[[quoteright:350:[[VisualPun http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ahc_2700.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:[[VisualPun Edgy meets Hardcore]]]]
"Hard Core" (also written "hard-core" and "hardcore") is a generic term used to describe the most extreme, [[DarkerAndEdgier edgy]], and intense portion of a given genre or fandom.

"Hard Core" music can refer to one of two different types of music: [[HardcorePunk an offshoot of]] [[PunkRock punk rock]] known for its rebelliousness, screaming, and emphasis on edginess over technical skill, and [=a techno off-shoot=] characterized by fast tempos and the use of atonality and dissonance. There is also HardcoreHipHop, which talks about topics such as violence and anger.

In pornography, "hard core" porn features full {{nudity|Tropes}}, {{sex|Tropes}} and various {{fetish}}es, while "soft core" porn tends to feature only {{partial nudity|Tropes}} or the sort of (supposedly) tasteful nudes seen in magazines like ''Magazine/{{Playboy}}''. The official distinction between the two is, basically, "is there an erect penis on screen?"

In ProfessionalWrestling, "hardcore wrestling" is another name for GarbageWrestling (a style of wrestling that emphasizes violent brawling and makes heavy use of {{Improvised Weapon}}s such as {{chair|manOfTheBrawl}}s and fist loads), as well as promotions that feature it as a major part of their product (e.g. Wrestling/{{FMW}}, Wrestling/{{ECW}}, Wrestling/{{CZW}}, Wrestling/ProWrestlingGuerilla, and Wrestling/AttitudeEra Wrestling/{{WWF}}). Also, the term "hardcore wrestler" can be used to refer to either a GarbageWrestler (e.g. Wrestling/MickFoley, Wrestling/NewJack, Wrestling/TheSheik) or a SpotMonkey (e.g. Wrestling/{{Sabu}}, Wrestling/JeffHardy, Wrestling/RobVanDam).

In gaming, this is effectively impossible to define, but is usually thought of as those who believe [[NoTrueScotsman that true "hard core" games]] require enthusiastic commitment and {{casual video game}}s should be ignored, if not locked out of "gaming proper" by definition ([[{{Irony}} meanwhile, some groups think all video games are for kids]]). In terms of marketing, there actually is a definition the industry uses for demographics to separate "core" games (i.e. games for gaming hobbyists) and "casual" games (i.e. games aimed at everyone). To put it another way, hard core gamers play for a challenge while casual gamers play for general fun, which is not to say hard core gamers are automatically StopHavingFunGuys. In fact, some hard core gamers will play at a disadvantage in order to create a bigger challenge.

When referring to fans, hard core can either be a pejorative ("Dude, did you see that guy with a [[Franchise/SuperMarioBros Mario]] tattoo? I'm glad I'm not that hard core") or complimentary ("That Mario tattoo is hard core, man"). Generally speaking, anyone who calls themselves "hard core" is either [[SelfDeprecation joking]], [[FanDumb a little too into it]], or [[ADarkerMe full of it]].

In the ''VideoGame/{{Diablo}}'' series, "Hardcore" is the SelfImposedChallenge FinalDeath mode for, well, hard core players.

Note that, in some circles, "Hardcore" can be used to refer to a work, rather than a fanbase. The usage varies depending on the medium involved; for example, a hardcore {{anime}} is a sexually-explicit one, while a hardcore {{professional wrestling}} match or promotion is an extremely violent one with no rules and a large amount of [[GarbageWrestler garbage wrestling]].

Interestingly the phrase also has a [[UrExample mundane meaning]] that goes back at least as far as the romans and is therefore OlderThanFeudalism. '''Hardcore''' is the builder's term for the aggregate of largely recycled materials used as infill in walls or as underlay beneath a road or concrete floor. Mediaeval castle walls are largely hardcore packed in between inner and outer faces of stone.