Parodied on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (of all places) in the episode, "A Space Oddity", where the Darker and Edgier and Bloodier and Gorier revival of a Star Trek-like show, "Astro Quest," was revealed to SF convention goers by the murder-victim-to be/new show's producer. This Battlestar-esque Edgier version was so bad that one of the con-goers leaps up and screams to the producer, "You suck!" The yeller was Ron D. Moore, creator and Exec Producer of the new Battlestar series, in a real-life Stealth Parody (embedded within a Parody Retcon) of what happened to HIMSELF when he introduced the "re-imagined" BSG, back in 2002. The episode, incidentally, was written by David Weddle and Bradley Thompson, writers of many Battlestar episodes—who got to throw away their BSG Series Bible and use any and all Technobabble that came to mind. During this scene, actress Grace Park (the Cylon Sharon and now-star of Yet Another Edgier and Darker remake, Hawaii Five-O) was in the audience, looking equally appalled, to complete the inside joke. Between the many Battlestar references and Star Trek homages, this was certainly one of the Television's funniest moments. Fortunately for the CSI 'verse the creator of the D&E&B&G version is also the episode's Asshole Victim.
The 2007 revival of The Bionic Woman. Did we mention that it was produced by David Eick, the co-Exec Producer of the Edgier & Darker Battlestar Galactica? Oh, yeah... in the show's short lifetime, BSG stars Katee Sackhoff and Aaron Douglas came in to help add that extra touch of dark.
Blackadder Season Three. Although the humor was dark to begin with, the third season is edgier due to the absence of the slapstick of the first season and picturesque quality of the second season. The series four had a classic case of Downer Ending.
In fairness, Blackadder Season Three (i.e. Blackadder the Third) is in fact the only one of the four series which doesn't feature an ending where everyone dies.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the essence of this trope. The TV series is a considerable case of "Darker and Edgier" than the movie, which was a high-camp spoof of horror movies. Though most viewers agree that the tone of the TV series was a marked improvement, the series continually topped itself with even moodier stories. And a Darker and Edgier remake of the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie is currently under development.
When the TV series was rescued from cancellation, there was a sharp turn away from light comedy. The reasons for this are twofold: Buffy was figuratively and literally killed at the end of Season 5, then resurrected when the series was bought by UPN. Secondly, the series was now under Marti Noxon's purview, as series creator Joss Whedon did not return as showrunner (though he remained a producer). Every character underwent a deconstruction of their earlier, comedic roles: Buffy, having been yanked back from a blissful afterlife, became a borderline-suicidal, hedonistic loose cannon. Willow the witch began dabbling in black magic, with animal sacrifices and the like. The slacker student, Xander, did not miraculously become Cary Grant once he reached adulthood; rather, he ended up dirt-poor like the rest of his family, and he still had very little understanding of how to attract women. Giles, the fuddy-duddy who spends every evening curled up with a book, similarly had no romantic prospects; his duties as Watcher were sapping the life from him. And so on, and so forth. There were attempts to emulate Whedon's off-the-cuff meta humor, but this was an entirely different show. Buffy no longer embraced and poked fun at tropes.
Angel was a Darker and Edgier spin-off of Buffy, dealing with more mature issues, having a higher cast turnover, and including a higher mortality rate. Like its parent show, the angst was ramped up with each passing year. By the final season, the heroes were stabbing each other with sharp weapons more often than the bad guys, and Buffy's faction had completely disowned them.
With its much smaller quantities of humor and less likeable Protagonists, Dollhouse is quite a bit darker than Whedon's other work.
CSI: New York was supposed to be the Darker and Edgier counterpart to the Lighter and SofterCSI: Miami: Mac Taylor lost his wife in 9/11; the lab was in a dingy 100-year old stone building; the area where the deceased were identified by their loved ones was a cramped, dark room where the corpses were lifted into the light by a hydraulic "elevator"; and liberal abuse of Unnaturally Blue Lighting (lampshaded in the pilot when Mac and H are lit by their respective filters: H is bathed in a warm orange glow while Mac is in cold blue shadow), though it only lasted one season.
