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Genre Shift
Wait a minute, wasn't this supposed to be a harem comedy? I-is that the same little boy?

(a montage of people driving in cars)
Narrator: I am your permit, your license, your permission to drive. I am a privilege, and an obligation... Your obligation to drive skillfully, carefully, and legally.
(Someone suddenly gets into a car crash, with quick cuts to up-close shots of innocent bystanders reacting, before settling on a long shot of a traffic light in a fog of smoke.)
Josh Way: Suddenly, Fritz Lang's directing! ...(sigh) It's no time to get arty, movie.

The weird cousin of Executive Meddling, except it can be planned in advance by the writers.

Controversial or extremely different ideas are very hard to get past sponsors and audiences suspicious of anything new and unfamiliar. An easy if sneaky way around this is merely to present the beginning of the story as something familiar. However, once the main plot kicks in, your audience is hopefully loyal enough not to notice the quick shift in tone and pacing. If you did it well, in hindsight they might notice little hints you dropped about what was to come. As a side effect, the story will probably also undergo Mood Whiplash.

Genre Shifts are sometimes used in Sequel stories.

Genre Shifts sometimes occur at the ends of a series when the writers finally get around to soapboxing their opinions. Many fluffy, over-the-top comedies will suddenly find their last episode making an attempt at drama. On the other hand, some cutesy or romance-based stories can experience Genre Shift simply because they start running so long the writer figured if they have to derail the original plot, they might as well do it with something creative.

It is possible for this to work, as long as the creators know what they're doing, and it can pay off quite well at times. Usually, however, this requires planning it from the start, allowing the writers to set up the genre shift ahead of time so it doesn't feel like it comes out of nowhere. Because of their sudden onset, Genre Shifts motivated by Executive Meddling are likely doomed.

Even worse is if a genre shift is used as the solution to a plot point, which just feels tacky.

If this happens one time only in a series before reverting back to the main genre, it's an Out-of-Genre Experience. If it happens before the work is released to the public, it's a case of Mid Development Genre Shift.

Not to be confused with Art Shift or Genre Turning Point. Compare with Tone Shift and Cerebus Syndrome.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga 
  • Hunter × Hunter started off as a lighthearted action adventure series where many characters learn to take mercy on their enemies in the end. The arc focusing on Kurapika was noticeably more grimdark & intense, but goes back to normal with Greed Island. This goes out the window with the Chimera Ants; suddenly it's blood, gore, cannibalism, everything is a life or death situation. It's like it went from 90 Shounen to 80s Seinen.
  • Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan season one was a comedy that focused on over-the-top cartoonish gore. The 2ed season had no violence, but became an unwanted harem with comedy akin to Eiken, Puni Puni Poemi, & the last episode of Excel♥Saga.
  • The Black Butler franchise does this in both incarnations. The anime & manga both start out as shounen horror. The 2ed season of the anime is BL shoujo. After the Circus arc of the manga, the series seems to focus on movie parodies (Titanic or Ghost Ship, zombies, Harry Potter) & sports. Either way, there's a lot less boobs & more fanservice for the ladies.
  • The anime adaptation of Saiyuki Reload & its follow-up differed from Gensoumaden Saiyuki is going from an action adventure series with nudity aimed at boys, to an adventure comedy with a few serious episodes aimed at women. While the tone of the manga did not shift, the franchise did migrate from a shounen genre to jousei.
  • Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro the anime only covered the first half of the manga, which was a mystery comedy. In the 2nd half of the manga, a new bad guy shows up, an important character dies, & suddenly it's a gory horror survival.
  • YuYu Hakusho started out as a supernatural story, then a supernatural crime drama, then a supernatural martial arts story, and ended up a supernatural psychological thriller.
  • A strange example occurs in the last Steel Angel Kurumi OAV, a far-future prequel done in the format of a fairly serious drama instead of the show's usual bubblegum cuteness.
  • Naturally, Neon Genesis Evangelion also surprised many fans (and parents) at its increasingly grimdark tone as the show went on. To be specific, it starts as a Monster of the Week giant robot series and ends up as a Cosmic Horror Story that is at the same time an extended philosophical and psychological treatise. It's so much of a genre shift that even the plot itself essentially fades away at the end, to the point where after the last two episodes, you're asking yourself "What did I just watch?" It doesn't help that after so many years, people still can't tell you what was up with the last two episodes. And then comes the movie to rectify the ending and give you closure... where all hell breaks loose and cranks every last horrible aspect that the second half of the series adopted to a soul-crushing threshold. It's so violent and disturbing, you'd better be on morphine while watching it.
  • Mai-HiME starts out looking like a postmodern take on the Magical Girl genre, then turns into something disturbingly like Highlander.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!, as pictured. This was actually invoked by the author. He wanted to do an action-manga but the executives wanted another fun harem series. So, he started with the fun harem and slowly started stripping bits away until it became what he wanted in the long run.
  • Princess Tutu, in its first season, was about a magical ballerina princess/therapist restoring emotions to her love interest. The second season revealed it just wasn't like a fairytale, and it turned into a dark, epic struggle against the sadistic author trying to wreck his character's lives. In other words, a slightly different type of fairytale.
  • Similarly, Love Hina became prone to Road Trip arcs as the series lingered and most of the romantic misunderstandings had been resolved. These were apparently brief but enjoyed changes of pace for the author, as the later series Negima's framework allows them to be used more extensively.
  • Ah! My Goddess's long run is likewise affected by this. Keiichi and Belldandy's relationship is paradoxically so far along while also being stunted that most chapters are about their quirky slice-of-life adventures rather than a romantic manga. Meanwhile, the series, in manga more than other forms, also has a tendency to dip into being a magical action show as opposed to a romantic comedy. Later manga story arcs have come to focus more on conflicts between the angels and the demons which tend to result in epic battles and intense situations wherein just a few chapters before, everyone was just fighting over what to watch on TV!
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha combines an initial genre subversion (a magical girl show pitched specifically at a male audience) with a genre shift halfway through the series. And then it goes from Shonen-Magical Girl to Military Action-Magical Girl with strategy in StrikerS. Eventually, the series completely dropped the "Magical Girl" title in the manga Magical Wars Lyrical Nanoha Force. Even Vivid, which superficially appears to be a return to the cute magical girl fodder of the first series, is filled to the brim with fighting and martial arts related tropes, making it something of a genre "bait and switch" that at times comes off more as a Shonen fighting series than a magical girl series.
  • Parodied in Excel♥Saga, which changed to a new genre in nearly every episode (sci-fi, war drama, romantic comedy, horror, etc.), which it also parodied. And then the 2 penultimate episodes were straightforward drama/suspense/action eps.
  • Soukou No Strain had a first episode much like a shojo series, and though its marketing in the Bishoujo Series-focused Megami Magazine could predict that that would change, no one predicted its quick shift to angst and its new motto in Anyone Can Die.
  • Genre shift is the point behind Abenobashi Mahou Shoutengai.
  • Ouran High School Host Club went through most of the anime as an over-the-top parody of Shoujo drama, but in the last few episodes became more of a shojo drama with jokes added.
  • One may be excused for thinking that Guyver is a typical school-based shonen anime after the first few issues/episodes. But this changes pretty rapidly when the school is blown up by either Zoanoids or Guyver 2, depending on what medium you prefer and Sho is almost never seen in school again.
  • Rockman EXE/Mega Man NT Warrior shifted from computer-based Mons to some kind of weird Sentai variant right around season 3, and completely gave up on its computer origins in season 4, with the advent of Cross Fusion. It forced the human protagonists to merge with their partners and fight themselves, at which point the Mons were rarely seen again. This is one of the reasons season 4 is disliked among the fanbase. Then, in season 5, it switched from computer Mons to normal Mons when an Alternate Universe setting made it impossible to Cross Fusion but forced Navis to be summoned into material space instead.
  • In the first few episodes (both in the Anime and Manga) of Bleach, a reluctant teen fights ghosts (Hollows) in a series of unconnected locations. However, once Ichigo travels to the Shinigami world, the series completely abandons ghostbusting in favor of high-power duels between progressively more powerful rivals. Additionally, the series replaces its largely simplistic good spirit/bad spirit dichotomy with increasingly complicated plots, intrigue, and a much larger cast. Also, the first movie, Memories of Nobody ended up being somewhat of a Wham Movie to those used to the dragging plot lines of the series, with a much different tone still.
  • The OVA Moldiver spends three episodes as a gender-bending superhero send-up before abruptly switching into a serious drama in the final two episodes.
  • While JoJo's Bizarre Adventure generally keeps to being an action series with elements of horror and mystery, each of the shorter "Parts" which make up the whole of the series is of different genre. From earliest to latest these are classic horror, Indiana Jones style adventure around the world, a travel story, a small-town murder mystery, a mobster story, a prison drama, a western and finally another mystery story, this time with elements of a conspiracy story.
  • Berserk, though it does show a number of demons at the beginning of the anime and a fight with demonic Blood Knight Nosferatu Zodd early on in the anime, goes from grim and gritty medieval fantasy into straight up horror in the final episodes when Griffith makes his Deal with the Devil and becomes Dark Messiah Femto, and the demons start coming en masse to rip apart the members of the Band of the Hawks who Griffith has marked out for sacrifice. Since both Guts and Casca are marked with the Godhand's Brand of Sacrifice as a result of Griffith's betrayal, both of them have to deal with the monsters from that point forward, and they soon become Guts' primary enemies.
    • Also before Guts' group meets Schierke, they find a man who was attacked by trolls while searching for a witch. Serpico lampshades that this had more of a fairy tale atmosphere to it, and that its nice that they've gotten a break from fighting horrible monsters.
  • The Haruhi Suzumiya series (both the original light novels and the anime) begins as a comedy series that, while featuring a very eccentric protagonist in Genki Girl Haruhi, was still a fairly realistic Slice of Life comedy. Then the aliens, time travelers, and psychics start turning up, and we get the big reveal that Haruhi is God (or at least the next best thing), and her subconscious desires can warp reality, or even destroy the universe if she becomes bored enough. And then the STABBING and sci-fi battles begin... It actually remains a Slice of Life comedy for the most part, but it's slices of much weirder lives than we originally thought.
  • Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. It starts out as standard fairly light shonen fare, then takes an extremely abrupt left turn in Tokyo onto Mind Screw Way towards Drama Town.
  • In general, CLAMP seems rather fond of doing this. It's happening also to Xxx HO Li C in a rather similar way.
  • Naru Taru. It initially shows signs of being a lighthearted, female version of A Boy and His X, only to suddenly change into a dark, depressing series with lots of horrible things.
  • D.Gray-Man has evolved somewhat from being a Horror Gothic Shonen series to more of a... normal Shonen series. Oddly enough, if the Nightmare Fuel page is to be believed, the switch from horror-style Monster of the Week plots to a more complicated storyline has actually made it a lot more scary.
  • Katekyo Hitman Reborn! had a major shift after 9 volumes of seemingly unrelated, silly fluff. It changes from a slapstick comedy to a Save The World Shonen series exactly from the point that Tsuna meets Rokudo Mukuro onwards. From that instance on, Tsuna becomes much more serious and less of a Butt Monkey - this seems to have pleased the fangirls.
  • School Days. It starts out as a typical romantic comedy, then slowly takes a turn for the worse, going into horror at the end.
  • Chobits is a comedy series with a touch of sci-fi for the first two-thirds or so. Then it becomes serious sci-fi with a touch of comedy for the remainder of the series.
  • Onani Master Kurosawa is perhaps another poster child of this. It starts off as Death Note with fapping (yes, seriously) but then after a certain Wham Episode the main character decides he'd rather be Holden Caulfield than Light Yagami.
  • Medaka Box underwent a shift not unlike that of Mahou Sensei Negima!, except far more sudden. It was a quirky series talking about the adventures of a God-Mode Sue and her harem, with just a bit of fighting here and there, for about 14 chapters. Then (probably as was planned from the beginning, considering swiftness of the change), the first character with superpowers to match said Sue appeared, and heralded a very swift change into a bloody, Darker and Edgier fighting series, with swiftly escalating power levels. As the series nears it's end (if the villain is to be believed), this would indeed appear to have been the point, as it's now come full circle back to the original plotline, except much changed from all the fighting and genre savviness that arose from the first shift.
  • Full Metal Panic! - at least, the later novels. Directly lampshaded by the author, who mentions that he's changing the series to have a darker, more depressing feel.
  • The plot of Rosario + Vampire has come along way from the Romantic Comedy/Monster of the Week story it once was, and while it remains an Unwanted Harem series, it is a very nonstandard one. Tsukune received a major Next Tier Power-Up, complete with a troublesome alter-ego and some Body Horror. Even the romance has gotten deeper and less comedic. Overall, the current series is much Darker and Edgier, and leans more heavily on shonen action these days.
  • The Trigun anime started as a humorous, lighthearted western with sci-fi elements, with a bit of mystery sprinkled throughout (courtesy of Vash, the show's protagonist). That all changed with the episode "Diablo." Suddenly, Trigun became Darker and Edgier, the comedic moments were few and far between, and the show was much more plot oriented. In this case, the shift worked very well, since the second half fleshed out details that were only teased in the first half. This happened because the anime took all the lighthearted and comedic parts of the manga, and used them in the first part. The manga version was a dramedy from the beginning - it became increasingly darker towards the end, but not to the point of complete mood shift.
  • The Higurashi: When They Cry When They Cry series starts off as a bloody horror show, much like a slasher flick, each arc unconnected from the others. The Second season, Higurashi Kai, turns it into a supernatural suspense with traces of an even an action series by the end, with the gorn of the first season all but gone, and focused now on conspiracies. Then there was Higurashi Rei, which goes from comedy to drama and then back to comedy. The OVA, Higurashi Kira, aims to be comedy-fanservice. It makes sense since it's probably post-Kai and thus none of the murder and mystery are in play anymore, since the everlasting June finished.
  • Hellsing starts off as an action-horror story about a vampire hunting organization working for the British government who employ a vampire of their own, with a bit of mystery thrown in as they try to uncover a plot to artificially manufacture vampires. Once Millenium is properly introduced, it evolves into a war epic depicting a huge three-way battle over London, with much introspection and many characters having to rise to an enormous challenge.
  • Phantom Thief Pokémon 7 starts out as a quirky manga about a boy living a double life as a Phantom Thief. It quickly turns into a dark, violent, adventure to save his sister from the unusually menacing Team Galactic. In the end it seems to turn into the original story, but in trio form. However it ended before anything came out of that.
  • Pokémon Special changes genres each arc. They start as quirky adventures then turn more violent and team based.
  • Tenchi Universe is a lighthearted romantic action comedy. The second Tenchi Universe movie, Tenchi Forever, is a serious romantic drama with little action or comedy.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann started out as a Desert Punk mecha show with an extremely Hot-Blooded protagonist. Then roughly halfway through, it turned into a Space Opera.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Although the shift happens very early and there is heavy Foreshadowing. It does several shifts very casually when the elements are progressively revealed. Kyubey also adds in an element of Science Fiction and Cosmic Horror Story when he revealed that the Incubators are logical aliens whose capabilities come from sufficiently advanced technology, and are harvesting Magical Girls in an attempt to delay the death of the universe via Second Law of Thermodynamics. And then it decides to Reconstruct itself with a Decon-Recon Switch of a Gainax Ending.
  • Shakugan no Shana shifts back and forth between action/supernatural and typical high school love story, though it stop shifting genre and generally gets worse in the later light novel version.
  • Ranma ½ starts out as a somewhat grounded romantic comedy/action series with some semblance of an ongoing plot, but gradually turns into an increasingly wacky, episodic, sitcom-esque gag-fest punctuated by occasional "serious" story arcs.
  • Kinnikuman started off as a superhero parody, but eventually became more focusing on wrestling.
  • The second half of the 2nd OVA for My Bride Is a Mermaid switches from comedy/action into straight horror, borrowing elements from The Ring, then suddenly switches back to comedy at the end.
  • The first half of Digimon Tamers is a Coming of Age Story with Mons. The latter half is Cosmic Horror Story...with Mons.
    • Within the Digimon franchise as a whole, Tamers is a genre shift from Adventure/Fantasy to Action/Sci-Fi.
  • Is This a Zombie? is not so much this as a Genre Mix, with regular moments of out-of-genre action. It's a Harem story about an average guy who happens to be a zombie and accidentally gets a Magical Girl's powers, complete with the Cute Dress. However, there is a ridiculous amount of blood, and at one point the protagonist defeats a multi-lived villain by chainsawing her to death over and over again until she's back down to one life, complete with jets of blood and agonized screams.
  • This happens in Monster, which switches very early on from an almost noir-like hospital drama to a horror story involving Neo-Nazis, espionage, and serial killers shortly after adult Johan shows up.
  • Chirin No Suzu starts off as a cute kid's movie about a baby lamb, but halfway through the film it turns into a dark tale of revenge.
  • Collectively, Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z gradually shift from a light-hearted comedic, sometimes tongue-in-cheek fantasy adventure series to a far more serious sci-fi martial arts series (with some fantasy elements thrown back in for the final arc). GT is somewhere in the middle.
  • This is a Downplayed Trope of sorts in Cardfight!! Vanguard. Though it begins as a shonen gaming series and remains one to the end, the majority of the first season was a completely mundane plot about some teenagers who hang out at a card shop after school, playing the eponymous card game. Then in episode 43, Aichi develops Psyqualia, which can be described as playing on autopilot, which (almost) guarantees victory. Furthermore, it is revealed that the Big Bad of the first season has had this ability all along. The show is never quite the same after that.
  • The Gungrave anime starts off as a sci-fi action series with it's first episode. After that, it goes back to the chronological beginning of the series and becomes a mafia drama as it goes into Brandon/Beyond the Grave and Harry's backstories, slowly reintroducing the sci-fi elements of the story until it becomes a sci-fi action series again.
  • The first half of Zetsuen no Tempest is extremely bleak and serious, with a Grey and Gray Morality plot involving The End of the World as We Know It. The second half abruptly becomes Lighter and Softer, with Romantic Comedy elements. Actually an Invoked Trope: the Tree of Genesis conquers the world during a Time Skip and outlaws violent conflict. It drifts back into dark angstyness near the end, but a lot of people stop watching before they get that far.
  • Fairy Tail seems to be shifting from being a straight shonen series (with extra fanservice) into a full-out battle ecchi. At the very least, there has undeniably been a lot more fanservice the past two years; even serious scenes have fanservice laced in nowadays. Take this scene here with gratuitous Panty Shots in the middle of a dramatic battle.
    • It's also noteworthy that at the start, Fairy Tail was typically shonen in its gender distribution. It did have a female Supporting Protagonist from chapter one and several interesting and competent female members of the guild in the early arcs, but most of the characters were still manly men fighting and adventuring. Nowadays, there seems to an almost equal amount of male and female characters, but there are more girls than boys on the main characters' team, and because of Fanservice, the female characters (at least on the protagonists' side) generally get more screen time than the male characters, especially in non-action scenes. Since the series also has a certain amount of Ship Tease, who knows if it is trying to drift into Harem Series territory...
  • The Daughter of Twenty Faces starts off as a heist series about a young girl who joins a gang of thieves. Then, after a massive Wham Episode which results in the deaths of most of the cast, the series becomes a detective show focusing on the girl's efforts to find her missing mentor.
  • Animal Land starts off as a simple story of a baby being raised by tanukis in the wild. Then after a few years, it turns into a story about the child trying to find a way to allow carnivores live alongside herbivores without starving in the small but ever growing animal utopia he created. When the child grows up, the manga turns into a straight up Shonen wherein he commands herds of animals to fight against gigantic Animalistic Abominations in order to change the Crapsack World they live in.
  • Samurai Flamenco started out as a realistic, slice-of-life comedy with the Deconstruction of the Tokusatsu genre. Then, its Wham Episode came where the Monster of the Week brutally kills people which led to the a full-fledged tokusatsu series.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! is the opposite of most of these—it started out as a horror manga, with lots of action, torture, and death (all revolving around the theme of "games," most of them having nothing to do with the eventual card game tie-in). The protagonist is infamous for having set a man on fire... more than once. The villains ranged from bullies to actual murderers. The Genre Shift came as the card game got developed and marketed. Once the Duelist Kingdom arc (where the popular anime starts) begins, the emphasis is more on a single, bloodless game that's more easily marketable to children. Horror elements were still there but were rarer, especially in the 4kids dub that took pains to edit out anything involving guns, death, blood, etc.

