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Theory:Shape shifting

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The following fan theories are about Shape shifting.

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Theory Citations Notes
Shape shifting allows to morph into any living being. None + This ability seems to require physical contact with a person shape shifter is going to morph into. A shape shifter can possibly transform into an animal after touching it, since this ability doesn't seem to alter shape shifter's DNA.

- But surely a shape shifter couldn't transform themselves into an ant or elephant — too much matter would have to be lost/created. And what about their consciousness? Will they retain their human intelligence if they shift into animal form?

Shape shifters retain their memories. If they can transform into animals, they still will be able to.
Supercharged shape shifting would result in appearance alteration. None + It is one of few ways it could be extended.

- A shape shifter alters only their own appearance.

The theory is referring to a supercharge of the ability, which could lead to extension of the power.
- Daphne was able to run through time because her speed increased. Matt heard all thoughts in the New York city because his telepathic range increased too. The functions of their abilities were amplified, but they were still the same. If a shape shifter can change only their own appearance, they won't be able to change that of others no matter what.
+ Expanding the shape shifting resulting in ability extension would be a logical effect. Other characters have been able to expand their abilities onto other people and objects. Daphne super sped with Matt and Ando; Peter brought a piece of paper back from the future with him; Hiro teleports himself and others through time and space repeatedly; and they've all kept their clothing and personal effects with them while using their powers.
- However, Meredith and Flint never made anyone immune to fire; Claire never made anyone heal themselves; Peter and Sylar never made anyone absorb abilities etc. Which means there are examples when evolved humans can extend their abilities on others, and there are examples when they cannot. Nothing suggests that shape shifting can be extended.

- Supercharged shape shifting may result in the ability to mimic clothes and other none-body-parts, such as glasses. This is something Sylar cannot do currently and would be the most logical extension of the ability.
As there's only one supercharger, the writers won't have him run around the world and supercharge every ability, especially when the effect is uncertain. We might never discover what happens if shape shifting is supercharged.

Supercharged shape shifting will cause rapid cell regeneration. None + As far as we can tell, when shape shifting, the cells are manipulated and so it happens with cell regeneration, at least wound healing.
- By that logic, this may be possible even without supercharging.
- Claire regrows tissue creating matter as in blood and flesh. Shape shifting is cell shifting, with no creating, but yes, supercharging may not be necesary even though an injury might be needed to invoke the ability plus a lot of control.
- Also, if that were the case then why would it not work the other way around?
- Because Claire can't choose what to regenerate and in what shape; regeneration happens subconsciously and involuntary even if stopping it can be voluntary like Sylar let himself bleed.
Sylar stated that he "squeezed" extra for show, hinting that he didn't halt the healing process, but rather did something so more blood would be lost before he began healing.
Sylar might also have squeezed the muscles which the bullet wrecked to make them spew blood, disguising it as death throes. He could then have played possum and quietly regenerated.
It is possible to shift into any humanoid form. Changing eye color in Into Asylum. Sylar's smile on Sandra's face in Turn and Face the Strange. + Sylar has demonstrated the change of eye color without the complete change of body. He has also demonstrated a 'slow' change from Sandra Bennet. With this logic, he could possibly change any bodily feature he wishes, without having to change into a specific person.
- Sylar was changing back from the female coroner, the shifting was "catching up".
+ The example with the coroner is his first use of the ability, which was slower and painful. As Sylar became more skilled at it, he seemed to have amused himself with a slower transformation back from Sandra Bennet, which means that it is not completely out of the question to assume he may be able to change specific bodily features as he wishes.
A person with shapeshifting can live forever. None + Someone with shape shifting can always shift into a younger person.
- To appear young and to be young are very different. To be is genetic, while to appear is physical.
+ Adam Monroe was 400 years old, but the cells in his body tested as those of a young man.
+ Arguably, since shapechanging involves alteration of the cells, it could have a rejuvenating effect if an old shapechanger shifted into a young body.
Supercharged shape shifting will cause the user to transform into a deformed, mutated being. None. + A lack of control over shape shifting causes unusual characteristics to appear, such as an extra tooth. (I Am Sylar)
- Sylar was demented to begin with, and his shape-shifting powers allowed him to express his inner turmoil. His ability was malfunctioning because he was suffering an identity crisis, not because of any problem with the ability.

Paulette mentioned that overcharging an evolved human can kill them. Perhaps overcharging a shape shifter would make their ability go berserk, turning them into a pile of malformed tissue.

Sylar can shape shift his clothes because they are made of natural materials, such as cotton. None. + If the material still has some fragment of DNA he may be able to replicate it on his body, giving the appearance of clothing.
- Cotton isn't composed of cells, therefore it doesn't have DNA.
Shape shifting has a byproduct of material alteration or material manipulation. None + How else would a shapeshifter alter clothing?
It was stated in BTE interviews that the original plan was for shape shifting not to affect clothing, but people involved in the production of episodes involving it pushed for the changing of clothes.
Peter can absorb others abilities by using shape shifting. Or at least use their ability while in their form. None. + Shape shifting absorb others DNA to replicate them.

- It is unknown if Peter needs only a sample of DNA to replicate an ability, but more likely a whole evolved human.
Theoretically, if Peter replicates an ability from somebody else's body while in it, he'll lose shape shifting and won't be able to become himself again until he replicates it again.

