Deconstructed Trope: Western Animation
- Hey Arnold! deconstructs Purity Sue with Olga Pataki, Helga's sister. In order to keep your "pretty, intelligent, sweet, absolutely beloved young girl" image, you're likely to end up as a perfectionist, weepy, perpetually smily, dangerously out-of-reality mess who will break down to melodramatic levels the very moment something doesn't seem to fit in such a bubble of perfection, while being almost completely unable to connect with people far more "flawed" than yourself.
- The show also deconstructs the Parental Favoritism trope with Olga. It shows the bad effects it can have on children who are favored a lot in their families. Because Olga's parents dote on her too much, they have set a lot of unrealistic expectations for Olga, causing her to become the neurotic perfectionist she is. Olga outright said that she wished that she was The Unfavorite out of the two. She and her sister see each other as getting the "better deal". This shows that being the "favorite" child isn't all that cracked up to be and that parents should favor their children equally.
- It also gives us Helga Pataki herself as a deconstruction of the Tsundere trope. She's got a relationship with Arnold that looks on the surface like the typical foundations of a Slap-Slap-Kiss romance, but as we delve a bit farther into her family life we see that, along with her traumatized Purity Sue sister, she has an abusive Jerkass dad and a Lady Drunk mother, neither of which can provide much support in her daily life — if she's lucky. Looking at the show with slightly more jaded eyes, her volatile relationship with Arnold and her few friends become an increasingly obvious cry for help and an awkwardness with dealing with people nonviolently.
- It even went so far that a psychologist was sent to deal with Helga's anger problems. A clear aversion of There Are No Therapists.
- In the deceptively named episode “Deconstructing Arnold”, they seem to deconstruct All-Loving Hero: When Tsundere Helga points out that Arnold is always giving unsolicited advice to other kids, spoiling their fun, And That's Terrible. After every other kid (included best friend Gerald) agrees, Arnold decides to stop helping others. Then we discover… that Arnold is still the same good, happy kid. He’s not a Broken Messiah or a Messiah Creep. However, as expected, the kids' plans backfire and they need help in resolving them, only for Arnold to remind them that they didn't want his advice. They then go to Helga, whom she initially doesn't see the big deal and decides to give them advice. Helga being a Jerkass Woobie only manages to make things worse for everybody, including herself, because everyone blames her for her ill advice. We discover that the kids' problems would be relatively easy to solve… if they had the character to be able to do the right thing,instead of the doing the easy thing, and Arnold wasn't All-Loving Hero because he gave advice, he gave advice because he was an All-Loving Hero, truly loving and caring for others and encouraging the kids to do the obvious, painful right thing, while Helga solution’s were not the best (most involved shifting the blame while one was just poorly thought out and that never solves any problem. The tropes Humans Are Flawed and All-Loving Hero was deconstructed and reconstructed. It results with Helga asking Arnold to be an All-Loving Hero again. She even Lampsahdes that she's no good at giving advice and that they need him. The episode concludes with Arnold telling his friends the true advice they needed while Helga looked from afar, happy things we back to normal.
- A whole episode of the X-Men series is dedicated to deconstruct Super Strength. The puny guy who steals Juggernaut's powers... promptly ruins his own life by becoming an unintentionally-destructive human demolition crew. He doesn't get better until losing said powers and having them restored to their owner... who, by the way, needs these powers to actually survive.
- An episode of American Dragon: Jake Long has a rare deconstruction of What the Hell, Hero?. After finding out that Jake had his Dragon Chi confiscated on purpose (to enjoy his middle school graduation in peace), Lao Shi rants him for irresponsible and not flawlessly rising to the job. The Annoying Younger Sibling angrily berates that being the American Dragon is not the icing on the cake. After being on the job for just a few days, she wouldn't even consider going for two more days - let alone two more years. She also points out all the things that Jake had to go through ever since he began his duties: he is often late to school and struggle with his studies, lying to his dad and having to say good-bye to the girl he loved, twice (the first time from her discovery his secret and the second when he wishes she lived a normal life, causing them to have never met), not to mention being the guardian of a magic realm that no mortal (other than Jake's friends) has any knowledge about. Lao Shi takes this to heart and decides to cut Jake's dragon training in half.