     Comic Books  
  • During the tail end of The Golden Age of Comic Books, many superhero characters were changed to civilian detectives, adventurers, horror hosts, etc, to accommodate the changing tastes of the reading public. Earlier, something similar happened to many non-superhero characters who went from pulp-style adventurers to pulp-style adventurers in tights.
    • A character known as Phantom Falcon stands out because he went through both - he began as a non-costumed air ace, turned into a superhero after being presumed dead and then turned into a civilian detective.
    • The Crimson Avenger and Wing started off as Expies of The Green Hornet and Kato, complete with Wing wearing a chauffeur's uniform and a Domino Mask. When Batman and Robin started becoming more popular, the two became more traditional superheroes and started wearing proper costumes.
    • The Black Hood gets an odd one in the very last issue of his Golden Age run when a villain unmasks him and he dropped the costume to become a civilian detective. The 'civilian detective' direction continued for a few back-up stories in Pep Comics.
    • The Spectre went from being a dark supernatural hero to being a guardian angel for "Percival Popp, Super Cop!"
    • The original Blue Beetle title had the character in a Film Noir setting and a Coat, Hat, Mask costume. He was later changed to a more traditional superhero, started wearing tights, and now had superpowers granted to him by a magical scarab.
    • When the franchise was revived again in the 60's, Steve Ditko killed off the original Blue Beetle and introduced his successor, Ted Kord, who was more in line with the popular superheroes of the era like Spider-Man and Batman.
  • The initial Strangers in Paradise miniseries was a Slapstick Love Triangle comedy. When creator Terry Moore launched the ongoing series, he added a crime drama plot, and subsequent arcs alternated between this and the Will They or Won't They? love triangle story, which also took on a more serious tone. Then, about two-thirds of the way through, Moore wrapped up the criminal conspiracy plot and for the remainder of the series focused on the romance story which soon expanded into a Love Dodecahedron.
  • Savage started off as an Alternate History action series, with technology slightly more advanced than the present day. Around 2009 or 2010, it shifted to full-on Science Fiction, with teleporting tigers and the predecessors of the ABC Warriors appearing.
  • Cerebus the Aardvark, which went from adventure-parody to straight-adventure, to... well, no one's quite sure what it ended up as.
  • This trope was probably the single biggest problem with Novas Aventuras de Megaman, an infamous Brazilian comic that Capcom actually authorized because They Just Didn't Care, and that's saying quite a lot. The writers have actually admitted to changing the genre nearly every issue, because they wanted to see which sort of storylines the readers liked best. As such, one comic could be a flashback to a horrifying backstory about Roll's mind being taken from a young girl whom an evil scientist murdered for his mad robotics experiment, while another could be an anything goes, Large Ham comedy with No Fourth Wall. By the time it settled into the action-adventure style of plot, most readers had probably dropped it in frustration.
  • Millie the Model was a humor feature that became a romance-adventure in the mid-1960s, then shifted back to humor.
  • Likewise, fellow Marvel girl comic Patsy Walker went the romance-adventure route during the same time period. Amusingly, her books were cancelled around the time Millie's books shifted back. Oddly enough, the character herself went through a genre shift when she became a superheroine and member of both The Defenders and The Avengers. She no longer had a series at this point but the contrast was jarring.
  • Neil Gaiman's The Sandman started out as a horror comic firmly entrenched in The DCU, and gradually became a character-driven fantasy epic with only occasional continuity nods to other DC characters.
  • Under Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir, New X-Men was essentially a teen drama WITH SUPERPOWERS! When Craig Kyle and Chris Yost took over, it rather abruptly (and with lots of Stuff Blowing Up) became a more standard superhero comic.
  • Even though W.I.T.C.H. was a fantasy magical girl comic series for young girls, it was supposed to be a lot darker. However, after the 2nd issue, Disney drastically altered the story and turned it into a really girly "happy fairy tale magical girl fantasy" comic. Here's a snippet from Alessandro Barbucci and Barbara Canepa's interview:
    "We conceived of "W.I.T.C.H." together with Elisabetta Gnone, the then director of girls publications for Disney. We worked for three years in secret on it and she then presented the project to the big bosses at Disney. They thought that this project was crazy, a sure-fire bomb, complete waste of time, and that mangas wouldn't have a chance in Europe anyway (!!!). However, we didn't let ourselves be led astray and worked for another year on it anyway, with a tiny budget and without publicity. And then the series became a worldwide hit. The official version from Disney is, of course, that "W.I.T.C.H." is a product of their brilliant, visionary marketing strategy...the end of the series was then taken out of our hands, we actually had something a lot more intelligent planned for it. Now, as you can see, Elisabetta Gnone and the two of us no longer work for Disney...a really sad story."
  • When atmospheric (and occasionally supernatural) western title Jonah Hex ended its eight-year run in 1985, DC published a followup series called Hex, about the gunfighter getting sucked into a time rift and stranded in the post-apocalyptic 2050s.
  • Amelia Rules shifted from wacky comedy about a girl moving to a new town and making quirky friends to an emotional Slice of Life Coming of Age Story about halfway through its run.

     Fan Fiction  
  • Fan Fiction in a meta sense is often done because a fan either wishes a series was a different genre or because they are curious to see what the story or the characters would be like in a different setting. Of course such stories can be anywhere from entertaining to terrible.
  • Racer and the Geek is currently undergoing a transition from romcom to drama. Just compare this to this.
  • Gaijin started as a darkly comic Self-Insert Fic in which the SI character was essentially Murphy's Law incarnate (despite being more powerful than he had any right to be). Then he started disguising himself as Spider-Man. Then more analogues of Marvel characters started appearing, such as the Fantastic Four and "Tako-sama" (Doctor Octopus)...
  • My Immortal starts off as a fairly generic, albeit a little over-the-top, Harry Potter badfic with a typical Mary Sue protagonist and the usual focus on relationships, clothing and teen popular culture. Then it gradually turns into a surrealistic mish-mash of fanfic clichés and confused plot points involving such things as Time Travel — sort of like a badfic version of LOST.
  • Undocumented Features started off as a joke, a corny self-insert fic in which college students launch part of their dormitory into space to fight anime villains. It quickly went Grim Dark with the "Exile" plot, stabilized into an odd mash-up of science-fiction adventure, has intermittently gone Song Fic, and has dipped into romantic fantasy with the "Symphony of the Sword" plot.
  • The Spanish-language Haruhi Suzumiya fic called, unoriginally El ... de Haruhi Suzumiya starts out as your ordinary OC-with-new-powers-joins-the-SOS-Brigade fare, albeit with the twist that the OC's powers are rarely used. Then, the characters all graduate and join the military IN SPACE! At that point, the genre shifts to war story and then to Space Opera, with the characters fighting insectoid aliens who destroy one of Earth's cities. Might I add that the OC from earlier reappears with a bionic arm, and that their faster-than-light spacecraft is so luxurious it has a miniature shopping mall inside? The author expects his reviewers to understand what's going on, but he still has not provided a convincing explanation for the sudden shift in tone.
  • The Code Geass fanfic Code Geass: Infinity starts out as a regular Fix Fic AU, where Shirley doesn't die and she helps Lelouch in the Black Knights; but then, when the fic starts to deal with the origins of Geass, the genre shifts to a Final Fantasy-esque plot, where in the end Lelouch must battle an One-Winged Angel Eldritch Abomination to save the world. The fic itself is not bad but if it were as complex as Code Geass: Lelouch of Britannia, it could easily be the Shinji And Warhammer 40 K of the fandom.
  • The Mass Effect fanfic The Biggest Fan starts as a parody of Self Insert fics with a passionate but kind fan of the game wakes up in the body of Conrad Verner. Then in the second chapter, the fic jumps into a full deconstruction with Conrad mourning the fact that he will never see his wife and this continues in the third chapter, with him becoming the Cassandra Truth about the Reapers and starts to lose the memories of his life on the real word.

    Film - Animated 
  • Footrot Flats: The Dog's Tale movie starts out as slapstick, then turns into an adventure film.
  • Wreck-It Ralph starts off a soul searching Disney flick, moves into a parody of the "First-Person Shooter" game, and then goes to "conspiracy move" when the stars land in "Sugar Rush".
  • The Lion King has a particularly famous example of this trope. The first third or so focuses mainly on Simba's lighthearted escapades around his father's domain, with a tone and style typical of any Disney-made comedy. Then Scar kills Mufasa and makes Simba think it was his own fault. The rest of the film becomes a practical drama that deals with Simba's guilt and his need to fulfill his destiny by kicking Scar off the throne of Pride Rock. Though lighthearted elements are still present.
  • Were Back A Dinosaurs Story starts out as a cheery musical film about cute talking dinosaurs, but about halfway through the film, it turns into an animated horror film about an evil scientist and his Circus of Fear.
  • DreamWorks Animation: Originally, Dreamworks focused on sweeping epics, and more serious stories such as The Prince of Egypt. These unfortunately fell under the umbrella of All Animation Is Disney. Now, barring some of their more recent efforts, it can be hard to remember when their films weren't based primarily on pop-culture references and heavily marketed celebrity voice-acting. As alluded before, however, Dreamworks shifted once again, with its movies once more taking themselves seriously while remaining healthily comedic. While still not quite as serious as The Prince of Egypt, the tone generally leans towards what was seen in The Road to El Dorado.
  • The infamous Tom and Jerry: The Movie actually goes from a zany slapstick cartoon to a generic '90s cartoon film (with a generic plot to boot) within the first few minutes!
  • Cars started out as a racing film; in 2 it became a action-spy film.

