Probably should add an accompanying "Climax" trope in addition to this, if we do it. Anyway, here's what I got so far (it's not quite formatted correctly yet, though):
The Climax is one of the oldest devices in storytelling. For those who don't know, the climax is when the story reaches its head, when the most important or exciting part occurs; in an action film, the climax is almost always a large, spectacular fight.
As a result, the subversion
of the climax, the Anticlimax, is almost as old. The anticlimax is when you're set up for a climax, such as a spectacular, battle-to-end-all-battles between the hero and the villain. It's built up more and more until the suspense is extremely exciting, and the reader/viewer can't wait for it...then the hero kills the villain in one hit, or the villain spontaneously drops dead, or some other random guy shows up and destroys the villain before the hero does anything. Thus is the anticlimax. A Shaggy Dog Story
almost always features an anticlimax. Interestingly, however, cases of Shoot the Shaggy Dog
have a climax.
Anticlimaxes are usually looked upon unfavorably, because if the audience is getting set up for a climax, they expect it to be followed through on. Therefore, except for a few rare occasions, an anticlimax should only be used for humorous purposes.
- Obviously, any Anticlimax Boss is an example of this.
- The ending of Bob and George. Whether it was hilarious or a Wall Banger depends on the reader.
- Many considered that the culprit in the last case of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney went down far too easily for a final case. The fact that the last choice of the game essentially asked "Do you want to win? Yes or no." did not help matters.
- The ending of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The heroes are about to storm the castle and take the holy grail...and then the police show up and arrest them for a murder of a historian that occurred earlier in the film.