Indecisive Deconstruction

A deconstruction that can't make up its mind if it is examining a genre, or if it is just in that genre.

A deconstruction has to have at least some elements of the genre it is deconstructing, but there is a fine line. It has to fundamentally criticize the tropes of the genre, playing them straight and demonstrating the actual consequences of the genre's tropes (good or bad). However, even standard genre pieces often do that to at least some of their genre conventions. What about works that were meant to be deconstructions, but didn't go far enough? Or works that were never meant to be deconstructions, but ended up as being viewed as such? What about works that crank up the tropes to the point of parody yet are ambiguous on whether or not they are criticizing the tropes? What about works that merely play the conventions for realism, with no critical intent on the part of the creator, yet can still clearly be read as criticisms?

Basically, there are many questions that can be raised about what counts as a deconstruction.

There are at least four potential subtypes of Indecisive Deconstruction:

  • Unintentional Deconstruction, where the work can be read as a criticism of the tropes it plays straight, even if there is no critical intent on the part of the author (or the author has not expressed any critical intent whatsoever). Half-Life, as stated below, can be read as a deconstruction of the Trope Codifier Doom, but the authors have never implied any critical intent. Twilight can also be read as a deconstruction of traditional romances, because Edward is sometimes seen as an abusive, manipulative control freak, yet Stephenie Meyer has stated she believes Edward is the perfect boyfriend (thus, no critical intent exists). It should be marked that this type of deconstruction can be either a product of very attentive and intuitive (sometimes naive) writing or the product of writing so bad that the author doesn't even understand the context and consequences of their own work. The main difference with Unbuilt Trope is that here, the writers are supposed to be familiar with previous examples of the trope.
  • Partial Deconstruction, where the work deconstructs several tropes, but whether or not it actually criticizes the tropes essential to the genre (or enough of the tropes essential to the genre) is debatable. This category exists for Genre Films that throw in some deconstructed tropes but may not be deconstructions of their genre. This can be intentional or unintentional on the part of the author but can be effective or not depending on the nature and purpose of the work. This often depends on which genre the work is classified as; sometimes it becomes incidental as an author intends to deconstruct one genre but actually ends up writing it for another (a lot of tropes are common to many genres, but are only essential to a limited number).
  • Attempted Deconstruction, where the work postures as a Genre Deconstruction but isn't. This is the reverse of Unintentional Deconstruction; deconstructive intent is present, but the deconstruction is hampered by too many tropes being played straight. Scream (1996) fits here. Arguably, some of the Darker and Edgier Dark Age Comic Books (which [mostly unsuccessfully] attempted to emulate Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns) also fit under this category. This is either the result of bad writing where the author doesn't really understand the consequences of the tropes they are deconstructing, or the result of a series where an author starts off with one idea but then changes to settle on another (this doesn't mean that the work is badly written, just that its purpose changed over time). Alternatively, when a work goes too far in the opposite direction, and ends up being based on a too-bastardized view of the genre it was supposed to deconstruct, to be considered an effective deconstruction. Happens when an author doesn't know enough about a genre and/or holds too strong biases against it to produce a more objective deconstruction of it.
  • Defictionalized Deconstruction, where the work actually never intended to deconstruct the work at all (or deconstruction was at the very back of the author's thoughts) but the setting, genre, and specific story being told ends up filling the fiction with loads of deconstruction-enough in fact to be considered a deconstruction of popular narrative cliches, tropes, and even genres and setting. A common example are stories based on real incidents where so many popular tropes were averted because the events that inspired the work of fiction pretty much occurred as though the story was a deconstruction. This is especially prevalent in well-researched historical fiction, war stories, and crime fiction where authors tend to copy almost the entire plot from real history and documentations word-for-word (with some twist of creativity on the author's part). Also common in many fictional works where the author garnered a professional expert or scholar (or reasonably accurate secondary sources and references) to aid him on themes and tropes related to the story (such as battle scenes in war movies like Saving Private Ryan), if not then the author outright being a long time enthusiast of said subject (such as a skateboarding fan deconstructing the Determinator trope by realistically portraying what injuries would do like disqualifying a participant). Also authors may throw in events based on or inspired by their personal experience just to spice up the story or show character development (even though they never intended to deconstruct popular tropes that occurred very differently in real life).

