[[quoteright:350:[[Webcomic/{{Fanboys}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/cerebussyndrome350px_1436.jpg]]]]

->''"What's the word for when something that started out being funny ends up depressing the hell out of you? Insert that word here."''
-->-- '''Jenny Lawson''', ''Let's Pretend This Never Happened''
%% One quote is sufficient. Please place additional entries on the quotes tab.

A ToneShift towards {{Dramedy}} over the course of a comedy series' run, named for the process undergone by the print comic ''ComicBook/CerebusTheAardvark''.[[note]]It should not be confused with [[IssueDrift the slide from drama to]] AuthorTract which happened much later in the same comic's run, due to CreatorBreakdown.[[/note]] It's any story/series which starts out light, episodic, and comedic, and then assumes dramatic elements and a more coherent [[ContinuityCreep continuity]]. It chiefly occurs in works where parts have been broadcast/published before other parts have been written, as that means the older parts can't be revised into conformity.

Often seen in media where artists are expected to write a few short stories first to see how the public will react, and then start writing longer and more serious story arcs once the magazine/tv channel/company gives the go-ahead. It can also be intentional, with the lighter mood at the beginning allowing readers to meet and become attached to the characters before the story arcs with the dramatic elements begin.

Many newspaper comics undergo the [[ReverseCerebusSyndrome opposite process]] as a cartoonist puts some fairly serious storylines the first few years, then lapses into recycled gags.

This condition also has a temporary version. After a while, many shows will begin to get enough respect to be considered for awards, and will create a specific episode for this. Since there's a ComedyGhetto in effect, an episode of a show made as Emmy Bait will have fewer laughs and will usually tackle a more intense theme. When watching a show on DVD or in syndication, these episodes can stand out.

If the series has previously been fueled by [[WorldOfWeirdness high weirdness]], then the transition can be rocky. Some comics tie themselves in painful knots trying to {{Retcon}} an accumulated pile of weirdness with invented physics. Others [[DoingInTheWizard sweep the stranger things under the rug]] and try to [[ShooOutTheClowns present a more respectable face]]. More often, the weird is left in place, but [[CerebusRetcon retrofitted]] into a more dramatic role. In a good case, the combination of drama and high weird can be invigorating. In a less successful case, it can be excruciating.

An instance of MoodWhiplash. When this entire process happens in a single moment, it's a GutPunch. If the change is only temporary, it's AVerySpecialEpisode. A SuddenDownerEnding incorporates this by default, as downer endings are rarely [[DudeNotFunny seen as funny]].

May be a case of GrowingTheBeard if it actually works. Otherwise, fans may respond with TheyChangedItNowItSucks.

Compare to ShooOutTheClowns, where the PluckyComicRelief is written out of the show (or possibly killed off) to show that things have become serious. See BigDamnMovie for when this applies to TheMovie of an otherwise episodic series. When this happens to actors in RealLife, it's known as TomHanksSyndrome. Compare and contrast DenserAndWackier and LeslieNielsenSyndrome.

This process may also involve GoingCosmic, with the work beginning to incorporate highly philosophical and theological themes.

Please note that this doesn't automatically mean DarkerAndEdgier, though it often does. It's Cer'''eb'''us, [[RougeAnglesOfSatin not]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerberus Cerberus]]; [[IThoughtItMeant not that]] [[EverybodyHatesHades the latter's reputation]] helps any.[[note]]Nor the fact that the latter is OlderThanFeudalism whereas the former is Newer Than Nintendo.[[/note]] It is entirely possible for a work to get more serious, but still keep its lighthearted tone. Likewise, a work can get DarkerAndEdgier, but still be just as zany.[[note]]Usually, when this happens, it gets darker in a BlackComedy sort of way.[[/note]]

!!Sub Tropes:
* CerebusRetcon: A retcon turns a joke in an earlier episode into something with much more serious and often grim implications, something like an intentionally created FunnyAneurysmMoment.
* CerebusRollercoaster: A work [[ZigzaggedTrope constantly switches]] between Comedy, Dramedy, and Drama.
* KnightOfCerebus: The shift coincides with the appearance of a new (or [[NotSoHarmless reimagined]]) villain who is much more dangerous and frightening than previous threats.
* ReverseCerebusSyndrome: A work that is dark and serial becomes lighter and episodic.
* SuddenDownerEnding: A work is entirely comedic up until its [[MoodWhiplash final episode/chapter.]]

