"Sometimes I think you enjoy breaking these little geniuses." "There is an art to it, and I'm very, very good at it. But enjoy? Well, maybe. When they put back the pieces afterward, and it makes them better."
"Deconstruction" literally means "to take something apart." As one might expect, this is a very broad term, with a number of different definitions in literary criticism, theoretical physics, and even plain-old demolitions. Some of these are explained in more detail on the analysis tab.
When applied to tropes, or other aspects of fiction, deconstruction means to take apart a trope so as to better understand its meaning and relevance to us in Real Life. This often means pursuing a trope's inherent contradictions and the difference between how the trope appears in this one work and how it compares to other relevant tropes or ideas both in fiction and Real Life.
The simplest and most common method of applying Deconstruction to tropes in fiction among general audiences and fan bases, and the method most relevant to TV Tropes, takes the form of questioning "How would this trope play out with Real Life consequences applied to it?" or "What would cause this trope to appear in Real Life?"
This doesn't mean magic and other fantastic or futuristic elements, or any other tropes must be removed or attacked for failing to match up with their own pretentions of self-consistent reality, of course. While sometimes perceived as an aggressive attack on the meaning or enjoyableness of a work or text, deconstruction is not properly about passing judgement (and in fact, the term "deconstruction" was picked over the German term "Dekonstruktion" to suggest careful attention to the detail within a text over violently emptying the work of all meaning). It means that all existing elements of a work are played without the Rule of Cool, Rule of Drama, Rule of Funny, and so on, to see what hidden assumptions the work uses to make its point. Sometimes you will hear this referred to as "played completely straight", and it can be thought of as taking a work more seriously on its own terms than even the work itself does, for the purpose of laying bare hidden meanings in the text.
For example, in Dungeons & Dragons, when a cleric reaches fifth level, he gains the ability to cast create food and water. Normally, the impact this would have on a society (especially a medieval or pseudo-medieval one) is completely ignored. A Deconstruction would explore how a society would react to that ability.
Note that while deconstructions often end up darker, edgier,sadderand more cynical than the normal version, there is no reason they have to be. Deconstructions can exist anywhere on the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism. Expanding on the Dungeons & Dragons example above, a cynical deconstruction would involve the food-creating clerics either being enslaved for their powers or becoming the ruling class in a Dystopia, while an idealistic deconstruction would involve the alleviation of scarcities and hardships based on class. Either one is perfectly valid.
The reason fictive deconstructions often turn out as they do is that fiction by its definition virtually ignores anything that isn't specifically included, while hiding anything that is included but not spelled out. Thus, for instance, a work in which gender, or sexuality, poverty, race, or politics etc. should have been important but were never dealt with adequately is ripe for a deconstruction in which the fact that nobody talks about these topics indicates that something is amiss. Contrariwise, a work that attempts to pre-emptively avert being deconstructed in this way by stating, perhaps frequently, that certain topics aren't dealt with because they are specifically irrelevant to the story/setting (especially if there's no good reason they should be irrelevant), is ripe for an ironic deconstruction in which the supposed insignificance of these topics doesn't stop characters from regurgitating contemporary Real Life attitudes about them. The Deconstruction process thus often reveals things we weren't thinking about for a reason, perhaps revealing a trope or a staple of fiction as false/unrealistic/horrifying, which is why it tends to be depressing.
Also note that Darker and Edgier, Rule of Drama and Cynicism Tropesdo not by themselves turn works into Deconstructions. There are plenty of dark, edgy and dramatic tropes that are used without ever exploring the meaning behind them, or their realistic implications. While some of the most acclaimed works in their respective genres are deconstructions, and many deconstructions do utilize dark, cynical and dramatic tropes in the setting, it is the careful use and analysis of them that makes them acclaimed, not because they just have those tropes in them. See Not a Deconstruction.
Reconstruction is when the trope is then put back together, usually in a way that strengthens the trope. Think of it as Deconstruction taking apart your broken car engine, and Reconstruction puts it back together so it runs again. Deconstruction and reconstruction can become Cyclic Tropes. A set of conventions is established (the initial "construction" of the genre or ideas that are used in the story), this set of conventions is played straight until some author gets bored or frustrated with the implications the fantasy brings and decides to show us the unworkability of these conventions via a deconstruction of them. Atop the ruins, a more realistic narrative (i.e. one that accepts the criticisms of the earlier deconstruction) is then built via reconstruction, and in the future, this narrative gets deconstructed, etc. Cycles of deconstruction and reconstruction are a major elements how genres and tropes evolve. In philosophy, this evolution is also known as thesis-antithesis-synthesis.
See also Reality Ensues for when this happens temporarily, usually for humor rather than deconstruction, and Fridge Horror, which is what people often think of deconstruction: revealing how really terrifying and dark something is by thoroughly thinking about it.
Please note: This page has been edited for clarity's sake. Please do not add any more examples. Add them to Genre Deconstruction or Deconstructed Trope or the appropriate subtrope. Where possible please move examples to these subtrope pages. This page is about deconstruction as a method, and thus should be stripped down to meta-examples.
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Anime and Manga
Zambot 3 is one of the first deconstructions of the Super Robot genre, made in 1977; just 5-6 years after Mazinger Z came out. You know all of those buildings and cities that tend to get the crap beaten out of them in your average Super Robot show? Yeah, the townsfolk aren't too happy about that. The massive collateral is not fixed up the next day, and the poor citizens who've now found themselves without a house or any kind of home have to try and find a new place to live, and to hide out from the war going on between Zambot and the Gaizok. Because, really, in a more realistic setting, giant robots fighting against killer aliens is a war, with all of the baggage that comes with it. Zambot was one of the first series to realize this, and with a generally dark tone, it would have been a trendsetter for it's genre. ...Had it caught on. It didn't, but the same guy who did this went on to do Mobile Suit Gundam two years later. That's right; it was none other than Kill 'em AllYoshiyuki Tomino who was responsible for Zambot 3! (And before you ask, yes; this show might well be where he first started to get his nickname...)
Originally, Super Dimension Fortress Macross was meant to be a Deconstructive Parody of shows like Mobile Suit Gundam. While it veered off that course eventually and played a fair number of tropes completely straight (never mind inventing a few along the way), every major entry into the franchise has featured at least one major, often scathing, deconstructions of the science fiction, adventure and anime genres.
Gundam 00 had a few instances of Deconstructing tropes from previous Gundam series examples of which would be showing the corpse of Neil Dylandy to show everyone that he is indeed very dead, a very realistic portrayal of just how hopeless Rebellious Princess's Marina's situation is (her nation is now gone and her country never gotten better beforehand.
The Movie has a different ending; a Happily Ever After and World Peace for everyone through Instrumentality, including the aliens who killed countless human soldiers. It preaches that war is the product of misunderstandings and everyone would get along as long as we didn't miscommunicate. This may also be considered a deconstruction of the traditional Gundam ending, which is often bittersweet, if not a complete downer. Also because not only do the resident Expy Newtypes really are the next stage in human evolution and really do lead humanity to glory, the usual denial of this becoming of a Gundam trope in itself. Thereby Reconstructing the typical shonen mecha genre.
Mobile Suit Gundam: War In The Pocket is a deconstruction of boys growing up playing soldier toys and being obsessed with war.
The first generation of Gundam Age presents itself as a deconstruction of a warrior messiah.
Strange Dawn. The people of the other world are cute Super-Deformed creatures but they are still as flawed as us humans. One of the girls transported to this world is so bent on going home that she is willing to take questionable actions (like siding with the bad guys). The other girl wants to help the natives but is too weakhearted to be of any use. Things get so messed up that it takes a Deus ex Machina to resolve everything.
Inside Mari deconstructs "Freaky Friday" Flip stories in general, by showing that such thing can be utterly terrifying. The main character is often afraid of how his new body is different (he was a guy who suddenly found himself on the body of a girl he was stalking) and he is also terrified that he might destroy the social life of the original owner of the body.
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle starts out as a lighthearted True Companions / Gotta Catch 'Em All adventure story with some darkness around the edges and interesting sexual subtext. One-third of the way through, everything you thought you knew turns inside out and the most lighthearted elements become harbingers of the ugliest secrets. From there on out, the series proceeds to do everything it can to make your mind boggle, including introducing major unexpected Squick into what had once been CLAMP's most popular and innocent pairing.
The "Perfect GT-R" arc of Wangan Midnight has a beautiful deconstruction of street racing. Jun Kitami, who at this point has been portrayed as a reckless, heartless daredevil tuner, says point-blank that there are no winners or losers and that Koichi did exactly the right thing in giving up this senseless hobby so he could return to his wife. Given that the whole manga is about street racing, plainly admitting a truth like this took guts. Even better, this happens in the very first arc after the Devil Z and Blackbird are introduced.
Toradora! deconstructs many of the character archetypes seen in typical Harem Anime. Taiga answers the question of what kind of experiences could give a person a childish Tsundere personality in real life.
