Hulking Out

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Ayano: Is he having some sort of allergic reaction?

Kazuma: I don't know but I'd be worried if my body did that, seems like you would go through a lot of pants that way.
—The reaction to seeing someone Hulk Out in Kaze no Stigma

This trope is what happens at the intersection of You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry, Involuntary Shapeshifter and Unstoppable Rage. Generally the trope goes like this:

  1. Character X is angered or in pain or some specific trigger is invoked.
  2. X reaches the breaking point and transforms into something at least twice his normal size. Skin color usually changes as well.
  3. Stuff gets broken until there's nothing else to break or X gets talked down from his rage.
  4. Cue change back to X's normal state—unless Magic Pants are involved. This might result in Monster Modesty.

If the subject is female, there's a good chance that they'll become an Amazonian Beauty and/or a Statuesque Stunner.

For some reason, werewolves in modern fiction are often subject to this type of transformation, rather than (just) the full moon. Can involve a Super-Powered Evil Side or a Jekyll and Hyde scenario. Berserk Buttons are often involved as well. May result in a Heroic RROD.

See also One-Winged Angel, Limit Break, Super Mode, Turns Red, "Growing Muscles" Sequence.

Also known in some circles as "Retard Strength," for the phenomenon where mentally handicapped people can command a surprising amount of physical force and speed when stressed. This is generally attributed to the lack of emotional inhibitors to tell them that their actions are destructive.

Examples of Hulking Out include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Dragon Ball, Goku was subject to transforming into a giant ape-like creature with laser breath when gazing at a full moon. In Dragonball Z, Goku's son, Gohan had the same "issues". Cutting off their Saiyan tails reversed the transformation. Vegeta, having had the proper training, was in full control of his Oozaru form.
    • Going Super Saiyan is even closer to the trope; most Saiyans' first transformations come when they get really, really angry, and they really do get stronger the angrier they get. And when they combine anger with purpose... you're boned.
    • Broly is probably the best example of this in the series.
  • Mon example from Digimon Tamers: when Beelzemon kills Leomon, Takato becomes so furious it causes Guilmon to evolve into the highly unstable and uncontrollable Megidramon.
    • Ditto with SkullGreymon
  • Negi's Magia Erebea form.
  • Naruto's Super-Powered Evil Side tends to come out when he's angry. It Gets Worse from there.
  • This happens to Yammy Llargo in Bleach, only he Hulks Out when he was already the size of a football stadium.
  • In Desert Punk, desert gang leader Makoto has what's described as a case of "Hulk Syndrome." Insult his mother, and he grows huge muscles, goes berserk, and destroys anyone who crosses him. And that's after taking a long string of taunts without batting an eye.
    • It's not just ANY insult to his mother that causes this either. No. You gotta say she has a fat belly button for him to really get angry.
      • Only in the original version. In the English dub, calling his mother a dirty whore works too.
  • In chapter 305 of Hunter X Hunter, Kid Hero Gon Hulks Out when Pitou admits that Kite is already dead and beyond any help. He turns into a muscular long-haired adult whose raw power rivals that of the Chimera Ant King. Overlaps with Dangerous Forbidden Technique since Gon accomplished this by forcefully aging himself; reducing his lifespan and (maybe) sacrificing the ability to use nen ever again.
  • A rare female example of hulking out occurs in Angel Cop, where the psychic Lucifer enlarges her muscles, going from silky-smooth to rippling in an instant.
  • Monster has a dark take on this trope with Wolfgang Grimmer. While most of the time, he's a gentle guy, albeit a Stepford Smiler, as a result of his abusive childhood, when he's put under extreme pressure, an aggressive alternate personal surfaces to protect him. This personality is based on the Magnificent Steiner from a tv show he enjoyed as a child, and Steiner is a Captain Ersatz of the Hulk.
  • Never get Stella from Arakawa Under the Bridge in her bad mood, especially talking ill about Sister, you will regret it.

