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[[quoteright:349:[[WesternAnimation/SamuraiJack http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/samjack_dark.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:349:[[WesternAnimation/SpongebobSquarepants "Where do the years go?"]]]]

* Creator/CartoonNetwork is itself this, compared to its competitors: Creator/{{Nickelodeon}} and the Creator/DisneyChannel. While those channels aren't above [[GettingCrapPastTheRadar radar-dodging antics]], CN revels in pushing the boundaries of what a "kids show" is - Most CN shows of late have been rated TV-PG instead of the usual TV-Y7. It extends to the late night blocks: While most of Creator/NickAtNite is old sitcoms that have, at the very least, been diluted with age, Creator/AdultSwim shows boundary pushing original programming that's filled with swearing and violence.
* ''WesternAnimation/TRONUprising'' is a darker take on the Tron series. There are scenes of mass murder, witch hunts over the Renegade, he is painted as a terrorist. And Tron himself tries to kill his apprentice in cold blood for intervening in a rampage of revenge against the man who tortured him.
* Spoofed in [[http://inspector.ytmnd.com/ this ytmnd image]], which depicts a darker take on ''WesternAnimation/InspectorGadget'' where Gadget is a no-nonsense cyborg equipped with firearms and Dr. Claw has apparently taken over the world.
* The [[SamuraiJack/TropesSeason5 fifth season]] of ''WesternAnimation/SamuraiJack'' (pictured above), set 50 years after the previous seasons and featuring more violence and a grittier story. Jack is now willing to kill humans who serve Aku, along with the use of actual blood. It's also on Creator/AdultSwim / Creator/{{Toonami}} instead of Creator/CartoonNetwork.
* ''Franchise/StarWars'':
** ''WesternAnimation/StarWarsTheCloneWars'' becomes darker and more violent as the series progresses. [[spoiler:The show shows Jedi betraying the order and killing clones, and it also shows some Jedi disregarding clones' lives. The show's violence increases when Darth Maul and Savage Opress are introduced; in Opress's arch it shows him killing his brother in order to be a Sith. It shows lightsabers going through their chests. Ahsoka is thrown out of the Jedi order and becomes a traitor to the Republic. In season six it shows a clone killing a Jedi due to his programming.]]
** ''WesternAnimation/StarWarsRebels'' starts out as a lighthearted TV series, but it becomes darker every season. In season two, one of the main characters is killed off, and ends with one of the Jedi using the dark side in order to try to save his friends. Season three shows Darth Maul hunting Ezra, and he also kills off several rebels. Ezra uses the dark side and forces stormtroopers to fire on their allies and then has him walk off a cliff. Season three ends with one of the characters killing himself in order to try to stop the Imperial Navy.
* The works of Creator/{{Fleischer Studios}} (which brought us cartoons such as ''WesternAnimaiton/BettyBoop'', ''ComicStrip/{{Popeye}}'', and ''WesternAnimation/{{Superman|TheatricalCartoons}}'') was mostly lighthearted or at most DarkComedy- with the exception of ''Somewhere In Dreamland'' (1936), which takes a surprisingly sad glimpse at growing up in poverty.
* ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' entered this territory more or less since season 4. The first few seasons were a kind of humor reminiscent of ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' (with more crudeness and mockery), and the characters themselves are sane. However, it was not until season 4, and later episodes, which adds up to the brim, extremely sadistic, and violent moments with people being gutted, torn in half, beheaded, etc. Watch any occasional episode of the first three Family Guy's seasons and then see recent episodes like the third episode of "Family Guy Presents: Laugh It Up, Fuzzball!" and the full episode "Screams of Silence: The Story of Brenda Q", there is a clear difference.
** Brian's hallucinogenic trip in the episode "Seahorse Seashell Party" is often regarded as the most disturbing and dark animation in the show.
** The episode "Life Of Brian" is probably the darkest episode ever in the series so far. The episode in itself seems to mark a total change in the whole series [[spoiler: because Brian is suddenly KilledOffForReal and really PlayedForDrama. And then, two episodes later, he's back. DeathIsCheap, indeed]].
* ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime'':
** It started off as a light-hearted children's show (albeit with a heavy dose of [[GettingCrapPastTheRadar subversive jokes]] and BlackComedy) but took a darker turn around the end of season 2, in which we are presented with a villain with absolutely no quirky or amusing characteristics [[OmnicidalManiac whose only goal is to end all life]]. Since then, we've seen the show openly deal with issues like death, mental illness, MindRape, suicide, despair, self-esteem, child abuse/abandonment, relationships and break-ups, age differences, bad communication in relationships, puberty, even dismemberment. The show is in its 6th season-a far cry from the candy-colored jelly beans shouting "Algebraic!" in the pilot so many moons ago.
** The show's backstory is also dark. It takes place a thousand years after a global thermonuclear war ravaged the planet and pushed the human race to the brink of extinction. Currently, only three humans are known to exist: Finn (the protagonist), his father Martin (a total Jerkass), and Ice King's old fiancee Betty (who was brought to the present via time travel). One character, Moe (BMO's creator who looks like Creator/JamieFarr) is also human, but his internal organs have been replaced by cybernetics. Also, Susan Strong may be a human or a Hyooman (a mutant human with fish fins and gills). With only three humans known, and the only other humans besides Finn either biologically related to him or too old/engaged to someone else, the future seems bleak for humanity. It's never stated, but the mythology of the show always implies this.