Even aside from the negative stuff that's particular to Madoka, it also shows that the livelihood of Magical Girl Warriorsin general involves a lot of sacrifices: not only potentially putting your life on the line, but also, having to constantly be on the look-out for and fighting bad guys means sacrificing a lot of what it means to have a normal, healthy childhood, by giving up time that could be spent with family, friends or developing your own passion. Other Magical Girl shows will occasionally acknowledge these sacrifices (like with certain Ami story lines in Sailor Moon) but since it's their "destiny," it's easy to handwave them because it doesn't matter what they want anyway. But in Madoka Magica, these are normal girls who have a choice (well, for the most part - Kyubey's one Manipulative Bastard) about whether to risk all this for the sake of being magical superheroes. It's no coincidence that a lot of the Magical Girls either start out orphaned/alone (Mami, and seemingly Homura) or become that way ( Kyoko), since they have the least to lose, and those who don't are in for the biggest worlds of pain (like Sayaka, or Kyoko before she was orphaned).
Much of the appeal and possibly the entire point of Code Geass lies with presenting, on one hand, Kururugi Suzaku as an effective deconstruction of Lawful Good characters such as Amuro Ray in Mobile Suit Gundam, and on another - Lelouch as a deconstruction of a stereotypical Diabolical Mastermind antagonist.
And it's shown that without boys to have sex with, Miki and Mayumi simply lay around getting drunk in a dive bar.
The series also takes a look at All Men Are Perverts and Hot for Teacher, seeing as how several of the boys Miki and Mayumi have gone after are visibly disturbed at having women who are both authority figures and older than them by at least a decade come onto them. Miki and Mayumi have shown that they are willing to coerce a boy into sex (namely, Masaki), which is something that sexual predators actually do. Masaki himself is never ecstatic at getting to have sex with Miki and Mayumi, with him being coerced into sex at least once, and his family problems being used by Mayumi towards sex with her.
Revolutionary Girl Utena is widely regarded as the first deconstruction of the Magical Girl genre, and at the same time it deconstructs various fairy tale archetypes including the prince, the princess, and the witch.
Bondage Game OVA is a deconstruction of extreme fetish hentai, even though it's only two episodes long. The sex slaves shown in it have personalities, and aren't just flat characters like most women in hentai are. Also, the reactions of the girls when experiencing their torture make it clear that you're not supposed to be getting off to it. The anime ends when the man who owns the sex slaves gets arrested, and the girls that survived are freed. If it was meant for fetish fulfillment, then the ending would be much worse.
The Impel Down and Marineford arcs of One Piece effectively deconstruct the main character; Luffy is hopelessly outclassed by everyone else, and charging into battle and defeating the Arc Villain with willpower alone just doesn't cut it this time.
The first Bleach movie briefly deals with the consequences of Ichigo's habit of leaving his physical body lying around when he transforms into a Soul Reaper. By the time he gets back to it, a small crowd has gathered around his lifeless body while a team of paramedics are trying to resuscitate him.
Before there was Deconstruction there was EC Comics and especially Harvey Kurtzman's MAD whose famous parodies of movies often made fun of the obvious conventions and cliched stories. Specific examples include:
A movie cowboy (Lance Sterling) and his adventures with a real cowboy (John Smurd). Whereas the handsome Lance defeats the villain after a shootout and fist fight, getting a girl and a hero's celebration, the plain-looking John gets knocked out and beaten up, then kills the villain by taking him by surprise, only to be greeted with a fairly homely woman and lynched for murder.
Their parodies of Popeye, Archie and Mickey Mouse were similarly brutal and funny, exposing the nasty subject of Betty and Veronica as a classic adolescent male fantasy.
Many of the Marvel superheroes of the early 1960s could be seen as early deconstructions of the superhero genre before their styles and formulas became standard issue genre tropes, long before Alan Moore's Watchmen (see below), by showing that while gaining super powers may have allowed ordinary people to do good, even save the world, it didn't necessarily make their lives better. Though this is more true of the early Marvel stories than later on:
Spider-Man in the original stories was seen as a very interesting and original take on the superhero stories in that it featured a working class teenager as a superhero whose powers he initially tried to exploit for monetary gain by using his new found power to get rich, albeit on a small scale and use his power to strike back at his tormentors. The result? His empowerment fantasy goes to his head and he learns a famous lesson in responsibility. He struggles to pay rent and pay his way to college, take care of his ailing Aunt May and, in the Steve Ditko stories, the tensions between his personal life and superhero-work meant that people saw him as cold, aloof and snobbish which also upsets his early dates with his crushes. This aspect was toned down greatly when Steve Ditko left and Peter Parker attracted a circle of friends and incredibly attractive girlfriends.
Elsewhere, the X-Men were mutants born with great powers that enabled them to do good when harnessed properly, but they were feared and hated and are generally victims of horrible double standards compared to other superheroes.
Bruce Banner turned into the super strong Incredible Hulk thanks to a gamma bomb explosion, endowing him with the strength and stamina to battle threats that even some other super strong heroes may struggle with, but Bruce has little to no control over the Hulk which often results in a lot of property damage and turning Bruce into a fugitive hunted all over the world by the army.
Matt Murdock got enhanced senses after being blinded by radioactive waste, but his whole life has been an uphill battle from his humble beginnings to being a respected lawyer by day to having his personal and professional lives torn apart time and again, and losing some of the women he loved along the way.
The Fantastic Four, the first big Marvel hit, was seen and welcomed as a reaction to other superhero stories. Namely the fact that the team dispensed with the secret identity along with masks. They also in the early stories featured highly dysfunctional figures, with Johnny Storm being a real hothead and Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy about his powers and Ben Grimm/The Thing being the first example of a Monster-As-Superhero who was prone to temper tantrums, frustration over his feelings for Sue and his anger at Reed, with their adventures being the only thing keep them together at least in the Jack Kirby era.
Alan Moore brought a considerably wider range of literary and artistic references to the comic book medium and almost any story he takes features a post-modern and deconstructive bent.
Miracleman was the first of his famous retcon and Genre Deconstructions of superhero stories, tackling on the Superman, Captain Marvel mythos as well as taking certain comic book tropes to their logical, ghastly conclusion.
Watchmen deconstructs the entire superhero genre. For the most part, however, it focuses somewhat more on people without actual super powers fighting as vigilantes anyway. No one of them is truly motivated by justice for its own sake; most fight crime as an outlet to their hidden personality traits, from paranoia, to violence, to sexual fetishes. On the other end of the scale, we have Dr. Manhattan, whose superpower is omnipotence. He alone is a sufficient example of why any hero with actual superpowers wouldn't be tolerated by society.
From Hell deconstructs the Serial Killer narrative by tackling the Jack the Ripper case, the hypocrisies of the Victorian World and the modern world to which it is Not So Different.
The Marvel hero Freedom Ring was meant to be a deconstruction of the way most teen superheroes were handled. His creator, Robert Kirkman, wanted to have a young hero who would struggle to use his abilities and ultimately die early on in his career in order to contrast the ease with which most teenage characters adjust to their powers. Since Freedom Ring was also one of the few gay superheroes Marvel published, this lead to some Unfortunate Implications and an apology from Kirkman.
A story from the comics series Animal Man (noted for its Post Modernism) deconstructs Looney Tunes and similar cartoons: in "The Coyote Gospel," a grotesquely anthropomorphic coyote is repeatedly and brutally killed by an Elmer Fudd-style hunter obsessed with his destruction, and continuously reforms/regenerates in a most disturbing manner. Finally, in a scene reminiscent of the classic "Duck Amuck" short, the malevolent animator paints his blood in as he dies for the last time.
The Dark Knight Returns actually took Batman out of the permanent bubble of Comic Book Time and pushed him in a future Gotham that is very much the contemporary 80s America of Ronald Reagan and Bernie Goetz. Batman's vigilante actions become a topic of political and social commentary, his actions an affront to the police and (later) the US Government, and he inevitably operates as an outlaw that brings him in conflict with Superman.
Kick-Ass shows us what it would be like if a teenager without super powers ever became a superhero (like Spider-Man). The main character gets beaten to within an inch of his life in every encounter, and said life becomes even worse after he dons the mask; his only super power is that he has a metal plate in his head.
And then the film based on the comic is a Reconstruction of that same superhero type.
Word of God said that the Series Finale for the Tintin comics was the album Tintin in Tibet. The next three albums (The Castafiore Emerald, Flight 714, and Tintin and the Picaros) are deconstructions of the Tintin series in general.
The Castafiore Emerald has Hergé trying to keeps a plot where not much happens still suspenseful,
Grant Morrison apparently tried to deconstruct Cyclops/Scott Summers, the X-Men's fearless leader, following his being possessed by Apocalypse, with his New X-Men run, by trying to show the insecurities and emotional vulnerability behind his stoicism, but all he really succeeded in doing was making him look like a jerk. Joss Whedon ultimately did the Cyclops deconstruction better in his Astonishing X-Men run that followed Morrison.
Films — Animation
Near the start of the 2004 film The Incredibles, many superheroes get into legal trouble because of the collateral damage they cause. A deleted scene shows how difficult it would be to hide super powers (specifically, invulnerability). At a barbecue, Mr. Incredible accidentally hits his fingers with a large knife, ruining the knife and leaving him unharmed. To cover up what happened, he begins screaming, douses his hand in ketchup, wraps an apron around his hand, and he and his wife quickly leave the party. Bob then complains in the car about the necessity of wearing bandages on his hand for months, wearing scar makeup, and coming up with a surgery story to explain his still-intact fingers.