Degrassi after Miriam McDonald's departure in 2010. The Degrassi franchise has gone Darker and Edgier many, many times over the years, starting with the transition from The Kids of Degrassi Street (typical crisis; friend's having a tonsillectomy and you're too young to visit them in the hospital) to Degrassi Junior High (typical crisis: Teen Pregnancy). The producers once acknowledged that they re-made the theme song (from being performed by a children's choir to being performed by rock band Jackalope) because of the show's shift in tone during the Emma era. Once the show started featuring storylines about STD outbreaks and school shootings, it no longer felt appropriate to have a bunch of children singing the theme song. They discussed leaving the theme entirely out of Bittersweet Symphony pt. 2.
Since Steven Moffat became the head writer, the whole show has become quite a bit darker, deconstructing the Doctor's MO. Interestingly, while the stories are getting darker, the character of the Eleventh Doctor and Moff's sitcom-esque dialog had maintained humour.
Friends went in this direction during its third season, delving into some pretty serious topics with the Ross/Rachel relationship and eventually having Ross get drunk and sleep with another woman after mistakenly thinking Rachel wanted to break up with him. This didn't last, as the writers themselves felt the show had become too much like a soap opera at this point. Thus, they reduced the Ross/Rachel drama to a running joke and went in a (mostly) Lighter and Softer direction from season four onward.
Garo kicked in, reducing Kamen Rider into a three-story building under its ten-story height. To be short, it is full of monsters which are far, far scarier than your average Kamen Rider, Super Sentai,Ultra Series, or Power RangersMonster of the Week. Oh, and getting touched by their blood begins an infection that leads to a horribly agonizing death. Their hosts are also in tremendous agony; killing the monster kills them, and that is very much an act of mercy. These guys are called the Horrors for a reason! Not to mention all the nudity & sex. IN A TOKUSATSU SHOW!!
The first two seasons of The Hardy Boys Nancy Drew Mysteries had a very light-hearted, humorous tone. Season Three, though... oh dear GOD. It not only dropped Nancy Drew completely, but started off by killing Joe's fiancée in a car wreck (complete with Joe weeping over her body) and having Joe go on a Roaring Rampageof Revenge in response (Last Kiss of Summer). Season Three ditched almost all the light-hearted humor, showed actual dead bodies, and involved more dangerous situations (including references to selling off Joe and a missing woman to white slavers in China — huhwhat?) and more conflict between the brothers ("Game Plan" had Frank pulling a gun on Joe). The turn confused the show's teen audience, and lost viewers.
Home and Away took this direction in 2004 with the Summer Bay stalker storyline and has arguably remained the same.
House of Anubis: In season 1, the mystery was finding clues, building a cup, and learning secrets about the house. Season 2 got darker, with curses and much more on the line, not to mention some more intense scenes (including the main villain being sucked into the egyptian underworld). Season 3, and characters are losing their souls, someone impersonated their mentally ill adoptive sister, and even the romance is becoming more intense. No wonder it's been moved to TeenNick....
iCarly: While "iPsycho" was scary yet had some awesome and humorous moments, the sequel "iStill Psycho" is probably the most dangerous situation Dan put the gang in.
Judge Mathis Season 13, with more cussing with sounds of bleeps unlike previous seasons with less profanity with cuss words muted out.
Among the Heisei era of Kamen Rider, the darkest series to date was not Kamen Rider Kuuga but Kamen Rider Ryuki as even in Kuuga most of the protagonists were definitely good and the main character is a by the book Showa type hero who doesn't get put down for being a Wide-Eyed Idealist. Ryuki however has most of the Riders as bad as their monsters they fight - it's Highlander as a Toku series and revolves around humans trying to kill humans more than anything else; some have sympathetic reasons for seeking the wish the winner will receive but are still trying to kill people; some are as murderous as any villain. Of thirteen Riders, fifteen if the Alternatives count, there are two that you would consider pure "good guys."
Some believed that Kamen Rider Faiz was the darkest of the Heisei era, as you had important characters dying on a regular basis by dissolving to ash, tragic monsters who are all as human as you or me and often are being coerced into attacking humans by the Big Bads, one of the "good guys" being good purely in that he doesn't want the villains to kill all humans and take over the world - but outside that, he's a Manipulative Bastard who'll do anything to anyone to get what he feels he deserves, and the even darker novel (double the Family-Unfriendly Violence and add a dose of rape.) Regardly, both Ryuki and Faiz are commonly accepted as being the darkest rider series of them all.