** Most fans of the series agree that the seventh season has been by far the grimmest and deepest yet. [[spoiler: The miniseries ''Stakes'' is primarily about Marceline coming of age. She's confronted with five evil foes from her past whom she has to defeat, and there are plenty of heartbreaking flashbacks of her childhood.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheAmazingWorldOfGumball'' manages to be this and DenserAndWackier simultaneously. Season 1 took fairly realistic, lighthearted SliceOfLife plots and contrasted them with the surreal, wacky world of the show. From season 2 onwards, however, the humor got much darker, [[Radar/TheAmazingWorldOfGumball raunchier]], and less subdued, Gumball TookALevelInJerkass, the plots started to become dark deconstructions of common sitcom tropes, and from season 3 onwards the show introduced an actual story arc involving a genuinely dangerous villain and [[spoiler: the idea that the universe itself is sentient and controlling the world.]] At the same time, it also [[GrowingTheBeard became much funnier as a result]], and it never takes itself seriously in the same way that the darker episodes of ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime'' do.
* ''WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom'':
** The TV movie, "The Ultimate Enemy", was the perhaps the darkest episode in the entire series, as well as one of the darkest moments in Nickelodeon history. In the episode it shows Danny's family dying due to the Nasty Burger exploding. Danny sees this as his fault and goes to Vlad. He rips the human half out of him so he doesn't have feelings. His ghost half then kills the human half and becomes a villain.
** Writer Steve Marmel [[WhatCouldHaveBeen allegedly wanted]] the show to take a more dark and serious turn in season 3, but he ended up getting [[ExecutiveMeddling fired from Nickelodeon instead]].
* Warner Brothers attempted to make the classic ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' characters Darker and Edgier in the 2005 series ''WesternAnimation/LoonaticsUnleashed'', only to result in massive outcry against the idea, and an overhaul resulting in a [[{{Animesque}} strangely drawn cartoon]] that wasn't very much in the way of new or interesting. A {{retool}} for the second season attempted to add more references to the original WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes, with mixed results.
* The ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' series went in this direction during the mid 1940's. The Disney-esque musical cartoons were all but abandoned, the jokes became meaner and more cynical, etc. "Fresh Airedale", "Each Dawn I Crow", "Long-Haired Hare", "Knights Must Fall", "Chow Hound", and "Hare Raising Hare" are among the darkest cartoons Warner Brothers ever produced. Around 1952, this toned down slightly, and there were more fluctuations between DarkerAndEdgier and LighterAndSofter (although 1964's "Dumb Patrol" was among the darkest Bugs Bunny cartoons ever made). This also renders quite pointless the general notion that ''WesternAnimation/TheLooneyTunesShow'' is one of the most cynical adaptions of a classic cartoon franchise.
** This goes back even further in some cases. For example, the Porky Pig cartoon "Pied Piper Porky" is surprisingly dark for a pre-1943 Porky Pig cartoon.
* ''WesternAnimation/ScoobyDoo'':
** The [[WesternAnimation/ScoobyDooDirectToVideoFilmSeries films]] of the late '90s were much darker than the previous shows and movies. They were very violent, people actually died, the villains were threatening, most of the monsters were real, [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking and a few adult jokes were put in]]. By the time ''WesternAnimation/WhatsNewScoobyDoo'' premiered, they became LighterAndSofter.
** ''WesternAnimation/ScoobyDooMysteryIncorporated'' has become Darker and Edgier again: The villains are generally more menacing, and the plot is more of a CosmicHorror story. And then comes the GrandFinale, which has to be seen to be believed. The colors are darker and more somber. The show has people dying and some of the characters are injured. The show also deals with themes such as betrayal and shows how characters can be corrupted by power.
** ''WesternAnimation/TheScoobyDooProject'' was a short that Creator/CartoonNetwork ran during a marathon in the 1990s. It's an AffectionateParody of the found-film genre of horror films. It's darker than the norm for the franchise. The monster is real, Mystery Inc argues a lot, there's an unusual amount of [[SoundEffectBleep implied profanity]], and [[KillEmAll everyone dies]] (or so it seemed, until the extended version showed they caught the guy and were accused of ripping off ''Film/TheBlairWitchProject'' according to Fred in the Big Game 2000).
* ''WesternAnimation/LegionOfSuperHeroes'' AnimatedAdaptation started out fairly light in tone, but the second season features a future laid waste by an evil warlord, the replacement of the young Clark Kent version of {{Superman}} with a rather disagreeable clone called Superman X, an utterly destroyed New Metropolis, and the death of one of Triplicate Girl's selves. Dark and edgy enough? No? How about, Superman X says Brainiac 5's going to do something original-Brainiac-level nasty at some point in the future. The other episodes showed similar darker shades such as a murder conspiracy where Timber Wolf was convicted of patricide, the Legion brainwashing Chameleon Boy to infiltrate Imperiex's lair, a child who will be responsible for Imperiex's creation in the future being hunted down for that exact reason, Dream Girl being kidnapped and forced to use her precognitive powers to fight against the Legion by a group of terrorists. Ultimately, Brainiac 1 influences Brainiac 5 with MoreThanMindControl, and Brainy brutally kills Imperiex onscreen, turns on the Legion, puts a crown of Kryptonite on Superman - not the clone, ''our'' Superman. He begins to digitize the entire universe, basically assimilating the Coluans to be his army. The LOSH finale is how WhamEpisode is done. We get an EarnYourHappyEnding, though, when 5 is able to drive 1 out during a JourneyToTheCenterOfTheMind, and Superman X can go home right and the restoration of the time-stream brings the third Triplicate Girl back.
* ''WesternAnimation/Ben10AlienForce'' and ''WesternAnimation/Ben10UltimateAlien'', the newer, more dramatic sequel to its predecessors, as allotted by Ben, Gwen, and Kevin being [[TimeSkip aged up into their adolescence]]. Aside from the age difference, one drastic change is that Ben now retains wounds inflicted while in alien form even after he's reverted back to human.
