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Deconstructed Trope
"The bipedal body shape is a very practical solution for a human-sized thing made of bones and meat. But thanks to the square-cube law it stops working as well as it gets bigger. And even if we replace the bones and muscles with steel and fishing line, there are so many other problems with large, walking, combat machines. Compared to something like a tank, they're slower, harder to armor, and have a preposterously large surface area to hit. There's no reason this thing should even exist."

The intentional use and exploration of a trope, typically for ironic or satirical purposes. This differs from subverting a trope and Lampshade Hanging because the trope is not altered in any way, nor is any attempt made to make it more believable. It is used straight—far straighter than normal, in fact—and is examined in great detail, usually to try and show what circumstances would cause the trope to manifest in real life and/or what the real-life consequences of this trope would be, revealing some flaws beneath, like saying, "Be careful: this is what happens when you have this trope."

Alternately, the trope can be used in a manner that differs greatly from its usual context. For example, many characters in comedies display behavior that, while played for laughs in the show would, in real life, be the end result of a mental or social anxiety problem—Yanderes, Hard Drinking Party Girls, Tsunderes, and Lovable Sex Maniacs, to name a few. A more serious show might play with these tropes by presenting identical characters as unstable or even dangerous.

If an entire genre gets this treatment (which usually happens over the course of an entire story), then it's a Genre Deconstruction, and they belong in that article, not here. Deconstructed Tropes occur in Deconstructions, but they can just as easily appear in straight examples of a genre, or even in Reconstructionist works.

It should be noted that a deconstruction doesn't have to be Darker and Edgier than its source. If a negative trope is taken apart and shown to not necessarily be as bad as it's generally made to look, that's a Lighter and Softer deconstruction. Also, just because the trope is taken in a darker direction, it doesn't mean it's been deconstructed. Tropes darkened unrealistically don't provide the meaningful insight that a deconstruction is supposed to. For more examples of what a deconstruction is not, see Not a Deconstruction.

Deconstructed Character Archetype is a subtrope (insofar as character archetypes are tropes in their own right): examples of character types being deconstructed go on that page. See also Playing with a Trope for comparison with the other ways tropes can be used. May lead to Reality Ensuing. When a Trope Maker seems to have done this, it's because it was an Unbuilt Trope.

Examples from Fan Fic are to go in Deconstruction Fic.

Examples go in subpages:


Other examples:

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    Advertising 
  • This Skittles commercial deconstructs turning everything you touch into candy. A woman brings a normal guy in to see a man who turns everything he touches into candy. After a demonstration, the normal guy says "That's awesome!" Then, the man with the candy hands explains how depressing it is to turn everything you touch into candy ("Did you feed or dress yourself this morning? I didn't.").
    • This YouTube comment says it all:
    Linda Stimus died yesterday at age 37. She is survived by husband Jim and two children, Louis and Emily, both under 24 hour pscyhiatric care. Police found Stimus in her home face down in a susbstance the autopsy report labeled a "mixture of 3% blood and 97% rays of sunshine" confirming her as the 6th victim of what the media has labeled The Citrus Strangler. A memorial service will be held Saturday in Benton Park where Stevie Wonder will sing his hit song "You are the Sunshine of my Life."
  • This PSA for gun control destroys the appeal behind Stuff Blowing Up, by showing a bullet passing through targets of food in magnificient showers of debris, then applying that imagery to the head of a child.

