Should Warhammer 40000
truly be left off this page? Yes, we know it doesn't really belong here, but if I had to guess, I'd say that at least a third of all links to this trope are from association with 40k.
This trope seems to be the exact same thing as World Half Empty
I'm unsure about the Something Positive
inclusion, especially when a long-term plotline involved redeeming one of the most obnoxious secondary characters....on the other hand, it really does often have a Daria
-esque "smart, sarcastic people mocking the foolish world" vibe.
: Word. Most of the other ones sacrifice story integrity and point to make things suck more.
does sometimes rise above the category, but I'd still say it fits.
- Discworld's parody plays with this, and upon first glance seems to a Crapsack World of fantasy, but for the most part constantly suggests there are certain inherent properties in a world, and Discworld's surrealness just happens to magnify them in our eyes.
...Because I still have no freaking idea what the editor was trying to say. Anyway, I don't think Discworld is much of a Crapsack World
: Yeah, the distinguishing characteristic of Discworld is that it's a world
: The first part of the sentence makes sense in the context of The Colour of Magic
, the first half of which was definitely a Crapsack World
story. It doesn't apply to the rest of the series, though, even if the character Rincewind himself seems to think so. The rest of the sentence is gibberish to me; I think what he's saying is that the apparent crappiness in Co M
is only because of Narrative Causality
mucking about with the readers' expectations, but it doesn't seem to fit to me.
: Is 'Dead Flag Blues' by Godspeed You! Black Emperor appropriate for this? "The car's on fire, and there's no driver at the wheel, and the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides." It gets worse :D
Prfnoff: Removed the "arguable" Megatokyo
example, because the "villains or victims" bit makes it look more like an example of a Sick Sad World
; I've long thought that Sick Sad World
needed more fleshing out, as some of the Crapsack World
examples might fit better there.
Man Called True
: I have all five of the main game books for the New World of Darkness
. Can someone tell me what penalties you're assessed for a "well-adjusted character with high self-esteem"? I don't recall any of those.
Nezumi: They don't exist. He's a Wo D
-hating troll who's just making stuff up based on his perception of it. There aren't
many well-adjusted characters... but that's because the sort of horror world the games use isn't conducive to it. The people who are happy and well-adjusted stay that way, ignorant of the dark horrors of the world. Or get killed by said dark horrors before they even realize what's happening.
- Really, the majority of games set in the World of Darkness are engineered to give players excuses to play really angsty P Cs. If you're a vampire, changeling, mage, or promethean who's not depressed and whiny, you're probably doing it wrong. There are actually some pretty harsh penalties in the game rules for being a cheerful character with high self-esteem.
For archival purposes.
Man Called True
: Thought so... In his defense, the World of Darkness is bleak enough that I would not have been surprised, and genuinely thought I'd missed something.
Nezumi: Neither I, nor anyone else I checked with, has any idea what he was talking about. The closest I can even guess is that he was putting a rather warped spin on what Flaws mean. By which standard... GURPS, variant versions of D&D, and too many other games to count give you penalties for happy, well-adjusted characters.
Man Called True
: While we're on the subject:
- In fact, to judge from the backstory given for ex.human changelings and its implications, no matter what kind of character you play, the sole and only role (personality-wise) for player characters seems to be Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder victim.
This is bull. Flip through the sample characters in Changeling
. Aside from the designated loonies and villains, most of them have long since managed to come to terms with what happened. By your logic all
World of Darkness races should be played like that. I think it's the same troll as last time.
- In this troper's opinion, the magical subculture of Harry Potter qualifies. It takes a genius I suppose to create a society so horrible that this reader, instead of thinking "I wish I had magic powers," rather thinks "I'm glad magic isn't real." Would you want the ability to do spiffy spells if it meant you had to live in a world run by the corrupt, incompetent, and irredeemably stupid Ministry of Magic? Makes me thankful for California government, and that's quite a feat.
Nezumi: Cutting. A bad government alone does not a Crapsack World make, not to mention that it's unusual to view this setting as a Crapsack World to the point that I've never heard anyone else suggest it. Some "tropes" are actually subjective and personal. This isn't one of them, near as I can tell.
Prfnoff: Removed the Real Life
examples. They aren't wanted here.
Large Blunt Object
: The whole pogrom against page quotes irritates me, but putting quotes in a box is just awful. If the aim is to make pages look better, flow better or, well, be better in any way
, just delete the quote entirely.
:*Bored of the Rings and, to make a bold assumption, Barry Trotter and Doon.
- Barry Trotter starts out as a straight Crapsack, but isn't exactly one by the end of the book. (I only read the first one.)
- Star Wreck: In The Pirkinning.
Er. What are these, exactly? Are they bad nicknames for the books, which aren't Crapsack Worlds at all ('cept Dune, maybe)...parodies...or what? *confused*
Ericho: They're parodies.
Unless I missed something, which I might have, the comic book superhero team 'The Authority' did not kill an U.S. Presidents. I've read comics where they went and scared a President or two (and once, teleported him to Iraq). But no actual deaths. And as long as we are on the topic, someone more familar should summarize 'Fell City'. It's a good story but I'm slipping on the details. One of the silver linings is the confirmed 'four and a half good guys'. A half, because one of the smart, clever, capable, moral detectives...has no legs.
I feel like this trope should be called "Sick, Sad World." It fits, it's actually from something, it came to mind as soon as I read the trope name, before I even looked at the page - and I haven't even seen Daria in probably 10 years. Crapsack is descriptive but boring.
Taelor: It seems to me like many of the entries here are neither satiric nor parodic, and as such are more suited for World Half Empty
: The reason for the existence of World Half Empty
as a separate page / trope is unclear to me.
Taelor: As I understand it, a Crapsack World
is a dystopian hellhole played for laughs
, while a World Half Empty
is the same trope, played completely seriously. So, The Venture Bros.
or South Park
would be Crapsack Worlds
, while A Songof Ice And Fire
or Warhammer40000 would be Worlds Half Empty.
See this page
for further clarification.