"I must admit, it's sadly anti-climatic. Behind all the sturm and Batarangs, you're just a little boy in a playsuit, crying for Mommy and Daddy! It'd be funny if it weren't so pathetic. ...Oh what the heck, I'll laugh anyway!"
Joker himself then gets deconstructed to devastating effect by Terry McGinnis, the second Batman, who calls the Joker out for being nothing more than a pathetic idiot who could never overcome his childish fixation with the original Batman and for not even being that funny. Joker does not take this well at all.
It also deconstucts the consequences of what happens to child sidekicks; as the torture scene depicts what happens when they are caught too and the consequences of such are extremely painful.
The 2012 straight to DVD animated feature Superman Vs. The Elite, based on the story What's So Funny About Truth, Justice, And The American Way? deconstructs both sides of the no killing vs. pro-killing ideologies that bedevil the more main stream superheroes as well as their anti-hero counterparts. In the first half we see a deconstruction of Superman's no killing rule by seeing what happens when you aren't willing to get your hands to dirty protect the innocent. In the second half we see a deconstruction of "shoot 'em all and let God sort 'em out" ideology of the Elite (themselves a deconstruction and mock up of 90s anti-heroes) by showing what happens when people become too kill crazy and can no longer differentiate when to kill and when not to.
Films — Live-Action
Orson Welles' Citizen Kane was in many ways an attack on the narrative style of The Golden Age of Hollywood as well as several American types like the Self-Made Man and the American Dream. Namely that the idea of defining life in terms of social success and wealth ultimately makes you value people less and makes you desire to control and buy people around you. Likewise the characters are not entirely one type and single dimension, with the main character being an unpleasant, manipulative Jerk Ass who never learns his lesson even in his old age and who leaves behind several disappointed friends and broken loved ones and who eventually dies alone. The harshness of the story, the lack of easy conflict resolution and the ultimate sense of the futility of life in the wake of the passage of time was quite a contrast to the sentimental and life-affirming stories in films at the time, good films included.
Almost Famous is a deconstruction on the illusion of rock-star life. It seems glamorous at first, but then the fame starts getting to your head and you start doing stupid things that you would never do in the right mind. Fame leads to an idea of invulnerability and often creates tension between band members (often brought on by record execs to force them to create a big radio hit against the will of the band member's better judgement or creative being all for the sake of profit). It just goes to show that the rock-star life is nothing more than a gilded cage.
Likewise, Four Lions is a deconstruction of the La Résistance genre films. The protagonists, four jihadists, are hopelessly incompetent and amateurish and their ally Barry is but an Ax-Crazy thug, while the British police and army show ruthless efficiency on eliminating the protagonists.
And it also deconstructs the tropes that the War On Terror has created relating to the counter-terrorists. The police and army make multiple mix-ups that only cause more death and suffering ( Such as capturing and torturing one of the terrorist's pacifist brother, shooting an innocent funrunner, and utterly failing to stop two terrorists from doing their suicide bombing when they were in fact willing to stop), and the terrorists actually manage to do their job better when they accidentally kill Osama Bin Ladin. So really, both sides are deconstructed.
The Pierce Brosnan films also featured quite a few reality checks on the series formula, namely the fact that he's openly described as "a relic of the Cold War" by the new M in GoldenEye and that rather than villains who were fairly conventional and stereotypical in motivations, it instead featured villains like Alec Trevelyan, Elektra King and Renard who were more psychologically motivated and even tragic in their own right. Even the disliked Die Another Day showed what would happen if James Bond actually got captured in enemy territory, like with most spies, he's disavowed by his government, subject to torture and brutal conditions for a year and later released in a Prisoner Exchange for the same bad guy he was pursuing in the first place.
The 1991 film The Dark Backward contains an animated sequence that deconstructs the Tom and Jerry cartoons: Tom's Captain Ersatz gleefully pursues Jerry's, hatchet in hand, and then cuts him in half with it (guts spill); then Spike's Captain Ersatz appears and blows the cat's brains out with a shotgun. The main character's mother laughs out loudly at this scene.
Arnie fare Last Action Hero was satirical but not well received by critics or at the box office. However, it deconstructs the action hero genre and then puts it back together while emphasising the distinction between real-life and fantasy and how they inform each other.
The 2008 movie JCVD is a deconstruction of Jean-Claude Van Damme himself, as an out-of-luck delusional actor as opposed to the real-life moderately successful actor. Read the synopsis here.
The Milla Jovovich version of Joan of Arc plays out the way the true story went until she is captured by the English, at which point it deconstructs the entire mythology surrounding Joan of Arc. In prison, she meets (or better said, hallucinates) a character (played by Dustin Hoffman) whose only function seems to be to question her calling from God.
Saturday Night Fever harshly deconstructs America's hedonistic take on life in The Seventies. Sure, there were beautiful clothes, music, and lots of dancing, but there was a dark side to the life led by people like Tony and his friends. For example, Tony, who turns to hedonism as a way to cope with his own life as a low-class Brooklyn guy with a reallyDysfunctional Family, has no thought for the future (and the culture as a whole didn't either), and his friends are involved with drugs, drinking, and casual sex which does cause them huge problems.
Hanna is a deconstruction of both the Kid Hero trope and if a child was ever given superhuman abilities. The main character gets hunted down constantly, every person she comes in contact with are threatened with death, and the antagonists are all willing to kill test subjects of a childSuper Soldier project.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The subtitle of this movie could just have easily been The Deconstruction Of Kirk. Most of the core traits associated with Kirk and what their consequences in Real Life would probably be are examined and pulled apart. The adventurer who faces a problem on a weekly basis, solves it and promptly forgets it ever happened is suddenly brought face to face with one of those problems from a decade and a half before, and discovers the consequences of his thoughtlessness can be measured by the body count. The suave lady-killer with a girl in every port discovers that one of his conquests (and it's implied that it's the only one he ever truly loved) has resulted in a son he either never knew he had or knew but never spent any real time with and who hates him. His tendency to play fast and loose with the rules leads to his ship being crippled and a score of dead cadets, all of which could and should have been avoided by simply raising the shields, and his trait of finding novel solutions to intractable problems ends the life of his best friend and trusted right hand. It also shows what happens when you take the dashing, devil-may-care heroic adventurer, let him get old and put him in a desk job: a full-blown mid-life crisis.
And when their memories are erased, they hit it off again. In a broader sense, this can be considered a deconstruction of the whole romance genre. They're great at the Meet Cute and the Falling in Love Montage, but things fall apart when they actually try to live with each other.
Adam Sandler, famous for his comedic portrayal of characters with anger problems, shows just how unfunny and scary a person with anger problems can be in the movie Punch Drunk Love.
The Social Network is a deconstruction of the myth of the self-made man by showing how many people Mark Zuckerberg allegedly screwed over as he became an "accidental billionaire".
In The Cable Guy, Jim Carrey deconstructs the kind of character he usually plays. In the beginning we're introduced to what at first seems to be the same kind of quirky, eccentric, wacky, Catch Phrase spewing character seen in other Jim Carrey films. However, as the plot unfolds Carrey's character becomes a deranged stalker, and goes from being a funny characte to a deeply disturbing one. We learn that this character is a severely mentally unbalanced social outcast, that his "wacky" antics are in fact reckless and dangerous, and actually ruin the life of the one person he considers to be his friend, and that his obsession with spewing famous Catch Phrases come from the fact that he has an unhealthy obsession with TV, to the point that he has a hard time telling the difference between it and reality.
Gary from The World's End can be read as a deconstruction of the typical 'Man Child' characters who populated the other works that Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Nick Frost were involved in. His hedonistic embracing of alcohol and drugs and his refusal to move on from his teenage pursuits and obsessions is seen as more pathetic than charming. He's also significantly older than most of them were, being an example of what happens to that type of character if he maintains his refusal to grow up when he's almost in his forties.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day provided deconstructions of both the Kid Hero and the Mama Bear as well as militant feminism in the forms of John Connor and his mother, Sarah, from the previous film. John is an alienated, anti-social outsider who doesn't fit in, doesn't get along with his foster parents and has only one friend due to his mother's odd ball way of raising him due to the fact that she had to prepare him for the end of the world. Sarah, meanwhile, has become violent and emotionally unstable over the years since the end of the first film as she had to step up to the plate, training not just herself but her son, and suffering the heart ache of losing Kyle Reese, the soldier sent back to protect her, whom she fell in love with and who was in fact John's father all along, without either of them knowing it. John is far from a likable protagonist when we first meet him, and Sarah is not exactly pleasant, but this is what happens to a Chosen One and the mother mentor burdened with terrible knowledge.
Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Saga, plays out very much like a deconstruction of Batman/Bruce Wayne: the tragedy that started his journey, learning the ropes, confronting evil beyond his understanding, losing the woman he loved who ironically didn't love him back and then spending 8 years morbidly mourning her due to not knowing the truth of her feelings, the physical damage done to his body and the consequences of not taking care of himself during 8 years of exiled depression, etc. Basically: taking apart the romanticism of Batman by showing just how screwed up (though well meaning) a person Bruce Wayne would actually be. Fortunately Nolan's Bruce eventually lets go of his pain and moves on with his life, unlike his comic book and DCAU counterparts - see below in Western Animation.