See also Indecisive Parody and Unbuilt Trope.

Compare and contrast Decon-Recon Switch, where a work begins as a deconstruction but (intentionally) switches to a Reconstruction by the end.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Rose of Versailles deconstructs many popular cliches of the French Revolution and even the Shojo and romance genre. For starters rather than overwhelming armies of the French monarchy, peasants are shown being massacred during the violence and riots of the revolution. Furthermore even in cases where the rebels have been able to defeat French forces on their own, they were armed with musket rifles, explosives, and other gunpowder weaponry-the very same tools that the military of the French nobility were using-rather than charging towards them in a brutal melee with farming tools and other improvised weapons. Also the leaders of the Revolution were from the aristocracy and even when the citizenry took the initiative on their own to fight the corruption of the monarch, they consisted mostly of the middle class (many whom were literate and even educated with degrees including high paying professions such as doctor and lawyer), with the lower class participants coming from a military or police background. In the end elements of the French army and scholarly class were shown as being essential in order to defeat the monarchy's army and reform the government. These are just a few and this is not counting in showing the consequences of court rumors, adulterous relationships, cross-dressing, and other tropes common in Shojo and romance stories. However the author Ikeda was primarily basing the story's events, setting, and artistic direction on a biography on Marie Antoinette and other historical sources and was a fan of European culture so this is an example of defictionalized deconstruction.
  • The Golgo 13 adaptation The Professional is largely just seen as a typical example of the series but actually portrays Golgo 13 as something of a psychopath who has ruined a bunch of lives by his actions. The fact it was just another job for him makes it worse.
  • The Chuunin Exam Story Arc from Naruto deconstructs several tropes of the Shōnen action genre: The hidden motives and behind-the-scenes scheming during the Tournament Arc force the tournament to be canceled part way through. The "winner(s)", although there is only one in this arc, are picked by a panel of judges, and they reward the secondary character who forfeited; they found his decision to make a tactical retreat admirable, while Naruto's "never give up no matter what" attitude struck them as likely to get himself or his teammates killed some day. And, when Naruto finally proves himself better than his Rival, Sasuke, instead of Defeat Means Friendship, just the opposite occurs; Sasuke is so disgusted at his weakness compared to Naruto that he joins the Big Bad in exchange for power. However, so many other tropes are played straight during the arc that it's unclear if a deconstruction was intended.
  • Rei Ayanami from Neon Genesis Evangelion was an attempted deconstruction of the Yamato Nadeshiko, and Extreme Doormat Love Interests in general, where Hideaki Anno took the trope to its logical conclusion and asked fanboys "so, is this what you want?" However, the response to that question was a resounding "yes," and Rei became not only a Fountain of Expies, but also a major Trope Maker for Moe as we understand it today (not helped by the fact that Rei was portrayed in a very sympathetic light in the anime).
    • Similarly, Asuka Langley Soryu from the same series can be read as a Deconstruction of how much it would suck to have a Tsundere love interest (being a neurotic mess who emotionally abuses the protagonist). However, it's not clear how deliberate this was, as Anno has stated his preference for Asuka in interviews.
    • Interestingly, Kaworu can be read as the Yaoi Guys version of Rei. While just as many people took him in exactly the wrong direction (including Studio Gainax themselves), quite a few people did take him the way he was intended, and his Hatedom just keeps growing.
