Wiki Headlines
We've switched servers and will be updating the old code over the next couple months, meaning that several things might break. Please report issues here.

main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Darker and Edgier

"You look around these's all different. It's all changed. The Joker's killing people, for God's sake! Did I miss something? Was I away when they changed the rules?"

A Tone Shift that seeks to make a work of fiction "more adult". Usually, this is interpreted as "add more sex, profanity, violence, and controversial content" at its most extreme.

A show will attempt to shift towards seriousness, cynicism and grit. In theory, archetypes which we are usually accustomed to acting in a more noble setting will have to act in one where they must think and act grimly in order to make progress, thus forcing re-examination of the tropes involved or the ability to use new tropes and expand the setting making for different sorts of characters. In practice however, writers often are too lazy to make use of what most of those words mean, and ending up randomly "spicing up" a work with gratuitous gore, cursing, and sex - often overdoing it in the process.

When a show uses this trope as a tagline, expect things to get worse for the main characters: the setting to be much bleaker, good and bad to become less obvious, lots of unpleasant things happen to the characters or backstories giving the characters a particular issue they can angst about.

As you can expect, this is fairly easy to screw up and poor use of these tropes may just result in Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy if the setting gets too depressing or Narm if the edginess becomes just silly. This doesn't make it a bad trope though— when this is used subtly such as in the Harry Potter series it can create the effect of a series growing up with its audience.

This trope became extremely popular in Comic Books as a rebellion against the Silver Age but also led to more than a decade of clumsy attempts to show that comics are "not kid stuff anymore." See Bronze Age, Dark Age, and Nineties Anti-Hero for more details about how this worked.

The poorly used, excessive version is often mocked as "Grimdark" (one word), derived from the tagline of Warhammer 40,000. ("In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war.") Sometimes justified with the phrase "Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!". Usually shows up in Dark Fic. If a pre-existing show undergoes a Retool under the guise of making things Darker And Edgier, expect Jumping the Shark, especially if there was Executive Meddling involved.

As with Lighter and Softer this practice tends to go better if the change was planned in advance to keep the tone from shifting too abruptly.

Note that this is not the same as a Deconstruction. A Deconstruction plays out the genre's conventions to their logical conclusions in order to criticize the initial genre conventions. This does not have to be dark (see for instance Deconstructive Parody) and it doesn't prevent things from turning out well. Darker And Edgier just adds "dark" elements to try and get the same effect. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't but often a Deconstruction can cause a work to seem darker because it's calling attention to dark aspects already implied but previously glossed over; see also Ascended Fridge Horror.

Opposite of Lighter and Softer, Younger and Hipper, and Denser and Wackier. Often found alongside Bloodier and Gorier, Hotter and Sexier, Obligatory Swearing and Real Is Brown. Often a by-product of the franchise growing bigger and more epic.

Compare Grimmification and Fractured Fairy Tale for when this is done with fairy tales and American Kirby Is Hardcore for when this is done with boxart. See also Sugar Apocalypse, and Cerebus Syndrome.


Cutting Off The BranchesMedia Adaptation TropesDeath by Adaptation
Crosses the Line TwicePt/Índice de TraduçãoDead Horse Trope
Cerebus SyndromeSeries TropesHotter and Sexier
Construct Additional PylonsTrope Names from MemesDie Hard on an X
Cowboy CopCyclic TropeDeconstruction
Contractual PurityCreativity LeashDeader Than Disco
Corrupt the CutieHeel Face IndexDespair Event Horizon
Dancing BearSturgeon's TropesDeus Angst Machina
Damsel in DistressJustForFun/Tropes of LegendDead Horse Trope
ForeshadowingOverdosed TropesPlayed for Laughs
Lighter and SofterThe New TensLong Runner
The Dark SideAdministrivia/No Real Life Examples, Please!Dethroning Moment of Suck
Cynicism CatalystCynicism TropesDarkness-Induced Audience Apathy
Sugar ApocalypseImageSource/Comic BooksNun Too Holy
Dangerously Short SkirtThe SixtiesGrim Dark

alternative title(s): Grim Dark; Darker And Grittier; Gritty Reboot; Grim And Gritty
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy