Shape shifting

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Shape shifting
Danko to Sylar(2).JPG
Sylar shifts back from Danko's appearance.
Originally held by: James Martin (deceased),
Josh Davis
Absorbed by: Sylar,
Peter Petrelli (lost)
Ability to: Shift one's physical characteristics
Examples of shape shifting

Shape shifting is the ability to alter one's own appearance.





This ability allows the shape shifter to alter his or her body to match that of another person, even changing gender if desired. Drastic size changes are possible using this ability; it is not yet clear whether this involves a mass change or just density. The act of shape shifting is painful and requires at least a few seconds to complete. A form taken using this ability is not an illusion, and the user does not revert to his or her original shape if killed or knocked unconscious. This power also does not seem to alter the user's base DNA; blood and brain matter taken from James Martin continued to show Martin's DNA patterns when tested, despite Martin having taken on Sylar's form.

A shape shifter needs a tissue sample from the person he wants to impersonate. This is usually accomplished by touch, although other methods are possible. Shape shifting changes the user's voice to match the person he or she impersonates. A shape shifter can alter his clothing to suit his new form (I Am Sylar); this is presumably a type of ability extension.

A shape shifter is unable to acquire a tissue sample from another person who is shape-shifted (An Invisible Thread).

James Martin

Martin was the first character to demonstrate this ability (Into Asylum). He used it to impersonate one of Danko's agents after he ambushed the team sent to capture him. While impersonating the agent, he was able to infiltrate the Homeland Security headquarters to get more information about the people hunting him. When his cover was blown, he changed his form to that of a man he encountered in the parking garage while fleeing; completing this transformation took nearly a minute. The change apparently altered his height and weight as well as his facial appearance, including removing much of his hair and adding a beard. Martin later impersonated Danko and then Sylar at a nightclub. While impersonating Sylar, he was killed; his body continued to look like Sylar.


Sylar acquired this ability from Martin, first using it to impersonate a female agent collecting evidence at the scene of Martin's death (Into Asylum). Sylar is able to transform more quickly than Martin, completing the change from the female agent's form to his natural form in just a few seconds (although the transformation is still noticeably painful). Within days of acquiring this power (Turn and Face the Strange), Sylar demonstrates the ability to rapidly change form in only a second, with no visible discomfort. Over the course of the episode he assumes the forms of Emile Danko, Sandra Bennet, and a Black Ops agent. Sylar was able to both regenerate and use telekinesis while in another form. Sylar can impersonate someone from "remote" contact; he impersonated Nathan Petrelli after touching trace DNA found on Nathan's toothbrush (I Am Sylar). Sylar also shows that he can change his clothes as he shape-shifts.

If attempting to mimic another person who is shape-shifted, Sylar experiences feedback of an unknown nature on contact and is unable to acquire a DNA sample (An Invisible Thread).

Sylar can use this ability to alter his internal anatomy; he used it to move the "sweet spot" in his brain, reducing his chances of dying from brain penetration. (An Invisible Thread). He also accidentally gave himself an extra tooth.

At one point, Sylar had two consciousnesses in his brain. He would shape shift into the form of the person who was "in control" at the time. When Sylar regained control of his body, he returned to his own form, but when Nathan's mind started fighting him as he tried to kill Angela, he ended up shape shifting back into Nathan. (Thanksgiving)

Sylar later uses this to pose as Nurse Hammer to throw Peter off guard. He isn't blocked by Peter's new ability, but Peter may not have been blocking him in order to catch him by surprise later, which he successfully does. (The Fifth Stage)

Peter Petrelli

After Peter acquired this ability, he used it to change into the President in order to capture Sylar. When Sylar grabbed his hand, he wasn't able to get a DNA sample. This caused Sylar to constantly change appearances until Peter injected him with a tranquilizer. Like Sylar, Peter has also shown that he can transform in a few seconds and his clothes change as well. However, unlike Sylar's first transformations, it seemed to be painless for Peter. (An Invisible Thread)

Josh Davis

Josh pretends to be his brother's twin. He also shifts into a unknown person to pick up girls, changing only some parts of his body. It is unknown if his clothes change with him.

Selected Examples

See Also

Fan Theories

Please refer to Theory:Shape shifting for fan-created theories and other speculation.

Evolved Human Abilities edit

Ability absorptionAbility replicationActivation and deactivationAdoptive muscle memoryAlchemyAlejandro's abilityBody insertionClairsentienceClairvoyanceCloakingCloningDisintegrationDream manipulationElectric manipulationElectronic communicationEmpathic mimicryEmpathyEnhanced hearingEnhanced memoryEnhanced strengthEnhanced synesthesiaFire breathingFlightFreezingGravitational manipulationHealingHealing touchHeat generationIllusionImpenetrable skinInduced radioactivityIntuitive aptitudeInvisibilityLie detectionMagnetismMeltingMemory manipulationMental manipulationMetal mimicryMicrowave emissionMohinder's abilityPersuasionPhasingPlant growthPoison emissionPrecognitionPrecognitive dreamingPuppet masterPyrokinesisRapid cell regenerationSedationSeismic burstShape shiftingShatteringSound manipulationSpace-time manipulationSpontaneous combustionSuper speedSuperchargingTechnopathyTelekinesisTelepathyTerrakinesisUnderwater breathingWeather control

Evolutions Abilities

Accelerated probabilityAcidic bloodAge transferalAnimal controlBelief inductionCarbon isolation and formationConstrictionDanger sensingDavid's abilityDimension hoppingDimensional storageEmpathic manipulationEnhanced teleportingExtraskeletal manipulationHealth optimizingInflammationLight absorptionNerve manipulationNon-biological duplicationPhoenix mimicryPrimal rageShiftingSize alterationTeleportationTemporal rewindWater generationWater mimicry

Graphic Novel Abilities

Ability augmentationAcid secretionAge shiftingAppearance alterationAura absorptionBliss and horrorBone spike protrusionChlorine gas exudationCrumplingDehydrationDisintegration touchElasticityElectrical absorptionEnergy absorption, transference, and redirectionForcefieldsFuture terrorist's abilityGold mimicryGranulationGreen energy blastImprintingLaser emissionLevitationLuminescenceLung adaptationMass manipulationMediumshipNerve gas emissionNeurocognitive deficitOil secretionOmnilingualismPlant manipulationSound absorptionSpider mimicryTelescopic visionWall crawling

See Also: Ability developmentAbility extensionAbility heredityAbility immunityAbility lossAbility theftBrain examinationBrain penetrationExamples of simultaneous ability useEye alterationList of abilitiesList of abilities with multiple usersParadoxProphecyRiftExamples of shape shifting