  • Medaka Box: The series was meant to examine many of the tropes which defined Shonen manga, with its eponymous protagonist representing many of the ideal Shonen Hero traits. On one hand the series tried pointing out the kind of personality that would actually result in being designed for that role: for instance Medaka is so utterly devoted to heroism that she doesn't seem to be able to relate to people. On the other hand, Medaka's methods are rarely shown to be wrong in the narrative itself. The series' overall tone changes several times, going from Slice of Life High School Romantic Comedy, bog-standard Shonen Jump fighting series, and Deconstructions/Affectionate Parodies of those genres, then spends the rest of its run swapping between these several more times depending on the story arc.
  • Master of Martial Hearts: A raging document against the Panty Fighter, while giving us just as much if not more Fanservice as the typical show it's insulting. That's what we call "trying to have it both ways".
  • Fans of Gunslinger Girl see it as a social commentary on Child Soldier's and a deconstruction of the lolicon genre. It's not. The mangaka just likes middle school girls with guns and the fratello relationship really is supposed to be ambiguously sexual. The first anime plays the presumed aesop straight while Teatrino uses the original one, which is part of the many reasons why fans disliked it.
  • Sailor Moon briefly hits this trope via Strawman Has a Point. When Mamoru breaks up with Usagi because he loves her and wants to protect her, Usagi responds that he's Prince Endymion, she's Princess Serenity, and they were in love before they were ever born. He responds by asking why they should be together just because of something in a past life. The viewer isn't meant to take him seriously, but he's still just called the entire premise of the series into question.
  • Yuri Kuma Arashi deconstructs a number of Yuri genre tropes and criticizes the way lesbians are treated in Japanese society, but at the same time, also indulges in a number of Yuri tropes (especially Fanservice), as well as some Unfortunate Implications when it comes to LGBT people (especially where Yurika is concerned).

    Comic Books 
  • The obscure Image Comics character Bloodwulf. He was a parody or homage of Lobo, in that he had the look, the high body count, the serious joy in bloodletting... but he was also a devoted family man who loved his wives and kids. His few appearances were never quite clear on whether they were mocking the character, or trying to cash in, or both.
  • The Killing Joke by Alan Moore was intended to counter Insane Equals Violent and Single-Issue Psychology (which was also a deconstructive focus of Watchmen) and provide a more realistic motivation for the gimmicky villain motifs. By exploring Joker's origins and treating him as a victim of mental illness, the story introduces the possibility of Joker being cured. However any attempt to do would be Failure Is the Only Option since it would counter the role and function that Joker is intended to serve as a fictional characternote  and so can't really experience the Character Development that comes up with deeper motivations. In the end, Joker's darker, nastier backstory becomes nothing more than a Freudian Excuse for him to do darker, nastier things.
  • All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder by Frank Miller explores at its heart, the classic-team up between Batman and Robin, the role of the Kid Sidekick, and the nature of the Kid Sidekick as an Audience Surrogate to make the hero relateable, but it raises these points without following on, nor does it properly cohere with the rest of the book:
    • Essentially the early issues, about Dick Grayson being "drafted" by Batman into his war on crime, the Training from Hell sequences, and the Justice League raising issues about Batman potentially kidnapping an orphan, mirrors common complaints about Batman and Robin, namely that a Kid Sidekick travelling alongside a hero is reckless child endangerment, and the way the various Robins become Batman's partner-in-crime, can be seen as drafting Child Soldiers rather than its original intent (i.e. a medium for allowing the kids to share a fantasy of being a part of the hero's adventures). The problem is that rather than tackle the subtext of the trope and bring it to light, Miller literally has Batman kidnap and draft Robin as a child-soldier, subject him to emotional, physical, and psychological abuse, and more or less gaslights him into accepting that Batman is boss, and not to be second-guessed, all of which is played as an unironic mutually cathartic team-building exercise rather than a Marshal Law type spoof, and the comic itself isn't clear if this is a good or bad thing.
