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.
You should probably expect a lot of SPOILERS
the page below, since they often detail the swerves a work makes over its run.
open/close all folders
- 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, Gainax. They started with Gun Buster, went to Neon Genesis Evangelion, then went to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
- 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.
- 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 everything it tears down better than ever.
- 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 the power of what characters wish for (the desires of their heart) are never as pure and noble as many shows often assume they would be (these are young girls after all). Tragedy ensues because of their often selfish and unclear desires. The ending, however, reconstructs the power of heart completely in that a wish made for all the right reasons essentially becomes the most powerful force to ever exist. Defying the laws of reality and recreating the world without the hopeless situation it had turned into.
- 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 Idol Singer 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 trope and an Indecisive Deconstruction. It's 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 becomes 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 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.
- 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.
- 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 Arranged Marriage.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. Then the second half of the movie throws this aside and it's a race to stop the supervillain, showing that when there is a psycho maniac out there willing to kill hundreds, then yeah, you kinda need the superheroes.
- The Spongebob Square Pants Movie can be seen as this for the show it's based on.
- 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.
- Some have described the film as a reconstruction of the comic.
- 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 2 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 were a relatively normal homeless guy?" Then the Executive Meddling kicks in and he spontaneously develops all the characteristics of the hero in a normal superhero movie: an origin story, a super-powered love interest, a cool costume, and a climactic life or death battle of good vs. evil.
- GoldenEye, the first James Bond movie to be made after the Cold War, does a lot in deconstructing 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.
- 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.
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.
- LesRevenants 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 resurection. But by the end of the first season, the heroes's flesh start to rott, we meet a zombie horde in the hood and they're apparently hostile to the living...just like in a normal zombie movie.
- 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.
- 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, 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 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.
- 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 Venture Brothers 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.
- 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.