    Film - Live Action 
  • Australia goes from screwball comedy to western to war movie throughout the film.
  • Audition does this. The film starts out like a romance film, with a middle-aged widower holding a mock audition to find his perfect mate. Things go along this vein for quite a while, until brief scenes start popping up showing the man's "soul mate" alone and acting very creepy. The horror doesn't really start to kick in until after the halfway mark.
  • Wild Things starts out as a formulaic Clear My Name plot, complete with Bill Murray as a sleazy lawyer trying The Perry Mason Method... until the one hour mark. That's when it's revealed that the defendant was working with his accusers for a damages settlement, but they all have their own plans, which quickly create a Jigsaw Puzzle Plot.
  • Legally Blonde should end about 2/3 through, as technically Elle has accomplished her revised goal (instead of chasing Warner, she has become a serious person). Instead, she gets applied to a legal case. It's still a fun movie, and the musical revises this by making Emmitt a legitimate romantic lead that you want Elle to be with at the end.
  • The original Alien was a haunted house movie in space. Aliens, while retaining much of the horror elements of the previous film, is otherwise straight out sci-fi action... and it works perfectly. And then Alien³ shows a return to the haunted house style of the first film. And then another shift with Alien: Resurrection, which is actionized like Aliens. And then Prometheus tones down both the horror and the action and instead becomes an intriguing, thought-provoking story about mankind's place in the universe and the eternal search for God, which is related somewhat tangentially to the Alien films.
  • Similarly Pitch Black was a Horror-action-adventure film with very Aliens-esque creatures and a Hannibal Lecter-esque Serial Killer who could see in the dark. The sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick is a fantasy story, making the serial killer (who now is no longer harmed by light whatsoever) the Last of His Kind Proud Warrior Race Guy being sought to protect the world from a Horrible Death Army, which has Uncertain members of its own ranks, by a magical race of elementals and ending up on a fiery Prison Planet like the one in Alien³.
  • The Oscar-winning film La Vita è bella (In English, Life Is Beautiful) begins as a very charming, but rather generic romantic comedy, except that it happens to be set in Mussolini's Italy, and the characters are Jewish. Now, flash forward three years. The male and female leads are now married, have a son, and the Holocaust is about to start. Amazingly, it remains a comedy, only with a different premise: the father starts telling his three-year-old son wild stories to protect him from the truth of what is happening.
  • One of the classic examples is From Dusk Till Dawn, which begins as a dark crime drama about crooks on the lam kidnapping a dysfunctional family, but abruptly turns into a slapstick action movie with vampires over the course of a striptease.
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is set in The Fifties and based on science fiction of that era. All three previous films were more heavily based on adventure serials of the pre-war period.
  • The movie Miracle Mile starts out as an indie romantic comedy. It sure doesn't end that way.
  • The 2007 film Sunshine starts out as a hard sci-fi film about a mission to reignite the dying sun. Then, at almost exactly the three-quarters mark, it suddenly becomes a horror film in space.
  • Event Horizon also goes from near-future hard science fiction to Gothic horror that just happens to take place on a spaceship.
  • Hot Fuzz spends the first half humorously deconstructing Nineties action film clichés, and spends the second half playing every single one of those clichés straight.
  • The Lost Boys begins as a bleak, played-straight vampire horror film and then takes on a humorous tone in the third act, with the teenage heroes spouting such lines as "Whoa, death by stereo!"
  • A pronounced shift occurs between the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer film, a parody of vampire horror flicks, and the subsequent TV series which, though it had its share of witty banter, was from the start a much darker and more dramatic effort with strong tragic elements. Joss Whedon's original movie pitch was in fact more in keeping with the tone of the series, but ended up a comedy thanks to Executive Meddling. In contrast, both the WB and the UPN networks allowed Whedon the creative freedom to realize his intended dramatic treatment. While the movie is not what Whedeon originally intended, the movie was still quite good, and is one of the few cases where the Executive Meddling didn't hurt the movie, and some fans think it actually helped.
  • Hollow Man. Another sci-fi-into-thriller shift.
  • Click started as a Fantastic Comedy, then very suddenly and very early turned into drama. Guess what part the ads were sampled from.
  • The Hangover and its first sequel were both gross-out comedies, but The Hangover Part III is more of an action film with darkly comic elements thrown in.
  • This happens to the Evil Dead trilogy. The first film, The Evil Dead, is a more-or-less straightforward horror film. Evil Dead 2 is a strange hybrid of gory, serious horror, and slapstick comedy. Army of Darkness drops almost all the horror and works instead as an action-comedy and managed to become the most popular film in the series. The remake of the first film shifts back to that movie's gore laden straight horror.
  • Adaptation, starring Nicolas Cage, starts as an amusing dramedy about a scriptwriter suffering from a writer's block, but slowly turns darker and darker, with elements of a thriller, until in the climax the protagonist's comical twin dies. It still tries to end things on a high note, though. Another key shift is when Charlie asks Donald for help on his screenplay; due to the highly self-referential nature of the movie, it's implied that everything after that, all the drugs/guns/sex, is being written by or on the advice of Donald. The thing to remember is that Donald's the only character in the movie who isn't a real person.
  • Every Scooby-Doo movie starts with Mystery Inc solving a mystery, and ends with Mystery Inc fighting an army of the undead/ cat monsters/ ancient samurai ghost / ancient witch ghost. The movie in question, Zombie Island, which could also count as a Deconstruction in a way, starts off with the Gang getting together to solve a few mysteries, matching the typical comedic feel of the original show but, in the middle, it becomes a supernatural horror mystery movie with very little comedy that gives you some very brief clues as to what's going on at Moon Scar island, in a way that worked.
  • The first two-thirds of Death Becomes Her are a very dark supernatural satire based around the rivalry between Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn's characters. Then in the last act it not only shifts into an action film but switches protagonists; Bruce Willis's until then secondary character becomes the point of view character for most of the rest of the movie, until the very end which returns to Streep and Hawn.
  • The first half of Flightplan plays out as an interesting psychological thriller, where we begin to believe the main character actually imagined her daughter and was completely crazy from grief. But then it turns out her daughter actually WAS kidnapped, and every single one of her crazy and far fetched ridiculous theories were right, and terrorists actually DID kill her husband and kidnapped the daughter to get her to look crazy. It ends up as just another generic action flick with guns, explosions, and cheesy one liners.
  • In-story example: in Addams Family Values, a rebellious Wednesday transforms a cheesy Pocahontas musical into a terrifying action play.
  • Million Dollar Baby begins as a scrappy underdog sports movie and turns into a thoughtful but depressing drama about spinal cord injury and euthanasia.
  • Dream House begins as a suspense/horror movie about a man who moved into a house with his family and finds out that a murder had taken place at the home. After he learns that he was really the sole survivor of the massacre at the house, it becomes a movie about his grief.
  • The Forgotten begins as a typical drama about a woman who is told by every person in her life (including her husband) that her recently-dead son never existed and gradually becomes a sci-fi about abductions and alien experiments with the human mind.
  • This is one of Alfred Hitchcock's favorite tropes, and one that's unfortunately a bit spoiled by how famous his movies have become:
    • Psycho in its first third, is a heist film, with Marion scheming to embezzle $40,000. Then Marion checks into the Bates hotel under an assumed name and it becomes a psycho slasher film.
    • The Birds starts off as either a quirky romance between two awkwardly charming leads, or perhaps a psychological thriller featuring a paranoid Stalker with a Crush. It's only as the A-plot's gradually eclipsed by the inexplicable bird attacks that the movie's true nature as apocalyptic horror starts to become apparent.
  • Birdemic deliberately imitates The Birds by going from a romance to an apocalyptic horror with Anvilicious eco-tracts, only this time so abruptly you can practically hear the gears shifting.
  • Due to its episodic nature, and a rotating set of writers and directors, the Star Trek movies tend to shift dramatically from one genre to another with each film. The first movie was intended as a slow, philosophical 2001-style epic, but critics and audiences simply found it boring, and completely at odds with the feel of the television series. The franchise was dramatically reworked as more of a naval adventure in space, and the next film, The Wrath of Khan, was a huge success. The third, fifth, seventh and ninth movies aimed more for mysticism and a quasi-fantasy feel (and, perhaps not coincidentally, the odd-numbered Trek movies were all considered to be cursed by inferiority before the latest movie came out), the fourth one broke the pattern as a Fish Out of Temporal Water comedy, the sixth movie features a Tom Clancy-style political adventure paralleling the end of the Cold War, and the eighth movie involves Body Horror and the crew caught in a Survival Horror situation. The reboot movie combines a Cosmic Retcon with another shift in tone, unfolding as a more lighthearted, fast paced action-adventure story than the previous movies. The last movie also has a subtle shift. The first part of it is about the beginnings of Kirk and Co., so while we expect trouble, it feel like a typical Negative Space Wedgie plot. Then Vulcan is blown up, and everything becomes a horror story
  • Hancock starts off as a lighthearted comedy about a Jerkass Super Hero and the ad executive who tries to reform him. Then halfway through the movie it turns into some weird mythological romantic tragedy something-or-other...
  • Devils On The Doorstep changes over the course of its running time from a black comedy to an even blacker drama by the end.
  • The entire Batman franchise tends to go through this (usually depending on the director, and not just the movies either.)
  • The third and final Infernal Affairs film made a Genre Shift from twisty but rational gangster film to all-out Mind Screw Psychological Horror, baffling many fans.
  • Them! starts out as a detective story, investigating a couple of mysterious disappearances in the American Southwest. Then the heroes are attacked by giant irradiated ants.
  • The Godzilla series has done this numerous times (it would have been a tremendous feat not to, considering that at twenty-eight films to date, it's the longest running series in cinematic history).
    • The Showa series: Gojira is famous for being a dark, metaphorical, and frightening drama propelled by the human characters. Godzilla Raids Again, being a rushed-out sequel meant to capitalize upon the previous film's huge success, eschewed most of the deeper story elements but retained a similar superficial tone. The third movie, King Kong vs. Godzilla, was a satire of commercialism and marketing in its original Japanese version, a layer of clever subtlety which the American dub did away in favor of a Fantasy Kitchen Sink that was lighthearted but nonetheless played straight. Mothra vs. Godzilla went back to being dark (in fact, it was the darkest of any film since the original despite the presence of a giant butterfly thanks to a general tone of bitter hopelessness and the huge threat Godzilla poses), but the next film, Ghidorah The Three Headed Monster, continued the lighthearted formula. This style continued, becoming more and more campy as the series went on,(with Godzilla vs. Hedorah having a bizarre balance between camp and serious, with graphic casualties inflicted by Hedorah and various other freaky things mixed in with trippy, surreal things.) until Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and Terror Of Mechagodzilla (the latter of which has a human sidestory that ends in tragedy for the first time since the original movie) established themselves as the most serious Godzilla movies in over a decade just in time for the series to be put on hiatus.
    • The Heisei series: The Return Of Godzilla, with its horror elements meant to contrast against the image of child-friendly campiness that most of the previous series had established in the minds of the general public while using the nuclear power motif more as a plot device than something to deal with thematically, is perhaps most similar in genre and tone to the second movie. Godzilla vs. Biollante, in addition to tackling themes of the pros and cons of genetic engineering and the ethics of science and business practices in general, also featured a heavy element of espionage, broadened the more underplayed science fiction elements from the previous film, and began introducing mystical concepts like Miki Saegusa's psychic powers and Erica's soul being transferred to Biollante. With the next two movies, the series quickly evolved into an outright science fiction Fantasy Kitchen Sink (though the final film, Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, is easily the saddest and one of the darkest of the series in spite of retaining the sci-fi/fantasy mix that most of the movies leading up to it had established, with a bittersweet ending in which Godzilla is Killed Off for Real, but in the process causes Godzilla Junior to mutate into a fully-grown Godzilla to replace him).
    • The Millenium series: Godzilla 2000 and the movies following it (with the exception of Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack!, which returned the series back to its original roots once again via the most violent and horrific interpretation of Godzilla's character of the entire franchise, with fantasy elements replacing most of the science fiction that usually forms the basis for each movie) have been primarily based in general sci-fi action. The last movie to date, Godzilla Final Wars, was a bizarre, crazed tribute to the campiness of the Showa series. It took the plot of the classic Destroy All Monsters and turned everything in it Up to Eleven while simultaneously injecting seemingly-random references to contemporary sci-fi action movies (most obviously The Matrix) left and right and doing much to give itself a unique tone through the replacement of the orchestral score traditional to the series in favor of rock and techno music.
  • French movie He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not plays like a romantic lighthearted movie about an affair between a married man and a woman until the second half. Then, things get much darker.
  • Jaws starts off like a drama horror film that slowly builds suspense and makes some statements on society through various townspeople. Then, a few minutes after the halfway-mark, it launches into an epic Moby-Dick-style battle at sea with the shark and just the three main characters.
  • The Break Up starts as a semi-romantic comedy about a couple in the last parts of their marriage. About halfway through you realize it turned into an uncomfortably sad and bitter look at the central couple's role in the divorce, and the divisive effects it has on the couple's friends and acquaintances.
  • Funny People starts out as a dramedy with both dark and normal kinds of humor, until the plot involving George's illness is resolved. It soon switches the plot and the mood shifts to more of a romantic-drama with little to no comedy. It shifts back to its normal mood when that plot gets resolved, with 15 minutes of the film remaining, with the changes made in the shift kept.
  • Chungking Express starts as an urban thriller, and one third of the way through, becomes a romantic comedy.
  • Kill Bill Volume 1 is a kung fu action thriller that's given an excuse plot and little consideration as to character or story development. Kill Bill Volume 2 is a character-driven, plot-heavy ode to the Western. Both Volumes were originally intended as one four-hour movie.
  • In a bizarre example of this trope happening in a trailer a Jack Black film initially appears to be a Judd Apatow style slacker in love romantic comedy set in New York, then suddenly shifts gear into science fiction territory with a trip into the Bermuda Triangle, then finally reveals itself to be a modern re-imagining of Gullivers Travels. See it for yourself here.
  • The tone of The Dirty Dozen changes dramatically once the team actually starts their mission. The first act could almost be considered a comedy. The second... not so much.
  • The Prestige begins as a romantic tale of a professional rivalry between magicians, and ends very much as Science Fiction.
  • Cube 2: Hypercube to the original Cube. The first movie was at least somewhat grounded in reality, with the cube structure obviously futuristic, but still employing normal and believable machinery. The second replaces this with some sort of physically impossible mega-structure consisting of millions of rooms that freely employs Time Travel, intersecting parallel universes, and many more "hardcore sci-fi" contraptions. Cube Zero goes back to the conventions of the first, but partly changes the character point-of-view instead.
  • Lord of War starts out as a politically-minded dark comedy, but slowly turns into a straight (and very depressing) drama as it goes on. Which makes for a really cool metashift as the audience realizes the real cost of the glitz and glamour of gun-running along with Nick Cage's character.
  • The French "thriller" Cache starts off as a thriller, with a couple being video taped by a mysterious stranger. Halfway through the film, the video tapes become sorta irrelevant and the movie then becomes about racial tensions between the French and Algerians. In the end, we never find out who was making the tapes at all.
  • The John Woo movie Bullet In The Head starts as your typical Heroic Bloodshed movie involving three triad gangsters looking to make a big score. But then they go to Vietnam, where The War is in full swing, and the movie becomes a psychological war drama akin to Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter that tears apart the bond between Blood Brothers which in Woo's other movies was all but unbreakable, before going into something combining the two for the finale as one of the surviving protagonists goes after the other in revenge for killing the other one. The movie is by far Woo's grimmest and most emotionally devastating movie.
  • Angel Heart begins as something of a gritty period piece mixed with noir in a similar sort of style to Chinatown before turning into a particularly dark whodunnit, and then going into Surreal Horror before the final act brings us into psychological terror and the supernatural.
  • The Terminator series does this. The first flick is a Slasher Movie with a sci-fi bent. The second and third are more action/sci-fi movies that aren't quite as dark. The fourth one is a futuristic war movie.
  • Predator begins as a typical war movie, a rescue mission in the jungle. Soon the commandos find the titular alien hunter, are slaughtered and the film becomes a one-vs-one fight to the death with Sci-Fi elements.
  • Western, Soldier Blue spends most of its time being a boy meets girl comedy. Until just before the end when it becomes a horrific, searing indictment on the US army's treatment of the Indian population, detailing an infamous massacre, including the dismemberment of children and rape of women, as the main characters look on in horror, unable to stop it.
  • Titanic is an Edwardian Era romance drama until almost exactly halfway through, at which point the ship hits an iceberg and it becomes a full-on Disaster Movie with a romantic subplot.
  • Plan B starts out with all the makings of a romantic comedy of errors about a man so desperate to win his girlfriend back that he's willing to pretend to be gay to mess with her new boyfriend's head, but gradually evolves into a genuine Queer Romance as the girlfriend becomes increasingly sidelined by the relationship between the two male leads
  • The Salton Sea starts out as a comedy Stoner Flick. Then the main character reveals to us that he has been an Unreliable Narrator; something he hadn't told us before is about to change everything. In a meta sense, that means a shift to violent thriller.
  • Mulholland Drive starts off as a convoluted but intriguing mystery/thriller centred around an amnesiac woman trying figure out who she is, then goes into lesbian romance, then goes into mind-boggling weirdness.
  • Each film in the Back to the Future trilogy, while broadly described as "sci-fi comedy", plays with a different genre. The first is a fish out of water comedy that lampoons 1950s and 1980s culture by viewing the former through the lens of the latter. The second is more densely plotted, dials up the sci-fi and is dark by the trilogy's standards. The third places Marty and Doc in a double-barreled predicament reminiscent of the first film, only this time using the Wild West as its backdrop.
  • Kill List sets itself up as a pretty standard (if unusually gory) crime thriller/hitman movie; then, about two-thirds of the way in, a weird, vaguely druidic Cult shows up, and the film abruptly shifts into horror territory.
  • The Lost in Space film does this in relation to the original show. While the show was mostly a family-based sitcom disguised as sci-fi, the film is a straight sci-fi drama.
  • Director James Mangold has stated that The Wolverine will be a Film Noir story rather than a Superhero flick like the previous X-Men movies. Because of this, the Not Wearing Tights trope is in effect.
  • Kevin Feige has stated that this is the goal of the Phase 2 Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, as Marvel wishes to diversify the content of their films. To that end, he stated that Captain America: The Winter Soldier will be a Darker and Edgier political thriller, while Iron Man 3 will be more of a Science Fiction story than an outright superhero movie.
  • The World's End starts out as a comedy about a charming, charismatic Man Child and his more grown-up friends trying to finish a pub crawl that they didn't manage 20+ years ago. The pub crawl promptly ruined by the protagonist's immaturity, a variety of unsettled business between the friends, and an Alien Invasion.
  • Heartbreakers starts off as a film about a ruthless mother-daughter pair of con artists. The last third turns into a Romantic Comedy.