    • Furthermore, critiquing the idea of Robin as an Audience Surrogate and how he vicariously enjoys the superhero fantasy that a young audience identifies with, doesn't quite follow when most of the book is openly presented from Batman's point of view, and it isn't Robin gradually coming to see Batman's strange and bizarre world as normal and worth living in, by surrendering his agency, so much as Batman slowly imposing his view and authority on a small child. In addition the comic is clearly aimed at teenagers and adults in its content, its tone, and violence, and deconstructing the idea of Robin without actually addressing the audience the kid sidekick is intended for, more or less prevents it from having anything to say, unlike Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker which was addressed to children and largely did play the same trope for dramatic effect and tragedy.
    • On a meta-level, Batman and comics in general hasn't been a Kid-Appeal Character since The '80s, thanks largely to Frank Miller himself, and none of the Robins in Batman's main continuity at the time of this comic's publication had been "Age 12". The kid sidekick concept which Robin popularized hasn't been as common and prevalent as it was in the Silver Age, so in a large sense the comic mainly works for those readers who know and remember the old Robin from the Bill Finger-Dick Sprang era, without meaningfully having anything to say to the Nostalgia Filter or broader historical meaning of that connection.
    • The other theme in the book is that Batman's negative, dark, and violent personality has a negative influence on society and culture. With Black Canary and Batgirl being inspired to becoming violent superheroes by following his example, except only in the case of Batgirl is it portrayed as a bad thing. And in another instance where Batman saves a woman from rape, she on seeing Batman attack her assailaint grins at seeing his cathartic violence. So the comic itself is not sure whether Batman's violence and behaviour is a good and bad thing, and as such the big dramatic moment where Dick Grayson injures Hal Jordan's collarbone and Bruce chastises himself and Robin doesn't make internal or external sense, or go anywhere.

    Fan Fiction 

    Films — Animated 
  • Happily N'Ever After: comes close to deconstructing the typical Disney fairytale storyline, but since it's a kids' movie couldn't go all the way.
  • More famously, Shrek does something similar — it satirizes traditional fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters left and right and turns the traditional fairy tale structure on its head — the Princess has a reason to hide in the tower, the perfect fairy tale kingdom comes at the expense of forcing all of the non-humans to live in the woods, the nasty ogre is the reluctant hero. Come the third act, it almost becomes a melodrama mixed with a straight fairy tale story. And there's still room for a happy ending and a dance party at the end. The later films would follow this example and gradually dialled down on the parody and satire aspects (or at least intertwined them more consistently with the films stories), since Dreamworks knew they couldn't just rely on in-jokes about Disney forever.
  • Brave is set up as a deconstruction of the normal story of a Rebellious Princess wanting to get her own way, and it does achieve this to some end (as Merida does realize that she can't just do what she wants all the time), but it doesn't go all the way, as said princess gets her way in the end.
  • The Swan Princess attempted to deconstruct some Disney Princess movie tropes long before ''Shrek'' did, such as having its princess point out to the prince that their arranged marriage doesn't have much reason to love her aside from her beauty, but this is brushed aside and they both get married at the end in spite of not having all that much relationship-building throughout the film. Also, they genuinely did not like each other at all during their childhood and adolescence and the princess had a spunky, proactive personality, but that's rendered moot with the grown-up princess having a more generic personality.
  • The 2007 film Beowulf plays the myth fairly straight for most regards, but adds elements suggesting Unreliable Narrator, all sorts of raunchiness and deviations from the myth that suggest that it is a "true" version that ended up being portrayed more heroically in the myths. However it still has a naked Beowulf backflipping when fighting Grendel and being all beardy and manly and fighting monsters. A lot of arguments come up about whether or not a particular element was meant to be taken seriously.
  • Frozen parodies the 'true love at first sight' aspect and the typical romantic princess-dashing knight-evil queen setup of the original Disney films, with Anna wanting a boyfriend to make up for her emotional neglect, Hans being a secret villain, and Elsa being a misunderstood good person. However at the climax of the movie Anna realises she and Kristoff love each other (although it is not used as the movie's solution) and at the end they share what the script terms 'a true love's kiss', despite her knowing him for only three days. Further, while Anna and Hans look like a stereotypical Princess and Prince respectively, Elsa doesn't resemble anything in the Disney Villain lineup.
  • Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas: The short "A Very Goofy Christmas" tries to deconstruct the idea of parents telling children about Santa Claus. Pete tells Max that Santa isn't real. Max examines the facts and ends up concluding that Pete probably is right. Goofy and Max eventually lose their faith in Santa Claus, but they think it's okay that Santa isn't real - they still have each other. The deconstruction doesn't go all the way when it turns out that Santa is real after all.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The movie Adaptation. is this on purpose. First, it explicitly states all the tropes it's not going to use, and in the second half it gleefully goes all out in using them. Not for the art, but as a commentary about Executive Meddling.
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice by Zack Snyder takes a highly idiosyncratic approach to its title characters, and set up a conflict that is driven by a bunch of issues and problems that it doesn't fully resolve, or proceed from its starting point:
    • The film extrapolates about how Superman would be seen with mistrust in the 21st Century, and that the collateral damage in Man of Steel would provoke a social and political response, as well as an existential crisis among society about the presence of a Physical God among them. Yet rather than take this to any proper conclusion or resolution, the movie doesn't deal with this. Superman spends most of the film being entirely passive about these fears rather than undergo Character Development in response to it, while in his Clark Kent identity, he spends most of his time chasing down and tracking Batman's police brutality instead. The entire issue of whether Superman is divided between seeing himself as human, and society seeing him as God, gets sidelined with the denouement in his fight with Batman and Doomsday.
    • Batman is supposed to have become Darker and Edgier, and grown more cruel after seeing Superman's attack but his response and reaction aren't presented as especially divergent from his previous behaviour. Likewise it's not clear what exactly it is about Superman's fight with Zod that bothers him. If it's collateral damage and irresponsibility, then Batman's own rampage and casual slaughter of criminals in his chase for the Kryptonite, and his general torture of evil bad guys, doesn't make sense, likewise his sudden shift from wanting to kill Superman to teaming up with him after a Heel Realization comes out of a melodramatic plot device rather than the actual ideological issues he has about the risks of having a Superman in the world ("1% of a chance").
    • Like All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder by Frank Miller, the film presents an unfamiliar image of familiar icons but derives most of its dramatic and visual tension from audience familiarity with the Pop-Cultural Osmosis version. It doesn't present a new version of the characters by departing from the norms, nor does it highlight and criticize the parts in the familiar versions that are problematic and outdated.
  • Scream (1996) was marketed as a Deconstructive Parody of the Slasher genre, but it's deconstruction only went as far as having characters point out loads of slasher movie clichés, then proceed to fall for most of the old traps anyway. Because Slashers were not en vogue at the time, it ended up being closer to a Reconstruction and, for better or worse, breathed new life in the genre for at least another decade.
  • Hancock can't decide whenever it wants be a deconstruction or a tragedy. The first half is basically a straight Deconstructive Parody. The second half is a different kind of deconstruction, examining the fact that superpowers don't exist in a vacuum (you can't have Superman without Krypton, or Wonder Woman without Paradise Island). Whether it's any good depends on the viewer.
  • Wanted plays its tropes so straight that it's hard to decide what it's doing. The comicbook that it was loosely based on is a more straightforward deconstruction of supervillains and glorification of violence, as well as the Hero's Journey by turning it into a path towards evil instead of good.
  • Kick-Ass sets itself up to examine the reality of normal people of superheroes like the comic book it adapts, and shows rather jarringly what would realistically happen to anyone who believes they got the skills, assets and resourcefulness satisfactory to be a costumed vigilante. However, unlike that comic book, it then becomes a Reconstruction - effectively subverting the source material's entire plot and having the lead character eventually gain many, many levels in Kick-Ass to demonstrate that either anything's possible with enough determination... or that grim realism is detrimental for a compelling plot. Of course, the original comic book went for such a self-indulgent Darker and Edgier dystopic view on humanity that you would think that it is an unintentional deconstruction of the self-absorbed emo-teenage fantasy (of the kind Frank Miller would agree with). At this point, however, it's either a very competent Stealth Parody or very sadly played straight.