In a similar tone to the Japanese Kamen Rider series, Kamen Rider Dragon Knight is this for North American tokusatsu. KRDK regularly dealt with betrayal, distrust, questionable motives and underlying truths in initially good-looking characters, and the M.I.B. were "good guys" with highly questionable methods and even played a part in JTC's Start of Darkness. It also did away with the formulaic Monster of the Week in lieu of the "season-long movie chopped into episode-length segments" format the Japanese KR series used from Kuuga through Kabuto. There was comic relief in the form of Lacey, Trent, and Aunt Grace, but Aunt Grace got Chuck Cunningham Syndrome midseason and Lacey said Screw This, I'm Outta Here! once things started to get too hot. They had to deal with Never Say "Die"... and did it by replacing death with something worse. While still considerably lighter than Kamen Rider Ryuki, KRDK deserves mention for making itself a name in tokusatsu circles as an attempt to make a US Kamen Rider without tampering with what makes a Kamen Rider a Kamen Rider by toning it down to a Power Rangers rip-off/copy.
Kamen Rider Gaim might have a bright fruit theme to it, but its head writer is Gen Urobuchi of Puella Magi Madoka Magica infamy. For those not familiar with Madoka Magica, the fact that he's nicknamed "Urobutcher" and that he specifically named Black, Ryuki and Faiz as influences on Gaim should start ringing alarm bells. It starts out with Deconstructions of Mons and the Kid Hero before getting to a situation similar to Ryuki with multiple Riders of which only Gaim himself has a fully functional moral compass; the rest range from AntiVillains using questionable methods for good goals to Social Darwinists pursuing power at any cost to a Jerkass who uses his influence to pick on children. But the real trap was sprung a quarter of the way in: a supporting character is turned into a monster, but unlike other recent Rider series he isn't saved and is killed despite Gaim's best efforts. The one who did the deed proceeds to rub it in by stating he did a heroic thing by eliminating a threat to innocents. And even as Gaim asserts that he can't killa human, we find out that some of the monsters are also transformed humans - one (the first one he faced, in fact) was even a friend of his that had gone missing. A few episodes later makes it even worse - it's a Cosmic Horror Story, the thing making the monsters had already overtaken at least one alien world (meaning that even the monsters that weren't once human were still people), and Earth will likely be overtaken within ten years.
Speaking of Highlander: Any Queen song notwithstanding, the series was firmly in the "Living Forever Is Awesome" camp. During the last two years, however, the plot began focusing more on Duncan's pain and alienation of being immortal; this angst eventually carried over into The Raven, the ultimately doomed spin-off. One of the show's directors, Dennis Barry, suggested that the writers were dreading middle age, and that Duncan's existentialist crisis was a reflection of their collective mid-life crisis.
Paradoxically, The Raven was an uneasy mix of this andLighter and Softer. Amanda, the spin-off character, was intended as Plucky Comic Relief character. To achieve the desired result, Amanda discovered (sixty years after the fact) that an armored truck she once robbed was actually carrying WWI battle plans, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of British troops. Despite this, the show's biggest weakness was its attempts to merge Highlander lore — lopping off heads, etc. — with domesticity and light comedy. There were creative differences over what the general tone should be, and the show ended on a confused coda: the male lead is transformed into an immortal. ...After being poisoned by golf balls filled with green gas by a comical bad guy.
For Ki.Ka, a German public channel aimed at kindergarten-aged kids at the least and young teens at the most, it was the teen drama Allein gegen die Zeit that crossed some borders. It treated such wonderfully whimsical topics like school hostage crises, terrorism, fascism, attempted mass murder, deadly viruses, had a rather unvilified take on ethnic youths (Turks in particular), and a less-than-family-friendly death or two.
Lincoln Heights, an ABC Family show. For a show on a network known for soft-hearted family, teen shows it was pretty dark and gritty in the beginning. The first two seasons alone had robberies, kidnapping of minors, gang violence, prostitution, incest, racial tension, and drug use. Although by season 4 the show had mellowed out considerably and seemed to become more like a typical ABC Family show, it still remains the darkest show the network has aired.
