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By Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov - Scanned from A. K. Lazuko Victor Vasnetsov, Leningrad: Khudozhnik RSFSR, 1990, ISBN 5-7370-0107-5, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=215931
By Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov - Scanned from A. K. Lazuko Victor Vasnetsov, Leningrad: Khudozhnik RSFSR, 1990, ISBN 5-7370-0107-5, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=215931

In mythology, folklore and speculative fiction, shapeshifting is the ability to physically transform through an inherently superhuman ability, divine intervention, demonic manipulation, or magic. The idea of shapeshifting is in the oldest forms of totemism and shamanism, as well as the oldest extant literature and epic poems such as the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Iliad. The concept remains a common trope in modern fantasy, children's literature and popular culture.

Folklore and mythology


Popular shapeshifting creatures in folklore are werewolves and vampires (mostly of European, Canadian, and Native American/early American origin), the huli jing of East Asia (including the Japanese kitsune and Korean kumiho), and the gods, goddesses, and demons of numerous mythologies, such as the Norse Loki or the Greek Proteus. Shapeshifting to the form of a wolf is specifically known as lycanthropy, and such creatures who undergo such change are called lycanthropes. Therianthropy is the more general term for human-animal shifts, but it is rarely used in that capacity. It was also common for deities to transform mortals into animals and plants.

Other terms for shapeshifters include metamorph, the Navajo skin-walker, mimic, andtherianthrope

While the popular idea of a shapeshifter is of a human being who turns into something else, there are numerous stories about animals that can transform themselves as well.[1]

Examples of shapeshifting in classical literature include many examples in Ovid's Metamorphoses, Circe's transforming of Odysseus' men to pigs in Homer's The Odyssey, and Apuleius's Lucius becoming a donkey in The Golden Ass. Proteus was noted among the gods for his shapeshifting; both Menelaus and Aristaeus seized him to win information from him, and succeeded only because they held on during his various changes. Nereus told Heracles where to find the Apples of the Hesperides for the same reason.

The Titan Metis, the first wife of Zeus and the mother of the goddess Athena, was believed to be able to change her appearance into anything she wanted. In one story, she was so proud, that her husband, Zeus, tricked her into changing into a fly. He then swallowed her because he feared that he and Metis would have a son who would be more powerful than Zeus himself. Metis, however, was already pregnant. She stayed alive inside his head and built armor for her daughter. The banging of her metalworking made Zeus have a headache, so Hephaestus clove his head with an axe. Athena sprang from her father's head, fully grown, and in battle armor.

In Greek mythology, the transformation is often a punishment from the gods to humans who crossed them.

  • Zeus transformed King Lycaon and his children into wolves (hence lycanthropy) as a punishment for either killing Zeus' children or serving him the flesh of Lycaon's own murdered son Nyctimus, depending on the exact version of the myth.
  • Demeter transformed Ascalabus into a lizard for mocking her sorrow and thirst during her search for her daughter Persephone. She also turned King Lyncus into a lynx for trying to murder her prophet Triptolemus.
  • Athena transformed Arachne into a spider for challenging her as a weaver and/or weaving a tapestry that insulted the gods. She also turned Nyctimene into an owl, though in this case it was an act of mercy, as the girl wished to hide from the daylight out of shame from being raped by her father.
  • Artemis transformed Actaeon into a stag for spying on her bathing, and he was later devoured by his own hunting dogs.
  • Galanthis was transformed into a weasel or cat after interfering in Hera's plans to hinder the birth of Heracles.
  • Atalanta and Hippomenes were turned into lions after making love in one of Zeus' temples.
  • Io was a priestess of Hera in Argos, a nymph who was raped by Zeus, who changed her into a heifer to escape detection.
  • Hera punished young Tiresias by transforming him into a woman and, seven years later, back into a man.
  • King Tereus, his wife Procne and her sister Philomela were all turned into birds (a hoopoe, a swallow and a nightingale respectively), after Tereus raped Philomela and cut out her tongue, and in revenge she and Procne served him the flesh of his murdered son Itys.

