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Shapeshifter was a generic and generalized term applied to a lifeform that altered its form to assume various different appearances. The degree of physical transformation varied between different species. Some humanoid shapeshifters assumed a different humanoid shape at the cellular level, while others could shift from non-humanoid to humanoid as well. Some lifeforms had a non-corporeal energy form and could transform into different physical forms.
Types of shapeshiftersEdit
Sulibans like Sarin and Silik with shapeshifting genetic enhancements had the ability to assume different humanoid appearances. (ENT: "Broken Bow", "Cold Front", "Storm Front, Part II") Humans who were taught how to use cellular metamorphosis had the ability to reshape their body and clothing at the cellular level. Garth of Izar was taught this ability by Antos natives who also possessed it. (TOS: "Whom Gods Destroy")
The Traveler, the Devidians, and the quantum singularity lifeforms had the ability to assume various humanoid appearances. (TNG: "Journey's End", "Time's Arrow, Part II", "Timescape") Satarrans also had the ability to appear as other humanoids. (TNG: "Conundrum")
Chameloids had the ability to change gender and appearance into humanoid forms of various sizes. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country) Dee'Ahn's species used shapeshifting to appear as different species and other genders. (ENT: "Two Days and Two Nights") The DNA thief lifeform also had this ability, but it needed to swap DNA and appearances with the other humanoid it was shifting into. (VOY: "Vis à Vis")
The Wraith and the Vendorians were both non-humanoid lifeforms that could assume various appearances. While the Wraith used telepathy to search for shapes they turned into from the minds of others, Vendorians obtained this information through touch. They absorbed the memories and personality traits of the individual whose shape they were using. (ENT: "Rogue Planet"; TAS: "The Survivor")
Kelvans in their natural form had hundreds of tentacle-like limbs. Species 8472 were a non-humanoid tripedal species. Both were biologically capable of assuming various humanoid shapes. (TOS: "By Any Other Name"; VOY: "In the Flesh") Isis had the ability to appear as a cat or a Human female. (TOS: "Assignment: Earth") The ophidian used by the Devidians could appear as an inanimate object of the same size. (TNG: "Time's Arrow, Part II")
The Changelings, the majority of whom were the Founders of the Dominion, were liquid lifeforms in their natural state. They formed telepathic connections with morphogenic enzymes and changed cellular structures using their morphogenic matrix to appear as various solid lifeforms or even as fire, fog, inanimate objects, flowers, trees, or various small animals. (DS9: "The Search, Part II", "Things Past", "Chimera", "When It Rains...")
The Silver Blood were a liquid deuterium lifeform in their natural state and had the ability to change into anything they came into physical contact with, be it biological or technological. (VOY: "Demon") Coalescent organisms had the ability to mimic lifeforms in a similar way. Both mimicked the DNA and memory engrams of those they shifted into. (TNG: "Aquiel") The Nacene were sporocystian lifeforms of energetic gelatinous liquid in their natural form, and had the ability to shift into various solid humanoid forms. (VOY: "Caretaker") Armus had a limited ability to shift between a liquid and a solid form. It could also absorb solid lifeforms into its liquid body. (TNG: "Skin of Evil")
The spaceborne entities and Gomtuu were both conscious and living starships that could change themselves to serve the needs of their crew. While the spaceborne entities changed their shape by transforming from energy to matter, Gomtuu only had an amorphous interior, capable of for example extending furniture and equipment from its walls and floors. (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint", "Tin Man")
Non-corporeal to physical shapeshiftersEdit
Some non-physical lifeforms such as Redjac and the Organians had the ability to shift between a non-corporeal energy form and a physical form. (TOS: "Wolf in the Fold", "Errand of Mercy") Some had the ability to choose from various forms in which they wished to manifest. The Q, (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint") the aliens who appeared as Rumpelstiltskin and Buck Bokai, (DS9: "If Wishes Were Horses"), the Koinonian energy lifeforms, (TNG: "The Bonding") the Douwd, (TNG: "The Survivors"), and the FGC 47 lifeform (TNG: "Imaginary Friend") were among these. They also had the ability to read the minds of others at some level.
The creature who called itself God, (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier) and the anaphasic lifeform were less capable of telepathy but could manifest in physical forms to fool other lifeforms. (TNG: "Sub Rosa") Allasomorphs were creatures of light in their natural form, but could appear as several humanoid and animal forms. (TNG: "The Dauphin") One non-corporeal lifeform used humanoids to experience various physical forms by making a corporeal subject pregnant and rapidly living through the childhood of the species. Upon death it returned to its non-corporeal state. One such creature made Deanna Troi pregnant and lived a brief physical life as her son Ian Troi in 2365. (TNG: "The Child")
Shapeshifting technology and telepathyEdit
Some lifeforms project their various appearances as telepathic manipulation of the senses of other lifeforms that are perceiving them and never physically change. Talosians and the M-113 creatures used telepathy to read the minds of others and to project the illusion of their appearance as different humanoid forms. (TOS: "The Cage", "The Man Trap") Rigelian hypnoids were simpler non-humanoid lifeforms that also possessed the ability to project the illusion of appearing as other lifeforms. (TAS: "Mudd's Passion")
The unknown aliens who abducted Captain Jean-Luc Picard in 2366 had the ability to replicate and assume different humanoid appearances using advanced transporter technology. (TNG: "Allegiance") The Ornithoid lifeforms used devices known as a transmuters to assume larger humanoid and animal shapes. (TOS: "Catspaw")
The Iyaarans used a small device, worn as a necklace, to assume the appearance of other humanoids and other genders. (TNG: "Liaisons") 24th century holography could be used to project different clothing, gender, voice and species appearances for humanoids. The impostor posing as Ardra used several pre-programmed shapes in 2367. (TNG: "Devil's Due")