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->''"Ruined World + cast of jerk = I don't care what happens to these guys"''
-->-- [[http://i48.servimg.com/u/f48/14/68/72/11/0487.jpg demotivational poster]] with the EightDeadlyWords

It is often said that "conflict is the soul of drama"; without some form of {{conflict}} to fuel things, there's no engine to drive the story and thus little reason to engage with it. However, we here at TV Tropes would like to propose an amendment to this phrase which includes something important but sadly all-too-often forgotten:

'''''[[TropesAreTools Meaningful]]''''' '''[[TropesAreTools conflict is the soul of drama]].'''

Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy occurs when a conflict exists that simply lacks any reason for the audience to care about how it is resolved. This is often because the setting is extremely but meaninglessly DarkerAndEdgier, and/or all sides are [[EvilVersusEvil abhorrently, equally evil]]--or at least, far enough gone that [[TheHorseshoeEffect any difference between the two is splitting hairs]]. As such, consumers of media affected by Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy tend to approach conflict between parties or factions with remarkable indifference; because no matter who wins, the [[CrapsackWorld universe will still suck]]. (And while it would be really nice to see them ''[[TakeAThirdOption all]] [[OmnicidalNeutral lose]]'', that likely isn't going to happen.) In other words, ''there is nothing at stake''. While there is a conflict happening, for all that the audience is concerned there might as well not be because they likely have little reason to care about who wins or loses. (And even when there ''are'' [[AntiHero clear-cut good guys]], they can be [[DesignatedHero so smug, priggish, hypocritical, unpleasant, or just plain annoying]] that it's hard to feel too sad if the bad guys defeat them, especially if [[AntiVillain the bad guys actually have a good reason for hating them]].)

This is the emotional result of [[ShadesOfConflict Black and Black Morality]]. Because the conflict between the equal evils is essentially meaningless, there is no dramatic tension. Maybe one EldritchAbomination eats you in a slightly less painful manner than the other one, but either way, you're still screwed. You can't support any factions or hold on to any ideals after this effect has set in. All you can do is sit agape as the writers apparently attempt to outdo themselves at making the setting [[FromBadToWorse even worse and more unpleasant and more nihilistic]] to the point where the media is a bland miserable monotone. This trope is not just about a CrapsackWorld, but about EvilVersusEvil and [[SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism too much cynicism]] producing this effect. A sure sign of audience apathy setting in is if [[RootingForTheEmpire they start rooting for]] the OmnicidalManiac--the setting is so bleak that no part of it is worth saving. When total oblivion looks like your best option, something is ''wrong''. If the show is successful as a comedy it can avoid this trope even if it has EvilVersusEvil and the viewer doesn't really care too much for the characters, by having entertaining villains and being a fun experience. Horror is one of the genres that is most likely to suffer from this trope, because giving up and not caring sucks a lot out of the fear factor. Dystopian fiction, particularly of the post-apocalyptic variety, is another genre that's quite vulnerable to this trope for largely the same reasons.

A variant is when YankTheDogsChain meets {{True Art Is|Angsty}} ''[[TrueArtIsAngsty Too]]'' [[TrueArtIsAngsty Angsty]]; a story is simply too bleak, hopeless, and...well, [[ShapedLikeItself angsty]] for the audience to really care what happens. Leaving aside how obviously and overly depressing this is to read, if [[FailureIsTheOnlyOption the characters are doomed to failure no matter what they do]], and it is ''too'' obvious that they are doomed and their every action to avert this is pointless and hopeless, then the ending is inevitable and can be seen a mile off--so why bother continuing on with the story? (Especially if DevelopingDoomedCharacters is done badly [[EightDeadlyWords and you can't care about who's in it]].) This, of course, does not mean that all stories have to end happily--but most of the time, a good {{Tragedy}} works because the characters involved are given a [[HopeSpot chance to escape their]] DownerEnding but, for whatever reason, fail to do so; take away this chance, and usually what will happen is that the story just ends up being a lengthy description of unremittingly unpleasant things happening to someone. It must be said that despite the presence of this trope, it can still be a story worth telling if it has a deep character study and complex issues, just not one that the audience will care about the plot.

When applying to individuals, this is one of the reasons why the "{{Wangst}}" trope happens. Often results in readers saying the EightDeadlyWords, or concluding that the plot boils down to a {{Wangst}}-fest.

StatusQuoIsGod is usually the result of the trope when the audience knows that all and any changes that could have made a positive impact in the setting won't stick.

If the hero of the story openly {{lampshade|Hanging}}s their ''own'' apathy toward the outcome of the story, they might be a NominalHero.

Games that provoke this reaction may still get their player base, mostly consisting of players that are perfectly happy to [[PlayTheGameSkipTheStory play the game and skip the story]]. For example, if the game requires the player to pick a faction to play as, they would simply choose sides with no interest other than the technical or aesthetic interest of playing one side or the other (or, such as in [=MMORPGs=], the interest in teaming with real-life friends).

EarnYourHappyEnding can risk inducing this in the middle of the story, but ultimately all that doom and gloom and sacrifice and pain leads to victory for good people.

Keep in mind that this trope is subjective. Just because one consideres a work of fiction this trope doesn't mean that others do.

Compare AngstDissonance, AudienceAlienatingPremise and OnlyTheAuthorCanSaveThemNow.

Contrast TastesLikeDiabetes, this trope's polar opposite, and also RootingForTheEmpire, but ''only'' when all sides involved are evil and yet the audience still likes them.

See also TooHappyToLive and TrueLoveIsBoring.