** It's not just making 'em a little older, either. With ''Alien Force'' and ''Ultimate Alien,'' villain motivations go from "steal the Omnitrix and [[KickTheDog kick puppies]]" to ethnic cleansing, civil war with BlackAndGreyMorality and no good guys, people dying and staying that way, and consequences go from "astonishingly, nobody got hurt" to "Anything goes behind a GoryDiscretionShot and people stay dead." The last half of ''Ultimate Alien'' takes it farthest, especially with the episode "Catch a Falling Star."[[note]]Today, on your favorite kids' cartoon: A murderous criminal better suited for CSI gets back-alley surgery to alter his face. The amount of blood the team found from that was [[GoryDiscretionShot apparently impressive]]. We find he killed the "surgeon" (that is, the ''veterinarian'' who owed him a favor) and anyone else who got in his way. His sidekick is an actress with a messed-up upbringing that lead to her becoming like the many RealLife "groupies" of criminals. He had in fact put her in a SadisticChoice DeathTrap back when he'd been more of a "cartoon" villain than a dark villain; her affection for him is explicitly compared to StockholmSyndrome.[[/note]]In comparison, the new ''Omniverse'' series [[LighterAndSofter scaled it back a lot]] (it does have some more serious episodes, but never reached the same heights and usually tried to made them lighter with more jokes and silly situations inserted), and [[WesternAnimation/Ben102016 the new reboot]] has completely gone back to lighter and softer.
* ''WesternAnimation/ReBoot'' pulled this off rather well in season 3 by showing two young characters suddenly grown up, adapting to the change in writing style, introducing new locations, and expanding the scope of the series.
** This was the culmination of a transitional phase of the story begun during the Web World Wars when [[spoiler:Bob was thrown into the Web and the previously one-shot virus attacks became a full-on assault. When Enzo was required to take the role of Guardian and lost in a game, losing his right eye in the process... that was when the Darker and Edgier tone was cemented]].
* ''WesternAnimation/TransformersAnimated'':
** Starting with the season three opener "Transwarped", instead of the usual light-hearted action/humor, it explored the ethical implications of building a sentient but simple-minded superweapon, dealt with Ratchet's troubled past, involved far more visceral violence (albeit to robots) and brought several main characters close to death. As of "Where Is Thy Sting" [[spoiler: one Autobot character's been killed off grotesquely and the leader of the Autobots is beaten into a coma with his own hammer. We never do see him wake up, by the way.]] WordOfGod says that had the series continued, [[spoiler: he would have been revealed as having been killed.]]
** All in all, the series has a habit of borrowing characters, ideas, or scenery from the earlier Transformers shows and modifying them for its own purposes. In ''Beast Wars Waspinator'' was the lovable hapless ButtMonkey who blew up many times but always pieced himself together without any obvious lasting effects. In Animated he's a gigantic, half-crazed techno-organic bent on bloody revenge upon Bumblebee for (accidentally) having him sent to the stockades under accusations of treachery. When ''he'' [[spoiler: blows up, he's also seen piecing himself back together, but the effect is intensely creepier.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/BeastWars'' itself saw this after the end of season 1, which featured [[spoiler: the death of Optimus Primal]]. The first, episodic, often very campy season stands in contrast to the more mature, more serious later seasons. AnyoneCanDie also goes into full effect, though [[spoiler: naturally, Optimus does get resurrected into a new toy, er, body]].
** Its sequel ''WesternAnimation/BeastMachines'' [[FromBadtoWorse continues raising the already dire stakes from the previous series]] by busting right out of the gate with planetary genocide... and it still manages to degenerate from there.
* ''WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime'' is the darkest and edgiest Transformers cartoon thus far. There's far less comic relief; disease, brutality, and the undead are common thematic elements; and deaths are common (the Autobots are actually shown killing Decepticons). Heck, in the first episode a character is killed by Starscream rather violently and his death is mourned throughout the series. Whenever a character is killed, they don't come back and are only referenced.
* ''WesternAnimation/ThePowerpuffGirls'':
** The movie was edgier and more serious than the majority of the series -- not that that's hard to accomplish.
** In the episode Super Zeros, where the girls try to act like their favourite heroes, they poke fun at this trope. Buttercup at one point complains, "And we're not all dark and tormented!".
* In 2003, Creator/JohnKricfalusi made a revival of his cartoon ''WesternAnimation/TheRenAndStimpyShow'', called ''Ren and Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon'', to allow him more freedom on what he couldn't do previously on the show. It was darker, much more violent, the characters used stronger curse words, and it had a lot more blatant sex jokes, including a few episodes where the duo are portrayed as gay lovers. Needless to say, it didn't go down well...
* To promote the movie, a PG-13 version of ''Franchise/GIJoe'' called ''WesternAnimation/GIJoeResolute'' was launched on Creator/AdultSwim. The first episode involves Cobra getting a massive boost in competence, leading to the Joe's battleship base being attacked, Bazooka getting killed, and Moscow getting wiped off the face of the map. Then again, what do you expect when Creator/WarrenEllis is doing the writing?
** There was also a version on Creator/DiscoveryFamily called ''WesternAnimation/GIJoeRenegades''. While not as dark as ''Resolute'', it certainly wasn't the kiddie-esque fare of the '80s cartoons.
* The final episode of ''Series/TalesFromTheCrypt'' (the only one animated) was a bloody and gory retelling of ''The Literature/ThreeLittlePigs'', featuring the wolf messily eating the pigs (and presented as a rapist in one scene) and making two of the pigs a smoker and an alcoholic who sponge off their brother. Plus, TheBadGuyWins.
