"If you are in the market for easy laughs, you learn that two well-tried ways are either to trip up a cliche or take things absolutely literally."
Most parodies work in a light hearted manner, taking the basic plot of the thing they parody, and making it humorous. The giant space station may have wiped out half the Earth in the original, but in the parody only some unimportant Acceptable Targets
got destroyed, and Hilarity Ensues
And then there are these. While the parody might have made the plot silly, and light hearted, the Deconstructive Parody
plays exactly like any other Deconstruction
, in that everything is treated as if it were to really happen - it's just that humour is still drawn from the original story, while also serving to show what would really happen.
In a Deconstructive Parody
the giant space station will still wipe out half the Earth, and while the characters will reflect on this tragedy, and take it seriously, it will still be presented humorously. Maybe all that's left are the Acceptable Targets
, or perhaps the doomsday device is entirely ridiculous and non-threatening in conception, yet still works. Either way, what matters is that the plot is still treated as real, and plays out tropes as you would expect from an atypical Deconstruction
Just to note, a bunch of Lampshade Hangings
don't really count, so this may not necessarily include an Abridged Series
, or some Webcomics
Contrast Affectionate Parody
, Decon-Recon Switch
Examples from Fan Fic
go on the Deconstruction Fic
open/close all folders
- This Sprite commercial gleefully deconstructs and parodies the usage of advertising characters appearing in the real world alongside real people.
- The "Go Compare" ads in the UK involved an opera singer who would appear whenever people discussed car insurance and start trilling a Crowd Song jingle, in a series of ads that quickly began to elicit howls of rage from viewers all over the UK. They then ran a "Saving the Nation" series where the same opera singer would appear to people discussing car insurance, but they would respond with the same level of terror as a real person would in that situation, to be saved by someone else attacking the singer with weapons.
Anime and Manga
- Deconstructive parodies of comic book superheroes are practically a dime a dozen. These days, if you count all media, it's rarer to see them played straight.
- The films Her Alibi and American Dreamer poke fun at Mary Sue-like pulp fiction heroes. The former does it by contrasting the writing with the actual situations which inspire it, and the latter by having a housewife get Easy Amnesia and think she is her favorite literary heroine. Both films are worth checking out for those alone.
- Mystery Men and The Specials do this with the superhero genre, approaching it from the perspective of a "loser" superhero team.
- The trailers for Enchanted made it look as though it would do this for fairy tales, but it instead was an Indecisive Parody or a Reconstruction
- Austin Powers does this to 1960s spy-oriented pulp fiction, namely James Bond.
- Hot Fuzz for police/action films, but pulls a Decon-Recon Switch later on.
- The black knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a Deconstructive Parody of the Stiff Upper Lip attitude of British culture, and Arthurian Legend (Terry Jones is an Arthurian scholar).
- Good Luck Chuck is a lot more interesting if you think of it as this to romantic comedies. Contrived situation? Let's go with actively supernatural. Single Woman Seeks Good Man, but can't seem to find one? Single man seeks good woman, except every single one he has sex with is going to fall in love with someone who's not him. Male lead goes to ridiculous, improbable lengths for female lead? Chuck spends tons of money, nearly ruining his life. He sends flowers to her office and other silly love-demonstrating things? Chuck tries so hard to get her back that it actually freaks her out so much that she breaks up with him.
- The film Gunless is both a parody of Westerns in general and a deconstruction of the entire gun-slinging outlaw hero character archetype.
- Scream 1996 did this to slasher movies. Or at least it tried to.
- The Burbs deconstructs the Nosy Neighbor.
- National Security did this for cop action flicks.
- The Other Guys for Buddy Cop movies, with some Cowboy Cop thrown in. The pair of Cowboy Cops leap off a roof in pursuit of criminals, and die pretty early. Meanwhile, the protagonists are partners, but hate each other, one wants to be a Cowboy Cop but is terrible at it, and the crime they are pursuing is financial, rather than a high-stakes robbery or murder.
- Shrek does this to fairy tales and the Disney Animated Canon.