Louis Theroux's documentary work provides one of the rare examples of this in non-fiction: whilst his early series Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends was light and silly in tone and investigated amusingly weird and kooky subcultures (UFO nuts, pro-wrestling, swingers, bodybuilders) or in some cases took a fairly fluffy take on potentially dark subject matter (porn, Thai brides), his later documentaries have veered into much, much darker and more serious territory, including neo-Nazis, crystal meth addiction, the Coalinga centre for the treatment of paedophiles, the Westboro Baptist Church and life in prison.
Merlin has certainly gotten darker over its five year run. While Deliberate Values Dissonance has allowed them to have the hero impale someone in the back in the very first episode, most fans agree that the show grew the beard in The Beginning of the End when Merlin takes in an innocent orphan boy and Arthur helps him escape Camelot, and it turns out that he's Mordred. And this was just the first season.
Merlin's Character Development is probably the best example of this, as he started as a Constantly Curious oblivious teenage boy, but over the years of Shoot the Dog, hiding who he is from his friends, having to deal with his problems completely alone, and having Aithusa, who he hatched and considers his kin, choose his enemy over him for a yet unknown reason, he's become an extremely dark antihero who is a Stepford Smiler and is only holding together because he's a absolutely focused on keeping his friends safe and freeing the magical people.
Miami Vice seasons 3-5 are a marked departure from the first 2 seasons. This was largely caused by Law & Order writer Dick Wolf taking up head writer duties on the show. The Daytona was destroyed and replaced with the Testarossa, the pastel colours disappeared, the plots got much more serious (see Zito's death), and the overall tone was much more grim.
Power Rangers in Space seemed to have a more mature theme compared to the previous seasons at the time. It was the first season to carry the Luke, I Am Your Father trope. It was also the first season where the bad guys actually used their forces to take over all of Earth, not just aim for a single city. It was also a tragic farewell to a mentor who started it all, Zordon, who commits a Heroic Sacrifice, the first death of a good guy in the series.
Power Rangers RPM is much, much, much darker than either the whole Power Rangers franchise or its source material Engine Sentai Go-onger, going so far as to kill off a large percentage of humanity in the nuclear bombardment of a Robot War, and deal with serious psychological repercussions of traumatic events and childhoods at times. It wasn't all doom and gloom, but even its sense of humor was sharper, relying less on random silliness and more on taking the silliness inherited from the franchise and mocking it. Power Rangers in general, by contrast, is generally the poster child for Never Say "Die", and Go-Onger was very much a silly Lighter and SofterSuper Sentai series, complete with monster song-and-dance numbers.
Other Darker Power Rangers shows include Power Rangers Lost Galaxy and Power Rangers Time Force. Lost Galaxy features the first death of a core Ranger and the main villain ordering attacks by suicide bombers later in the season, along with the origin of the Magna Defender's and the ON-SCREEN death of his child. Time Force had frequent death and a complete defiance of Never Say "Die", and a legion of mutants on the receiving end of Fantastic Racism and the whole concept of Predestination vs. Free Will, which was a fairly dark theme throughout the series. Ironically Time Force was adapted from a sentai series that was MUCH DARKER.
Power Rangers Samurai is largely a Shot for Shot Remake of the darker Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, and while it loses some of the darkness (the occasional Victim of the Week has his sad backstory toned down, Deker is so not Juzo) it adds some more of its own when diverging from the source material. We have villains who are made stronger by human sadness, so the enemy plans are most often "make a whole lot of people suffer." Serrator's Long Game manipulations make him a Knight of Cerebus extraordinaire. Deker is so not Juzo… and has to die anyway. His last words are "Finally… I'm free." Dayu is brought to such despair by his loss that she is able to revive Xandred with her sadness alone, and is willing to because by now she just doesn't care what happens to the world, or herself, as she doesn't resist when he absorbs her to become part human and gain immunity to the sealing symbol.
Season VI is of particular note because it downplayed the comedy elements in favor of sci fi horror. Despite this, many fans like it.
Season VIII combined very dark storyline with forced comedy.
Revolution: Episode 11, "The Stand" (the first episode after the show's four-month hiatus), starts the second half of Season 1 in this direction, with enough graphic war violence that NBC slapped the episode with a Viewer Discretion Advised warning.