While the Greek gods could use transformation punitively – such as Medusa, after being raped by Poseidon in Athena's temple Athena transformed her as punishment for having sexual intercourse – even more frequently, the tales using it are of amorous adventure. Zeus repeatedly transformed himself to approach mortals as a means of gaining access:[2]

Vertumnus transformed himself into an old woman to gain entry to Pomona's orchard; there, he persuaded her to marry him.

In other tales, the woman appealed to other gods to protect her from rape, and was transformed (Daphne into laurel, Cornix into a crow). Unlike Zeus and other gods' shapeshifting, these women were permanently metamorphosed.

In one tale, Demeter transformed herself into a mare to escape Poseidon, but Poseidon counter-transformed himself into a stallion to pursue her, and succeeded in the rape. Caenis, having been raped by Poseidon, demanded of him that she be changed to a man. He agreed, and she became Caeneus, a form he never lost, except, in some versions, upon death.

As a final reward from the gods for their hospitality, Baucis and Philemon were transformed, at their deaths, into a pair of trees.

In some variants of the tale of Narcissus, he is turned into a narcissus flower.

After Tereus raped Philomela and cut out her tongue to silence her, she wove her story into a tapestry for her sister, Tereus's wife Procne, and the sisters murdered his son and fed him to his father. When he discovered this, he tried to kill them, but the gods changed them all into birds.

Sometimes metamorphoses transformed objects into humans.

Fairies, witches, and wizards were all noted for their shapeshifting ability. Not all fairies could shapeshift, and some were limited to changing their size, as with the spriggans, and others to a few forms and other fairies might have only the appearance of shapeshifting, through their power, called "glamour," to create illusions.[3] But others, such as the Hedley Kow, could change to many forms, and both human and supernatural wizards were capable of both such changes, and inflicting them on others.[3]

Witches could turn into hares and in that form steal milk and butter.[5]

Many British fairy tales, such as Jack the Giant Killer and The Black Bull of Norroway

Pwyll was transformed by Arawn into Arawn's own shape, and Arawn transformed himself into Pwyll's, so that they could trade places for a year and a day.

Llwyd ap Cil Coed transformed his wife and attendants into mice to attack a crop in revenge; when his wife is captured, he turned himself into three clergymen in succession to try to pay a ransom.

Math fab Mathonwy and Gwydion transform flowers into a woman named Blodeuwedd, and when she betrays her husband Lleu Llaw Gyffes, who is transformed into an eagle, they transform her again, into an owl.

Gilfaethwy committed rape with help from his brother Gwydion. Both were transformed into animals, for one year each. Gwydion was transformed into a stag, sow and wolf, and Gilfaethwy into a hind, boar and she-wolf. Each year, they had a child. Math turned the three young animals into boys.

Gwion, having accidentally taken some of wisdom potion that Ceridwen was brewing for her son, fled her through a succession of changes that she answered with changes of her own, ending with his being eaten, a grain of corn, by her as a hen. She became pregnant, and he was reborn in a new form, as Taliesin.

Tales abound about the selkie, a seal that can remove its skin to make contact with humans for only a short amount of time before it must return to the sea. Clan MacColdrum of Uist's foundation myths include of a union between the founder of the clan and a shapeshifting selkie.[6] Another such creature is the Scottish selkie, which needs its sealskin to regain its form. In The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry

Scottish mythology features shapeshifters, which allows the various creatures to trick, deceive, hunt, and kill humans. Water spirits such as the each uisge, which inhabit lochs and waterways in Scotland, were said to appear as a horse or a young man.[3] Other tales include kelpies who emerge from lochs and rivers in the disguise of a horse or woman in order to ensnare and kill weary travelers. Tam Lin, a man captured by the Queen of the Fairies is changed into all manner of beasts before being rescued. He finally turned into a burning coal and was thrown him into a well, whereupon he reappeared in his human form. The motif of capturing a person by holding him through all forms of transformation is a common thread in folktales.[7]

Perhaps the best known Irish myth is that of Aoife who turned her stepchildren, the Children of Lir, into swans to be rid of them. Likewise, in the Tochmarc Étaíne, Fuamnach jealously turns Étaín into a butterfly. The most dramatic example of shapeshifting in Irish myth is that of Tuan mac Cairill, the only survivor of Partholón's settlement of Ireland. In his centuries long life he became successively a stag, a wild boar, a hawk and finally a salmon prior to being eaten and (as in the Wooing of Étaín) reborn as a human.

