"With no power comes no responsibility. Except that's not true."
Simply put, a combination of Deconstruction
in the same work.
Some works deconstruct a trope
, whereas others reconstruct them. Some do both at the same time. This trope applies to works in which a trope or genre is deconstructed and later reconstructed. This can take place over a short period of time, where there is an immediate reconstruction
of a deconstructed trope, or it can be long and drawn out, where a trope is initially deconstructed, and then reconstructed later on. (Rarely is it done the other way around).
This trope can be an author's way of adding new complexity to the genre he/she is working in. For example, take the Princess Classic
. A work employing this trope would take a Princess Classic
, say, "guys, it wouldn't really work this way, but here's how it would
work out." Using the examples from the Deconstruction
pages, in a work applying this trope to the Princess Classic
, the Princess' monarchy might initially find itself in dire straits, with an oppressive Prince Charming
, but by the end of the story a constitutional monarchy has been put into place.
A Trapped in TV Land
plot might start with characters engaged in Conversational Troping
about the silly things that happen in the Show Within a Show
, only to do the exact same things when they find themselves a part of the show's world.
Lightly based on Hegelian dialectic - the thesis (the trope), the antithesis (the deconstruction
), and the synthesis (reconstruction
and a changed trope.)
May be paired with Cerebus Rollercoaster
and is subject to the same pitfalls and dangers. When done well, it can send a powerful message that the optimistic conventions of the genre were not in vain after all, as they overcome the initial cynical deconstruction. When handled poorly, it can give the impression that the writers wanted to draw in an audience with a dark and edgy deconstruction, but copped out later when they realized that this would make a conventional happy ending difficult.
See also Indecisive Deconstruction
, which is about works that aren't even sure whether they want to be a Deconstruction or Reconstruction of anything.
You should probably expect a lot of SPOILERS the page below, since they often detail the swerves a work makes over its run.
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- Those Kotex commercials that pose the question "Why are tampon ads so obnoxious?" detail all the tricks tampon ads use then immediately cut to scenes of exactly what they just said. Yes, it is a parody, but it still makes use of all the old tropes while at the same time making itself seem cooler than the other brands who are also using the same old tropes. Everyone is still wearing white pants and the liquid in the demonstration will never be any color but blue.
Anime & Manga
- In a meta example, Studio Gainax. They started with GunBuster, went to Neon Genesis Evangelion, then went to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
- Even before TTGL the studio started the era of reconstruction with Diebuster, a direct sequel to Gunbuster that went back to the idealistic roots of the super robot genre.
- Gurren Lagann does this itself, with the first eight episodes playing out like an Affectionate Parody of the Super Robot genre tropes. It doesn't take itself seriously until Kamina dies, when it deals with the emotional side of the show in a more serious way, while simultaneously celebrating the tropes it mocked in the first place. One can see the history of the genre this way: The first arc is based on 80s Super Robot anime, when the genre was played straight. The second arc is based on the 90s, when it became popular to deconstruct the Super Robot genre and Real Robot shows were in fashion. The final arc is based on 00s mecha anime, when Super Robot shows got a resurgence in popularity.
- It's subtle in Neon Genesis Evangelion, but it's there as well - oh boy is it deconstructed, but the Reconstruction is presented in full postmodernism. Shinji gets over his breakdown, Rei stands up to Gendo, and Asuka finds enough worth to return to life after Instrumentality.
- Dai-Guard is another Humongous Mecha example; it starts out as a deconstruction of the genre heavy on the Reality Ensues, but then builds back up everything it tore down better than ever. Early in the series, for example, the heroes construct the ever-popular drill arm to deal with an enemy, only to find out that the drill's enormous torque makes it almost impossible to control. But rather than switch to another weapon that's Boring but Practical, they put their heads together and come up with a giant piledriver arm that works even better than the drill while maintaining the Rule of Cool.
- It gets taken further later in the series; when the piledriver arm is out of commission, the heroes break out the drill arm again. Only this time it works flawlessly because their extensive piloting experience allows them to compensate for the torque.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Uses that Hegelian dialectic above to explain alchemy (it's mentioned that alchemy has three parts when referring to Scar's tattoo (which stops at the 2nd stage): identification, deconstruction, reconstruction). It does this to the plot too, identifying the basic idea of Equivalent Exchange (to which it's Trope Namer), deconstructing it (The Gate cheated, taking all of Alphonse and taking an arm and a leg from Edward, to give a false revival), and reconstructing it (the real exchange is something different, and comes both from Edward's choice, and Winry's comment to Edward at the end). Both have Equivalent Exchange disputed in rapid succession with providing a better solution, in addition to the gradual deconstruction and reconstruction process provided by the story.
- 20th Century Boys goes nuts on every nuance it can find in the Saving the World plot. The Badass is brought down to the same level as the Action Survivor cast. The Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever is torn apart so brutally it's commented on in-universe. The only reason the Big Bad exists is because he's a Psychopathic Manchild who actually believes in this, and he is much more Genre Savvy than the typical comic book villain who grabs the Idiot Ball at the perfect time. At the same time, it is a Reconstruction in that, no matter how many tropes it subverts, the characters are still Saving the World.
- Martian Successor Nadesico does the same thing with its Affectionate Parody of Real Robot shows.
- Mahou Sensei Negima! briefly deconstructs the concept of "side characters", showing the kinds of inferiority complexes that can result from people realizing their status. It later reconstructs it by pointing out that even if a person isn't in the limelight all the time, their actions can still have a profound effect on the "main characters".