* ''Franchise/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles:''
** The 2003 ''WesternAnimation/{{Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles|2003}} '' animated series compared to the [[WesternAnimation/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles1987 original 1987 version]]. But slightly LighterAndSofter compared to the original comic. This is {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d in the animated, Direct-to-DVD feature ''WesternAnimation/TurtlesForever'', where the Edgier 2003 Turtles disdain their 1987 counterparts, but are in turn scorned by the yet edgier [[ComicBook/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtlesMirage original Mirage comic Turtles]] when they meet:
---> '''Mirage Michelangelo:''' So, you're suppose to be ''us'' from other worlds... I don't see it.
---> '''Mirage Donatello:''' What's with the multi-colored headbands?
---> '''Mirage Raphael:''' Hmph... [[MerchandiseDriven sell outs]].
** The "Red Sky" seasons in the 1987 series is this compared to the light-hearted show before. The last 3 seasons (starting with season 8) were dubbed the [[FanNickname "Red Sky"]] seasons by fans, [[RedSkyTakeWarning because the sky was always red, giving the show a more post-apocalyptic feel]]. There was a greater focus on action and less on {{Slapstick}} and BreakingTheFourthWall. The turtles were also designed to look less LighterAndSofter. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSpwzYGasiw Here's a clip]] for those who aren't familiar with these seasons.
** Strangely enough, Raphael becomes Darker and Edgier for a few seconds in the second intro of the 1987 series of ''Franchise/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles''. This happens during the long version of the intro when the ThemeSong reaches about 18 seconds and happens right at the beginning in the short version. It's when the screen pans upward to Raphael's face. His shading is much darker than usual, not to mention having an angry glare in his eyes. Keep in mind that this version of Raphael is a levelheaded [[DeadpanSnarker wise guy]], unlike the usual [[GoodIsNotNice portrayal]] [[HairTriggerTemper of]] [[HotBlooded Raphael]] in most of the other ''TMNT'' [[AlternateContinuity continuities]]. With that said, this instance of an aggressive-looking '87 Raphael (pre-season 8) is actually quite fitting.
** The [[WesternAnimation/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles2012 Nickelodeon series]] is in-between, being more serious than the 80s one but lighter than the 2003 one. Though, some episodes from the third and fourth seasons do give the 2003 series the run for its money, with the presence of the Triceratons and Shredder becoming Super Shredder.
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' features this after Season 1. While the first episodes did detail how a nation was destroyed and explains Zuko's scar, it's not until the second season when the plot really starts to hammer in the sheer destruction of war, touching on such cheery implications as genocide, concentration camps [[spoiler:for water benders]], and a general feeling of helplessness. In addition, the second season introduced the ''[[MagnificentBastard extremely]]'' [[HeroKiller competent]] [[TheDragon Princess Azula]] to follow up on the first season's StarterVillain. Even the personal stories get deeper and darker, with Zuko struggling with moral issues, [[spoiler:Katara seeking vengeance for her mother's death with a technique called "bloodbending", and Azula going absolutely psychotic.]] Done well, because the descent into darkness is gradual and doesn't just put a gun in a character's hand. Rather, the focus is on fleshing out characters and exploring the implications of their situation.
** ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'' seems to be taking it even further, with a {{steampunk}} city riddled by crime.
*** The creators have even [[WordOfGod stated outright]] that ''Korra'' is darker and more mature in comparison to ''Airbender'' - which is extremely impressive for a Nickelodeon cartoon, given how mature the original series was already. So far, nothing has proven them wrong, with scenes that are highly reminiscent of public executions and rape, constant allusions to historic examples of oppression such as [=McCarthyism=], the RedScare, the Nazi suppression of Jews, etc. A politically driven storyline filled with social and political unrest, perhaps the most blatant depiction of a terrorist attack in the history of children's television, and a MurderSuicide in the season finale.
*** Season 3 started out dark, showing unambiguous suicidal thoughts, violent prison escapes, and a queen who forced airbenders into an army regardless of age, but once the show was put online it got even darker than Books 1 and 2. To start off, [[spoiler:Zaheer killed the Earth Queen in the most graphic death in the series by bending the air out of her lungs while giving her a chilling HannibalLecture. After doing that they broke down the walls of Ba Sing Se and the city descended into chaos with looters robbing the palace and entire neighborhoods being burned down. The Red Lotus next tried to get their hands on Korra by threatening another Airbender genocide with P'Li being the cold sniper and nearly killing Kai. The episode also ended with Tenzin being on the receiving end of a NoHoldsBarredBeatdown. The finale had P'Li accidentally blowing herself up and her love Zaheer witnessing her death, Korra being poisoned with mercury, Ghazan committing suicide to avoid reimprisonment, Ming-Hua getting electrocuted, and Zaheer going pretty much berserk. The finale ends with Korra broken physically and mentally from the poison and wheelchair bound, and the story ends with a SingleTear from Korra who can barely talk, move, or smile]]. Basically, by the end of the book there were no more questions why this season was put online and not TV.
*** [[FromBadToWorse Yeah, Season 4 called]]; they have pushed the [[HolyShitQuotient HSQ]] meter to breaking point. 1) Korra was incapacitated for '''3 years!!''' 2) The Earth Kingdom has been rechristened the [[TheEmpire Earth Empire]] and is the Avatarverse's equivalent of the Nazis! 3) The Empire is researching the spirit vines, which have enough power to cause the equivalent of a [[FantasticNuke nuclear explosion...]] and [[FourIsDeath 4)]] [[TheBadGuyWins The villains are winning...]]