In the '70s, not long after Sesame Street was created, MAD Magazine gave us a parody with random gang violence, drugs, evictions, prostitutes, pimps and gangsters called Reality Street (the writer was a pessimist). Even the intro was changed: "Smoggy days, feeling my lungs decay. It's a street of depression, Corruption, oppression! It's a sadist's dream come true! And masochists, too! Can you tell me how to get, get away from Reality Street?"
The American remake of Shameless. William H. Macy decided to play the main character as a "realistic" unsympathetic drunk, which sapped the humor out of the show. The original already takes place in a Crapsack World filled with Dirty Cops and other degenerates.
Smallville was initially a very family-friendly show that gradually turned Darker and Edgier throughout its ten years of running, taking its first attempt around season four, but the story arc is widely criticized as it doesn't fit well in the Superman background. Zod (season six premiere) (the episode) has a fair bit of unnecessary violence, but Phantom (season six finale) is a serious dip with high amounts of gore and violence wherever Bizarro goes (Enfant Terrible alert!), and more in season seven due to increased Brainiac activity. Season eight introduces Doomsday, which is pretty much a walking terror tank. On the morality side, Lana Lang dabbles in the Luthor business around season six; Kal-El proclaims "Clark Kent is dead" in the season eight finale, but the most shocking swerve comes in the beginning of season nine, with Chloe Sullivan, previously the living embodiment of Incorruptible Pure Pureness, turning into a Manipulative Bitch.
Season 5 also had some darker edges to it, as the characters graduated from the high school setting, Lana and Clark's relationship frayed as the former grew closer to Lex, and Jonathan Kent succumbed to a heart attack and died, leaving Clark without a supportive father figure.
Sonny With A Chance is a peppy teen comedy about a girl making it big in Hollywood, but the two-parter contains things like Sonny getting framed for several crimes, the main cast almost going down in a plane and Sonny's attempted murder.
The 1994-1995 Gerry Anderson sci-fi series Space Precinct is a darker, more serious reworking of a primarily comedic pilot called Space Police that Anderson made a decade earlier.
To be fair, early on Stargate Atlantis did a good job of killing or bussing well-liked supporting characters and a main character was even Put on a Bus mid-season 2. They did start to shift away from this as the series progressed, though.
Stargate Universe in turn is a Darker and Edgier version of the previous two Stargate series. What makes this one significant is that the creators stated that it will be a Darker and Edgier Stargate from the get-go. And then... They never really shut up about it and all they were ever talking about was how much darker, edgier and grittier Universe will be.
The final two seasons of Stargate SG-1 were noticeably darker than the first eight, with the good guys on the wrong side of a galactic Curbstomp Battle against a Nigh Invulnerable enemy.
The first was the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Best of Both Worlds", during which happened the battle at Wolf 359, which is in some circles referred to as "The 9/11 of Star Trek", which is especially relevant in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. After this point, stories started focusing more on the imperfections of the Federation, which had until that point been portrayed as a Utopia.
Notably, Star Trek did not go Darker and Edgier by adding a load of sex, violence, and profanity, but it did (particularly in DS9) turn away from the Black and White Morality utopia Federation and introduced some grey into the Federation and their allies and enemies.
The second was the 2009 Star Trek film, which destroyed Vulcan and killed Kirk's father, years before Star Trek: The Original Series is set. As a result, the Federation in future Treks is likely to more closely resemble the post-Wolf 359 and post-Dominion War Federation seen in DS9 instead of the happy-go-lucky world of TOS and early TNG.
Samurai Sentai Shinkenger is far darker than the previous series, Engine Sentai Go-onger with shots of the previous Shinkenger team being killed and mauled, very brutal sword duels between Takeru and Juzo, a Big Bad who personally killed Takeru's father, Deconstruction of fealty and loyalty tropes, even class distinctions (Sixth Ranger Genta is initially looked down upon by Takeru and Kaoru's Jerk Ass attendant Tanba always insults him for being a 'mere Sushi Seller' and not a true Samurai), and a Dragon trying to open the gates of Hell themselves to cause a literal Hell on Earth for shits and giggles! Due to all of this, as well as balancing out with very good humor, likable characters, and extremely good action Shinkenger is considered one of the best Super Sentai ever created.