    Comics 
  • Life Sucks deconstructs every vampire trope it can get its hands on (and its fangs sunk into), and towards the end it lists them off as it does so. The main thrust of it is that most vampire stories portray ordinary humans as mindless cattle and vampires as liberated beings that can do whatever they want, whereas the protagonist is enslaved both by the rules necessary to uphold The Masquerade, and by the older vampire who sired him and can kill him at will. It also touches on just how alienating the inability to go out in sunlight can be, how humiliating it is to steal from blood banks (and how dehumanizing it is to obtain blood more directly), and how the ability to charm and enslave humans is tantamount to rape, with an ultimate message that nobody should ever want to be a vampire. Whew!
  • Irredeemable deconstructs Face-Heel Turn by exploring reasons behind superhero making such decision as well as consequences of world's greatest protector turning into the bad guy - Plutonian's entire life was full of experiencing fear, mistrust and alienation, followed by a nasty case of Samaritan Syndrome and a disaster he unintentionally caused which turned his best friend against him and which he himself considers his Moral Event Horizon and his rampage brings Type I Apocalypse. Its Spin-Off series, Incorruptible does the same with Heel-Face Turn - Max Damage turns into a good guy because of cold logical calculation that with all the damage Plutonian did and typical threats any superhero universe faces, without somebody taking his place humanity would be at the edge of extinction, rather than Power of Love or Power of Friendship. He also has no idea how to be a hero, aside doing opposite of what he was doing before (He is however Genre Savvy enough to gather several people to be his Morality Pets and teach him).
  • Batman's Papa Wolf and his Berserk Button of "killing a couple in front of their son" was deconstructed when pursuing a criminal who had shot and killed a couple, leaving the boy in a state of shock. Batman naturally is bent to get the criminal. It turns out the guy he was chasing never really had it in him to shoot a gun, and the boy had shot and killed his parents while the criminal was just nearby. Batman's Berserk Button made him chase after the wrong person.
    Batman: Everything I've done in the past three nights, I've been doing for the wrong little boy.
  • It's almost the purpose of Marvel's Runaways. The characters are meant to be real kids who just happened to live in a superhero universe. The results of them gaining superpowers and fighting supervillains is fearing for their very lives everyday and trying to avoid actual superheroes by seeing them as the same as their supervillain parents in how immature their viewpoints are. Gert even gets into an intellectual argument with Spider-Man on his "With Great Power" philosophy.
    Gert: Really? That's inane. Most people in life don't have great power, and the few that do are almost never responsible with it. The people who have the greatest responsibility are the kids with no power because we're the ones that have to keep everyone in check.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog comics produced by Archie has a deconstruction of Invincible Hero. After failing to beat Sonic after so many years, Dr. Eggman is driven insane, unable to comprehend how Sonic does it. He regains control once he realizes that something was enabling Sonic to win all those times, akin to an unpredictable chaotic factor in every experiment. Specifically, that Sonic has absorbed so much Chaos Energy, and had so many transformations, that he's become an embodiment of chaos.
  • Joss Whedon's "Breakworld" arc from Astonishing X-Men deconstructed the Always Chaotic Evil trope with its portrayal of the eponymous Planet of Hats. At first glance, the Breakworlders seem to be a clear example of this, since their entire culture is built around endless war, and their governments are universally led by barbaric tyrants who consider freedom an abomination. But then there's The Reveal that the arc's true Big Bad is actually the leader of a seemingly noble resistance group that wants to end the wars forever...by destroying the Breakworld and wiping out its entire population. The conclusion points out that most people in a species like the Breakworlders wouldn't be truly "evil", since their actions would simply reflect the cultural values that they were raised with. But on the other hand, someone willing to completely reject every underlying value of their planet's culture would probably be far less sane than the common citizenry who simply follow cultural norms (even if that culture seems evil to us).
    • At the same time this also deconstructs Token Heroic Orc by making the aforementioned "heroic" orc a lunatic who wants to blow up her own planet.
  • Y: The Last Man is, among other things, a very thorough deconstruction of the male sexual fantasy of being the last man on earth. Virtually all of society has broken down in the absence of men, and Yorick is constantly at the mercy of those who want to use his scarce genes and reproductive ability for their own ends.
  • Spider-Man is a deconstruction of the secret identity trope, as Peter's duties as Spider-Man have constant, lasting, and almost always negative impact on his social life, and he has to endure bullying because using his powers to get revenge would blow his cover.
  • Joker was written with the titular character being so monstrously evil as a way to remind fans (since The Dark Knight and Death Of The Family) not to turn Batman's greatest nemesis into a Draco in Leather Pants.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, the 2008-2010 series, deconstructs the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits. Yes, the Guardians are a rag-tag bunch of misfits and they don't work well together, so much so that Peter Quill had Mantis use telepathy to convince them all to join. They immediately split up when they find out about this. Meanwhile, they have serious trouble with authority figures, who for some reason just don't trust a team which has two known mass-murders on it, along with several others members who have been arrested at one point or another, and refuse to listen to them on several occasions.