: It seems to me that we're dealing with several classes of "world" that need to be distinguished. (The world may actually be a city, state, etc; any setting which is the focus of the story.) There's the Crapsack Parody World, where the crappiness is not to be taken too seriously. There's the World Half Empty
, where things are not so uniformly awful, but are not good, either. There's the Crapsack World, where things are pretty awful all over. And then there's the Living Hell, which IMHO deserves its own page; a world so uniformly grim that clinging to life and hope must be regarded as a form of severe insanity.
: I am not sure what would be a good way to split them, but I agree that this article ought to be split into some subtropes, if only because it is so massively long.
Chuckg: Took out the Humanx Commonwealth entry, in that while Flinx's life epically sucks, the average citizen's doesn't. Even his Wretched Hive
of a home city hasn't ground down its inhabitants with despair, but instead revels in being the Mos Eisley of its home setting. Also, the Commonwealth government is not evil, Church-dominated or no, and even has the rare flash of competence and benevolence. So, not a Crapsack.
: So many examples on this page don't fit the trope, that I don't even know where to begin. What the hell settings of heavily idealistic series, such as Bleach
or, of all possible examples, One Piece
do here? Danger, powerful villains, low (compared to ours) standards of living and tragedy =/= Crapsack World
, according to the trope's definition. Awful people and overal atmosphere of cynicism, not awful circumstances qualify the world for Crapsack. I'm reluctant to start removing examples left and right, because I'm relatively new to this wiki, so I want to know if other people feel like I do.
: Deleted Bleach because it mistakenly put the far reaches of Soul Society (which are lawless) and made it looks like all the other sections where like that. The part closest to the Shinigami are actually quite nice, and its never stated which sections are lawless except for two right next to each other. Also One Piece
over exxagerates everything, and the whole series is quite idealistic.
: Deleted Harry Potter, Marvel Universe, and Exalted as some of the more egregious samples. These worlds all feature redeeming qualities and the chance of making the world a better place, and major forces for good that thwart evil. They're not anywhere near the same league as Warhammer 40K and The Cthulhu Mythos.
Marko: This entry really needs to be trimmed, it is filled with bad examples of nice worlds that have few bleak aspects.
While the trope is actually about bleak worlds with not even a few nice aspects.
Utterly nihilistic worlds with no hope to be found anywhere.
Removed from the Venture Brothers example:
- Even his (Dr. Orpheus's) daughter seems to a be a selfish and insufferable teenager.
Because seriously? Triana, one of the most sympathetic characters in the show, a selfish and insufferable teenager? Have we been watching the same show here?
Anonymous Mc Cartneyfan
: I've rewritten the description (perhaps for the first time in some time.) I hope it helps. I included a couple of indicators that usually apply more to Crapsack Worlds
than Worlds Half Empty - specifically, Negative Continuity
and a relatively low death count.
: I am really
getting sick of having to delete entries for Warhammer
, Warhammer 40K
and the World of Darkness
from this list. All of them are truly shitty places to live, don't get me wrong. But these three settings are NOT Played for Laughs
, which is what distinguishes Crapsack World
from World Half Empty
: Sorry. I've stuck a percent-comment-percent in that should take care of the problem for now.
: Removed this:
* Springfield from The Simpsons
gradually degenerates into this. All the Flanderization
and self-derogatory jokes make it a place where no sane human being would choose
to live. It was probably inevitable. The Springfieldians also sue or threaten to sue each other so much you'd think those people would just stop leaving their houses.
Springfield isn't that bad a place. Yes, there are unpleasant aspects, but overall it's pretty average.
: Dicussion concerning a merge with World Half Empty
and Sick Sad World
[[Later]]: Merged, for being impossible to keep distinct.
: Not exactly merged yet. As the one who made the decision, it is now up to YOU to look through for examples and details from World Half Empty
not found in Crapsack World
and copy them over. As of now, it has simply been redirected.
: great a "Merger" that deletes an entire page and then just redirects. If your going to ask for a merge at least try.
Here I just grabbed the entire page for the actual merger
If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever.
A World Half Empty
is a world which can basically be summed up as "pessimism has taken over," or "the world can't be redeemed." Unlike a Crapsack World
, which often is played for laughs, a World Half Empty
is usually quite serious.
This world is firmly on the cynical end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism
and is filled with both physical and moral decay
. Perhaps it's because Status Quo Is God
, maybe the writer wants to portray a Darker and Edgier
setting for his protagonists to struggle against but never beat, or maybe the GM and his gaming troupe want to try something that's a change of pace. Whatever the case, the fact remains, there is little the hero can do to improve things
. It's almost as if the world itself silently "rounds down," making the worst possible result for a situation likelier.
All victories will be Pyrrhic
, requiring great sacrifice to achieve. The Bad Guys usually win
, and the Karma Meter
is brutal on player characters, often turning them bad.
See also Dark World
, Sick Sad World
, Crapsack World
, Crapsaccharine World
and Inherent in the System
. The World Half Empty
, if revisited, may become a Scavenger World After the End
. An Inversion for this is A World Half Full
For twisted worlds that are used in comedy settings or parody, try Crapsack World
Anime and Manga
- Go Nagai's Devilman, at least the manga version. Half the time, Akira's efforts amount to nothing, if he even gets the chance to fight the Monster of the Week. Humanity's reaching the end of its rope, demons can possess people with little to no effort, and humanity believes signs of said possessions can be seen in people that don't follow the lock-step. Hence, by the final volume in the series, Witch Hunts are carried out... except half the time the actual possessed people take part to hide their true nature. And the end result? Our hero loses faith in humans and kills a lot of people.
- For the most part life in the GUNNM / Battle Angel Alita universe sucks hard. The few good places happen to use things like mind control in order to maintain this goodness. We don't know very much about Jupiter and Venus other than that Venus eats babies (genetically engineered to be non-sapient) and in both planets the people have biological immortality, as a result of this they do not allow the birth of new people. The places that don't have this limit are in a civil war (Mars), or happen to be hellholes that don't legally exist which results in assorted miscreants doing whatever the hell they want in said places including wipe them out, which occurred on Earth and some asteroid colonies (like the nursery colony the Guntroll team was from).
- Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou does the literal-and-then-some version, but without the moral decay.