Tokumei Sentai Go Busters went the same way as Ohranger, as it too dealt with robot terrorism and the Busters themselves can be weakened to the point where a city could be destroyed and the enetron could be stolen - and also went Lighter and Softer midway through, shifting towards being more comedy-oriented specifically involving the BuddyRoids. In fact, it shifted up and down the scale a few times, so that you have Go-onger scale wackiness at some points and things that would never happen in any of the above series in others. The end in particular cements the inability to Screw Destiny in two cases ( You figured no matter how many times we heard it couldn't be done, they'd find a way to save their parents and the other researchers, who were digitzed within the Disc One Final Boss. Also, a Ranger Living on Borrowed Time will usually be saved. When the final curtain closes, it's official: They really did have to kill their parents with Messiah, and saving Jin isn't possible.) Yes, we are still talking about the same series whose wacky robots made it seem the Spiritual Successor to Go-Onger.
Survivors: The original version's third season goes in this direction. At the very least, the characters appear to be taking a lot fewer baths.
Tin Man has DG (Dorothy Gale) going to the Outer Zone (yup, the O.Z.) where she befriends a man who has lost part of his brain to evil experimenters, and a tortured empathic beast who seems to be a human/lion crossbreed, and the "Tin Man" of the title, a cop who wears a tin star.
He was also locked in a metal life support box that kept him alive but awake and unable to move or talk, furthering the Darker And Edgier parallels. The whole thing is a combination of the movies, the book, and a bunch of Darker and Edgier twists and story details.
Torchwood, a spinoff of Doctor Who, was billed as "Darker and Edgier" than its family-aimed parent, which amounted to quite a bit of sex and violence. While not as overt, series 2 still had far more sensitive material than could ever be shown at 7pm, and the miniseries Children of Earth upped the depression and utter hopelessness of the show to eleven.
And then they took it to an entirely new level with the "Torchwood" Miracle Day miniseries. "Dark" doesn't begin to describe it.
The West Wing: This trope happened in an odd way — since the original show had almost no on-screen violence involving the main cast, it couldn't be ramped-up: the last three seasons saw the artificial retconning of character personalities from the idealistic to the cynical end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, deleting a lot of the morality from the characters' choices to make them "grayer", a shift to Ripped from the Headlines crises instead of political ones, a lot more military-oriented storylines, more disasters and suspense, a lot of verbal fighting and drama to make up for the fact that there was no regular violence, making the rare instances of violence more frequent, and casting a much darker political climate over the previously sensible in-universe Washington. Needless to say, the fans saw through this ploy right away and disapproved of its artificiality, especially as seasons 3 and 4 had already done a very different, organic take on the darker and edgier convention. Oddly enough however, the show did avoid MOST (emphasis on "most") easy opportunities for inserting more sex into the show.
As Wizards of Waverly Place progressed, werewolves, vampires, mummies and Franken-monsters passed by, not to mention that Alex's magnificent Noble Demon skills developed and Justin became a monster hunter and a Mad Scientist. Oh, and Max lost his conscience for an episode or two. Really. Not to mention that they apparently killed off Stevie without anyone seeming to care. Alex even made a harsh, sarcastic comment about her death, then walked away happily.
Season 4 seems to be taking it up a notch with the "Wizards vs. Angels" trilogy.
Wonder Womanalmost got this treatment: The Wonder Woman 2011 Pilot, although not picked up by NBC, was examined by a number of reviewers who almost unanimously indicated that Diana was depicted as an ultra-violent In Name OnlyDesignated Hero who tortured and killed without hesitation. Villains' Offstage Villainy combined with Diana's very much onstage over-the-top brutality makes her come off as the true villain of the piece.
The Scarlet Pimpernel (1999) had a lot more of violence, gore and sex than Emma Orczy's original novels. Some viewers liked it as they felt that The French Revolution was a bloody and gory business in the first place, but some felt that it didn't focus much on deep love between Sir Percy and his wife and romantic sub-plots. There were also at least two heart-breaking Deaths by Adaptation.
Blue Heelers took a big one in 2004 with the station being bombed, killing Jo and Clancy, and Tom's wife raped and murdered. Dark, grisly crimes would become more of a forefront and rather than glossing over the details it became akin to something like CSI Mount Thomas or Criminal Minds Australia.