- Mean Girls sets up a standard teen movie formula: the poor heroine has her social life ruined by the Alpha Bitch and her Girl Posse, and loses the guy of her dreams, so she sets out to make things right and get her revenge. When she accomplishes this, you get to watch the lead popular girl's life fall apart as her illusion that everybody liked her is shattered... and then the heroine take her place in the social ladder, ignoring her original friends and becoming just as mean herself. The former Alpha Bitch, meanwhile, goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge that nearly wrecks the whole school. The clearest turning point is when it's overtly pointed out by one of the heroine's friends that the guy has left the bully, but still doesn't want her (or, for that matter, want anything to do with the whole mess), and yet she's still trying to ruin the once-popular girl's life. When the Title Drop finally rolls around, it refers to the protagonist.
- Heathers, in the absolute darkest sense of the word "parody," putting some brutal twists on perceptions of teenage society and violence.
- Last Action Hero did this to '80s and early '90s action movies.
- Santa movies aimed at adults as well as children usually attempt to deconstruct the Santa mythos — a recent one being Fred Claus, which implies Santa has a bad sex life due to his weight.
- Mystery Team is arguably this for stories such as Encyclopedia Brown and The Hardy Boys. The movie is sort of a less reverent Dog Sees God in that it shows what would happen when such characters are placed in the real world.
- As well as aged enough that they're still young, but too old for the "kid sleuth" thing to be cute anymore.
- Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil does this for Hillbilly Horrors by making the hillbillies the heroic protagonists. The college kids only think that the Good Ol' Boy main characters are evil, and end up killing themselves in Bloody Hilarious ways through their own stupidity, before one of them (the guy who would otherwise be the male hero in a typical slasher film) goes Ax Crazy out of prejudice against the hillbillies.
- The Cabin in the Woods is a deconstruction of horror films, with the evil gods who demand bloody entertainment that conforms to established cliches taking the place of the audience.
- Tropic Thunder is a parody (whether it's affectionate or a poisonous Valentine is up for debate) of the filmmaking process itself and the cliche sort of people involved (the hothead producer, the eager but inexperienced director, the takes-himself-seriously consultant, the pyro guy, the prima donna actor, the agent, the rapper trying his hand at acting, the Lowest Common Denominator comedy actor trying to do serious drama...), in most cases by casting people that partially fill those roles in real life as the respective characters in the film. It loosely parodies Apocalypse Now and its famously Troubled Production as well.
- Ted (that new movie featuring Seth MacFarlane as a crass teddy bear) is pretty much Toy Story (the first one) mixed with Pinocchio and deconstructed with all the humor one would find in a Seth MacFarlane production (namely Family Guy).
- ParaNorman makes fun of pretty much every zombie cliche and horror movie trope in general, until the last third of the movie...
- The short film The Sleepover is this to slasher movies, particularly slasher franchises, by showing what life is like in between movies when the town has gotten used to having masked slashers constantly coming back. Kids are told to double-check under their beds and in their closets for killers, one needs firearms and martial arts training to get a babysitting license, there exists a three-step rule for escaping slashers, and everybody is armed with at least a knife.
- Don Quixote is most likely the Trope Maker.
- The Sir Apropos Of Nothing books are like this, part of the time. The other parts are a more of a straight deconstruction.
- Several of the Discworld books, for fantasy and whatever other genres Terry Pratchett feels like.
- Stephen Fry's The Stars' Tennis Balls (or Revenge in America) is a modern retelling of The Count of Monte-Cristo that is like this in respect to the original novel. While it's partly a parody of the original (as seen in giving the characters names that are are anagrams/plays on the original — like calling the equivalent of Mercedes Portia), it totally deconstructs the idea that the behavior Dantes engaged in when taking revenge could be seen as just in any way. It does this by making the enemies more sympathetic and the revenge Darker and Edgier, and the ultimate feeling you get is that, rather than being sympathetic or at least a Magnificent Bastard, the Dantes-equivalent is a petty and cruel Smug Snake.
- Some literary scholars say The Fall Of The House Of Usher is a parody of Gothic Horror, what with Roderick Usher being infected with a disease that heightens his senses making him (and the reader) believe the house is scarier than it really is.
- The Barry Trotter series has elements of this (for example, its version of Quidditch).