- An episode of Fosters Home For Imaginary Friends deconstructs something that your typical Vacation Episode usually doesn't even touch on: The whole "packing up and getting to the airport" part. Try telling that, however, to those who were expecting a regular Vacation Episode.
- The Kid Hero trope is deconstructed in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. Being a youngster who fights evil won't spare you from the torture and brainwashing Mind Rape you'll receive once you end up in the claws of a sadistic, murderous, amorally psychopath. If you do survive it, you'll completely lose your sanity, it will take years of therapy to cure you, and you've to live with PTSD through the rest of your life. Though Tim was actually not regretful of it until the Joker began influencing him in his attempt to take over.
Timothy Drake (as an adult): Fun and games. Boy wonder playing hero. Fighting off bad guys and no one ever gets... oh god. I killed him. I didn't mean to. I tried so hard to forget. But I still hear the shot. Still see the dead smile. Every night the dreams get stronger... he's there when I sleep. Whispering! Laughing! Telling me that I'm as bad as he is! We're both the same! (though his 'dreams' are actually the result of the Joker placing a chip on him before he died in an attempt to take over Tim.
The Joker: I must admit, it's sadly anti-climactic. Behind all the sturm and bat-o-rangs, you're just a little boy in a playsuit, crying for mommy and daddy! It'd be funny if it weren't so pathetic.
- The Joker points out that for all the fear he invokes being The Cowl, Batman is not more than a pathetic Man Child crying out for mommy and daddy after all those years.
Tim: Me and the others gave everything, but it just wasn't enough for the old man. I used to think, if I went on long enough, someday he'd retire and I'd... ah, the heck with it. Capes, costumes, bad guys - it was kid's stuff! Bruce probably did me a favor. By the end, I was so sick of it I never wanted to see that stupid Robin suit again...!
- Timothy Drake deconstructs the Kid Sidekick as a "Well Done, Son!" Guy pathetically trying to please The Hero because He Just Want To Be Him. When that doesn't happen, there comes the Fan Disillusionment:
- However, it's been noted that his hatred for being Robin was a result of the Joker's influence on him and he was actually pretty okay.
Terry McGinnis: The real reason you kept coming back was you never got a laugh out of the old man.''The Joker: I'm not hearing this...Terry McGinnis: Get a clue, clowny! He's got no sense of humor! He wouldn't know a good joke if it bit him in the cape... not that you ever had a good joke.The Joker: Shut up... shut up!Terry McGinnis: I mean, joy-buzzers, squirting flowers, lame! Where's the "A" material? Make a face, drop your pants, something!
- The New Batman admits that The Joker is a successful supervillain, but a pathetic comedian: he never made Batman’s laugh, nor corrupt or break him. He never was Affably Evil, just Faux Affably Evil. And maybe the clearer proof that The Joker is a mediocre comic is that he cannot deal with the natural enemy of a comedian: The Heckler.
Batgirl: How could you help Joker do it, Harley?Harley Quinn: Okay, so he roughed the kid up a little. But I'll make it right.Batgirl: Yeah, you're Mother of the Stinkin' Year!
- Harley Quinn deconstructs the Perky Female Minion into Cute and Psycho after helping the Joker torture Robin, showing us that she was just another psychopath. Batgirl conveniently forgets that the only one of Joker’s potential victims Harley defended in the series was Poison Ivy and Arkhan Asylum's inmates. Harley was perfectly okay with The Joker torturing and killing Harvey Bullock, Charlie Collins, Sid the Squid, Carl Francis, Thomas Jackson, Batgirl's own father, Commissioner Gordon, etc...:
Batman (McGinnis) [after his interview with Drake]: Were all of you that bitter when you left?Barbara Gordon: Comes with the territory, McGinnis. Look up Nightwing someday, has he got stories.
