Genre Deconstruction / Western Animation

  • There can be a very good case made for The Venture Bros. being a deconstruction of Jonny Quest and Doc Savage-style stories. Some say spoof, some say deconstruction, some say both. The main character is a former Kid Hero who, due to a childhood spent traveling the world with his Adventurer-Scientist father, has seen and done things no twelve-year-old boy really should have to, and has grown up into a bitter, pill-popping, barely-functional human being. His rugged Action Hero bodyguard is basically the kind of borderline sociopath that would gravitate to a world of clandestine doings where brutal murder is an acceptable way of solving problems. His children are socially awkward nerds, but not in any of the "good" or "endearing" ways; they were basically raised in boxes and have no clue how to interact with reality. And his arch-nemesis is a lame animal-themed Super Villain who, despite moments of competence, is so wrapped up in planning the details of his over-elaborate and petty revenge schemes against an enemy who barely knows who he is that his schemes never actually get off the ground.
    • Yet as the series continues to evolve the said genre takes more of a reconstruction direction. Rusty, while still having his share of demons, has made peace with his troubled past and has achieved success. Meanwhile, his arch-nemesis has risen up the supervillain ranks and became one of the profile members of a newly revamped guild of villains.
    • Being a Super Villain? You have to be a part of a guild that tightly regulates your behavior, from who you have a feud with, to if your mooks are allowed to use deadly weapons (who die by the dozens)
  • Looney Tunes director Chuck Jones often used deconstruction on his cartoons. The best known example is Duck Amuck: First the scenery changes, forcing Daffy to adapt. Then Daffy himself is erased and redrawn. Then the soundtrack fails, then the film frame, and so on until Daffy is psychologically picked clean. Another example is What's Opera, Doc?, which takes the base elements of a typical Bugs Bunny cartoon and reassembles them as a Wagnerian opera. (Conversely, you could also say that it takes the base elements of Wagnerian opera and reassembles them as a Bugs Bunny cartoon.)
  • Family Guy does a particularly nasty deconstruction of Looney Tunes and its Amusing Injuries, wherein Elmer Fudd is out "hunting wabbits", shoots Bugs Bunny four times in the stomach, snaps his neck amidst cries of pain, and then drags him off leaving behind a trail of blood. In another episode where Peter and friends became The A-Team, the show's "amusing injuries" are discussed as actually life-threatening.
  • The famous Simpsons episode "Homer's Enemy" is a deconstruction of the general weirdness and insanity of its setting, based around the premise of What if a real-life, normal person had to enter Homer's universe and deal with him? Frank Grimes, a relatively humorless but hard-working man who is still forced to live cheaply despite working almost his entire life, encounters Homer on the job at the nuclear power. You can imagine what happens next - the result is funny, but also disturbing and very dark upon further reflection (one of the darkest Simpsons episodes ever made).
    • At one point, Homer is about to drink a beaker of sulfuric acid when Grimes stops him. Grimes reacts exactly as we would expect a normal person to react - he's visibly freaked out, and when Homer blows off the danger with laughter, he shouts, " Stop laughing, you imbecile! Do you realize how close you just came to killing yourself?!" A series of such incidents ultimately drives Frank Grimes into insanity and death.
      • The episode eventually winds up in Crosses the Line Twice territory when, at Frank's funeral, the "mourners" do not cry but rather laugh when Homer dozes off and mumbles some idiotic gibberish. Even the minister.
    • The episode also highlights the absurdity of one man having such a rich and adventurous life (meeting Gerald Ford, winning a Grammy, going into space...)
    Frank: (in disbelief) You...went into outer space. You.
    Homer: Yes. You've never been?
  • The Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "1+ 1=Ed" is a deconstruction of how cartoons work, similar to Duck Amuck.
  • Iron Man: Armored Adventures offers an interesting take on the teenage superhero genre in the fact the hero really couldn't care any less about school or fitting in, claiming it's a waste of time and instead stating that his work as a hero is more important. He then proceeds to cheat on his tests and homework in order to pass, since him being a hero gives him the latitude to do so, and high school is meaningless and doesn't matter once you graduate, especially since he's already a)rich, and b)a genius inventor.
  • "Epilogue" of Justice League Unlimited can be taken as a deconstruction of the superhero genre by having a Amanda Waller deliberately try to engineer another Batman in response to the original Batman growing older. It fits both invoked and deconstructed, because it shows the horrible consequences of making a superhero, as well as the kind of monster you would have to be to do it (killing innocent people to do something that might achieve a goal).
    • It also deconstructs the classic Batman origin: Waller plans to kill Terry's parents when he's a boy, but when the assassin she hires (Andrea Beaumont, the Phantasm) refuses to go through with it, Waller realizes that whatever her goals, it wasn't worth it, and she's pleased that Terry has become a much more sane and stable superhero because he had a chance for a normal childhood.
