable force.
    • In the Orson Scott Card short story "Fat Farm", the protagonist, a glutton, has his mind moved to new, svelte cloned bodies on a regular basis. The Karmic Twist Ending is that the "cast-off bodies," who expect to be coddled, are instead pressed into slave labor. The 'original' is their boss.
      • Also used by Card in the conclusion of the Ender Quadrilogy when Ender's soul is divided and housed in two other bodies, representing his brother and sister as teens, which he accidentally created when AI Jane took him into the sub-ether. Eventually, worn out by keeping track of three separate lives, his old body dies and his soul goes full time to the creation representing his brother as a teenager. Ender's friends deliberately drive his "sister" past the Despair Event Horizon (with her consent) so her body will be free for Jane to inhabit.
    • In Axolotl by Julio Cortazar an axolotl switches minds with the protagonist. Before they switched the protagonist was drawn to the axolotl and was philosophizing on how fluid identity is and how he and the axolotl are the same.
    • In The Light of Other Days by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter, one of the main characters is the son of an industrialist. Actually, he's a clone of the industrialist, and when he fails to grow up into a suitable heir, plan B is to overwrite his brain pattern with his father's. The attempt is foiled.
    • "The Adventure of the Antiquarian's Niece", a Sherlock Holmes/H.P. Lovecraft-inspired short story by Barbara Hambly.[context?]
    • In Edmond Hamilton's short story The Avenger from Atlantis (also titled The Vengeance of Ulios), the protagonist pursues his mortal enemy for thousands of years; both he and his quarry transfer their brains to numerous bodies to keep up the chase.
    • In Fallen Dragon (2001) by Peter F. Hamilton, the rulers of one planet take over the bodies of young criminals. The offer their technique to the leader of the corporation raiding their planet, but he is unimpressed because they don't do anything with their pseudo-immortality except maintain their power. The B7 council that secretly controls Earth in The Naked God does something similar by copying their memories to cloned bodies and instantly destroying the old one, unaware that those bodies also have souls that will pass on to The Beyond.
    • In the Heinlein novel I Will Fear No Evil, an aging millionaire has his brain transferred into a young woman, but it's because she's the only person with the correct rare blood type and has recently died of head trauma (in a mugging). Furthermore, she was his friend, and he's shocked and grieves for her when he finds out whose body he's using. Luckily, she survives as a sort of Spirit Advisor (unless he's hallucinating it).
      • This leads to some quite odd scenes, like where the main character is having sex with the former occupant of the body's former lover and his former friend and lawyer.

    (Oh, God, Eunice! Why didn't you tell me?) (Tell you what?) (That for a woman it's so much better!)

