InternalDeconstruction Internal Deconstruction YKTTW Discussion

Internal Deconstruction
A series that eventually deconstructs its own recurring tropes.
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(permanent link) added: 2011-10-06 02:08:46 sponsor: KJMackley edited by: Halen (last reply: 2013-07-25 20:57:19)

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There are several series that establish a own status quo, even if it is subject to change periodically there is usually still a basic formula that surrounds each installment. Certain conventions are also in place that are linked to the premise or the characters, as usually the main characters are responsible for everything that happens.

After some time, if the series becomes aware of itself it may start looking back and pointing out the realistic issues regarding their own conventions and how they the use their tropes. As well as taking one aspect, and either exploring it to the possible point of Mind Screw, or playing it far too simple and flat to be taken seriously. In effect, they are deconstructing themselves.

To be considered for this trope, the series in question must have established a common pattern and spend some times using it without irony. After that pattern has become a series staple, that's when they start to poke holes in it. It isn't just Growing the Beard by playing with the pattern in a smarter way.

It may be the result of Cerebus Syndrome. It may also be an Author's Saving Throw or an answer to an unrelenting Status Quo Is God.


Anime and Manga

  • The The First Law series begins with a trilogy of novels that are very clearly intended as a Deconstructor Fleet of heroic fantasy/high fantasy tropes, and it is fairly grim. As the series progresses, the books get somewhat more optimistic, and Red Country feels like a case of internal deconstruction in that it shows how normal people would react to the actions of the characters from the original trilogy, and has a Lighter and Softer tone. In what might be a Lampshade Hanging, one character (a washed up actor) comments toward the end that while he used to think that only tragedies were serious works of merit, he can now see the benefits of a work with a happy ending.


Live-Action TV
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • In the episode "The Zeppo", the Non-Action Guy Xander is confined to the sidelines while his friends fend off a mass demonic invasion. Meanwhile, he ends up dealing with an event that could have similarly disasterous consequences, which is treated as the main story while the so-called "apocalypse" is seen only in glimpses. The next day the others are commenting that nobody will ever know that the world almost ended last night and they stopped it, reflecting Xander's own situation. The episode basically deconstructs how the characters think they are unique and special for what they do, when there are probably plenty of other people doing the same thing all over the world.
    • The Grand Finale featured the unleashing of the Slayer power to all potential slayers, which may number into the thousands worldwide. It was portrayed as a triumphant moment of empowerment and relieving Buffy of the stress of being The Chosen One. The following year on Angel, they come across a mentally scarred girl in a mental hospital who was suddenly having violent visions of past slayers and is given enhanced strength. She mutilated and nearly killed Spike before they were able to bring her down.
    • A similar thing happens in the seventh season by deconstructing Buffy's Heroic Sacrifice of the fifth season, where she refused to let anything happen to Dawn and instead let herself die in her place. Giles points out that by doing that the world kept a relatively helpless girl and lost the slayer, and that there may come a time when she has to let go of her friends in order to save the world.
  • The Big Bang Theory has the character of Raj, who is so insecure around women that he literally cannot talk to them unless drunk or otherwise drugged up. This is largely treated as a joke, how he shuts up immediately when they're around and how he quickly becomes a smooth talker after one sip of alcohol. While never quite giving it up as a joke later episodes he confides how frustrating it is to be that socially inept while his (also very nerdy) friends are going on to have meaningful romantic relationships.

Video Games
  • Kingdom Hearts eventually deconstructed The Power of Friendship, the defining trope of the series, in Dream Drop Distance. The villains accuse Sora of only being able to wield the Keyblade because he holds Ven's heart and his bonds with the other heroes strengthen him. On his own, he would never have the Keyblade and wouldn't be strong enough to get one of his own.

Western Animation
  • In Hey Arnold!, The episode "Helga on The Couch" deconstructs what had previously been somewhat presented as an Hilariously Abusive Childhood, until that episode the fact that Helga was The Unfavorite, with a "perfect sister", a Workaholic father and an alchoholic mother (confirmed via Word of God), had been hilarious, however during her therapy session it is shown just how much that has affected her, and let's just say that no one was laughing after that. Also noticeable because after that episode, Helga's family situation were rarely showing for laughs anymore, instead whenever there was a focus on her family is was to how how messed up they were, altough with the usual touch of the They Really Do Love Each Other.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, in its first season, ends nearly every episode with Twilight Sparkle summarizing the aesop of the week by sending a "friendship report" to her mentor, Princess Celestia. Early in season two, the episode "Lesson Zero" confirms that this Once an Episode schedule actually translates to Twilight sending a new friendship report every (in-universe) week. The deconstruction comes when Twi realizes that she hasn't learned anything worth writing about this week--as the deadline approaches, Twilight becomes increasingly unhinged by her fear of failing Princess Celestia. Ultimately, this alters the status quo of the series: Celestia tells Twilight that she doesn't need to follow a rigid schedule for these reports, and she asks Twilight's friends to also start sending in reports.
  • South Park killed Kenny over and over Once an Episode till they suddenly had an episode where it was Played for Drama as a Very Special Episode. He really died and went to hell in the movie, died for a full season before coming back ...and now he's something of a Mauve Shirt.

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