[[noreallife]]
----
!!Examples:
[[index]]
* [[DarknessInducedAudienceApathy.AnimeAndManga Anime and Manga]]
* [[DarknessInducedAudienceApathy.ComicBooks Comic Books]]
* [[DarknessInducedAudienceApathy.FanFics Fan Fics]]
* [[DarknessInducedAudienceApathy.{{Films}} Films]]
* [[DarknessInducedAudienceApathy.{{Literature}} Literature]]
* [[DarknessInducedAudienceApathy.LiveActionTV Live Action TV]]
* [[DarknessInducedAudienceApathy.VideoGames Video Games]]
* [[DarknessInducedAudienceApathy.WesternAnimation Western Animation]]
[[/index]]

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Interactive Fiction]]
* Creator/AdamCadre's ''VideoGame/{{Varicella}}'' attempts to avert this by having its VillainProtagonist, while still amoral and self-centered and willing to murder people to claim the Regency, not as evil as his rivals for the Regency, nearly all of whom are truly horrible people who seem to enjoy their acts of abuse and {{rape|IsASpecialKindOfEvil}}. But Varicella is still a short-sighted person who can't foresee [[spoiler: just how horrible things become when the prince takes the throne and becomes even worse]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Music]]
* ''Music/IronMaiden'':
** The album ''The X Factor'' is widely disliked, largely because it is relentlessly dark and slow in tempo from "Fortunes Of War" onwards. ''Virtual XI'' gets this a bit too, though is balanced out a bit with the unnaturally happy sounding track "The Angel And The Gambler" (which is basically the "Can I Play With Madness" or "Holy Smoke" of this album, but fans saw it quite differently due to it [[EndingFatigue running close to 10 minutes]] and [[BrokenRecord the chorus being repeated 22 times]]).
** Many fans feel this way about ''A Matter Of Life And Death'', as well. With the exception of "Different World", the album is all about the horrors of war, and represents this in [[EpicRocking long dirges]] like "These Colours Don't Run" and "Brighter Than A Thousand Suns". As older fans have pointed out, this is quite similar to ''The X Factor'', but has received far better reviews due to Music/BruceDickinson singing. Newer fans, and music journalists, regard it as one of the band's best albums, mostly because it virtually lacks the pop sensibilities that are on the band's other albums and thus fits in better with the modern image of metal as being dark and serious.
* Music/JoyDivision. Ian Curtis' lyrics and low-key vocals make his [[DrivenToSuicide death]] of little surprise. Martin Hannett's spartan production adds to the effect; even Bernard Sumner says in the "Joy Division" docu-film that ''Unknown Pleasures'' is almost ''too'' dark, and he prefers the more varied arrangements of ''Closer''.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* ''ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}}'': Though the comic did generally achieve an agreeable balance between the light-hearted charm of the other characters and the morose nature of Charlie Brown, the strip did always have its critics who found it too downcast overall. The infamous "Lucy and the football" running gag is particularly polarizing; some found the joke increasingly sadistic as the years (and decades) went on. The animated cartoons generally received harsher criticism for being "too mean," with ''It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown'' actually having some scenes softened for syndication.
* ''ComicStrip/FunkyWinkerbean'': Very little goes right for the characters, jokes about death are frequent and everyone is just generally depressed from a melancholy in the air. Lisa's death by cancer is a good spot to mark when the strip moved into its darkness setting.
** ''ComicStrip/{{Crankshaft}}'', from the same creator, has this to a lesser degree. It's not as perpetually glum, but the main character is very hard to like as a person and the occasional death joke pops up now and then.
* This has happened with a lot of [[PoliticalCartoons politically-oriented]] Mexican comics, like ''Franchise/ElSantos'' and ''Los Miserables'': After suffering decades of government censorship, the political comic industry experienced a resurgence during TheNineties with its gritty stories and DeadpanSnarker AntiHero characters being praised as a welcome reality-grounded change from the rosy picture readers were being fed before; however, more than 20 years later, the BlackAndGrayMorality themes were turned UpToEleven, and several of their readers got tired of the CrapsackWorld themes, crude humor, irredeemable {{Jerkass}} protagonists and the overall message of ThisLoserIsYou.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* Wrestling/TripleH has been responsible for this at times, most tellingly during 2002-2004, when he made a career of '''burying''' {{face}}s so completely that even today (coupled, it has to be said, with WWE's almost decade-long refusal to properly build new stars), WWE has an extremely small amount of top card {{face}}s, as there are so few people left for fans to take as credible threats. Granted, the HeelFaceRevolvingDoor makes it possible to turn a top heel into a top face at the drop of a storyline, but the top heels tend to spend most of their careers as heels for a reason: they're better at it.\\
\\
Wrestling/TripleH has also been largely involved in the "Wrestling/TheAuthority" storyline since mid-2013. Borrowing largely from [[Wrestling/VinceMcMahon Vince McMahon's]] "Mr. [=McMahon=]" character from the late 90s, Triple H and wife [[Wrestling/StephanieMcMahon Stephanie]] set themselves up as bad guy corporate leaders of the company, pushing guys who aligned with them into the main event title scene under the guise of such actions being [[ArcWords best for business]]. The difference between this scenario and the one back in the 90s is that The Authority has not had any face presence to counteract their actions. Wrestling/StoneColdSteveAustin brought the fight directly to Vince and fans delighted in watching him make Vince's life a living hell, while Vince could never come out and fire him because he made him too much damn money. The Authority has no such counterbalance, as top faces like Wrestling/JohnCena are never really setting themselves up in opposition and simply acting within the confines of the boundaries The Authority establishes. Former top heels either align with The Authority and lose a great deal of their [[DemotedToExtra autonomy]] (like Wrestling/RandyOrton), or wither like dry weeds (like Wrestling/TheMiz, Wrestling/DamienSandow, Wrestling/VickieGuerrero, or Wrestling/AJLee) when Triple H or Stephanie tell them it's their way or the highway, get in line or it's the unemployment line. And the fans know it. Unlike with the [[Wrestling/NewWorldOrder nWo]], there is no even the hope of a [[Wrestling/{{Sting}} masked savior]] waiting in the wings to bring down the machine, and so fans watch as The Authority rules the roost as the top bad guys either until a game changer comes along or until they get tired of the role.