!!Examples Subpages:

%% Examples have to involve a shift from comedy to dramedy. Please don't add non-examples
%% where the only change was a stronger continuity. You may want ContinuityCreep.

* CerebusSyndrome/AnimeAndManga
* CerebusSyndrome/ComicBooks
* CerebusSyndrome/ComicStrips
* CerebusSyndrome/FanWorks
* [[CerebusSyndrome/LiveActionFilms Films Live-Action]]
* CerebusSyndrome/{{Literature}}
* CerebusSyndrome/LiveActionTV
* CerebusSyndrome/{{Music}}
* CerebusSyndrome/VideoGames
* CerebusSyndrome/WebAnimation
* CerebusSyndrome/WebComics
* CerebusSyndrome/WebOriginal
* CerebusSyndrome/WesternAnimation



* Comedian/singer Rodney Carrington, a longtime fixture on ''Radio/TheBobAndTomShow'', underwent this starting around 2007. Known mostly for his mix of profane stand-up comedy and equally profane songs such as "Letter to My Penis", "Morning Wood", "Dancing with a Man", and "Titties and Beer". However, he began recording albums consisting largely or entirely of songs, some of which were considerably more serious in tone than before. This culminated in him getting a BlackSheepHit on the country music charts in 2009, when the dead-serious Christmas song "Camouflage and Christmas Lights" got to #31.
* Creator/GeorgeCarlin, in spades. His early stuff was pretty straightforward comedy bits and characters, such as "Baseball vs. Football" and "Hippy-Dippy Weather Man." Then moved on to a bit more satire and slice of life, such as "Seven Dirty Words" and "Stuff." After that, he put the pedal to the metal, and the general tone of his set was "You have no rights; you have owners." "You have no choice; you have the ''illusion'' of choice." "Fuck hope."

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* The original ''WesternAnimation/KungFuPanda'' was a mostly light-hearted comedy with some occasional dramatic moments thrown in. ''WesternAnimation/KungFuPanda2'' keeps the comedy, but cranks the drama ''waaay'' up, as Po faces the villain who [[YouKilledMyFather committed genocide against the other pandas]], [[YouKilledMyFather including his biological parents]]. ([[spoiler:Except that his father and some others survived]].)
* Compare the first ''WesternAnimation/ToyStory'' (a film about two unlikely pals bonding while escaping a {{Jerkass}} with an overactive imagination) to the third (a film about a group of friends escaping a totalitarian CrapsaccharineWorld, with part of the plot being arguably an adaptation of ''[[Literature/TheDivineComedy The Inferno]]'').

[[folder:Print Media]]
* Computer magazine ''Magazine/MacAddict'', one of the two magazines split off from the defunct ''CD-ROM Today'' in 1996 (''boot'', now ''Maximum PC'', was the other). When it started out, ''[=MacAddict=]'' was unafraid to have fun: they often included little cartoons in the letters section and back page (even a stick-figure mascot, Max, who was also used in their reviewing scale); the pages were bright, colorful and rife with {{Running Gag}}s (for several issues, they joked that each magazine was soaked in Downy before it was shipped out); the CD that shipped with every issue would include something funny like a video of the staff destroying a Windows computer; and so on. In the early 2000s, the magazine got a white, sterile makeover (replacing the Max scale with a normal five-star scale), and the tone gradually shifted to a far more serious and straight-laced approach. This shift culminated in 2007, when the magazine was renamed ''Mac|Life''.

