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Cerebus Syndrome: Film
Examples of movies or movie franchises getting progressively more serious.


  • Good Fellas is an odd example. The film often has enough Black Comedy at the beginning, but after the death of Tommy, the film loses completely its comedic beats and is very focused on the drama and seriousness.
  • The Adam Sandler film Click starts off as a wacky comedy about a man who can pause and fast forward his life with a magical remote control. It eventually shifts from him making a hot blonde jogging go in slow motion to him fast forwarding through his life, becoming more and more of a jerkass, alienating his entire family, and influencing his son to become like him. He reaches his end when he suffers a major heart attack when his daughter calls his ex-wife's husband dad. He finally dies shortly afterwards after running into the parking lot of the hospital that he's at, after disconnecting himself from life-support, to beg his son to not become like him. Luckily for him, most of the movie is revealed to either be a dream, or Morty giving him a break..
  • The Harry Potter film franchise is relatively light-hearted until the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when Voldemort is finally resurrected proper.
    • Though this was arguably both foreseeable and intended, given the fact that JK Rowling wanted her readers to "grow" with the characters and the level of maturity of the books.
  • Three Kings starts out as a madcap comedy/heist film until about a third of the way through, when we see a Republican Guardsmen execute a begging Iraqi civilian woman (in slow motion, no less).
  • Pleasantville starts out on a pretty light-hearted note, until the darker aspects of the the movie version of 1950s start showing up.
  • The Cable Guy. One of the reasons it failed at the box office was that fans of Jim Carrey were not prepared for how dark the film gets in the third act.
  • Hancock starts off as a parody of the superhero genre, then devolves into a serious, straight superhero film during the second act.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe seem to be going towards this path. Justified in that the early movies were to introduce the characters and the universe that they life. So, as more films come, more the world is explored, and unsurprisingly, the movies grow darker from there.
  • Compare the first Toy Story (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 Crapsaccharine World, with part of the plot being arguably an adaptation of The Inferno).
  • The first of the Pirates of the Caribbean films was a fairly light-hearted romp, especially in comparison to the sequels. By the third movie, Will is nearly killed off only to be saved at the cost of ever setting foot on dry land (or being with his wife) again except for one day every ten years. Norrington also gets the axe and the series feels a lot more bittersweet than the first film alone might have suggested.
  • Lord of War: The black comedy portions of the film end when Yuri decides to start doing business in Africa.

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