- The Cowl is deconstructed because Batman is so completely dedicated to his mission, the Batfamily members and Harley want to grow up, have families, much more of life that playing an infinite Cycle of Revenge and let him Lonely at the Top. The disturbing conclusion is that the only relationship that ever worked for Batman was the Foe Romance Subtext he had with The Joker. As we see at the page quote, Joker was truly special for Batman: He was the only one capable of accepting Batman as the Determinator.
- The Chessmaster is deconstructed when everyone of the grown up Bat Family distrusts the Batman for his manipulative tendences.
- Generator Rex does this with Dating Catwoman by showing how shitty it can be when the girl you're in love with works for the Big Bad. Even when she decides to quit working for said Big Bad, Rex still doesn't win her in the end.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has a habit of deconstructing tropes in the process of teaching its aesops:
- "Party Of One" did the same to Pinkie Pie with her role as the Genki Girl. When people start making up excuses to avoid a party, and discovers them trying to do something without her, she extrapolates that everyone has gotten tired of her and gets clinically depressed as a result.
- Twilight Sparkle has immense magical power, more than most unicorns, but lacks the real training to use it effectively (since up until she was sent to Ponyville, she literally spent all of her time reading and studying magical theory, not practice.) This really comes back to bite her in the flank in "Swarm of the Century" when she casts a spell to stop the Parasprite infestation from eating all the food in town. They stop eating the food all right...they just start ripping their way through the buildings instead!
- "Lesson Zero" deconstructs the Once an Episode formula a lot of shows, including this one, use. Twilight freaks out because she doesn't have a letter to send to the Princess, as there wasn't much conflict in anyone's life lately. She goes crazy and tries to create a problem for her to solve, but things get horribly out of hand.
- "Luna Eclipsed" deconstructs multiple scenery-chewing tropes, particularly Large Ham, Milking the Giant Cow, and No Indoor Voice; Princess Luna has undergone a Heel-Face Turn and is trying to improve her public image, but she keeps scaring everyone away with her "Traditional Royal Canterlot Voice," which she (and presumably her sister) used back when she ruled before her Face-Heel Turn, and practically required her to be a Large Ham.
- "Applebuck Season" deconstructs The Reliable One, when Applejack tries to harvest all the apples in Sweet Apple Acres by herself, because Big Macintosh injured himself, and be there for her friends at the same time. She ends up with severe sleep deprivation, and creates several issues such as flinging Rainbow Dash into Twilight's balcony, and practically poisoning plenty of ponies. The trope is deconstructed again in "The Last Roundup". Everypony expects Applejack to win enough prize money to pay for the city hall's repairs. When she only places second or lower (but still high enough to have LOTS of ribbons) in all of the events, she is so ashamed of letting down Ponyville that she decides not to return until she's earned enough money to pay for the repairs by working on a farm in Dodge Junction.
- Possibly due to the Broken Base it caused, Twilight Sparkle's new princess status has been the subject of deconstruction several times in Series 4. From the start it's established that just because she's gained wings doesn't immidiately make her a good flier, and her status means her friends send her away from their adventure because Equestria can't afford to lose her. In "Twilight Time", she has to deal with unwanted attention from a mob of fillies who only want to spend time with her because she's a princess, and "Trade Ya" also deals with the unwanted attention issues. Finally in the finale the fact that she doesn't actually do much befitting of her title causes her a great deal of angst.
- "Power Ponies" deconstructs The Load and Butt Monkey tropes that were otherwise Played for Laughs in previous seasons, by showing that Spike has very low self-esteem due to always feeling like he's only there for comic relief.
- "The Cutie Remark Parts 1 and 2" deconstructs Dude, Where's My Respect? heavily: Starlight Glimmer thinks the Mane Six is nothing more than a bunch of ponies who were brought together thanks to one Sonic Rainboom. When Twilight drags Starlight into one of the many changed timelines, she's shown that, without that Rainboom, they weren't brought together and bad shit happened. Starlight just can't get it wrapped around her head that the Mane Six are essentially the only thing standing between peaceful Equestria and a barren wasteland that she suffers a Villainous Breakdown.