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Specifically, this series deconstructs the "Power of the Heart" often used in Magical Girl anime. The show does this by drawing attention to the fact that when the characters get to Make a Wish in exchange for assuming the duty of magical girls, these wishes usually have an underlying motive, and their purpose is never as pure and noble as many shows often assume it would be (these are young girls after all). Tragedy ensues not because these wishes had a selfish motive, however: rather, because they were simply badly thought out and the characters were unable to accept their outcome. While initially it seems like An Aesop about the futility of a Deal with the Devil, the ending, however, reconstructs the wish as an embodiment of hope by demonstrating that a wish made for all the right reasons, that benefits many people including the one who made it, essentially becomes the most powerful force to ever exist. It rewrites the laws of reality and recreates the world without the hopeless fate Magical Girls had been previously forced into, even if it, too, comes with a caveat.
- Tiger & Bunny first appears to be a Superhero Deconstruction where superhero work has been incredibly commercialized, heroes are in it for the fame and money, the interests of corporate sponsors rule, and ideals of saving people for its own sake has all but disappeared... Until it's clear that, for all the glitz, most of the superheroes are still good-hearted, effective individuals doing what they do because it's right rather than because they get paid for it.
- Macross Frontier deconstructed the Idol Singer aspect by showing how they are mostly "Fabricated pop idols" with no substance beyond that, and how they can be discarded at any moment. But then, Sheryl refuses to be discarded and manages to regain her status - and ultimately assists in punishing the agent who tried to discard her, thus truly becoming an Idol Singer.
- Berserk: For example, love, trust and determination are all needed for survival; having a goal is the only way to get through the hard times. (Still, be careful not to cling too hard).
- Bakuman。 has a possible in-universe case with Classroom of Truth. At first glance, it is a Deconstructor Fleet story that deconstructs shonen values such as hard work, friendship and so forth, by having the characters trapped in a classroom, only concerned about their own survival, and being forced to admit their selfishness or die. However, Takagi points out that the selfish characters were the first to die, and proposes that it's a roundabout way of suggesting that people must work together.
- Digimon Tamers does work to deconstruct many of the tropes in the previous two Digimon series, such as showing the brutality of owning a battling monster as a pet and sending ten year olds to save the world, and yet it still revels in The Power of Friendship, Hot-Blooded characters, and most of the antagonists have several shades of gray to them.
- The first season of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 is the deconstruction, the second one is the reconstruction.
- Cardfight!! Vanguard's first season does this in relationship to supernatural card game anime. Psy Qualia allows you to talk to your units, basically letting you draw whatever cad you want and see how the game will play out. This is not the first power in this sort of anime that allows you to manipulate the outcome. However, it is shown as bad, not only because it gets you Drunk on the Dark Side, but because at that point, you aren't really playing the game anymore. But ultimately, Aichi still thinks of it as Thepower Of Friendship in relation to his cards, and uses it to defeat Ren, who has the same power but thinks of his units as more disposable.
- Kingdom Come deconstructs the Dark Age and at the same time reconstructs the Silver Age. In the ending, though, both the Silver Age and Dark Age heroes realize they're fatally flawed in their world views, take off their masks, and rejoin normal human society.
- Fantastic 1234 by Grant Morrison appears to be deconstructing the Fantastic Four by showing them to be the maladjusted, dysfunctional people they would be in real life. Then, it's revealed that this is all a ploy by Doctor Doom to destroy them through a form of superscience mind control and their normal personalities are who they would be in real life — and it ends up reconstructing the Four and deconstructing Doctor Doom himself, revealing him to be little more than a petty, self-obsessed, self-deluding, and unbearably pompous monomaniac who isn't nearly on Reed Richards's level of intelligence and, through devoting his time to a pointless feud driven only because he can't accept his own failings, has pretty much wasted his entire life. And he also appears to be going bald.
- Grant Morrison's New X-Men was a solid deconstruction of the X-Men mythos, detailing some of the harsher aspects of how an oppressed minority of superhumans might operate in the real world, and introducing a slew of adult themes like genocide, drug abuse, marital infidelity, and the confusion of adolescence, leading to a climax that, while still featuring the good X-Men fighting the evil Magneto, was shadowed with brutality and shades of gray. Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men, a direct sequel to New X-Men, continued many of the themes and plot arcs started by the former series, but it also featured the team reinstating their classic spandex costumes and reforming into a good old-fashioned superhero team, showing the world that there's still a place for bold superheroics amidst the chaos and ambiguity of modern life.
- The first few issues of Kick-Ass deconstruct the notion of the Badass Normal, by showing just what would happen if a kid were to dress up in a silly costume and go around looking for crime to fight. Then it picks it up again by having Dave help bring down a crime syndicate and officially do something special with his life. The next two volumes then follow the movie's lead in its treatment of superheroes. The superhero fad Dave inspires eventually morphs into a subculture of altruistic social work and neighborhood watches. A few of the heroes are competent and well-trained, and the rest gain experience fighting thugs and watching each other's backs, and superheroes as a whole become more competent and better fighters than a mafia funded private army. In the end, the superheroes garner tremendous public support, and are acknowledged without irony as superheroes but face antagonism and harassment from the police, who do have the authority and capability to take them down.
- Star Wars: Legacy started off as a Deconstructor Fleet for the Star Wars Expanded Universe. The lead Skywalker was an amoral drug-addicted bounty hunter, the Galactic Alliance was on the ropes again, the Sith numbered in the thousands, the Jedi were fleeing across the Galaxy, and Sith rule seemed certain for decades. But then Cade Skywalker experiences some Character Development, and the Alliance and the true Empire join forces and emerge victorious, giving Legacy one of the most positive and idealistic conclusions in the recent SWEU.