* ''WesternAnimation/SonicSatAM'' to ''WesternAnimation/AdventuresOfSonicTheHedgehog'': The latter show was a light hearted comedic show without any of the characters being in any real danger while in ''[=SatAM=]'', Dr. Robotnik has become a power hungry dictator who has taken over the city of Mobotropolis, captured the king and thrown him into another universe, and has turned most of the inhabitants into robots to do his bidding. He is also much more [[AdaptationalVillainy menacing]] and [[AdaptationalBadass capable]] than his other interpretations, which are generally [[IdiotBall bumbling idiots.]] Also, Sonic, Tails and a band of surviving friends known as the Freedom Fighters try to stop him from ''completely'' taking over the world- [[VillainWorld he already owns most of it]] -and must avoid being captured and roboticized in the process.
* ''WesternAnimation/EdEddNEddy'':
** Parodied in TheStinger for the movie. [[spoiler: Having been beaten up by the cul-de-sac kids over a misunderstanding (he attacked the Eds, not knowing that everyone had made up), Johnny, as his superhero persona Captain Melonhead, reimages himself as The Gourd and swears revenge on the neighborhood... [[BreakingTheFourthWall only for Plank to tell him the movie was over.]]]]
--->"What ''movie?"''
** The movie itself was a Darker and Edgier version of the series, and [[DudeNotFunny not in the fun way]]: The Eds' scheme seriously wounded the other kids for once, which cause them to seek retribution, meaning ganging up on the Eds and (though merely implied) murder them. The Eds themselves ends up in several hardships trying to escape them, which takes its tolls on both Edd and Eddy. [[spoiler: They end up in a rather ugly fight because of Eddy's lack of seriousness and empathy unleashed all of Edd's repressed anger, and later it turned out that Eddy has his [[FreudianExcuse reasons]] [[DomesticAbuse for]] [[StepfordSmiler his]] [[JerkassFacade behavior]]]]. The climax itself was a horrific {{deconstruction}} of AmusingInjuries and what consequences they actually have.
** Another episode that has a dark feel to it is the ''Cartoon Network Invaded'' special episode "The Eds Are Coming".
* In addition to the [[CerebusSyndrome direction of its writing]], ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'''s evolving animation style and loosening content restrictions imposed by [[Creator/ComedyCentral the network]] played a major part in the show becoming darker (if not more serious) over its run, with more and more graphic content included on a regular basis. It's gotten to the point that most of the old episodes, which were once rated TV-MA, are now rated TV-14 since they appear downright tame compared to what's been allowed on the show (and other basic cable programming) in recent years.[[note]]Some of them are still EditedForSyndication in order to achieve said rating.[[/note]]
** Cartman's CharacterDevelopment from a mostly harmless BrattyHalfPint to a sociopathic EnfantTerrible.
** ''WesternAnimation/SouthParkBiggerLongerAndUncut'' was an early indication of some of the things the series would do in later years. To elucidate, there's a higher body count than the first three seasons combined (As it involves a war), Kyle's mom is a genuine, no-nonsense BigBad and the global scale war and TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt was treated dead seriously, although some of the events that kick-start it, like rampant cussing and the bombing of the Baldwins, is pretty hilarious.
** Some pretty dark and dramatic episodes, such as "The Return of Chef", "Stanley's Cup", "Imaginationland" trilogy (that is clearly more serious), "Coon & Friends" trilogy and "'''You're Getting Old'''" are clear examples that often the series goes from being PlayedForLaughs to PlayedForDrama. Try watching these episodes and then watch any episode from the season 1. There is a clear difference.
* ''Franchise/SpiderMan'':
** ''WesternAnimation/SpiderManTheNewAnimatedSeries'' is perhaps the darkest telling of Spider-Man. The pilot alone portrays the origin of villain Electro as a tormented university student who smashes a sign after everyone laughs at a cruel prank played on him, is electrocuted, then murders the chief antagonist. Spider-Man tries to stop him from killing more people, Electro seeing everyone as the people who hurt him, but can only do so by killing him. Too bad, as the graphic nature was what killed the series.
** The 1981 syndicated ''Spider-Man'' series was also darker and edgier compared to the ''WesternAnimation/SpiderManAndHisAmazingFriends'' series shown on NBC's Saturday morning lineup at the same time.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Rugrats}}'':
** The [[WesternAnimation/TheRugratsMovie first movie]]. Murderous animals, child endangerment, and there is tensions between Tommany and his friends. In the movie Tommany is about to leave his baby brother Dill in the forest, but then realizes that he needs to help other family members. The adults ''{{adults|AreUseless}}'' more competent than usual.
** The 1991-1994 episodes, in comparision to the more kid-friendly later seasons. They featured very adult jokes and references no child could possibly get, scary situations ''out the wazoo'', and more subplots involving the adults than the post-hiatus episodes.
** In the Snow White episode of the ''Rugrats: Tales from the Crib'' [[DirectToVideo DTV]] series, Angelica (as the Evil Queen) threatens to slit Snow White's ([[{{Irony}} played by Susie]]) throat a few times (only to be corrected by the mirror that [[ThinkOfTheCensors it's aimed at a family audience.]])
* ''WesternAnimation/ThePenguinsOfMadagascar'' has taken on a slightly darker tone in season two, by playing up the ForScience and commando motifs more. "Driven to the Brink" is a far darker Halloween special than "I was a Penguin Zombie."
* ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'':
** The show started out mainly as an action-comedy cartoon with only the Robin-centric episodes being serious, after the first season it gets darker and more serious. Some of the episodes show Robin going temporarily insane and Terra "dying" [[spoiler: and then later maybe possibly coming back to life?]] And then there was the apocalypse with everyone [[TakenForGranite turning to stone]].