- Robert A. Heinlein's Glory Road is super hilarious, but at the same time deconstructs the whole The Hero + Distressed Damsel + MacGuffin + Standard Hero Reward thing.
- The Number Of The Beast, another Heinlein novel, does this for early 20th-Century Adventure novels. Hell, John Carter of Mars is specifically mentioned in the novel several times.
- If "specifically mentioned several times" = "beaten like a dead horse", then yeah, that's fairly accurate. We find out fairly early on that the character Deety is actually going by her initials. Let's just say her parents really liked the Barsoom novels, and if you're familiar with them, you can probably guess what DT stands for. Oh, and her maiden name is "Burroughs". Guess what her husband Zeb Carter's middle name is. Go on, guess.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series is this for the Sci-Fi genre. The Big Good is just some guy who happens to be friends with an alien, the evil empire style characters are a bunch of horrible marksmen who's deadlist weapon is their horrendous poetry, and the Robot Buddy is a rude, paranoid, and clincally depressed Deadpan Snarker.
- John Scalzi's book Redshirts relentlessly spoofs Star Trek: The Original Series, starting with deconstructing the entire concept of the Red Shirt by making the random ensigns who in TOS would be Red Shirts the protagonists. The tagline of the book is, "They were expendable ... until they started comparing notes." Early on Scalzi makes fun of the idea that the command crew is always on away missions by putting a navigator on the team to study a plague. When he gets infected, Scalzi pokes fun at Star Trek's habitual technobabble by telling the viewpoint character that they need a counter-bacterial, with said character wondering why they don't just call it a vaccine. And that's just the first 40 pages.
- Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum is this to conspiracy theories and literature based on them.
- Jane Austen's earlier works Love And Freindship and Northanger Abbey parodied melodramas and gothic romances respectively.
Live Action TV
- The Greatest American Hero does this with Comic Book Superheroes.
- This was a staple of Chappelles Show.
- "Dude's Night Out" was a more realistic beer commercial. Their activities included getting into barfights (and losing), defecating in public and having sex with transvestite prostitutes.
- The "When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong" skits show why "gangsta" behavior is usually a bad idea.
- Don't forget the "realistic" versions of movies like Pretty Woman.
- Glee is this to High School Musical, when it's not being High School Musical done right.
Rachel: There is NOTHING ironic about show choir!
- The Good Guys does this to the idea of the Cowboy Cop and other action-movie tropes. (It was created by Matt Nix, the creator of Burn Notice.) The cop in question is an older detective — paired with a young, By-the-Book Cop — who's mentally stuck in The Eighties, unable to adjust to changed police methods or even basic fashion. The only reason he's even still on the force is that he rescued a VIP some time ago, at the cost of his partner having a nervous breakdown when he forced him to jump from one moving car to another, a typical cop-movie stunt. At the end of the first episode, they're both dressed down for the dozens of rules of police procedure they managed to break—including Armed Altruism, BTW—and he asks when they're getting their medal. And all of it is played for laughs.
- And again with the Gut Feeling in a later episode. The feeling is correct, but the bulk of the police force thinks they were catching the bad guys. What they've actually got are the decoys(who thought they were the only bank robbers), and the real thieves see our heroes at their intended target and flee. With no evidence, Jack and Dan's boss chalks it all up to Dan's crazy rubbing off on Jack.
- Mitchell And Webb as a couple who are sick of having James Bond show up at their parties.
Webb: It's Moneypenny I feel sorry for. Did you see when I was going around with the voddy?
Webb: Well, I said to Moneypenny, "Can you manage another finger in there?", meaning —
Mitchell: Finger of vodka in her glass of drink.
Webb: Yeah! And then James starts rolling his eyes like he's having some sort of stroke and says, "Oh, you can always get another finger inside Moneypenny!"
Mitchell: HE SAID WHAT?
Webb: Literally did not know where to look.
- Later on in this sketch he brutally attacks someone for an offhand comment and then makes a trademark quip about it. The outrage is as much about the fact that the quip wasn't very good as that he threw someone out of a window.
- They did a similar dialogue with Scooby-Doo.
Webb: It's a shame, because he's clearly invested so much time in teaching that dog to talk and it just can't.
Mitchell: Whereas the dog's nephew actually talks quite well.