- A meta example, the superhero genre as a whole has done this to a certain extent. The Dark Age of Comic Books deconstructed a lot of the tropes that had built up over the decades of superhero comics. The Modern Age of Comic Books works to reconstruct the superhero genre in light of this deconstruction. There are several matters of debate in this, including whether or not it's actually working or if this age is simply a Genre Throwback to the Gold and Silver Ages.
- Seen in Spider-Man: Reign when Spider-Man foregoes the Darker and Edgier black costume in favor of the classic red and blues,all while singing a familiar tune.
- Shattered by Time starts out as a deconstruction of many Naruto Peggy Sue fics where someone (Kakashi, in this case) goes back in time to prevent the bad guys from winning. The difference is that Kakashi has already been "shattered" before he comes back, needs to be "reconstructed," and it takes YEARS for him to get back to anywhere near normal again. But once he does, the story progresses closer to the classic versions, where he still takes in Naruto and "makes" Sasuke a good guy, etc.
- Throughout Game Theory, Nanoha learns the hard way that crazy plans have a tendency to backfire, that nine year-olds are not mentally equipped to handle complex ethical dilemmas, and that it isn't always possible to save everyone. The epilogue, however, shows that sometimes you can get a happy ending if you try hard enough.
- The Invader Zim fic, In Short Supply, straddles the line between this and an Indecisive Deconstruction. Its original purpose was to deconstruct the Mpreg and Slash genres, showing the darker sides of both. As time goes on though, these elements start to lighten up, causing the story to become less tragic and closer to a traditional fanfic.
- At first The Blessed Disaster looks like a much darker, happy-ending-less version of the Snow White fairy tale. Then the Pale Girl wakes up...
- The Pony POV Series is a good example. It takes various aspects of the series, deconstructs them, and then reconstructs them. The best example is the basic premise of Reharmonized Ponies; that the World-Healing Wave that accompanied Discord's defeat didn't heal the mental damage he caused...but friendship can still heal it. It also took the idea that Fluttershy's Discorded self was a split personality Discord created with the character of Fluttercruel, Fluttershy's Child By Mind Rape by Discord who at first tries to take over, but eventually is reconditioned by Fluttershy's parenting and becomes the mane cast's Sixth Ranger.
- Sonic X: Dark Chaos rewrites the third season of Sonic X into a hellish Cosmic Horror Story. It deconstructs both the origin of the Chaos Eemeralds (created by the devil himself) and the characters. Sonic's whole self-image as an Invincible Hero and The Ace is quickly shattered and the characters - especially the younger ones like Cream - are visibly affected by the horrors around them. However, the heroes know that they can't give up, so they keep going regardless. The rewrite makes the switch even more blatant, emphasizing The Power of Friendship and hope even in the face of cosmic terror.
- The Captain America: The Winter Soldier fanfic Out Of The Dead Land deconstructs the common Fix Fic set-up of Bucky naturally regaining his memories and old personality over time by sticking close to Steve and learning about his past from him: here, Bucky seemingly becoming more like his old self is only a facade constructed from others' stories and no matter how much he replays the stories Steve tells him in his head, he can't truly remember them as his own and reverts back to the empty Winter Soldier when the truth comes out. The reconstruction comes when it's shown that he nevertheless really is the Bucky Steve knows at his core who doesn't need his memories to instinctively do the right thing or come to love Steve even when he believes himself to be only an empty shell, and he's able to gradually regain his sense of identity and Earn His Happy Ending with Steve even without the bulk of his memories.
Films — Animated
- Aladdin does this with Princess Classic in regards to Jasmine. She's lives a luxurious, privileged life, unlike Snow White, Aurora, and Cinderella. And she feels trapped in her own situation - no friends, never allowed outside the palace, an impending arranged marriage she has no choice in. But then Jasmine realises that there are inherent advantages to being a Princess. Such as where she uses her authority to save Aladdin from the guards and vows to put a stop to Jafar when she becomes Queen.
- Disney has also been doing this with the Prince Charming trope: every fairytale-based Disney film after The Little Mermaid (which had Eric as the last played-straight Prince Charming in the Disney Animated Canon) has deconstructed the expectation of a fairytale prince being automatically handsome and gallant by virtue of royal blood alone and then reconstructed it by having the fairytale male lead ultimately prove his inner worth and nobility to the girl/princess he loves regardless of his actual bloodline.
- Beauty and the Beast: Gaston has several traits commonly associated with Prince Charmings: he's physically strong, handsome, and fell in Love at First Sight with the heroine. The Beast, in contrast, has the frightening appearance and demeanor commonly associated with villains. However, Gaston's attempts to win Belle's hand become increasingly more sinister while the Beast's love for Belle makes him a better and more selfless person. The reconstruction comes when the Beast is restored to his true form as a handsome prince after he defeats the handsome but charmless Gaston and proves himself to be a true prince at heart unlike Prince Charming Wannabe Gaston.
- Aladdin: Aladdin believes that he needs to become a prince to have any chance at winning Princess Jasmine's heart, but Jasmine had already fallen in love with his "street rat" self and becomes interested in him only when he drops the "haughty rich prince" act and behaves more like the poor but gold-hearted man he really is. He gets a second chance to wish to be a prince after Jafar strips him of his prince form but makes the selfless choice to free the Genie instead, which convinces the Sultan that he's worthy enough to marry Jasmine in spite of not being an actual prince.
- Enchanted: Edward, the prince Giselle originally seems destined to be with, is a bumbling ditz who turns out to not be Giselle's true love after all. However, he's still a genuinely decent man who doesn't hesitate to step aside to let Giselle be kissed by her true love, and does get to be a bonafide Prince Charming for another woman.