- The biggest World Half Empty in all of anime is the world of Neon Genesis Evangelion. After half of us have died (so it's LITERALLY half-empty), Humanity is left in a post-apocalyptic death race against the Angels. The only means of defense is to send what few children were born at the right time out in gigantic Angel-derived Evangelions. All this as the masterminds behind Earth's defense are secretly planning a controlled burn scenario, wanting to end the world in the manner that suits them. Add in the hellish commonness of horrifying things happening to people and the overall bitterness present in most of the cast. The only thing saving it is that all the dead people can eventually be reborn if they choose to be.
- Mirai Nikki. For perspective, the most sympathetic character, the Woobie lead, was last seen massacring orphans in a desperate attempt to bring his dead parents back to life. His father killed his mother, and then his father was killed by the mob. The second most sympathetic character is a full-blown terrorist Mad Bomber. God's dying, ya see, and he's choosing His successor via battle royale. One of the other combatants who's told to kill by God was four years old.
- Where are the police? Da Chief was corrupt and also a contestant in the running for God, and so he was willing to frame and kill protagonists to get an opportunity to save his dying son. The guy in charge after that is working for the mayor, who, you guessed it, is ALSO corrupt and killing people to become God.
- The Toku style Hero of Justice is a vigilante psychopath.
- The female lead is an Ax-Crazy Yandere who, upon being told by the protagonist that he loved her, drugged him and tied him to a chair so he'd never leave. He got out, but he's still with her.Yay!
- Between the warmongering kingdoms and their corrupt nobility, the heresy-crushing Holy See, and the evil Godhand and their ravenous demonic Apostles, life in the world of Berserk really, really, really, really, really, really sucks hardcore. The world seems to exist only to make people as miserable as possible and to give the demons somewhere to play; humanity exists so that the demons have something to play with. The biggest idealist in the entire setting snapped under the pressure and is now the Big Bad.
- Claymore is in much the same boat as Berserk above, and much of the stuff that applies to Berserk applies to this, including the biggest idealist in the setting snapping under the pressure and becoming a Big Bad.
- And then they find out that everyone on their island, demons, Awakened Beings, and Claymores alike, are being manipulated so that they can become perfect weapons to fight the truly horrific monsters on the mainland.
- Played extremely straight in the anime Texhnolyze
- Wolf's Rain takes place 200 years After the End of civilization as we know it. Most of humanity is crammed into crumbling domed concrete cities ruled by warring Nobles, and the environment outside is slowly decaying. Maybe the most telling line in the entire series is spoken by the wolf Hige, who looks at the sky and says, "C'mon, birds, let's see some flying up there". But we don't see any birds at all after that — maybe they're all extinct. Until the final episode, when the world is regenerated.
- Modern Tokyo is portrayed as a World Half Empty in Tokyo Babylon, with frequent suicides, dreary lives, and gloomy commentary on consumerism. All designed to Break the Cutie, naturally.
- Post-apocalyptic Tokyo in AKIRA.
- Most of the stories in Osamu Tezuka's Phoenix series. The historical chapters feature a decidedly unromantic depiction of feudal Japan full of war, famine, disease, filth, corruption, death & copious amounts of mutilation with sharp objects. But at least the characters in those stories had the breathtaking beauty of nature to raise their spirits. Those who have the misfortune of being born in this world's bleak, ZeeRusted future get no such luck. In addition to having all the above mentioned problems, the world is ecologically screwed, full of bigots who mistreat clones and robots, and occasionally ruled by an opressive theocracy. After people start piling into rocketships to escape this awful mess, the Earth eventually faces an immigration crisis when the space colonists & their children start coming back in droves because most of the other planets in the universe are even worse than the world that they left! When humanity finally goes extinct in the (chronologically) final chapter, it comes as something of a relief.
- The wartorn desert planet that Now and Then, Here and There takes place on, mostly because it's a (slightly) exaggerated version of modern Africa.
- The post-apocalyptic wasteland that is the world of Fist of the North Star. If you're an Average Joe/Jane, you're a (literally) dirt-poor peasant scraping by on your meager provisions. You'll be constantly on the lookout for roving brigands who, if you're lucky, will steal all of your possessions, effectively sentencing you to death in the desert wasteland, and savagely beat you. If unlucky, you'll be beaten to death, and possibly raped if you're female. Also, you must worry about power-mad martial arts practitioners enslaving you and your loved ones and slaughtering you on a whim as they set to establish themselves or their empire. And just to make things worse, this isn't one of those nuclear After the End series that forgot about fallout; if you don't starve and aren't murdered, you might end up with radiation sickness. If you happen to practice the series' brand of martial arts, odds are you'll fare little better. If you're a low-level villain/lackey, you'll undoubtedly fall under the head-detonating protagonist, Kenshiro, or possibly to another "good guy". If a low-level hero, you must constantly battle thugs, and there's no telling when the previously mentioned power-mad martial artist (who will be light years beyond your ability) will carve a swath of destruction through your homeland, either killing, enslaving, or imprisoning you. If a high level villain, odds are even greater that you'll be killed by Kenshiro, though there is a rare chance of being killed by another high-profile martial artist (such as Rei or Toki). Finally, Kenshiro, the protagonist, has arguably the worst fate of any character in the series. He loses his father; all three of his brothers - granted he kills one of them, (Jagi); his best friend Shin, who was corrupted by Jagi; and virtually all of his other friends. The "off into the sunset" ending with him and his lover, Yuria, is rendered bittersweet when it's revealed Yuria is dying of a terminal illness and has a limited time left to live.
- There is one brighter possibility in all of this: the environment has begun to recover slightly by the end of the series. And you have to figure most of the bandits are dead by that point.
- Though from what was seen in the New Fist of the North Star OV As, set years later, the world hasn't really decided to clean itself up just yet.
- The world of Casshern Sins is a decaying mess; all the robots are rusting, and presumably something equivalent is happening to any humans. Only the protagonist is unaffected by the ruin, but he's the one that caused it in the first place; and he's amnesiac, so he can't work out why 99% of the population wants to kill and eat him.