    • The Dosadi Experiment by Frank Herbert. Wonderful way to prolong life indefinitely at the expense of others, for those who have enough power. In the end, shop is closed, but this little secret does not leak too far.
    • In John C. Wright's War of the Dreaming, this happens to Kid Hero Galen Waylock by his ancestor Azrael de Gray. Different in that Azrael did not do so to keep himself alive, but to escape the Tailor-Made Prison he's locked in.
    • Gyhard, the antagonist in Tanya Huff's Fifth Quarter, has been keeping himself alive this way for a couple of hundred years.
    • H.P. Lovecraft's short stories:
      • The Case of Charles Dexter Ward looks like a case of this, but actually features an Identical Grandson compelled to resurrect his ancestor's corpse, who then kills him and takes his place.
      • The Thing on the Doorstep is based on this concept: A man's wife is, in fact, his father-in-law, who now has designs to retake a male body.
      • The Shadow Out of Time is about a human being who has his mind switched with an alien scientist and is forced to live in its world in its body for six years. Except that its world is ancient Earth, making it a unique Time Travelling Grand Theft Me.
        • Not to mention that once, the alien race was facing destruction, and completely Grand Theft Me'd an entire other species, leaving them to die.
    • In one of Larry Niven's Gil the Arm stories, a notorious gangster and organlegger kidnapped a rich family. Both parents were killed; the ordeal left one of the children mute and the other traumatized and never really back to his old self. It turned out that the latter was actually the organlegger's brain transplanted into the kidnap victim's body.
    • Tim Powers' The Anubis Gates involves, among other complexities and weirdness, "Dogface Joe", who migrates from body to body, making sure to dose the one he's leaving with a lethal amount of poison in the process. He has to swap because the new body becomes extremely furry (a magical accident made him an avatar of a jackal-god). He can also, using his ability, supply someone with a new body (this requires two body-jumps, obviously). It becomes important to the overall plot.
    • In the Discworld novels, an Igor whose body becomes too ruined to fix is broken down for spares and the brain preserved, where it can be transplanted into another body at a later point to effectively return the Igor to life again. The Igors do show consideration, however: The bodies they use for this are exclusively from people put in permanent vegetative states or killed by head injuries that are donated to the Igors by their next-of-kin.
    • In the Expanded Universe of Star Wars, Palpatine cloned himself and uses the Force to transfer his soul into new bodies to live eternally. However, one of his underlings paid to have the Clonemaster damage the genetic material of the clones, causing them to decay within a few weeks. He attempted to possess Leia's newborn Anakin Solo, but a Jedi-in-hiding that was traveling with the gang intercepted his spirit, and died, taking Palpatine's soul with him to the afterlife.
      • One of Palpatine's underlings, Cronal, planned to do the same thing to Luke in the novel Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor as part of a complex Batman Gambit- he would allow Luke to defeat his Card-Carrying Villain warlord persona, Lord Shadowspawn, and then claim his body as his own, using Luke's heroic reputation (which Cronal had been using his own propaganda machine to inflate on the side) to ultimately get himself installed emperor. After Luke escaped his clutches, he decided to try the same technique on the next best subject- Leia. Thankfully, Cronal was defeated before that could happen.
    • The villain of Mercedes Lackey's Jinx High is a witch who's been stealing her daughters' bodies for several hundred years; this seriously throws the protagonist, who's not expecting the skilled magician she's looking for to be in high school.
      • Another villain of Lackey's, the evil sorcerer Ma'ar from the Heralds of Valdemar series, manages to prolong his life for centuries by magically propelling his soul into a succession of bodies from his own bloodline (killing the original soul in the process). His failure to do this completely the last time forms the basis of his eventual defeat.
        • When the Mage Storms begin to drive Firesong insane, one sign is his growing obsession with finding an "ethical" version of Ma'ar's technique.
    • In the Dragonlance Legends books, the evil archmage Fistandantilus has been doing this to his most skilled apprentices for centuries—he steals not only the bodies but also, it is implied, the arcane powers of his victims. He meets his downfall when Raistlin Majere turns the trick around and steals Fistandantilus's body, along with all the centuries of magical power he's accumulated. Curiously, this does not cause Raistlin to assume Fistandantilus's appearance. Instead, he reverts to the appearance he himself had before the Test. Why the spell works differently for Raistlin is unclear; perhaps because Fistandantilus dies as Raistlin completes the ritual.
      • In 3 Wizards Too Many it turns out that at first Fistandantilus "hunted" in other worlds where he was not notorious (wider choice of victims, lesser risk that someone will track and thwart his plot), but eventually ran afoul of both Elminster who used Dragon Breath spell when they last met and Mordenkainen who too somehow "taught him the wisdom of staying closer to home" (all 3 lived in adjacent crystal spheres).
    • In R.A. Salvatore's Demonwars series, Chezru Chieftan Yakim Douan takes advantage of a prophecy of rebirth to literally be reborn for centuries by taking over the bodies of unborn children.
    • In King Pinch, lich snatched the living man's body, but failed to destroy lifeforce, so victim managed to take his own discarded body in turn.
    • Cadavres Exquis, the first in a series of Darker and Edgier short-stories about obscure french proto-Superhero/ Great Detective Fascinax, has Big Bad Numa Pergyll performing a Grand Theft Me on the titular hero's Love Interest.
    • Jack Vance's novella Château d'If. The young hosts pay for a mysterious adventure, though the old customers pay a lot more. Their brains are swapped.
    • In David Weber's Mutineer's Moon, the bad guys have very long lives already, due to biotechnical enhancement, but they use this method to stretch it out even the especial horror of the good guys when they discover that the latest victim was the mother of heroine Jiltanith.
    • In The Quickening trilogy, Wyl is (involuntarily) granted the power that if someone "kills" him, he lives on in the body of the killer, erasing their existing personalities (although retaining certain memories and learned abilities). He occupies a number of bodies over the series, including that of his sister, who doesn't know about the power - she stabs the person responsible killing Wyl's previous incarnation, not knowing that this person's body is now occupied by Wyl and that she herself will be overwritten. At the end of the series, Wyl attempts to arrange matters so that he dies at the hands of the Big Bad (who was the king, and who just married Wyl's love interest.)
    • In the Magic: The Gathering novel Shattered Alliance, Mairsil the Pretender is revealed to have escaped death by storing his soul inside his ring and tries to take over the body of pyromancer Jaya Ballard, who had been wearing the ring since Mairsil was killed in an earlier book.
    • In The Dresden Files the necromancer Capiorcorpus, which Harry translated as the Corpse Taker, specializes in doing this. As far as we know only living people despite the name.
      • The literal Latin translation of "corpus" is "body," so the name actually makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, Harry learned Latin via a correspondence course.
      • In Ghost Story Capiocorpus' ghost tries to get the power to manifest in the real world. She could then use her abilities to take whatever body she wanted, effectively coming back to life. Harry speculates this is the same method her mentor Kemmler used to return to life six times.
    • In Hopscotch anyone can swap bodies with anyone else. One of the protagonists rents his body out to people who want to avoid unpleasant experiences.
    • Animorphs. The primary antagonists of the series, the Yeerks, are basically sentient space-faring parasites whose only major power is to take over the body of another organism. Or, at least one with an ear canal and a brain. Making matters worse, many of the Yeerks are torn between being forced to crush another creature's free will beneath their pseudopod, or spending the rest of their life as a wretched fish-sized slug deprived of sight, hearing, and...well, just about everything. Made worse once a Yeerk has a taste of how parasitic good life can be, and the fact that their leaders are quite crazy.
    • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Master Mind of Mars, the Mad Scientist Ras Thavas sells this. When Ulysses Paxton gets two victims restored to their own bodies, they briefly pretend to those who usurped them so as to abdicate; then Ulysses makes it appear to be a miraculous reversal.
    • In Anne Rice's aptly-titled novel The Vampire Chronicles: The Tale of the Body Thief, Lestat is tired of being a vampire and is contacted by a human who has this power and offers him a Freaky Friday-like adventure. Only it is a setup by the Body Thief to keep his immortal body.
    • Happens a couple of times in T.A. Pratt's Marla Mason series. First, with the sorcerer and his young apprentice in San Francisco's Chinatown in the first book, and then also in book 4 when Rondeau inadvertently steals B's body.
    • Though it isn't the focus of the story, this does factor in to the plot of Harlan Ellison's novella Mefisto In Onyx.
    • In Alastair Reynold's Revelation Space, The captain has done this to Sajaki some time prior to the events in the book, requesting that the alien Pattern Jugglers overwrite his victim's mind with his own. A fanatical cult in the novella Turquoise Days hopes to use the same technique to sacrifice themselves voluntarily to allow their leader's personality to replace their own.
    • George R. R. Martin's short story "The Pear-Shaped Man".
    • James H. Schmitz does the “heir” version in the Federation of the Hub story “The Symbiotes”.