- Recess has an episode of a new boy in their school who turns out to be a Mary Sue. He's a nice kid but the others want to challenge him so he ends up doing his best but that leads to the others seeing how he's better at everything they can do. They end up hating him for it and he's sad to have to deal with the fact that to be himself he can't have friends. He tells them this, which makes them more understanding, and leaves the school.
- Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated pretty much thrives on deconstructing every one of the Scooby-Doo franchise's most iconic tropes.
- Adventure Time deconstructs several Tropes:
- Trapped in TV Land: in video game form in the episode "Guardians of Sunshine". When Finn and Jake transport themselves into a video game through Beemo (Who told them not to), they realize that things are not what they seem. For one thing, they lampshaded the fact that if they lose all of their lives, it would be similar to dying in real life. Also, they can only carry just a few coins in their hands and the pain they feel in the game is real as the pain they feel in real life. The enemies in the game pose a bigger threat than expected. When Finn tries to activate the special weapon Bomba, he realizes that he can't do it without his controller. When Jake tries to pull Bomba from the screen, it causes an error that takes them to their world, along with the enemies they encountered (Note: The coin Jake kept turns into a penny, meaning the game currency is not worth much in the real world). The enemies were hostile towards Beemo for imprisoning them in the video game because they long for the sunshine.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: The Ice King's seemingly harmlessly insane behavior actually stems from having been mentally warped by an Artifact of Doom. He used to be a normal, dignified, human antiquarian named Simon Petrikov, before being exposed to an enchanted crown. The ensuing change was slow and painful, and he was aware (and terrified) of the degradation the entire time. His insanity destroyed his relationships with his fiancee and surrogate daughter, and much of his strange actions are actually an attempt to replace them. In addition to that, it's implied that the only reason he is a largely harmless eccentric is that the mental remnants of his old self are restraining him - when this control occasionally slips, he is much more disturbing.
- Kid Hero: Finn has been fighting and killing monsters and supernatural beings since at least the age of twelve (his age when the series begins). Even though he's quite cheerful and upbeat most of the time, psychologically he's really messed up. In fact the reason he manages to stay upbeat despite the horrors he's seen is because he's very good at suppressing traumatic memories (he refers to the process as "putting them in the vault"; the fact that he does it so often that he has a term for it is a bad sign). Because he's spent so much of his life fighting and adventuring, he doesn't know much about making personal connections. His emotional immaturity and Blood Knight nature drove his girlfriend away, and his tendencies toward White Knighting are steadily getting creepier as he gets older. All he really knows how to do is punch things; life situations that require a more complex solution are beyond his ability to navigate.
- Family Guy deconstructs Subbing for Santa. How? Well, Stewie and Brian are the ones doing the subbing, and their first and only job becomes a home invasion.
- That same episode also features a truly heart-wrenching deconstruction of How Can Santa Deliver All Those Toys?: trying to keep up with the increasing demands of a constantly growing and increasingly greedy world population has turned Santa's workshop into an ecosystem-killing Nightmarish Factory staffed with horribly inbred elves, the reindeer have mutated into vicious carnivores and Santa himself... well,"failing health" doesn't even begin to describe his condition.
- "Screams of Silence: The Story of Brenda Q." is a Very Special Episode that deconstructs Domestic Abuse in a way very different from the usually comedic way the show handles it. Here, Quagmire's sister gets abused by her boyfriend and she's depicted as having Stockholm Syndrome, making up flimsy excuses for staying with him. Quagmire also fears for her condition, even considering the boyfriend a threat to her life.
- Meg is a brutal deconstruction of Butt Monkey/The Chew Toy, as all the abuse she has to put up with made her a complete and utter psychological wreck.
- The Ed Edd N Eddy finale movie deconstructs Amusing Injuries in a hard way, in which Eddy recieves a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from his older brother. It's deconstriucted here because Eddy reacts as if he's seriously hurt and the kids (even Kevin and Sarah) react with fear. Not to mention the reveal that this is how his brother always treated him.