- Jigoku Shoujo is ostensibly set in the real world. But with each grudge Enma Ai satisfies, it's more obvious that hers is a world of miserable bastards. On the one hand, we have her targets, almost always selfish people who deceive, abuse, and hurt those around them. On the other hand, we have her contractors — who, while usually sympathetic, nonetheless resort to damning their enemies and themselves to hell to solve their problems. (The most generous thing you can call it is assassination.) And then there are the cases where the contractors are just as bad, and even where the targets are completely innocent. Ai will take pretty much anyone's contract, and she never lacks for work. The ultimate proof of this World Half Empty is the final storyline of Futakomori, in which hundreds of people in one town go vengeance-crazy, damning even their friends and family. It's a great show, but watching too many episodes in a row is hard on the soul.
- Then there was the episode where a nurse (who was pretty much a good, hardworking person in every way) is sent to hell by a person she doesn't know because said person was a sick bastard who wanted to send her to hell because... well, just because he could. World Half Empty is a massive Understatement for the world the series is set in.
- Pick a Hideshi Hino manga. Any Hideshi Hino manga.
- Any work of Mohiro Kitoh qualifies, most especially Bokurano (the manga at least), which takes in a Multiverse Half Empty with, without giving anything away, about as hopeless a scenario as anyone can imagine. As well as effectiveness savaging modern day life, his work focuses on the individual effort of people to stay noble in the face of such circumstances.
- The Universal Calendar of the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise. The One Year War which causes the deaths of half the population of the Solar System is between the Earth Federation, a corrupt, incompetent, and racist government unable to properly defend the solar system vs the Kingdom of Zeon, who started the war by gassing a colony full of millions of people and dropping it on the Earth. Even after the One Year War was over war constantly sprung up due to the weakness of the Earth Federation, and Complete Monsters are incredibly common. You can seriously argue that the solar system would have been better off if both sides had wiped each other out.
- The Hentai anthology Cool Devices.
- Basin City a.k.a. "Sin City" from Sin City is one of the darker examples of a World Half Empty. Even the heroes of the story tend to be ruthless sociopaths.
- New Port City, the setting of the comic book Bomb Queen, is a criminal mecca where virtually every citizen is a crook, murderer, drug dealer, member of a hate group, or at the very least beats and/or rapes their children. Even people who were normal before they moved there turn evil. The city's dictator is a supervillainess with a sky-high approval rating. Superheroes are illegal. Throughout the city are designated crime zones where anything goes.
- In some versions of Batman (especially those by Frank Miller) Gotham City is depicted as one of these, particularly in stories set early in Batman's career. It's often shown to be blighted by the worst in urban decay and crime, and it's often suggested that the entire police department is corrupt and venal apart from James Gordon.
- Nightwing used to take place in Bludhaven, Gotham's sister city, which was, if possible, even worse. The corruption was so institutionalized that the clean cops were the ones that had to hide their actions. Sadly, just as the were starting to get better and the police department actually being cleaned up and turned honest, the entire city was nuked into a radioactive wasteland.
- The most infamous (and widely reviled) version is All-Star Batman & Robin where the super heroes are either sociopaths (Batman, Black Canary, Wonder Woman), future sociopaths (Batgirl, Robin), or morons (Superman, Green Lantern).
- The universe of Judge Dredd often looks a lot like this.
- The Marvel Elseworlds miniseries Ruins basically treats us to the World Half Empty version of the Marvel Universe. Instead of mad science experiments and random genetic mutations turning people into superheroes, they universally end up horrifically deformed or painfully killed — often both. So widespread is the fear, panic, and paranoia that the entire world seems teetering on the edge of complete collapse, and the protagonist, a reporter who doubles as the world's only optimist, has his spirit completely broken by the sheer horror of it all just before he dies a painful death himself.
- Almost any of the graphic novels of Alejandro Jodorowsky. Metabarons is essentially one long Greek tragedy in space; Technopriests features game designers worshipping a Cosmic Horror whose purpose is to plunge the universe into a deep, inescapable depression; and Megalex features a polluted Earth where the inhabitants make endangered species extinct for fun.
- The setting of Mark Millar's Wanted plays with this: the villains who finally beat the heroes changed reality to make it a World Half Empty...by making it more realistic and like our real world.
- Transmetropolitan. That is all.
- "Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."
- No Country for Old Men, period.
- The Third Man - what's really depressing is that it was shot ON LOCATION in a bombed-out, post WWII-era Vienna. That's OUR World Half Empty.
- Fitting, given that involved Orson Welles.
- In the movie Lawn Dogs, the whole town of Camelot Gardens is full of upper middle class cretins who are distrustful of outsiders, and obsessed with moving up the social ladder. Trent, one of the movie's two heroes, is suspected for crimes he didn't commit, and even physically attacked, twice, for things he didn't do. Devon, a kid, has parents who try to use her only to promote their own image within the town and help their own social status. One can hardly blame Trent and Devon for becoming Rebellious Spirits. They are practically the only sympathetic people in the whole film!
- The Butterfly Effect embodies this trope in its entirety.
- London as depicted in Sweeney Todd. Then again, at the time it was almost Truth in Television. Sweeney's part of the song "There's No Place Like London" pretty much says it all:
There's a hole in the world like a great black pit,
and the vermin of the world inhabit it,
and its morals aren't worth what a pig could spit,
and it goes by the name of London.
At the top of the hole sit a privileged few,
making mock of the vermin of the lower zoo,
turning beauty into filth and greed. I too
have sailed the world and seen its wonders,
for the cruelty of men is as wondrous as Peru.
But there's no place like London!
- The films of Todd Solondz, particularly Welcome to the Dollhouse, seem to revel in this.
- Repo! The Genetic Opera has an epidemic of organ failures, a country ruled by a corporation that had murder sanctioned by law, and legions of people addicted to painkillers and/or surgery. It's small wonder Nathan locked his daughter in her bedroom.
- Payback. There are literally zero characters who aren't involved in some sort of unsavory business, and the director tried to make the atmosphere as dreary and depressing as possible. The closest this film has to heroes are Porter, a guy who in any other film would be an Anti-Villain at best, and his ex-hooker love interest. The film's tagline was 'Get ready to root for the bad guy' which pretty much sums it up.