** All of the arc episodes in Raven's season (a.k.a. season four) were CerebusSyndrome incarnate.[[spoiler: Slade comes back to life, has pyrokinesis, and is after Raven in a seriously Pedobear way.]]
---> '''J. Torres''': [The show] started out skewed a lot younger... but along the way, I think the producers discovered it was reaching a wider audience. ... [the show] got into some darker story lines, and they introduced a lot more characters, so they expanded on it, and they let the show evolve with the audience.
* ''WesternAnimation/ThomasTheTankEngine'': Season Five. It had several scary and adventurous episodes, and most episodes involved violent crashes. Nothing too gratuitous of course (it is a kids show after all), though an unnamed engine was shown ''falling to its death on-screen''.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheBoondocks'' TV series in comparison to the comic strip its based on. [[JustifiedTrope Though justified]] in that being on television obviously allows it to get away with a lot more than what a daily newspaper comic strip would.
* When ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' started in 1992, it was this compared to every other kids show out there. In a good way though, with mature storylines and complex characters and themes. The movies were even darker.
** Darker still was its follow-up series, ''WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyond'', set in a gritty {{Cyberpunk}} future Gotham City. It was ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' UpToEleven: more mature stories, edgier violence, and an even bleaker tone. And to think the network originally wanted it to be a "kid-friendlier" Batman show.
** And now with the LighterAndSofter ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheBraveAndTheBold'' finished up, Cartoon Network is launching ''WesternAnimation/BewareTheBatman''. WordOfGod is the network deliberately wanted to return to a darker and more serious tone evocative of ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' and the more recent Creator/ChristopherNolan [[Film/TheDarkKnightSaga movies]]. ComicBook/{{Katana}} has taken the place of ComicBook/{{Robin}} and Comicbook/{{Batgirl}}, which should probably tell you something about the tone.
* ''WesternAnimation/ThunderCats2011'' is [[WordOfGod actively]] promoted [[http://tv.ign.com/articles/118/1181091p1.html as such]], particularly noticeable with the [[{{Catfolk}} ThunderCats]]' enslavement of their [[{{Lizardfolk}} Lizard]] enemies, and other themes of FantasticRacism. Moral ambiguity comes to Thundera, which soon becomes a SoiledCityOnAHill and DoomedHometown with the murder of young Lion-O's father.
* While ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'' is funny and light-hearted in its own right,[[WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerbTheMovieAcrossThe2ndDimension The movie]] is this. It involves the first time where [[CheerfulChild Phineas]] is truly mad at someone ([[spoiler:him being upset at Perry revealing himself to be a secret agent, as he feels like Perry never regarded him and Ferb as friends]]), we have a dictatorship where every character has DarkerAndEdgier counterparts, and the first time the main characters have been faced with someone trying to kill them.
** To a lesser extent, the fourth season as a whole seems to be more liberal when it comes to using black comedy and GettingCrapPastTheRadar, and the stories of some episodes may count too, in particular Phineas' controversial snapping in [[WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerbMissionMarvel "Mission Marvel".]]
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' is Darker and Edgier compared to [[WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyG3 the G3 shows.]] This is especially cemented by the fact that [[BlackComedy darkly comedic]] SanitySlippage is a perfectly common occurrence among our main cast. Then again, this doesn't really say much, since the G3 series is the epitome of TastesLikeDiabetes, and ''Friendship is Magic'' itself is still quite sugar sweet and very lighthearted. G3 is a cupcake topped with sprinkles, peppermint candy and powdered sugar, while Friendship Is Magic is just a cupcake topped with sprinkles.
* ''WesternAnimation/KingOfTheHill'' has an in-universe example. Multiple episodes show Luanne running a Bible-themed puppet show called "The Manger Babies". In a later episode, John Redcorn runs a business of selling children's educational [=DVDs=] and has Luanne make some. When her popularity wanes, she tries to gain back her fanbase by making a Darker and Edgier show with "edgier" storylines and characters, including a Franchise/{{Bratz}} doll {{Expy}}.
* ''[[WesternAnimation/ThePiratesWhoDontDoAnythingAVeggieTalesMovie The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything]]'', the second feaure film in WesternAnimation/VeggieTales, seemed grimmer than its predecessor. While it still had jokes, there was still a darker atmosphere aspect that can be felt in it. Probably something to do with the film opening with a teenage boy getting kidnapped at swordpoint. Or the villain's plan to murder his brother being played entirely seriously, as well as his [[WouldHurtAChild willingness to outright kill his niece and nephew if it came down to it.]] Or maybe the protagonists [[BystanderSyndrome refusing to do anything even remotely helpful until a good way through the movie.]]
** When it comes to the mainline series, the episode "Sweetpea Beauty" seems a tad darker than other episodes, featuring a nightmarish climax and a villain more threatening than [[LaughablyEvil most others in the show]].
* ''Franchise/WinnieThePooh'' did one. For proof watch ''WesternAnimation/PoohsGrandAdventure''. Or just look at the page image up there. Yes, Winnie the Pooh has indeed crossed the DespairEventHorizon.
** The television series ''WesternAnimation/TheNewAdventuresOfWinnieThePooh'' also did this in a couple of episodes.
* ''WesternAnimation/SpongebobSquarepants'':
** [[WesternAnimation/TheSpongebobSquarepantsMovie The movie]] was much more creepy and serious than the series itself. Plankton is much more evil and depraved than he usually was in the series, as he [[MoralEventHorizon enslaves all the citizens of Bikini Bottom and almost commits two murders on screen]] [[TheBadGuyWins and finally achieved all his objectives]] ([[NearVillainVictory although not for long]]). And this is the first time that we find [[VileVillainSaccharineShow really menacing villains]]: Dennis, a vicious mercenary hired by Plankton to kill Spongebob and Patrick and is very willing to do it, and the "Cyclops", who kidnaps sea creatures and has them subjected to painful methods to make knick-knacks out of them.