    Multiple Media 
  • Noob deconstructed Appliance Defenestration when a computer thrown out a window by a player with Hair-Trigger Temper killed someone and had him end up in jail.
    • The webseries also gave Mistaken for Badass a quite realistic treatment, with the mistaken character never figuring out the situation due to sheer idiocy and the person conviced that he is more than he seems ending up loosing all credibility in the eyes of anyone that is not his devoted student.

    Music 
  • Pet Shop Boys like to do this to individual songs. The most relevant example is their version of the so-often-covered "Always On My Mind", which, by putting it to a dance beat and singing it in a detached sort of way, makes it sound less like a love song and more like a half-hearted apology from a neglectful lover. The subject of the song probably wouldn't stick around if the words were spoken instead of sung.
  • The works of Gustav Mahler could be viewed as deconstructions of Romantic era music, particularly his later symphonies. His 6th symphony, for example, takes apart the idea of the "Heroic" symphony that Beethoven codified in his 3rd. In Mahler's version, the hero is not quite so successful. He then went on to parody himself and his critics alike in his 7th symphony.
    • Not quite so successful? The sixth symphony could be subtitled "Life's a bitch and then you die." Mahler burst into tears whenever he had to compose it, and took out one of the hammerblows because it was autobiographical and he was a bit skittish about having his own death sounded forth at the climax of the work.
  • Many of the songs written by Serge Gainsbourg for the 60's French pop star France Gall were deconstructions of common themes in pop music and its role at the time in everyday life. The most well-known example is probably Poupée de cire, Poupée de son, winner of the Eurovision Song Contest of 1965, which deconstructs the idea of a star too young to actually understand love singing Silly Love Songs for cash that younger kids will believe.
  • Khanate play crushingly slow music based on super-distorted guitar "riffs" stretched out for ten or twenty minutes, over which lie demented shrieking and arhythmic, cacophonic drumming. Their music is so alien that # 182 of Terrorizer magazine described their fourth album Clean Hands Go Foul as "musical deconstruction", explaining that it lacked "coherency, rhythm, melody, structure and all aspects of what would typically be associated with the art of songwriting". They also gave it an 8.5/10.
  • Da Vinci's Notebook's song "Title of the Song" is a deconstruction of '90s boyband songs.
  • Polish grunge band "Hey" is paricularly fond of including deconstruction in their lyrics. One example would be the song "Mikimoto - król pereł" ("Mikimoto - king of pearls") which deconstructs popularity. The lyrics, roughly translated, go: "He was the king of this city/ With a cigarette in the place of a scepter/ He was the local saint/ With a halo of gray smoke/ He was the sluts' pet/ Quoted by the bartenders/ He was everyone's favourite/ Everyone wanted to be close with him/ He was found in the morning/ While everyone was still asleep/ Leaving a short letter behind/ About the unbearable loneliness".
  • The Temptations deconstructed the previously romantic view of being a runaway in "Runaway Child, Running Wild".
  • Lil B is pretty much to Hip Hop what Evangelion is to Anime.
  • "Fences" by Paramore is a deconstruction of the Rock Star Song, among some other similar stardom-related tropes. Its narrative explains how a celebrity is so reliant on their fame they've become a Stepford Smiler and are pretty much nothing without it.
    Don't you know by now? You can't turn back, because this road is all you'll ever have.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 deconstructed The Paladin in the form of the incorruptible Grey Knights. Not one of them has fallen to Chaos or turned rogue but that's only because they were given the "666 Rites of the Emperor" which accounts to 666 brain washings.
  • Exalted deconstructs every single trope that can be attributed to Heroism. If an Exalt is a hero, expect him to eventually steps on everyone even as he believes that he's doing the right thing. He's a Hero, he believes he's a hero, he won't listen to anyone who says otherwise, and he's got more than enough firepower to blow the world to smithereens.