- Tropa de Elite seems to suggest that, caught between out of control criminals and a vapid, selfish middle class the only options open to the police are corruption or fascism.
- Blade Runner's Los Angeles. Homicidal androids? Implied post-World War III setting? Always raining? Blade Runner is the flagship example of filmic World Half Empty.
- Replicants are biologically indistinguishable from humans. One of the main themes of the story is the question of at what point it becomes meaningless to differentiate them from "natural" humans. They're only androids in the same sense that test tube babies are androids.
- Pottersville from It's A Wonderful Life.
- Children of Men is a World Half Empty. Massive enviromental pollution, heavy-handed authoritarian police\military presence, a largely apatheic and indifferent population set against a Depopulation Bomb scenario. Only Britian Maintains the semblence of a functioning society, and barely at that.
- The independent film C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America depicts a world where the South won the American Civil War. Slavery is still legal and has grown to include Asians. The Confederacy conquered the Union shortly after the Civil War, and then conquered most of Latin America. Having even one drop of non-Caucasian blood means you are automatically put into slavery - unless you're Latino, in which case you live under an apartheid system. Women have not been liberated and sexism still rules. They enter World War II as allies of the Axis and launch a war against Japan, rather than the other way around. All religions not based in Christianity are banned, with the exception of Judaism, and even they have been ghettoized onto Long Island. Many of the people responsible for America's cultural advancement, such as Mark Twain and Elvis Presley, flee to Canada, resulting in that country becoming the entertainment powerhouse. In short, not the place you'd want to live.
- The depiction of the world in Se7en is pretty half empty, but I think the last lines of the film say it best:
Somerset: Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part.
- A Song of Ice and Fire courtesy of its deconstructionist nature.
Sandor: There are no true knights, no more than there are gods. If you can't protect yourself, die and get out of the way of those who can. Sharp steel and strong arms rule this world, and don't ever believe any different.
Sansa: You're awful.
Sandor: I'm honest. It's the world that's awful.
- As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. Strangely, a rant about death given by a doctor who has just watched a woman he was supposed to be saving die a horrible and painful death is actually the only upbeat part of the entire novel.
- A dramatic fantasy example would be the setting of The First Law. The Kingdom is run by a secret police, many of the main characters are murderers and cutthroats, Aristocrats Are Evil, the Wise Old Mentor likes to blow people up, the peasants are oppressed and the city-folk are slimy.
- The Conan the Barbarian universe is a great example of a World Half Empty in fantasy. What you've got is a low-fantasy world full of assorted, real-world inspired ancient civilizations, and some barbarians. The choice that the author gives you is basically Barbarism Vs. Civilization. Civilizations are generally decadent and corrupt old empires with scheming, militaristic kings who will do anything up to and including resurrecting a dead sorcerer from an ancient, evil empire (in Hour of the Dragon) to get more land for their nation. The only nation that doesn't seem to be either full of evil sorcerers (Stygia, Koth, Khitai, Zembabwei) or expansionist kings (Koth, Ophir, Nemedia, Turan, everyone else) would be Aquilonia, a Rome/medieval England hybrid that winds up being the first nation that is completely annihilated by a horde of savages, along with every other halfway-decent place to live in Hyboria. Barbarians will find that the line is very thin between savagery and noble savagery, once again, Cimmerians prove to be the only race in this category that have even a rudimentary grasp on morality, everyone else is either a cannibal (the Darfari), an unapologetic savage (Picts fit this perfectly), or a Viking-esque village pillager (the Vanir and Aesir).
- The titular Edge in the obscure fantasy series The Edge Chronicles isn't exactly an ideal spot for a vacation. The Deepwoods are dark and extremely dangerous, the Twilight Woods are a cursed place where anyone who enters will most likely go insane, the Mire is a polluted wasteland, Undertown is a dirty, overcrowded slum, Sanctaphrax is "a seething cauldron of rivalries, plots and counter-plots and bitter faction-fighting", the river Edgewater is choked with sewage and the lands along the rim of the Edge are a desolate barren.
- Things get worse in the Rook Barkwater series. The city becomes even worse, slavery returns, Sanctaphrax becomes grounded and taken over by Nazi-like fanatics, all of the sky pirates are gone, and 95% of the "good" characters from previous books are either jailed or dead.
- And later, both Sanctaphrax and Undertown get destroyed, with everybody who was left. Talk about being unnaturally cheery.
- Stephen Baxter's Xeelee Sequence — millions of years of humanity in a massive Hopeless War of attrition against the Xeelee, who are also fighting a race of dark matter beings who want to render the universe unfit for baryonic life (like humanity). They lose. First the humans, than the Xeelee.
- Patrick Susskind's Perfume. Everyone is either motivated by greed, selfishness, lust or desire for fame, or callous and apathetic to their fellow human beings. Grenouille, a twisted little troll of a man who kills women for their scent, actually comes across as the most sympathetic character in the whole book - at least he's motivated by a desire to create something beautiful, in the absence of anything else to give his life meaning.
- Harrison Bergeron, by Kurt Vonnegut, in which any person who has any kind of talent is handicapped to prevent them from excelling and thus making other people feel inferior. The main character is smart, tall, strong, and handsome, so his handicaps include headphones that play distracting noises, three hundred pounds of weight strapped to his body, forty pounds of birdshot around his neck, eyeglasses designed to give him headaches, and a rubber ball on his nose, black caps on his teeth, and shaven eyebrows to hide his beauty. [He rebels and dies, and his parents are too handicapped to be aware of watching their own son shot on television.
- Flannery O'Connor had issues. Just about her entire body of work involves unbelievably flawed, unsympathetic characters feuding and bickering with each other, finishing with a tragic, often gruesome climax, usually the consequences of their actions. Of course, since all of her stories were written while she was dying of lupus, this might explain her outlook. Considered one of the premier authors of Southern Gothic literature, which is an entire genre of this trope.
- India in the Alan Dean Foster novel Sagramanda. Rampant poverty, the poor attacking people to get money, greedy corporations that just leave it that way, a man eating tiger just left alone, multiple hit men, and an insane serial murderer feature prominently, as does somebody who tries to kill his own son because of the caste system.
