(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.
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.)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. If an Eldritch Abomination suddenly appear without much foreshadowing, its Cosmic Horror Reveal. Not to be confused with Art Shift, Genre Roulette or Genre Turning Point. Compare with Tone Shift and Cerebus Syndrome.
Josh Way: Suddenly, Fritz Lang's directing! ...(sigh) It's no time to get arty, movie.
Josh Way: Suddenly, Fritz Lang's directing! ...(sigh) It's no time to get arty, movie.
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- 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. 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.
- Grant Morrison seems to enjoy switching up or tweaking the genres of any previously-established characters he writes on, largely to reinvent the characters and "revitalize" the story. Some examples:
- Under his pen Batman shifted from a noir-style detective series with superhero styling to a Doc Savage-style, globe-trotting pulp adventure series. The plot changed from Batman fighting local crime in Gotham to Batman travelling the world to create a globalized crime-fighting force while trying to solve an Ancient Conspiracy.
- In his run on X-Men, he deliberately shifted the book away from the superhero genre, making it more of a general Sci-Fi adventure series. The plot changed accordingly, becoming about the X-Men dealing with mutant-related crimes and conflicts rather than fighting mutant-themed supervillains.
- Zero goes from spy fiction to a metafictional meditation on violence and war.
- G.I. Joe (2016) moves from the dark, realistic military science fiction of the previous IDW series to a Denser and Wackier sci-fi adventure inspired by the Sunbow cartoon.
- 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.
- 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.
- A Crown of Stars: This story is a sequel to “A Throne of Bayonets”, a military fiction thriller set in a post-apocalyptic setting. A Crown of Stars adds a bunch of sci-fi and fantasy tropes, featuring physical gods, intergalactic empires, dimensional and time travelling, space-ships, power armours… the shift is so abrupt and unexpected than it adds coolness to the story.
- The Writing On The Wall starts out as a story about Adventurer Archaeologist Daring Do exploring an Ancient Tomb with a group of fellow archaeologists. The story proceeds as normal, using many of the usual tropes, including the protagonist's rival showing up, capturing them and the site, and trying to seize it for themselves. The ending reveals that everyone was Wrong Genre Savvy about the place; it is not an Ancient Tomb at all, and the eponymous writing on the wall was not a curse meant to scare away tomb robbers, but a warning as to the dangers of disturbing what the place was built to contain, and it is actually a Horror story.
- 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.
- Sonic X: Dark Chaos starts out as a generic (if more violent) Space Opera like the original third season of Sonic X. Then it turns into a Cosmic Horror Story.
- Hans Von Hozel's Axis Powers Hetalia and The Room fics abruptly turn to sci-fi in midstream.
- A Peccatis keeps switching unpredictably between police procedural and political conspiracy thriller.
- The writer of Angel of the Bat stated it's The first half of the story is basically written in two parts: The first half of the story is much more focused on the Bat family in their personal, non-costumed lives, Cassandra’s being the most significant. The second half becomes more a more traditional action story. In a sense, the first half is more of a Cassandra story, while the second half is moreso a Batgirl/Angel story.
- Hotspring Souls!, a Soulsborne (Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, Dark Souls II, and Bloodborne) crossover comedy fic, starts out as a standard Hot Springs Episode, then turns into a giant robot anime halfway through.
- With the introduction of more mystical elements to Westeros, the A Song of Ice and Fire fic Robb Returns changes Ice and Fire's Dark Fantasy into a more traditional High Fantasy.
Films — Animation
- 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
- 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.
- The first three films are set in a mostly realistic setting, with no magical elements except for talking animals and Mufuasa appearing as a ghost. The Lion Guard adds a dash of fantasy to the setting. Simba's son has some kind of magic superpower known as the "Roar of the Elders.' He roars like a adult lion despite being a cub while the ghosts of the kings of the past roar with him in the sky, causing wind so strong it can blow the target away. He can talk to Mufuasa's ghost whenever he wills. The paw prints marking the Lion Guard appeared supernaturally. Rafiki is also shown magically cleaning up a cave, and making a pool of water appear in it out of nowhere with his staff.
- We're Back! A Dinosaur's 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.
- The My Little Pony: Equestria Girls movies are mostly High School A.U. with some Magical Girls elements. The third movie, My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games, adds in a few action and science-fiction elements, including talks of alternate worlds, advanced technological devices that could steal magic and the villain of the story causing a Reality Bleed between both worlds.