    • Beyond lies the Wub, a short story by Philip K. Dick. An Earthbound rocketship stops on Mars to take on food animals, including a wub—a large, slovenly Martian pig. It turns out the wub is a sentient telepathic alien interested mainly in eating and philosophical discussion. The captain is determined to kill and eat the wub regardless, believing it to be a threat, and blows the wub's brains out despite the objections of his crew. The story ends with the captain enthusiastically tucking into cooked wub, watched glumly by the crew, who are further shocked when their 'captain' continues the philosophical discussion the wub was having "before we were interrupted".
    • In books two and three of Thorarinn Gunnarsson's Skateboard Dragons trilogy, this is how the rulers of the evil Alasheran Empire have survived for thousands of years.
    • In "When True Night Falls", book two of C. S. Friedman's Coldfire Trilogy, the Undying Prince survives this way.
    • Two Christopher Pike books, The Immortal and The Blind Mirror, use this as a twist- without the transferred soul initially remembering their true identity.
    • In C. J. Cherryh's Morgaine Cycle, the qhal (and their predecessors) could use the Gates to transfer their minds into new hosts. This tended to leave the two personalities struggling for control.
    • The more modern version is done in House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, where Matt turns out to be a clone raised only for his organs.
    • In Glen Duncan's I, Lucifer struggling writer Declan Gunn's body is possessed by none other than Lucifer himself, so that old Luce can sample the mortal life and a chance for redemption.
    • In book 5 of the Necroscope saga Faethor Ferenczy tries this on Harry. It does not end well.
      • The climax of book two has a twist on this. One of the heroes' has had his mind and soul destroyed leaving him basically a still breathing corpse. Harry, at this point, is a disembodied soul in search of a body and moves right in.
    • There was an entire series based around this trope, with titles such as "Help, I'm trapped in my dog's body!" and "Help, I'm trapped in my gym teacher's body!".
    • In Darkship Thieves, Nat is convinced his lover Max has been possessed by the recently deceased father's ghost. He's right: Max was a clone of the father created specifically so that the elder could discard his old body and transplant his brain into a younger, healthier one. The father had achieved near immortality by murdering his sons over and over. But he screwed up in this generation by not realizing Max had a secret, gay relationship with Nat and thus acting out of character to him. The protagonists learn that the entire society is founded on this. The ruling oligarchs are the men who figured out how to do this and have been ruling the planet together for centuries.
    • A book of a series popular only in Poland does that in its seventh part. The main antagonists of the story, if they can be called that, are three sisters. The story itself is set in modern times, yet the sisters were already non-young adults around the times of the Second World War, and don't look older than sixty in the story itself. How did they do it? This trope. They took over the bodies of another set of triplet sisters, in a pharmaceutical way. The last chapter of the book itself is all about saving the protagonist girl, since one of the sisters' body has some sort of a spinal disease and she's looking for a replacement, finding the protagonist a replacement. A matter-warping, intelligent huge mass of rock controlled by the sisters is also involved.
    • One very strange no-sex "Sex Story" "Of One Flesh" (still very NSFW, however) involves an oddly non-villainous version of this in which a man and a little girl take turns controlling her body until she lets him take full control and swap his body, which is magically stored in the form of a doll, with hers. A bit of backstory indicates that this arrangement arose from a very strange Cursed with Awesome situation involving a kind of mutual theft that left them both forced to inhabit one body at the same time; judging by their attitudes toward each other, they've managed to work out some kind of understanding with each other and turn this situation to their mutual advantage.
    • In The Wish List Belch eventually takes over the body of Meg's father Franco.
    • The Edgar Allan Poe Story, Ligeia, which has a twist. Not only does the old wife steal the new wife's body, she also transforms the new wife back into her old form.
    • Attempted in The Wheel of Time- the character Mordeth was a Knight Templar Evil Chancellor who lived roughly 2000 years before the main plot of the series, and he tried to fight the Dark One using his own methods. The result unleashed an Eldritch Abomination which consumed the city that was Mordeth's power base and left him immortal but trapped there. However, if Mordeth could convince a living person to accompany him beyond the city, he could steal their body and escape. In the first book, he tries this on Punch Clock Villain Padan Fain- but since Fain had been altered already by the Dark One to become a Scarily Competent Tracker, the result was less a possession and more a merge. Mordeth/Fain became a major recurring villain in the series, has all sorts of weird superpowers, and as a result of the imperfect combination (and the Dark One's original taint on Fain) he's completely freakin' nuts.
    • Occurs in the young adult book Flight, where main character Zits is shot in the head and has a flashback where he is transformed into many historical characters.
    • A rare positive variation appears in the Ghostly Companions collection of stories by Vivien Alcock. In "A Change of Aunts", a horrifying revenant that used to be a nursemaid who drowned herself in a pond after she let the children in her care die when she visited her lover attacks Meg and William's abusive Aunt Gertrude when it catches her beating the children. The undead nursemaid steals Gertrude's body for herself and leaves Gertrude trapped in her old rotting immobile corpse in the pond. "Gertrude" treats the children with great care and kindness. When Meg realizes what happened, she understandably decides to leave her abusive aunt to her Fate Worse Than Death.
    • In the distant backstory of Lois McMaster Bujold's The Hallowed Hunt we discover that the last true Hallowed King linked several spells upon his warriors to himself in preparation for a battle against the invading Darthacans, then to insure a lucky blow would not break them bound a spell to his own soul which would transfer it to his son if he were slain. The latter part worked, too well.
    • In John Wyndham' short story "Pillar To Post", the protagonist is a paraplegic, who frequently takes drugs to cope with the pain, and who suddenly finds himself in a healthy body very far in the future. People of the future society live virtually forever by swapping bodies with the "feeble minded" of whom there are very many in the future. But then the original owner of the body, who engaged in mental time travel, takes back his body and the protagonist in back in the original, paralyzed and pain-wracked body - but he finds a way to return. Thereby, the two of them change places again and again, each trying to leave a "booby trap" which would destroy the paralyzed body while it is inhabited by his rival. The contest if finally resolved in a rather immoral way, by letting a present-time mental patient be moved into into the paralyzed body and be burned to death, leaving the two contestants in possession of two healthy bodies... [1]
    • Bob Shaw's story "Waltz of the Bodysnatchers" takes place in a future society in which a murderer is sentenced to change places with his or her victim, who is thus brought back to life and inherits the murderer's body. The story's cast of cynical and scheming characters abuse this legal provision by finding creative ways of manipulating a younger and healthier person into murdering them and getting caught...
    • The Transformers: TransTech story "I, Lowtech" involves the main character being convinced he's somehow been swapped into a different body while someone else is parading around with his, even though there's no tangible evidence that actually happened. Eventually turns out he's right, and it happened courtesy of a Decepticon with the ability to seamlessly manipulate other people's sparks, but by then his quest to prove he's right has already driven him to insanity.
    • In Hush, Hush, fallen angels spend all their time tracking down nephilim and forcing them to submit to possession for two weeks out of every year. The nephilim all hate this, but are targeted because they won't die from it, unlike humans. At the end of the story, Patch possesses Nora without her permission, and without warning. It's to fight off someone threatening her, but she still finds it terrifying.
    • In Timothy Zahn's "Soulminder" stories, a technology is developed that can draw a person's essence from their body and store it elsewhere before returning it. It's meant to assist in lifesaving procedures, but naturally it doesn't take long for somebody to catch on that it also enables Grand Theft Me. Unfortunately for the first person who tries it, a dying crime boss, it turns out that placing your soul in someone else's body causes you to start taking on their personality, and he's so transformed that he eventually turns himself in.
    • H. G. Wells' short story "The Story of the Late Mr. Elvesham" is a Dead Man Writing account by the victim, who insists he's not the real Elvesham, but a much younger man with whom Elvesham swapped bodies by means of some odd drug. He hopes this testament will get out and serve as a warning to the body-thief's next intended victim. At the end, he mentions that he's taking what he believes to be poison. A postscript by an unidentified third party comments that the document is written in a hand very unlike Elvesham's usual. Also, Elvesham's will left his fortune to the younger man ... but the heir was killed in a traffic accident even before "Elvesham" poisoned himself....
    • In Norman Spinrad's Agent of Chaos, it's briefly mentioned that instead of faking identification documents, the Brotherhood of Assassins replaces innocent people with "Brothers, altered, where necessary, to be their exact duplicates." And then uses their identity papers.
    • In Andre Norton's Exiles of the Stars, some preserved aliens steal the bodies of several humans and use them to dig up their ancient technology. The victims get rescued by a "Moon Singer", a human with a talent for ethical body-swapping.
    • A. E. Van Vogt's short story "Dear Pen Pal" features a mysterious alien criminal who writes to a human from his prison cell. The alien turns out to have developed a method for body-swapping and tries to scam the human into using it so he can escape. It works out well - for the 'victim'.