The Púca is a Celtic faery, and also a deft shapeshifter. He can transform into many different, terrifying forms.

Sadhbh, the wife of the famous hero Fionn mac Cumhaill, was changed into a deer by the druid Fer Doirich when she spurned his amorous interests.

In the Lokasenna, Odin and Loki taunt each other with having taken the form of females and nursing offspring to which they had given birth. A 13th century Edda relates Loki taking the form of a mare to bear Odin's steed Sleipnir which was the fastest horse ever to exist, and also the form of a she-wolf to bear Fenrir.[8]

Svipdagr angered Odin, who turned him into a dragon. Despite his monstrous appearance, his lover, the goddess Freyja, refused to leave his side. When the warrior Hadding found and slew Svipdagr, Freyja cursed him to be tormented by a tempest and shunned like the plague wherever he went. In the Hyndluljóð, Freyja transformed her protégé Óttar into a boar to conceal him. She also possessed a cloak of falcon feathers that allowed her to transform into a falcon, which Loki borrowed on occasion.

The Volsunga saga contains many shapeshifting characters. Siggeir's mother changed into a wolf to help torture his defeated brothers-in-law with slow and ignominious deaths. When one, Sigmund, survived, he and his nephew and son Sinfjötli killed men wearing wolfskins; when they donned the skins themselves, they were cursed to become werewolves.

The dwarf Andvari is described as being able to magically turn into a pike. Alberich, his counterpart in Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, using the Tarnhelm, takes on many forms, including a giant serpent and a toad, in a failed attempt to impress or intimidate Loki and Odin/Wotan.

Fafnir was originally a dwarf, a giant or even a human, depending on the exact myth, but in all variants he transformed into a dragon—a symbol of greed—while guarding his ill-gotten hoard. His brother, Ótr, enjoyed spending time as an otter, which led to his accidental slaying by Loki.

In Scandinavia, there existed, for example, the famous race of she-werewolves known with a name of Maras, women who took on the appearance of the night looking for huge monster half human and half wolf. If a female at midnight stretches the membrane which envelopes the foal when it is brought forth, between four sticks and creeps through it, naked, she will bear children without pain; but all the boys will be shamans, and all the girls Maras.

The Nisse is sometimes said to be a shapeshifter. This trait also is attributed to Huldra.

Gunnhild, Mother of Kings (Gunnhild konungamóðir) (c. 910 – c. 980), a quasi-historical figure who appears in the Icelandic Sagas, according to which she was the wife of Eric Bloodaxe, was credited with magic powers - including the power of shapeshifting and turning at will into a bird. She is the central character of the novel Mother of Kings by Poul Anderson,[9] which considerably elaborates on her shapeshifting abilities.

In Armenian mythology, shapeshifters include the Nhang, a serpent-like river monster than can transform itself into a woman or seal, and will drown humans and then drink their blood; or the beneficial Shahapet, a guardian spirit that can appear either as a man or a snake.[10]

Ancient Indian mythology tells of Nāga, snakes that can sometimes assume human form. Scriptures describe shapeshifting Rakshasa (demons) assuming animal forms to deceive humans. The Ramayana also includes the Vanara, a group of ape-like humanoids who possessed supernatural powers and could change their shapes.[11][12][13]

In the Indian fable The Dog Bride from Folklore of the Santal Parganas by Cecil Henry Bompas, a buffalo herder falls in love with a dog that has the power to turn into a woman when she bathes.