Webb: A little precocious though, isn't he?
Mitchell: Yes, but I think one can forgive that of a talking dog.
: And Suave? Good luck. Suave
: I won't need luck. Agent
) You're going to a casino. Suave
: (realisation) Oh God, yes, that's right!
- The Late Late Show: Instead of having a talk show sidekick to laugh at the host's jokes and spout the occasional Catch Phrase, the show has Geoff Peterson, a robot that laughs at the host's jokes and spouts the occasional Catch Phrase.
- Can a court case be deconstructed? If so, then The Colbert Report's Colbert SuperPAC is playing every aspect of the Citizens United case to its logical extreme for as many laughs as possible, while making a mockery of the US political system.
- Even more brilliantly, by actually creating a political action committee, he basically conscripted Viacom and the Federal Election Commission into the joke against their will. He does things so ridiculous that they have to respond, then shows that the laws support what he just did. Maybe one of the finest real life deconstructions ever done.
- Arguably the first season of Batman and Batman: The Movie: In the pilot, the Riddler deconstructs the Super Hero by tricking Batman into falsely arresting him so he can make a Frivolous Lawsuit for a million dollars, exposing Batman’s Secret Identity. The second episode shows the Penguin taking advantage of Batman’s Bat Deduction to commit crimes. Mr. Freeze is Dangerously Genre Savvy. Batman The Movie ends lampshading Reed Richards Is Useless when Batman refuses Robin’s idea to alter the personalities of the world leaders for the betterment of the world (and then exactly that happens). The next two seasons suffer great Seasonal Rot and were examples of Indecisive Deconstruction and Indecisive Parody.
- The television career of popular UK comedy duo Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer revolves around deconstructive parodies of light entertainment. Reeves' career began in comedy clubs as a surreal exaggeration of the kind of versatile all-round entertainers who had flourished in the 1960s and 1970s, a la Bruce Forsyth and Des O'Connor. This continued with Vic Reeves Big Night Out, a deconstruction of television variety shows, and the sketch show The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer. Shooting Stars was a deconstruction of celebrity panel games, and the duo's subsequent career has mined the same path.
- Tenacious D once applied the deconstructive parody approach to Author Tract music. After taking over "City Hall", the D are rulers of the world. They issue absurd decrees that show they really are the wrong sort of minds to make big, important world decisions. "From now on we'll travel in TUBES!"
- Final Fantasy V has the Idiot Hero Bartz annoying the sage Guido with him repeatedly responding to the latter's exposition with a expositionary question, which named the exact same thing Guido expositioned about. The Big Bad Exdeath also comes across as being a parody of the stereotypical Tin Tyrant Evil Overlord, as well as possibly villains from FF's genre in general, what with his bombastic tendencies and over-the top dialogue. FFV's status as a parody is arguably more apparent in the GBA version's English translation of the game than any of the proceeding translations.
- Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent is a Deconstructive Parody of Professor Layton. Even though Tethers is in an FBI division dedicated to puzzles, he's aware that there are far more puzzles in this town than there should be. It's revealed that the gnomes he sees speak to the townsfolk in puzzles and caused a weird cult-ish group in the town.
- Achievement Unlocked and Achievement Unlocked 2 by jmtb02 both parody the common game concept of unlocking achievements. In these games, unlocking all the achievements is the whole point of the game and there are hundreds of them for ridiculous things such as killing yourself 100 times and visiting the hint page.
- Bulletstorm is about Space Marines who discovered they were being manipulated into killing innocent people by their corrupt superior. Upon finding out, they become Space Pirates. Ten years later, the leader and Player Character is a self-destructive alcoholic, and his rash decision to go after their old boss when he shows up get most of his crew killed and one seriously harmed. In addition to the guilt over the assassinations his team unwittingly performed, he feels guilty about harming his crew, and desperately tries to reconcile with the only surviving one, who rebuffs his advances. Said survivor, Ishi, has been turned into a cyborg by extremely painful surgery to combine him with a robot. The central gameplay gimmick of the game, The Leash, was designed by their corrupt superior to reward his men for killing people in creative ways, much like some sort of video game. The planet most of the game takes place on is a failed resort world, and is extremely colorful and varied, instead of the usual Real Is Brown. If it weren't for the swearing, fun, and Stuff Blowing Up, it would be a very dark game.