    Literature 
  • Happens fairly early on in The Lord of the Rings. The first chapter, and parts of the second, are very comical and whimsical, except for Gandalf's confrontation with Bilbo, whereas the rest is much more dark and grim. This has a lot to do with Tolkien trying to write a sequel to The Hobbit by editorial mandate, but giving that up pretty early in favor of something connected to The Silmarillion (which said Editor rejected). Even then, after the Fellowship splits, each character's story is, in many ways, a different genre, ranging from modern stories concerning war and morality to epic tales in a more medieval vein. These changes were more intentional than the shift out of a children's story, as Tolkien toyed a lot with the difference between medieval and modern works.
  • The Hedge Knight, the prequel for A Song of Ice and Fire, reads first as a romantic tale about an up-and-coming knight, but anyone familiar with the author knows it'll turn into tragedy.
  • Michael Chabon's Summerland starts out as a Coming of Age Story with some Magic Realism, about a boy lives in a quirky island town and plays for his local baseball team. Then the baseball-playing fairies show up and the Save The World plot begins, and the book becomes full-on High Fantasy.
  • In Jeff Lindsay's Dexter series, about a serial killer who only kills bad guys (on which the TV show of the same name was based), the first two books (Darkly Dreaming Dexter and Dearly Devoted Dexter) are mainstream crime thrillers aside from the unusual protagonist, but the third (Dexter in the Dark) takes a sharp left turn into dark fantasy territory, pitting Dexter against supernatural forces, ancient conspiracies, and Cosmic Horror Story.
  • Rant by Chuck Palahniuk is a fictional oral biography of... well, that's just it. He's an interesting character, but what we're supposed to think is significant about Buster Casey changes rapidly. There's a brief mention early on of a rabies epidemic, but by the end it's revealed that he is his own adopted father, and biological father, and grandfather, and great-grandfather, and the villain, via car accident induced time travel. In addition, it's not until an offhand remark by a character about a third of the way into the book about ports in the back of peoples head that you realize it's a sci-fi story set in the future.
  • The Discworld series started off as fairly straightforward parodies of Heroic Fantasy. Later novels have been much more heavily focused on social satire, with heavy emphasis on philosophy and topics such as morality, class warfare, religion, theoretical physics, and modern city life. It works because they're still bloody hilarious.
  • The Harry Potter books started off as a slightly tongue-in-cheek Urban Fantasy and gradually became an epic High Fantasy in which Anyone Can Die. J. K. Rowling planned from the start that the series would become Darker and Edgier as Harry (and his readers) grew up.
  • In How NOT To Write A Novel, they have a section ("One Ring to Rule them All" said the Old Cowpoke) on genre shifts handled poorly. Opens with a woman writing in a diary hinting at a romance novel (an obvious Affectionate Parody of Bridget Jones' Diary), ends with an entry of OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD HE'S NOT HUMAN.
  • P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath series starts out in Low Fantasy territory in the first book, God Stalk; while there's foreshadowing there, the wider High Fantasy plot doesn't really emerge until the second book, Dark of the Moon. The shift alienated some readers, who wanted more of the same style of book as the first.
  • Orson Scott Card's Treasure Box turns out to be one of his "tales of dread," but you don't realize it's in that genre until well into the story, about the same time the main character does. Also, in his Ender Saga, the first novel (and the most famous one) Ender’s Game is about a young boy who is taught to be a soldier in order to command humanity's fleet against the "buggers". The sequel Speaker for the Dead is focused on Ender (who is now in his 30s) 3000 years later (he survives due to frequent relativistic travel), helping a dysfunctional family and studying a new alien race. The third and fourth novels (which was originally one novel split for publishing reasons), Xenocide and Children of the Mind, continue the story of the second novel (after a 30-year Time Skip) with Ender slowly moving out of focus as the protagonist. Additionally, they add tons of metaphysics into the mix, to the point where FTL travel becomes reality because a powerful AI can imagine it. The difference between the first and the second novels is justified because Card had always wanted to write Speaker for the Dead but couldn't find a compelling protagonist. Then, a friend suggested that he use Ender from a novella he wrote once. Thus, Ender's Game was expanded into a full-fledged novel with a chapter added to transition into Speaker for the Dead in order to avoid starting Speaker with a lengthy introduction of the character.
  • Ranger's Apprentice begins in classic fantasy style - a young orphaned hero has to fight against an evil sorcerer controlling an army of monsters. However, in later books there's not a shred of the fantastic to be seen; indeed, one story deals with an old man using primitive science to fake magic.
  • Nikolai Gogol's classic short story "The Overcoat" is set in nineteenth-century Russia and appears to have no elements of the supernatural at all. Then, in the last few pages, the main character dies and comes back as a zombie.
  • The Saga of the Noble Dead starts off looking like a very standard "vampire hunter" story that happens to have a High Fantasy setting rather than the more common modern one. From the end of the second book on, it becomes obvious that this is, in fact, a High Fantasy epic that happens to heavily involve vampires.
  • The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To turns from a coming-of-age tale to a frenzied escape from The Man about 2/3 through.
  • The Bartimaeus Trilogy undergoes one, together with some major Character Development somewhere during the second book, and, most noticeably, between the second and third. It starts out as your typical fantasy story about a preteen boy and his quirky sidekick demon defeating the bad guy and saving a whole lot of useless adults in the process. In the later books the saved government is exposed to be oppressive and totalitarian, the glorified idols of the protagonist's youth are viciously unmasked. By the end of the series the books describe a dying empire, clinging desperately to its former glory. The most interesting part is probably that the kid from the first book turns into one of the oppressors and the reader ends up rooting for La Résistance, that is originally introduced very briefly as nothing more than a bunch of deranged terrorists.
  • Out of the Dark by David Weber is expanded from a short story he wrote. The genre shift doesn't take place near the end, resulting in a cry of Twist Ending or Deus ex Machina. The original short story shifts about halfway through, the issue is though the novel's expansion of the story is entirely before the events, resulting in 90% in the first genre of hard scifi alien invasion. The last 10% however involves Dracula
  • A story Distant Rainbow by Brothers Strugatski starts as a funny story about peculiar scientific experiments and shifts into a story about an apocalypse halfway through, as their experiment has Gone Horribly Wrong.
  • Anne Frank's diary does not begin with her family hiding in the attic. It begins with a girl receiving a blank diary for her thirteenth birthday, having a party, attending school, describing her friends...
  • Vladimir Vasilyev's novel The Black Relay Race, while not a direct sequel to his Death or Glory novel, takes place in the same 'verse. However, unlike DoG, which involves a human colony discovering that there's more to humans than meets the eye, while alien races are hunting them, The Black Relay Race is a horror novel, taking place on a space yacht transporting strange cargo with the crew disappearing one-by-one. Then follow the novels The Legacy of Giants and No One but Us, with an additional genre shift, although much more like the first novel than the second. These are pure war novels, inspired by David Brin's Startide Rising.
  • Dale Brown books: The Tin Man was the first one to be almost entirely focused on the dirtside perspective, unlike previous titles that were almost solely the flyboys' game. More infantry-centric content started creeping in after that.
  • Nine Princes in Amber starts off as a hardboiled noir detective story, complete with a Private Eye Monologue (you can practically hear "Carl Corey's" narration in Humphrey Bogart's voice). It only takes a few chapters before "Corey" discovers that he's actually an amnesiac Dimensional Traveler whose native plane is a fantasy realm, however.
  • Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five shifts between World War II fiction and science fiction involving Alien Abduction and Mental Time Travel.
  • The first seven books of the Vorkosigan Saga are Military Science-Fiction, followed by a few books of Mystery Fiction mixed with political intrigue. Then comes A Civil Campaign, which is a Comedy Of Manners...
  • This is part-and-parcel of the premise of Mistborn as a fantasy "trilogy of trilogies" set each several hundred years after the previous in a world where Medieval Stasis is not in effect. Mistborn: The Original Trilogy is High Fantasy; The Alloy of Law and its forthcoming sequels (bridge books between trilogies one and two) is a quasi-Victorian mystery/adventure with fantastic elements and vaguely steampunk-ish aesthetic, the second full trilogy (as yet unwritten) is slated to be Urban Fantasy, and trilogy three is set to be Space Opera.
  • Both of Tamora Pierce's series undergo this:
    • The Tortall Universe format shifts from Fantasy-Adventure to Fantasy-Police Procedural with the Provost's Dog trilogy. It's also the first time we see Tortallan life from the commoners' point-of-view.note 
    • The Circle Opens quartet in the Circle of Magic universe are also crime novels; each plot has the protagonist and student becoming entangled with a local crime spree—assassinations, gang murders, arson, and serial killings, in that order.
  • Dr Franklins Island turns from a Robinsonade to a story of psychological torture, Body Horror, and struggles with what it means to be human. Though the blurb on the back does tell the reader ahead of time.
  • Eaters Of The Dead (aka The 13th Warrior) begins as a translation/retelling of Ahmad ibn Fadlan's visit to the Volga Buglars. Somewhere between the third and fourth chapters, however, it morphs into an External Retcon Demythification of Beowulf.