Zack Snyder's Manof Steel was intended to be a deconstruction of Superman's origin, treating it as humanity's first encounter with extra-terrestrial life. Man of Steel's flashback sequences show how an emotionally fragile child/teen with superpowers needs constant guidance and even then there's no guarantee that his step-parents know what's best. The absence of Lex Luthor also highlights how an alien who looks human but with god-like abilities isn't just a victim of bad publicity, but genuinely unsettling, which contradicts most depictions of Superman being easily accepted by the masses.
Superman's dual identities are also deconstructed as Lois is able to figure out who he really is by following leads, as Clark Kent would be a lot easier to track down in the 21st century. The only reason Superman isn't publicly outed by anyone is either out of gratitude or because he had more than one alias.
Another deconstruction is Superman's killing of Zod. Whereas Superman II was very casual about it, Man of Steel showed how heavily the decision to kill one of the last known beings who was like Superman weighed on him.
Harry Potter could arguably be seen as a deconstruction of the Kid Hero archetype (among other beloved fantasy tropes) by showing just how messed up and stressful the title character's life would be (and the lives of his friends).
Madame Bovary is a fierce deconstruction of romance novels. Madame Bovary reads romance novels all the time, and comes to expect to live her own life that way, except her attitudes and behaviors destroy her life. She's a Stepford Smiler who constantly buys things to try and alleviate her own loneliness (it doesn't work), leaves her husband for another man who she expects will sweep her off her feet (he doesn't), and when she finally commits suicide, she expects arsenic to be a Perfect Poison that lets her die romantically (she spends several days in agonizing pain before she croaks).
Boris Strugatsky's The Powerless of This World is a deconstruction of much of his own and his late brother's earlier works. Perhaps most prominently, "the Sensei", who is a wise old mentor (a fairly typical character for many Strugatsky novels), turns out to have been not only a Trickster Mentor, but also the initiator of The Plan that dictated much of the plot and was aimed at forcing the main character to unlock his full abilities. It succeeded, but not before making said main character a nervous wreck, inducing quite a Bitter Sweet Ending and causing much remorse to the mentor himself. Additionally, the topic of the Progressors is briefly brought up; one of the characters muses that the Sensei might be acting as one on Earth, and that he had, despite some occasional successes, failed miserably.
Hard to Be a God deconstructs medieval chivalry, fantasy settings, the supposed glamour of royalty and nobility, and well-intentioned meddling by developed countries (in this case, civilizations: an idealist Commies IN SPACE! benevolent space-faring nation ideologically similar to Star Trek's Federation). The European 'Middle Ages' overlapped with the last century/centuries of the 'Dark Ages' for a reason: a Crapsack World is a given there.
"A Troll Story" by Nicola Griffith, in which a Viking warrior faces off against a troll. He wins, all right, but the story abruptly takes a deconstructionist turn: he goes insane from the troll's final curse, which renders him able to understand that there's no essential moral difference between the troll's slaughter of Vikings and his own slaughter of innocents in the towns he's raided.
Ring For Jeeves could be considered P. G. Wodehouse's deconstruction of his own stories. The usual romantic comedy character-relation tropes are there, but the world they live in is remarkably different. All of Wodehouse's stories take place in a Genteel Interbellum Setting, but Ring For Jeeves explores what would happen if time actually progressed. World War II has happened, Britain is in the throes of social upheaval which separates Jeeves and Bertie (Bertie is sent to a school that teaches the aristocracy how to fend for themselves), poverty and suicide and graphic death are acknowledged, and Jeeves even admits to having "dabbled in" World War I. The book's setting, Rowchester Abbey, is falling apart at the seams and the characters who inhabit it start to feel like a pocket of old-fashioned happiness in a darkening world. In case any doubters still exist about 3/4 through the book, there's Constable Wyvyrn's musings about just how much the world has changed.
Greaves, This is Serious, by William Mingin, is another PG Wodehouse deconstruction. Bertie begins to grow dissatisfied with his carefree life of idle frivolities, and begins questioning his butler Greaves to see if they ever do anything... productive. The answer is quite chilling.
Goshawk Squadron by Derek Robinson attacks the popular view of World War One air combat which, rather than dueling "Knights of the Air", actually involved under-trained pilots diving out of the sun and machine-gunning their opponent in the back before he had a chance to defend himself.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald could be the earliest deconstruction of the American Dream. It shows the rich and happy as people who are empty on the inside and the fight between new rich and old rich lifestyles, particularly with Jay Gatsby.
The Second Apocalypse series by R. Scott Bakker was an attempted deconstruction of what Bakker considers the crux of fantasy — a meaningful universe with metaphysical purpose. One of the premises of the series is "What if you had a fantasy world where Old Testament-style morality, with all of its arbitrary taboos and cruelties (like damnation), was as true in the same way that gravity is 9.8 meters per second squared?". Whether he successfully accomplishes this is heavily debated.
A Tale of Two Cities. To many, the famous opening line ("It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...") seems cliche, but one needs to look at it in the context of the French Revolution. In the years following it, revisionists on both sides relied heavily on propaganda, romanticizing their own side as undeniably good, and demonizing the other side as undeniably bad. A Tale of Two Cities makes the assumption that each side was absolutely right and runs with it, and so both the aristocrats and the revolutionaries have, among their ranks, noble, honorable people fighting for what they believe is right, and sadists who just want some bloodshed.
Agnes Nutter from Good Omens is a deconstruction of the Seer. On the one hand, we see that she is always right, but sometimes her predictions are oddly specific (don't buye Betamacks), too ahead of their time (jogging helps people to live longer), centered on her relatives in the future (she predicted for 11/22/1963 that a house in a small English city would break down, but doesn't mention the assassination of John F. Kennedy on the same day - one of her relatives might be in this city at that day, but apparently, none of them wanted to go to Dallas), and she didn't bother to order her predictions or explain them in detail. On the other hand, she uses her power to successfully Write Back to the Future (and also to avoid people responsible for delivering said message to snoop), and since she can predict EVERYTHING, this includes knowing when Anathema will read a specific prophecy - so it always fits.
Count and Countess is perhaps a deconstruction of the vampire romance genre—specifically, why it would just plain suck to fall in love with someone predisposed to bloodlust.
Kid Hero: It's obvious from the get-go that the kids, having no sort of military knowledge or practical connections whatsoever, are pretty much just making it up as they go and doing the best they can with what they have, and they're closer to Child Soldiers than anything else.
The Good Guys Always Win: Not a full deconstruction, as the kids actually do manage to save their home planet, but the fact that they're massively outgunned is a major element in the story, and the kids comment from time to time that only rarely are their missions actually successful. One of the major messages of the series is that, despite idealistic platitudes, victory ultimately goes to those who are ruthless and desperate enough to take the most extreme measures, not to the morally superior.
Violence is the Only Option: Initially, what with this being an invasion and occupation, the kids consider armed resistance to be their only option. But it quickly becomes apparent that Yeerks are Not So Different from the Animorphs themselves, capable of being reasoned and negotiated with, and at times a pacifistic and diplomatic solutions work out.
What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Hork-Bajir, Taxxons and Yeerks are pretty fucking scary aliens to look at, and the kids initially assume them all to be evil monsters. However, by the end of the series, it's obvious that despite outward differences, the three species actually have much more in common with humankind than is apparent at first glance.
Gone with the Wind can easily be read as a Deconstruction of the then-popular "Moonlight and Magnolias" novel of the Old South and The American Civil War; in a real "Moonlight and Magnolias" book, the focus would be on Melanie and Ashley, with Scarlett and Rhett being their Evil Counterpart couple.
Daniel Abraham's Long Price Quartet books are deconstructive in showing the implications of incredibly powerful magic in a society, versus those who don't have it. The "Andat" as created by the Khaiem cities are literally the embodiment of ideas into humanoid form, such as "Removing-the-part-that-continues" (nicknamed "Seedless"). Seedless, for example, can cause the seeds in cotton blooms to all spontaneously fall out of them . . . or cause all the seeds in an enemy nation's crops to fall out before the appropriate time, or even cause all of the pregnant women in said society to miscarry. This plays out as you would realistically expected, with technological advancement in the Khaiem cities curbed because they have the Andat as a source of wealth and power, and all the Khaiem cities being monarchies because the most important criteria for rule is whether you control the "poet" who controls the Andat. It's contrasted throughout the series with the Galt, a nation without Andat that instead had to rely on technology for power and prosperity, and is more advanced in many ways than the Khaiem - they have steam engines, for example.
In J R R Tolkien's own introduction to The Lord of the Rings, he states that if the novel were a real life one, the Free People would have tried to create their own version of Sauron's ring, and that both sides would have held hobbits in contempt!
Rather, that's Professor Tolkien's response to the idea that his story is allegorical. He despised allegory as a rule, and did not take kindly to people trying to equate the War of the Ring with World War 2. Thus this statement is actually a Take That at such readers for thinking so highly of themselves as to read themselves into the Fellowship role, whereas Tolkien thought of the Allies in more the Saruman role, particularly after the atomic bombings of Japan.
Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes is a morbid deconstruction of famous fairy tales. Goldilocks is eaten by the bears (as they would do in real life), the wolf decides to blow up the third pig's brick house with dynamite, the seven dwarfs steal the magic mirror from the Queen to predict the outcome of horse races,...