- Neverwinter Nights 2 arguably deconstructs the entire idea of The Chosen One by featuring too many Heroes of Another Story to count. It also mocks D&D archetypes left and right (the ridiculously-over-the-top nature-loving elf, for instance), as well as badly designed areas in fan modules for NWN1 (the Orc Caves), and long and seemingly significant plot sections that end up not mattering (like the Ember trial). The script regularly veers into the openly snarky. The whole thing kinda resembles Forgotten Realms-meets-Slayers. Makes sense when you remember who the dev team is.
- Baldur's Gate gives the player a chance to respond, in character, to a hermit who seeks out the party to drop an obscure hint in just about exactly the way most players wish they could respond.
"Ok, I've just about had my FILL of riddle asking, quest assigning, insult throwing, pun hurling, hostage taking, iron mongering, smart arsed fools, freaks, and felons that continually test my will, mettle, strength, intelligence, and most of all, patience! If you've got a straight answer ANYWHERE in that bent little head of yours, I want to hear it pretty damn quick or I'm going to take a large blunt object roughly the size of Elminster AND his hat, and stuff it lengthwise into a crevice of your being so seldom seen that even the denizens of the nine hells themselves wouldn't touch it with a twenty-foot rusty halberd! Have I MADE myself perfectly CLEAR?!"
- The Lee-Lee's Quest games give this treatment to the Super Mario Bros. 2D platforming games. Lee-Lee is actually the real bad guy who repeatedly abducts another man's girl and murders hundreds of innocents along the way, while pointlessly collecting shovels (coins) and fruits (power ups). The only mushroom in the game is poisonous, jumping into the game's only item block caves your skull in and kills you, the bird you hatch from an egg to ride jumps off a cliff when you hop on it, and stars turn your controls backwards.
- Pokemon has PETA's satirical parody, Pokémon Black and Blue - Gotta Free 'Em All, which tries to deconstruct the whole monster-battling thing as if they were real cockfights where the Pokémon are seen as just objects. It's not so humorous, though, even if it can come across as quite funny to some people.
- Hilariously enough, the Pokémon franchise itself had already deconstructed this exact same theme well over a year before PETA's game in the actual Pokemon Black And White games themselves, even going on to reconstruct the franchise's perceived problems in the process (not to mention using the games' Big Bad as a Take That/deconstruction of PETA-style Moral Guardians all the while).
- Add in Spinnerette to the list of comic book deconstructions/parodies.
- The Last Days of FOXHOUND. Sure, there's one metric fucktonne of swearing, and characters are deliberately exaggerated for laughs, but it does an excellent job of analyzing the why and how of the plot behind Metal Gear Solid. Plus, when you can make the characters' deaths in the actual game Tear Jerkers (as noted on the Tear Jerker page for Metal Gear itself), you've done something worthy of Deconstruction.
- Living With Insanity did an arc where David wrote a story about his Mary Sue (a Rambo copy named Marty Stu) saving a bunch of orphans from Saint Hitler and his stormtroopers (as in, actual Star Wars stormtroopers) who were obsessed with anal rape. It ended with the Marty's sexiness causing a lady Nazi to give up without a fight and Hitler surrendering for no real reason. And they all lived happily ever after. Except for Hitler, who died two weeks later of AIDS.
- Just so no one thinks it was serious, the entire arc was called "Bad Writing".
- Overlord Bob does this with viarous fantasy cliches - bunch of adventurers invades Evil Overlord's inner sanctuary and he uses their stereotypical flaws to defeat them and transform into viarous sexy creatures. In the end the same happens to him and his rival, evil sorcerer Tim. Maid's Quest, set in the same Universe, does the same with various stereotypical evil knights.
- Wonderella to so many superhero tropes.
- Manly Guys Doing Manly Things to many video game tropes.
- Garfield Minus Garfield is a deconstruction of its source material, but it's a Deconstructive Parody because it's played for laughs and is a parody of the original. Seeing as though Word Of God apparently stated that Garfield never talked in the comic, both that and this show just how much of a wreck Jon really is.