** The show's first 7 seasons were darker and occasionally more violent than the last, culminating in episodes like "One Coarse Meal", "Squidward in Clarinet Land" and "Earworm". [[LighterAndSofter This was]] dialled back a bit in Season 8, and especially the second half of Season 9.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'':
** The [[TheMovie films]] and Creator/ComedyCentral seasons, though there were earlier examples that foreshadowed this.
** The darkest episode has to be "The Sting", with its death of Fry moment, Leela's hallucinations, and her almost-suicide. As well, the episode is favored as a clearer view of Leela's unrevealed affection for Fry and Philip's not-as-dumb-as-seems devotion to her.
* "[[BigDamnMovie The Rise of Miss Power]]" is this to the regular ''WesternAnimation/WordGirl'' series. While there are still jokes, we are introduced to the villainess Miss Power, who, unlike other villains, [[KnightOfCerebus is taken seriously]]. She goes to Earth, and teaches [=WordGirl=] her powers (like ice breath), and also teaches her to mock the other villains. This goes so far as to [=WordGirl=]/Becky Botsford talking back to her parents, and she even [[TearJerker mocks her own sidekick]]. When she discovers Miss Power's scheme, she gets a NoHoldsBarredBeatdown, and is declared to be weak by Miss Power, and she takes over the town. And, unlike other villains, she would've succeeded in killing someone, had [=WordGirl=] not intervened, and almost succeeded in [[TakeOverTheWorld taking over the world]]. This feeling towards the episode is mostly because of the anti-bullying message they put into the movie.
* The ''Franchise/WallaceAndGromit'' short "WesternAnimation/AMatterOfLoafAndDeath". People ''die''.
* ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice'' seems to be trying to be DarkerAndEdgier than earlier DC cartoons such as ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'' and ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'', by having a lot more melodrama.
** Season 2, "Invasion".
** Miss Martian is now an AntiHero who regularly extracts information from her enemies' minds, even though it leaves them completely catatonic. Superboy (now her ex-boyfriend) is increasingly concerned, and [[spoiler: the fact that she tried to make him forget he was upset]] was the last straw before their breakup.
** Aqualad's arc is darker and much more serious then it was in season one. [[spoiler: When he first appears, it's set up to look like he switched sides during the TimeSkip, and he nukes a base full of oblivious krolotean henchmen just to make it convincing. Then it turns out he's a FakeDefector and picked warning his friends about the bomb over saving the aliens, but Nightwing still notes that it was an "impossible choice".]] He is then mind-raped [[spoiler: by M'gann.]]
** Bart "Impulse" Allen, FunPersonified in the comics, is a StepfordSmiler from a BadFuture.
** One of the darkest points of the series is when [[spoiler:Artemis's]] Team and family mourns her death and swears vengeance on the killer.
** Jason Todd existed in ''Young Justice'' and was introduced and killed off during the time skip. This shows how the series got more mature and darker as time went, it also proves that they were willing to kill off charaters.
** The episode "Summit" shows a character get stabbed, blood is also shown. (granted, it was [[BackFromTheDead Ra's Al Ghul]]). And in the second season finale, [[spoiler:Kid Flash]] disintegrates, this death is a on screen death.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{X-Men}}'' was a pleasant surprise when it first hit TV. It had the death of one of the main characters in the first episode, dealt with prejudice and interpersonal conflicts virtually unknown in a Saturday morning cartoon, portrayed bad futures, and took a more adult approach that treated viewers as mature.
* ''[[WesternAnimation/BeavisAndButtheadDoAmerica Beavis and Butt-Head Do America]]''. While the film still has comedic beats, the plot is much more serious than any episode of the series. A criminal confuses Beavis and Butthead for a couple of thugs he hired to kill his wife, Dallas. Dallas also hides an extremely dangerous biological weapon in Beavis' shorts. The CIA learns of this and starts to go after the duo. Given all of this, Beavis and Butthead have several brushes with death. In addition, a couple of scenes were somewhat sexual.
%%* ''WesternAnimation/CodenameKidsNextDoor'' from around season 2 onward when the show's MythArc started to develop.
%%** TheMovie. The consequences are really scarier, and the villain is one of the worst of all villains that has appeared in the series.
* ''WesternAnimation/CourageTheCowardlyDog'':
** Episodes featuring Katz are clearly darker and edgier, but also more dense.
** In the final season things really got worse, especially in the episode "The Mask", which had a realistically portrayed domestic abuser in the form of villain Mad Dog.
** Then came the grand finale, and in "Remembrance of Courage Past" we were introduced to the worst villain in the show, an evil vet who was responsible for the fate of Courage's parents, while "Perfect" revolves around psychological abuse and despair, and includes absolutely horrifying nightmare sequences.
* ''WesternAnimation/DrawnTogether'' has always been kept a BlackHumour somewhat [[ComedicSociopathy sociopathic]], but certainly, for many fans, the season 3 comes to disturbing levels or even DudeNotFunny.
* ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad'' has gotten DarkerAndEdgier along with it's [[GrowingTheBeard beard growth]], especially in later seasons.
* ''WesternAnimation/CatDog'' had the series GrandFinale and TheMovie titled: "The Great Parent Mystery", that is definitely more serious than the series.
* ''WesternAnimation/BarbieInAMermaidTale2'' is more serious than [[WesternAnimation/BarbieInAMermaidTale the first movie]]; despite Eris being deposed, the scenes of the characters' worst nightmares are pretty intense, and it has Merliah in the position of possibly losing her legs forever. There's also two scenes where Kylie almost drowns.