    Live Action TV

    • In Quantum Leap Sam takes over somebody's body in the past and that person takes his body in the present. Usually, the person in the present simply waits or sleeps through the experience, but one person escaped the facility and caused some trouble with a Grand Theft Me of his own.
      • At least, that was how the concept of leaping started out. The "rules" grew rather murky in the show's final seasons, sometimes hinting that Sam was taking on a person's appearance rather than inhabiting his or her physical body. (In one episode, for example, Sam leaps into a double amputee...but is still able to walk.)
    • In The Twilight Zone episode "The Trade-Ins", an aging man decides to get a nice young body, but can't afford it for his wife, too (and the company isn't allowed to offer financing), then decides to give back the body and die a natural death with his aging wife. It isn't mentioned how the company that was selling him the brand new body got it or where they got it from.
    • Speaking of the Twilight Zone, there is an episode involving magicians where this is the twist.
      • And yet another episode where this is the YOUNG man's idea. He discovers he has the power to exchange traits with other people (an ill-defined ability, but hey...). So he finds a very rich old man and gets the multimillionaire to trade his fortune for renewed youth. Now old and rich, he proceeds to purchase youth a year at a time from a large number of young men at a thousand dollars a shot... eventually leaving him back at his original age, but with a lot of money.
    • The Haunting Hour the Series: The Ending of "The Dead Body".
    • In a first-season Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, teenager Amy Madison's witch mother swaps bodies with her so that the mother can have a second shot at eternal fame and glory as a high school cheerleader.
      • Then in the fourth season, Faith gets a posthumous gift of Applied Phlebotinum from the Mayor that lets her pull this trick on Buffy.
      • A rare heroic version occurs when Willow is kidnapped by Amy and Warran. She possesses Buffy to lead her to where she is imprisoned.
      • And the Scoobies again possess Buffy, giving her all their powers in return, to help fight Adam.
    • In the Doctor Who serial The Keeper of Traken, the archvillain, the Master, at the end of the 13th and final regeneration of his Time Lord body, which is hideously decayed, steals the body of a major leader. However, he considers this a temporary situation and spends much of the rest of the original series determined to extend his life, preferably through a new set of regenerations.
      • In the 1996 FOX Made for TV Movie, he takes over yet another hapless human and attempts to steal the Doctor's body.
      • The Master seems to have somewhat taken this to the ultimate extreme in The End of Time Pt 1 by turning THE ENTIRE HUMAN RACE into HIMSELF!
      • Happens again in the first episode of season 2 of the new Doctor Who, where Cassandra transfers her consciousness into Rose. Then the Doctor. Then Rose again. Then several other people, then Rose....

    Cassandra: Oh, great! I'm a chav!