- Dice Funk: The show is ostensibly a comedy with a fantasy setting, but Episode 9 makes a hard right into horror.
- Wolf 359: Wolf 359 begins as a sci-fi comedy, and then suddenly adds drama and mystery at the end of the first season.
- 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.
- Championship Wrestling From Florida went from a regional territory in the 1950s featuring matches made up mostly of mat wrestling, to a premier member of the National Wrestling Alliance in the 1970s-80s that featured a very rough mix of grappling and brawling alongside such angles as a Satanic cult, to the FCW super indie in the late 1980s that relied more on showcasing hyped up wrestlers and angles from elsewhere with very few regulars(which briefly took back the CWF name in 2003), to a developmental brand in the late 2000s whose purpose was to send wrestlers elsewhere that was much more consistent in tone than its super indie days but much cleaner and more watered down from its NWA heyday.
- Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling started out as anything goes martial arts vs pro wrestling company but increasingly the "anything goes" started to push out the "martial arts" one ignored, eventually becoming blood sport featuring all kinds of improvised weapons, fights happening in all sorts of locations and all sorts of pro wrestling styles not usually found together on a single card. Then Kodo Fuyuki became booker to a more angle/story driven product with more homogenized wrestling but wilder and more shocking publicity stunts. The revival is closer to the blood sport, many styles anything goes approach but still has some nods to the "sports entertainment" era.
- IWA Japan started out as a violent garbage fed but in the long run it proved unable to compete directly with FMW on that front and became a more comedy driven product.
- In the mid 1990s, Eastern Championship Wrestling was the flagship of the National Wrestling Alliance, featuring some silly gimmicks but mostly no nonsense technical wrestling matches. Then a certain Shane Douglas promo was cut and garbage wrestlers began to multiply within the roster. Although this wasn't entirely by design. The company was still centered around technical wrestlers, and many wrestlers from Japan and luchadors from Mexico who were well versed in styles other than garbage were also brought in, it's just those wrestlers got poached by WCW, so hardcore violence ended up being ECW's legacy.
- CZW went from Backyard Wrestling, to ECW imitator, to a more regulated, if highly divided by factions, sports fed that just so happened to regularly sanction garbage wrestling.
- All Japan Pro Wrestling's infamous "Puroresu Love" period was a major genre shift away from the highly regulated, formal approach Giant Baba had as booker to a much sillier angle driven approach mandated by Keiji Muto on account the old approach would no longer work for them when NOAH was also using it with most of what used to be All Japan's roster. NOAH's decline and Muto's departure saw an attempted return to form.
- New Japan Pro Wrestling dramatically switched from a promotion based around kicks, submission holds and junior heavyweight athletics lightened by comic relief and strange gimmicks to a "shoot" promotion that pitted pro wrestlers against judoka, mixed martial artists and such in a period known as "Inokism". This proved to be failure, with NJPW switched back and the "Inokism" approach finding more success in IGF.
- Ring of Honor has increasingly moved away from the super indie it was at its inception towards the model of a more grounded wrestling promotion with a larger regular roster, more schedule and intermediate events in between larger shows while also relaxing some of the strict conduct enforcement that distinguished it from the other super indies somewhat(which makes sense, seeing as it no longer qualifies).
- EVOLVE went from a highly strict and regulated promotion with harsh punishment for violators with a constantly changing hierarchy based around mixed style fights to a very loosely enforced fed which power stables run rampant over.
- 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 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.
- They also created rulebooks for the other planets in Golarion's solar system—one is populated by alien-worshipping robots who don't understand their own technology, another is the undead ruins of a planet that destroyed itself when it used a superweapon on a neighboring world. The gas giants have merging gas-creatures as the primary form of life, while their (many) moons serve as more conventional adventuring worlds. A planet tidally locked to the sun has one side that is murderously hot and another that is equally cold, permitting life only in the border between them—this planet is an actively space-faring culture. Another world is a jungle-planet of psychics, while near the outer edges of the system is a planet that is actually just a rocky crust over a gigantic spaceship meant to collect genetic samples. And on the very outmost part is a world that may be a living creature—and an Eldritch Abomination to boot, and it serves as a central point of the cultists of the Lovecraftian entities of the Dark Tapestry (this is meant in the most literal manner possible. The presence of the Outer Gods and Great Old Ones is canon).
