Cerebus Syndrome / Other

Examples of works from miscellaneous media getting progressively more serious.

  • The Breaker started out as a fairly lighthearted action manhwa with plenty of comedy thrown in, but gradually got more serious as a major character's Dark and Troubled Past (and its present consequences) comes to light. By Volume 10 the humor is entirely gone and another major character has been killed off.

Professional Wrestling
  • The year 2006 was, for the most part, a lighthearted year for WWE. Except for some lingering angst over Eddie Guerrero'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 Edge and Randy Orton. Also, this was before Maria Kanellis had shed her "bimbo" personality. All these comedic elements were even lampshaded by John Cena 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 Ric Flair to a bloody pulp; Triple H was badly injured and dropped out of sight; Shawn Michaels 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 Chris Jericho returning as a Dark Messiah who eventually turned completely heel; Ric Flair being retired by Shawn Michaels, who was then attacked by both Jericho and an almost heel 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); Kane becoming a psychotic heel again after several years of being a face; Edge being put in an angle with The Undertaker as punishment for betraying Vickie Guerrero on what would have been their wedding day and slowly becoming unglued before temporarily being sent to Hell; and Jeff Hardy becoming a much darker character in creepy corpse paint and being stalked by a mysterious assailant (who in 2009 would turn out to be his brother, Matt).

  • Let George Do It initially started out as a comedy about a soldier back from the 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 sudden disappearance of the 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.

Real Life
  • Everyone goes through this. When you're a kid, you've got no responsibilities and are, with some exceptions, free from the drama of the outside world - then comes the windfall of relationships, bills, jobs, money management, jury duty, and eventually death. Also depending on what happens in life, it shapes people into what they become. The most innocent child could still grow up to become a criminal/drug addict/prostitute.

  • The introduction and the first arc of Yu-Gi-Oh! East Academy are both fairly standard Yu-Gi-Oh! fare, with rivalries and friendships developing and generally a fairly light-hearted roleplay. Then the second arc rolls around...
  • Destroy The Godmodder: Began out as just a goofy game that was for fun and didn't have much of a coherent storyline. Act 2 of the second game hits and suddenly, *collective gasp* there's an actual plot. Complete with downers, sudden twists and the like.
    • Admittedly it almost strayed here near the end of the first game, but it quickly went right back into light-hearted and silly.
    • And it wasn't sudden, it happened gradually as several players started roleplaying and coming up with actual ideas. The Split Personality disorder craze didn't help any either.
  • Ulti's Bar & Grill began as a simple hang-out roleplay, with no actual story-line or plot. However, it slowly became more and more plot driven as characters enlisted each others help and more stories took place outside the central location from the name.
  • Rock, Paper, Anything downplays, then subverts this. The game started from silly to having a small subplot, but then a Reset Button is used, and the universe shenanigans is completely ignored thereafter.
  • The Massive Multi-Fandom RPG's Season One began as a silly free-form game with various characters from all over the multiverse hanging out in the strange City and interacting with each other, other with humorous results, amplified by the off-the-wall "curses" happening every day. Then increasingly deadly villains started popping up, and the tone became increasingly serious. The subsequent seasons had the plot and settings getting increasingly convoluted and dark.

Stand-Up Comedy
  • Comedian/singer Rodney Carrington, a longtime fixture on The Bob & Tom Show, 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 Black Sheep Hit on the country music charts in 2009, when the dead-serious Christmas song "Camouflage and Christmas Lights" got to #31.
  • George Carlin, 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."

  • William Shakespeare wrote Measure for Measure 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.
  • Next To Normal is all fun and jokes for most of the first act, until Gabe is revealed to be dead. It only deteriorates more in the second act.
  • Most of the first act of 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.
  • Into the Woods is all wishes and dreams coming true in the first act but then Act Two begins and the giant shows up.
  • The Fantasticks also has its Happily Ever After moment coming at the end of Act 1. Act Two begins with the characters discovering that their Happily Ever After... isn't.
  • In Pokémon: The Mew-sical, Act 2 is slightly more serious than Act 1, and has more dramatic tension.
  • 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 Tommy Malory to write and preserve the memory of when things were good, to inspire the future.