      • What about Crozier's brain transplant machine in Mindwarp? The Valeyard didn't make that up.
      • Welcome aboard Chameleon Tours. We'll miniaturize you, steal your identity, and slowly drain the life from you. Hmm… what's that Police Box doing on the runway?
      • Happens to the TARDIS in "The Doctor's Wife". As a slight twist, the body snatcher stuffs the original inhabitant into a specially prepared brain-drained slave, not its old form.
    • The Angel episode "Carpe Noctem." This includes a unique Mistaken for Gay, when the guy in Angel's body briefly believes Angel is gay.
      • Also, Illyria taking over Fred's body to live again in season five.
    • Of course, Star Trek recycled this plot over and over:
      • The last episode of Star Trek: The Original Series "Turnabout Intruder", in which the Girl of the Week and Mad Scientist Dr. Janice Lester used an alien device to swap her mind into Kirk's body (poor, desperate girl) in order to fulfill her dream of being a starship Captain, because, y'know, chicks can't do that stuff in The Future... Anyhoo, Hilarity Ensues, and we get to watch William Shatner act like an Large Ham with a side of girl, instead of the usual Large Ham.
        • I always assumed it wasn't because she was a woman, but more that she was batshit insane, and blamed the fact that she couldn't be a captain not on her own inadequacy, but on her gender.
          • This is supported by the fact that in "The Cage" (the original pilot) the Enterprise had a female first officer. Given the first officer has to take over if something happens to the captain, it's unlikely female first officers would be allowed and female Captains wouldn't.
        • The episode "Return to Tomorrow" has the aliens of the week temporarily take over the bodies of Kirk, Spock and a female crewmember in order to build themselves new bodies. Unfortunately, the one in Spock's body has no intention of returning it.
      • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Dr. Ira Graves somehow is able to download his personality onto Data.
      • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, where a disaster on a prisoner transfer ship frees a criminal with personality-transference implants in his fingers, leaving the crew to play Spot the Imposter for the rest of the episode. (Of course, you've got to wonder why they let a prisoner keep his personality-transfer devices.)
        • They didn't even know about them, they just knew he had used ingenious and immoral methods to prolong his own life before; he had secretly invented the devices and implanted them under his own finger nails so that he need only dig into some poor sap to start the process.
      • Inverted in Deep Space Nine's "Invasive Procedures." Verad doesn't put his personality in Jadzia's body; he puts Jadzia's personality (well, part of it—the Dax symbiont) into his body.
      • In Star Trek: Voyager, though this time, the thief dies a few seconds before stealing Kes' body. That he is able to fool even Neelix for as long as he does is just a bit disturbing.
    • In an episode of Stargate SG-1, there is a device that swaps Daniel's consciousness with that of a very old man (who had apparently built the device for that purpose, to prolong his own life), as well as the minds of O'Neil and Teal'c. Hilarity Ensues.
      • Arguably the Goa'uld are all about this, especially since body-switching keeps the symbiote alive for thousands of years. The Tok'ra are something of a subversion of this trope, since they never take unwilling hosts and they share the body. So are the Asgard, who survive by swapping bodies with mindless clones created for this purpose.
        • Nah, the symbiote is effectively immortal, and so is the host with the aid of a Sarcophagus. Apophis' host was an Ancient Egyptian scribe.
          • The hosts do live much, much longer than usual, but, as evidenced by Lord Yu, there comes a point when a Goa'uld can no longer take a new host and the old body starts to suffer from the maladies of old age, like senility.
      • Done slightly more seriously in the Stargate Atlantis episode "The Long Goodbye".
      • And done significantly more seriously in SG-1‍'‍s ninth season, except it is Daniel and Vala who (accidentally) seize control of bodies, only to (accidentally) leave just before getting them killed.
        • Later in the season, Vala jumps into Daniel's body from the Ori galaxy to warn SG-1 of the coming Ori invasion.
      • Stargate Universe has the traveling stones, which allow for voluntary mind transfer. But on several occasions, once the swap occurs, the new occupant does things the original would never have condoned. When the original swaps back in, Hilarity Ensues.
    • In one episode of Tales from the Crypt, a rich old man wanted a better body in order to attract a particular young woman. He gradually had all body parts surgically swapped with those of a young man—a process that also left him dirt poor, as the donor required huge amounts of compensation. In the end, this was all in vain. The woman was a gold digger and ran off with the now rich donor.
    • Done at least twice on Ghost Whisperer. The first time Melinda had to deal with both the possessor and the possessee's spirits; the second time was done by Melinda's recently deceased husband. To his credit, he made sure his new body's former owner had passed on first.
    • Seemed almost inevitable for Dollhouse, a show about brainwashed, sexy, young humans you can rent and have temporarily reprogrammed to be anyone you want. Sure enough, by episode 10 ("Haunted"), it comes up (briefly) when a murder victim is put inside one such body to confront her killer. Then, three episodes later, in "Epitaph One," we learn that soon, Rossum, the gigantic corporation running the whole thing, will put the Dolls' bodies up for sale as biological "upgrades" -- new bodies for the minds of aging clients, and of course, corporate executives.
      • Epitaph Two makes it worse, as Rossum executive Matthew Harding seems to wear his bodies with rich food and then discards them, putting himself in a new, fit body.
    • Supernatural, anyone? Besides the episode "Swap Meat", where the main plotline is that Sam inadvertently switches bodies with a seventeen-year-old boy, there are numerous instances throughout the entire show of demonic possession and shapeshifters stealing unfortunate victims' identities, to name but a few. And oh yeah, the episode where Sam and Dean discover an immortal old man has been killing people and replacing his body parts with his victims'. And the angels might have to have permission, but once you're a vessel, you're a vessel till the angel decides to leave.
    • Cleopatra 2525 has an episode, "In Your Boots", where recurring villian Creegan does this to Hel.
    • On Lost, the Man in Black can do this after being turned into the smoke monster by assuming the form of those who have died. He most notably does it to Locke during the last two seasons.
    • Charmed - A few cases of this but one in particular is Freaky Pheobe where an evil witch named Mara takes over Pheobe's body.
    • Red Dwarf had an episode where Lister allows Rimmer to use his body for a week with the promise of Rimmer getting him into shape (in return, the Holographic Rimmer is able to touch, smell, and taste for the first time since his death). When Rimmer spends his time eating and sleeping (causing Lister to actually gainweight), Lister demands his body back—only to have Rimmer outright steal it the next time he falls asleep.
    • Forcibly done to Sylar by Matt Parkman to contain Nathan's mind, on Heroes. Of course, this being Sylar, he quickly turns the tables by hiding out in Matt's mind and taking over his body and torments Matt's sanity in hopes that Parkman will be desperate and terrified enough to reunite Sylar's mind with his body. Matt, to his credit, attempts a Taking You with Me but it doesn't work and Sylar is reunited with his body anyway.
    • A two part episode of The X-Files had Mulder accidentally switching bodies with a Man in Black named Morris Fletcher (played by Michael McKean) due to some space-time anomaly caused by an experimental aircraft. Fletcher is having great fun with it while Mulder is miserable and desperately trying to get his body back.
    • Twin Peaks had at least four different people intermittently possessed by at least three different entities - both good and evil - all of which entities did so to hide who they were and what they were doing.

    Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

    • Older Than Feudalism: Yayati, after the curse of his father-in-law that he should become old and infirm, asked his sons to exchange their youthful body with his. All refused except the youngest son, Puru, who was crowned after his reign. Puru was the ancestor of the Kauravas and the Pandavas in the Mahabharata. His brother Yadu was the ancestor of the Yadavas - thus the ancestor of Krishna.

    Tabletop Games

    • This is how immortality works for Body Thieves from World of Darkness: Immortals.
      • The spell "Steal Body" (from the Free Council sourcebook) causes this, with a caveat: "The mage rips soul from body and possesses the target’s now-vacant form, leaving the victim and the mage’s former body dead." Any mage who is a Master of Death and a Disciple of Life is capable of casting the spell, including the protagonists. Out of all other spells that extend life, this is the only one that allows a mage to actually live forever without becoming a soul-eating Tremere Lich, and it neatly avoids the logistical problems of Undead Tax Exemption. The mage still has to commit murder every several decades, but that's still preferable to eating a soul every month.
    • A high-level psionic power for telepaths in Dungeons & Dragons known as True Mind Switch can be used for this.
    • Lucius the Eternal, a Slaaneshi champion from Warhammer 40,000 has this as his shtick (besides the usual Slaaneshi depravity, and excellent swordsmanship). Anyone who kills him finds a copy of his armour forming from them, then their body starts warping into a copy of his, and eventually he's back while they are reduced to one more screaming face on his armour...
      • Actually, this only happens if whoever was lucky enough to kill him takes 'any amount of satisfaction' from it. If they don't, fine. If they have even the smallest feeling of relief at killing him then hey, you're fucked!
      • Unless he gets killed by a demon from another god, Necrons, Tyranids, or stray shots in battle.
      • Trazyn the Infinite, a Necron Overlord obsessed with obtaining relics, uses a form of this for his safety on the battlefield. Rather than risk destruction, he has implanted coding into many of his underling's coding that allow him to possess them. This means that it if his current host body is destroyed, there's a very good chance he'll immediately possess another one of his Royal Court.
    • The Dark Eye} has a (rare) body swap spell that can be used for both cases. Without further interference it's temporary, but in case one of the bodies is killed, the swapped soul stays in the other one permanently.


    • In Bionicle, Makuta Teridax Steals Mata Nui's Humongous Mecha body which contains the entire Matoran Universe. On a smaller scale, he also briefly possessed Matoro's body and an old robot, and Lewa once had his body stolen by an Eldritch Abomination.