Philippine mythology includes the Aswang, a vampire-like monster capable of transforming into a bat, a large black dog, a black cat, a black boar or some other form in order to stalk humans at night. The folklore also mentions other beings such as the Kapre, the Tikbalang and the Engkanto, which change their appearances to woo beautiful maidens. Also, talismans (called "anting-anting" or "birtud" in the local dialect), can give their owners the ability to shapeshift. In one tale, Chonguita the Monkey Wife,[14]

Tatar folklore includes Yuxa, a hundred-year-old snake that can transform itself into a beautiful young woman, and seeks to marry men in order to have children.

Chinese mythology contains many tales of animal shapeshifters, capable of taking on human form. The most common such shapeshifter is the huli jing, a fox spirit which usually appears as a beautiful young woman; most are dangerous, but some feature as the heroines of love stories. Madame White Snake

In Japanese folklore ōbake are a type of yōkai with the ability to shapeshift. The fox, or kitsune is among the most commonly known, but other such creatures include the bakeneko, the mujina and the tanuki.

Korean mythology also contains a fox with the ability to shapeshift. Unlike its Chinese and Japanese counterparts, the kumiho is always malevolent. Usually its form is of a beautiful young woman; one tale recounts a man, a would-be seducer, revealed as a kumiho.[15] The kumiho has nine tails and as she desires to be a full human, she uses her beauty to seduce men and eat their hearts (or in some cases livers where the belief is that 100 livers would turn her into a real human).

In Somali mythology Qori ismaris ("One who rubs himself with a stick") was a man who could transform himself into a "Hyena-man" by rubbing himself with a magic stick at nightfall and by repeating this process could return to his human state before dawn.

The Ligahoo or loup-garou is the shapeshifter of Trinidad and Tobago's folklore. This unique ability is believed to be handed down in some old creole families, and is usually associated with witch-doctors and practitioners of African magic.[16] [17]

The name of the Nahuel Huapi Lake in Argentina derives from the toponym of its major island in Mapudungun (Mapuche language): "Island of the Jaguar (or Puma)", from nahuel, "puma (or jaguar)", and huapí, "island". There is, however, more to the word "Nahuel" - it can also signify "a man who by sorcery has been transformed into a puma" (or jaguar).

  • In the Finnish tale The Magic Bird, three young sorceresses attempt to murder a man who keeps reviving. His revenge is to turn them into three black mares and have them harnessed to heavy loads until he is satisfied.
  • In The Laidly Worm of Spindleston Heugh, a Northumbrian legend from about the thirteenth century, Princess Margaret of Bamburgh is transformed into a dragon by her stepmother; her motive sprung, like Snow White's stepmother's, from the comparison of their beauty.[18]
  • In Child ballad 35, "Allison Gross", the title witch turns a man into a wyrm for refusing to be her lover. This is a motif found in many legends and folktales.[19]
  • In the German tale The Frog's Bridegroom, recorded by folklorist and ethnographer Gustav Jungbauer, the third of three sons of a farmer, Hansl, is forced to marry a frog, which eventually turns out to be a beautiful woman transformed by a spell.
  • In some variants of the fairy tales, both The Frog Prince or more commonly The Frog Princess and Beast, of Beauty and the Beast
  • In the most famous Lithuanian folk tale Eglė the Queen of Serpents
  • In East of the Sun and West of the Moon, the hero is transformed into a bear by his wicked stepmother, who wishes to force him to marry her daughter.[20]
  • In The Marmot Queen by Italo Calvino, a Spanish queen is turned into a rodent by Morgan le Fay.
  • In The Mare of the Necromancer, a Turin Italian tale by Guido Gozzano, the Princess of Corelandia is turned into a horse by the baron necromancer for refusing to marry him. Only the love and intelligence of Candido save the princess from the spell.
  • The Deer in The Wood, an Neapolitan tale written by Giambattista Basile, describes the transformation of Princess Desiderata into a doe by a jealous fairy.
  • From a Croatian book of tales, Sixty Folk-Tales from Exclusively Slavonic Sources by A. H. Wratislaw, the fable entitled "The she-wolf" tells of a huge she-wolf with a habit of turning into a woman from time to time by taking off her skin. One day a man witnesses the transformation, steals her pelt and marries her.
  • The Merchant's Sons is a Finnish story of two brothers, one of whom tries to win the hand of the tsar's wicked daughter. The girl does not like her suitor and endeavors to have him killed, but he turns her into a beautiful mare which he and his brother ride. In the end he turns her back into a girl and marries her.
  • In Dapplegrim
  • In the animated film Brave, a princess in the Scottish Highlands accidentally curses her own mother and younger brothers, turning them into bears. She is forced to undo the curse before the transformation becomes irreversible.

