Examples of the soul switch
February 16, 2012 12:04 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for examples from art, popular culture, mythology, and religion of what might be called the "soul switch": where one person's soul or mind leaves his body and inhabits a new body.

I already have a few examples, but I'd like some more, and I suspect I might not yet have some of the best examples.
Film: All of Me, Freaky Friday, Big, Being John Malkovich (sort of)
TV: Several episodes from the X-Files
Religion: Reincarnation (e.g. the Dalai Lama)
posted by Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson to Society & Culture (63 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Altered Carbon & Old Man's War series. Science based
posted by MangyCarface at 12:05 PM on February 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Switch.
posted by Specklet at 12:06 PM on February 16, 2012


A World Out of Time
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:07 PM on February 16, 2012


Fluke. Weird movie to show a kid.
posted by theodolite at 12:08 PM on February 16, 2012


John Carter of Mars may be the originator of this trope. The various books are in the public domain now, you can download them for free from Amazon's Kindle store.
posted by Oktober at 12:08 PM on February 16, 2012


The OG from which "Freaky Friday" and all the other riffs on that were taken is Vice Versa, an 1882 novel by F. Anstey.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:09 PM on February 16, 2012


Does the same person's body at a different age count? Because then you've got Big and 13 Going on 30 where a child becomes an adult and 17 Again where the adult becomes a child.
posted by Durin's Bane at 12:10 PM on February 16, 2012


Vice Versa at Project Gutenberg.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:10 PM on February 16, 2012


Human to human? If not, the Frog Prince, etc.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 12:11 PM on February 16, 2012


Quantum Leap
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:12 PM on February 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ghost.
posted by cleverevans at 12:12 PM on February 16, 2012


Look into Angel, the Buffy spinoff.
posted by maryr at 12:12 PM on February 16, 2012


Here's the TV Tropes page. Vice Versa is the earliest referent I know of.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:12 PM on February 16, 2012


IMDB Keyword "Soul Transference"
posted by empath at 12:14 PM on February 16, 2012


Up for debate as to whether this happens in The Hundred Secret Senses.
posted by heyheylanagirl at 12:15 PM on February 16, 2012


Metempsychosis
posted by empath at 12:15 PM on February 16, 2012


Janet Asimov's Mind Transfer is about putting human minds into robot bodies, using her husband's robotics ideas.

Poul Anderson's 1957 story "Call Me Joe" is on a similar theme: how a man remotely controlling a mechanical "body" eventually comes to identify with it as if he were inhabiting it. (Avatar is of course a much more recent take on a similar theme.)

I see someone else has already recommended Old Man's War.
posted by kindall at 12:16 PM on February 16, 2012


IMDB Keyword: Body Swap
posted by empath at 12:16 PM on February 16, 2012


Anne Rice's Tale of the Body Thief
posted by empath at 12:18 PM on February 16, 2012


James P. Hogan's novel Paths to Otherwhere has scientists inhabiting their alternate-universe doppelgangers.
posted by kindall at 12:20 PM on February 16, 2012


How did the thread get this far without Heaven Can Wait?
posted by The World Famous at 12:21 PM on February 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


There was a horror film a few years ago which used this but knowing that is kind of a massive spoiler, so mouseover for the title.
posted by permafrost at 12:22 PM on February 16, 2012


Short story "Axolotl" by Julio Cortazar. Only in this case the narrator's mind is swapped with that of an amphibian (an axolotl) at the zoo with which he has become obsessed.
posted by scrambles at 12:24 PM on February 16, 2012


This is a very popular trope in Korean TV dramas -
e.g. 49 Days - the main protagonist's soul jumps to another body while she lies in a coma.
Secret Garden - the male and female leads swap bodies
Who Are You? - the female lead's father dies and his soul takes control of the male lead's body for three hours a day, so as to take care of his daughter
posted by needled at 12:25 PM on February 16, 2012


Dead Again deals with possible reincarnation and souls interacting from one life to the next.
posted by zoetrope at 12:26 PM on February 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Robert Sheckley's Immortality Inc. is a good early sci-fi example of this.
posted by Chairboy at 12:27 PM on February 16, 2012


cold souls
posted by taltalim at 12:29 PM on February 16, 2012


The Buffy episode where she and Faith switch.
posted by PussKillian at 12:30 PM on February 16, 2012


Fallen?
posted by Lucinda at 12:31 PM on February 16, 2012


Xena, Warrior Princess did this, like, every third episode. I'm pretty sure every character was played by every actor on that show.
posted by furiousthought at 12:32 PM on February 16, 2012


Mefisto in Onyx, by Harlin Ellision
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:32 PM on February 16, 2012


Not only Buffy and Angel, but also it's kind of the premise for Dollhouse. Joss Whedon seems to love this trope.
posted by gauche at 12:38 PM on February 16, 2012


There was an SF story called "Bodyguard" based on this idea.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:42 PM on February 16, 2012


Starman
posted by TedW at 12:59 PM on February 16, 2012


Some variation of this has come up any number of times on the various Star Trek series. Turnabout Intruder was the very last episode of the original series, and was a perfect example of this.

