When a series starts off far up on the idealistic end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism
in the first installment, then immediately begins deconstructing its own ideals from the second installment onwards.
May be accompanied by Graying Morality
- The Noon Universe novels began with Noon: 22nd Century, which described a utopian future society where everyone is honest and hard-working for the good of humanity. But already in the second and third books, Escape Attempt and Far Rainbow, the authors basically show that even in a perfect society, human beings remain fundamentally flawed, so all the advances of civilization cannot prevent humanity from destroying itself and their environment. It only gets worse from there on.
- The Ultima series is not the straightest example, since its metaplot really kicked off in Ultima IV, but if you count from there, IV is extremely idealistic, introducing the series' trademark Eight Virtues and pioneering the morality aspect in the RPG genre, but V and VI immediately start to viciously deconstruct them by driving the Virtues to logical (and radical) extremes and by flipping them on their head and showing that it's just as good, respectively. It only gets worse in the final trilogy.