- An episode of The Simpsons deconstructed Scare 'Em Straight. Marge was away and Bart & Homer weren't doing their chores so Lisa made them think they had leprosy to scare them into cleaning up their filth. Instead, Flanders shipped them off to a Hawaiian leper colony.
- The episode where a graveyard was built next the Simpson home deconstructed Wise Beyond Their Years. Lisa is scared out of her mind because she never learned to handle her childish fears.
- Older Than They Look is deconstructed in that episode where people find out Ned Flanders is a senior citizen. His wholesome living made him look younger than he really is but it also made him boring and predictable.
- The infamous episode "The Boys of Bummer" is a brutal deconstruction of Disproportionate Retribution. The stock plot is about everyone in Springfield getting angry at Bart over something very minor, which has happened before on "Bart's Girlfriend," "The Telltale Head," and "Miracle on Evergreen Terrace" — all of which were played straight and for laughs. This time around, Bart loses a simple softball game and is bullied and harassed for it so much and so badly that he attempts suicide. He lives, but the townspeople still rag on him for losing until Marge steps in to yell at them. It's about as dark and depressing as you'd imagine and the reason why this episode is disliked among the few people who still watch modern-day Simpsons episodes or the former fan who foolishly decided to rewatch the show after years of ignoring it.
- Then there's "At Long Last Leave" which shows that everyone in Springfield has had enough of the Simpsons. The town is bankrupt by Homer and Bart's destructive antics, and are annoyed with Lisa shoving her ideas into everyone's faces, not even Marge or Ned's preaching could change their minds and they boot them out of town.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender deconstructed the Transformation Sequence in that Aang was actually left vulnerable when transforming into his Avatar State. His foes were fortunately too intimidated by the transformation to take advantage of this... until the season 2 finale, where Azula goes in for the kill during Aang's transformation. Subsequent transformations were instantanous, highlighting Aang's mastery of the Avatar State.
- A group of kids are able to travel around the world because, with a few exceptions, their parents are either dead or busy fighting a war. Many episodes discuss and show the toll this takes on them.
- Sequel Series The Legend of Korra eventually deconstructed Love at First Sight. Korra, Bolin, Asami and Mako all fall in love with other Team Avatar members at first sight...and none of those relationships worked out. Bolin's infatuation with Korra was one-sided, Mako and Asami's relationship imploded due to Mako's poor decision-making and lack of social skills, and Mako and Korra ultimately broke up due to their conflicting loyalties and personality clashes, with all of them ultimately being Better as Friends. The relationships that last till the end of the series are the ones that grew naturally from a pre-existing, long-time friendship (Asami and Korra) or featuring people actively working to maintain and strengthen the relationship (Bolin and Opal).
- The title character of Archer gives us a twofer. On one hand, he deconstructs the Tuxedo and Martini trope by showing us the kind of person that it would take to make a living out of killing people while cracking one-liners, bedding a different woman every week and obsessing over finding the perfect wardrobe in Real Life—namely, a self-centered, spoiled, borderline sociopathic Man Child...and the ultimate Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist. Then the show turns around and deconstructs the Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist trope by going in-depth in showing us the kind of screwed-up childhood that it would take to make someone as much of an asshole as Archer.
- The Swan Princess deconstructed She's All Grown Up. The Prince and the Princess were reluctant to have their marriage arranged since they were kids. They meet each other again as young adults and the Prince immediately consents to the marriage after seeing how beautiful the Princess had become. She is instead offended because he can't come up with a reason to marry her besides her beauty. Unfortunately, it's played straight afterwards for no given reason.
- South Park: "Miss Teacher Bangs a Boy" deconstructs Teacher/Student Romance (especially examples with younger children) by portraying the teacher in the relationship as incredibly delusional and manipulative.
- "Conjoined Fetus Lady" deconstructs Inspirationally Disadvantaged as all the special treatment the titular lady gets just makes her feel like even more of a freak.
