"The way I look at it, it's really not jumping the shark if you never come back down."
The Tone Shift
that a show goes through when its plots become increasingly exaggerated and cartoonish. Most often happens with shows whose initial premise is mundane, and ostensibly could take place in the real world, begin to gradually take in tropes from more elaborate genre fiction until the show is at a point where it no longer resembles its pilot episode at all. This is similar to Cerebus Syndrome
, except that instead of working on tone this trope increases the density and zaniness of literal plot elements, often requiring a greater Willing Suspension of Disbelief
and viewer concentration level in order to succeed.
This trope is typically used as a ratings grab. For a show that's losing appeal, it's much easier to instantly come up with wacky plot elements than it is to invest time in more complex character nuance. As with much Executive Meddling
, this motivation doesn't exactly have much basis in reality — most Long Runners
either don't undergo this process at all, or do so only when they're about to be canceled. Oftentimes, fans appreciate good consistency in tone.
Shows up fairly often in adaptation, particularly Animated Adaptations
, as this is an easy way to demonstrate how a show is different from its parent program.
If the author takes advantage of established series elements that have gathered over time, then it's Continuity Creep
Often a reason for Jumping the Shark
, or, in some cases, Growing the Beard
. Compare Reverse Cerebus Syndrome
, Kudzu Plot
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- This happened to manga works of Fujio Akatsuka a lot. His comics such as Osomatsu Kun, Moretsu Ataro, and Tensai Bakabon were always comedic (although Ataro was originally more dramatic), but they both started out as being down to earth, but gradually became more and more insane with nonsensical, slapstick-heavy gags. In addition, this happened when all three promoted a Breakout Character and eventually pushed the main characters aside.
- Lupin III: The art style of the Lupin III (Pink Jacket) series is this to the rest of the franchise. It says something when a character who is known for being just this side of possible evokes an "are they smoking something?" feel. While the plots are no weirder than in the past, the new 1980's style of drawing the characters makes a lot of fans give up before the character designs become more consistent later in the show.
- An In-Universe example from Yu-Gi-Oh! is the Blue-Eyes Toon Dragon, a Toon version of the Blue-Eyes White Dragon. Seto Kaiba was not amused to have Pegasus turn his trademark monster into an animated abomination with Popeye biceps. There's also Toon Summoned Skull, which is somehow even creepier than the original, especially when it gets flirtatious.
- The Carnival Phantasm OVA takes almost every character from two of the most violent and depressing sagas in the H-Game industry and puts them into a zany and comedic Gag Series. The results are very funny, partly because of the dissonance.
- The Black Cat manga started out with its deviations from "realism" being mostly limited to creative liberties taken with gun use—then the plots got more and more convoluted, and by the end science with downright supernatural effects was commonplace.
- This is the main reason some people get turned off by Samurai Flamenco. It starts out as a slice of life. After episode 7, being a Tokusatsu hero becomes Serious Business.
- An in-universe example in the comic series Supreme. A comic book writer has acquired powers based on one's personality. Supreme points out that he's a British comic book writer, and he'll just grow more and more complex until he becomes a convoluted mess. This was likely a Take That directed at the trend of British comic book writers who tried to create complex story lines that just didn't stop. (Such as Alan Moore.)
- Marville has an example that's weird because the increased wackiness is the result of the comic trying to be serious and philosophical. The first two issues are a Shallow Parody of comic books. From the third to fifth, the protagonists travel back in time looking after God, and then with someone who might be Him witness the origins of life, dinosaurs and primitive humans (with the first man being Wolverine) while spewing nonsensical "science".
- What do you get when you give bunch of fangirls access to the Internet? A whole lot of Crack Fics.