** The few superstars who have tried to stand up to the Authority have failed in their efforts. Any victory they achieve has only been temporary, and the Authority always wins out in the end. Examples of those who've tried (and failed) to get the better of the Authority include Wrestling/DanielBryan, Wrestling/BigShow (who eventually joined them after over a year's worth of on and off feuding), Wrestling/JohnCena, Wrestling/TheShield (who, despite going 3-and-0 against a reunited Evolution, ended up being dismantled by the Authority after Seth Rollins [[FaceHeelTurn turned on them]] and joined the Authority himself, and has since replaced Wrestling/RandyOrton as the group's main in-ring competitor), Wrestling/DolphZiggler (who actually succeeded in ridding WWE of the Authority, though it was another temporary victory, and they returned after a month's absence and got the last laugh as always), Wrestling/RandyOrton, and even ''Wrestling/{{Sting}}''.
** Another issue with the Authority is that during their long reign of terror there hadn't been a true face champion ever since Wrestling/DanielBryan had to vacate it due to injury. Wrestling/JohnCena, a major BaseBreaker, won it, only to lose the title to Wrestling/BrockLesnar at ''Wrestling/SummerSlam 2014''. Lesnar later lost the title to Rollins at ''Wrestling/WrestleMania 31'', who would hold it until he got injured in November of that year. The title was left vacated and a tournament was created to determine a new champion in his place. A face did win the title -- Wrestling/RomanReigns. Problem was, Reigns was regarded as a CreatorsPet due to his transparently obvious status as TheChosenOne to succeed Wrestling/JohnCena's role as face of the company. The fact that he was completely bland as a face made him a major recipient of XPacHeat. Then, not even five minutes later, Wrestling/{{Sheamus}} cashed in his Wrestling/MoneyInTheBank contract to become champ. Problem was Sheamus had gone through a lot of BadassDecay and basically had no storyline direction ever since he won the briefcase, making him so irrelevant that fans wanted him to be champion even less than they did Roman. Roman then managed to get briefly over at ''TLC 2015'' by returning to his badass Shield character and won the title the following night on RAW. However, they went back to booking him as a bland face, turning him into TheScrappy again. Then he lost the title to mega-heel Wrestling/TripleH at the Wrestling/RoyalRumble match to set up the main event of ''[=WrestleMania=] 32''. \\\
This is where things utterly fell to pieces. The fans hated Roman. ''Hated him''. They hated hated him so much that they began to root for the Authority, ''the ones responsible for starting all this DarknessInducedAudienceApathy''. It was for naught, as Hunter lost and they got another reign with Roman. Things didn't get better until [[EpicFail Roman violated the Wellness Policy three months into his championship reign]], forcing the company to suspend him, meaning they had to take the title off him as soon as possible. He dropped the belt in a semi-clean match to a returning Rollins at ''Wrestling/MoneyInTheBank 2016''. While fans liked Rollins or at least sympathized with him, he was still a heel. However, not even two minutes later, Wrestling/DeanAmbrose, one of the most popular wrestlers on the roster, if not the most popular, and the last member of the Shield, cashed in his newly won briefcase and won the title, ''finally'' breaking the chain. The fans were absolutely elated. That being said, the past two years had made the fans extremely cynical, to the point that they were convinced that Ambrose was a transitional champion and that Rollins and Reigns would win it back soon enough. It wasn't until Ambrose pinned both men clean to retain the title (Rollins in a one-on-one title match, Reigns in the Shield triple threat) that fans finally realized they were getting a nice, long reign with the first true face champion since Daniel Bryan himself.
* Ignoring the insanity of Wrestling/VinceRusso's endless use of the ShockingSwerve, this trope was one of the main causes of Wrestling/{{WCW}}'s decline. While the Wrestling/{{n|ewWorldOrder}}Wo [[EvilIsCool were cool]] for a while, they were '''the {{heel}}s''', which meant that they ultimately needed to suffer defeats, and meaningful ones. This, however, was a fact seemingly lost on everyone there (especially those members of the [=nWo=] who were involved in booking the stories - funny that). After years and years of watching the villains run roughshod over absolutely everyone, gloating and laughing, the whole thing just became pointless and depressing - they were '''never''' going to be defeated, and that was that. So people just changed the channel. In the end, the one saving grace was that the group's leader, "Hollywood" Hogan, reverted to being Wrestling/HulkHogan and returned to being a face - but that in itself could be considered a KarmaHoudini. Most people would probably argue that the New World Order storyline should've ended at ''Starrcade '97'', after Wrestling/{{Sting}} finally defeated Hulk Hogan (albeit in controversial fashion), thereby proving that, if nothing else, the nWo wasn't invincible. Of course, that arc itself came close to resulting in DIAA, since Sting was early on [[{{Frameup}} made to look as if he were secretly working for the nWo]], and his immediate reaction - [[AchillesInHisTent abruptly quitting WCW and entering into semi-seclusion for a time]] - didn't exactly allay suspicion. Indeed, Sting's enigmatic, smiling declaration of [[LogicBomb "The only thing that's for sure about Sting... is that nothing's for sure"]] - the last words he ever spoke before [[WhiteMaskOfDoom completely whitening his face]] and refusing to speak publicly for more than 14 months - kept people guessing for quite a while.