  • Enchanted is either this or a Decon-Recon Switch, depending on a): how self-aware you think it is of its tendency to reuse tropes it previously smashed into little pieces, and b): how convincing you think its reuse of those tropes really is.
  • Last Action Hero - Affectionate Parody or straight-up lampooning of action movie tropes? The movie bounced between the two and suffered for it.
  • Sucker Punch: Action-movie Fanservice, or a deconstruction of Action-movie Fanservice? Who knows?
  • Good Luck Chuck sits firmly into Unintentional Deconstruction territory. As noted under Deconstructive Parody there are several elements that can be taken as criticism of some of the particularely contrived examples in the Romantic Comedy subgenre, like the loser protagonist who can't get a good girlfriend needing a literal curse for the plot to work at all, fairly realistic consequences of going to absurd lengths to woo a girl, etc. Interviews with the director and main actors suggest they viewed it as nothing other than a typical wacky Rom-Com (Jessica Alba did critique the film later on, but for different reasons).
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, with its dead serious dramatic delivery and completely insane fight sequences, is either a mediocre action movie or an excellent deconstruction of how nonsensical action movies can be in their presentation.
  • GoldenEye walks the line between this and Decon-Recon Switch, as many characters talk about whether James Bond still has a place in the post-Cold War world, which is offset by puns and gadgetry straight out of the Connery and Moore films.
  • Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li attempted to be a more realistic and edgy take on the Street Fighter series by downplaying the Camp and mysticism, while supposedly showing a more brutal and true to life depiction of violence. This is undercut immensely by still giving Chun-Li the ability to use Ki Attacks, or a major plot point involving Bison transferring part of his soul into his child.

  • Cervantes' Don Quixote is arguably this for the knightly romances of its day. Parody was the intent, but sometimes it's not so clear where the title character lies relative to the fine line between genius and madness...
  • John Green intended Looking for Alaska to be a deconstruction of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but it doesn't quite work. Realizing that Alaska didn't quite get across the destructive nature of mis-imagining people as Manic Pixie Dream Girls was a motivator in him writing Paper Towns, which does a better job of it.
  • It is clear that R.J. Rummel’s War and Democide Never Again is intended to be a deconstruction of heroes who are massively destructive because Utopia Justifies the Means. The climax of the first book makes this obvious. Joy, one of the novel's protagonist, is so much of a Jerk Sue even before she Jumps Off The Slippery Slope (and her counterpart, John, so weak-willed) that her behavior which the readers are supposed to find horrific is practically indistinguishable from her behavior which the readers are supposed to approve of her actions, which ruins the effect. Its sequels, furthermore focus less and less on deconstruction as the series goes on, and focus more and more on Wish Fulfillment and the Rule of Cool.
  • Children and Young Adult series like Animorphs, Harry Potter, and The Hunger Games all evolved into anti-escapist fantasies. Each series displayed either It Sucks to Be the Chosen One or War Is Hell. And yet, since the protagonists are more or less successful in defeating the Big Bads, many fans will wish that they could be put in the shoes of the protagonists.
  • Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling fell into this with some of the fantastic creatures which were satirical and allegorical parodies of various real-world issues.
    • The House-Elves Liberation Story Arc focused on Hermione Granger being spurred to activism in Book 4-7 in response to wizarding society enslaving house-elves and treating them as disposable and less than human. In Rowling's interviews, she saw this a sympathetic take on the Soapbox Sadie trope, where sincere adolescent fervour mixed with self-righteousness leads the well-intentioned to take on the cause of the oppressed without understanding or properly empathizing with the people they want to help, and the entire arc of the books is Hermione undergoing Character Development to become more moderate and reformist. The problem is that the House-Elves have Happiness in Slavery, and with the exception of one House Elf, Dobby, the novels show Hermione's movement as being entirely inorganic and alien to the house-elves. In other words, the House-Elves have a morality and attitude entirely different from human wizards none of which squares with any real-world deconstruction of activism and movements, or proceeds organically from Hermione's intent and execution. Eventually Hermione goes from advocating abolitionism to advocating better treatment from kinder slave-masters, a transformation that only works if you don't accept the other, and more historically consistent well-known trope about slavery.
