Created By: PrimoVictoria on September 16, 2010 Last Edited By: PrimoVictoria on September 16, 2010

Cerebus Rollercoaster

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There are many reasons why tone of the story may change. Sometimes happy, joke-based, show goes into much serious, and darker direction. Sometimes once dark and deadly serious series turns into a comedy. Sometimes it completly changes the genre. Sometimes writers run out of ideas and just try to put anything they can or exact opposite – they finds what they really want to do. Sometimes Executive Meddling or Creator Breakdown takes story into new direction and turns into something completely unrecognizable from it's source material.

And sometimes all of it at the same time. Or none.

Cerebus Rollercoaster is what happens when Cerebus Syndrome gets Zig Zagged – series goes back and forth through different tones, jump from genre to genre or dance on Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism. Like rollercaster it rides ahead, repeatedly going up and down. Sometimes whoever, rollercaster may crash – in that case series ultimately grown the beard, absorbing best elements of all phases it went through and evolving into something completely different. Of course, it can always goes back on track, if something will force the change to be undone

This may occur for different reasons. Sometimes creators just plain don't know what exactly tone they want to give their work. Maybe story went too far into Cerebus Syndrome, and writer is tired and horrified of Crapsack World it become, but while trying to reverse the process, he finds out that new, Darker and Edgier settings have a lot of fans, so he desperately tries to balance drama and comedy to keep both fanbases happy. Sometimes new writer decides to take series in new direction, next one into another and so on, until fans grown to be writers themselves and take series to it's righteous rots. Some people may just Follow the Leader too much, and when leader changes, so does direction of their story. And sometimes they just doesn't want to stick to one setting and being forced to discard all story ideas who are too dark or too light for basic settings. Tropes Are Not Bad, and so is this – when played right, it may give series unique, recognizable style and keep it fresh. If done badly, however, will pretty much turn story into a train wreck.

Compare Mood Whiplash. The difference is that Mood Whiplash is more under creator's control and can often happen during one story arc, whileCerebus Rollercoaster rather apply to mood shifting between story arcs and whole process being far less planed and controlled, if at all.


Anime & Manga
  • Gundam franchise as whole goes through this, with series varying from Zeta Gundam to Gundam ZZ, to G Gundam to Victory Gundam, from Gundam Wing to Gundam SEED to Gundam00.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann in a way that mirrors rollercoaster ride taken by entire mecha anime genre through it's history. Episodes one to eight are very optimistic and often outright comedic, taking a lot from classic 70's Super Robot anime like Mazinger Z or Getter Robo. Next episodes on the other hand contains their share of angst and dark themes, and villains, while still evil, gaines some deepth. It mirrors effect Mobile Suit Gundam has on the genre. Later episodes are post Neon Genesis Evangelion era, being much darker than before, with a lot of different moral values here and there. Yet, in both parts anime remains pretty epic and in last part takes epicness Up to Eleven, mirroring efects GaoGaiGar and other reconstructions had on mecha genre. it seems that this show is traying to tell that it doesn't matter what tone or message your mecha show has - if it doens't have it's share of epicness, you're doing it wrong.

Comics Books

Live Action TV

Web Comics
  • El Goonish Shive has this problem – when it went through Cerebus Syndrome, it ended being too dark in Painted Black arc, so author took it back to being silly and fun, but decided to introduce serious from completely different angle, adding a lot of relationship driven plot points, teenage angst and Slice of Life elements. Ultimately series evolved into combination of comedy, teen drama and epic awesomness.

Web Original
  • Atop the Fourth Wall, while is always deeply comedic series, has plot arcs toned to fit the main villain – funny villains are just for addinational jokes, while serious ones tends to have some plans going in the back. Comedic and incompetent Doctor Insano was replaced by really scary Mechakra. After Mechakra's defeat, his place was taken by Harmless Villain Doctor Linksano, to let fans catch a break. Currently Linksano has been replaced by far more menacing Lord Vyce. Of course each arc is full of episodes completely unrelated with it's plot, which helps keeping straight main purpose of the show.
Community Feedback Replies: 10
  • August 3, 2010
    Sluggy Freelance began as a Gag Per Day Fantasy Kitchen Sink comic, then gradually went through Cerebus Syndrome, at first with combination light comedy/dramatic arcs, and then with full-blown dramatic storylines such as "Fire and Rain" and "That Which Redeems," featuring Character Development, relationship angst, Quest For Identity, and even tragic elements. Since then, the comic has alternated between such storylines and light, goofy ones such as a lengthy World Of Warcraft parody. Sometimes, the tone will switch abruptly from comic to dramatic even within the same chapter.
  • August 4, 2010
    Any other examples?
  • August 4, 2010
    What makes it different from Mood Whiplash?
  • August 4, 2010
    Superior - Mood Whiplash is when we once laugh, once cry, once are afraid etc., all during one story. This is rather when in onse series you have funny story followed by sad story, then outright depressing horror story, then ridiculous parody of cops show etc. An example: We have Batman vs Joker comics, each issue is a stand-alone story. First issue is something like The Killing Joke in tone, second looks like an episode of Adam West Batman show and trith is like The Dark Knight turned into the print - then it's this trope. If we have one story where mood changes from one to another, then its Mood Whiplash.
  • August 5, 2010
    I added a little bit to description.
  • August 5, 2010
    Do you mean rollercoaster?
  • August 15, 2010
    Dude Not Funny may occur if one character is lagging between transitions.
  • September 16, 2010
    Minor quibble: I haven't read much Golden Age Wonder Woman, but from what I've seen, the stories were fairly whimsical, at least allowing for Marston's ... interesting ... Author Appeal. I certainly don't remember anything that would make Diana a Heroic Sociopath.
  • September 16, 2010
    It will be very difficult to prevent Trope Decay from making the examples exceedingly broad unless the description is tightened up.
  • September 16, 2010
    Futurama is one of the few successful examples of a comedic series trying this. One minute you've got a story about the lost underwater city of Atlanta or Fry becoming his own grandfather, and the next...Jurassic Bark.