* The ''inVasion'' angle of the summer of 2001 also suffered from this. Wrestling/{{WWE}} fans, WCW fans, and {{Wrestling/ECW}} fans had hated each other for years, so when [[EnemyMine WCW and ECW unexpectedly decided to team up against the big bad WWE]], it looked like a battle for the ages. Except... the WWE writers sabotaged the whole concept by casting ''every'' WCW and ECW representative [[DesignatedVillain as a heel]], even though many of them had done nothing wrong. Worse, the leader of the WWE team was Wrestling/VinceMcMahon, hardly a likable character; his opponents were his children Wrestling/{{Shane|McMahon}} and Wrestling/{{Stephanie|McMahon}} and ECW chief Wrestling/PaulHeyman, all of whom were likewise {{Jerkass}}es. Finally, at the actual pay-per-view event WWE [[CurbStompBattle trounced the WCW/ECW Alliance so thoroughly]] that when [[spoiler: Wrestling/StoneColdSteveAustin]] defected to the Alliance and helped them pull off an unexpected victory, it was hard not to see this treachery as WWE getting its just deserts. (And all the Alliance members ended up joining or rejoining WWE shortly afterwards anyway, so what was the point?)
* Literature/TheDeathOfWCW talks about this from a booking standpoint. According to the author, [[CaptainObvious the best way to make money is to create a match fans want to see and one that they're willing to pay for to see]]. However, fans won't pay to see a bout if they can easily perceive a winner. In context to WCW's own entry on this page; the apathy factored into money bouts as well. Not only was Bischoff trying to put PPV matches on regular TV, but the sheer apathy of the heels running roughshod constantly make it a drain to see. Fans began to perceive who the winner would be (especially on the Souled Out [=PPVs=]) that money stopped coming into the PPV matches.
* Looking at the entire history of the WWF, it's understandable that one would see "sports entertainment" itself as this. Due to the Heel Face Revolving Door described above, almost everyone has been a heel at some point in his or her career. Even worse, many of these heels are unrepentant for their past actions ''even after turning face'', simply laughing along with the audience or just resorting to the HandWave whenever anyone [[RememberWhenYouBlewUpASun tries to bring up the crimes they committed in the past]]. So with the exception of Wrestling/JohnCena (who's been a face for so long now that all of his past evil deeds have [[FleetingDemographicRule been effectively erased from memory]]) and a few others, it's hard to truly care for any of these characters. Particularly true when they exhibit {{Jerkass}} behaviors even while playing the face, or when one realizes that they're just one ShockingSwerve away from becoming heels again.
* An ongoing angle in SHINE is whether the promotion should be honoring long time veterans or showcasing up and coming talents. The angle's been worked by pitting a heel on one end of the argument against more compromising or apathetic baby faces. But the angle ran into SHINE's tendency to book heel vs heel, so the audience wasn't too enthused by "Dinosaur Hunter" Leah Von Dutch vs 1940s throwback Thunderkitty...till Dutch turned face later that night.
* This trope is why {{heel}} [[EvilVersusEvil vs. heel]] matchups are typically undesirable from a booker's point of view: the audience would have no one to cheer. When there ''is'' a heel vs. heel feud, it's usually a sign that [[EvenEvilHasStandards one of them is about to turn face]] (for example, Wrestling/{{Sheamus}} versus Wrestling/RandyOrton in January 2010 -- and even then, that only happened because [[MisaimedFandom/ProfessionalWrestling Randy was getting cheered so often despite being by far and away the biggest dick in the company]] (not named Wrestling/{{Batista}}) at the time that they had no choice ''but'' to turn him face).
** Wrestling/JackSwagger's first Raw match against Wrestling/BigELangston was a great example of how not to book two heels against each other, as the audience crapped all over both guys and their match, despite them not messing anything up. They did appreciate Wrestling/AlbertoDelRio coming out though, in one of the few moments his response really wasn't tepid on Raw.
** As for an example of how to avert this, Wrestling/TheWyattFamily versus Wrestling/TheShield. Careful build-up and Wrestling/BrayWyatt's charisma led to a heel-on-heel match that had fans cheering ''before anyone stepped in the ring''. This was a rare case when all the stars aligned for such an event, as the Shield featured three of the top new ring workers in the company breaking into the main event scene, while Bray Wyatt's convincing portrayal of a Deep South cult leader gave the company the first top heel of his kind in nearly twenty years since the debut of Wrestling/MickFoley, so despite being the bad guys, fans had ample reasons to cheer for both sides. Careful coordination then made sure that both groups had largely differing agendas that made a feud between them believable from a fan standpoint.
** Another aversion was a brief 2002 feud between Wrestling/ChrisBenoit and Wrestling/KurtAngle before their [[EnemyMine reluctant tag team alliance]]. There were two big factors in why the audience embraced this (and Benoit, who elevated into the upper midcard again post-neck surgery) despite the heel vs. heel slant: first, their quarrel was over something pretty funny (Benoit laughed at Angle getting Stinkfaced by Wrestling/{{Rikishi}}; Angle held down Benoit so he could get the same treatment), and second, both were such phenomenal workers that they could get the crowd engaged even as bad guys. Thus, their Unforgiven 2002 match was an instant classic that received multiple mid-match ovations and was part of the beginnings of the fabled [[Wrestling/WWESmackDown SmackDown]] Six.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Role Playing]]
* ''Roleplay/SurvivalOfTheFittest'' can either avoid this one or play it straight, depending on the character and scene. The setting essentially means that [[KillEmAll most of the cast will die in some way or another]], [[CruelAndUnusualDeath occasionally in horrific ways]] and often at the hands of each other. While with a bit of skill handlers do avert this one entirely, there still have been moments where it feels like this trope in practice. Fortunately, there have been a fair amount of avoidance with specific examples.