- In terms of Ed, Edd n Eddy fanfiction, any incarnation of "A Fanfic By Ed" (which were all over a few EEnE fan-sites before they were taken down at the moment) qualifies as such Crack Fiction, because these are fanfics written by Ed. Said fanfics have Ed make several crossovers, Bowser eating somebody (usually Ronald McDonald), random characters saying "Play something else, kids! [X] is a bad man!" and "Poof!", and Eddy or an Author Avatar telling Ed to stop the fanfic. Here's an example.
- Total Drama Returns is stuffed to the gills with ridiculously over-the-top Flanderization, gratuitous fourth-wall breaking, insane amounts of Refuge in Audacity and so many running gags it's impossible to count them all. And we wouldn't have it any other way.
- The Megs Family Series, which was a Meg-centric Family Guy fanfic that lasted from 2007 to 2010, was almost entirely faithful to the show's run at the time. As soon as Meg and Zack's daughter Maddie is born, several storylines became chock-full of elements regarding this trope, such as Maddie's future self being an Action Girl, an entire chapter centered around the tank from the episode Hell Comes to Quahog, Peter and Zack switching minds, and a Corvette that becomes obsessed with Peter and tries to kill Lois.
- TehPenguinz is a Club Penguin fanfic which is this taken to the point of In Name Only. The story centers on the conflict between the "Espi", a group of electrical techno-mages, and "Tyce's Gang". "Donut's Clan" is a third, much less plot-important entity which seems to encompass everything which actually exists in canon. The story contains, in no particular order, magic gateways to other worlds, a legion of "pwnage kittens", a number of magical guinea pigs, what is implied to be some kind of Fantastic Nuke, and an exceedingly bizarre Layered World system. Yet it somehow all started with Club Penguin...?
- Child Of The Storm is a (mostly) Darker and Edgier variant of this. The first few chapters have plenty of whacky moments, and a few more strewn through the rest of the story. It is near ridiculously dense.
Films — Animated
- An American Tail: Fievel Goes West most definitely qualifies this trope, from what you can tell from the rubbery animation to any of Tiger's scenes, both courtesy of Amblimation note . Starkly different from the first movie, which was a musical adventure about hard times (i.e. immigration, separation, and a war between mice and cats).
- The Ice Age film series. The first two movies had a lot of comedy and their share of silly moments, but they didn't go too over the top. The plots were fairly serious and believable enough (well, as believable as one could get in a movie about talking animals). Starting with "Dawn of the Dinosaurs", however, they have become this.
- DreamWorks Animation began as Jeffery Katzenberg's (too) serious attempt to compete with Disney, putting out some very edgy films like The Prince of Egypt, Antz and, in collaboration with Aardman, Chicken Run. As soon as the self-referential, potty-mouthed and pop-culture heavy Shrek became a mega Sleeper Hit, DreamWorks completely did away with the heavy stuff (as well as their traditional animation unit) and spent the better part of The Aughties making the same movie over and over. Recently, they've attempted to remedy this with more sophisticated films like How to Train Your Dragon and Rise of the Guardians, but Turbo proves that old habits die hard.
Films — Live-Action
- After the first two Rocky movies, Sylvester Stallone took over as director, leading to Rocky III and especially Rocky IV. The third movie had Rocky fighting Mr. T and Hulk Hogan, while the fourth one starts with a robot at Paulie's birthday party. Then the series got serious again.
- The third The Neverending Story film lacked the whimsy of the first two movies, had absolutely no dramatic weight to it, and the antagonist was, instead of a legitimately threatening menace, Jack Black as the leader of a gang of bullies. However, this movie isn't canon to the original book like the previous installments (each adapts a different half of the book).
- Piranha 3D was definitely a tongue in cheek horror B-Movie but relatively little of it was played for outright comedy; Piranha 3DD on the other hand has a lot more jokes and a lot fewer scares.
- The Fast and the Furious series. The Fast and the Furious was pretty much a straight cop drama that revolved around the world of street racing. Starting with 2 Fast 2 Furious, the focus shifted to the cars themselves, to the point where Tokyo Drift was almost entirely about the racing. Then, with Fast and Furious, it took another change in tone, this time becoming an over the top action flick, while Fast 5 somehow took it even further to the point where it was just another completely absurd action movie that's closer to something like The Transporter. Certainly a far cry from the first movie's original cop drama format.