- Many of the Adventure Path's represent different genres. Iron Gods is Science Fantasy (set in the aforementioned Numeria), Mummy's Mask is an Indiana Jones style archeological adventure, Skull & Shackles is piracy on the high seas, Reign of Winter starts as a take on Russian fairy tales then turns into a world hopping adventure reminiscent of Doctor Who with a chapter set in World War I. Carrion Crown however is the king of this trope; it takes on Horror Movie tropes, but each chapter is based around a different subgenre; haunted house, Frankenstein story, lycanthropes, Lovecraftian horror, vampire story, and apocalyptic horror.
- 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.
- 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.
- BIONICLE had two forms of this. The first is a gradual fantasy-to Sci Fi shift done by revealing the true origins of seemingly mystical elements of the plot. This was planned from the start. Additionally, there is a case of Cerebus syndrome, as the plot went from a cartoonish Never Say "Die" Action-Adventure story to a much Darker and Edgier story that borders on Cosmic Horror Story at times.
- 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.
- The comic was always set twenty minutes into the future, with sentient robots like Pintsize and Winslow running around, but recently the comic has shifted heavily towards storylines involving robots and AI. It may have started with Marten, Marigold, and Hannelore visiting her dad in deep space and coming into contact with Station, but since Faye got hired at the local bot-fighting ring the comic has almost become all robots, all the time. Lampshaded here.
- 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, private eyes, 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.
- Janet Steele in Contest Jitters was a budding amateur bodybuilder. In Satin Steele, she has become a professional bodybuilder who confronts aliens and a conspiracy.
- The Walkyverse has done this over the course of its various entries. Roomies was a Slice of Life story about dorm life, which slowly became more of a dramedy after the introduction and later death of Ruth. An initially one-off alien abduction plot also returns and takes over the final arc, leading into the next comic. It's Walky is half sci-fi adventure story and half sitcom, following the various alien abductees as they fight the machinations of the Head Alien while dealing with their own personal problems. After that the story splits in two: Shortpacked! is a Denser and Wackier sequel about the quirky and geeky staff of a toy store, and engages in frequent pop culture parodies, along with the odd serious storyline. Finally Joyce and Walky more directly follows It's Walky, beginning as a domestic sitcom, but eventually reintegrating the science fiction elements and tying up loose ends from the alien plot. This is averted with Dumbing of Age, a spin-off-slash-reboot of the Walkyverse that excises the sci-fi elements, combines the casts of all the previous comics, and is a straight up dramedy throughout.
- YouTube channel Midnight's Edge started out dedicated to Darker and Edgier comic book characters, but after the success of their Trankgate series chronicling the Troubled Production of Fantastic Four, they shifted focus to covering the inside details surrounding the productions of films part of major blockbuster franchises.
- Red vs. Blue veers all over the genre map as it progresses. Beginning as a mildly surreal, Halo-themed take on Mash, it quickly becomes more and more Pythonesque until it's nearly crossed into slapstick, Looney Tunes territory. Then, beginning with side stories like Out of Mind, it suddenly veers into serious science fiction, which spills over into the main series before settling into a very odd fusion of all the above genres. Which genre or combination of genres works best is definitely a matter of personal taste. As of its later seasons, it is firmly entrenched in Serious Business, albeit with some gags.
- While many of the chapter reviews on the Mark Reads Twilight weblog follow the traditional "quote the source text, mock it ruthlessly, add some funny Angrish" formula that's far too common in most MST blogs, reviewer Mark Oshiro often goes out of his way to mix up the structure of his posts. A handful of his best genre shifts include: Bella and Edward writing letters to Stephenie Meyer questioning their own character development; Mark's own autopsy report after the chapter's stupidity drove him to "suicide"; legendary announcer Vin Scully giving a play-by-play of the infamous "Vampire Baseball" scene; Charlie and Jacob staging an intervention to stop Bella from submitting to "Cullenism"; and Bella Tweeting away while she stalks Jacob Black. He also likes to change his targets, for example, mocking the hate mail he gets from Twilight fans, liveblogging the Twilight movie with his readers, (attempting to) read the "Making of New Moon" page on Meyer's website, and calling out a relationship counsellor who uses Edward Cullen to give boys advice on romance. Although he far preferred Harry Potter and The Hunger Games which he also reviewed at Mark Reads Harry Potter, he also mixed those ones up. He'd write the reviews as a script of the book, with characters commenting on plot developments, liveblog entries from various characters, and Hedwig-the-spy writing entries on her mission to guard the boy who lived.