- "A Very Crappy Christmas" deconstructs True Meaning of Christmas by having the town view Christmas as what most cartoon teach Christmas is all about (family, love, and kindness to others) which makes no one buy Christmas presents and as a result the town's economy plummets.
- Young Justice deconstructs the Kid Hero into Child Soldiers by showing just how brutal trying to fight the same battles that the big league heroes could be. In one episode the team was left so traumatized that they had to get counseling just to deal with the ordeal they have went through during a botched training simulation. Then come the timeskip we see the majority of the group being resorted to nothing more than shell shocked veterans and unlike the comics death is played very straight as you actually have members of the team die in field missions. Greg sends the message loud and clear that saving the world and fighting bad guys isn't all fun and games.
- As Told by Ginger deconstructs Alternate Character Interpretation and Reality Subtext. Ginger writes a poem titled "And She Was Gone" about a girl who is lonely and is implied to commit suicide. Her teachers immediately assume it's a cry for help and force Ginger to see the school psychologist. Her friends and classmates also have a similar reactions, which frustrates Ginger because it was just a story and had nothing to do with her life at all. It's pointed out that it's very easy to interpret someone's actions when we know very little about them but that it's almost impossible to know what someone else is truly thinking. Further emphasised by having Lois recognise it as just a good story - who knows Ginger better than her mother afterall?
- The Amazing World of Gumball deconstructs several tropes:
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: "The Void" reveals that Molly and Rob disappeared because the Void thought they were mistakes, explaining why they stopped appearing.
- The Nondescript: "The Nobody" has Rob escape from the Void after being deemed a mistake by it (probably for being so generic), with a loss of identity in the process.
- Status Quo Is God: "The Finale" has the people of Elmore get revenge on the Wattersons, for them managing to get away with all the damage and chaos they bring to the town.
- The Wander over Yonder episode "The Nice Guy" deconstructs Wander's role as a Nice Guy giving him an inability to experience apathy that affects him being able to accomplish certain basic tasks.
- "The Helper" shows that not only is Wander incapable of finishing a task of his own before helping someone else, his Chronic Hero Syndrome is so bad that a day where there isn't any problem he can help with drives him bonkers.
- Justice League Unlimited: The final season deconstructs Hidden Agenda Villain with Gorilla Grodd, who assembles the supervillains of the DCAU into an effective coalition and gathers resources for his Evil Plan, which is to turn all people on Earth into gorillas. Lex Luthor points out the silliness in such plan, and no one in the Secret Society bats an eyelash when Lex shoots Grodd in the face and usurps leadership.
- Steven Universe
- Similar to the Korra example above, Love at First Sight is taken apart, with the possibility of Loving a Shadow brought up. As shown in "We Need To Talk", Greg and Rose hooking up within hours of meeting at the end of "Story For Steven" causes some problems due to the speed of the relationship, which isn't helped by the fact that it's an Interspecies Romance and the fact that humans and Gems have different understandings of relationships. In "Love Letters", not only does Garnet shoot down Jamie's one sided crush on her (which also shows that a crush is under no obligation to reciprocate feelings) she explicitly says that love at first sight doesn't exist. Even Steven and Connie's burgeoning relationship, with them developing a mutual crush quickly, is taking its time to get to a full Relationship Upgrade as they become closer gradually.
- "Sworn To The Sword" deconstructs Pearl's Undying Loyalty to Rose Quartz, which led to Pearl jumping into battle to protect Rose without any concern for her safety, and despite her Gem regeneration meaning she could heal from that, she was implied to have frequently argued with Rose about doing so, especially when there was no reason to. She then tries to instill this way of thinking into Connie, who cannot regenerate like she can, even telling her that she doesn't matter as long as Steven is safe. Steven himself has a opposition to this similar to what Rose was implied to have, and in the end the two are able to find a balance by protecting each other.
- Lapis Lazuli's situation deconstructs Sentient Phlebotinum pretty harshly, having spent millenia in an And I Must Scream type fate, only interacting with others when they want something, which has left her a Broken Bird.