* ''Roleplay/DisneyWorldOfWar'' has this problem at times. With the setting being a DarkerAndEdgier version of the traditional Disney universe. Added to this problem is the BlackAndGrayMorality which is exhibited by all three sides in the war, including the "Heroes" who are not above brutal means to win the war, makes it hard to really root for any of them because they are so willing to throw ethics out the window at times. There is also the problem of so many characters, particularly [[WouldHurtAChild child characters]], dying or traditional "good guys" being turned to the dark side because of either trauma or the realisation that TheDarkSideWillMakeYouForget means even rooting for Disney protagonists is hard. Fortunately, however, the personalities of the Disney characters saves this somewhat as they still can be the characters everyone knows and loves in the brief moments of levity.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/BattleTech'' can reach this level if you care to check its backstory. The clash of multiple [[DeadlyDecadentCourt Deadly Decadent Courts]] (a clash which did not even so much as ''slow down'' when the Clans invaded) and continuous wars (against the Clans, against the Word of Blake, [[WeAREStrugglingTogether against each other]], etc) that have constantly knocked down the whole Inner Sphere can make the fluff feel to some like ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' [[RecycledInSpace IN SPACE]] with HumongousMecha (and you can read above about why ''this'' is a bad thing). There are plenty of sympathetic characters on the canon, but in the end the Inner Sphere is just not going to ''ever'' change from being a war-wreaked [[CrapsackWorld Crapsack]] ''[[UpToEleven Galaxy]]'', no matter their efforts, so why bother about seeing their success if you know in the long run it will all go to hell again?
* ''TabletopGame/DeadOfWinter'' can fall under this, depending how bad the secret objectives are. You could use that medicine to save your friend's survivor, who could really help the community... but if your secret objective requires that you keep the medicine...
* In the view of some of the current authors, large chunks of second edition ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}'' fell into "shitdark", defined by Holden Shearer as "a setting so relentlessly shitty and miserable and hopeless that it becomes impossible to emotionally invest in it or care what happens to it."
* ''TabletopGame/{{GURPS}}'' is too diverse a system to fall into this generally, but several of its AlternateUniverse Earth settings fell into this for gamers; most notably, Reich-5 was retooled into a new villain for crosstime campaigns because your options there consisted of "Nazis, Nazified Americans, Imperial Japanese, and the inevitably doomed resistance". Reich-2 was this in-story for Americans after the British signed a truce with the Nazis--no one much cared whether Hitler or Stalin won the war.
* While ''Wraith'' is the worst in this regard, the ''TabletopGame/OldWorldOfDarkness'' as a whole tended to fall in this trap. Throughout each game, the main villains tended to be vast unknowable forces that could never be truly defeated: ancient conspiracies, corrupt corporations, secret government organizations, ''the spiritual force of evil itself'', etc. And they're ''winning.'' Regardless of the player characters' victories in a campaign, you're unlikely to have any effect on the large-scale machinations at work. A recurring theme throughout each game is that the heroes are fighting a losing battle against the end of the world. Have fun.
** In ''TabletopGame/WerewolfTheApocalypse'', the world is threatened by the Weaver (the cosmic force of order who seeks to lock the cosmos into unchanging stasis) and the Wyrm (the cosmic force of destruction and renewal who has gone insane after being imprisoned in the Weaver's "web" of reality). In ''best case'' scenarios, these forces can be restored to sanity and balance, at the cost of billions of human and non-human lives. In ''worst case'' scenarios, one of these beings emerges triumphant over the cosmos and proceeds to either destroy it or render it a horrible {{crapsack world}}. Meanwhile, their minions are inflicting untold suffering on the world. The Gaia-aligned factions trying to stop the Weaver and Wyrm are often depicted as short-sighted, bigoted, bloodthirsty, and in the case of the Ananasi, outright sociopathic, making it difficult at times to root for them.
** ''TabletopGame/WraithTheOblivion'' is a game where upon death your soul incarnates in Creator/HRGiger's worst BDSM nightmare, is taken in by a society whose repressiveness would embarrass a fascist, finds that there is no happy afterlife for him, and then must struggle to survive as a mad force of {{Eldritch Abomination}}s and their howling-mad servants of Oblivion seek to unmake the world. One source book went so far as to deal with the ghosts born of the ''Holocaust''. The bleakness drove it straight into AudienceAlienatingPremise and it was definitely one of the less popular games. This is the game where your character's sweater is made out of the soul of another person who is experiencing AndIMustScream.
** ''Hunter: The Reckoning'' had this problem at release. It was advertised as a World of Darkness game in which the characters would play regular people attempting to take back their streets from the assorted vampires, werewolves, mages etc. that populate the setting. When the book was actually released, though, it was revealed that Hunters themselves also had supernatural powers granted to them by an unknown entity.. and since every powerful unknown force in the setting up to that point was a BigBad, and "I'm a monster but I have to be to defend you against the other worse monster" a central theme of all the games, Hunters appeared no longer to be the champions of regular humanity but just another type of supernatural creature. A great deal of disappointed NerdRage resulted.
* With the revelations in the last two Horizon adventure packs that the only four major factions (The Draco Foundation, the Great Dragon Hestaby, Buttercup, and Horizon) that could still be said to be in any way 'good' (or even anti-heroic) are really as expedient and guilty of atrocity and terror as the rest, and only differ in the nature and scope of their self-rationalizations but are as mired in the basest of motivations as every other setting villain, some fans believe that the ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}'' universe has finally hit this threshold.
** The part where several of the writers openly expressed scorn [[WordOfGod on forums]] at the idea of shadowrunners having any kind of ethics (even antiheroic ones) instead of just being people who gladly do horrible things for money, and the promotion in storylines and flavor text of several NPC shadowrunners who exemplified that utterly amoral attitude from 'the runners even other shadowrunners look down on' to 'well-respected and widely admired figures of their professional community' isn't helping much either. One of them (Haze) is canonically a serial rapist who uses drugs to incapacitate his victims. Another (Clockwork) is a {{Fantastic Racis|m}}t who makes money selling fellow runners with technomancer powers to megacorporate vivisection labs, and openly admits to anyone who asks that he'd cheerfully sell out anyone, including other team members, to the authorities in return for money (something that's normally considered an unforgivable sin among even the most depraved criminal community, and yet is entirely ignored in-setting). Another (Kane) has been the reigning world champion of excess collateral damage and carelessness with the lives of innocent bystanders for two editions. All of these characters have been promoted to ''signature NPC status'', instead of their prior canonical treatment as cautionary tales/shadowrunner antagonists.
* ''TabletopGame/UnhallowedMetropolis'' takes this trope to an extreme. It is set in a world where a ZombieApocalypse has warped most of the earth, resulting in barely-surviving societies which are surrounded by blighted, polluted, unholy hellscapes. The default setting, Victorian-esque England, takes inequality to such extremes that for every [[AristocratsAreEvil stuffy noble using the blood of the poor to stay young while enjoying macabre orgies,]] there are thousands who die for want of a gas mask. Speaking of gas masks, the air is so polluted that one is essential for survival. What few leaders remain are all invariably corrupt and decadent to a level that cannot be exaggerated, while bomb-throwing anarchists and worse are ready to dismantle the system. Of course, anarchy would only lead to a failure of the few systems stopping the ghouls, vampires, mad-scientists, and other evils from visiting horrors on the populous. Nation states have fallen - there is no world system, and all the people of this new society know of other peoples is that France is even worse off. Even the heroes are inherently corrupt, and draw power by accepting further corruption. Finally, all the undeath of this setting is hinted to be a symptom of the world being fundamentally wrong on a far, far more terrible level, as observed through the unspeakable behavior of its human inhabitants.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'':
** The universe skirts this, as a setting based on unending war and horror that runs on [[EvilVersusEvil Black and Black Morality]] (well, maybe Black and Very Dark Grey Morality). However, most fans accept it as part of the basic premise of the setting, and most stories are told from a smaller scale perspective where there is good and evil, and good can indeed triumph despite the bleakness of the setting as a whole. Other bits of source material turn things up to 11 and use the bleakness as a source of black comedy.
** Literature/HorusHeresy novels in particular can fall into this range after enough DoomedByCanon, unpleasant people on both sides, obligatory war crimes scenes, and downer endings.
** The ''Literature/GauntsGhosts'' series avoids this by presenting the 40k universe through the lens of the eponymous regiment, detailing how ordinary human soldiers deal with the horrors of the setting and yet still managing to triumph via ingenuity and sheer determination (and a bit of luck), though not without loss.
** Literature/CiaphasCain outright defies the grimdark setting by pointing out a lot of the grimdark depictions - such as Commissars who execute willy-nilly and use Imperial Guard as little more than fodder - tend to get fragged, and depicts the Imperium as willing to negotiate with the Tau over an unimportant colony that's already been half-swayed to the Tau cause (because {{realpolitik}} means their military resources are better employed against the tyranids and necrons), something that wouldn't fly in stereotypical ''[=WH40k=]''.
** The fans also coined the term Grimderp, which is a variation on this: An event or setting so dark and horrible it becomes {{Narm}}tastic, often throwing away logic for the sake of being grittier. Something has entered Grimderp territory whenever it gets too stupidly dark to take seriously anymore (such as the much-reviled 5th edition Grey Knights codex, featuring the Knights slaughtering a Sororitas convent to use their blood as holy protection).
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theater]]
* ''Film/RepoTheGeneticOpera'' in both a musical and the film of the musical. The basic premise is that a company controls the supply of organs needed to live, and they remove them by force if you are late making payments. The characters include an heiress addicted to drugs and surgery, a mass-murdering heir, a man who wears the removed faces of women, a CorruptCorporateExecutive who sends hitmen out to remove the organs of those who fail to pay him, and the titular Repo Man. There's only three characters with a shred of decency - the tragic opera singer, the IncorruptiblePurePureness IllGirl, and the grave-robbing, drug-dealing GreekChorus. It just keeps getting worse.
* ''Theatre/SweeneyTodd'' pits a barber who murders innocent men and sends them to his PsychoSupporter to be baked into pies, against a corrupt judge who drugged and raped a woman and then holds her daughter hostage with the intent to [[WifeHusbandry marry the girl he brought up]]. There's a TokenRomance (or RomanticPlotTumor) between a couple of flat characters, but other than that it's a revenge story between a mass murderer and the monster who wronged him.
* ''Theatre/TitusAndronicus'': The protagonist is a horrible person, the antagonist is a horrible person, the side characters are horrible people, there's overreactions galore, rape, cannibalism, murder, torture, insanity, but it's so over the top and over done it just ends up unpopular and buried in the back folder of Full Annotated works of Shakespeare.
** Though it was probably meant to be a parody of similar Revenge Dramas that were very popular at the time by going completely over the top. Also, there are a some likeable characters (such as Titus' brother Marcus), and the ambiguity in some areas (such as Aaron's baby), allows some characters to be more likable.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* ''VisualNovel/AmnesiaOtome'': The heroine is ''incredibly'' TooDumbToLive, the world's out to kill her, the bad endings far outweigh the good ones, and the love interests aren't great people either. Many players find it hard to care.
* ''VisualNovel/CorpseParty'', even in its first incarnation, was pretty bleak, featuring a setting where [[OrdinaryHighSchoolStudent ordinary high school students]] are pulled into an [[DarkWorld alternate version]] of their school, featuring a StringyHairedGhostGirl and other ghosts that all want them dead, along with [[TheCorruption the Darkening]], which turns them into undead monsters if they [[DespairEventHorizon lose all hope]]. Even then, the protagonists usually solved the mystery and escaped relatively intact in the first few incarnations of the story. Later adaptions, however, go straight for the KillEmAll route. Even the OVA adaptation of the first story kills all but two of the protagonists, one of whom ends up sitting in a rocking chair for the rest of her life, too traumatized to even speak.