- "Okay, so we're playing as an adorable bunny with amnesia. And we have to rescue our little cat friend from his cell. Okay, seems to be a standard puzzle game, so far so good...hey, is there someone behind that door?"
- The Nostalgia Chick talks about how Dragonheart went from A Boy and His X to Buddy Comedy halfway through. Similarly, The Nostalgia Chick herself went through a major genre shift. Going from the linear nature of the Critic to doing analytical reviews with her friends doing sketches related to the movie. She also no longer reviews movies aimed toward women exclusively, reviewing different films like Cool Runnings every once in a while.
- Used to creative effect in this short film by Mathieu Ratthe: "Lovefield". In the middle of a secluded cornfield a man appears to be finishing killing a bloodied woman off screen. Hurrying back to his truck, he grabs a towel and the audience presumes he's trying to cover up the body and perhaps dispose it in some way. During this time, suspenseful music plays to heighten the horror. Then just at the end the man says "It's a boy", and a newborn baby appears in view. The woman who sounded like she was dying was in fact in the midst of giving birth and the blood was just the afterbirth. The ending is accompanied by heartwarming music.
- The Onion's reality TV satire Sex House starts out as, well, a satire of reality TV, and a hilarious one, at that. While the series takes on a darker tone pretty early on, the later episodes seem to be heading to full-on horror territory.
- "The Review Must Go On" to both The Nostalgia Critic and Demo Reel. Both had their moments of horror, but the former was a character-driven review show and the latter was a dramedy. The only genre that can describe "The Review Must Go On" is Psychological Horror.
- A writer at The Rumpus described various classic novels as if they were bodice-rippers.
Tereza is an ambitious photo journalist who’s as sexy as she is talented. But after the Czech beauty takes a dangerous assignment, the Russians mark her as a dissident and nowhere is safe. To the rescue is Tomas, a distinguished surgeon who is very skilled with his hands. As he aids her perilous escape to Switzerland, the question (and other things) will arise: Can he be trusted? Tereza isn’t sure, but she knows the doctor administers one hell of a physical exam.
- 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 with few Steampunk elements and couple asethetics in final season. 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, with the following books dealing with stopping the Evil Water Tribe leader from opening the Spirts Portals which the first Avatar, Wan, closed ten thousands years ago and stop Vaatu, preventing a group of anarchists (Whose faction was created by rogue memebers of the White Lotus) from destroying all nations and the Avatar, and the consequences of the fall of the Earth Kingdom and the latter creation of the Earth Empire under Kuvira's regime.
- The two-part series premiere of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a Magical Girl story that just happens to star ponies. Once the episode's villain is defeated and the world saved, the show immediately shifts 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, and it wasn't long before the show was cancelled.
- 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.
- For the first four seasons of ''Archer, the characters are inept spies working together in an office. In Season 5, they become inept cocaine smugglers hiding out from the law in a mansion. Season 6 sees them return to their roots as inept CIA subcontractors. After they are permanently blacklisted from espionage, Season 7 has them moving to Los Angeles, where they become inept private detectives.
- Rugrats is a comedic fantasy series about the world through babies eyes. It's sequel, All Grown Up! has none of the fantasy and instead opts to be a Slice of Life series about middle schoolers, comparable to As Told by Ginger. Needless to say it's a little odd seeing Tommy and co discussing puberty and having their first crushes.
- In-series this happened to Stormer's music when she banded with Kimber in an episode of Jem. Stormer usually plays background vocals in Misfits songs that are incredibly arrogant, self-confident, and aggressive 80s pop. Stormer's and Kimber's music are ballads and her bandmates are disgusted she is singing such "sensitive" music.
- The final Care Bears: Adventures in Care-a-Lot made-for-TV special, Down to Earth, suddenly shifted to full-on slice of life. The other episodes are slice of life with a tinge of good-versus-evil.
- In Jake And The Neverland Pirates' original form, the show could more-or-less be described as Dora the Explorer WITH PIRATES (who don't do anything). Things such as Fake Interactivity and comic adventures with vague morals to teach were all common fare. The later installments, particularly Captain Jake and the Neverland Pirates, have seen a major shift towards action, with high-stakes specials, serious villains and Jake (Captain Jake) engaging in swordplay using a magic sword.