[[folder:Pro Wrestling]]
* The year 2006 was, for the most part, a lighthearted year for WWE. Except for some lingering angst over Wrestling/EddieGuerrero's untimely death, there were plenty of comic gimmicks (The Boogeyman, Hornswoggle, Vito wearing a dress) and even screwball storylines with D-Generation X reuniting to fight the villainous cheerleaders in the Spirit Squad, other funny heels such as "Mr. Kennedy", and the parodic "Rated-RKO" stable of Wrestling/{{Edge}} and Wrestling/RandyOrton. Also, this was before Maria Kanellis had shed her [[TheBrainlessBeauty "bimbo" personality]]. All these comedic elements were even [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]] by Wrestling/JohnCena in a backstage segment with Kanellis. Then, as 2006 closed out and gave way to 2007, things started getting ''really'' serious. The Spirit Squad was disbanded; Rated-RKO beat Wrestling/RicFlair to a bloody pulp; Wrestling/TripleH was badly injured and dropped out of sight; Wrestling/ShawnMichaels went solo and began displaying more heelish characteristics; and Orton left Rated-RKO and began his transition into the sociopathic "Viper", randomly attacking Legends in almost stalker fashion and then beginning a vendetta against Cena that culminated in kicking Cena's father in the head. Things got still darker in 2008, with Wrestling/ChrisJericho returning as a DarkMessiah who eventually turned completely heel; Ric Flair being retired by Shawn Michaels, who was then attacked by both Jericho and an almost heel Wrestling/{{Batista}} for it (with Batista all but murdering Michaels in an Extreme Rules Match during which he said he hated Michaels and he was not sorry for what he was doing to him); Wrestling/{{Kane}} becoming a psychotic heel again after several years of being a face; Edge being put in an angle with Wrestling/TheUndertaker as punishment for betraying Wrestling/VickieGuerrero on what would have been their wedding day and [[SanitySlippage slowly becoming unglued]] before temporarily being sent to Hell; and Wrestling/JeffHardy becoming a much darker character in creepy corpse paint and being stalked by a mysterious assailant (who in 2009 would turn out to be [[spoiler: his brother, Matt]]).

* ''Let George Do It'' initially started out as a comedy about a soldier back from the [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII war]] going into business as a professional odd-jobs man, doing things too silly or embarrassing for others to do, including occasional work as a private detective. He had a lovely young woman to assist him, with a gee-whiz little brother to get into light-hearted trouble. Over the course of several episodes, however, changes like the [[PutOnABus sudden disappearance]] of the [[BrotherChuck kid brother]] and the music going from full orchestra to organ-only darkened the tone of the show to the hard boiled detective series that the show is known for being now.

* Creator/WilliamShakespeare wrote ''Theatre/MeasureForMeasure'' while composing his greatest tragedies. Described as his "farewell to comedy", it ended in weddings (as all his comedies did) but had very little to laugh about. It was also the last one he wrote, except for ''The Tempest'' and ''Merry Wives of Windsor.''
* Along that line, ''Theatre/TheWintersTale'' begins as a tragedy but becomes a comedy in Act III, signified by Antigonus [[ExitPursuedByABear being chased offstage and eaten by a bear]].
* ''Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet'''s first half is pretty much a stock RomanticComedy. Then people start killing each other.
* ''Theatre/NextToNormal'' is all fun and jokes for most of the first act, until [[spoiler:Gabe is revealed to be dead]]. It only deteriorates more in the second act.
* Most of the first act of ''Theatre/{{Wicked}}'' is a light-hearted story about a green girl trying to fit into school and becoming friends with her popular, ditzy roommate while also falling in love with the class clown. By the end of the Act, culminating in "Defying Gravity", Elphaba discovers the truth behind the Wizard and vows to right his wrongs, getting her labeled as public enemy number one and having her best friend choose fame and power over the side of good and truth. That's just Act 1; it gets much worse in the second act.
* ''Theatre/IntoTheWoods'' is all wishes and dreams coming true in the first act but then Act Two begins and the giant shows up.
* ''Theatre/TheFantasticks'' also has its HappilyEverAfter moment coming at the end of Act 1. Act Two begins with the characters discovering that their HappilyEverAfter... isn't.
* In ''Theatre/PokemonTheMewsical'', Act 2 is ''slightly'' more serious than Act 1, and has more dramatic tension.
* ''Theater/{{Camelot}}'' starts out extremely lighthearted, with Camelot as a perfect fairy tale kingdom full of silliness and happy comedy. By the end, the kingdom has fallen, Arthur has been betrayed by the two people most dear to him in the world, and he is about to go meet his own doom. He instructs little [[Literature/LeMorteDArthur Tommy Malory]] to write and preserve the memory of when things were good, to inspire the future.