- The Princess and the Frog: Naveen's luxurious life as a prince caused him to become a spoiled, arrogant womanizer which led to his parents cutting him off from their money. He's also a Horrible Judge of Character, having been surrounded all his life by flatterers and flunkies. When he assumes that Tiana is a true princess just because of how he's dressed, he thinks he's found an easy out of his curse, and this multiplies their problems. The reconstruction comes when his growing feelings for Tiana cause him to become less self-absorbed and be willing to renounce his goals to help her achieve her dreams and their Fourth Date Marriage allows them to invoke True Love's Kiss much more successfully the second time around.
- Tangled: Flynn Rider, unlike all the above men, isn't a disguised prince, or an exiled prince, or even a pretend prince, but a common thief who has absolutely no connections to princehood at any point. But like the Beast, Naveen, and Aladdin, he still ultimately proves himself worthy of the heroine's love by acting in an extremely selfless manner when it matters the most even at the cost of losing her and/or his own life.
- Frozen: Hans, even more so than Gaston, appears to have every one of the requisite traits to be Anna's Prince Charming: he's handsomenote and charming, Anna falls in love with him at first sight and even sings a love duet with him, and unlike Gaston who's clearly an egotistical jerk from the start in spite of his looks, he seems to be genuinely kind and concerned for others' well-being. Then it's revealed that all of this was just an act and that Hans is the first full-blooded Disney prince to be a villain. It's easily the farthest Disney has taken its deconstruction of the Prince Charming, but the film still implies at the end that Anna has a better chance to find love with a good-hearted man in the form of Kristoff.
- Brave actually reminds us what power the queen wields, but the wild Rebellious Princess protagonist is not exactly wrong in not wanting to go through an Arranged Marriage.
- The Princess and the Frog arguably also has elements of this for Disney movies, though in a different way than the above. While Disney Princesses have a reputation for waiting around for whatever they want, Tiana is a borderline workaholic; Naveen, meanwhile, is a spoiled lothario, and their attempt at forcing True Love's Kiss only makes everything worse. By the end, however, they're in love, get married and everything works out like in your average Disney fairy tale.
- The Incredibles deconstructs the superhero genre for the first half of the movie, with massive public backlash against superheroes, the heroes pretending to be normal and hating it, etc. But the villain, it turns out, is a superhero fanboy gone maniac, and his passion for all of the classic superhero tropes still drives his Evil Plan. His plan was easily put together for a superhero, and only a superhero, to stop it — and the good guys had the advantages of teamwork and experience over him. So, it's reconstructed.
- The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie can be seen as this for the show it's based on.
Films — Live-Action
- The Dark Knight Saga does this for Batman. Batman now operates using modern-day technology in more realistic cities and has to adjust his gear and techniques as such, but ultimately still turns out to be his usual awesome crime fighting self.
- According to one interpretation, Adaptation deconstructs movie cliches in the first half, then reconstructs them in the 2nd. (Another interpretation is that it just deconstructs them in the first half and spoofs them in the second half, without any attempt at reconstruction.)
- Tim Burton's 1988 hit film Beetlejuice at first appeared to deconstruct the monster movie by showing that the "monsters" could be pretty decent folk, the corollary of course being that Humans Are Bastards. But the movie ultimately affirms that not only are humans redeemable if they're just scared straight, but supernatural creatures can still be complete assholes.
- In the Kamen Rider crossover film of OOO and W movie :Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider OOO & W feat. Skull: Movie Wars CORE, Akiko thinks that the people who became Kamen Riders ruined their own personal lives including the happiness of their loved ones, however during the climax of the film as the Big Bad received all the memories of every Kamen Rider thinking himself as the rider, W and OOO reject his belief because even though the riders give up their own personal lives, they will always protect everyone, even their beloved ones .
- Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon deconstructs the slasher genre for most of the first hour of the movie, then reconstructs it in the end.
- Enchanted does this to princess and Disney fairytale tropes. For instance, princesses usually have cute and cuddly animal friends, right? In New York City, the only animals around are pests: rats and cockroaches etc. They still become good and helpful princess animal friends.
- Hero at Large, like Kick-Ass, did this to superheroes.
- Hot Fuzz: The first half of the movie points out that most cop movie cliches are unrealistic and silly. The second half of the movie plays every single one of those cliches straight.
- Kick-Ass, at least in film version, used this trope. The first half of the movie was spent hammering in the message that being a superhero in the real world is equivalent to buying a one way ticket to getting your ass kicked. However, the second half the movie with the showdown with the Big Bad takes on a much lighter tone, showing that hey, maybe you'll get your ass kicked, but at least you'll be pretty damn awesome while trying to do justice. And, by the end of the movie, more competent people have been inspired by Kick-Ass's feats of Badassery.
- Kiss Kiss Bang Bang did this to the mystery genre.
- Snow White: A Tale of Terror deconstructs the original fairytale by making the new stepmother start out as quite warm and friendly to the young girl. But the girl resents her new stepmother for taking her father's attention and she grows up into a rather bratty teenager, still shying away from any attempt at making friends the stepmother makes. After the stepmother suffers a miscarriage, she then gets pushed over the edge and the fairytale plays out normally.
- A Russian film, If This Happens To You, starts as a deconstruction of Kid Hero subgenre of Occupiers out of Our Country. Three children are transported in time towards World War II and, despite best efforts, do not seem to accomplish anything against the German occupation forces. But later on, they do manage to liberate a couple of prisoners and assist the Soviet counterattack.
- Hancock starts out as a deconstruction. What if Superman didn't know who or what he is, why he can live forever and finally got fed up of people repeatedly ostracising him, becoming a drunken asshole as a result? The second half of the film then acts as a reconstruction, with Hancock attempting to become a genuine costumed superhero under the tuition of Ray, a grateful PR agent who's life he'd previously saved, while exploring his true origins.