* ''WesternAnimation/GravityFalls'':
** The show in general is one of the darkest things Disney has produced in [[AvertedTrope modern]] [[ValuesDissonance times]] openly mentioning [[NeverSayDie death]] PlayedForDrama and PlayedForLaughs, sometimes at the same time. BlackComedy, blood, gore (although bloodless in this case), [[BigScrewedUpFamily horrible families]] and what has to be one of the biggest off-screen body counts in kids shows ever, and [[UpToEleven probably one of the highest on-screen too]].
** The episode "Dreamscapers" (and "Gideon Rises", for that matter) of is a WHOLE lot darker than the rest of the season. It had a MIND DEMON. [[spoiler:Things took an EVEN DARKER turn when he got mad. EAT NIGHTMARES!]]
** The short series ''Dipper's Guide to the Unexplained'' was mostly a short, lighthearted comedic bit of animation. However, the last episode The Hide Behind featured a real lumberjack legend (which is disturbingly similar to Slenderman), and even [[spoiler:ended with him being real and stalking Dipper on the way home.]]
** ''Northwest Mansion Mystery'' is also pretty harsh: A [[AxCrazy psychotically]] [[{{Revenge}} vengeful]] lumberjack ghost, ''blood oozing from taxidermy animals'', [[spoiler: and the true nature of Pacifica's [[AbusiveParents vile father]]]].
** The show itself turns dark and edgy in Season 2 once the [[MythArc myth arc]] begins to kick in, with its GrandFinale featuring [[spoiler: an actual apocalypse on Earth transpiring.]]
*** This goes to the point of being riddled with several [[CerebusRetcon cerebus retcons]] of previous jokes and quirks of certain characters. That's right, season 2 its so dark and edgy it turns the first season darker and edgier.
* ''WesternAnimation/DungeonsAndDragons'' got noticeably DarkerAndEdgier in its second season (even the opening credits!). Sometimes it worked, by averting AngstWhatAngst and letting the kids actually show the emotional pain they would logically be feeling due to their circumstances. Other times, it drifted into {{Narm}} and seemed like a lot of cheap angst for its own sake. The third season pulled back to a tone midway between the first two.
* ''Animation/TheSnowQueen2012'' is darker than the fairy tale that inspired it; The Snow Queen rules the world as a dictator and plans to cause eternal winter everywhere.
* Essentially Canada and France's answer to ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'', ''WesternAnimation/IvanhoeTheKingsKnight'' featured some occurrences of blood and well as utterances of words such as "Hell", "Hellish" and "Hellhole."
* Once Creator/{{Toonami}} came back and took over Creator/AdultSwim's action block, it became this. Not only is the color scheme darker, but the revived block also had shows like ''Anime/AttackOnTitan'', ''Manga/BlackLagoon'', and ''[[Manga/{{Hellsing}} Hellsing Ultimate]]''.
** ''WesternAnimation/TheIntruderII'' has taken this route and outdoes [[WesternAnimation/TheIntruder its predecessor]] in term of being a WhamEpisode. Whereas the original ''Intruder'' was perfectly content in killing TOM 1, this has seen that the Intruder has taken over TOM 1's body, [[spoiler: assimilate SARA's core, gloat about [[KilledOffscreen killing TOM 4]], TOM 5 rip off his own arm, and the ''Absolution'' is destroyed. There's also a touch of TheFourthWallWillNotProtectYou thrown into the bumpers as they go from flashing "RED ALERT", to garbed text as SARA "dies", to error messages after the ''Absolution''[='=]s destruction. However, [[EarnYourHappyEnding things end on a positive note]], as TOM managed to back up SARA and upload her onto a ship he finds and she builds him a new arm.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheLionGuard'': Although the series itself is much more lighter in comparison to the film series, it is this to every other Disney Junior show, as it doesn't have any qualms about mentioning death, many of the fight scenes, although not graphic are rather painful, and some of the episode plots are very realistic, with Cant Wait to be Queen being the best example with Janja's attempted kidnapping of Kiara being very intense. Later episodes seem to have these moments very frequently with main characters in mortal peril and suggestive statements that really push this almost out of preschool friendly territory.
** Kevin Schon, the voice of Timon, Chungu & Thurston, [[http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/lionguard/images/8/8d/Darkertlg-2.png/revision/latest?cb=20160826175900 announced on his Twitter]] that season 2 could be even darker.
* Among the earliest SaturdayMorningCartoon shows, Creator/HannaBarbera's 1974 show ''WesternAnimation/{{Devlin}}'' was promoted as such, as much as Saturday morning cartoons could be in TheSeventies. Among the issues the show dealt with were PTSD, illegal immigration, satanism, and child runaways.
* ''WesternAnimation/PeterPanAndThePirates'' may possibly be the darker of all versions of Peter Pan, much more than the Disney version and even the live action version.
* A very uncommon example of an animated series that's DarkerAndEdgier than the movies they're based on is ''WesternAnimation/MenInBlack''. Whilst the movies are FamilyFriendly [=PG-13=] comedies with only slapstick violence, the cartoon has some serious mess-up stuffs including BodyHorror (one villain is made of alien stolen organs, including heads!), sentient clones dying after a few hours, villains with no problem killing, mutilations and so on. Worth noticing that, even so, the comics were even darker in tone.
* Season 8 of ''WesternAnimation/{{Archer}}'' has a [[CerebusSyndrome mostly serious]] FilmNoir plot and humour that manages to be even darker than Archer's already [[BlackComedy high standards]].
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