     Live Action TV  
  • Breaking Bad, for its first couple of seasons was a Black Comedy mixed with a certain level of drama. By the end of the second season, a shift began taking place as the stakes got higher and higher. Over the course of the rest of the series, the comedy was slowly shed and Breaking Bad transformed into a modern Shakespearean tragedy. By its final eight episodes, there was practically no trace of comedy left.
  • Lincoln Heights started out as a police drama about a man who decided to move his family to the neighborhood he polices. It then becomes the African American version of The O.C. The second version was arguably much more interesting since there are plenty of cop shows on television, but almost no dramas starting Black families.
  • LOST was initially presented as just a drama about people stranded on a desert island with only subtle supernatural occurrences, but increasingly became a sci-fi/fantasy show in disguise. The show went from being more subtle SF/F to full-blown science fiction in Season 3 when Desmond started time-travelling, and cemented that change in Season 4 with an episode written with the specific purpose of smacking the viewers around the head with the message "LOST IS SCIENCE FICTION". And then season six ditches the science fiction in favor of becoming a fantasy show.
  • M*A*S*H famously began drifting away from being a Black Comedy after the departure of Colonel Blake and Trapper John, and by the time Radar left in the 8th season, it had lost most of its dark humorous edge and had rebranded itself a "Dramedy."
  • Passions started out as a typical soap opera and quickly mutated into a supernatural weird-fest. Ditto for Dark Shadows and General Hospital's Spin-Off Port Charles.
  • The early episodes of lonelygirl15 were in the style of a realistic video blog. Over time, it turned into a sort of soap opera/drama/thriller hybrid with evil cults, conspiracies, guns and laser beams. For an example of just how different the show has become, compare classic episode "Proving Science Wrong!"[1] to one of the early season 2 episodes, "Home Invasion."[2]
  • House was pitched to Fox as a show somewhat along the lines of Diagnosis: Murder, where the doctors use their medical skills to solve crimes. It quickly moved away from this and became a drama centered on the fact that "everybody lies," from the patients to House himself.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is a slightly odd example since, in hindsight, the static setting seems an obvious way to do more arc-based storylines and use lots of recurring characters but, in the beginning, it was just normal Star Trek with a gimmick — the only important difference was that the alien of the week from the Planet of Hats came to them instead of the other way 'round thanks to the wormhole discovered in the first episode. The first season is almost indistinguishable from other Treks, and only when the characters are established do the writers start doing different things.
  • For much of its long life, The Bill was a Police Procedural, but when a new executive producer took over in 2002 it rapidly shifted into a Crime Time Soap, alienating many long-term fans.
  • Baywatch Nights is one of the most infamous examples of this trope. Originally it was a Baywatch spinoff centered around Sgt. Garner Ellerbee and Mitch Buchannon opening a detective agency and fighting crime. The show's low ratings coupled with the success of The X-Files caused the producers to ditch Ellerbee and have Buchannon battle the paranormal.
  • Look Around You is one of the biggest users of this trope — the first and second seasons are, to all intents and purposes, different shows. The first series is a series of 10 minute spoofs of educational videos from the 1970s, while the second is a 30 minute studio-comedy parody of shows such as Tomorrows World. Apart from a couple of shared Running Gags and a brief mention of shared minor characters, the two series are connected only by the theme of science and having the same writers.
  • As lampshaded by the announcer, following the move from TechTV to G4, the video game review show X-Play became less about reviewing games and more about employing successive "lame vaudeville gags." At one point, the show was able to provide thorough reviews of at least five games in one single airing, but thanks to the space the gags took up, they were barely able to get through three. They later became less frequent, and X-Play now only has one or two sketches a week. The opposite then happened. It used to be a sketch comedy/video game review show, but now it's just about the reviews (and there's only about two an episode) and video game news (that are significantly less comical) as it's the only thing on G4 still about video games, and Series/X-Play has simply become a 22-minute distillation what G4 was 24 hours a day not even a few years before.
  • Red Dwarf has had a number of shifts throughout its run. The show was pitched as, and started out as, a Slice of Life situation comedy with a spaceship as the setting, that morphed into a more action-oriented Sci-Fi Comedy in its third series, eventually morphing into more of an Action Comedy by its sixth series, then more of a Sci-fi Dramedy in Series 7, and then a Prison Comedy in Series 8. The shifts in tone were relatively subtle, but if it weren't for the consistent characters, episodes from different series would appear to be from completely different programs.
  • The Practice started as a gritty legal show focused on a firm that struggled to make the rent and convince clients to pay for traffic court. By the time the show was over, the firm was representing increasingly bizarre clients, getting cases related to current events, winning impossible cases, and having endless episodes about the lawyers' personal lives. Boston Legal completed the transition and added comedic elements. The universe therefore shifted from legal procedural/drama, to a soap opera/drama, and then finally to a soap opera/dramedy. Watching an early episode of the first show and a late episode of the second show is highly jarring.
  • Single episode example from Torchwood; "Countrycide" contained no elements of the supernatural or aliens that Torchwood expected to find.
  • Likewise, the Supernatural episodes "The Benders" and "Family Remains". The show's Myth Arc itself experienced a massive shift in the fourth season. Seasons 1-3 were a horror series focused on Sam and Dean fighting random monsters while also working to stop whatever Big Bad was currently involved (Azazel in seasons 1-2; Lilith in season 3), and then with the fourth season the show transformed into an apocalyptic angel and demon war with an occasional monster thrown in.
  • Doctor Who, the parent show of Torchwood, can and frequently does change genres from one story to the next. A show whose premise is that the main character travels throughout time and space lends itself exceptionally well to this. One can convincingly argue that almost the entire series is basically the Doctor gatecrashing various genres and bringing trouble with him.
    • All the way back in the 1960s, when the show first aired, it was meant to be an Edutainment show with a heavy focus on history and science. Now it's a sci-fi fantasy horror dramedy where Agatha Christie fought off murderous alien wasps and Winston Churchill sent spitfires into space to fight alien crafts. So, yeah, the genre changed somewhere there.
    • Series 6 turned into a Sci Fi Soap Opera at times.
    • One of the reasons William Hartnell gave for leaving the show was that the producer wanted to drop most of the unpopular 'pure historical' and Adventure stories, and shift the show into Darker and Edgier science fiction horror aimed at the Periphery Demographic of adult science fiction fans the show had, when Hartnell wanted to make a children's programme. There is a transitional period towards the end of Hartnell, but it's only Troughton's addition which fully sends the series into this, developing the stereotypical Second Doctor "base under siege" story type as a cheap way of doing claustrophobic monster-battling horror on a limited budget.
  • Battlestar Galactica to Caprica. The former is a Space Opera that also happens to be a Darker and Edgier Continuity Reboot of a 70s action adventure show. The latter is a Cyberpunk story set in a setting similar to (though not actually) Twenty Minutes In The Future blended with a Family Drama.
  • Jonas's first season was your average sitcom, featuring the Jonas Brothers in the title role. Its second season, Jonas L.A., has a stronger plot and is a borderline soap-opera, complete with Previously On and On the Next segments.
  • Season 1 of Prison Break revolves around an honest-to-god prison break with a cast composed almost entirely of stock characters ripped from classic prison movies, and season 2 continues it with the escaped inmates on the run from the FBI. By the end of season 2, the escapees have all successfully evaded the law (the few that survived, at least...) but the writers manage to justify the title by having the main characters all rounded up for random reasons and a new, even worse prison in Panama. Then the final season rolls around, and the whole series morphs into some weird cross between MacGyver and The Bourne Series about the main cast trying to take down some evil shadow corporation using zany schemes whipped together with loot from the Dollar Store.
  • On Community, most episodes are comedic in tone, following the study group and their antics on the Greendale campus. However there are some switchups. "Mixology Certification" keeps this up for the first five minutes, but as soon as things switch to the bar, things become more somber. The end of the episode isn't comedic, but poignant. Consuming alcohol doesn't make the characters do anything funny, but makes things sad (it's the "Lifetime original movie of beverages" as Troy puts it). In short, it's been an action movie ("Modern Warfare"), a Rankin-Bass style Christmas Special ("Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas"), a spaghetti Western ("A Fistfull of Paintballs"), a single-camera documentary show ("Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking"), and a zombie movie ("Epidemiology"). The reason it can pull all of this off is because while each episode is a great example of the genre it's shifted to, it's also a great episode of Community at the same time.
    • The series as a whole has drastically shifted in genre since its beginnings as well. The majority of season one was a fairly straightforward and mildly pessimistic comedy centered on somewhat quirky people in mostly ordinary situations. After a while its occasional forays into meta humor became so memorable that it evolved into a surrealist show with jokes so meta that their very meta-ness is intended as a commentary on meta-ness itself.
  • Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis were mostly similar in setup. Yes, the Atlantis team was initially cut off from Earth, but subsequent seasons eliminated this problem. Stargate Universe, you'll have to check to make sure you're actually watching a Stargate series. It goes with the "cut off from Earth" part and sticks with it (mostly), although the crew of the Destiny is capable of communicating with Earth. Also, unlike SG-1 and Atlantis, Universe takes a page out of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica series and focuses more on individuals struggling to survive to the point where even the musical score is completely different from the "typical" Stargate music. The Wagon Train to the Stars aspect is entirely ditched, with few people who are not the ship's crew ever appearing, and only one alien race that appears quite infrequently. Mostly, it was about interpersonal conflicts on a broken ship. You will hear the phrase "Soap Opera IN SPACE!" a lot. It only lasted a season and a half,
  • Executive Meddling notoriously forced the Campy Detective Drama Burkes Law to become a Tuxedo and Martini spy series instead. The changes (which included firing virtually the entire cast and retitling the show Amos Burke, Secret Agent) bombed spectacularly and the series was canceled midway through the season.
  • Kamen Rider Fourze was arguably one for the Heisei-era Kamen Rider franchise as a whole. The creator even notes that before the show even aired, the fandom was up in arms about Kamen Rider "Being turned into a high school drama!"
  • The West Wing switches focus from the Bartlett administration to the Santos and Vinick campaigns in the sixth season. The show emphasizes this switch with a sudden change to a mockumentary format for the thirteenth episode of that season.
  • Touch becomes a more actionized thriller in the second season, as Martin is faced with more dangerous tasks which involve him running into really dangerous people. The first season was very Slice of Life.
  • The TV film Reichenbach Falls, based on an idea by Ian Rankin, shifts genres in a rather Mind Screwy way, reflecting the central character's growing Genre Savvy.
  • The TBS music video show Night Tracks debuted in 1983 playing music from all genres (pop, rock, R&B, etc.) until the summer of 1991 when it went to an exclusively alternative rock music (not long before Nirvana changed the musically landscape).
  • Only Fools And Horses: Happened most notably with Rock and Chips which was a rather downbeat drama with some laughs rather than the traditional sitcom of the original, but it did occasionally happen within the series itself.
    • The 1985 Christmas special "To Hull and Back" was treated more like a crime caper film than a sitcom
    • The series finale "Sleepless in Peckham," while still having plenty of comedic moments, had a far more serious atmosphere than most of the series.

    Magazines 
  • Billboard was originally a magazine dedicated to bill posting back in 1894. It evolved in the 1920s to advertise circuses, carnivals, fairs, and vaudeville shows, and continued to shift to a more entertainment-driven focus in the 1930s. By the 1940s, they began issuing music charts. The shift was completed in 1961, when the magazine moved entirely to publication of music charts and music industry-related news.