    Theater 
  • Henrik Ibsen's The Wild Duck deconstructs the Wide-Eyed Idealist in the form of Gregers, a self-righteous meddler whose belief in exposing the family's problems so they can be solved, backfires spectacularly. The play can also be said to deconstruct Gregers´ counterpart Relling, a cynical psychologist who plays on people´s illusions. Which of the two who is morally right, is under heavy debate.
    • Ibsen also deconstructs Manic Pixie Dream Girl with A Dolls House and Hedda Gabler. In Doll's House, the heroine Nora is a (seemingly) flighty, vivacious, kooky child-woman who gradually realizes that she's been so working so hard at playing this role for her more conventional husband — even through bearing him three children — that she has never really grown up and has no idea of her true self, and that their relationship is thus only a game, not adult love. She leaves him to try and learn how to be a fully formed human being. And in Hedda, the eponymous Hedda grows to find her more conventional husband boring, and when she tries to put some spice back into her life by starting an affair with a much more interesting man, she discovers that he's a commandeering, blackmailing Jerk Ass. The play ends with Hedda being Driven to Suicide.
    • Doll's house also deconstructs All Devouring Black Hole Loan Sharks: the guy whom Nora is in huge debt with, Nils Krogstad, is... a human person with his own set of problems instead of a mere unidimensional Jerk Ass, and he does really need the money since he's just lost his job - and the boss who kicked him out is Nora's husband.. That, and having the final paying off of the loan cause more trouble than the loan itself ever did. If not for Kristine offering her help...
      • And there's Dr. Ranke and his deconstruction of Unrequited Love, since loving Nora from afar is extremely painful for a man who is actually about to die.
    • Name any realistic drama of Ibsen and you will bump into some kind of deconstruction: An Enemy of the People, about a political idealist who ends up with the entire society hating him, is another good example of this. And then there is his masterpiece Peer Gynt, deconstructing Norway.
    • His last play When we dead awaken, where Ibsen partly deconstructs himself!
  • Swedish playwright August Strindberg used some of his plays to actively deconstruct the plays of Ibsen...
  • Carmen also deconstructs Manic Pixie Dream Girl: she's a gypsy woman who seduces and enchants the lead male, Don Jose, with her free-spirited nature, but quickly tires of him as he proclaims his everlasting love for her. Turns out she's not so much for the forever love, and she leaves him for someone much more exciting. As a result, he kills her out of jealousy at the end of the opera.
  • Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children deconstructs the idea that war can ever be beneficial to a nation, by showing how the children are all killed because of their own best traits (courage, honour and compassion respectively).
  • The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh is a deconstruction of Bury Your Disabled. It plays with all three sub-types of the trope, then ends with the Iron Woobie protagonist facing the horrible realization that his days are numbered.
  • Romeo and Juliet is possibly the earliest example of why Faking the Dead isn't a good idea.
  • The fate of Ophelia in Hamlet is a sad deconstrution of It's Not You, It's My Enemies.
    • Hamlet itself is a deconstruction of the revenge-tragedy genre that was extremely popular in the decades before the play was written (Shakespeare had contributed to the trend himself with Titus Andronicus). Hence, Hamlet's constant deliberation over his actions — the play has the structure of a revenge tragedy but, unlike other plays in the genre which tend not to question the motivations of their heroes, it's very serious about the moral and theological consequences of seeking vengeance.
  • That Championship Season shows the viewer what would happen to the Six Student Clique when they grow up.