- James Bond:
- GoldenEye, the first Bond movie to be made after the Cold War, does a lot in deconstructing James Bond, with many characters going on about how much the world has changed and how he doesn't fit so well into it anymore. Then, we're back to nifty gadgets, Bond One Liners and a car chase with a tank.
- Skyfall does something similar. It asks us - if we don't have enemies out in the open anymore in the form of countries wearing symbols, does society still need secret agents operating in the shadows? Cue a bad guy who operates in the shadows and is brought down not via high tech, but by holing up and making a last stand armed with shotguns. The answer seems to be, "Yes, you damn well need people like James Bond." The film also deconstructs/reconstructs some of the iconic James Bond symbols: Q makes fun of the idea of exploding pens and M has some choice commentary about the classic Aston-Martin. Then the car gets its Crowning Moment of Awesome by demonstrating that machine gun headlights can be more than a gimmick.
- Demolition Man does this to the Cowboy Cop. LAPD cop John Spartan is so bold and reckless in stopping criminals that his superiors hate him so much (earning him the titular nickname). As he finally takes down psychotic criminal Simon Phoenix in such a destructive manner that led to the deaths of hundreds of hostages (though it's later revealed that Phoenix had killed them earlier), he gets a life sentence in prison alongside Phoenix. Decades later, Phoenix is released into a violence-free society where police officers are so by-the-book (always turning to a handheld device for information) that they are absolutely unable to think for themselves, and Phoenix easily overtakes them. The police decide to release Spartan to stop Phoenix, accepting that a less by-the-book, more intuitive policeman would do better in bringing down an Axe Crazy criminal like Phoenix.
- Man of Steel: Clark's alien powers initially alienate him from the rest of the world, but he still becomes Superman, champion of Earth. Before he even puts on the suit he already uses his powers to help people.
- Star Trek Into Darkness: The movie starts out with Captain Kirk getting utterly reamed by Admiral Pike for his Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right methods and demoted all the way back to Cadet. By the time the movie is over, he's back in command of the Enterprise and those same methods led to the villains' plots being foiled.
- Into The Storm deconstructs a bit Churchill's heroic image. While he is shown as a headstrong, principled man who will not give up, and indeed, the savior of Britain, the movie also shows his temper and his personality damaged his personal life irreparably, and by the end his refusal to change turned him in a relic of a forgotten era.
- Transformers: Age of Extinction applies this to Optimus Prime's Ideal Hero status. The first three movies portray Optimus as having faith in humanity's potential for good but Age of Extinction sees the Autobots being betrayed and hunted down by the humans they swore to protect. Needless to say, Optimus is heartbroken by this betrayal and considers leaving Earth permanently. It is only after Cade reasons with him that Optimus regains his idealism.
- Rene Descartes begins his Discourse on the Method by proving, via a priori logic, that it is impossible to be absolutely certain that anything exists or is true. He then takes a single principle, the fact that he himself must exist in some form if he is capable of recognizing it, and then uses this to build up the argument that everything else in the world also exists. Parts of his argument for the latter conclusion, such as the existence of God being a necessary consequence of being able to imagine God, are now often considered to be flawed, but it's a remarkable feat regardless. If this sounds familiar, his argument is usually summed up "I think, therefore I am."
- Robert A. Heinlein's Glory Road takes the Fifties-era pulp adventure novel, breaks it down by pointing out all the absurdities inherent to the formula, and then rebuilds it as a Science Fiction adventure with precisely the same trappings, save that the magic is super-science, the Distressed Damsel is an Action Girl who happens to be the Empress of Fifty Universes, and The Hero is a ne'er-do-well who just happens to have had his life manipulated behind the scenes to turn him into precisely the kind of person needed to save the day. And then once he gets the Standard Hero Reward, he discovers that it's not all it's cracked up to be.
- Many works of Diana Wynne Jones come under this trope:
- One example is The Merlin Conspiracy, which shows a child from our world travel to a fantasy world. He's a horrible spoiled arsehole, who thinks the people of the other world are less important, but he's also really well developed, so we get to see how he justifies it, and how he's genuinely trying to be a better, less selfish person. The magical world is so well-detailed that it feels just as realistic as the world we know, and, despite involving children as the main characters, when Adults Are Useless, it's justified by the plot.
- Also Dark Lord of Derkholm, which starts out with a fantasy world that seems to just work as a theme park for visitors to expose them to fantasy tropes; ultimately, it's clear that the world really is suffering horrifically under a genuine (if unconventional) dark lord.
- William Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 deconstructs the Romantic Hyperbole prevalent among the poets of his day by describing at great length about how his mistress's eyes are not as bright as the sun, her skin not as white as snow, her cheeks not like roses, etc,... and then concludes that he'd still swear to the heavens that she's just as beautiful and rare as any woman overly idealized as a perfect goddess by other poets.
- Legacy of the Dragokin has a ten year old who wants to fight evil and demonstrates why such a character would be nothing but a Tagalong Kid interfering with the grown up's work. Then it shows that Heroic Spirit has no age-limit and this kid can still contribute to the team effort and save the day alongside them.
- While its too early to make a final call on it, the later books in A Song of Ice and Fire are showing some slight signs of this. It's highly unlikely that the series will end on a full-on Reconstruction, but an increasing number of characters are starting to show signs of real heroism, without being Killed Off for Real.
- The novel Passage does this for the Near Death Experience, explaining it in entirely scientific and materialistic terms, then the main character dies and the final chapters suggest a legitimate passage into an afterlife.