- The novel A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole seems to personify this entire trope in the character of Ignatius J. Reilly: Fat, ugly, repulsive, arrogant, full of useless facts but little actual intelligence, utterly lacking in empathy and humor, sponging off his mother with zero gratitude whatsoever, and generally making the world a worse place to live. It doesn't help that all of the other characters in the novel are defined by their flaws and inadequacies, and stumble through their lives without a clue as to what they're doing or how they're affecting others. The novel's climax gives the reader the hope of Reilly finally getting his comeuppance, then dashes it by giving him an easy out that promises the continuation of his repugnant behavior. It's worth noting that the author committed suicide eleven years before the novel's first publication.
- The late Robert Asprin edited a series of short fantasy anthologies with multiple spinoffs known as Thieves' World. All of the anthologized stories were written for the series, and set in a common World Half Empty. At least it started out as one; it later got much, much worse.
- Search The Sky by Frederic Pohl and Cyril Kornbluth. Halsey's Planet is slowly depopulating itself, Gemser is an insane gerontocracy where age is the sole factor in determining status, Azor is a Straw Feminist world where believing in gender equality is a crime against the state, Jones is a world where conformity in everything (including appearance, architecture, dress, and habits) is mandatory, and Earth is a coin-operated world where intelligence is frowned on. And all colony worlds are inbred because there were too few original colonists for each world.
- Dystopian worlds in general are Worlds Half Empty by definition.
- The society of Oceania in 1984. A totalitarian regime ruled by a guy known only as Big Brother rules Oceania. Oceania is at war with either Eurasia or Eastasia at any given time, and insists that they've always been at war with whoever they're fighting — the records of history and news are changed constantly in order to favor Big Brother, which is done by the Ministry of Truth. Big Brother's eyes are everywhere through telescreens, which receive and transmit simultaneously. A "Five Minutes Hate" is held every so often in order to direct the people's hate toward Emmanuel Goldstein, the first traitor to the Party. And if you even think anything that might be contrary to the will of Big Brother, which is called "thoughtcrime," the Thought Police will come calling to take you away.
"There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face ... for ever."
- What makes it even more Nightmare Fuel-eriffic is that O'Brien spends a good part of his second conversation with Winston detailing exactly why the Dystopia of the book will never, ever, be dismantled.
- Fahrenheit 451. The entire world subscribes to a nihilistic ideology which boils down to "Don't face your problems; burn then instead!" Nuclear war is so prevalent that the sound of jets flying off to nuke entire cities out of existence isn't even commented on. Television has taken the place of the family. Drug use is so ubiquitous that a single EMT team will likely deal with upwards of a dozen O Ds a night. Running over pedestrians is the new national past time. Making the ignorant masses feel dumb (such as by reading books) is punishable by having your house and possessions burned down. Resisting having your house burnt down will result in a giant mechanical spider hunting you down and killing you.
- Anything written by Franz Kafka.
- Anything by Patricia Highsmith. The POV characters of her books are generally either Villain Protagonists who get away with it, or pathetic losers who suffer horribly at the hands of unspeakable villains who get away with it.
- The Star Wars Expanded Universe sometimes looks like it's heading in this direction. It's less intense than in other examples, but still, whenever the peaceful, freedom-loving institution of the moment manages to get the upper hand and finally look like it's going to turn things for the better, something happens that screws everything up and plunges the whole galaxy right back in the darkness of endless war. After the Empire there's Ysanne Ysard, then Thrawn, then the Emperor reincarnates, then he reincarnates again, then the Imperial Remnant reunites under Daala and starts messing up the place again. Then the cult of Ragnos springs up, then the Yevetha set out to destroy everyone, then there are several more attempts to restore the Empire... and all this in only twenty years. And when the galaxy finally seems to have some peace and things seem to be looking brighter, the Yuuzhan Vong invade and start a war that kills trillions. Then there's another civil war. Then the Empire and the Sith rise yet again. Seriously, how do people from the Star Wars galaxy ever wish for anything but a quick, painless death is sometimes lost on this troper.
- One reason of many that a lot of Star Wars fans don't have any interest in the EU. How much deconstructed 'the galaxy sucks, the world sucks, the Jedi suck, it's all pointless!' can we be expected to embrace? Especially in a series that started out firmly set in the Hero's Journey?
- Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter's Time Odyssey. The universe will tear itself apart down to the subatomic level by cosmological expansion. The universe only has a finite amount of usable energy, and it's very slowly burning itself up. The very first intelligent species to evolve wasted a lot of that energy on an intergalactic war, and then resolved to last until the big rip. To do that, it systematically, and with much guilt, resolves to wipe out all life which consumes too much energy. If a species has the audacity to consume oxygen for energy, it gets wiped out before it manages to leave its home planet. If a species doesn't put a foot wrong, it gets wiped out when the sun dies of natural causes. Worst of all, apart from the aliens, it's this one.
- Most of Nathaniel "Mr. Sunshine" Hawthorne's work is about how much people suck and the world is a horrible place full of evil. For some reason, he's called a Romanticist.
- Well, a Dark Romanticist, anyway.
- The Wire is an example of the World Half Empty done right, especially in the fourth season (which focuses on four inner-city schoolchildren, only one of whom manages to escape into a decent life). But even "done right" it can be enough to overwhelm people.
- The 2000s Battlestar Galactica; the human race is made up largely of flawed, amoral, and evil people who barely deserve to continue existing as a species, every victory the fleet wins comes at great cost, and even the completion of their quest to find Earth nets them nothing but the lifeless, irradiated ruins of a dead civilization.
- Admittedly things seem to get better when they are gifted a new planet they decide to call Earth after the real one (this is our Earth btw), but they never broke free of the cycles they were trapped in (since we are descended from them and have done a lot of crap over the years), plus they never even realized how they had been constantly manipulated by 'angels' of some kind, making them nothing but miserable pawns despite getting a sort of happy ending, for one generation at least.
- Carnivāle. Truth in Television based on being set in the dust bowl during the Great Depression.