* The ''VisualNovel/DanganRonpa'' games. The premise for them is already dark, in that the protagonists are all stuck in a school or on an island and the sadistic Monokuma tells them that, in order to be free, they need to kill each other and get away with it. With that as your beginning aspect, there's not much else one can do to make it even darker, but the game does, by including the revelation that TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt has occurred outside of the school and the air is tainted, food is scarce and what little of 'society' remains is filled with violence. And the GaidenGame ''VideoGame/AbsoluteDespairGirls'' flips things around and shows how bad things are outside in the world. For a game that started with simply killing students and solving murders, this got dark so fast, it's in absolute darkness.
** In Absolute Despair Girls it actually seems to be playing with your apathy by shocking you back into being horrified again and again. What is worse than senseless murder? Senseless murder committed by children. Worse than that? Those children being abused. Near the end the main character temporarily falls into a state of this because she is shown something so horrifying to her that she stops caring about the decision she was supposed to be making, but recovers before the final boss battle soon afterwards.
* This is a problem a lot of people have with ''VisualNovel/DiabolikLovers'' and the main reason the franchise is [[AmericansHateTingle mostly despised outside Japan]]. The female lead/player character is a TooDumbToLive ExtremeDoormat who is also trapped in terrible situations without '''any''' ways out (and develops StockholmSyndrome), the romantic options are horrible people with little to no redeeming qualities (with poorly written [[FreudianExcuse "excuses"]] that fall utterly flat because all the guys are callous brutes), there's lots of gross and {{squick}}y elements that are clearly there just for shock value, and most of the game's MultipleEndings are overly cruel or esoterically happy. And the game uses a ''very'' poor understanding of sub/dom relationships to justify all this.
* ''VisualNovel/KatawaShoujo''[='=]s creators discussed this trope [[DefiedTrope and their efforts to avoid it]] on their blog. Originally the game included many more alternate bad endings ranging from depressing to absolutely soul-crushingly depressing, but they eventually decided that [[AudienceAlienatingPremise the game's very premise]] - a RomanceGame where all the character have disabilities - was sad enough as it is, and decided to cut the bad endings down to just one for each route. Among the endings cut included several where [[PlayerCharacter Hisao]] dies, ones where [[ShrinkingViolet Hanako]] and [[MoodSwinger Misha]] commit suicide, and even an option to [[RapeIsASpecialKindOfEvil rape Hanako]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Comic]]
* Ever since the [[WhamEpisode December]] arc, ''Webcomic/BittersweetCandyBowl'' has become solely about grinding the characters (''Especially'' Lucy and Mike) into the dirt. Friendships are destroyed, characters are given bleak, depressing backstories, every storyline since December has ended in tragedy, and any happy moments the characters experience are [[YankTheDogsChain quickly and cruelly shattered]].
* ''Webcomic/DraconiaChronicles'' is about a genocidal war between two races, Dragons and Tigers, which are full of horrible, horrible people ranging from genocidal madwomen, racist jerks, and just plain incompetent fools. Many of the participants of the war are involved for purely selfish reasons. The madwomen, jerks and fools are constantly rewarded and have good things happen to them, while the few characters who are in any way decent either get [[BreakTheCutie broken]], [[DroppedABridgeOnHim die]], or get broken ''then'' die.
* Nothing has gone right for any of the good guys since day one of ''WebComic/GhostsOfTheFuture''. The comic even starts with the main heroes of the ''Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog'' franchise dying. The Scourge arc, in particular, is one long sequence of "one step forward, two steps back." The author has lampshaded this, saying "I show my feelings of admiration through doing horrible, horrible things to the characters I like."
* ''Webcomic/{{Goblins}}'': Every time something happens in the comic, more tragedy will result than happiness. The author himself seems to have noticed this, since he's started killing off characters less often, though some may still be turned off regardless.
** The Brassmoon arc kicked off because a party member got imprisoned there, [[SillyRabbitIdealismIsForKids through his own idealism no less]], and ended with the party recovering him in a catatonic state after he'd been tortured by the sadistic BigBad. And one of them got half their soul destroyed during the events.
** The Well of Darkness arc started because the characters involved were enslaved and forced to enter a dungeon and retrieve a magical item for the BigBad. In the aftermath, [[spoiler:two are dead, two characters are forced to cut a limb off, and a new terrifying monster has been created]].
** Perhaps the grandest example of all in the comic; [[spoiler:the romance built up between Minmax and Kin over a long period is absolutely destroyed in ''two pages'']].
* ''Webcomic/{{Prequel}}'''s Katia just keeps losing everything, leading to many readers quitting the strip after [[spoiler:Sigrid takes almost everything she has]].
* The protagonists are unrepentant and hypocritical murderers, there's no point in the people who die learning last-minute lessons, and everyone else is apparently so stupid they never put two and two together to figure out the protagonists commit such horrible acts, and so they are never stopped. Congratulations, you just read everything wrong with ''Webcomic/SuicideForHire''.
* ''Webcomic/SurvivorFanCharacters'':
