You were a kid in TheEighties and grew up watching your favorite MerchandiseDriven cartoon but lost interest as you grew older. Suddenly it's TheNineties, and you're bored, flipping through the channels one day, and what do you see? A DarkerAndEdgier revamp of the show you used to watch! It's good! You get sucked right into it! Fast forward to the TurnOfTheMillennium, and you hear news that this show is being adapted into a big budget LiveActionAdaptation. You go into the theaters, and what do you notice? All the other moviegoers are in their 20s like yourself and probably grew up watching the show like you did. This isn't a coincidence; whoever created the show made a decision to gradually increase the target audience's age as its fans grew older. This trope is one of the biggest sources of OldGuardVersusNewBlood trouble around. It's absolutely great for the old guard, but the new blood often feels it just isn't the same if they came in late.

For instance, when ''Series/DegrassiTheNextGeneration'' aired, a lot of old-school Degrassi fans wished the show had stuck to the old characters (who were now adults), while the new ''Degrassi'' fans were annoyed that adult characters had their own storylines in a TeenDrama. Later, when the Next Generation cast got too old to stay in HighSchool, the producers were stuck either following them to college and on (which didn't really fit the format) or switching to a new bunch of kids (who nobody cared about). The producers did ''both'' and satisfied nobody.

Contrast FleetingDemographic, where the series/franchise switches to a younger audience as the former audience matures. Also contrast WereStillRelevantDammit, where a series/franchise {{ReTool}}s itself to be more appealing to the current generation, but does so in a clunky or tone-deaf way.



[[folder: Multiple Media ]]

* ''Franchise/{{Transformers}}'' started as [[WesternAnimation/TheTransformers a daily syndicated cartoon]] based on a line of toys, TheNineties brought the DarkerAndEdgier ''WesternAnimation/BeastWars'', and the 2000s-2010s saw the Creator/MichaelBay live-action movies, ''WesternAnimation/TransformersAnimated'' (a mix of goofy, mature and ContinuityPorn), and the mature TV cartoon ''WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime'' and its followup ''WesternAnimation/TransformersRobotsInDisguise''. It usually ends up being cyclical, being scaled back once it gets too dark and then beginning the climb again.
* Toys/{{BIONICLE}}, in its original run, went whole-hog with this, especially in the later years. It featured shades of CosmicHorrorStory, named characters dying, and thoughts of nihilism and hopelessness. The series even had the guile to have an ending where[[spoiler:TheBadGuyWins, if only temporarily]]. The intent seemed to be to make stories more mature as the audience inevitably got mature, similar to the Harry Potter example.


[[folder: Literature ]]

* Creator/JKRowling has stated that she intentionally wrote the ''Literature/HarryPotter'' series to encompass more mature and scarier themes as the young readers got a little older for each book. This took something of a hit during the "Three-Year Summer" after the fourth book; the audience grew quite a bit older than Harry, and so the reception began to decline.
* Creator/AlanGarner wrote two fantasy novels in the early [[TheSixties nineteen-sixties]], aimed at a readership of 12 or above. [[CreatorBacklash The fact he didn't like the books very much]] meant it took him a long time to get around to writing a concluding sequel, ''Literature/{{Boneland}}''. Fifty years, to be precise. ''Boneland'' is as far away as you can possibly get from the certainties and the linear plot of ''Literature/TheMoonOfGomrath''. The book has a dark, grey, quality to it and follows one of the child-characters from the earlier books into adulthood. Colin, the heroic child who entered Faerie at age twelve, is bewildered, disillusioned, on the brink of the male menopause and fighting mental health issues. He is, quite literally, wondering where the Magic went to. It isn't difficult to suspect Garner is writing an ironic postscript for all those children who devoured the magic of ''Brisingamen'' and ''Gomrath''. And then grew up into adults, thinking back to the magical excitement of reading Garner's adventures as kids, and who today....


[[folder: Video Games ]]

* ''VideoGame/{{Contra}}: Shattered Soldier'', the ''VideoGame/BionicCommando'' sequels, ''VideoGame/FinalFight Streetwise'', and pretty much the entirety of ''Franchise/PrinceOfPersia'' in the last decade.
* Attempted in the ''Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog'' series. The games' stories started out in a typical cartoony video game setting with the protagonist fighting Eggman and his army of robots. Then came ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure'', a DarkerAndEdgier installment with pointedly more mature themes than any previous game in the series. ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure2'' took this even further, dealing with themes such as a corrupt military murdering innocent scientists and weapons of mass destruction. However, when ''VideoGame/ShadowTheHedgehog'' took this to ludicrous extents (with whiffs of WereStillRelevantDammit) and ''VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog2006'' was slammed for its overly convoluted plot among other things, a growing backlash towards this trend forced Sega to go back and aim for a younger audience again, especially with ''VideoGame/SonicColors'' and beyond.


[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* Creator/WarrenEllis wrote a DarkerAndEdgier treatment of ''Franchise/GIJoe'' called ''WesternAnimation/GIJoeResolute'', which premiered as a WebOriginal series. While hardcore current fans [[TheyChangedItNowItSucks did not really appreciate the changes]], It did receive positive reviews from casual fans who had grown up with the series.
* One word: ''Franchise/{{DCAU}}''. Especially ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeagueUnlimited''.
* Creator/JohnKricfalusi tried this with ''WesternAnimation/RenAndStimpy Adult Party Cartoon'', and didn't exactly get a positive response.
* The entire American comics industry has fallen into this over the past 20 years or so, with about 90% of title out there right now focusing on the teen/twenty-something demographic.
* ''WesternAnimation/ToyStory'' has been growing with its initial audience through out the entire trilogy, most notable in ''WesternAnimation/ToyStory3'' where main-character Andy is set to go to college, and most of the original Toy Story fans, at the time, related to him for that reason.
* ''WesternAnimation/MonstersInc'' did something similar. The prequel, ''WesternAnimation/MonstersUniversity'', which focuses on Sulley's and Mike's college days, came out when the audience for the original movie were in college.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Rugrats}}'' fits this trope because when it first aired it was a children's show that focused on the exploits of toddlers. However when the show passed the ten year mark, it was revamped into ''WesternAnimation/AllGrownUp'', aging the protaganists to the status of pre-teens to appeal to the aging original audience of Rugrats.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'' with respect to ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender''.
* ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime'' is a very good example of this trope. Its first season was full of one-off comedic adventure stories, whereas several seasons later as its original audience has grown, the characters have aged and developed, there is ongoing continuity in several serious storylines, and the show routinely deals with more mature themes.
* ''WesternAnimation/StevenUniverse'' is a similar case, starting out light-hearted yet becoming more plot-driven and mature over the years. However, it still successfully manages to stay child-friendly enough so as not to exclude new audiences.
* This was attempted with ''WesternAnimation/Ben10'', with its DarkerAndEdgier sequels ''WesternAnimation/Ben10AlienForce'' and ''WesternAnimation/Ben10UltimateAlien''. However, this didn't work out so well, which resulted in Cartoon Network backtracking with ''WesternAnimation/Ben10Omniverse'', followed by a [[ContinuityReboot reboot of the franchise]].
* When Creator/{{Toonami}}, originally aired during the daytime with programs aimed at kids and pre-teens, was {{uncanceled}}, it received a new placement on the Creator/AdultSwim {{watershed}} hours as its primary audience are now full grown adults.