- The first two books of The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy are a Deconstructive Parody of Doctor Who-style science fiction - the kind with eccentric Human Aliens travelling time and space with human companions - mostly achieved by showing the setting as a World Gone Mad, making the two Doctor-analogue characters an ineffectual everyman (Ford) and an abrasively selfish Attention Whore (Zaphod), and having most of the characters just stumble around the universe getting accidentally both in and out of trouble. But in the third book, "Life, The Universe and Everything", they do actually save the galaxy from a gang of Scary Dogmatic Aliens using their own eccentricities and wit (much like the Doctor would), and the locations the characters visit are notably more wonderful, alien and mysterious than the deliberately unglamorous locations from the first two books (even Lost World Magrathea being described as a BBC Quarry-like location). This is in part due to it being adapted from a rejected pitch for a Doctor Who movie.
- Simona Ahrnstedt, despite how all her three novels so far are about the upper classes and their extravagant parties and their beautiful clothes, loves to deconstruct the idea that material wealth and money will automatically make you happy. Beatrice in "Överenskommelser", Illiana in "Betvingade" and Gabriel in "De skandalösa" all grew up in rich but very abusive households. Seth in "Överenskommelser" and Markus in "Betvingade" have become rich through their own efforts, but that also means that many people will look down on them as irritating upstarts. The story will always end on a happy note though, as the protagonists can move on and become happily married. And yeah, of course they will still be rich!
- Much of the Discworld novels run on this. For instance, having stereotypical fantasy wizards running around using powerful magic would be incredibly destabilizing for everything ranging from politics to the fabric of reality. Thus, the Unseen University is not so much about teaching people with the potential how to cast powerful spells as it is for keeping people from doing exactly that. This is achieved half by teaching what you should not mess with, half by the institution providing wizards with cushy upkeep and jobs so they don't feel the need to go out and mess things up. However, when magical threats come around, the wizards often do help a great deal in defeating them. However, this it not achieved by casting awesome spells but because they know how these things work.
- The City Watch series began partly as a deconstruction of the Film Noir genre- where the gritty Anti-Hero detective is suave and mysterious for his checkered past, but just a miserable, washed up alcoholic. Then, over the course of the novels, Vimes eventually manages to overcome many of his faults and become a powerful, happily married Hardboiled Detective.
Live Action TV
- The episode "Tacking Into The Wind" of DS9 deconstructs and reconstructs the Klingon Empire within one episode. Ezri Dax points out to Worf that time and again, the Klingon Empire has never lived up to Worf's expectation, always corrupt and full of power-hungry men that Worf never fully trusted. Yet Worf in the end still believes his people can be the honorable and proud people by killing the power-mad Gowron and putting the much more trusted General Martok as leader of the council.
- Done similarly in Star Trek: Enterprise "Judgement" and with the Proud Warrior Race Guy trope in general. When Archer is put on trial his defense attorney mournfully admits Klingon society tends to believe that being a warrior is the only way to achieve honor. This not only leaves a gap in other fields such as doctors, scientists and lawyers but they only care about honor as much as they can boast about who they killed (strong or weak, it doesn't matter) at the bar. The attorney suggests the culture needs a revolution every so often to stabilize it so that they can find honor in ways other than killing.
- Another episode of Enterprise examines the Vulcans and a society of logic minded individuals. This ended up being an Author's Saving Throw as many were upset over their arrogant and aggressive portrayal in comparison to other series. Essentially the original teachings of Surak (their equivalent to Jesus or Mohammed) was lost and what they remembered was interpreted and reinterpreted to where no one agreed on what they meant. Thus a logical society really all depends on how you interpret what "logic" means. (T'Pol: You find this funny? Archer: I find it familiar). After finding the original writings the Vulcans has a renaissance that encouraged neutrality rather than enforcement.
- Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes deconstruct Seventies and Eighties British cop shows by showing that the police in those shows were brutal, prejudiced and often mildly corrupt Cowboy Cops; who use lethal force with impunity, plant evidence, take bribes as "perks" and display a shocking disregard for suspects rights, but also reconstructs them by showing that all of this is done to keep the bad guys off the streets and protect the innocent. The near-constant Crowning Moments of Awesome help too.
- Les Revenants started as a deconstruction of the Zombie Apocalypse genre from the point of view of "zombies" (actually nomal people just back from the dead) themselves and their family's reaction to that resurrection. But by the end of the first season, the heroes' flesh starts to rot, and we meet a zombie horde in the hood and they're apparently hostile to the living...just like in a normal zombie movie.
- The "Legends are Forever" episode of Tales of the Gold Monkey deconstructs the Adventurer Archaeologist in the character of Gandy Dancer; he's always on the search for a legendary treasure or location that he never finds, has all but abandoned his daughter, and gets himself killed in search of King Solomon's treasure. Then it turns out the Watusi tribe he was helping really did have the treasure all along.
- The Doctor Who revival series does this to the Doctor, showing how he can be just as much a menace as the things that he fights against and how he puts the people around him, especially his companions, in danger due to his enemies. However, it also reminds us that at the end of the day, he's still the Doctor, and the world is better with him than without. This is also shown with the Doctor's first encounter with Torchwood, when the organization, originally created to fight any and all alien threats (including the Doctor), welcomes him like a celebrity. Sure, he's in Torchwood custody, but they'll treat him nicely as long as he behaves. They know his track record more than most people.
