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Darker and Edgier
aka: GRIMDARK
IT'S SMURFING AWESOME!

"You look around these days...it'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 cynicism, grit, and seriousness (unless it's a Black Comedy). 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, you can expect a mixture of: awful things happening to the characters, twisted backstories giving them a reason to angst, and the setting becoming much bleaker.

As one could predict, 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.

In fact this is often the purpose of a Darker And Edgier turn. Just as a Lighter and Softer tone is typically part of an attempt to bring a fictional world to children or to younger children, a "darker" tone is often intended to make a childrens' setting appeal to older children or adults. But unlike its opposite, a Darker And Edgier shift is often intended not to reach a new audience, but rather to keep an existing audience as it grows up. It can also be a result of child fans growing up, Running the Asylum as PromotedFanboys, and continuing to think of the setting as something aimed at themselves and their peers instead of the original target age group.

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.


Examples


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
ForeshadowingOverdosed TropesPlayed for Laughs
Damsel in DistressJustForFun/Tropes of LegendDead Horse Trope
Dangerously Short SkirtThe SixtiesGrim Dark
Cyber Punk Is TechnoIndustrialEar Worm
Corrupt the CutieHeel Face IndexDerailing Love Interests
Dark ShepherdCynicism TropesDarkness-Induced Audience Apathy
The Dark SideAdministrivia/No Real Life Examples, Please!Dethroning Moment of Suck
Lighter and SofterThe New TensLong Runner
Dancing BearSturgeon's TropesDeus Angst Machina
Sugar ApocalypseImageSource/Comic BooksNun Too Holy

alternative title(s): Grim Dark; Darker And Grittier; Gritty Reboot; Grim And Gritty
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