- Die Hard had John McClane going from "everyman action hero trapped with baddies" to "Made of Iron action hero wrecking havoc in various places". It gets even worse in the fifth movie, which goes to Russia and barely gives room for John to be a Deadpan Snarker.
- The Bowery Boys movies went from gritty urban melodramas with a substantial dose of comedy to broad and outlandish slapstick adventures with plenty of Applied Phlebotinum.
- The supernatural killer from the first A Nightmare on Elm Street film was named just Fred Krueger, and was taciturn, creepy and imposing. In the sequels he became known as Freddy and turned at first darkly comedic and then just comedic, killing his victims in increasingly zany and bizarre ways (the top was probably using the Power Glove to kill a kid turned into a videogame), and acting much more like a cruel jokester.
- The Emmanuelle soft-core film franchise started off being based upon an autobiographical book, but later became increasingly wacky, with plots including extreme plastic surgery, time travel, and cannibals. They even made Emmanuelle in Space.
- The original Anchorman was pretty silly, with its lampooning of local news, 70's related gags and the brawl between the News Teams. The sequel, Anchorman 2, cranks it Up to Eleven, including a subplot involving Ron Burgundy adopting a pet Shark after being blinded to the final battle which includes a soul sucking Stonewall Jackson and Harrison Ford turning into a were-hyena. Needless to say, this trope was in full force with this sequel.
- The first Guyver film adaptation is a bizarre half-example. There were clearly two conflicting visions for the movie: one as a straight adaptation of the very dark and violent source material, and one as a more lighthearted, slapstick-y adaptation geared towards children. The result is a film that would regularly and awkwardly transition from violent deaths to goofy slapstick with cartoony music.
- The Blues Brothers 2000 compared to the original The Blues Brothers, while the original was an over the top comedy it was far more realistic than the the sequel which featured undead horse riders flying through the air during a musical number, a voodoo priestess who turns several soldiers and police officers into rats, and the band temporarily turning into zombies.
- Sharknado was already a wacky movie, from the silly premise to the cheesy characters and acting and the over-the-top ways they killed off both humans and sharks. But Sharknado 2: The Second One takes it even further, with ridiculous celebrity cameos, the folks at The Weather Channel giving straight-faced reports on the shark storm, the hero of the first film becoming a Memetic Badass who at one point ends up sucked into the Sharknado and forced to chainsaw through the sharks in midair, and an even greater Sharknado of Puns.
- While previous installments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe had their moments of wackiness, Guardians of the Galaxy is almost entirely consisted of odd and crazy set-pieces. It does have its moments of seriousness, but overall the film does not take itself too seriously. Having a talking raccoon as one of the leads tends to do that.
- Compared to Mazes and Monsters, Skullduggery is pretty much this for the Anti-D&D films. Where as Mazes and Monsters presents the protagonist's tabletop gaming-induced madness like an actual psychosis, Skullduggery instead says "turns out this guy was the reincarnation of this warlock and a creepy magician dude had him remember his past life". From there, it just gets crazier, from a janitor with a tic-tac-toe game on his back, a nurse who tries to come onto the protagonist, and a bunch of quirky characters.
- The Tales of the City series started off being very slice-of-life. The most outlandish things in the original book were D'orothea's efforts to pose as a black woman and the pedophilic private eye. The second book, in contrast, had a cannibal cult. And then the third book had one of the main characters having a sexual encounter with a real-life closeted movie star (whose name was thus left blank) and a plot involving Reverend Jim Jones.