Themes


Shapeshifting may be used as a plot device, such as when Puss in Boots in the fairy tales tricks the ogre into becoming a mouse to be eaten. Shapeshifting may also include symbolic significance, like the Beast's transformation in Beauty and the Beast indicates Belle's ability to accept him despite his appearance.[21]

When a form is taken on involuntarily, the thematic effect can be one of confinement and restraint; the person is bound to the new form. In extreme cases, such as petrifaction, the character is entirely disabled. On the other hand, voluntary shapeshifting can be a means of escape and liberation. Even when the form is not undertaken to resemble a literal escape, the abilities specific to the form allow the character to act in a manner that was previously impossible.

Examples of this are in fairy tales. A prince who is forced into a bear's shape (as in East of the Sun and West of the Moon) is a prisoner, but a princess who takes on a bear's shape voluntarily to flee a situation (as in The She-Bear) escapes with her new shape.[22] In the Earthsea books, Ursula K. Le Guin depicts an animal form as slowly transforming the wizard's mind, so that the dolphin, bear or other creature forgets it was human, making it impossible to change back. This makes an example for a voluntary shapeshifting becoming an imprisoning metamorphosis.[23] Beyond this, the uses of shapeshifting, transformation, and metamorphosis in fiction are as protean as the forms the characters take on. Some are rare, such as Italo Calvino's "The Canary Prince" is a Rapunzel variant in which shapeshifting is used to gain access to the tower.

In many cases, imposed forms are punitive in nature.

In many fairy tales and ballads, as in Child Ballad #44, The Twa Magicians or Farmer Weathersky

The Grimm Brothers fairy tale Foundling-Bird contains this as the bulk of the plot.[24] In the Italian Campania Fables collection of Pentamerone by Gianbattista Basile, tells of a Neapolitan princess who, to escape from her father who had imprisoned her, becomes in a huge she-bear. The magic happens due to a potion given to her by an old witch. The girl, once gone, can regain her human aspect.

In other variants, the pursued may transform various objects into obstacles, as in the fairy tale "The Master Maid", where the Master Maid transforms a wooden comb into a forest, a lump of salt into a mountain, and a flask of water into a sea. In these tales, the pursued normally escapes after overcoming three obstacles.[25] This obstacle chase is literally found worldwide, in many variants in every region.[26]

In fairy tales of the Aarne–Thompson type 313A, The Girl Helps the Hero Flee, such a chase is an integral part of the tale. It can be either a transformation chase (as in The Grateful Prince, King Kojata, Foundling-Bird, Jean, the Soldier, and Eulalie, the Devil's Daughter, or The Two Kings' Children) or an obstacle chase (as in The Battle of the Birds, The White Dove, or The Master Maid).[27]

In a similar effect, a captive may shapeshift in order to break a hold on him.

One motif is a shape change in order to obtain abilities in the new form.

In many fairy tales, the hero's talking animal helper proves to be a shapeshifted human being, able to help him in its animal form. In one variation, featured in The Three Enchanted Princes and The Death of Koschei the Deathless, the hero's three sisters have been married to animals. These prove to be shapeshifted men, who aid their brother-in-law in a variant of tale types.[30]

In an early Mayan text, the Shapeshifter, or Mestaclocan, has the ability to change his appearance and to manipulate the minds of animals. In one tale, the Mestaclocan finds a dying eagle. Changing into the form of an eagle, he convinces the dying bird that it is, in fact, not dying. As the story goes they both soar into the heavens, and lived together for eternity.