- Power Rangers averts this by the skin of its teeth and a Never Say "Die" mandate, as, although a great deal of property damage is shown over the 17 years straight of nonstop alien attacks, no deaths are implied. Until the last season, where humanity apparently lost its edge over a T Ime Skip and the entire planet save a single city is conquered, all people presumed dead.
- Even in the happier beginning, the whole universe was implied to be like this, as the distinct impression was given that, aside from Aquitar and Triforia, the villains ruled everything with a harsh iron fist — one gets the impression Earth just took longer to conquer than everything else, and it was only a matter of time before we failed to defend it.
- Yes, this is a children's show, why do you ask?
- The outcome of Earth was foreshadowed in seasons Nine and Ten.
- Greek Mythology depicts the world as ruled by a pantheon of Jerkass Gods who will utterly screw over mortals for the most petty of reasons, or no reason at all. (The Olympian gods deposed the Titans, who were allegedly worse, but we only have the Olympians' word for it.) Oh, and by the way, destiny rules everything and man has no control over his life.
- Despite arguably being worse than the Olympians, the Titans are said to have established a 'Golden Age' where man wanted for nothing. Thanks a bunch, Zeus.
- Sumerian Mythology only seems to have one afterlife destination, which is a dusty, barren and empty hall described as sucking immensely. The entire Epic of Gilgamesh is an ode to the concept that dying can only result in endless tedium and suffering. Also, the goddess in charge of the place routinely threatens to unleash the angry, bored dead to fuck up the living world if her father, the head honcho god, doesn't agree to her arbitrary whims.
- And then there's Norse Mythology...
- At least the Norse get a massive kegger until the end of time.
- Correction: Viking Warriors get a massive kegger until the end of time. The rest of us are screwed.
- And in this case, "end of time" means all of them are conscripted to fight against all of the forces conspiring against the Norse gods in Ragnarok, which includes the likes of frost giants, fire giants, possibly other kinds of giants (lots of giants in Norse Mythology), the residents of Hel (those who didn't get to go to the kegger) who arrive on ships made out of the toenails of the damned, the Big, Badass Wolf Fenrir, a serpent big enough to encircle the world, the Hell Hound Garm, and...everything else that wasn't a Norse god (the Norse gods made a lot of enemies). Oh, and no matter how hard they fight, they're all destined to die anyway... except for (at least) three gods and two humans. The gods will win the final battle by virtue of last men standing. (The prophecy goes on to predict that some of the dead gods will come back to share the Plain of Idavoll, but...)
- The Aztec afterlife required you to run a big damn gauntlet to get to it, at which point... you spend eternity sitting around inside a pyramid, doing nothing, only even getting to eat on the Day of the Dead. On the plus side, you can read the life stories of everyone else who got there, maybe write your own.
- Should you die in Pharaonic Egypt, you have to take a very long walk across the desert (hope the people who buried you put a map in your tomb), at which point your heart gets weighed. If it outweighs a feather, you get thrown to the beast Ammit, who eats you. If the feather outweighs it ("We made it really heavy"), you get to... work in Osiris's fields for all eternity. Yay. You get to do what, in all likelihood, you did for your entire mortal life.
- Not quite. Initially, only the Pharoahs got an afterlife. Later dynasties would expand the afterlife to all the nobles. The commoners who would actually work in the fields got nothing. So Yeah...
- Arguably the world portrayed in the Bible is a World Half Empty. At least in the Old Testament.
- Tech Infantry is partly based on the World of Darkness, so of course it's a dark and pessimistic world, with an oppressive and corrupt government, genocidal aliens, ancient supernatural entities manipulating the unawakened human population for their own mysterious ends, and any idealistic characters quickly getting the hope kicked out of them by a callous and indifferent universe.
- Castlevania II: Simon's Quest shows what kind of world you saved in the previous game. The land is barren and lifeless, gravestones are everywhere, people are too poor to afford anything but unfurnished brick rooms, most will lie to you or tempt you with sin, expensive mansions once owned by the rich have signs of torture and enslavement, and creatures don't even bother to inhabit areas that people have long since abandoned and left to crumble. Blame this all on "Dracula's Curse" if you want, but there's a reason why most of the games take place inside Castlevania — who's to say things are better on the outside?
- Legacy of Kain A series of fantasy games where time traveling Vampire lord Kain clashes with his soul-eating undead son across the ages. It's actually Better Than It Sounds. The world of Nosgoth is host to massive web of ancient conspiracies spanning dimensions, where the various supernatural and political forces (all of them evil in one way or another) of the world try to manipulate history to their own ends. The world gradually gets worse, going from great holy wars, to miserable feudal poverty, to corrupt vampire empire, to the point where the world is so corrupt and ugly, and the forces of nature are so out of balance, that the world is nothing but a desert wasteland home to wandering bands of monsters. So Yeah.
- The Resistance games appear to be built purely on this concept. Over the course of the game, every single thing you attempt ends up either failing or blowing up in your face. On top of that, at the end of the second game you singlehandedly manage to bring about the end of the world that the entire goal of the games was to prevent.
- The Oddworld is also a World Half Empty. The first three games center on industrial excesses taken to such an absurd degree that no-one bats an eye at a meat packing plant planning to make their slave laborers into their next product line, while Stranger's Wrath takes place in more of a Crapsack World of a Western, where the townsfolk are so exaggeratedly helpless and cowardly they're literally chickens.
- Combine-controlled Earth in Half-Life 2. The environment and infrastructure are in such an extreme state of disrepair after just a decade or two of Combine rule that it threatens the human race's very existence.
- In the webcomic Concerned, which takes place in the Half-Life universe, specifically a few weeks before Half-Life 2, it is shown that some of the disasters of Half-Life 2 (particularly Ravenholm) are caused by Too Dumb to Live Gordon Frohman, a human who reveres his alien overlords. He's even responsible for Black Mesa.