- Doctor Who New Adventures's mission was to push the envelope on stories that could be told in novel form, but none did it quite like the novel "Sky Pirates!" which even replaced the usual blurb with:
Stories deeper, wider, firmer, plumper, perkier, yellower, crispier and with more incredible bad jokes than you can shake a stick at, the New Adventures take the TARDIS into previously unexplored realms of taste and stupidity.
- Similarly, the Eighth Doctor Adventures started off full of lush gothic horror and realistic drama. By book five, they started suddenly retconning the TV series and getting a bit... odd. By book six, all realism was unceremoniously thrown out the window and the novels collectively became insane.
- FoxTrot went this route. The drawing style was always cartoonish, but in the early years the characters and storylines were well-grounded in reality. Starting in the '90s, the style of humor became increasingly cartoonish and all traces of realism vanished.
- Candorville: This is probably better than Cerebus Syndrome as a description of what's happened. Formerly a slow-paced Doonesbury clone with a bit of Magical Realism thrown in, it's introduced vampires, soul-eating demons, and at least two factions competing to rule the world—but even now that characters are getting killed, the whole thing is still Played for Laughs.
- Round about the 1960s Dick Tracy started introducing a ton of sci-fi elements including "Moon People". Once original author Chester Gould left the strip, they were quickly written out. The only remnant of the era Honeymoon Tracy, the daughter of the Moon Queen and Dick's adopted son, Junior Tracy, is still around, but we don't talk about who mom was. In 2013 creative team Joe Staton and Mike Curtis reintroduced Moon Maid via Cloning Blues. The other moon people are gone, though, their city in ruins.
- Though the first Serious Sam wasn't exactly serious to begin it with, it still had a relatively realistic art-style and cartoonish but not that out-there Standard FPS Guns. Then came Serious Sam II, which had things like a world based on fairy tales, a kamikaze parrot as a weapon and redesigned the hero to make him more cartoonish. However, the third game went Darker and Edgier.
- The creators of Team Fortress 2 realized that if they wanted their First-Person Shooter to be memorable and stand out from other similar games, like Call of Duty, they would have to drastically distance themselves from the feel of the first game, and take absolutely nothing seriously. It worked.
- Done in-game after the Pyromania update with the Pyro. Any of the new items for the Pyro, or anyone wearing the pyrovision goggles, shows that the Pyro sees their weapons as handing out rainbows, sparkles and bubbles. People laugh as they lay down to take naps while covered in dancing colors, and the landscape (of certain maps) filled with lollipops and happy clouds.
- The original Earthworm Jim was already wacky, but its sequel went off the deep end - for example, its third level featured Jim as a cave salamander floating through a pinball bumper- and pencil-studded intestine while shooting inflated sheep on his way to a nonsensical game show at the level's end. Thankfully, it actually worked. After that, Earthworm Jim 3D on the N64 (developed by a different team) descended into infantile "random" gags and Bubsy the Bobcat-quality puns.
- Sonic Colors, compared to some of Sonic's more recent titles, is definitely more cartoony and surreal in its plot and dialogue.
- Sonic Generations, while not as dense or wacky as Colors, is still obviously denser and wackier than the other Sonic games.
- To a certain extent, Sonic Unleashed. While still relatively serious, the game took a very lighthearted turn in comparison to previous games, with the addition of Chip, a lot more comic relief, more cartoony cutscenes and humans designed to look more like they came out of a Pixar movie.
- Sonic Heroes is probably the most egregious example, being much lighter than its darker, more serious predecessors.
- Dead Rising has a variant, in that its plot stays the same - serious, but with comedic bits tossed in. With each installment, however, the weapons get more insane - the second featured things like a lightsaber made from jewels and a flashlight, to chainsaws strapped to boat paddles, to an electric wheelchair with machine guns. The third game allows you to make your own death-machine vehicle. The Dead Rising 3 DLC announced in Summer 2014, Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX Plus Alpha, seems to be shooting straight for the highest density of wackiness possible, allowing for four-player co-op gameplay and parodying just about everything that's ever had to do with Capcom, including Capcom Sequel Stagnation, with a lack of seriousness that wouldn't be too out of place in Saints Row IV (see below).