** The main reason a lot of people consider Season 8 to be the [[SeasonalRot worst season]] is that it became hard to root for anyone in the later stages of the game with the most positive character in the finals having devolved into a huge liar and easily-manipulated idiot and the other two finalists being an arrogant, smug [[SmallNameBigEgo Ted Baxter]] and an emotionless demon who backstabbed her best friend and rubbed many readers the wrong way about [[VillainSue how the author and everyone else seemed to practically hand the victory to her]]. The rest of the cast having a lot of characters that were either one-dimensional caricatures or people who practically exulted in being obnoxious to others didn't help.
** Season 10 went ahead and topped that with an even more unlikable cast. To start off, the author brings back hated characters like [[AttentionWhore Chloe]], [[StrawMisogynist Frank]], [[TheLoad Quadratic]] and [[VillainSue Bonnie]]; former well-liked characters like [[JerkJock Jackie]], [[UndyingLoyalty Phil]] and [[DumbBlonde Ryuia]] suffer massive {{Flanderization}}, when they're not OutOfFocus like Emilee or Kris; [[CreatorsPet Bonnie]] [[EliminationHoudini surviving over much more likable characters, such as Ventious and Starr]]; and having an overall mean-spirited feel to it.
* Nearly all the characters in ''[[Webcomic/EightBitTheater 8-Bit Theater]]'' are either complete sociopaths or borderline mentally challenged, and near the end of the comic, the "heroes" aren't even trying to save the world anymore. This can make the comic feel very bleak at times, especially when the few actually sympathetic characters are around, but of course, it ''is'' a [[BlackComedy very dark comedy]].
* ''Webcomic/LasLindas'' is an inversion of ''Prequel'', but in this case, the main character having everything good happen to her happens to be a [[JerkSue major bitch]] who barely got any better at all, and [[KarmaHoudini pretty much spits in Karma's face]]. Considering that she's pretty much reaching GodModeSue territory currently, and the ProtagonistCenteredMorality is in full swing, it can be very, very difficult to get invested in what happens.
%%* Misfile has elements of this sometimes.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* For those who don't find the videos to be SnarkBait or SoBadItsGood, a number of the infamous "[[YouAreGrounded X Gets Grounded]]" videos made in Website/GoAnimate can become this. All of the kids are constantly making everyone miserable ForTheEvulz, and the good guys often [[DisproportionateRetribution go above and beyond what anyone would deem necessary to teach them their lesson]], either by absurdly long grounding times at best, torture-laden or even fatal "[[HumiliationConga Punishment Days]]" at worst. Additionally, there's almost nothing the troublesome kids can do that will ''not'' end with them grounded [[ThrowTheDogABone outside of the rarest occasions]], not even if they do something nice or even heroic like prevent a disaster or crime. A lot of times the [[NoGoodDeedGoesUnpunished good deed will just be outright overridden or ignored]], often for [[AssPull some random contrived reason]], just so the kids can get grounded. All the "good guys" have the potential to be [[{{Jerkass}} very mean]] to the troublemakers (sometimes even without justification) and some of them are just terrible people in general, but are [[DesignatedHero treated as heroes]] for putting the troublemakers in their place. "Baby show" characters like WesternAnimation/{{Caillou}} that exist in the [[CrapsackWorld world that the videos take place in]] are [[FantasticRacism universally hated by the world]] simply for being baby show characters, and nothing they can do can change that. With everyone in the videos having some negative qualities about them, it's almost not worth rooting for anyone except Caillou and Dora, who at least manage to be [[JerkassWoobie Jerkass Woobies]] at best.
* The story-presented-as-a-actual-television show ''Comeuppance'', by [[https://tellygunge.wordpress.com/archives/story-archive/by-tellygunge/ Tellygunge]] (Scroll down to the bottom of the link due to no separate category for the story themselves) is ''supposed'' to be like a vote-in show to make women in hated occupations go into a disgusting [[CoveredInGunge gunge tank]], and tries to convince you by making the contestants as unlikeable as possible. However, [[UnintentionallyUnsympathetic Sian Welby]] [[RuleOfCautiousEditingJudgement (the one in this story)]] comes off as a SmugSnake towards those that do go in the gunge tank, [[spoiler:for example, Princess Priscilla after the latter created a scathing review of the former]], mocks every occupation on the show (especially if [[StrawmanHasAPoint they have a valid point, like the bouncer or the airline clerk]]), and the contestants either come off as UnintentionallySympathetic in their plight, or those who are supposed to come off as a KarmaHoudini end up [[LaserGuidedKarma punishing Sian]] in the ways that they can towards her.
* The ''{{Franchise/Halo}}'' AlternateRealityGame ''ARG/HuntTheTruth'' ends with a big DownerEnding during its first season, where [[spoiler:Ben Giraud falls for ONI's trap and his whistleblowing is discredited in public]], but it adds a [[RayOfHopeEnding note of hope]] by having his colleague Petra take up his cause. The second season, however, has no such hopeful note, ending with [[spoiler:Ben going insane in prison, Petra arrested offscreen, Maya murdered by her best friend, Bostwick JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope, Mshak fleeing to never return, and the Office of Naval Intelligence no weaker than ever. Not that it matters because humanity's also got a front row seat to watching the ancient Guardians arise and kill everybody]].
* Brought up in ''[[WebVideo/ImAMarvelAndImADC Marvel and DC: After Hours]]'' by [[ComicBook/NormanOsborn the Green Goblin]], in which he states that ComicBook/TheJoker's plan to make all the superheroes DarkerAndEdgier {{Nineties Antihero}}es is just plain stupid since without LighterAndSofter heroes for contrast, not only will comics get boring since all the heroes are the same, comics will just get so depressing that the audience might as well just [[DrivenToSuicide kill themselves]].
* Some readers of ''Literature/{{Worm}}'' fall into this state as it becomes obvious just how outmatched humanity is by the evils that assault it. The series is essentially a long chain of really bad things happening that directly result in even worse things happening. Things ''always'' [[FromBadToWorse get worse]]. In the end, though, [[spoiler:[[SurprisinglyHappyEnding humanity does manage to survive the impending apocalypse and even take down the entity responsible for it]]]]. As a general note, newcomers can have a hard time having any ''fun'' reading a series that's full of characters that do horrible and horrifying things on both sides. The protagonist, for example, starts off a bullying victim who experiences AdultsAreUseless, and she feels justified in committing torture, kidnapping, and murder. And she's one of the nicer characters.
[[/folder]]
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