- Arguably, Arrow does this for the Green Arrow mythos, and indeed, the superhero genre in general (specifically The Cowl). The classic Green Arrow story involves a billionaire playboy being washed up on an island, learning archery all on his own to survive, stopping some pirates (or drug-dealers), and deciding to become a crime-fighter when he returns to civilization for the fun and excitement of it. The series approaches the material very seriously, throwing in a healthy dose of Realism and Darker and Edgier. Oliver Queen's little 'island vacation' in the comics becomes a five year Trauma Conga Line at the end of which he virtually loses his humanity and identity and is transformed into a killing machine. His motivation to become a vigilante is not fun and excitement, but an almost obsessive desire to fulfill his father's dying wish and eventually stop what is essentially attempted genocide. Rather than getting a cool Code Name like 'Green Arrow', he was simply called 'the Hood', and was hunted by the police as a murderer. Starting with the second season however, Oliver undergoes Character Development and becomes more of a classic 'hero', with a no killing rule, and a more altruistic desire to simply fight crime, for justice and not for vengeance. Also, he now goes by the Superhero Code Name 'Arrow', and gradually begins to acquire all the trappings he had in the comics, such as a Kid Sidekick (actually a young adult) and Trick Arrows.
- The Book of Mormon initially shows how silly and non-sensical religion comes across as, demonstrated as the Mormon missionaries constantly fail to convert any of the native Ugandans; the natives find it absolutely worthless and unable to help their dire situation, constantly cursing God's name to cheer them up. Ultimately however, the play then reveals that while the scriptures and stories of religion can indeed come across as fanciful and stupid, its ultimate purpose — to help others in need, bring them together, and guide one's morals — can indeed make a positive difference in people's lives.
- Pokemon Black And White did this to the Pokemon series as a whole and was created with this in mind to keep it fresh and interesting.
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword did this to Zelda similarly to Black and White. The game was designed around overhauling its basic gameplay breaking out of the classic Zelda structure of Overworld-Dungeon-Overworld-Dungeon into a more Metroid-esque experience, while still honoring and improving series traditions and conventions. The massive amount of references to previous entries and the meta jokes help.
- Fire Emblem: Geneology of the Holy War establishes the tropes it will be using in the first half of the game, then deconstructs them in a Wham Episode at the mid-way point. However, in the second half of the game, the same tropes are played, and the reconstruction becomes reliant on what was accomplished before the deconstruction occurred, allowing the deconstruction to be overcome. The Recon Recon Switch is, in fact, a gameplay mechanic.
- Persona 4, which considers the serious psychoses various archetypal characters would have using shadow archetypes, only for said characters to turn around and embrace and try to overcome their issues.
- Grand Theft Auto IV is a deconstruction of the games. The main character is a European immigrant who comes to America and sees the dark side of living the dream, thus being forced into criminal life to survive. The graphics and game play are more realistic than its prequels. The expansion packs reconstruct this by making the main characters from Liberty City, bringing back features from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, reminding us why we played these games in the first place, and keeping the game realistic.
- Grand Theft Auto V starts off similarly to its predecessor, albeit in a Lighter and Softer way. It deconstructs various aspects of the typical GTA Player Character. Michael is a criminal who "won" the game and became rich, but is bored and miserable in his retirement. Franklin and Lamar are Gangbangers who take whatever illegal work they can get to limited success. And Trevor is effectively the typical GTA player personified; a Psychopathic Man Child who revels in violence and chaos. It further hammers in why Being Evil Sucks by making all but a handful of missions actually give you money. However, by the end of the game, it reconstructs most of what people enjoy about the game, with the characters earning their happy endings despite it all and rewarding them with more money than was ever possible in previous games. And Grand Theft Auto Online takes it even further by playing all of the series' tropes straight.
- The Metal Gear series, despite its heavy themes and satirical nature, is often a franchise that celebrates the best of humanity, video games, and storytelling in general.
- The Kingdom Hearts series is well-known for its love of The Power of Friendship and an unironic use of a Wide-Eyed Idealist as a main character. In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, however, the villains depend on both to lure the main character deeper and deeper into a dream without end, with the goal of taking over his heart and body. They are defeated once again, though, by The Power of Friendship. How? Because friends are there for one another, and there's no way in Hell that Riku will let some sadistic monsters take over his best friend.
- The Mass Effect series is all over the place, deconstructing some classic science fiction tropes and then reconstructing them, a good example being the asari. Initially set up as apparently the typical hot alien space babes, the series deconstructs the trope by showing that they're anything but simply sex-obsessed alien stereotypes, and then, once the player has probably forgotten that view of them, has asari characters complaining about too many of their people wasting their lives whoring it up all over the galaxy as well as providing a reason why the asari seem obsessed with sex outside the species, thus explaining why there's a legitimate reason for the stereotype.
- Cinders is a retelling of "Cinderella" in a cynical setting with a heroine who's outgrown fairytales a long time ago and can become even more heartless and tyrannical than her Wicked Stepmother, to the point of poisoning her to take over her estate, if she chooses to do so. On the other hand, however, she can choose instead to reach out to her stepmother and stepsisters who are depicted as flawed and redeemable human beings, and a genuinely fairytale-like ending with the Prince is fully achievable if she demonstrates the willpower and intelligence required to take control of her own fate.
- The World Ends with You is a massive one for the entire JRPG genre. The hero, Neku, starts as a Decon of the mopey, emo teenager. Who only has people around him because of the much more outgoing Shiki, who is tied to him by the game's rules. By the end, however, he learns to grow out of his emo ways, and that the world is bigger than himself.
- Speaking of Shiki, she, too, is one. She starts out as a loud, energetic teenage girl. However, we are hit hard when we learn that it's all a facade, and that it's to cover up her envy and jealously for her much-more popular best friend, who she even took the appearance of. By the end, she reconstructs herself,. realizing that she isn't her best friend. She is Shiki, and there's nothing wrong with that.