    • The House-Elves as a species are a weird Fantasy Counterpart Culture of slaves and butlers. Like slaves, they have no legal rights to protect themselves from cruelty by wizarding masters and no other ways of defending themselves from abuse, but most of them are also servants loyal to the family estate, and many of them, including two of the prominent elf characters (Winky, Kreacher) take pride in being gatekeepers and enforcers of the family's lineage and estate, and in the case of Kreacher have so thoroughly incorporated the family's worldview that they have become more conservative than the rebellious descendants (Sirius, Tonks). The resolution in the final books, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows largely depends on the hero accepting that the family rebels who deplore the traditions of pureblood supremacy, and racism are somehow wrong while making excuses for Kreacher based on him not having the same worldview as human wizards do.
    • This also applies to the other creatures, namely Goblins and Centaurs. Rowling intended to avoid romanticizing oppression by pointing out that even groups who face real oppression and discrimination from the hegemony of society are flawed and imperfect, and filled with their own biases and discrimination. In the case of the Centaurs, they consider Firenze, the member of their kind who helps wizards, a Category Traitor. But the novels never emphasize any real political and social grudges that exist between different groups, and in one-on-one interactions, the Goblins and Centaurs are largely shown as Single-Issue Wonk whose grudges and vindictive behaviour comes from them having values entirely antithetical to human wizards, which also makes much of the anti-discrimination message a Broken Aesop since it doesn't suggest the possbility of real equality.

    Live-Action TV 

  • [title of show] starts out as a postmodern look at how musicals are made, pointing out and critiquing many of the common plot points. By the second act, however, it's more or less a melodrama about a theatre troupe who are totally falling apart, guys.

    Video Games 
  • BioShock is the game that became the Trope Codifier for ludonarrative dissonance:
    • The critique of video-game linearity and how video games program and manipulate the gamer into unthinking consumers runs into trouble in the third act when the conditioning is removed, and Jack is finally freed, the game still remains linear with little in the way of alternative paths. The little agency that the player does have, such as killing/sparing Sander Cohen, freeing/harvesting the Little Sisters by itself doesn't lead up to the denouement. For instance, Tannenbaum will save Jack regardless of whether or not he harvests the little sisters because she wants to stop Fontaine, sparing Sander Cohen likewise doesn't have any consequence, and the overall meaning of these choices is a simple binary good/bad ending, which more or less rails you to acting altruistically rather than choosing to.
    • Levine's critique of Objectivism is intended to apply reductio ad absurdum to its ideas, i.e. showing what could happen if that society was actually erected. So Andrew Ryan created a Libertarian utopia beneath the sea running on free enterprise but essentially Rapture and its ideology works or is shown to work. Andrew Ryan builds a functional society and it actually does provide what it advertised to its citizes (i.e. a haven for the talented special people to do as they pleased). What made it fail was not the contradictions or flaws in its ideology but the fact that it was deliberately subverted by the evil Frank Fontaine (intended to be the sort of man Rapture would foster, but coming off as an outside force), and about the only ideological critique is that the government didn't anticipate or prepare itself to protect itself from Fontaine. Essentially, Objectivism works in Rapture and would have worked had Fontaine not arrived, which isn't an actual critique or deconstruction of Randian ideas at all.