"My Stepmother, Myself", written by Garrison Keillor for his book of essays "Happy to Be Here", deconstructed the fairy tales Snow White, Hansel and Gretel and Cinderella. Among other things, Snow White's husband turned out to be a necrophiliac, Hansel was The Load, and after living in a castle where servants did everything for her, Cinderella came to regard her stepmother as her new best friend.
Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon ended up deconstructing its own source material in increasingly surprising ways as it diverged from the original story, until, by the end, Sailor Moon herself has become the Omnicidal Maniac villain; the senshi's power source, the Silver Crystal, turns out to have really been an Artifact of Doom; and erstwhile villain Queen Beryl is revealed to have actually been trying to save the world (albeit only so she could rule it). The deconstruction arises here as a result of the audience's own genre expectations about the senshi's Power of Friendship and the motivation of the Card Carrying Villains, and how naive and dangerous it'd actually be for the heroines to make such assumptions.
The Ten Commandments miniseries shows the many hard choices that Moses had to make in following God: abandoning his family, alienating his adoptive mother, causing his blood brother to do a Face-Heel Turn, killing his most loyal comrade to enforce God's authority.
In a very unique example, as the vast majority of deconstructions are very cynical in nature, The West Wing (a highly idealistic show) could be seen as a deconstruction of the popular conventions of what constitutes political immorality: the Press Secretary spins information not to cover up the government's guilt, but to protect the jobs of heads of state and militaries from the influence of political whims; politicians make unsavory deals with amoral lobbyists and scheming congressmen not for personal gain, but to rescue legislation that would help out thousands of people; the President's speeches and public appearances are carefully scripted not to make him look good, but to prevent confusion and possible panic from people who don't have Masters' in public policy; etc, etc.
Glee was once "Deconstruction: The Show." For example, musicals were deconstructed with most of the musical numbers in the show taking place either as a stage performance or in somebody's imagination, and random "bursting into song" rarely turned out well. However, as the show has gone on, the creators have largely abandoned these rules, and on the contrary, "solve it through singing about it!" has become the show's go-to method for solving problems, no matter how serious. In addition, the show used to pride itself on its mockery of the Very Special Episode and various high school stereotypes; now, the acclaim its received for its pro-LGBT storylines has led it to take being a "message" show more seriously (with varying levels of success).
The B plot of Community episode English as a Second Language is a deconstruction of Good Will Hunting. Abed pulls a paraphrasing of Ben Affleck's "the best part of my day" speech from Good Will Hunting on Troy, to try to get him to 'use his gift' and become a plumber. The next day, Abed turns to find that Troy is no longer sitting next to him in class... but not because he's inspired and has dropped out, but because Troy has switched seats because he's offended that his best friend would actually think the prospect of him just leaving without a word would be the best part of his day. Turns out, that would actually be a really horrible and offensive thing to say to a friend, no matter how gifted.
Abed's main problem is that he doesn't explain WHY he thinks this would be good for Troy, unlike Affleck's character.
Continuum deconstructs everything about time travel in season three. In one episode, Liber8 learned that in their attempts to prevent their future from happening, they ended up helping to create an even worse one! Not only that, the fact that multiple people kept time-travelling to prevent multiple futures from happening left them wondering if anything they did in the present really mattered.
Ultraman Nexus is a deconstruction of the usual Kaiju and Ultra Series shows. It shows what will happen if giant alien and monsters actually appear in real life and no, it isn't pleasant. This is why Nexus is considered Darker and Edgier than most Tokusatsu.
Kamen Rider Ryuki adds some aspect of Mons to Kamen Rider. Except the monsters have no loyalty to their masters and will eat them, should the contract card be destroyed. The same thing would occur if the monsters aren't well-fed, meaning you must continue fighting to feed your mons, even if you want to quit — and the more mons you have, the harder it is to feed them. Oh, there's another way to get around this; the mons also eat humans. At least one Rider is more than happy to lets his mon eat random people. It also deconstructs the idea of Kamen Riders being phlebotinum rebels, since the Big Bad arranging the Riders to fight always has the upper hand, either by sending his overtly powered Kamen Rider to hunt down the rebels, or in a special movie, rally all the Riders who want to fight to kill the Riders who want to end the war. Given the concept of the show, the former greatly outweigh the latter.
Kamen Rider Gaim also deconstructs the Mons genre with its Invess, as it is made clear that the Invess are dangerous monsters and it's very easy to lose control of them. Reality Ensues when it turns out that creatures from another world carry diseases totally unknown to the human immune system, which in turn leads to the protagonists being alienated by the public for their participation in the Invess Game. And this in turn leads to another deconstruction of just what happens when you give teenagers superpowers, as one Rider actually sets Invess on the public after they call him out and a group of teens use them to rob banks because they might as well with all the bad rap going on. A villainous Rider deconstructs the entire premise of Kamen Rider by delivering the following line after killing a monster who was actually a human transformed by the fruit of Helheim.
I destroyed a monster that was attacking our civilians. [..] I'd say that's pretty heroic.
Some reality shows, game shows and documentaries deconstruct fiction genres, or fiction tropes, by playing them out in real life. Survivor deconstructs the Robinsonade. Mythbusters deconstructs several tropes.
The Doctor Who episode "Midnight" deconstructs nearly everything we've come to know about Ten. No one believes him when he says his name is "John Smith". The passengers treat Ten's "normal" eccentricies and mannerisms with scorn and suspicion, so once it becomes clear that the Monster of the Week has possessed one of the passengers, he's immediately suspected as the host. The Doctor is completely unable to identify the monster, said monster turns literally all of his usual tactics against him, and literally the only reason the monster is foiled is by a last second Deus ex Machina. And we don't even know if the monster is actually dead.
Once Upon a Time serves largely as a deconstruction of the fairy-tale concept of receiving magical assistance from beings like a Fairy Godmother or a Genie. They can give you a shortcut that saves you from poverty, or give you the power to protect the people you love, but in the end, it always comes with a price.
The finale of How I Met Your Mother. can easily be viewed as a deconstruction of a HUGE number of tropes, from tv shows to character tropes to audience reactions. It is so biting with how Reality Ensues that it is a main reason why the Grand Finale was so controversial, all along the irony of the episode name "Last Forever." A brief rundown goes as follows:
After so much time and effort with building Robin and Barney together and spending a season on a "legendary" wedding, their marriage lasted only three years because of fundamental differences they ignored, Robin's Married to the Job and Barney had abandoned so many of his own interests to be with her that he had nothing to do. There is also significant foreshadowing in retrospect that their relationship will not end well, with them riding off the belief that just because they love each other it will work out. Most weddings tend to be amazing but the success rate remains the same.
After they divorce, Barney goes back to his womanizing ways and it is fully depicted as pathetic. His excuse for reverting after so much Character Development is THE SAME excuse after his first relationship with Robin, that if he couldn't make it work with her there was no one else who could make it work. It also runs on the precept that characters can grow but they are still fundamentally the same person, changing that makes them someone else entirely. Him eventually fathering a child is the most logical end point for a man who has had as many sexual partners as he has.
After they divorce, Robin's job takes her away from the city for long periods of time and whenever she visits the old gang, all she sees is her ex-husband picking up random skanks and two sets of friends being Happily Married with their own families. Seeing Ted with Tracy, Robin feels that choosing Barney over him was a mistake and missed out on real happiness by rejecting Ted. She spent several years estranged from the group before reconciling during Ted and Tracy's marriage.
Marshall passes on a prestigious judgeship offer to give Lily a chance to fulfill her dream of working in the artistic field. He justifies it saying things will work out eventually. They do, but it takes several years and he had to suffer as a corporate lawyer once more before things start going their way. Lily appreciates the sacrifice but regrets being a part of why he is miserable now. Plus she takes Robin leaving the group the hardest, being one of her closest female friends.
Ted meets Tracy, the love of his life and the mother of his children. They were absolutely perfect for each other, but their history isn't exactly a fairy tale as their engagement lasted years because of Ted being a stickler for the perfect wedding and Tracy getting pregnant with their daughter Penny around the same time of their first wedding date, with Luke following soon after. Tracy ended up dying from an unspecified illness, leaving this perfect couple only able to be together for 11 years. True love and a happy relationship doesn't always always last forever. The final shot of the series is Ted reconsidering his love for Robin, as despite everything he went through to be happy with Tracy that doesn't mean he doesn't still love Robin in some way.
At the end the group just drifts apart. It's a sad reality that many people have encountered in real life and is a harsh truth nobody wants to face, that life is unpredictable, everyone has a different path, and people do grow up and change. Nothing will ever be the same again.
''Supernatural spent several seasons deconstructing the relationship between Sam and Dean, to the point where it is depicted as unhealthy and destructive. In the latest season, Dean made a deal with a rogue angel to save Sam, only to learn that he had been tricked and got Kevin killed in the process. Sam stayed angry with Dean for most of the season.
The Vampire Diaries deconstructed the whole woman scorned trope in season 5. a witch was cheated on, so she used her powers to a) trap the mistress in stone and use her for b) an anchor to an terrible afterlife that she created for supernatural beings while c) trapping her ex in a tomb for over two thousand years, in the hopes that he will take an immortality cure that will ensure his death and send him to the Other Side. Considering the lengths that she took to get her revenge, and the attacks that she launched on the main characters, it is clear that getting payback on a man can turn someone into a bigger bad guy than he was.