- Average Cats is an Anti-Humor deconstruction of the LOLCats meme. The humor from Average Cats comes from describing the image as it really is, with correct grammar, insisting that the macros normally seen in LOL Cats do not happen in real life. In this case, it's the deconstructive intent that's Played for Laughs.
- Next Time On Lonny is a parody of reality shows.
- Taking care of a dog prepares you for parenthood? Riiiight!
- The Nostalgia Critic plays with a few tropes, but the most obvious is how he's shown how pathetic, miserable and masochistic you have to be in order to become a Caustic Critic.
- The comedy group Dormtainment parodies rap in the video "Create A Rapper". In it, there is a hypothetical video game where you create a rapper. The four options are Thug Rapper, Hipster Rapper, Real Hip Hop Rapper, and Pop Rapper. The goal is to make the most money. The thug rapper ends up "losing" the game because he gets shot by his crew, the hipster rapper is an alcoholic and pot head and "loses" by overdosing, and the Real Hip Hop Rapper is selling CDs on a street corner and starves. The Pop Rapper is the only one that "wins" the game, by selling out.
- The /tg/ game Drew The Lich does this for Tolkenesque fantasy, particularly D&D alignment.
- Smosh's take on Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.
- Their "If X were real" series also counts.
- College Humor:
- Doctor Sim is this for The Sims.
- They did A Complaint to Mario Bros. Plumbing, which shows what Super Mario Bros would be like if its conventions were applied to real life. Mario and Luigi are plumbers, who, according to the guy making the complaint, are seen taking psychotropic mushrooms and trying to squeeze themselves down the toilet. Their personalities would fit the profile of someone with a drug addict, for instance, "Meanwhile, the shorter one [Mario] was eating, yes eating my wife's prize-winning seasonal orchids. When I pleaded with him to stop, he threatened me with some drug-fueled fantasy about spitting fire," and "I assumed he was under the delusion he could demolish bricks with his fists when he [Luigi] tried punching through my ceiling."
- They did a similar one with "The Legend of Link's Distractions", highlighting the Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny! of the character when it comes to Side Quests.
- The Real Trailer, Fake Movie Average Party deconstructs Wild Teen Party movies by depicting the mundane things that actually go on at about 90% of teen parties.
- Scientifically Accurate Ninja Turtles (NSFW) describes how Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would be if the main characters were reallistic turtles: they would be deaf, mute, filthy (real turtles carry germs, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles themselves leave in sewers with a mutant rat), have unpractical hands unable to grab anything, and have a huge penis.
- As noted on the Deconstruction page, The Venture Brothers that airs on [adult swim] functions as both a Deconstruction and an Affectionate Parody of Jonny Quest and other adventure stories. Jonny actually shows up as a drug-addled, burned-out middle-aged man, raging against his negligent father and running scared from an old foe, Dr. Zin. Although a later appearance has shown that Jonny's recovered enough to converse with Zin like a normal person.
- The premiere episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic quite extensively deconstructs the concept behind its parent franchise and the "girls' cartoon" genre codified by its predecessor shows, but plays all of its deconstructive elements for laughs (thanks mostly to Twilight playing the Straight Man to a cast of outlandish characters whose overbearing friendliness unwittingly results in the antisocial Twilight becoming The Chew Toy).
- "Lesson Zero" shows what happens when a Super OCD character in an Aesop-driven Edutainment Show is met with a situation where there isn't an Aesop for her to find. Namely, nightmarish psychotic breakdowns propped against a backdrop of facing the threat of being taken away from the friends that have come to mean so much to her. Thank God it's also one of the funniest episodes of the show, or this would all be incredibly bleak.
- Megas XLR is a Destructive Parody of the Humongous Mecha genre.
- Family Guy is a Deconstructive Parody of the Dom Com genre — or more accurately, a Deconstructive Parody of straight parodies of the Dom Com genre, such as The Simpsons.
- Shrek is a deconstructive parody of fairy tales and all concepts and ideas related to them, using characters from the book of the same name by William Stieg.
- Archer deconstructs every aspect of the cold war era James Bond spy genre. Along with various elements of the action genre. Most consistently, guns being fired near someone's head causes ringing in the ears.