- Saints Row started off as just a slightly wackier Grand Theft Auto clone about gang warfare, but its second installment began introducing outlandish minigames like streaking naked, driving a sewage truck spraying gunk everywhere to devalue property, riding a quad while on fire, and so on. The third game goes completely nuts, with a cyberspace level, futuristic VTOL jets and hoverbikes, a vehicle that sucks people up and shoots them out of a cannon, zombies, and so on. The fourth game takes it Up to Eleven by featuring an alien invasion, superpowers that would make Alex Mercer weep with envy, weaponized dubstep and the main character becoming the President of United States. The preorder DLC pack includes patriotic hardware such as an eagle shaped jet and the "all guns in one" weapon.
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert started out as a more grounded in reality World War Two-based version of The Tiberian Series. Then we had Red Alert 2, which introduced mind control, flying saucers, a giant brain in a tank, attack dolphins and giant squid. Red Alert 3 just drops any idea of being serious and adds in a IFV that launches infantry out of a cannon, Attack Bears, Animeland Japan with giant mechs, freeze rays, magnetic satellites, S.H.R.I.N.K. beams, and Emperor Takei. Oh my!
- Metal Gear:
- Metal Gear was a relatively subdued action movie, with some sci-fi elements and a pinch of ridiculous comedy. The action, sci-fi and humour was all generally done more obviously and with more verve in Metal Gear 2, which added political subtext to the mix. Metal Gear Solid added supernatural elements, like psychics and ghosts, that are just accepted as part of the universe of the games. By Metal Gear Solid 2, outrageously complicated conspiracy antics and vampires become involved, and every boss in Metal Gear Solid 3 has some kind of supernatural power (and explodes after being killed). By Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots the setting is pure sci-fi, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker has Turing Test-passing AI, magic, singing tanks, dinosaur-like monsters and mp3 players in 1974 and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance replaces the hangover of relatively subdued violence for completely stylised over the top Bayonetta-esque antics.
- Gaiden Game Metal Gear Ac!d is, like it says on the title, Metal Gear on acid. It's actually not that much weirder, but is a Genre Shift to card-based Strategy RPG (in gameplay) and exaggerates the supernatural elements in the plot to almost Gothic Horror levels (making use of Jekyll & Hyde, Technically Living Zombies, Mad Scientists, Fairy Tale elements, tragic kidnapped pale little girls with Psychic Powers, Creepy Dolls, and lots of Psychological Horror). The character design shows a distinctly more outrageous, Animesque aesthetic than the main series (especially Teliko's Costume Exaggeration of Snake's Sneaking Suit).
- Like wise the Call of Duty games started out as a relatively restrained and realistic war time era shooter but grew more outlandish over time with the Modern Warfare and Black Ops spin offs moving the setting into the near future and the inclusion of the Nazi Zombies bonus mode which well... has Nazi Zombies.
- An IGN article even says something in the likes of this for why the franchise would be First Installment Wins. The original employed a understated "docudrama" style, with realism and putting the player in historical battles while "work[ing] hard to make sure you felt like a small part of a bigger story, like the proverbial Cannon Fodder you really were." The current Cash Cow Franchise goes for instead an overblown macho Summer Blockbuster starring characters that wouldn't be out of place in an eighties action film.
- Koei's Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors have gotten like this. The launch titles for the "Musou" games, as they're known in Japan, mostly focused on basic armed combat on foot and some mounted combat, featuring entirely reasonable costume design. Come later titles, however, attacks have gotten flashier, new, supernatural abilities have been introduced, and costumes have gotten more absurd. Strikeforce is possibly one of the weirdest incarnations of the Dynasty Warriors series thanks to the introduction of what can only be described as powered up super modes for every character in the game. The two series arguably met a mutual crescendo of denser and wackier with the Warriors Orochi series, which takes the concept of both Massively Multiplayer Crossover and Loads and Loads of Characters and ramps them both Up to Eleven. It has also taken on shades of Crisis Crossover as of Warriors Orochi 3.