Beauty and the Beast has been interpreted as a young woman's coming-of-age, in which she changes from being repulsed by sexual activity and regarding a husband therefore bestial, to a mature woman who can marry.[31]

Some shapeshifters are able to change form only if they have some item, usually an article of clothing.

The power to externally transform can symbolize an internal savagery; a central theme in many strands of werewolf mythology,[32] and the inversion of the "liberation" theme, as in Dr Jekyll's transformation into Mr. Hyde.

Some transformations are performed to remove the victim from his place, so that the transformer can usurp it.

Many fairy-tale characters have expressed ill-advised wishes to have any child at all, even one that has another form, and had such children born to them.[34] At the end of the fairy tale, normally after marriage, such children metamorphose into human form. Hans My Hedgehog was born when his father wished for a child, even a hedgehog. Even stranger forms are possible: Giambattista Basile included in his Pentamerone the tale of a girl born as a sprig of myrtle, and Italo Calvino, in his Italian Folktales, a girl born as an apple.

Sometimes, the parent who wishes for a child is told how to gain one, but does not obey the directions perfectly, resulting in the transformed birth.

Less commonly, ill-advised wishes can transform a person after birth.

Such wished-for children may become monstrous brides or bridegrooms. These tales have often been interpreted as symbolically representing arranged marriages; the bride's revulsion to marrying a stranger being symbolized by his bestial form.[36]

The heroine must fall in love with the transformed groom.

Sometimes the bridegroom removes his animal skin for the wedding night, whereupon it can be burned.

In some tales, the hero or heroine must obey a prohibition; the bride must spend a period of time not seeing the transformed groom in human shape (as in East of the Sun and West of the Moon), or the bridegroom must not burn the animals' skins. In The Brown Bear of Norway, The Golden Crab, The Enchanted Snake and some variants of The Frog Princess, burning the skin is a catastrophe, putting the transformed bride or bridegroom in danger. In these tales, the prohibition is broken, invariably, resulting in a separation and a search by one spouse for the other.[1]

Ghosts sometimes appear in animal form.

In some fairy tales, the character can reveal himself in every new form, and so a usurper repeatedly kills the victim in every new form, as in Beauty and Pock Face, A String of Pearls Twined with Golden Flowers, and The Boys with the Golden Stars

Similarly, the transformation back may be acts that would be fatal.