Furthermore, it shows how dangerous and sudden their fights can be as it transforms into a Fighting Series. The male protagonist Ye Ren even quotes it's nothing the popular novels. Examples? He only sees a flash of Lilo's first fight and he couldn't tell if it was blood or weapon fire.
A lot of John Tynes and/or Greg Stolze works features this. Unknown Armies, for instance, deconstructs the Urban Fantasy setting, the novel A Hunger Like Fire deconstructs the trope of the sensual vampire temptress and the RPGs Godlike and Wild Talents deconstructs superheroes stories set during World War 2 and the Cold War respectively.
A Streetcar Named Desire did not deconstruct any genre in particular, but it did deconstruct gender roles, physical relationships, and the American system of social classes in a rather harsh way. A common theory is that it was a direct response to Gone with the Wind, subverting the heroine, her marriage, and how she handles it in the face of a failing South.
Euripides' Trojan Women and Hecuba portrayed The Trojan War as a human tragedy rather than a sweeping epic tale of martial valor in the Homeric tradition. In general, his tragedies are regarded as more "modern" than those of his predecessors because of their morally ambiguous protagonists, pervasive sense of anxiety and despair, religious skepticism and overall portrayal of mythological subjects and characters as real people.
M. Butterfly is a no-holds-barred deconstruction of the "Oriental woman submissive to her white man" trope that Madame Butterfly codified, with a male Chinese spy disguised as a woman deliberately invoking this trope to get a French diplomat to fall in love with him and pointing out that Asian women are generally no more modest or demure than other women in real life.
The Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen became famous (and controversal) for not bending over to the standards of drama back then. Instead, he made people take a good hard look at them and asked, "Is this what you really want?" One major example is A Dolls House. The main character, Nora, is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl who thinks that her husband will take care of everything in life. However, she realizes that what was between the two wasn't real love. The ending shows her setting out to find who she really is, with "the door slam that has reverberated around the world".
The well-known Aesop "Be Careful What You Wish For" operates in this way. Person X makes wish Y. Wish Y is granted to person X. Wish Y then manages to have sufficiently negative unintended consequences on person X's life that wish Y now looks like a ridiculous thing to wish for. Thus, Wish Y is deconstructed.
Spec Ops: The Line deconstructs the modern shooter game and the limited binary "moral choices" of video games in general.
"Are we really in control of Captain Walker? Or do we merely represent the last vestige of self-awareness in his increasingly damaged mind as he railroads us into committing atrocities, and our distrust and fear of him grows in parallel to that of the men in his command as he weakly tries to rationalize to both them and us until we feel as disconnected from him as the rest of reality and... (sigh) Do you remember when shooters were about killing demons from hell? Those were good days." — Zero Punctuation
Modern Warfare deconstructs the cavalier cowboy attitude of jingoistic military shooters by showing the catastrophic destruction and death that result from them, and the nationalist propaganda that fuels it.
For one of Gamespot's April Fool's Day jokes, they have announced that Capcom has recently announced a new game called Mega Man Deconstructed. See 7:43 of this video.
Chrono Cross is one of the earliest and most (in)famous examples, killing off the main cast offscreen between games and condemning everything they accomplished or fought for. The reason given is this: by changing the future for the better in the original Chrono Trigger, the heroes (you) unwittingly murdered billions of people living in that potential timeline. Then the plot gets loopier, with the revelation that the human race is a giant cosmic mistake, the resultant mutation of an alien entity crashing into the planet. The reptites of Chrono Trigger, who were defeated by the main characters and their Neanderthal brethren, were meant to evolve into the superior, enlightened race; unlike the human 'abominations' who are simply incapable of coexisting peacefully with the earth. What did humans do to deserve being saved from annihilation twice over? What right did anyone have to play god like this? It's no coincidence that the majority of Cross' characters range from their early thirties to late sixties, a reminder to audiences who grew up playing the lighthearted Trigger and were given a harsh dose of reality as adults. Of course, the games were released during two starkly different eras in gaming.
Most of the villainism of No More Heroes's Villain Protagonist comes from what would happen if a stereotypical video game/anime geek retained their combat ability in the real world and lived life like they play games.
A lighter example of Deconstruction would belong to SWAT 4, an FPS whose objective is not shooting bad guys. Just plain shooting bad guys like in another FPS, in SWAT 4, does not net you a point. This game expects you to be a police officer, not an FPS character. To earn points (which are needed to advance in harder difficulties), you must deal with the bad guys with non-lethal methods, and arresting them.
Pokémon Black and White deconstructs not just many of the implications of a Crapsaccharine World in the series that are hinted at through the Pokédex entries, but also deconstructs the idea that everyone in the world of Pokémon thinks that it's a good idea to send kids and teenagers out into the wild to capture Pokémon, with Bianca's father feeling immensely concerned for her. Another part of it is the idea that no one bats an eyelash at Pokémon battles or no one thinks it's too violent with Team Plasma and N. It also provides a deconstruction of the concept of Moral Guardians in the form of Team Plasma's claims to be concerned for the welfare of Pokémon.
Phantom Brave viciously deconstructs All of the Other Reindeer. The power of a Chroma (which is what Marona is) is, for all intents and purposes, necromancy, and as such it is widely regarded as a dark, unholy power, and people react accordingly to her. This isn't simply general disdain or mocking of her, this is real, genuine fear and hatred. Listen to that woman who scolds her son for wanting to be friends with Marona in the opening chapter. You can feel the pure, unbridled barely contained rage she has at the mere mention of her name.
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories deals with a CanonRelationship Sue, while 358/2 Days deconstructs the Copycat Sue. The characters involved are canonically clones of some sort and are considered abominations in-universe. Their Sue-ish traits are actually plot-relevant and tend to be the reason the villains can make use of them, with the latter even dying as a result of it.
The Fable series does this to fantasy and magic. While the first game was more of an affectionate parody of medieval fantasy, the sequel takes this to its logical conclusion: with no real threat facing Albion, the Guild of Heroes became egocentric power bullies, and with the advent of the firearm, the Muggle commonfolk struck back and wiped out the Guild. When the Fable 2 hero comes around, it's only natural that the public would view someone as powerful as you to be worthy of becoming king/queen.
TheMOTHERtrilogy is a relatively early deconstruction of the conventions of the Eastern RPG genre, from the outside perspective of one who's a professional writer as opposed to a game designer.
Grand Theft Auto IV is one of its own series. Rather than show a glamorized portrayal of criminal life like the previous games did, it portrays it realistically, with most of the characters being poor, sociopathic, psychotic, greedy, or otherwise unlikable. Even Niko himself is a hypocrite.
The Demon Path in Soul Nomad & the World Eaters could be seen as a deconstruction of Stupid Evil choices in video games (where the game's Karma Meter consists of "Help this woman find her lost puppy, or kill her and eat her family,") taken to its ultimate conclusion. Once the protagonist gets the power of an Omnicidal Maniac god of death, he/she decides to go on a world-wide killing spree for no reason other than it sounds like fun. What follows is a massacre of the entire cast of the game, anyone who isn't lucky enough to be killed immediately being either horribly broken or driven insane and then killed. By the end of the game, the protagonist and the god of death are the only living things left on the planet, at which point the protagonist turns on the god of death and eats him, gaining his powers fully, before turning his/her new-found powers on the gods themselves and finally erasing all of existence, along with him/herself.
In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the "save the world from the world-eating Big Bad dragon Alduin" quest is deconstructed in a conversation with Paarthunax, leader of the Greybeards and a good dragon, possibly the only one in existence. He asks if it isn't foolish to stop the apocalypse if it's being done by someone whose job it is to do exactly that and thereby bring about the next world. Arngeir also poses these questions, but less in-depth. The story is, however, reconstructed later.
Red Alert 3: Paradox is a Game Mod building a world around the scarce information of its source material, Command & ConquerRed Alert 3 and plays out realistically what would happen if three major super powers go to all-out war, a US President is killed or what consequences it has when physics-defying technology is used large-scale and regularly. It's not nearly as idealistic as the original.
Bioshock Infinite deconstructs Steam Punk by focusing on the dystopian elements of late 19th and early 20th century society that most Steam Punk settings ignore. The racism, religious fanaticism, eugenics, and abusive work practices of the time period that other Steam Punk works avoid in favor an idealized nostalgia, are instead brought to the shiny, colourful, Disney Theme Park-style surface.
Fairies in Touhou can be seen as a deconstruction of Death Is Cheap. They have extremely short lifespans, but resurrect almost instantly when killed. This leaves them all as literally Too Dumb to Live as they often charge headfirst into potentially fatal situations and don't really learn from their mistakes since there's no real consequences. It is implied in supplementary material that their view of life and death might extend to their perception of other beings lives and deaths, too. Which in practice would mean that a fairy cannot see any moral difference between pranking someone by "hiding their food" and "setting them on fire and shoving them down a cliff", 'cuz, hey, the people they kill are just going to resurrect again, right?
One of the core themes of the Drakengard series is according to series creator Taro Yoko are the simple words "Why do you kill?". This in turn often lead to deconstructions of the One-Man Army and Heroism tropes as well as the exploration to why a human being would kill hundreds if not thousands of people.