    Music 
  • Many rockers have found success by shifting to country after losing touch with the rock audience. Examples: Jerry Lee Lewis, Conway Twitty, Kenny Rogers, Billy Joe Royal, Dickey Lee, and, to some extent, Elvis Presley.
  • Cerys Matthews' first solo album after leaving Catatonia was a country album, Cockahoop!.
  • There's also the aptly titled "Country Song" by Seether (though still much closer to rock overall).
  • Metallica, in the 90's, gradually shifted from thrash metal to a bluesy hard rock and heavy metal style. 2003's "St. Anger" was a bizarre hodgepodge of thrash metal, punk/hardcore, nu-metal and hard rock. While 2008's "Death Magnetic" was, for the most part, a return to the band's classic thrash metal sound.
  • k.d. lang shifted genres from country to pop ballads beginning with Ingenue. While she has done quite well as a balladeer, it's hard to say, given her vegetarianism and sexual orientation, whether she jumped out of country or was pushed.
  • Apoptygma Berzerk was an EBM band that many considered on par with VNV Nation and Covenant, and in fact was one of the two bands (along with VNV) to initially be considered in the sub-genre of "Futurepop." Now they make indy-sounding electro-rock, similar to the Killers or Shiny Toy Guns.
  • They Might Be Giants. Shifted from catchy lyrical pop to kid-friendly tunes and finally to the punky "I'm Impressed" in The Else.
  • Jesse McCartney started out singing chaste love songs aimed at tweens, then kept the style for the second album, but with slightly more sexual lyrics to match his aging audience. Then REALLY did this trope for his latest stuff. Switching to a more techno/hip hop style with much more sexual lyrics. One single is 3 minutes of him telling any female listeners to shake their ass.
  • The Cult started out as a heavily-produced, effect-laden musical experience that inspired modern Goth rock for their first two albums. On their third album, Electric, however, they had finished recording the entire thing when they realized that they didn't really like the way it sounded, so they found a new producer with whom they re-recorded the entire album as a straight-up hard rocker that sounded quite a bit like AC/DC and other heavy rock bands of the time. The resulting schism in their fanbase makes them seem like they became a new band.
  • Miyavi has gone through several genre shifts, starting with a kind of Marilyn Manson-esque kind of rock, moving to acoustic pop and rock, then into a fusion of hip-hop and punk, and now has his own blend of rock the showcases his percussive guitar technique.
  • Basic Element was a Eurodance group in The Nineties, then shifted to Italo-Electroclash during The Oughts.
  • Happens occasionally in Hip Hop. If a rapper is also a decent singer, there's a very high chance (that increases as they get older) that they'll abandon rapping completely in favor of singing. This isn't necessarily a bad move; the quality is still high and they're likely to appeal to a wider audience (especially if their career was beginning to stale), but fans of their older material might feel left out in the cold. See: Queen Latifah, Kid Rock, Lauryn Hill, Cee-Lo, Andre3000, The Black Eyed Peas, etc.
  • OFWGKTA is still mostly known for their rap music but one of their artists, Frank Ocean, did release an R&B album that contrasted the hardcore hip-hop of the other rappers.
  • Mod punk Paul Weller, after he broke up The Jam and turned to Motown soul with the Style Council. To a lot of The Jam fans, it was more like Genre Adultery at first.
  • Taylor Swift switched from country to contemporary pop/rock.
  • With her third album, Love Ain't Here No More, Angelina (Camarillo) mostly abandoned freestyle in favor of contemporary R&B dance-pop (complete with Auto-Tune on some songs).
  • Charlie Simpson went from being a member of the clean-cut British boy band Busted to the lead singer of the post-hardcore band Fightstar to a folk rock solo artist.
  • Darius Rucker had huge success in the 1990s with guitar-pop band Hootie & the Blowfish, briefly flirted with R&B in the early '00s, and became a country music artist in 2008.
  • One of King Crimson's defining traits, with their biggest shift occurring in the early 1980s when Robert Fripp abandoned the prog based sounds of the previous lineups in order to dabble with minimalistic New Wave and World Beat music.
  • John Frusciante of Red Hot Chili Peppers fame had an interesting version of this where he released six albums of six different genres...all in six months. He further continued this by switching to electronic music after he left the band, eventually releasing a song shifting at least ten genres within four minutes in 2012; to demonstrate how 60s and 70s recording techniques and rock/pop can be combined with modern electronica and computers.
  • Marc van Linden went from epic trance to minimal tech-house, now he appears to be doing nu-skool Euro-house.
  • Liza da Costa, the first vocalist of the Eurodance band Captain Jack, is now singing only bossa nova songs.
  • Linkin Park. Not only did the band change genres, but changed their logo as well. The shift of genre has gotten to the point where fans describe nu metal Linkin Park as "old" whereas the alternative rock style from Minutes to Midnight and onwards is "new".
    • As their Underground demos reveal, however, Shinoda has always built the songs up from his production, it's just that in the Nu-Metal era they used more guitars whereas now they use more synths.
  • David Bowie built a career on this trope, switching between psychedelic folk-rock, glam rock, Philly soul, and Krautrock within a decade alone. This resulted in a New Sound Album every time he stepped into a recording studio.
  • Bill Callahan started out doing avant-garde lo-fi rock for his first few albums as Smog, switched to baroque pop for an album, then folk for a while, and has settled now on alt-country.
  • Kerli started out doing alt-rock, but now does electro dance pop; compare Love is Dead(2008) and Army of Love(2010).
  • Exile started out as a pop-rock band, having a big hit with "Kiss You All Over" but absolutely nothing else. A few membership changes later, they successfully reinvented themselves as a country-rock band which scored ten #1 hits.
  • Rozalla (Miller), best known for the Eurodance hit "Everybody's Free (To Feel Good)" back in 1993, now does easy listening soul jazz.
  • The Doobie Brothers, after original frontman Tom Johnston left the band due to severe illness, and replaced by the more soulful Michael McDonald.
  • Behemoth went from Black Metal to Blackened Death Metal, and then Death Metal.
  • It may be hard to believe, given songs like "I Kissed a Girl" and revealing photo shoots, but Katy Perry started out as a contemporary Christian singer.
  • Little Boots' debut album was quasi-80's electropop, but now she's doing retro euro-House Music.
  • The Oak Ridge Boys were originally a gospel group, but shifted to country in the early-mid 70s.
  • Nachtmystium used to be a standard spikes-and-corpsepaint Black Metal band for their first couple albums, then in 2006 they started incorporating elements of Psychedelic Rock with Instinct:Decay. With their two Black Meddle albums (note the misspelling) they've almost entirely abandoned their black metal sound, mixing extreme metal with post-rock, psychedelic rock, and Industrial Metal.
  • One hit wonder OMC (courtesy of the breezy pop song "How Bizarre") was previously the lead singer of a hardcore band.
  • The Beastie Boys started out as a hardcore band, then by the time they were recording albums, had morphed into a Run DMC-ish rap-rock band, then achieved critical acclaim via sample-based hip-hop.
  • Ex-Hannah Montana teen star Emily Osment began with straightforward teen pop like "I Don't Think About It" and "Hero In Me". She recorded a guitar-driven, "adult alternative"-influenced EP in 2009 called All The Right Wrongs, followed by a synthesizer-heavy, dubstep-electronica-dance-pop full-length album, Fight Or Flight, in 2010. The song "Drift", recorded for the Cyberbully soundtrack, sounds like Kid A-era Radiohead. Her new music (as of 2012) is as part of the unsigned duo "Ramshackle", and sounds much more acoustic and folksy.
  • Diamond Rio abandoned country music in the mid-2000s for Christian music.
  • Up until about 2010, DJ Scot Project was one of the top figureheads in the trance scene, now he produces LMFAO/PSY style electro house/trouse.
  • Upon her Career Resurrection Robyn went from American-geared R&B boy/girl band pop to 80's retro synthpop.
  • Birdeatsbaby has gone from Dark Cabaret to Orchestral Rock. Maybe.
  • Porcupine Tree went from Psychedelic Rock / Progressive Rock to Progressive Metal starting with 2002's In Absentia.
  • Job for a Cowboy started as a Deathcore band on their first extended play, to the point that they were one of three bands responsible for popularizing the genre, as well as the "pig squeal" vocal style. Come 2007's Genesis, and they shifted into a modern Technical Death Metal sound, much to the surprise of some listeners.
  • Country Music singer Kenny Chesney started out as a fairly typical mainstream country artist, but over the last few years his interest in boating and island living have caused him to incorporate Caribbean influences into his music and lyrics about laid-back beach life. Some people have even speculated that he is attempting to become this generation's Jimmy Buffett.
  • Child prodigy Hunter Hayes started out as a Cajun musician before shifting to mainstream country-pop in the late 2000s.
  • Trentemoller went from micro-minimal trance to ambient rock, and now appears to be headed towards chilled dubstep.
  • This YouTube video. In roughly a minute, they shift through 13 genres, changing tempos appropriately while they're at it, all while playing the same Justin Timberlake song.
  • The Cherry Poppin Daddies started in 1989 as a punk/funk band who played the occasional swing jazz cover, then transitioned into a ska punk band by the mid-1990s. The band brought back the swing elements in the late 1990s and has since settled as a combination swing and ska band, though has released albums dabbling in varying genres including soul, pop and world music.
  • The Aquabats! began as an eight-or-nine-member ska band, recording two ska albums before wanting to break away from genre typecasting by recording 1999's The Aquabats! vs. the Floating Eye of Death!, an album featuring no ska and mostly New Wave-influenced rock and punk. The band has since continued with this style, and now exist as a five-member group after the departure of their horn section in the early 2000s.
  • Avenged Sevenfold's Self-Titled Album does this thrice, with "A Little Piece Of Heaven" suddenly being composed mostly of brass and showtune instruments and is composed in a style more similar to Danny Elfman than any of their previous songs, then immediately. Another one includes "Dear God", which has more in common with a country song than a metal one. Then there's also "Gunslinger" — which can best be described as a blend of country, blues, and rock. They also do this a few times on the "Nightmare" album: particularly with the strictly piano-based ballad "Fiction" (which was the last song Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan wrote, and the one song on the album to feature his vocals) and the heavily blues-based "Tonight the World Dies" (with slide guitar to boot). Then, on "Hail to the King", the album ends with the blues ballad "Acid Rain".
    • Throughout the band's career, Avenged Sevenfold has gradually shifted from being a pure Metalcore band to doing straightforward hard rock bordering on heavy metal to a style that lead singer M Shadows described as being "more blues rock-influenced and more like classic rock and classic metal in the vein of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin".
  • Speaking of Led Zeppelin, they've certainly changed styles quite a bit throughout the band's career. Their first two albums were primarily Blues Rock. Then their third album consisted largely of folk-based music, with one blues ballad on it. Then their legendary untitled album pretty much consists of gritty hard rock - and their Signature Song "Stairway to Heaven", which builds up from a ballad to hard rock. Then there's "Houses of the Holy", which is more polished than anything they recorded to date. They've experienced with various styles - such as the reggae-tinged "D'yer Mak'er", the country-sounding "Hot Dog", the Latin-inspired "Fool in the Rain", and the carousel music sounding "Carouselambra".
  • Metal band Slipknot were Nu Metal in their early years (especially with their first two albums), but shifted to Alternative Metal for their third album, and then Groove Metal for their fourth.

     Newspaper Comics  
  • Chester Gould's strange twist of Dick Tracy from crime drama (albeit with futuristic technology) to SCI-FI, one of the most obvious genre shifts of all time. This is so (in)famous, it could almost be the trope namer.
  • The first few years of Garfield focused on the daily life of the titular cynical cat and his long-suffering everyman owner Jon. Then in the mid 1980s the strip adopted a light surrealist style, with Garfield becoming a playful Cloud Cuckoo Lander and Jon becoming a Lovable Loser, and started to focus on their interactions with the other equally-bizarre inhabitants of the strip. This iteration lasted until the late 1990s, when the strip became flanderized into a strange hybrid of the first and second iterations, with Garfield regaining his older cynical personality but with Jon keeping his loser characterization.
  • During the Great Depression, a good number of comic strips shifted from domestic comedy to comedic adventure.
  • Blondie started out just before the Great Depression with the couple being fabulously rich. When the stock market collapsed, Dagwood lost his fortune overnight, shifting the strip from flapper comedy to everyday struggles.

    Pinball 
  • While Fireball was a fairly conventional electro-mechanical pinball without any real plot, for some reason the sequel was advertised as part of Bally's "Superhero Series".

    Tabletop RPG 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Adventure S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks starts off as a standard "clean out the monster-filled dungeon" scenario. After the PCs enter, they discover that the dungeon is actually part of a derelict spacecraft and they're fighting alien monsters armed with high-tech weapons.
    • The 1st Edition Dungeon Master's Guide had advice for sending a party of PCs (whose players were playing a fantasy RPG) to The Wild West, an After the End setting or adventuring on a derelict starship. Each possibility used one of TSR's other games as the basis for the new setting (Boot Hill, Gamma World and Metamorphosis Alpha, respectively.
  • Lesser Shades Of Evil — the book begins with a disclaimer telling would-be PCs not to read any further, which is setting them up to make blessed champions of the gods in a high fantasy setting, then face all of the following in the very first session: that was all centuries ago, their powers are all genetic engineering and nanomachines, the intervening time has moved the setting After the End... and the idyllic fantasy setting was after a separate, earlier, end. Also, their main superpower is creating multiple bodies for themselves. After this exposition-heavy first session (which fast-forwards the PCs through their actions over these hundreds of years), one assumes the players are meant to go home and contemplate why any of that was kept secret if it were just going to be revealed as soon as they made their characters, anyway.
  • Exalted Started off as a Deconstruction of fantasy with a Pulp Fantasy feel, then faded Darker and Edgier and ultimately Grimdark. The latter parts of Second Edition went into a gonzo high-powered direction around Infernals, and a third edition has been stated with the intent of returning to the Pulp roots of the game.
  • The primary Pathfinder campaign setting, Golarion, has different nations that could be considered a Fantasy Counterpart Culture Kitchen Sink, with regions that resemble colonial America, revolutionary France, the Wild West, Transylvania, the Conan mythos, Darkest Africa, etc, allowing for vastly different story genres. Perhaps the most out of place one (in a typical fantasy RPG anyway) is Numeria, which similar to the "Barrier Peaks" D&D example above involves a crashed alien spaceship, futuristic technology, and all sorts of robots and Green Rocks.
  • In the Magic: The Gathering expansion Zendikar, the first two sets of the block are about adventure and surivial on a Death World. The last set turns it into a Cosmic Horror Story.

    Theater 
  • Something similar to this - the couching of ideas or stories that may be disturbing and/or controversial within a more conventional, non-threatening story - has happened throughout the history of art and literature.
  • Older Than Steam: William Shakespeare did it:
    • Romeo and Juliet goes from sweet and funny romantic comedy to an Anyone Can Die Tragedy with lightning speed.
    • Witness Hamlet turning the standard bloodthirsty revenge plot into a more philosophical meditation on the human condition. Indeed, a lost play by the same title (c. 1589-1594), which if written by Shakespeare would have been one of his earliest works, was apparently a far more straightforward revenge tragedy (and according to one source, not a particularly good one either).
    • The Winter's Tale plays this the straightest: for the first half it's a tragedy similar to Othello with a king falsely accusing his wife of infidelity, ending with the queen and their young son dying and their newborn daughter being abandoned to die in the wilderness. Fast-forward sixteen years and it's a pastoral comedy, complete with an archetypal Clown and the people-in-disguise hijinks reminiscent of As You Like It and Twelfth Night. For added fun, there's some Greek mythology mixed in throughout, with a Chorus of narrators, a trip to an oracle, and a statue of the queen coming to life.
  • Most of the first act of Wicked is a Be Yourself kind of story, with the Daria-esque outcast protagonist hating, then befriending the preppy girl, falling in love with the class clown, dreaming of a political career, and discovering that she's a powerful witch. Then she actually goes to pursue said political career, and absolutely nothing is how she expected.