Modern


  • In George MacDonald's The Princess and Curdie (1883) Curdie is informed that many human beings, by their acts, are slowly turning into beasts. Curdie is given the power to detect the transformation before it is visible, and is assisted by beasts that had been transformed and are working their way back to humanity.[41]
  • L. Frank Baum concluded The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904) with the revelation that Princess Ozma, sought by the protagonists, had been turned into a boy as a baby, and that Tip (who had been searching for her) is that boy. He agrees to the reverse transformation, but Glinda the Good disapproves of shapeshifting magic, so it is done by the evil witch Mombi.[42]
  • In J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth novels, Sauron, the main antagonist of The Lord of the Rings is a shapeshifter. Initially he can appear in any number of beautiful forms to deceive the gullible; and thus he makes the Rings of Power with the service of the Elves who are deceived by his appearance. In the First Age of the Sun (detailed in the Silmarillion) he could take on numerable forms; during his battle with Huan, the wolfhound, he takes on no less than five forms, including a gigantic werewolf, but succumbs and flees in the form of a vampire. When the island of Númenor is destroyed, Sauron loses his shapeshifting powers and is stuck in his dark hideous form and thus his enemies are no longer deceived. Aside from Sauron, many other Maiar in Middle-earth can shapeshift. The Valar shapeshift depending on their moods.
  • In The Hobbit, the prequel to The Lord of the Rings, the character Beorn is normally a large human, but can shapeshift into a large bear.
  • The science fiction short story "Who Goes There?" written by John W. Campbell (later adapted to film as The Thing from Another World and The Thing) concerns a shapeshifting alien lifeform that can assume the form and memories of any creature it absorbs.[43]
  • A Face Dancer is a type of human in Frank Herbert's science fiction Dune universe. A servant caste of the Bene Tleilax, Face Dancers are shapeshifters, and their name is derived from their ability to change their physical appearance at will. Originally, Face Dancers were Tleilaxu trained to mimic others using acting and makeup, enhanced by plastic surgery. As time went on, the Tleilaxu began to use genetic manipulation to enhance natural ability in phenotypic plasticity, so that Face Dancers could change height, increase and decrease apparent mass, change coloring and texture, and change facial features.
  • T. H. White, in the 1938 book The Sword in the Stone, has Merlin and Madam Mim fight a wizards' duel, in which the duelists would endlessly transform until one was in a form that could destroy the other.[44] He also had Merlin transform Arthur into various animals as an educational experience.[45]
  • In C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, Eustace Scrubb transforms into a dragon,[46] and the war-monger Rabadash into a donkey.[47] Eustace's transformation is not strictly a punishment – the change simply reveals the truth of his selfishness. It is reversed after he repents and his moral nature changes. Rabadash is allowed to reverse his transformation, providing he does so in a public place, so that his former followers will know that he had been a donkey. He is warned that, if he ever leaves his capital city again, he will become a donkey permanently, and this prevents him leading further military campaigns.
  • Also in The Chronicles of Narnia the Dufflepuds are dwarfs who have been transformed into monopods as a punishment. However, it ultimately transpires that they are happier with their new form.
  • Both the Earthmasters and their opponents in Patricia A. McKillip's 1976 The Riddle-Master of Hed trilogy make extensive use of their shapeshifting abilities for the powers of their new forms.[29]
  • Poul Anderson, in Operation Chaos, has the werewolf observe that taking on wolf-form can simplify his thoughts.
  • Mary Stewart's A Walk in Wolf Wood (1980) revolves about revealing that one man is an impostor, taking the form of a man who is living as a wolf in the woods.
  • Mavin Manyshaped and her son Peter in Sheri S. Tepper's True Game
  • Jane Yolen took up the notion of selkie in 1991 Greyling and transformed it into a foundling tale.
  • In the 1995 book The Arkadians by Lloyd Alexander, the poet Fronto is changed into a donkey because he drinks from a magic pool that only the prophets are allowed to drink from.
  • J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series contains both Animagi, who can change to a single animal form, and Metamorphmagi, who can alter their appearance. The series included both a usurpation by the use of a shapeshifting potion, and considerable precautions being taken by wizards and witches to attempt to identify users of this potion as they arose. In the film Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
  • Wayne Gerard Trotman's science fiction novel, Veterans of the Psychic Wars contains Niburians, an ancient race of technologically advanced, psychic shapeshifters. In their natural state, they are described as shimmering humanoids. The Niburians are thought to be the secret mentors and protectors of humanity. However, out of fear and distrust, they have been hunted and killed by other alien races and are all but extinct. A Trinidadian character, Soraya Doyle, repeatedly refers to a Niburian as a Ligahoo.
  • In Wayne Gerard Trotman's novel, Kaya Abaniah and the Father of the Forest, a psychotic Niburian has been impersonating several of Trinidad and Tobago's folkloric characters, including Papa Bois, Mama Dlo, Soucouyant, La Diablesse, and Ligahoo. The psychic shapeshifter from another world also transforms into various people both living and dead.
