Cellular identity is established through complex layers of genetic regulation, forged over a developmental lifetime. An expanding molecular toolbox is allowing us to manipulate these gene regulatory networks in specific cell types in vivo. In principle, if we found the right molecular tricks, we could rewrite cell identity and harness the rich repertoire of possible cellular functions and attributes. Recent work suggests that this rewriting of cell identity is not only possible, but that newly induced cells can mitigate disease phenotypes in animal models of major human diseases. So, is the sky the limit, or do we need to keep our feet on the ground? This Spotlight synthesises key concepts emerging from recent efforts to reprogramme cellular identity in vivo. We provide our perspectives on recent controversies in the field of glia-to-neuron reprogramming and identify important gaps in our understanding that present barriers to progress.