Comic Books

  • Naturally, the Trope Namer and Codifier is the Incredible Hulk.
  • Sonic the Comic has Sonic transform into Super Sonic when angered or stressed. While Super Sonic was almost the same size as regular Sonic, he fits the rest of the description.
  • Loose Cannon, a Captain Ersatz of The Incredible Hulk in The DCU.
  • In Wild CATS, the team's Genius Bruiser has the power to grow in size and strength at the cost of intelligence. If seriously provoked he sometimes forgets himself and grows past the point where he can tell friend from foe.
    • This is also the case with Walter/Wallop from ClanDestine, though he doesn't so much lose intelligence as control. The longer he stays transformed, the bigger, stronger and more out of control he gets.
  • Marvel storylines World War Hulks and Hulked Out Heroes had several big name heroes Hulking Out after being exposed to an enemy superweapon to make them go on a rampage. Deadpool, several members of the X-Men, all of The Fantastic Four except Reed Richards, Thor, Spider-Man, and even Doctor Strange were all Hulk-ified. Naturally they all fell victim to The Worf Effect—and Hulk.
    • Even She-Hulk Hulked Out even more in Avengers Dissembled: becoming larger, stronger and uglier as she went berserk over the Vision attempting to kill them.
      • She's done that before... TWICE. Both instances occurred during her Sensational title. The first instance involved her in a pocket dimension, finding herself back to human form (despite being locked into her Hulk state at the time) and transforming into an enormous grey Incredible She-Hulk when night fell (incidentally, this was originally how Bruce Banner's change triggered as well), although the series of events that caused this to happen were subsequently undone. The second instance involved her ex-boyfriend bringing her back from the dead with gamma radiation, causing her to get bigger, uglier and a lot stronger.
  • Subverted and lampshaded in Invincible when Mark tries to hulk-out over Atom Eve's apparent death and beat Conquest. Conquest rushes Mark and tells him "child, please. Being enraged at me does not make you stronger. That is not how this works." Then again, Mark does nearly kill Conquest afterward, so...

Fan Works



  • In Twilight: New Moon, Jacob and the other werewolves sometimes change into wolf form because of anger. The pack leader Sam's fiancee has disfiguring scars because Sam "lost control for a split-second."

Live Action TV

  • A prize fighter in the Lost Girl episode "Raging Fae" keeps beating stronger foes because a Fae is secretly dosing him with a Hulk Out-inducing substance.
  • While werewolves in the Buffyverse usually transform the day before, of, and after the full moon, when Oz learns to control the transformations he is then subject to Involuntary Shapeshifting when he feels strong emotions (like jealousy over Tara's relationship with Willow.)
  • This is how werewolves in Sanctuary work. Henry seems to be the first person to figure out how to control the changes (without drugs.)
  • Yet another werewolf example. In Big Wolf on Campus, Tommy would not only transform during a full moon, but also during times of extreme emotional stress...or arousal.


  • Possibly the Ur Example is Cúchulainn of Celtic Mythology; in battle he would undergo something called ríastrad or "warp spasm", in which he would transform into something not unlike an Eldritch Abomination in its hideousness and ferocity. This form was only beaten once, when he was approached by a group of nude women. He modestly averted his eyes, whereupon the men snuck up on him and dunked him in a barrel of water, which exploded on contact. A second barrel boiled away, and the third became pleasantly warm before Cúchulainn resumed his normal form.

Newspaper Comics

Tabletop Games

  • Werewolf: The Forsaken has Death Rage, where a werewolf will automatically transform to his "war form" and go on an unstoppable rampage. It's either triggered through pain or anger (and depending on your Karma Meter, that anger can range from "one of your packmates just got killed" to "someone talked sass to you").
    • Similarly, vampires have Frenzy, which is triggered by stimuli such as anger, fear or hunger. And unlike in the above example, getting sassed at is a perfectly normal stimulus for Frenzy. There's a reason everyone stays polite at Elysium...
    • And their predecessors in the Old World of Darkness can also frenzy in many of the same situations.
  • One of the powers available to alien characters in Teenagers from Outer Space is "Monster Out", which is Exactly What it Says on the Tin.