- Katawa Shoujo gives us Hanako's route, which deconstructed not only the extremely common VN heroine archetypes of the Fragile Flower and the Broken Bird, but inadvertently (owning to Katawa Shoujo's unique situation of having released the first part of their story years before the rest of it, allowing for a huge and extremely dedicated fandom to spring up around it long before anybody really knew anything about the actual story or characters), a huge amount of the game's fanfiction (especially fanfics focusing on Hanako herself, which almost always had her falling head over heels for whatever character she was paired with after the latter gave her a token bit of comfort and told her how pretty she really is). Hanako (who, ironically, is too much of a shrinking violet to say so out loud) turned out to actually hate being constantly treated by everyone like a broken thing, and the way she was constantly coddled and protected by them. The narration (via the protagonist's monologue) even going so far as to hand the reader a rather non-subtle You Suck Speech by suggesting that the real reason Hisao (and by extension, the reader) was so fascinated with Hanako was a desire to escape the emptiness and confusion of his own life by latching onto the only person around more obviously pathetic than himself and showering them with shallow affection. Then, the good ending of the route completely turns the bleak and depressing premise on its head by showing that even if that's true, by being willing to accept one's own faults and share them with a loved one's, and treating them as equals rather than something to be protected or served, it is possible to not only have a satisfying and happy relationship with a person who appears to be "broken", but for everyone involved to emerge from it as better persons.
- The premiere episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic uses a cynical, snarky introvert as its protagonist in order to demonstrate how frustrating an experience it would be for such a person to be stuck in a cartoon for little girls, and how dangerous the fantasy setting that allows this Sugar Bowl to exist would be - especially when its half-insane inhabitants are too carefree to pay the imminent threat any attention. The following episode makes a point of demonstrating that, for all its quirks and annoyances, there's ultimately a lot to be said for the optimistic camaraderie that the concept underlying My Little Pony represents. Twilight comes to wholeheartedly embrace her new friends, a Crowning Moment of Awesome and Heartwarming defeats and redeems the omnicidal Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds via The Power of Friendship, and the series moves forward from there.
- The two-parter that kicks off the second season follows a similar pattern. In Part 1, Discord demonstrates that the foundations of friendship (which formed the basis for the reconstruction of Season 1's second episode) are fundamentally flawed and thus fallible. Part 2 accepts this fact, but leaves no question that friendship remains well worth the struggles that go into it.
- The season three finale tackles a question fans had been asking for years: if a pony's cutie mark determines what they'll do for the rest of their life, what happens if somepony gets one that they don't want? Twilight casts a spell that accidentally switches her friends' cutie marks around, as well as giving them false memories of always having had their new ones. The result is that they're all miserable, but determined to stick with their new jobs Because Destiny Says So. But then it turns out that if need be, a pony can Screw Destiny and go after whatever else they want to do, replacing their cutie mark in the process.
- Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated does this to the Scooby-Doo franchise as a whole, examining what makes a bunch of kids go out and meddle with supernatural mysteries and how it could reasonably work, as well as showing just how disturbing and dangerous such an activity would truly get. It also does this to the Non-Human Sidekick trope as well, as evidenced by how Shaggy and Velma's relationship is affected by the presence of someone not human, but about as intelligent and with similarly strong feelings.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the "forgiveness" Aesop present in many other works undergoes this process. In "The Southern Raiders," there's no way in hell that Katara's going to forgive the man who killed her mother in cold blood, especially when he's not even repenting, but she will forgive Zuko, who has thoroughly reformed himself.
- A similar process, but taken several steps further occurs in the finale, this time with Thou Shalt Not Kill. Aang refuses to kill Ozai despite the guy's Big Bad status but leaving him alive means he can continue his Evil Plan: Aang takes a third option by removing Ozai's bending and placing the reformed Zuko on his throne. This way Aang can neutralize the threat without killing anyone.
- The South Park episode "My Future Self And Me" both deconstructs and reconstructs Drugs Are Bad. It deconstructs it by having the parents go to absurd and dishonest lengths to scare their kids off drugs, but ends with a very heartfelt and sincere reason why kids shouldn't take drugs.
- In the episode "Cartman Finds Love", they parody Token Minority Couple when a new black girl is introduced and Cartman manipulates the only black kid in school into dating her. Though they broke up briefly because they both thought the other only liked them because they were black. But in the end they get back together, aware that people will assume they're dating because they're expected to. The episode also makes a point of establishing that the two are dating because they genuinely like and have feelings for each other, and that's all that should really matter.
- The Venture Bros. was originally about deconstructing the boy adventurer genre (specifically, Jonny Quest) to pieces. Later seasons seem to be reconstructing the same tropes it deconstructed in earlier episodes.
- This is typical for 'explanatory' magic acts - the magician explains how the basic trick works, then repeats the trick in such a way that the explanation just given is absolutely useless.
- Penn & Teller applied this to the classic magician trick of sawing a woman in half. They did the regular trick and then explained how it worked, revealing how the woman was actually inside the hollow table, not in the block. However, while they were explaining, they use misdirection to replace the woman with a mannequin, which they "accidentally" saw in half, complete with fake blood and gore. The sudden unexpected twist makes for a very strong impact.
- They also did a subversion of the trope. Teller explained the Red Ball trick, and how to manipulate the ball with a string. However, when he does the trick you never see the string, so you start looking for another way to manipulate the ball. The subversion is that there isn't one. Teller is simply so good he can do the trick and keep the string out of sight at the same time.
- Paul Daniels had a routine where he'd do the classic teleportation from one box to the other trick, then had the staging turned around so the audience was seeing the trick from the back. They'd witness the assistant entering the first box using hidden doors to climb out of one box and cross to the other. The Reveal, of course, was at the end of the trick the assistant did not appear out of the second box but another assistant did, while the first, who had been the one apparently moving between boxes, appeared at the back of the auditorium behind the audience.