      • It's also a deconstruction of what being Batman would lead to. The members of the Bat-Family have washed their hands of him, Terry's relationship with Bruce even becomes strained due to Terry barely able to cope with being Batman, and Bruce is going to end up dying alone.
  • Moral Orel deconstructs The Moral Substitute by presenting a culture where ALL MEDIA are Christian fundamentalist propaganda, and showing just how messed up and disturbing said culture would be.
  • The Young Justice episode "Disordered" deals the aftermath of a traumatic mission, with the cast of young heroes attending therapy in order to deal with the horrible things they witnessed. The ensuing interviews reveal the pressure the kids are under and ends with Robin deciding that he no longer wants to be Batman.
    • Later episodes try to convey that being a teen superhero is not all fun and games, as we learn that Aquagirl, Jason Todd, and the previous Blue Beetle have all been killed in action during the five year Time Skip between seasons one and two. Upon this revelation, the line between superheroes and Child Soldiers begins to blur even more.
  • The episode of The Powerpuff Girls about them moving to "Citysville" deals with what would happen if their brand of heroics was applied to a real life city.
  • South Park, as well as deconstructing everything else on the planet, has a fine line in deconstructing itself. In "Kenny Dies", the Running Gag character they had killed over seventy times already gets a terminal disease and slowly expires while Stan and Kyle react with utterly realistic grief and despair.
    • "You're Getting Old" portrays Stan Marsh and his parents as completely fed up with the insane events constantly creeping in their daily life, along with Status Quo Is God. Randy, somehow an adult Sixth Ranger to the children, is forced to admit how immature that makes him when he cling to whatever awful next big thing comes out in an attempt to look cool and relevant; Sharon has this speech:
      "I'm unhappy too. We both are, obviously. How much longer can we keep doing this? It's like, the same shit just happens over and over and, then in a week it just all resets until- it happens again. Every week it's kind of the same story in a different way but it, it just keeps getting more and more ridiculous."
      • ... and Stan himself gets depressed as he grow out of his childish hobbies before his friends, without finding anything else to enjoy, and becomes "a cynical asshole" who literally experiences anything as "shitty". At the end of the episode, he has taken up drinking to cope with his depression, but as he hides it, to everybody else it seems like nothing has changed.
    • Also, this speech from Craig Tucker, one of the boys' classmate, in "Pandemic":
      "Do you guys know why nobody else at school likes hanging out with you? Because you're always doing stuff like this. You're always coming up with some stupid idea to do something, and then it backfires, and then you end up in some foreign country, or in outer space or something. That's why no one likes hanging out with you guys."
  • The Jimmy Neutron movie deconstructs the "having no parents would be great" trope by having difficulties pop up the very next day. A girl gets injured, everyone gets chronically lonely, and people get sick from eating nothing but bad food.
  • "It's Oppo", a student film made by Cal Arts student Tyler Chen, deconstructs Nick Jr., as well as preschool television programs and morally unscrupulous media companies in general. Watch it [NSFW]: []
  • In Undergrads, college dorm life is deconstructed to counter its inspiration Animal House; Rocko's Fratboy behavior is looked down on heavily by his frat brothers, who view him as a source of grief. Nitz' everyman status really puts only a grade above Gimpy, the resident Hikikomori of the 4 of them.
  • Transformers Animated is a deconstruction of the whole Autobot-Decepticon War. Things ain't so black and white as before, in fact the Autobots' leadership is flawed and somewhat corrupt, with one higly racist, incompetent, cowardly jerkass general on it, who only is amongst the High Command because he blames his mistakes on Optimus Prime, whose status as All-Loving Hero makes him somewhat of a push-over, and its leader is ready to commit dirty tricks to defeat the Decepticons. The Decepticons however, are as much the monsters they were in G1, and this time Megatron's pragmatic enough to blast Starscream's ass any time he tries to overthrow him. Starscream only survives thanks to the Allspark piece on his head. Without it he would have died right from the start. Also, because the Decepticons are war machines while Optimus' group are just maintenance bots, fending off just one Decepticon is a struggle that usually requires the entire team. Then comes the season three...