    Toys 

     Video Games 
  • Battletoads starts out as a 2.5D beat 'em up, and then changes so dramatically that it's almost like a collection of minigames rather than a cohesive whole. It changes nearly every stage, with only hints of the first few beat 'em up levels surfacing every so often
  • Max Payne likes to tease the player with hints and suggestions of genre shift. For example, the first portion of the game seems to be a shooter set in a "normal" world with normal enemies, specifically a mafia group that the titular Payne had infiltrated, but then was exposed after being framed for murdering his partner. Following the connections up the hierarchy leads to a Hellfire Club-like nightclub called Ragnarok, where multiple references to The End of the World are brought up, and it seems the mafia heavy who uses it as a front is worshiping demons and practicing dark magic. However, it turns out that he's just a little insane and full of crap, even if he was killing people in his demented worship—no dark magic, just lots of creepy atmosphere, and then it goes back to what it was. Well, with a few bizarre dream sequences that seem to have installed a door in the Fourth Wall.
  • Drakengard starts off as Heroic Fantasy, but slowly and surely turns into a Hack and Slash version of Survival Horror, the horror aspect being the emphasis here. When things start to really get weird, they hang a lampshade on it when one of the mission descriptions is "Time and space fall apart, and the fantasy begins."
  • The Monster Rancher series started life as a Nintendo Hard Mons series that blended elements of a management simulation with action-based RPG combat. Monster Rancher EVO, however, threw it all out the window and was an ordinary RPG with weird, half-and-half combat (half "classic Monster Rancher" style and half standard RPG) and a stats system based on playing a rhythm mini-game. No, really. It also added towns, missions, almost completely axed tournaments, and it had a bizarre circus theme.
  • Halo: Combat Evolved: Two words: The Flood. The game starts off as a fun little shooter where you fight aliens with multi-coloured blood and where marines shout at the fallen enemies. Then you get to "343 Guilty Spark" in which you wander through a creepy fortress with no enemies, discover what happened to the squad before you then fight through a Flood infested forest. The Flood are like the Left 4 Dead infected, but they can fire weapons AND ROCKET LAUNCHERS. And they can sprint, too.
  • The same case goes for the Trigens in Far Cry.
  • Toyed with in Uncharted 2 when you bump into what seems like a yeti-type monster while in the mountains. However, later on it turns out to be a bunch of apparently bullet resistant natives in suits. Which you then discover are actually mythical ape-like Guardians of Shangri-la, so everything is okay again.
  • Half-Life started as a deconstruction of I Just Want to Be Badass, and still stands as one of its most shining examples.
  • After a couple of hours in post-alien-invasion urban wasteland, the Half-Life 2 level Ravenholm turns the game almost into a survival horror game similar to Silent Hill 2. Once you reach the end of the level by climbing up an old mine shaft in the early hours of the morning, it's back to regular gameplay and atmosphere again.
  • In Medal of Honor: Airborne, after 5 missions of largely realistic gameplay based on actual historic World War II campaigns, the final mission throws bulletproof, heavy-machinegun-wielding Nazi Super Soldiers at you, and takes place in, as Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw put it, "a giant concrete tower that can only be described as a Doom Fortress", which is actually real. 8 were built, they were ridiculously sized, and they had more refuge in intimidation than use.
  • Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath starts out as the Oddworld equivalent of a western. Mysterious Bounty Hunter? Check. Gun toting outlaws? Check. Hick Towns populated by chicken men? ...Um, Check. But then in the final third of the game, after stumbling into an ambush set up by the Big Bad, and getting hit with a Tomato Surprise, the game shifts to a more traditional Oddworld setting as you help the native Grubbs overcome the Big Bad. This change completely overhauls the game. Stranger's costume changes, the concept of Moolah (and therefore the concept of enemy bounties) is removed (enemies are turned into ammo instead. Don't ask), the soundtrack changes from spaghetti western music to epic orchestrated pieces, the enemies change from gruff outlaws to military Mooks, new gameplay mechanics are added, and the scenery colors shift from browns and reds to blues and greys.
  • The Chzo Mythos goes from fairly conventional (but good) horror, to SPACE horror, to Cosmic Horror Story.
  • Similarly, EarthBound starts off as pure humour, then goes to sci-fi at the Cave of the Past, then shifts to horror at the end of said cave.
  • In terms of in-game Genre Shift, Spore goes from the hunt/gather adventure-game-esque "Cell" and "Creature" stages, to real-time strategy for "Tribal" and "Civilization," to a Wide Open Sandbox for "Space."
  • Ōkami gets a bit of a shift towards the end, from a feudal Japan mythical fantasy to a feudal Japan Sci-Fi fantasy. Near the end, you see Kaguya, a woman born from a Bamboo shoot in the myth, have a rocket that looks like a bamboo shoot, and in the last part of the game, the eponymous Ark of Yamato turns out to be a spaceship, also implying that these monsters you've been facing are aliens.
  • Similarly to Okami, Xenoblade spends the entire game in typical JRPG swords-and-magic fantasy, only to switch to Sci-Fi in the epilogue.
  • Tales of Graces is yet another JRPG to switch gernre to Sci-Fi, though in this case it happens halfway through the plot.
  • Tales of Vesperia starts as a lighthearted journey storybefore it takes a very dark shift as the protagonist becomes a Vigilante Man and murders several villains who were "above the law", with his increasingly extreme methods bringing him into conflict with his friend who intends to go the Internal Reformist route. Then it becomes a slightly lighter, but still dark, take on a typical rescue-the-princess story, and then the mood becomes much lighter and the plot turns into an elaborate analogy for global warming.
  • The Ace Attorney series wavers back and forth on how fantastical its court drama is. In the first game spirit channeling is simply a way to talk to Mia Fey after her murder. The magatama shows up in the second game, upping the fantasy factor, and by the third game the entire final case revolves around the angry spirit of Dahlia Hawthorne and her attempt to murder Maya Fey. However, Apollo Justice trades the spiritual for a scientific (if slightly implausible) explanation for the Perceive ability and in Investigations the closest we get to unrealism is the holodeck-esque Little Thief. Dual Destinies now runs the full gambit of fantasy and scientific (though with leaning on the latter), with the Magatama and Perceive abilities returning, a new futuristic method of therapy, a case based around a mythological demon supposedly being released from his chambers, the revelation that robots exist in this setting, and a heavy focus on space travel.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VI shifts from a linear world to an openended one - the game begins in the World of Light, a bright, happy world with a linear plot and virtually no subquests. The second part of the game, the World of Ruin, is a dark, dreary place and is entirely open for exploration, the player free to recruit allies and do subquests in any order before heading to the final dungeon.
    • In general, the series has toyed with adding in modern and Sci Fi elements from time to time, starting with a race of moon people and a giant robot in Final Fantasy IV (or even earlier than that, with Warmech from the very first game.) and hitting full force by Final Fantasy VII, which went from straight up fantasy with the occasional Sci Fi element to Urban Fantasy.
    • Final Fantasy IV: The After Years goes with episodic series with all of them being emotionally challenging stories filled with character developments. After you reach the Moon, however, the game shifts right into a linear and almost plotless dungeon crawler with Boss Rush.
  • The game system in the Metal Gear series remains mostly unaltered, but the story and style subtly shift between games.
  • KOEI's Dynasty Warriors was a 1997 PS1 Fighting Game using characters from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms storyline; starting with 2 for the PS2 it morphed into a Hack and Slash that over time became possibly more popular than the turn-based strategy game (one of KOEI's flagship series), and in turn spawned its own Genre Shift, the Empires standalone games (for Dynasty Warriors 4 through 6, plus Samurai Warriors 2: Empires) that uses Turn-Based Strategy between the battles, where the dynamic focused less on enemy commander defeat and more on controlling bases, which would end up getting worked into Dynasty Warriors 6.
    • Dynasty Warriors 4 had a so-called Duel mode (certain officers could issue challenges which if accepted would turn into 45-second duels inside an enclosed square that however used the same controls and camera as normal gameplay), while Warriors Orochi 2 has a versus mode that harkens back to the original Dynasty Warriors game in being viewed sideways.
  • The original Higurashi: When They Cry game started out in the style of a basic Dating Sim, but shifted gradually into the horror and Gorn over the course of the arc. Later on, starting around Tsumihoroboshi-hen but becoming most evident in Matsuribayashi-hen, though, the series slowly shifted into being less about horror and more about The Power of Friendship to Screw Destiny.
  • The first arc of the sequel series, Umineko: When They Cry, is a definite horror story once the murders start. However, while the later arcs have more gorn, the simple fact that there's a Big Bad to be confronted and argued with shifts it over much more to a "mystery" feel. In fact, a sizeable chunk of the story consists of the characters fighting amongst themselves about what genre the story's supposed to be.
  • The first Dune game was an Adventure Game. Dune II established the Real-Time Strategy genre. Note that the first game did have some strategy elements. In fact, you had to set up consistent spice production using the Fremen tribes you find and befriend (which takes some doing), while training other Fremen tribes to fight and arming them in order to defeat the Harkonnen. The game is clearly based more on David Lynch's film than the book, even though Duncan Idaho looks like a Centauri, for some reason.
  • Perfect Dark is a first-person shooter through and through. But while it starts off as a spy thriller similar to GoldenEye (to which Perfect Dark is a Spiritual Successor), the story becomes increasingly sci-fi to where the final level takes place on an alien planet that's at war with another race.
  • Resident Evil began as an atmospheric horror series. By the fifth numerical installment, the series had shifted to the point that it took place largely in broad daylight, replaced the slow, plodding (but frightening) zombies of the first three games with faster and more intelligent enemies that used firearms (and provided the player with enough guns and ammo to respond in kind), and featured a co-op focus. This was a progression from the fourth game, which shook up the series formula with the introduction of similar gameplay to the fifth, but still had a horror tone to it (as well as a pervasive element of campy self-parody in its story that wasn't present in the previous games and hasn't returned since). With the fifth and now sixth games, the horror that the series was once based on has been substituted almost entirely by action. Also, within the aforementioned Resident Evil 4, the soundtrack undergoes a genre shift about two thirds of the way through. For the first three and-a-half chapters, the music is mainly drone or dark ambient, but starting with the later part of Chapter 4, it becomes more action-oriented and orchestral. After that, the Mercenaries sub-game has a techno soundtrack, with two of its songs recycled from P.N.03.
  • Magical Starsign does this, in much the same way EarthBound does.
  • Psychonauts. During the first parts of the game, the game is very quirky, and quite a few jokes are made, and the focus is mostly on an escape from home, but then, it develops into a fight against a conspiracy involving stealing brains of fellow Psychonauts, from that point on, the game's humour becomes a little darker, the minds more and more creepy, and it shifts towards a psychological thriller - with the final level being a rather infamous example of Nightmare Fuel (And Scrappy Level).
  • The original Star Control is an action/strategy sci-fi game with very little plot. The sequel is a plot-heavy action/adventure game, and much better for it. The creators have said that this was quite deliberate; they weren't too excited by the idea of a sequel that was just more of the same.
  • The first three Warcraft games were all RTS games where you could build and command entire armies In fact, Warcraft more or less refined the RTS format. World of Warcraft, however, is a MMORPG where you command ONE character. But the first three games provide most of the backstory, and there's even places in the World of Warcraft where you can site where specific events in the previous games happened. For example, the throneroom above Undercity was directly based on a cinematic from Warcraft III where Arthas betrayed his people and murdered his father. Alot of the original in-game builds are based on the buildings (Mostly the Alliance and Horde Barracks) straight out of the 3rd game.
  • Thunder Force is an arena shooter. Thunder Force II is part arena, part sidescroller. Every TF game past II is a sidescroller.
  • The independent game Suguri is a side-scrolling shoot-em-up, while its sequel, Acceleration of Suguri, is a one-on-one arena shooter.
  • Eversion does this intentionally, as the game is based on having things not exactly as they appear.
  • The cute and sweet dating sim series Angelique did this a few times for spin-off titles, but the best example is the RPG "Tenkuu no Requiem" which flirts with getting Darker and Edgier by bringing in a group of villains who aren't afraid to kick some dogs. (Quite literally in the accompanying Radio Drama.) This was a temporary shift though as following games returned to the series main genre.
  • Each game in the BIT.TRIP series is based on different gameplay mechanics.
    • BEAT is a paddle game similar to Pong.
    • CORE is a double-axis shooter.
    • VOID is a free-roaming collection game.
    • RUNNER is a Platform Game.
    • FATE is a Bullet Hell shooter.
    • FLUX returns to BEAT's gameplay design, while applying some gameplay mechanics and concepts from the other games.
  • Police Quest: SWAT started as a first-person Interactive Movie, then changed to isometric overhead RTS, then to a Rainbow Six-style Tactical Shooter. Going back further, Police Quest 1-4 were all Sierra adventure games. The first game was a straightforward Police Procedural. The second game was mostly a police procedural with more of a Lethal Weapon flavor. The third game was a Darker and Edgier tale of revenge. And Police Quest: Open Season was an even darker Author Tract about trying to hunt a crossdressing serial killer despite the media's interference.
  • Iji has a decidedly Survival/Horror twinge to it, especially in the very first level, but that is very quickly dispelled, and it very rapidly progresses into an epic Sci-Fi battle to secure the safety of the planet, with increasing levels of epic warfare depending on how you progress.
  • Boiling Point: Road to Hell most of the game is set in a Troperiffic Wide Open Sandbox Banana Republic. You deal with the drug lords, the rebels, the army and the CIA. The final act: Stop the Big Bad in his volcano lair from using his giant mind control device.
  • The (Do)DonPachi features this not exactly in its gameplaynote , but in its characters and plot. The series started off as two shooters with mainly mechanical graphics for the player and enemies, much like other shmups of their time; the only characters you see are the player character (in DoDonPachi's true ending), the Colonel, and Hibachi. In DoDonPachi dai ou jou, the "mecha-loli" element starts to creep in: the player character is accompanied by one of several different Element Dolls, who make prominent appearances on the covers of the PS2 and Xbox 360 ports. By DoDonPachi Daifukkatsu, the mecha-loli trend is in full force; the Element Daughters (successors to the Dolls) appear as bosses and you'd be hard-pressed to find official Daifukkatsu art that is devoid of the Daughters, let alone features the player ships.
  • Ultima I begins as a more-or-less typical fantasy RPG and then gets to the point where you have to use a time machine and go into outer space to defeat twenty spaceships to gain the title of "Space Ace." All this in 1980.
    • Ultima IV shifted from a traditional fantasy adventure with "Kill the Big Bad" as the primary goal, with a story that was more about philosophy and attaining personal enlightenment, without a primary villain. Later games had villains again, but the philosophical overtones represented by the Virtues remained an important theme throughout.
  • Rainbow Six switched from a plan-based multi-team Tactical Shooter to a more straightforward single-team semi-tactical shooter starting with the console versions of 3.
  • The first two installments of Need for Speed had fairly realistically-handling cars, then it shifted to arcade-style handling starting with Hot Pursuit, then to Wide Open Sandbox racing from Underground to Undercover. Only with Shift did it return to its simulation roots.
  • Wonder Boy went from Super Mario Bros.-style platformer to linear Action RPG to Shoot 'em Up to Metroidvania in the span of four games.
  • The Half-Life 2 Game Mod Day-Hard, usually a straightforward parody FPS, has a part where you need to enter a Hell Hotel sans weapons for a Fetch Quest. What follows is Silent Hill-esque Surreal Horror. It doesn't last too long, but it's very out-of-place nonetheless.
  • The original Ikari Warriors was a Rambo-inspired run 'n gun shoot-'em-up essentially developed to be SNK's answer to Capcom's Commando. The sequel, Victory Road, retained the same game system from the first game, but was now set in outer space and featured alien enemies and high-tech power-ups. The third and final game in the series, Ikari III: The Rescue, returned to the military theme of the first game, but was now an overhead beat-'em-up instead of a shoot-'em-up.
  • There was a minor trend among game developers to turn established belt-scrolling franchises into competitive fighting games as a result of the "fighting game boom" of the 90s:
  • The original Saturday Night Slam Masters, along with its upgraded edition Muscle Bomber Duo, played as one would expect from an arcade-style Wrestling Game. The sequel, Ring of Destruction: Slam Masters II, plays like a wrestling-themed version of Street Fighter II (i.e. multiple punch and kick buttons, command-based special moves, 2D playing field, victory by KO, round-based matches).
  • Mortal Kombat started out as a tribute to martial arts cinema. Apart from the Multi-Armed and Dangerous monster dude Goro, nothing out of the game was too out of the ordinary for those who've seen martial arts movies, and its main claim to fame was being the first major "bloody" fighting game. Then Mortal Kombat II came around, and the main plot of the series — a dimension-wide conflict for people's souls — took center stage. Then Mortal Kombat 3 turned things in a post-apocalyptic direction, with some sci-fi elements added in the form of the Lin Kuei cyborg ninja program. And so on and so forth.
  • The original Mario vs. Donkey Kong for the Game Boy Advance was a puzzle platformer modeled after Donkey Kong '94, but the Nintendo DS sequels, from Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis to Miniland Mayhem, were Lemmings-style puzzle game that utilize the touch screen and stylus. The latest installment, Minis On the Move for Nintendo 3DS, is a Locomotion clone.
  • Fahrenheit's story is an extreme example of this; the story starts out as an occult murder mystery, but, somehow, it suddenly turns into a philosophical sci-fi action flick a la The Matrix near the end.
  • Persona 4 is an extensive RPG with dating sim elements and Mons based on demons. The sequel Persona 4 Arena is a fighting game by Arc System Works. In fact, this has happened a lot with the Shin Megami Tensei series. The main series tends towards dark, post-apocalyptic stories, the first two games and Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey having heavy sci-fi elements (you use some kind of technological device to summon your demons,) while Nocturne does away with all the sci-fi elements. Meanwhile, the Persona series ditches the post-apocalyptic elements and introduces high-school life and Jungian psychology into the mix, with the demons becoming aspects of a person's psyche, and the enemy demons doing the same, turning into Shadows starting with Persona 2. By Persona 3, Slice of Life and Dating Sim elements are introduced, while Persona 4 turns into a more light-hearted Scooby-Doo-style murder mystery with MegaTen trappings. Meanwhile again, the Raidou Kuzunoha games are Alternate History with more action elements and also more light-hearted, while Devil Survivor acts very much like a Deconstruction of the Mons genre in general. And that's only counting a few of the games in the franchise.
  • Super Mario Galaxy starts off like most typical Mario games, where the title plumber had to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser (in this game, Bowser kidnaps Peach and carries her off into space), but about halfway through the game, the plot unexpectedly shifts to a sad story about the loss of a different princess' family, but then cuts back to Mario still trying to save Peach from Bowser.
  • The first half of Lionheart was a rather good RPG with a decent backstory, interesting dialogue and plenty of opportunity for roleplaying and character development. Then around the midpoint the whole thing devolved into a hack-and-slash fest with hardly any side quests.
  • The original Mass Effect game was an RPG with shooting elements, while the sequels are more of an action-shooter game with a few RPG elements thrown in.
  • Discworld Noir, as the title implies, starts out as an Affectionate Parody of the Film Noir genre. Once you figure out the sinister plan behind the events, however, it turns into a Cosmic Horror Story.
  • Metroid is known for being a sci-fi action game, but Metroid: Other M, is a sci-fi version of Resident Evil.
  • Tecmo's Deception was a first-person RPG which made use of common conventions such as a Mana Meter, recovery items, buying and selling from merchants, and Summon Magic. The sequels ditched all of this in favor of more action-oriented third-person gameplay with an emphasis on combos.
  • Little Inferno: After being a pure puzzle game in which you group objects together in a fireplace and set them on fire to unlock combos, which only consists of just two screens of which one is the inventory/store, completing the last combo results in the fireplace exploding. From that point on, the final 15 minutes are much more like a point and click adventure where you see your own character for the first time and wander outside into the frozen wasteland that has been hinted to in some letters you burned.
  • Silent Storm starts out as a fairly realistic Spy Fiction set during World War II where you command a squad of Allied or Axis commandos and tasked with finding traitors and following clues. Then Panzerkleins are introduced, followed by Energy Weapons and a shadowy organization straight out of James Bond that seeks to get both sides of the war to obliterate each other, so that they can pick up the pieces. The change was so jarring, a mod was created shortly after release to remove Panzerkleins from the game (although that makes the plot a little nonsensical).
    • The stand-alone Expansion Pack Silent Storm Sentinels takes place a few years after the war, with the game going back to its Spy Fiction roots, and the titular organization (made up of some of the commandos from both sides) trying to stop the formerly-defeated organization from going back to its old tricks. Then (sigh) the Panzerkleins are re-introduced (apparently, everyone forgot about them, and none were left in the Sentinels' stocks), and (with The Reveal that the Sentinels' commander is the head of the villainous organization) it goes right back into James Bond territory with Panzerkleins and energy weapons.
    • Hammer & Sickle, surprisingly, averts this, as the developers have finally listened to the players and did their best to stick to the Spy Fiction genre. This time, since the events take place during the Cold War, the fiction is of this flavor. The Player Character is a Soviet soldier sent across the Iron Curtain to form a spy network and subvert the Allies without starting World War III (an actual possibility)... The the Sentinels and the organization (that just won't die) show up... but without their high-tech toys.
  • Mission Critical is a fairly hard sci-fi first-person adventure game, where the Player Character is the last surviving crewmember aboard the USS Lexington after it is ambushed by a more powerful UN ship, and most of the crew play the role of a Trojan Horse in order to sneak a nuke aboard the enemy ship and give the player time to complete the mission. A good first part of the game is devoted to the player trying to fix immediate problems with the ship, such as an overloading reactor, the frozen main computer, a hole in the hull, inactive communication dish, etc. Then it switches to a more typical sci-fi about exploring other planets and alien ruins. Cue Time Travel, and the genre switches again, only to go back to its original genre in time for the Final Battle (which is also the first battle which was originally lost). The game also features an Unexpected Gameplay Change, where the typical first-person adventure game changes to a space RTS for Space Battles.
  • Spec Ops: The Line starts out as a typical (if slightly sub-par) military shooter. Then you get to Chapter 8, and the game changes into a deconstruction of military shooters with heaps of Psychological Horror.
  • A Dark Room begins as a text-based civ builder, suddenly turns into a roguelike, and ends up as a classic Shoot 'em Up.
  • You can do this yourself with the extremely versatility of The Sims, in the sense that you can alter the setting of the game world. The Sims 3 in particular has mastered this trope. In that game alone, you can have your Ridiculously Average Guy go about averagely paying bills, get in an average amount of exercise, enjoy average family barbecues, work in an average dead end job at the ole business office, shoot the breeze with the average neighbors, go on average bowling nights, get married to an average girl and have average kids... but then you can turn your average guy into a vampire-werewolf hybrid and have him fight with your alien neighbors, get a job as a ghost hunter, become insanely muscular, have sex with every able bodied female in the world, detonate public property for fun, die and come back to life, craft a man-sized Ridiculously Human Robot from scratch... among other things.
  • The Saints Row series has had this happen a couple of times. The original game was a deadly serious drama about police corruption , gang warfare, and urban decay. The second game was a Scarface-style revenge story that slowly got Denser and Wackier as it progressed. Saints Row The Third jumps the rails and goes into full-on Affectionate Parody mode. Saints Row IV shifts again, starting off as wacky as the third game, but quickly becoming a surprisingly grim sci fi story that borrows heavily from The Matrix.
    • Gameplay has undergone a slow but steady shift, as well. The first game was a dyed-in-the-wool Grand Theft Auto clone, and the second mostly followed suit. Changes to Saints Row: The Third pushed more into action-RPG territory (with an XP/level system and customizable perks). Saints Row IV seems to have embraced that genre full-on, actually calling XP by name, changing "Missions" to "Quests" and adding side-quests and a spellcasting-like superpowers system.
  • A relatively subtle example happens in Emerald City Confidential after Chapter 2. As more magic gets used by the characters, the story takes on a less cynical Film Noir tone. It even has a genuinely happy ending, which isn't noir-ish at all.
  • The Diablo franchise has always been an action-RPG with emphasis on action. That said, the games have slowly lost the trappings of RPGs. With the third game's switch to automatically assigning attribute points and removing any perment decision trees (for example, skills can now be respec'ed almost at will, rather than being permanent), it has essentially become a pure Action title with class loadouts.
  • The Crash Bandicoot series; once a 3D platformer and one of the best-selling PlayStation franchises of all time, it went through several different owners and degenerated into a game where you control monsters to fight other monsters.
  • Team Fortress 2 Starts out as a light-hearted No Plot? No Problem! first person shooter, then switched gears with a wackier backstory, hats and comedy, then of course, Gray Mann came into the story, and it turned Darker and Edgier, with the team fighting an endless horde of robots, based on themselves, and eventually lost their jobs. The current (non-related to game) story is of Ms. Pauling, the Stop Helping Me! announcer's sidekick attempting to put the team back together.