- It's implied in the games (and outright stated by Wordof God) that the Combine has zero interest in Earth's infrastructure; their interest begins and ends with raping the planet of any usable resources (and stealing our teleportation technology, which is by some aspects superior to theirs). Supposedly, Half-Life 2 was supposed to feature a plant designed to remove the oxygen from the planet's atmosphere; this got taken out because of time constraints. Various types of aliens, such as the antlions (insectoid aliens which are extremely aggressive towards any other lifeform), headcrabs (which the Combine actually seems to breed for biological warfare), and ocean-faring leeches which make even wading out a short distance into the ocean a suicidal endeavor.
- Pretty much all of Earth in Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars is a World Half Empty. There's the politically unstable hellholes of the Yellow Zones, which are ravaged by war, disease, famine, and Tiberium. Then there's the Red Zones, which are completely uninhabitable by human (or any carbon-based) life, and filled with the horribly lethal Tiberium. the only nice place to live is the Blue Zones, which are clean, healthy, pristine, and.... wait, what are those Scary Dogmatic Aliens doing here? ...oh, crap.
- And this was an improvement from Tiberian Sun, where the atmosphere and oceans had been contaminated enough to leave the human race months from extinction, with the few safe population tucked away in the arctic.
- Shadow Bane: The world has been shattered into numerous fragments, the All-Father is missing or dead, the Green Mother is crippled and in agony, Malor has joined the forces of Chaos, the most powerful sword in existence is in the hands of a vampire queen, and the Titan Torvald has been raised as a walking corpse by the Mother of Winter. Oh, and every time the someone is reborn the world come a bit closer to destruction.
- The Max Payne series takes place in a World Half Empty New York, through and through. This is as the game is intended to mirror a noir atmosphere, thus making the presence of a World Half Empty a must.
- Diablo. First game game starts with the noble king being corrupted and his kingdom destroyed. Then you have to kill the undead king, plus demons are killing people, the prince has been kidnapped and possessed. After 16 annoying levels you finally make it to the boss and beat him... except the prince is now dead and you just became Diablo's new, more powerful host. Second game lets you kill most of the major demons... too bad it turns out they all end up getting revived, plus Tyrael is corrupted and the thing holding some semblance of stability over the world is destroyed. Oh, and Deckard Cain was apparently crazy the whole time and horrible monsters are even more common. Did we mention there is no god and all the angels (except Tyrael... oh wait) are humongous jerkasses?
- The world that the Resident Evil series takes place in: bioterrorism is common, an American city was nuked in order to end a zombie outbreak, and major corporations are involved in huge conspiracies which could cause the apocalypse. Really, when you get past the action movie cliches and the narm of some of the dialogue, the series is quite disturbing.
- The world of the Grand Theft Auto series, especially Grand Theft Auto IV, which had fewer lighter elements than the others. Here we have a world so filled with corrupt politicians, crooked cops, backstabbing criminals and just plain crazy people that whatever amoral protagonist you're playing as almost looks like a saint by comparison.
- If the Luck-Based Mission that is the majority of the game's storyline, stopping a Colony Drop, in Mega Man X 5 fails, this leaves a World Half Empty.
- Mega Man Zero elaborates on this, there being only one last bastion of civilisation in the planet, that gets destroyed before the end of Zero 4. To drive the point home, the Colony Drop mentioned above is now possibly the last hope of restoring it. Which is exactly what it did, at the end of the series.
- The world of upcoming DS RPG Sands of Destruction seems to be set in one of these, which prompts the main character to join up with a group that is actively seeking for a way to destroy the world instead of trying to save it.
- Any setting in The Suffering. It's bad enough that Carnate Island had seen just about every sort of crime and punishment in history before its infestation by the Malefactors; it's even worse when the city the PC hopes to escape to is a fetid den of urban decay and misery that promptly suffers a Malefactor infestation of its own.
- Implied through the emails in Assassin's Creed. :Africa's population has been decimated by a plague, massive number of illegal immigrants are crossing the U.S.-Mexican border...into Mexico, and hurricane season no longer exists, since hurricanes happen all throughout the year thanks to climate change.
- Deus Ex A devistating plague is storming throughout the world, a good deal of food seems to be limited to Soylent Soy, and not to mention the all the secret cabals running about in the background. The world could also be considered A World Half Full however, depending on what ending you choose.
- Stages 3-6 in Radiant Silvergun take place in an unhabitable post-apocalyptic world where there's absolutely no signs of life, only ruins which are partly transformed into a factory for Sone-Like to produce ships and weapons against the remaining battleship crew.
: The actual merger is finished. I am keeping the World Half Empty
page in discussion in case someone wants to add some pieces to the page. Also in the future if your going to merge copy over the examples before redirecting it. I mean it's kind of annoying to lose most of the examples due to someone just redirecting the page instead of actually merging them. In thirty minutes I saved a ton of examples, and that's all it took. I don't mean to be rude I am just angry that I never wanted this merge and I did most of the work.
: I had the examples saved to a word document and was just about to perform the merge. Thankyou for taking the time.
Removed Nazi Germany and Modern US examples in the Real Life section. Nazi Germany was no worse a place to live than anywhere else in Europe at the time, so long as you weren't on the ruling elite's hit list, and speculation doesn't belong on this page. Occupied Europe might qualify... can any historians comment?
Removed the "Anywhere in the world" entry. Yes, there will be, in any time or place, people whose lives are utterly miserable. But to qualify for this trope, these people must be at least a substantial plurality, and the powers-that-be must be actively working to keep things that way. England during WWII was not this. Franco's Spain was.
Can anyone give me a good reason as to why we need real-life examples at all?
Simple: To give people who want to use such settings, and portray them accurately, places to start their research.
: We had two separate entries for the movie "Brazil" — I combined them, but someone who's watched it more recently than I might want to take a look at it for accuracy.
- The world of Shadowrun is a corrupt one. It is controlled by dragons and immoral megacorporations. The good ones are always the first to die and the bad ones get everything they want, or need... IF they're not killed by the guy even worse then themselves...
While this might or might not have been true at one point, it ignores the fact that, one, not everyone in the setting is evil, and two, the good guys sometimes win. Notably, yes, the dragon Dunkelzahn did die. . . in an effort to save the world from cosmic horrors. Which succeeded. And allowed him to leave behind a will which has, and still is, having positive effects on the world.