- Borderlands 2 is considerably wackier than the original, which was more of an Indecisive Parody until the DLC came out. As a good example of just how not-seriously the game takes itself, there's a quest called "Shoot This Guy in the Face". Overlaps with Darker and Edgier, however, given how much of the wackiness is undiluted Black Comedy.
- Fallout 1, like others here, wasn't the most serious of games, but Fallout 2 took it Up to Eleven with the wackiness factor. Fallout 3 toned down the humor with Bethesda handling it (but still had its odd moments), only for it to return in Fallout: New Vegas.
- The Sims was a typical life simulator with a little humour. Expansion packs added oddities like genies and zombies, and this eventually escalated into a full-on World of Weirdness with The Sims 2 and its expansions.
- Furthermore, most of the weirdness is contained within the expansion packs, meaning that a given copy of any of the games will start out as (relatively) normal, and will then accumulate supernatural elements as the player installs additional expansions.
- Alan Wake, a psychological horror thriller, had a downloadable sequel subtitled American Nightmare, which added more emphasis on gunplay, contained a hammy villain, and time travel shenanigans. It's justified in the fact that the plot (and enemy) come straight out of Alan Wake's old, crappy grindhouse horrors and sci-fi horror. It's best described as Tarantino and Stephen King hanging out.
- Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon took the (mostly) serious gameplay from the Far Cry franchise and turned it into an Affectionate Parody of all 80's movies.
- Not that the Rayman series was serious to begin with, but the second game was Darker and Edgier than the first. 3 went back to being dense and wacky, then went beyond dense and wacky with Origins and Legends.
- The Super Mario Bros. series exemplifies this trope in that the first games involved fairly realistic (or at least familiar) premises: a carpenter trying to rescue his girlfriend from a gorilla (Donkey Kong), then a plumber clearing animals out of the sewer pipes (Mario Bros.), then a demolition crew tearing down a building (Wrecking Crew). Super Mario Bros. 1 made this premise a little more epic and strange in that it's a princess being rescued from a bunch of turtle sorcerers, and it involves a journey across eight worlds, but it's still fairly straightforward. Super Mario Bros. 3 made each world wildly different from the others and added more powerups, and since then each Mario game seems to try to outdo the last in scale and zaniness, to the point of Super Mario Galaxy which has the plumber soaring through space and jumping from planet to planet.
- When you get into the Seraphic Gate in Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume, the game hits the Silliness Switch and cranks it Up to Eleven.
- Dangan Ronpa had a relatively mundane setting, with everyone being trapped in a large high school, and relatively few plot elements that could be considered bizarre and out-there. Come Super Dangan Ronpa 2, suddenly everyone's trapped on a series of tropical islands guarded by giant robots and one character gets transformed into a robot himself, the trial room is reached via a giant Monokuma version of Mt. Rushmore, and Monokuma himself has a sidekick to serve as a comedic foil against (in theory, at least.) The executions were pretty silly and full of Black Comedy before, but in this game they went completely insane, including deep-frying people in active volcanoes and rocketing them into space on a giant rocket arm. The plot is still serious, but the setting is far more outlandish. Which makes sense when you find out it's all a VR simulation.
- Grisaia No Kajitsu started off as a pretty grounded romance visual novel with only a few hints of oddities like a bit about cellular memory being a plot device and Yuuji's often hinted job as a black ops agent. The sequel even retconned away the cellular memory thing when the writers realized it was a discredited theory. However, Grisaia No Rakuen contains super soldiers, super serums, cloning, brain uploading and artificial arms though it turns out the latter two were actually lies. Kazuki is connected to the Thanatos computer system rather than it being formed around an uploaded version of her brain and the artificial arm was just a really tasteless joke.
