The Body Swapping Trope in Television

Many long-running television series have at least one episode where two or more characters switch bodies with one another (generally for comedic purpose). Given that it has debatably become exhausted and overdone by this point, why does this trope continue to be so popular? What fascinates us about the concept of swapping bodies? Is it another form of escapism, or simply a plot device with easy jokes to be made?

Are there series that put a spin on this trope or use it in interesting ways? If so, do they change the formula, or do they apply it in a new way?

  • I've seen some variation of it, like in Charmed which utilized it a few times. Instead of two characters swapping bodies, they swapped powers, and given it was was a married couple, could be utilized beyond the plot device as more along the lines of couples counseling. There is the old saying, "In order to truly know someone, walk a mile in their shoes." This trope is a more literal interpretation of that, meant to be a point of understanding and enlightenment for the characters involved. Our skills in empathy can become stunted past a certain point in our lives, and such an experience makes a point of enabling us to appreciate life as we know it, and to learn that what is different can be better or worse than what we think. Yes, it is a trope that is used for comedy, but is one that allows us to expand our horizons of connection, bridging the gaps that separates individuals, to better complement each other, because in being able to facilitate empathy and understanding, we cut away prejudice and hatred. – artemis822 8 years ago
  • I totally agree with artemis, and to add, body-swapping often gives TV shows a way to explore another character without moving away from the protagonist audiences are used to. – chrischan 8 years ago
  • I always thought that it had to so with the display of actor's range of adaptation and capabilities. A sort of metafictional device to pick the interests of audiences, but nothing more. – T. Palomino 2 years ago

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