    Video Games

    • In Tactics Ogre, a hidden conversation suggests that Deneb is like this, but it's not that surprising. It does, however, add a whole new dimension of Squick to her character.
    • In Chrono Cross, this happens to Serge. Apparently, someone needed to get around the whole Chosen One business, and switching bodies with Serge seemed like the best way to do it. Things get even more confusing later on.
    • In addition to trying to turn your ghost into an assassin, the villainous plot of Geist also involves giving your now-empty body to a demon. Similar possessions happen during gameplay as well, and there is even a deathmatch mode revolving entirely around taking over someone's body and throwing it into a bottomless pit or similar.
    • In Fable: The Lost Chapters, Big Bad Jack of Blades is revealed to be an ancient entity living inside his mask, who has spent aeons influencing the world by moving from host body to host body.
    • In Final Fantasy VII Dirge of Cerberus, Big Bad Hojo did this to Weiss.
    • This is the specialty of Final Fantasy VIII‍'‍s Big Bad Ultimecia, who possesses every sorceress she can get her hands on: Edea, Rinoa and Adel, in that order. Luckily everyone makes a full recovery and Ultimecia is defeated. (Besides, she borrows instead of steals.)
    • In Myst IV: Revelations, the central plot involves Atrus' evil son Sirrus attempting to transfer his mind into the body of Atrus' young daughter Yeesha to escape his eternal imprisonment.
    • The (eventually revealed) main plot of Space Quest 6 is that evil old crone Sharpei hopes to use a combination of nanotechnology and a shrink ray to implant her brain into a host body, to extend her waning lifespan. She was originally planning to use series hero Roger (assuming that he "wouldn't be missed"), but ends up kidnapping his best friend/love interest Stellar instead, forcing Roger to make a rescue attempt.
      • Not the first time Roger had to fight this Trope, either. In the fourth (or twelfth game... Time Travel is involved), he has to fight Vohaul, who is possessing his Kid From the Future.
    • In Albion, the Iskai species does this regularly: The Trii of a newborn has some unique abilities during the first week of its life; if an adult Iskai (assuming it's a female in this case) touches the newborn's Trii against hers, she can transfer her entire self into the spirit of the child. She can then begin life anew in her newly acquired body, while the former, adult one dies at the same instant. This act is commonly referred to as the Sebai ritual. The child is obviously never asked.
    • In Xenogears, the entity known as Miang Hawwa can manifest instantaneously in any one woman on the planet if the previous incarnation is killed. In the end, when her current vessel is defeated, she migrates into Elly.
    • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, a boss named Doopliss transforms into a shadow version of Mario. After the battle is over, the player learns that Doopliss actually swapped bodies with Mario. What follows is a bizarre confrontation, where Mario (in the shadow body) and one of his enemies must fight Doopliss (in Mario's body) and all the party members Mario has acquired by that point in the game.
    • Cackletta does this in the first Mario & Luigi. She takes over Bowser's body after she is reduced to a ghost and he is barely conscious. Worryingly, Bowser's body takes on several characteristics which her body had, and one two she didn't.
    • Lycia Spodune and Creed Graphite, the two Sufficiently Advanced Aliens of Tales of Hearts, have had their bodies sealed away for two millennia. Lycia has had her consciousness passed down along the female successors of the Hearts clan, in the benign variant of this trope. Creed played the normal, evil version for a while before being finally sealed inside the main character's body.
    • Towards the end of Tales of Symphonia, Mithos has lost his body in a previous fight with the protagonists, though his soul lives on in his Cruxis Crystal. Realising that the good guys are finally going to totally screw things up for him he attempts to steal Lloyd's body, only to have the character who most likes Lloyd in that specific file interrupt and get possessed instead. Mithos promptly uses their own body to kidnap them. Due to the possibility of this happening to one of seven characters, dialogue gets slightly Narmy from trying to avoid gender pronouns afterwards. Interesting observation, though: despite being Lloyd's dad, Kratos doesn't seem to lift a finger in this scene and is the only character who doesn't have the possibility of getting possessed. Granted he's just been beaten up, but still...
    • In the Adventure Game Post Mortem, one of the characters has used this method in order to live for hundreds of years.
    • This is what happens if you get the bad ending in Black Dahlia.
    • The Big Bad tries to do this to Curtis in Phantasmagoria 2.
      • Subverted in that the Hecatomb is Curtis - or rather, the original Curtis Craig - and from his point of view it's the player who's stolen his life.
    • The backstory to the Blood series reveals this as the dark god Tchernobog's method of reincarnation, with the Cabal formed just so he could always have a new body on hand. The penultimate cinematic explains the entire plot of the game so Tchernobog could take Caleb's body; it backfires when Caleb kills him, and at the same time it doesn't.
    • This is probably the case in the biggest Reveal in Mega Man Zero 3, where Dr. Weil, prior to the start of the series, stole Zero's original body, turning it into the Ax Crazy Omega.
    • In Ico, this is what the Evil Queen plans to do to Yorda, and why Ico has to rescue her.
    • In Dragon Age: Origins, the witch Flemeth is said to have had many daughters, but only one of them, Morrigan, is encountered by the party; after reading Flemeth's grimoire, Morrigan becomes convinced that Flemeth has been possessing her daughters and plans to do it to her, though Flemeth denies it.
      • The Archdemon, upon being slain, automatically does this to the nearest Darkspawn, making it impossible to kill -- unless a Grey Warden strikes the final blow (which forces the Archdemon's spirit to travel in the Warden). Since Darkspawn are essentially soulless, the Archdemon can possess another darkspawn with no problems. Attempting to do the same to a Grey Warden destroys both of their souls.
    • The villains of The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks plot to have a demon possess Zelda's body. The princess is justifiably...displeased...when she learns this.
    • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of the Sky has this as Dusknoir's back-up plan; he's going to lure Grovyle to a frozen tundra whose trees have the power to destroy souls, kill him, take over his body, travel to the past to befriend the guild, and then destroy everyone there. Or at least was, until he pulled a Heel Face Turn at the last moment.
    • Kingdom Hearts - Having become a Heartless years before the first game began, Xehanort possesses Riku once Maleficent has unwittingly carried out most of his plan for him (his idea of a reward is to force her into her dragon form and sic her on the heroes).
      • Birth by Sleep: It turns out that the thing that possessed Riku was the result of a previous body-jacking: the original Xehanort took over Terra's body to increase his lifespan. In the same game, Vanitas commits this against Ven, although those two started out as one person; Ven defeats him but is rendered comatose.
    • Thanatos's plan for Dyluck in Secret of Mana. Dyluck is forced to kill himself at the end to stop this.
    • Stacking takes place in a world populated by Russian matroyshka dolls and as such, the main character, as a particularly small doll, can "stack" within larger dolls and make use of their various abilities.
    • The Voodoo Lady's locket is the cause of this one in Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 3: Lair of the Leviathan. When played around with the button on the locket, pressing it can cause some possession effects with voice changes, like the Voodoo Lady's possessions of De Cava and Guybrush, and Guybrush's possession of the Voodoo Lady.
    • Sigma attempts this on X in the climax of Mega Man X3.
    • Happens to Adell in the worst ending of Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories when the Real Overlord Zenon takes over his body, and then makes him eat his little brother and sister. Nightmare fuel, indeed.
    • Kaine in NieR is partially possessed by the shade Tyrann, and he threatens to fully take over when she comes close to death or is overtaken by the Black Scrawl. And in Endings C & D, that's exactly what happens.
    • Reptile falls victim to this in his ending in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, which sees him getting possessed by the newly reborn Dragon King, Onaga. While still in Reptile's body, Onaga goes on to serve as the Big Bad for the series' next installment.
    • A few instances in the Warcraft universe:
      • Warcraft III Banshees can displace the soul of their target, granting you control of that unit perfectly, and destroying the Banshee in the process. This is also played with by certain banshee mobs in World of Warcraft.
      • The priest ability Mind Control is essentially this, except temporary.

