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
, and controversial content" at its most extreme.
A show will attempt to shift towards cynicism
, 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
, 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
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
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