    Web Original 
  • Dive Quest, from the guy behind Ruby Quest, deconstructs the usual structure of Collective Games by having the "players" exist in universe, as facets of the protagonists personality, accessed through the Orb of Infinite Psyche. This proved so popular that it's been used in several other games. It also provided justification for switching the player character by having the second character find a shard of the orb.
  • I'm a Marvel... And I'm a DC deconstructs The Cape tendencies of Superman, where he spends his time remembering back when righteous heroes were idolized, fully aware that his nobility and incredibly overpowered persona are frowned upon by current comic book fans, who want a hero that's full of faults so they're more relatable. Lex Luthor tries to use this to convince Superman into writing Marvel out of history. Without Marvel making flawed superheroes, everyone would still idolize the perfect, heroic good guys of yesteryear. The interesting thing about this deconstruction is that it essentially says that comics need Superman because he does still act as a standard, and that the entire basis of Marvel heroes is that they're trying to be like Superman, so without Superman, there's nothing to strive for.
    • Season 2 Happy Hours deconstructs Darker and Edgier, as the Joker brainwashed almost all the characters to become more like Batman. Green Goblin tells off the Joker since if all characters are dark and there is no Lighter and Softer counterparts, then they lose what made them interesting since there wouldn't be any contrast.
    • Also the Physical God tropes are deconstructed in-universe during the conversation between Darkseid and the Joker. Darkseid is quick to boast about being a god and the most powerful being in the universe, only to meet the Joker's laughter in return. The Joker then Breaking Speech Darkseid by telling him that the only reason why he's so powerful is because he's nothing but a fictional character, designed that way by a comic book writer, and that Stan Lee is the closest thing to a god that exist in their universe since he's also a comic book writer, spending his days creating characters in the ways it seems fit to him. Darkseid can't do nothing but stare in shock of the reveal.
    • That season then goes on to deconstruct reboots. Namely, the idea that decades of accomplishment can and will be completely erased in order to make a quick buck is depicted as a horrifying revelation in-universe, with Darkseid himself believing it to be the true Anti-Life Equation- i.e. nothing that you accomplish will actually matter in a few years. Contrary to Darkseid's expectations, the reveal does not break the heroes.
  • This Cracked article shows what happens if you try to copy romantic gestures from films to real life. They all involve jail time.
  • This can sometimes happen within a fandom, such as the Furry Fandom. The "New Found Form" series is about mysterious runed artifacts which just happen to turn people into sexy animal-hybrid hermaphroditesnote , because, as Rule 34 says, some people like that sort of thing. One writer came up with "New Found Frost" and turned the story into Lovecraft-influenced psychological horror, telling the tale of a fallen-from-wealth Russian family forced to choose between their humanity and dying in their snowbound house. And that author does this sort of thing all the time.
  • The SCP Foundation does this quite often.
  • Fundies Say the Darndest Things deconstructs Born in the Wrong Century by showing just what kind of person would pine for the society of one hundred years ago.
  • This article written by Watson Technical Counseling, in the form of an in-universe Daily Planet op-ed by Perry White, deconstructs the amount of Stuff Blowing Up in Man of Steel and many other recent Hollywood blockbusters. It was based on their analysis of the destruction in that film and how, if it had happened in real life, it would have produced a death toll on the order of the Nagasaki bomb and an economic impact close to two trillion dollars.
  • Worm deconstructs the Batman-style Badass Normal-apart-from-being-a-Gadgeteer Genius with Armsmaster, who has no social life because every free moment is spent either training or building better gear, and he still Can't Catch Up to "real" capes. This leads to him becoming The Resenter and a desperately attention-seeking Glory Hound.


Dead Unicorn TropeTrope TropesDefied Trope
Indecisive DeconstructionMeta-ConceptsUnbuilt Trope
Deconstructed Character ArchetypeDeconstructionDeconstructor Fleet

alternative title(s): Trope Deconstruction
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