    Web Comics

    • The Makeshift Miracle may have one of these, or it may be Demonic Possession.
    • In the "Old Money" arc in Bruno the Bandit, Bruno marries rich old Lady Decrepta, only to later find out she's Maledict's sister and through a certain spell, she and her original husband's souls could be transferred to new, younger bodies again and again.
    • Girl Genius: The main purpose of the Geisterdamen seems to be finding a new body for their Goddess, and when they get their hands on Agatha....
      • After a subsequent encounter:

    Agatha: [She] just visits.

      • Their Goddess appears to be making a habit of this. Concerned about her inability to maintain control over Agatha, she planned to hijack Zola's body instead. The twist this time: Zola's perfectly willing to share.
    • In Drowtales, Queen Diva'ratrika uses this idea to transplant her aura inside a slave's body as part of an escape plan to get out of the trap built by her 3 traitor daughters. It's unclear if the goal was to take over another body entirely, in which case it would be a partial failure, but her knowledge and influence remains - that is until Liriel gets herself drunk to shut down the voices in her head. (The whole story starts here.
    • Fans' evil mad scientist Professor Fitz has made a career out of doing (or trying to do) just this.
    • In El Goonish Shive, this is Sirleck's current goal.
    • In A Modest Destiny, this benefits the heroes when Maxim's soul possesses the just-vacated body of one of the villains. While treated as a happy ending at first, this is eventually Deconstructed when his wife eventually reveals how uncomfortable she is with the arrangement. Sure, it's her husband's soul inside, but it's still the villain's body, and she's worried that evil still runs In the Blood.
    • The title character of Mulberry once tried to perform this on Sarah Palin, but she ended up switching bodies with Hillary Clinton instead.

    Web Original

    • A heroic version of this occurs in the end of The Winds of Change where The Professor, who'd spent the entirety of the story as an uploaded brain, takes over the Big Bad's body after trapping his mind.
    • InThe Questport Chronicles, Ato submits to demonic possession so that the heroes can have a guide to lead them through an alternate dimension filled with demons.

    Western Animation

    • In the Batman Beyond episode "Out of the Past", former Rogues Gallery member Ra's Al Ghul's daughter Talia offers old Bruce Wayne access to the Lazarus Pit, and a shot at eternal youth, saying her father wished to pass on his secrets. Of course, Talia is Ra's, and plans to swap again to the newly-youthified Bruce. Talia, apparently, gave up her life willingly for her father. The setup's very reminiscent of H.P. Lovecraft's The Thing on the Doorstep (see).
      • Of course, we only have Ra's word to take on whether Talia's sacrifice was voluntary. In fact, he simply says that he "called upon Talia to make the ultimate sacrifice". Based on the way Ra's tends to "call" on people, one imagines this has less to do with humble request-making and more to do with strongarming goons.
      • Another episode featured the digital copy of the mind of a now-dead computer industrialist being brought back on line and trying to do this to the grandson of his original body. In the process he pulls a variation on Batman himself, taking over the cybernetic suit and forcing Terry to beat him on his own, without the aid of the super-suit.
        • While at first disheartened, Terry actually embraces the challenge eventually; revealing to Bruce that he had wondered before whether he really had any right to call himself Batman (the original being the epitome of Badass Normal), or if it was just the enhanced abilities that suit gave him that made him a hero.
    • In the Gargoyles world tour arc, the World Tourists meet up with a friend, Halcyon Renard, who has an advanced stage of multiple sclerosis bad enough that he is taking desperate measures to save his life. His solution is to transfer his consciousness into a magically-powered Golem. However, Goliath convinces Renard that this is no way to live and he is eventually returned to his original body.
    • Spoofed by South Park in the episode "Pip", which hijacks a retelling of Great Expectations by having Miss Havisham plot to transfer her soul into Estella's body.
      • Done more seriously when Chef's parents are surprised he and the kids didn't kidnap a child to be sacrificed for Kenny's return in a mystic Carib blood ritual.
    • The Mickey Mouse short Runaway Brain features him being a volunteer in a scientific experiment to earn some money. But it involves exchanging his brain with a Frankenstein's Monster... after it's done, the Mad Scientist dies, and the "monster in Mickey's body" decides to go after Minnie. I'm not responsible for consequences if you click the link.
    • In Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Mary Jane was kidnapped by Miranda Wilson, an actress turned cyborg, so the latter could replace Mary Jane's mind with hers. In a twist, her plan failed because she was tricked by Mysterio into believing that mind transferring technology even existed.
    • In Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures episode "Cyberswitch", Jeremiah Surd, Lawnmower-Man strength power in cyberspace and mostly immobile in the real world, switches bodies with good guy Race Bannon. The switch is quickly discovered and reversed.
    • In an episode of Aladdin, Mozenrath tries to swap bodies with Aladdin since he (Mozenrath) is dying, but due to interference, both are stuck in Aladdin's body.
    • Pirates of Dark Water features an episode in which Ren switches places with Bloth and Konk switches places with Niddler; Bloth orchestrated this with the assistance of his soothsayer Morpho as a way to get Ren's shipmates to trust him and get his hands on the treasures.
    • In Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Dr. Blight switches bodies with Gaia, but doesn't let MAL in on the secret, so he follows Gaia's orders when she convinces him it's part of her (Dr. Blight's) secret plan.
    • Queen La actually does this to Jane Porter in her final appearance in The Legend of Tarzan.
    • Thundarr the Barbarian: The witch Circe does this to Ariel in the episode "Island of the Body Snatchers".
    • Katrina Moldoff does this to Batman in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "The Criss-Cross Conspiracy!".
    • The page quote comes from an episode of Robotboy where his Super/PsychoPrototype brother Protoboy switches his motherboard with him in an effort to get close to and kill their creator Professor Moshimo in retaliation for him abandoning the latter.
    • In an episode of The Tick entitled "Tick vs. Science," Chairface Chippendale uses the mind transfer device created by J.J. Vatos to hijack The Tick's body.