The Wrath of the Lich King expansion for World of Warcraft can be arguably seen as one for the entire concept of redemption and how it may not work in the real world by showing that often people seek for the evil that wronged them to be brought to justice instead of redeemed. In one of the quest chains the players and Tirion finds a heart that may have belonged to Arthas and kept his humanity. When Arthas taunts them about redeeming him, Tirion rejects redeeming him and destroys the heart, stating that only the Lich King remains—and that is before we learn in patch 3.3 that as it turns out, the good half of Arthas was the only thing holding the Scourge back from destroying Azeroth—thus to what extent was there really nothing left or to what extent was Tirion enraged by how much Arthas started the chain of events that screwed over his life and decided to kill him instead because of that, is debatable. At the end as we kill the Lich King the good Arthas takes back his body long enough to have his humanity restored before his death, and the subsequent quests on heroic difficulty gives the impression that the people once close to him(ie: Uther, Jaina, Muradin) have forgiven him—it turns out that doesen't seem to have sent Arthas to a good afterlife due to the Lich King filling the normal afterlife with Shades that he ordered to torture anyone who entered their territory which of course includes himself....
The whole series deconstructs the idealistic utopian values of The Fifties. Behind the thin charm of a 1950's Eagleland, America was a jingoistic, genocidal supremacist state that tried to stamp out individual thought, subjected "dissidents" to concentration camps and horrific experiments, and honestly deserved to be nuked off the face of the earth.
Archer: There is nothing at the end of saving people.
Fate/Zero is an EVEN WORSE deconstruction of "hero" tropes.
The entire Grail War system is a Deconstruction of tournament style anime. Honorable combat is either a byword for stupidity or a cover for an extremely elaborate trap, quarter is seldom asked for or given, civilians are preyed on even more than the fighters sometimes, the moderators are always in it for themselves, either supporting one team from the get go or working for their own ends, and finally, the prize is really a Monkey's Paw that's only capable of destroying.
The Pixel Art ComicKid Radd, while largely light in tone, presents a "video game characters living in video-land" scenario where it's a very real problem that many inhabitants are innately armed and know nothing but killing. They know why they were created, and they don't like it. The player character Radd goes from slacker to Determinator because he always had the latter's mindset, but started his days in a game under the player's control, so he had to learn initiative completely from the ground up. Upon being freed, Radd needed instructions to walk independently.
It's Walky could arguably be seen as a deconstruction of the goofy 1980s cartoons creator David Willis is a fan of (mostly G.I. Joe and Transformers). Sure it features a unique special forces group, SEMME (who were initially based on GI Joe) with an eccentric line up of operatives, who routinely foil the insane schemes of a Harmless Villain, but the eccentric operatives are soon revealed to be a bunch of dysfunctional screw-ups, and the Villain is in fact a Not-So-Harmless Villain.
The entire premise behind Darths & Droids is that the Star Wars universe is the result of a group of Tabletop Gamers (including a 7 year old girl) making it up as they go along. It lends a whole new perspective to the storyline of the prequel trilogy. The entire mess on Naboo was the result of the Player Characters epically ruining a delicate, carefully constructed plan by going Off the Rails, and engaging in all the sins of The Real Man, The Munchkin, and The Loonie. Palpatine is actually a good guy overthrowing a corrupt regime, and trying to bring a semblance of stability to the republic. Darth Maul was just a Chaotic NeutralHired Gun who was only trying to work with the player characters, before they attacked him. To top it all off, some of the most bizarre and unrealistic plot points, such as Naboo being governed by a 14 year old Queen, exist because Jar Jar Binks is being played by a little girl.
In Chapter 26 of the Spanish webcomic 5 Elementos, the author show the effects of a civil war in a world habited by lots and lots of people with superpowers.
In its darker arcs Roommates deconstructs Medium Awareness. How do you cope with being a fictional being? Your fate is literally written (or filmed, printed, uploaded on the internet etc.), your hopes and dreams are slave to the Theory of Narrative Causality, etc.. There is a reason why it has a support group for the canonically dead, no matter how silly this sounds.
The Order of the Stick has a lot of Genre Savvy characters, but Tarquin carries it to the point where he sees the other characters as nothing more than plot devices and tropes. When he kills Nale, his own son one of the reasons he gives is that he has no place in the narrative anymore. Even Tarquin's allies are getting fed up with his story nonsense.
Most strips in Maneggs (beware of blood, guts and nudity).
This website deconstructs the Cthulhu Mythos, specifically the Necronomicon. In essence it asks "what if it was a real book?" and builds from there, by looking for parallels between Judeo-Christian tradition and the Cthuhlu Mythos (The Old Ones = The Giants from Genesis), it creates the content of the book, it then asks "what kind of person would write about such things in 730 AD?" Thus Abdul Alhazred is what the Koran calls a "Sabian" and what Western biblical scholars call a "Gnostic" — a person with religious views related to, but radically different from, mainstream Christianity, Islam and Judaism. It then builds a comprehensive history of how it got from the Middle East and into the hands of Western Occultists, and finally makes the assumption that while yes, Lovecraft wrote about it, he got only the name and the the author correct, having never read the book itself.
Stardestroyer.net, as mentioned above in Fan Fic, deconstructs the seemingly Utopian Star Trek universe, pointing out holes.
Sailor Nothing loves showing just how jarringly, horrifically, nightmarishly different the characters' lives are from Magical Girl anime. Several of them even watch an exaggerated, stereotypical version of such shows; the main character actually watches it to escape her life.
Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles takes many first person shooter tropes and twists them. Everything from capture the flag, to why there are two bases in the middle of a box canyon with no strategic value, and Respawn. Interestingly, the new series called Reconstruction is a deconstruction of the parodic nature of The Blood Gulch Chronicles.Caboose is tied up in the brig due to his self destructive tendencies. Grif and Simmons face the firing squad after selling all the ammo to the Blue team. The reason that all the red and blue conflicts were pointless squabbling over an equally pointless flag and base is revealed to be a conspiracy by command. However, since that is a deconstruction of a deconstruction, arguably that makes it a Reconstruction as all the video game tropes are being put back together.
The SCP Foundation Wiki, although beginning as a Creepypasta site, has largely evolved into a deconstruction on the "Modern-Day Fantasy" genre, depicting a shadowy organization entirely devoted to capturing and imprisoning all of those magicians, psychics, and mystic artifacts that populate said settings, to maintain the status quo.
Furry Fandom works frequently portray a world as furry. I Wish I Was Furry! (NSFW!) shows what would happen if we woke up one day and the world actually was furry. The main character is even a human furry fan, like is typical for transformation stories. A furryized world, as it happens, is dark and brutal.
In an effort to make Creepypasta less frightening, some internet users have taken to providing reasons why said Creepypasta exist, such as Jeff the Killer being abused by his family, forcing him into homicide, resulting in his murderous tendencies.
This video is a deconstruction of Pokémon. Yes, Pokémon. It is mostly played for laughs but there is a disturbing point about half-way through where Pikachu is bleeding as he's strangled by a Bulbasaur. If you've ever been mildly bothered by the cockfighting similarities, you will be really distressed by this video.
Then again, you could see the same thing in Pokémon Special, where an Arbok gets its head cut off That's right, stuff like that happens in the manga.
Dance of the Manwhore and Quest of the Manwhore deconstructs the "manly seducer" character found in a modern dance pop. The video shows that this same kind of character, looked at a little differently, can come across as creepy, even dangerous, and that his superficial lifestyle may be hiding all kinds of personal issues, like drug addiction, and parental abandonment.
In The Nostalgia Critic, a Running Gag was Rob with a dinosaur head that nobody (because it was a world with killer teddy bears) cared about. Hilarious. In Demo Reel however, when Donnie's very grounded world is crumbling, Karl is shown with a dinosaur head, is just as nonchalant about it, but Donnie's terror and the Drone of Dread makes it horrifying instead of funny.
Tex Avery: He enjoyed deconstructing story clichés and tired conventions in every cartoon he made.
The Ren & Stimpy Show deconstructs every trope from Golden Age cartoons, especially those having to do with morality and chaos, either by exaggerating them to the point they become disgusting, or by showing just how unpleasant it would be to live through such events. The character of Ren could easily be a deconstruction of Butt Monkey villain characters like Daffy Duck for example. While many of his schemes and plans seem to be immoral and self centered, they're usually motivated by survival, like in the short "A Yard Too Far", he tries to steal food, only because he's starving. On numerous occasions, Ren either breaks down into tears, or explodes into homicidal anger over the intense suffering he has to endure. Where as Ren could be seen as a deconstruction of a cartoon bad guy, Stimpy on the other hand could be seen as a deconstruction of good guy characters in general. He often suffers through the same misfortune as Ren, and is unusually upbeat about it, but only because he's not smart enough to understand the trouble he's in, and despite the fact that he seems to have more of a sense of right and wrong then his counterpart, he is still easily manipulated by Ren into immoral activities, because, again he's not smart enough to understand.
Looney Tunes director Chuck Jones often used deconstruction on his cartoons. The best known example is Duck Amuck: First the scenery changes, forcing Daffy to adapt. Then Daffy himself is erased and redrawn. Then the soundtrack fails, then the film frame, and so on until Daffy is psychologically picked clean. Another example is What's Opera, Doc?, which takes the base elements of a typical Bugs Bunny cartoon and reassembles them as a Wagnerian opera. (Conversely, you could also say that it takes the base elements of Wagnerian opera and reassembles them as a Bugs Bunny cartoon.)