  • "Hey Good Lookin'" by Ralph Bakshi (who else) is one big Deconstruction and Take That! against anyone who believes that the 1950s were really just like Grease or Happy Days. The main character is ostensibly as cool as The Fonz but actually a Dirty Coward who can't back up his bragging, the Plucky Comic Relief is actually a racist sociopath, their gang aren't really True Companions despite looking like it, the supposed Big Bad never explictly does anything really bad and the ending's Broken Aesop is intentional about the "Romance" between the main character and Rozzie.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, being the self-aware show that it is, devotes its premiere episode to comedically deconstructing the premise of its parent franchise and the "little girls' cartoon" genre which its predecessors codified by asking what happens when a setting where everyone is friends with each other by default plays host to someone who isn't interested in friendship. Enter the introverted (and somewhat conceited) Twilight Sparkle, who is dumped in Ponyville and left to react as any of the sane, adult human beings who may be watching would if placed amidst the colorful characters that inhabit such a world: with bewildered frustration. Throughout the episode, the other ponies' overzealous attempts to befriend Twilight merely drive her to ever-greater seclusion and jadedness in their unwitting validation of her cynical worldview. The close of the episode is a Downer Ending where Nightmare Moon (who acts as a dark counterpart to Twilight thanks to her past exclusion turning her into an omnicidal Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds) demonstrates the inherent dangers of the fantasy setting that helps Equestria exist in such perfect harmony by plunging the world into The Night That Never Ends. Miraculously enough, the following episode manages to reconstruct every last one of these elements with flying colors.
    • Normal episodes end with Twilight Sparkle sending a message to her mentor Princess Celestia about what she learned about friendship that day, satisfying the Edutainment quota for the week. The episode "Lesson Zero" specifically begs the question: "What happens if there was no friendship message to write about?" Thus begins one of the most bizarre, creepy episodes of the series when our normally calm and collected (and slightly OCD) Twilight races to find, and eventually create, a friendship problem to report about. Ultimately, an Aesop about missing the Aesop is arrived at, and introduces a running change where any of Twilight's friends can provide the Aesop (likely as a way to avoid having to shoehorn in Twilight into every episode).
      • Which is then kinda mocked in one episode, where Applejack writes that she didn't learn anything, because the Aesop one could've learned from that day's adventure was something she'd always known.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender deconstructed the Kid Hero and Free-Range Children tropes. One moment, the viewer is rooting for their favourite character in the awesome Supernatural Martial Arts fights - then the viewer is painfully reminded just why a group of teens and kids have the freedom and ability to travel all over the world. Same thing goes for the villains - one moment the viewer is hoping for somebody to kick Azula's ass, then she sees her mother in the mirror... Avatar: The Last Airbender The Promise goes even further with the deconstruction.
  • Then The Legend of Korra goes further into deconstruction. It attacks the Black and White Morality and Violence Really Is the Answer tendencies common in most action cartoons, including its predecessor, by forcing the heroes to deal with Well-Intentioned Extremists who make legitimately good points. It also deconstructs its own predecessor's Happy Ending, showing that, in the end, the main characters went on to lead lives with nearly as much bad in them as good, and that their impact on the world, while generally positive, still included mistakes that needed to be corrected by future generations.
    • It also deconstructs High Fantasy tropes that the previous series played straight. For one, Avatar played heavily into the idea that there are "good" monarchs and "bad" monarchs while Korra (given its psuedo-20th Century setting) tends to depict all monarchy as inherently bad, with democracy as the better alternative (albeit a still flawed one). For example, while Earth King Kuei was an example of The Good King, his daughter isn't, and it's ultimately decided that monarchies are inherently open to this kind of abuse, and so The Earth Kingdom is made a democracy.
  • Tales From The Cryptkeeper, despite its Lighter and Softer nature, often used this trope:
    • "All The Gory Details" deconstructs the tropes made by Frankenstein (1931). The Mad Scientist? Was trying to protect his creations. Said creations? Just want to be left alone, and only attack the heroes to destroy the evidence of their existence. It also deconstructs the idea of the Hardboiled Detective with Harold Klump, who embodies every negative trait involved with the trope and twists every positive trait into a negative. His determination? Keeps him from getting anywhere and gets him changed into one of Kromwell's creations at the end. His snarkiness and general misogyny? Alienates him from his partner, who ends up leaving after having enough of his abuse.
    • "Hyde and Go Shriek" deconstructs the Godzilla Threshold trope at the end. Try to stop the kid you bullied when he has a werewolf formula by drinking more of it? Congrats! Too bad he set it up so that you would be captured and taken away instead. Have fun in government testing!
    • "Fare Tonight" deconstructs the "Kid Hero fights monsters" genre made by Monster Squad, as the kids in question, while able to talk big about killing vampires, end up being about as prepared to fight an actual vampire as kids with no professional training whatsoever would be in real life. They only win by pure luck at the end.
    • "The Works... In Wax" deconstructs classic monster films by portraying the climactic monster hunts... from the viewpoints of the monsters. The hero actually helps them escape their deaths, and they help him in a Big Damn Heroes moment.
    • "Cave Man" deconstructs Encino Man, by showing what would actually happen if a caveman were brought into the modern world. It doesn't end well.