- Sonic For Hire was already wacky to start with, yet as the story goes, it gets farther and farther into the wacky extreme.
- The Simpsons is one of the better executions of this trope, as the first season or two of the show, while not bad, was very grounded in a quite realistic premise... Quite unlike the 'anything goes' antics that made the whole show a pop-culture fixture in later seasons. However, many viewers feel that as years dragged on, this went on too far, especially during the Mike Scully years, when this trope was allegedly used to death. Now the show has toned down the wackiness just a bit in attempt to return to its original roots.
- The Tom and Jerry cartoons started out as a fairly typical 'cat chases mouse' cartoon, which even in the early 1940's wasn't anything new. As time went on though, episodes began taking place in different time periods and settings, and thanks to the influence Tex Avery had on MGM's animation studio, the slapstick violence was cranked Up to Eleven.
- Total Drama was a pretty exciting, relatively realistic "animated reality show". The second season takes place in a movie studio and every episode is a shout out to films with much cartoonier antics. The third season has the contestants flying around the world in a jet and is a musical. The fourth season takes place in the first island, but is now a radioactive waste deposit.
- This trope is probably best exemplified by the way contestants are kicked off the show each season. In Season 1, a boat came to take the contestants off the island. In season 2, a broken-down limousine drove the contestants off the movie set. Season 3 had the contestants sky dive out of the jumbo jet they were flying in when voted off. In season 4, a giant catapult flung them off the island. And in Season 5? They're flushed down a giant toilet.
- One should also note the characterizations of certain characters as the show goes on. In the first two seasons, each character was mostly realistic, with some exaggerated teenage and reality show stereotypes to boot. Come season 4, and we've got Mike, a boy with multiple-personality syndrome who can turn into an old man, a treasure hunter, a Jersey Shore-esque bully, a female Russian gymnast, and an evil, chaotic supervillain in season 5. Let's just say, that's not even remotely how MPD works.
- This also goes to character injuries as well. In the first season, the worst injury sustained was that a contestant got mauled by a bear, though he recovered in the end. In Season 3, one contestant is engulfed in lava, leading him to become an Expy of Darth Vader. Another character, after being voted off, stows away on the plane, causing him to become feral with his skin becomes ghastly pale, eventually making him an Expy of Gollum. In Season 4, a contestant is exposed to radioactive material, causing her to become a giant, humanoid monster.
- Hey Arnold! started out as a typical Slice of Life series with a good balance of humor and drama. Once the show switched from cels to digital paint, the show put a bit more emphasis on comedy.
- Spongebob Squarepants: The characters became wackier when the show was revived, dumber and rather callous. The show as a whole becomes zanier and more like Family Guy.
- The Fairly OddParents went through this trope as it went on. It starts to become wackier after its transition from Oh Yeah! Cartoons, then when the movies were cut down from 90 minutes to an hour, then when Poof arrives, and finally, with the addition of talking fairy-dog Sparky.
- Family Guy, big time. The first few seasons were rather realistic in comparison to what it later became — the only really crazy things happened in flashbacks. After the show was Un-Cancelled, however, the plots and the characters became wackier, zanier, dumber, and quite mean spirited at times.
- Season 12 has taken this trait and amped it up to 11, to the point of where every scene is comedic. note
- Disney cartoon adaptations are often this. Timon & Pumbaa is a noticeable example, being random slapstick and goofy compared to the more realistic film.
- The Boondocks became this way starting with season 2. The show started out as an animated series with fairly realistic settings and events for the most part (much like King of the Hill). Once it entered its second season however, the characters became very flanderized, the story-lines zanier and far more outlandish, and the show as a whole much more cartoony and fast-paced (to the point where even the characters seem to be talking a mile a minute at times).