Video Games

  • In Breath of Fire IV, Ryu first transforms into his Kaiser form after he witnesses Captain Rosso kill some innocent children and send an invincible monster after him and his friends. Ryu then proceeds to brutally murder both the monster and Rosso, and it takes a Cooldown Hug from Nina for him to regain his senses. Afterward, he can transform into Kaiser at will, but it cannot be controlled until you finish a certain sidequest.
  • Bowser only reaches his most epic level of power in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story after being (otherwise fatally) crushed, with a little help from the Mario Bros.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines, there are several ways of unleashing The Beast, which Smiling Jack describes as a beast wearing you as a suit, in which you go into an uncontrollable frenzy.
  • In the original Fatal Fury, Tung Fu Rue will transform into a larger, more muscular version of himself after taking too much damage (although he will change back after taking more). Future games restricted this to the use of his super moves. More recent games that feature him reveal that he's not actually transforming at all, but that the muscular version of Tung is actually a Battle Aura of sorts.
  • In Amagon, the titular player character transforms into the Hulk-like Megagon for Super Mode.
  • The latest World of Warcraft expansion introduces worgen, humans afflicted by a werewolf curse, as a playable race. While they eventually learn to shift between human and worgen form at will, entering combat immediately shifts them into worgen form. Some even say "You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry" when you click them.

Web Comics

  • MAG-ISA -- Kyle turns into this chunk of muscle after injecting himself with green roids
  • Fug from Pewfell is normally a Gentle Giant... until he gets angry, then he turns into something resembling an Eldritch Abomination with arms.
  • Shrinking Violent of Everyday Heroes has her transformation triggered with a blow to the nose. She can be snapped out of it via massive amounts of sugar. Unfortunately she's also a Type 1 Diabetic, which means a couple of days in the hospital after every Hulk Out, at best.
  • Sarah of Peter Is the Wolf. As a new Thrall (a were who's created, rather than born), she tends to transform when ever she gets too excited. Unlike every other were in the comic, she transforms into a wolf form three times her normal size and can only really be calmed down by sexual gratification.
  • Marty Monster from The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, "Monster Mart". At the start, he'd been having problems with his transformation to and from his monster form, until he gets stuck halfway. At the end, seeing Dr. McNinja in mortal peril is enough to knock down his psychological barriers and allow him to grow bigger than ever before.
  • Sweater Puppy and The Incredible Cunt from The Magnificent Milkmaid. Both turn into giant, large breasted nymphomaniacs (in SP's case, a nymphomaniac werewolf) upon their triggers (Sweater Puppy from seeing or even thinking about the Moon, Incredible Cunt from being called "a cunt").
  • Prozac of Bear Nuts goes HULK SMASH after a prolonged time off his meds.
  • Jimmy Rollins hulks out after being reminded that this is a contract year for him in The Dugs-Baseball Comics.
  • Justin of El Goonish Shive does this in this filler strip.
  • The Incredible Lioness, a transformation of Rosechu from Sonichu.
  • In Sister Claire, apparently masters of Nun-Fu can do this at will.

Western Animation

  • In the Word Girl episode introducing Eileen (The Birthday Girl), the more she was selfish the bigger she grew and the greener she got; once she gave somebody something she returned to normal size and color.
  • Doctor Venture once thought Hank to be blessed with "retard strength" but was mistaken.
  • Parodied in the South Park episode "It's a Jersey Thing", when Kyle's "Jersey side" comes out. Only the "transformation" is him putting on hair gel and jewelry, ripping off his sleeves and writing a nickname on his shirt.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Heloise spends an entire episode in a Sweet Polly Oliver disguise named Herman. When Jimmy and Beezy find out, they find "Herman" and proceed to utterly prank him. Just as they are laughing at him, the real Heloise shows up. It seems Herman is her real cousin, and they made him mad...
  • Katie Kaboom from Animaniacs.
  • The eponymous character of Kaeloo goes through this Once an Episode.
  • In Heavy Metal, Hanover Fiste (with the help of the Loc-Nar) hulks out to disrupt Capt. Sternn's trial and allow him to escape.