     Web Comics  
  • El Goonish Shive's change from comedy to dramedy was apparently planned from the very beginning.
  • Ditto Unicorn Jelly, which goes from a quirky almost-but-not-quite Fantasy series (the main character is a witch with apparently no magic) to science fiction spanning hundreds of thousands of years and multiple universes. A Powers Of 10 map on the site really hits it home, going from the main character's home out into the multiverse.
  • College Roomies from Hell!!! is looking like it might be doing this. The strip started out as the standard light college campus humor, but little hints and bits have added up so that it looks like it might have always been intended to end up with an apocalyptic ending. If the author has stated for sure one way or another, I haven't heard.
  • Wapsi Square started out as a lightweight and slightly surreal urban Sitcom, but gradually began adding elements of Science Fiction and/or Fantasy with the introduction of characters who might be gods, immortals or aliens, the concept of humans possessing (or being possessed by) inner demons, and a 12,000 year old mystery. In spite of all this, the sitcom elements are still present, and often just as strong as ever.
  • Penny and Aggie began as a relatively light-hearted, family-friendly Betty and Veronica comic with brief story arcs and a long stretch of unconnected gag-a-day strips. Word of God says this was because the creators tried to pitch it as a syndicated newspaper comic. When the syndicates failed to show interest, the creators took advantage of the Webcomic medium's greater flexibility by increasing the drama-to-comedy ratio and by introducing more experimental storytelling techniques ("Second Looks," "20 2020 Pennies"), mature themes ("Behind Closed Doors," "Awakening," "The Last Summer of Youth"), and arcs running several months ("Dinner for Six," "The Popsicle War," and "Missing Person," the first chapter of which was a Police Procedural, and the final chapter a Psychological Thriller).
  • Sluggy Freelance, while quite often is still the Science Fiction/Fantasy/Slice of Life comedy it started out as, has made increasing use of darker, more dramatic storylines as it's continued.
  • FOG Club began life as a romcom about four college anime fans, before - with little to no explanation - having the cast sucked through a portal into an alternate dimension based on Trigun, where they fought an evil scientist called Falco Amadeus and an android duplicate of the main character.
  • Achewood shifts back and forth between domestic, observational strips that find humor in the mundane, and surreal fantasy arcs involving Mexican Magical Realism, three-hundred-man outdoor brawls, and Heaven burning down.
  • MegaTokyo began as a simple, four panel webcomic about two friends trapped in Japan, the focus being more on the two men playing off each other verbally and talking about video games. As time went on, the comic drifted away from this, and began to focus more on the relationships Piro and Largo were creating in Japan, and picking apart aspects of popular Japanese culture.
  • Questionable Content started out about a post-college Indie rocker, his friends, and his weird little Robot Buddy. Then Faye got her tragic backstory, Pintsize got increasingly destructive and psychotic, Raven got kinda skanky, etc, until you can barely recognize the characters from the early strips.
  • YU+ME: dream starts out as a romantic story between two girls at a Catholic school, dealing with the various issues that comes with, with some family drama — an average young adult romance story. Then after a hefty WHAM Episode it turns into a slightly-psychological adventure-based story on an epic scale.
  • Within this xkcd strip.
  • Bob and George was originally intended to be a superhero comedy webcomic about the titular brothers. It changed into a sprite comic after the author realized he couldn't draw.
  • Kid Radd started out as a general parody of video games. Then Cerberus syndrome sets in.
  • Homestuck started out as a simple Spiritual Successor to Problem Sleuth, but in time became a riff on epic stories and creation mythos, which made the series much more popular. Later, When the trolls were introduced, the entire comic shifted to have Romantic Comedy elements and took a turn for the darker.
  • Since-ended Keenspot comic Cool Cat Studio started out as a mundane office comedy without any hint of unusual goings-on. Then one of the characters underwent alien abduction and cloning. Eventually the comic became an all-out Fantasy Kitchen Sink, with arcs centered around ghosts, magic, secret agents, and extraterrestrial war.
  • Slightly Damned starts out as a comedic Bangsian Fantasy about the periphery of Hell, but rather abruptly turns into a Walking the Earth fantasy adventure a few years in.

     Web Original  

     Western Animation 
  • The first two seasons of Moral Orel mostly consisted of Orel wanting to do the right thing, but ultimately interpreting the lessons wrong and taking them to their literal end. However, the last two episodes of season two and the entirety of the third season took a sharp turn into dark territory, going from a satire of authority and conservatism to the semi-deconstruction of the effects of such a setting.
  • South Park:
    • South Park initially started out as a simple surrealist comedy, but the creators later shifted it to a commentary of the real world, from everything such as politics to celebrities. The creators intentionally wrote Mr. Hat out of the show as a symbol of the transition.
    • In-universe: in "Sexual Healing", the video game franchise Tiger Woods PGA Tour turned into a pastiche of fighting games based on Woods' marital infidelity. Cartman, Stan, and Kenny loved the game. Once Woods got over his sexual addiction at the end of the episode, the next PGA Tour game went back to the status quo, upsetting Cartman and Stan (Kenny, meanwhile, had died. Again).
  • Season 1 of The Venture Bros. is just slapstick comedy in a parody setting; season 2 downplays the raw slapstick and up-plays the parody/satire/Deconstruction elements of the show, culminating in a funny but fairly serious season finale. Seasons 3 & 4 still feature a lot of humor, and it's definitely still a comedy show, but there's been a significant shift from it being a parody of sci-fi/action/everything to now being a genuine example of those genres.
  • ReBoot started out as an episodic comedy with heavy Executive Meddling from ABC's standards and practices. This changed in the middle of season 2 when ABC dropped the show and the writers were given free rein on the show. The episodic nature was dropped in favor of longer story arcs and a much darker tone. The comedy is still there, just mixed in with the darker story.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender was an Asian-influenced High Fantasy that featured its heroes Wandering the Earth to stop an Evil Overlord. The Sequel Series The Legend of Korra, by contrast, is an Asian-influenced Urban Fantasy series with the protagonists fighting an Anti-Magical Faction in a City of Adventure. Technology has also advanced from Steampunk to a more Roaring Twenties aesthetic.
  • The two-part series premiere of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was a Magical Girl story that just happened to star ponies. Once the episode's villain was defeated and the world saved, the show immediately shifted to a Slice of Life ensemble comedy featuring An Aesop at the end of (nearly) every episode, though it switches back to the Magical Girl elements combined with increasingly-prominent High Fantasy tropes on occasion, mostly in season premieres and finales. Cerebus Rollercoaster is in full effect when directly comparing the "normal" episodes to the "event" episodes, with a slight ongoing shift toward seriousness overall. And then there are times where individual episodes shift to other genres, such as a Western or a Mystery.
  • The Powerpuff Girls shifted from an action-comedy spoof of superhero shows to a downright bizarre Gag Series late in its run. It was unsurprisingly not well received.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated starts as a Monster of the Week comedy with guys in costumes with silly back stories and motives. As time goes by, the mysteries get darker, the villains get more dangerous, and the monsters are real.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door shifted from action-comedy to action-drama with a few comedic elements.
  • Archer season 5: Archer Vice. They're now inept cocaine smugglers hiding out from the law in a mansion instead of inept spies working together in an office.
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