- Originally, South Park was just a vulgar comedy, but by the time season 7 rolled around, the show went through a Cerebus Rollercoaster by having more dramatic moments once in a while. Season 13 was the only season where the show became wackier compared to the previous 6 seasons before it, with episodes such as Mickey Mouse (yes, really) using The Jonas Brothers to shill purity rings to horny preteen girls, confusion over what real wrestling is like, Cartman's insane logic about The Smurfs to get back at Wendy, and apocalypse at a water park involving pee.
- Ultimate Spider-Man is infamous for being this compared to the previous Spider-Man animated incarnations of the character, and even compared to the comic character; while Spider-Man is known for being a wise-cracking character prone for often pulling I Shall Taunt You and You Fight Like a Cow, his story included several serious, sometimes even dark storylines, with some of his villains being murderous creepy psychopaths. Ultimate Spider-Man removes or tones down most of the serious elements and extends Spider-Man's humor to No Fourth Wall and cartoonish cutaway gags. Ironically enough, the Ultimate Spider-Man original comic which the series take its name from is known to be actually Darker and Edgier than the classic comic, even involving Spider-Man's death.
- Ben 10: Omniverse went for this after the previous Darker and Edgier sequels Ben 10: Alien Force and Ben 10: Ultimate Alien ended up being Base Breakers. So far, this only ended up breaking the base even more than before.
- My Little Pony ended up as this with My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
- Friendship is Magic itself grew denser and wackier as the series went onwards. Compare "Party of One", probably the zaniest episode of the more down-to-earth first season, with the season 4 Musical Episode "Pinkie's Pride" with Weird Al as a pony named Cheese Sandwich - it's almost like watching a different show. Some gags in the latter episode wouldn't feel out of place on pre-movie SpongeBob SquarePants.
- The wackiness continues in the Season 4 episode Testing, Testing 1,2,3. Turns out there is hip-hop and 1980's VCR technology in Equestria.
- Phineas and Ferb from its second season onward is noticeably wackier than the more laid-back first season.
- The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo was this for the Scooby-Doo franchise, not only featuring real monsters and supernatural powers, but also a lot more nonsensical cartoon gags and Breaking the Fourth Wall.
- Teen Titans Go! to the original Teen Titans. While the original show did have its silly moments and occasional wacky episode it also had very serious and even downright dark and terrifying episodes. The new show is purely comedic with even wackier situations and the characters have been redesigned into a simpler, more cartoonish style.
- Happened in the later seasons of Garfield and Friends, especially the U.S. Acres segments. That was actually a good thing. The last three seasons were the funniest and the wackiest of the series.
- VeggieTales in the House, a spin-off series of VeggieTales is notably a lot more cartoony and slapsticky than the latter, most prominently for its wide use of cartoon sound effects.
- The Eighties were more or less this compared to The Seventies. The Nineties would then do the same thing to The Eighties.
- Benthelooney when his rants/reviews were Un-Cancelled. To begin with before the uncancelled seasons, Ben was a straight forward ranter that exaggerated how angry he was and added an occassional joke, but still focused on the subject of his rants. In the Uncancelled seasons, Ben took a Denser and Wackier approach which was a trait flanderized in the second run of Ben Rants to the point of where by 2013, his whole rants started to follow this formula and Ben creating two spin off videos of his other characters.
- Taiwanese news outlet NMA got famous for doing relatively straight, 3D-animated re-enactions of events, such as Tiger Woods's car crash, the JetBlue flight attendant who opened up the emergency slide on the plane, and a cartoonish repesentation of the fight over The Tonight Show returning to Jay Leno. Nowadays, their videos are completely off-the-wall, have recurring gag characters such as a weed monster, two midget pilots named Sum Ting Wong and Wi Tu Lo (after an infamous incident where an intern gave fake, racist names to a news station regarding a fatal accident at San Francisco International Airport), and a mockery of Ark Music Factory's "Chinese Food". Compare this to this. It was enough to make an intern infamously quit the company (with an equally silly method: an interpretative dance explaining why she left).