  • In the 2005 novel I, Coriander by Sally Gardner, Prince Tycho is transformed into a fox after refusing to marry Undwin, Queen Rosmore's daughter.
  • In Cassandra Clare's trilogy The Infernal Devices
  • In C.C. Hunter's Shadow Falls
  • Mindee Arnett's Arkwell Academy trilogy tells of a species known as shape-changers, who can transform into anyone as long as they acquire someone's tissues, such as teeth, hair, but most importantly, their heart, which will give them the target's appearance, abilities, memories.
  • In Stephen King's It
  • Numerous different types of shapeshifters exist in the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter universe, including werewolves and wererats. Anita distinguishes betweenlycanthropes, which include solely persons infected by contact with another lycanthrope's bodily fluids, and shapeshifters, a class that includes both lycanthropes and persons who are able to shapeshift as a result of magic, such as a personal or family curse. (See Shapeshifter (Anita Blake mythology).)
  • James A. Hetley's contemporary fantasy books Dragon's Eye and Dragon's Teeth features a family of modern Selkies living in the present-day town of Stonefort, Maine. Carrying out various secret (and often highly illegal) activities, they highly value the ability to transform themselves into seals.
  • Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson series of contemporary fantasy features a title character who can change from human form coyote and back, as well as werewolves.
  • The TV series Supernatural
  • The final climactic scene in the 1990 Sierra graphical adventure game King's Quest V has King Graham in a shapeshifting battle with the wizard Mordack. The player's final action in the game comes after Mordack becomes fire and surrounds the player, when Graham becomes a rain cloud and extinguishes the fire.[49]
  • In Krull
  • The Twilight Saga also features shapeshifters that can transform into wolves and have inhuman strength, speed, body temperature and aging process.[50]
  • The Ben 10
  • In the sci-fi television series Fringe, human/machine hybrids utilize a device which consist of a control box attached to two sets of wires with three prongs on the ends. The prongs are inserted on the roof of victim's and shapeshifter's mouth and when switched on, the shapeshifter will be able to acquire the shape and form of the victim.
  • In the fantasy adventure film Willow
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Terror of the Zygons", the main antagonists, called the Zygons, can shapeshift into humans and other animals (such as horses). However, they need to keep the copied person or animal alive in order to be able to change back into their natural form.[51]
  • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the T-1000 took on the forms of many humans, including a police officer, John Connor's foster mother to gather information regarding his whereabouts, and later his biological mother to gain his trust.
  • In the X-Men Marvel Comics and films, the character Mystique is a blue female mutant that can transform into any sort of person. She can also change her voice.
  • In Super Hybrid the story was about an alien creature that can shapeshift into any sort of cars.
  • In the Snoop Dogg music video "Who Am I? or What's My Name?" featured Snoop and others turning into dogs to evade angry fathers and run amok while also evading a pair of clumsy dog catchers while in these forms.
  • In Disney's Gravity Falls episode of season 2 "Into the Bunker", Dipper's journal pages lead the gang to the author's hidden bunker, where they find themselves face-to-face with an evil shapeshifting creature whom the author raised from a mysterious egg. It takes the forms of many humans and creatures before being trapped and frozen.
  • The character Gumby can shape shift into anything.
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball' s season 3 episode "The Shell", Gumball convinces his love interest, Penny Fitzgerald, to burst out of her peanut shell, to which she agrees and reveals her true form as a yellow shapeshifting fairy.
  • The Disney animated show Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero
  • In Samurai Jack, the main antagonist Aku is an evil demon whose main power is the ability to shapeshift into nearly any form he desires, such as a scorpion, octopus, dragon, human and several others.
  • In Steven Universe, the Gems - a race of aliens who project feminine humanoid bodies from the gemstones at the core of their being - can temporarily change and shapeshift these forms according to their will. The playful character Amethyst uses this ability the most, often taking the forms of animals or vehicles.
  • Star Trek Deep Space Nine starred Odo, a security officer who was a shape-changing alien. He had no form of his own, being of a liquid people, the Great Link.
  • The film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country has a character Martia, a shapeshifting alien on the prison planet Rura Penthe.
  • The Malayalam film Odiyan is based on the legend of the Odiyan, a clan who lived in the pre-electricity era. They were able to shape-shift into any animal form. Actor Mohanlal plays Odiyan Manikyan, the last of the Odiyan clan, who ravages the land while his brethren are ruthlessly killed.
  • In the DC Comics franchise, the character Beast Boy is a green metahuman who can shape-shift into any animal, whether living, extinct, or mythological, he desires.
  • Inklings and Octolings from Splatoon have the ability to shape-shift between their humanoid and squid or octopus forms.
  • In the anime My Hero Academia, the character All Might has the ability to alternate between two forms: a large, muscular "Hero Form", and an emaciated, sunken "True Form".

See also


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