- Sylar was able to move the "sweet spot" in the back of his head, even though there is no evidence that he absorbed someone who also had that genetic trait. That makes it appear that shape-shifters can control all aspects of their genetic makeup, even without a "blueprint". Therefore, if Peter mastered shape-shifting he should be able to add another ability to his genome without losing shape-shifting and ability replication.
- Sylar has mastered shape shifting, but he didn't display anything like that.
+ The only people with abilities that Sylar shape-shifted into were Nathan and Peter. He hasn't been shown to use Peter's ability yet (possibly becuase he was "reprogrammed" shortly after accidentally absorbing Peter's DNA), but he was able to safely re-enter the hotel room from the window after his fight with the Petrelli brothers near the end of An Invisible Thread. Based on this and the fact that instead of stealing Nathan's ability, he simply slit his throat, it's entirely possible that Sylar took Nathan's ability with shape-shifting.
- Sylar only changed things he already had, nothing suggests that he can acquire anything through shape shifting. He knows he's able to acquire abilities without killing, yet he prefers to do so.
The idea has never been confirmed explicitly on the show but it seems logical that if a shape shifter can absorb a person's DNA and make changes to their body, both inside and outside, that they would also be able to use an ability if the absorbed the DNA of a post-human. Given that powers on the show have been said numerous times to be a result of evolution, some part of a post-human's genome must have "instructions" for their power, which a shape-shifter could then add to their own genome. True, Sylar has absolutely no need for this, but if someone else had the power (Peter), they could use it to use the abilities of others as well.
The sweet spot is the spot to be hit if one wishes to kill someone who can heal. He has it because he got Claire's ability.
Yes, but Sylar moved the sweet spot to an unknown location at the end of Season 3, which is why he survived when Danko stabbed him in the back of his head. Nobody else has been shown having the sweet spot elsewhere.
No one else has had rapid cell regeneration and shape shifting at the same time.
The main idea is being misinterpreted. The point is that he was able to reconfigure a small part of his DNA without shifting towards an entire new genome. The fact that no one else has had rapid cell regeneration and shape shifting at the same time has nothing to do this.

- Peter can't use the ability differently then anyone else. If he was able to use a person's abilities while shape-shifted, so would anyone else with the ability.

All evolved humans with shape shifting have mosaic DNA. None + In order to shift into someone, the mutant must first get a sample of the person's DNA. Shape shifting could work like this:
1. The evolved human concentrates and activates their ability.
2. Their body analyzes the DNA sample it took from that person and 'figures out' how the person looks.
3. The person's body then 'tells' each cell to mimic the reference DNA, making them transform to look like that person.
4. Once shifting is complete, the person's cells regain their "original" DNA from somewhere in the brain.
It must not change entirely though, otherwise the shape shifter would be stuck in the form of the person whose appearance he or she took.
A shape shifter's DNA registers as the person they are mimicking as long as they are living. None + This seems very sensible.

- James Martin had shape shifted to look like Sylar immediately before his death. His DNA registered as his own, not Sylar's.

+ Hence the phrase "as long as they are living". Shape shifting seems to require muscular action (the "snap, crackle, pop" sounds of transforming are muscles and bones reshaping). If a shape shifter is dead, then their muscles are rendered inert. Perhaps his DNA shifted back to its original form as he died (or, he may have tried to re-assume his original form before he was murdered), leaving only the altered appearance.
- If muscles and bones reverted to their original form but skin didn't, James Martin's body would have looked deformed.
+ Exactly. They didn't revert to their original shape; they reverted to their original DNA.

+ James Martin impersonated a member of Building 26 for a time. Considering Building 26's massive budget, they may have installed biometric scanners. If James hadn't acquired the agent's DNA, he would never have gotten past the door.

- Biometrics involves things like fingerprints, retinal scans and voice analyzers, not instantaneous DNA tests in five seconds.
+ Jenkins needed eyeglasses. If James' cells kept replicating, the mixture of "normal" cells and "impaired" cells could throw off a retinal scan.
If a shapeshifter has their ability stolen, they will slowly revert to their original shape. James Martin's DNA registered as his own, even when he had taken the form of Sylar. This suggests that shape shifters don't alter their genetic structures, but somehow change their bodily structure with some other method. + Even without their ability, their cells will continue to reproduce as normal, but since their DNA was never altered they will slowly remold into the structure of the body the shape shifter had originally.
Shape shifters maintain plasmids in their cells. None + Many types of bacteria possess plasmids; small sections of DNA which are not contained within the nucleus, and which can attach themselves to the organism's chromosomal DNA under specific circumstances (altering its properties to increase the odds of survival against a specific threat). Deinococcus radiodurans is a bacterium which maintains multiple plasmid copies of its entire genetic code simultaneously. Shape shifters could form plasmid replicas of other peoples' DNA, switching genetic sequences like a jukebox changing records.
If someone with shape shifting has their power stolen by Arthur while they were transformed, they would be trapped in their current form forever. None + If people with shape shifting don't change back when they die, why should they have to turn back if they lose their power.

- When Arthur steals someone's powers, they lose all aspects of it. If a shape shifter loses their power, they will lose the only thing keeping them in that form.

  Theories edit
See Also: 9RedTime travelShape shifting