In Megamorphs 2: In the Time of Dinosaurs Tobias is injured while in his "own" hawk-form. He tries to heal himself by morphing and demorphing, but it doesn't work, his injuries remain.

Normally, your own body is healed from morphing and demorphing. (For example, Marco healed himself of rabies in this way in #42. It's also mentioned in #40 and several other books.)

  1. Why didn't this work for Tobias?
  2. Does it have anything to do with the fact that he's a morph-capable nothlit?
  3. Was it only in that particular instance? Or has Tobias healed his hawk body by morphing and demorphing on other occasions?
  4. Are there other examples of recent injuries (not genetic illnesses) being maintained by anyone even after a morph?

Let's exclude the disabilities of the handicapped auxiliary Animorphs, as they were life-long disabilities and (I think mostly) genetic. I'm talking about recent injuries, as inflicted in battle, etc.

4 Answers 4


Time travel shenanigans and KASUs

The little thing where in book #1 Jake can thought-speak when he's not in morph? Well, I could give you some long, convoluted and totally bogus answer, or I could confess the awful truth: I messed up. It happens. There's another huge error I just noticed recently. When you get to MEGAMORPHS 2 you may spot it.
Scholastic.com - 'An Online Event with K.A. Applegate' - December 1997

In MM2, why did Tobias' wing not heal? Was it the time travel, or the Ellimist, or what?

Well, Shane, you want the truth? You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!

Or maybe you can. The great Tobias' wing debacle is an example of the Animorphs backstory getting so complicated that I can't keep it straight. I literally forgot that I had decided in earlier books that one's original form could be repaired by morphing. I wrote this whole big long series of scenes, and only then realized I'd messed up. So I fudged. I invented an unspecified problem involving time travel. It never fails: every time I do time travel I manage to screw something up.
Scholastic.com - 'According to K.A.' - August 1998

In Megamorphs #1, The Andalite's Gift, it says that when Rachel demorphed from the bear, "the scratches and scrapes I'd gotten from walking barefoot through the woods were gone. I was renewed." but in Megamorphs #2 In the Time of the Dinosaurs, when Tobias broke his wing and he morphed into something and back, it wasn't healed. Can you explain this to me?

Well, as I mentioned in an earlier answer, this is what's known as "K.A. Applegate screws up." Of course, the alternate explanation is that time travel, especially when it involved millions of years, has unpredictable side effects that may alter the rules of morphing.
Scholastic.com - 'According to K.A.' - August 1998

In The Change Tobias broke his wing, morphed, un morphed, then his wing was fine. But in Time of the Dinosaurs, Tobias broke his wing, morphed, un morphed, and screamed bloody murder 'cause his wing was still broken.

That's what's known as KASU: Katherine Applegate Screws Up.
Scholastic.com - 'According to K.A.' - November 1998

  • Incidentally, the thought-speak mistake in The Invasion is fixed in the newer edition. Although the cover is also changed and there’s no morph when you flip the pages, so...there are no words derisive enough. ;)
    – Wildcard
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 16:29
  • @Wildcard - The reprints fixed a lot of KASUs and removed a lot of the dated references. Hirac Delest has a full list of changes.
    – ibid
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 16:32
  • could you post a link please?
    – Wildcard
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 16:38
  • 1
    @Wildcard - hiracdelest.com/missions/books/relaunch/01.htm
    – ibid
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 16:42
  • 1
    @Wildcard - See also this letter from the editor who made the changes.
    – ibid
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 16:44

This is one of the most glaring inconsistencies of the entire franchise. For the first half of the series, there is no indication that your original body is modified at all during the morphing process. Rachel notes that she had an unfortunate haircut that the morphing tech would not restore, and you've already noted the practically one-off instance of Tobias not healing his wounds by morphing. After a certain point, however, morphing becomes the answer to any kind of injury, even of the original body, most famously for the crippled Reserve Animorphs.

There are two potential explanations for this:

  1. The morphing tech always healed the original body, and Tobias' inability to heal can be explained in-universe as an effect of the Sario Rip and out-of-universe as pure laziness on Ms. Applegate's part ("Tobias can't fly and solve half their plot problems because Sario Rip! Just this once!")

  2. The morphing tech heal effect was itself simply retconned, possibly as a direct result of wanting to recruit the handicapped and heal Loren, which wouldn't have had the same effect on the story if they all remained wheelchair-bound.

The Sario-Rip-as-handwavey-Speed-Force was an unfortunate pattern used several times for one-off limitations for the sake of a single book's plot, so I suspect option 1 is the more likely.

To answer your sub-questions:

  1. Explanation offered above.
  2. I doubt being a nothlit was part of it; it was the Ellimist who performed the change, after all, and I can't imagine he'd make a mistake of that scale. Unless that was intentional, to drive the Animorphs to cause the Cretaceous extinction event, with the smallest adjustment possible...
  3. Tobias healed the (physical) effects of his torture during the AMR arc (I forget which book). No doubt there are various other occasions as well.
  4. As far as I can recall, Megamorphs 2 contains the only host-body injury that went unhealed. Wait, wasn't Rachel given acid burns when she morphed in the belly of the beast? If that wasn't referenced again, then the book wasn't even consistent with itself.

(Of course, that last point is another piece of evidence to the theory that the whole thing was Ellimist shenanigans. Hmm.)

  • 5
    "Sario Rip, Z-Space, Elimist did it"--Applegate
    – CBredlow
    Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 17:58
  • @CBredlow Expert handwaving. It would have been so cool if the whole gang got to keep their T-Rex morphs, though. Could have pwned some Yeerks back home.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 23:21
  • 2
    And it's not like it would break the story. The yeerks have guns. Turning into a bigger target is not always wise.
    – Ketura
    Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 0:22
  • @Ketura Funny, there is a new question that is pretty much exactly about that on Worldbuilding SE: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/96222/…
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Oct 28, 2017 at 21:47
  • "For the first half of the series, there is no indication that your original body is modified at all during the morphing process." - Tobias healed his hawk body in the same book the Ellimist gave him back the power to morph.
    – Izkata
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 14:14

I realize this is a very old question, but I remember this question from Q's and A's with K. A. Applegate herself on the old offical Scholastic website. Applegate admitted that she completely messed up the internal logistics on that one--Tobias stayed injured for narrative purposes only. Back in the day, she called this a KASU: a Katherine Applegate Screw Up.

  • Thank you. I wish I had the patience to trawl through the old Scholastic website using the Wayback Machine to find the exact quote to support your answer also.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Oct 28, 2017 at 22:25
  • Another user found the source.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 11:55

It's not an error since the only reason Rachel tells Tobias to morph is BECAUSE morphing fixes injuries, in MM2. Megamorphs 2 is the only time when MORPHING does NOT fix an injury, and even Rachel and Tobias are stumped as to why. It's an isolated incident.

The truth? The author needed a way to keep the Animorphs separated. If Tobias' wing wasn't broken, he could fly and find the Animorphs. When Tobias tells Rachel to morph eagle and do that very thing, she refuses to leave him undefended. Notice that when the Animorphs DO reunite, the Mercora aliens manage to speed-heal Tobias' wing, because that plot thread was no longer necessary.

tl;dr: In short, morphing has always fixed injuries except for ONE isolated incident chalked-up to some time-travel side effect that stumped even the Animorphs

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.