A slightly different take on the concept in The Host. Here, it's not a soul but a symbiotic organism that sort of takes over your soul. Then there was this episode (more possession than soul-switching), and the classic Sarek where Picard and Sarek mind-meld; Sarek leans on Picard's even-headedness while Picard has a freakout caused by Sarek's Bendii syndrome. There were probably a couple dozen others variations on this theme.
posted by adamrice at 1:11 PM on February 16, 2012


The movie "Bladerunner" is sort of based on this idea.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:33 PM on February 16, 2012


Two examples that don't quite fit your criteria but are pretty close:

The movie Being john Malkovitch
The Heinlein novel I Will Fear No Evil
posted by Confess, Fletch at 1:34 PM on February 16, 2012


Misfits.
posted by goshling at 1:35 PM on February 16, 2012


Up The Walls of the World by James Tiptree Jr.
posted by solarion at 1:43 PM on February 16, 2012


biting the sun by tanith lee is a sci-fi book that fits. Read years and years ago (might fall under young adult books) and enjoyed it.

There are probably a ton of sci-fi books that fit, actually, depending how loosely you define "soul".
posted by randomnity at 1:43 PM on February 16, 2012


The Buffy eps referred to above are "This Year's Girl" and "Who Are You" from Season 4. Some of the finest acting work Sarah Michelle Gellar has ever done.

There's an Angel episode on the theme called "Carpe Noctem" (an old man serially 'possesses' young men's bodies, finally taking over Angel's. It's from Season 3 of Angel.
posted by yoink at 1:44 PM on February 16, 2012


Oh, and it is, of course, a key part of the plot of Avatar.
posted by yoink at 1:45 PM on February 16, 2012


Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger has some body-swapping in it.
posted by soelo at 1:53 PM on February 16, 2012


Prelude to a Kiss, play and film.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:16 PM on February 16, 2012


Trader by Charles de Lint.
posted by mygothlaundry at 2:30 PM on February 16, 2012


There was a recent episode of the British sci-fi show Misfits where this happened; series 3, episode 5.

This also happens to Rose in "New Earth", the first episode of the second series of the 2005 Doctor Who.

(I had answers that weren't British scifi but they seem to have been covered.)
posted by SoftRain at 2:31 PM on February 16, 2012


Octavia Butler's Wild Seed, and to a much lesser extent, the rest of the Patternist Series.
posted by emyd at 2:45 PM on February 16, 2012


YA novel Stranger With My Face.
posted by 8dot3 at 2:54 PM on February 16, 2012


All of Me
Heaven Can Wait
posted by Obscure Reference at 2:55 PM on February 16, 2012


Oh yeah. Anubis Gates by Tim Powers. The soul-switching seems like a relatively minor aspect of the plot, but it definitely propels the main action.
posted by adamrice at 3:02 PM on February 16, 2012


Previously, related: Bodies? We don't need no stinkin' bodies.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:06 PM on February 16, 2012


"Lord of Light" by Roger Zelazny.
posted by Marky at 4:58 PM on February 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Moonsinger by Andre Norton
posted by gudrun at 5:13 PM on February 16, 2012


Victim of The Brain is more of a thought experiment about these things than a piece of fiction but really worth watching.
posted by pmcp at 6:02 PM on February 16, 2012


Turnabout (1931) by Thorne Smith. Classic comic novel in which a husband and wife swap bodies, get pregnant, etc.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 6:12 PM on February 16, 2012


The Lovely Bones has an incident of this.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:23 PM on February 16, 2012


Freejack
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 2:06 AM on February 17, 2012


The 1986 TV Movie Who is Julia? comes to mind. That movie freaked. me. out. when I saw it as a kid.
posted by Eumachia L F at 5:46 AM on February 17, 2012


Interestingly, Freejack was actually very loosely based on Robert Sheckley's Immortality Inc.
posted by Chairboy at 7:57 AM on February 17, 2012


It happens to Harry Keogh in some of the Necroscope books by Brian Lumley.

It happened briefly as a result of a spell gone wrong in Shrek 3, where Donkey and Puss in Boots switch.

It's sort of hinted at at the very end of the 2nd XMen movie, with the guy laying in the bed.
posted by cass at 9:30 AM on February 17, 2012


Red Dwarf episode "Bodyswap".

There's also a tangentially related thing going on in the HIMYM episode "Blitzgiving".
posted by cardioid at 9:59 AM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Most recently: Change Up
posted by jefftang at 12:43 PM on February 17, 2012


Another Star Trek instance: Star Trek II/III: at the end of II, Spock transferred his "katra" to McCoy; early in III, McCoy was clearly acting possessed by Spock's spirit.

Then they transferred it back to Spock's reborn body.
posted by adamrice at 2:28 PM on February 17, 2012


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