One episode does a particularly nasty deconstruction of Looney Tunes and its Amusing Injuries, wherein Elmer Fudd is out "hunting wabbits", shoots Bugs Bunny four times in the stomach, snaps his neck amidst cries of pain, and then drags him off leaving behind a trail of blood.
In another episode where Peter and friends became The A-Team, the show's "amusing injuries" are discussed as actually life-threatening.
Meg could be considered a deconstruction of Butt Monkey-type characters, as she shows how much of a psychological wreck one would probably be in real life.
The episode "Seahorse Seashell Party" was a complete deconstruction in Meg's abuse.
In "I Take Thee Quagmire" Peter tries get Quagmire out of a wedding by reminding him of his lustful nature, so Peter brings him the Statue of Liberty's foot. When Quagmire politely refuses, Peter rants about how difficult this stunt really was:
Peter: Hey, hey. Do you have any idea what I went through to get this? (Angry tone) A lot. A real lot. You think this is just, "oh here comes Peter with the Statue of Liberty’s foot. Oh isn't that just a gas." No. No. The reality, the real reality, of getting this together was staggering. You know, this cost me $437,000. Don't ask me how I got it. I had to call in a whole bunch of favors from people I've never even met. So the very least you can do is just rub up against... (putting his hands up in defeat) I don’t know.
Some episodes will deconstruct the cast's Character Derailment with somebody calling them out for it or react negatively.
The famous episode "Homer's Enemy" is a deconstruction of the general weirdness and insanity of its setting, based around the premise of What if a real-life, normal person had to enter Homer's universe and deal with him? Frank Grimes, a relatively humorless but hard-working man who is still forced to live cheaply despite working almost his entire life, encounters Homer on the job at the nuclear power plant. You can imagine what happens next—the result is funny, but also disturbing and very dark upon further reflection (one of the darkest Simpsons episodes ever made).
At one point, Homer is about to drink a beaker of sulfuric acid when Grimes stops him. Grimes reacts exactly as we would expect a normal person to react—he's visibly freaked out, and when Homer blows off the danger with laughter, he shouts "Stop laughing, you imbecile! Do you realize how close you just came to killing yourself?!" while Homer just smiles at him blankly and dumbly, completely unable to understand not only the danger he just put himself in or why Frank is so upset with him. A series of such incidents, and everyone else's indifference to Homer's stupidity ultimately drives Frank Grimes into insanity (and death).
The movie in general deconstructs many parts of the series. For example, Eddy's Flanderization into a Jerkass is deconstructed in that both his friends and neighbors are actually reacting to it, while most of time the Eds do something to deserve whatever they got, and even then the kids left them off the hook. Not this time, the kids now actually want to kill them (perhaps literally because of how hellbent they were to find them).
Eddy's reason for becoming such a jerk is deconstructed as well. At a young age, he was abused severely by his brother, giving him a cynical view in life and believed that being an asshole is the best way to be cool (considering that even Rolf was utterly scared of the guy, that might be understandable).
Iron Man: Armored Adventures offers an interesting take on the teenage superhero genre in the fact the hero really couldn't care any less about school or fitting in, claiming it's a waste of time and instead stating that his work as a hero is more important. He then proceeds to cheat on his tests and homework in order to pass, since him being a hero gives him the latitude to do so, and high school is meaningless and doesn't matter once you graduate.
One element of the episode "Epilogue" from Justice League Unlimited can be taken as a Do Not Do This Cool Thing look at the life of Bruce Wayne, who was so dedicated to being Batman that he ultimately ended up alone and bitter, having alienated all his friends and loved ones.
Moral Orel deconstructs The Moral Substitute but presenting a culture where all media is Christian fundamentalist propaganda, and showing just how messed up and disturbing said culture would be.
The episode of The Powerpuff Girls about them moving to "Citysville" deals with what would happen if their brand of heroics was applied to a real life city.
South Park, as well as deconstructing everything else on the planet, has a fine line in deconstructing itself:
The episode "You're Getting Old" deals with the consequences of having Randy being over-(re)active combined with the Reset Button. The result is Stan's parents divorcing and Randy moving away from South Park. On a deeper level, Stan starts deconstructing all things around him, finding that everything is ultimately meaningless, or "just crap", as the episode portrays it.
Rather notably the episode also deconstructs deconstructions by pointing out how a person completely ignoring the MST3K Mantra or Bellisario's Maxim would be widely viewed as an obnoxious, cynical Jerkass who judges everyone for liking things they don't and spends all their time complaining about pointless stuff. Indeed most of Stan's problems come from the fact that he refuses to consider that other people could like the things he constantly bitches about.
"It's Oppo", a student film made by Cal Arts student Tyler Chen, deconstructs Nick Jr, as well as preschool television programs and morally unscrupulous media companies in general. Watch the (NSFW) video here.
In Undergrads, college dorm life is deconstructed to counter its inspiration Animal House; Rocko's fratboy behavior is looked down on heavily by his frat brothers, who view him as a source of grief. Nitz' everyman status really puts only a grade above Gimpy, the resident Hikikomori of the four of them.
Transformers Animated is a deconstruction of the whole Autobot-Decepticon War. Things ain't so black and white as before, in fact the Autobots' leadership is flawed and somewhat corrupt, with one higly racist, incompetent, cowardly jerkass general on it, who only is amongst the High Command because he blames his mistakes on Optimus Prime, whose status as the All-Loving Hero makes him somewhat of a push-over, and its leader is ready to commit dirty tricks to defeat the Decepticons. The Decepticons however, are as much the monsters they were in G1, and though this time Megatron's pragmatic enough to blast Starscream's ass any time he tries to overthrow him. Starscream only survives thanks to the Allspark piece on his head. Without it he would have died right from the start. Then comes seasonthree...
"Lesson Zero" deconstructs the Once an Episodelesson-learning nature of the show. Twilight Sparkle realizes that she hasn't learned a lesson this week, and she only has a day left to write her weekly "friendship report" to Princess Celestia. After futile attempts to find some problem to solve, she ends up cracking under the pressure and creating a Conflict Ball for her to resolve, which quickly escalates beyond her control.
"Magical Mystery Cure" takes on the more disturbing implications of the "cutie mark" concept, i.e. what if somepony got stuck with one that didn't suit them? Twilight casts a spell that inadvertently switches the cutie marks of the rest of the Mane Six around, resulting in all of them being thoroughly miserable but determined to stick it out in their new jobs simply Because Destiny Says So. Twilight realizes that to fix the situation, she has to convince them all to Screw Destiny and do what they want rather than what their cutie mark tells them.
Still, the episode takes care to pull yet another Decon-Recon Switch at the end when Twilight goes along with her own "destiny" being seemingly forced upon her because, much like a genuine cutie mark, it's something she truly wants.
On a less broad note, various episodes revolve around breaking down the personality traits of their central characters that usually fall under the Rule of Funny/Cool umbrella. For example, "Party of One" and "A Friend In Deed" give a rather thoughtful take on Pinkie Pie's emotional vulnerability as an extreme extrovert; in the first, she suffers a psychotic breakdown when her friends seemingly reject her and the constant-party lifestyle she uses as a means of self-validation, while she spends the second continuously chasing the one Ponyville resident who refuses to be her friend. Among some of the others are "The Mysterious Mare Do Well" for Rainbow Dash, "Putting Your Hoof Down" for Fluttershy, and "Sweet and Elite" for Rarity.
To an extent, Season 3 of Code Lyoko can be considered as a deconstruction of the show's concept of Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World by showing us the long term consequences of a bunch of kids trying to prevent a highly intelligent AI from taking over the world while keeping a normal life. The result? Their grades start dropping due to the time taken from them by XANA's attack, XANA actually outsmarts them and ends the season with Team Rocket Wins, gradually destroying their virtual world in the process, and their attempt to get a new recruit ends up creating a Sixth Ranger Traitor. Even the relationships get deconstructed, as, after two seasons of Unresolved Sexual Tension, Yumi gets sick of it and decides that Ulrich and she are Just Friends.
Adventure Time is a deconstruction of fantasy elements applied in a positive way. Characters go through trouble, the world is in danger every day, and very few people have good values.
Robot Chicken does this to pretty much anything it can get it's hands on.
The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Ghost" can be a deconstruction of the Peggy Sue plot (if the Sue in Possession Sue was meant for Peggy and not Mary Sue). When Carrie is offered another chance to eat by possessing Gumball, she goes berserk, eating all that she can find (even garbage). This, of course, has repercussions on Gumball in the form of massive weight gain. When he finally tries to stand up for himself, Carrie isn't all that willing to let go.
The American Dad! episode "Pulling Double Booty" has a rather humorous exaggeration of Teens Are Monsters trope by having Hayley go on a destructive Unstoppable Rage. However, people react to it by fleeing the mall as if there was a crazed gunman on the loose, there is a considerable amount of property damage and several people end up getting killed. It's gotten to the point where the police gave Stan an ultimatum: one more rampage and she goes to jail forever.
Young Justice serves as a deconstruction of sidekicks as Child Soldiers, super heroes in the modern world, and is often very cynical about it. So much so that when it tries to do sincere emotion it comes off as unintentional Narm.
The Wander over Yonder episode "The Nice Guy" deconstructs Wander's role as a Nice Guy giving him an inability to experience apathy that affects him being able to accomplish certain basic tasks.