  • The plot of Haze attempts to deconstruct the more arcade-style FPS' with military settings like Halo by trying to show what it would be like if war were like a video game. Specifically, all the "players" (soldiers) would be apparently be Psychopathic Manchild Jerk Jock types deluding themselves into believing their side is morally perfect when in reality the moral conflicts of war aren't easily reducible to Black and White Morality. However, only one side of the conflict is actually subjected to severe critical analysis; the initially-villains are shown to be borderline saints. Given the whole theme of the game is meant to be about the moral complexities of armed conflict, this contradicts the point.
    • Zero Punctuation made an additional point in this regard, discussing out a major missed opportunity: when you switch sides, nothing changes about your squadmates' stats. Instead of trying to make a point about the invincibility of the former protagonists and how the severely outgunned rebels have to resort to cunning and trickery, the game simply "switches jerseys:" your new rebel allies that were dying in two shots a mission ago can now heal back a burst from a rifle, while your power-armored former allies now go down like mooks.
  • Half-Life can be read as a deconstruction of the Trope Codifier Doom. The basic premise (an experiment into teleportation technology goes horribly wrong) is basically the same as Doom. Like Doom, there is very little plot exposition. But unlike Doom, Half-Life showed you exactly how terrifying this kind of scenario would be if it happened in the Real World; you must think and not act like a stereotypical Space Marine in order to remain alive. And of course, this kind of experiment would require immense levels of government funding. Necessitating a large covert laboratory. And thus, when everything goes wrong the military have to be called in to keep things covert. However, the developers have at no point implied any critical intent. Thus, Half-Life is arguably an unintentional deconstruction.
    • Of course, once the initial shock of being a scientist as opposed to a Marine wears off, it goes the opposite direction, and the game never tries to justify the protagonist's (who had never seen Day One of action prior to all hell breaking loose) ease of mowing down wave after wave of aliens and Marines beyond that he has a special suit. The second game goes even farther away from a deconstruction, presenting the protagonist as The Chosen One who never expresses any qualms about killing the countless adversaries in his path, even though he had never killed anyone before the Resonance Cascade happened.
  • A number of Rockstar Games in general, and Grand Theft Auto in particular fall into this:
    • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was the first GTA game which had a narrative with a somewhat moral focus, at least in the first half, being that it's a game that tries to show how the gang culture, the Neighborhood Friendly Gangsters sentimentalism can't really compete against the drug trade, poverty, and limited social and personal advancement. Except, the game has you play as "the one good gangster" who still believes in this trope, who partners with other good gangsters like the Triad, becomes a mercenary for the American government, and somehow single-handedly crush the drug-pushing rival gangs and rebuilt the community with better, richer, and cleaner gangs. The message of the first section and the serious point is completely overturned in the later sections, where more or less you can have your cake and eat it too.
    • Grand Theft Auto IV and his Expansion Packs are attempts by Rockstar to show the life of a gangster and outlaw as being completely horrific, with characters that are trying to redeem themselves from those lifestyles, and more or less the story-missions and cutscenes tell a story about criminals trapped forever in the bottom of the ladder without any of the triumph and climb-to-the-ladder conclusions previous games trafficked in. The side-missions and the open world however depend on the player fully being able to act as violently and murderously and degenerately as they want, which more or less makes their actions inconsistent with the story, and goes against the open-world fantasy the games provide without actually acknowledging it.
    • While it's definitely Lighter and Softer than IV, Grand Theft Auto V may be an even more severe example. The tone is much lighter and the organized crime aspects in general are shone in a much more flattering light, but somehow that just makes the darker aspects of the story all the more jarring. For example, Michael has a completely dysfunctional family life and a mountain of debt he owes to a government agent after striking a deal to escape his life of crime, culminating in Michael and his partners later being forced to torture and kill on the government's behalf in order to return the favor. And don't even get us started on Trevor. This may, however, be part of the point; the game has a running theme of showing multiple sides of every issue, and showing both the ups and severe downs of criminal life goes with this and the game has Multiple Endings that complicate this but more or less the player has the full choice to have their cake and eat it too. i.e. the crazy, depressing, and disturbing violence and amoral sociopathy of the game can be embraced and engaged in and the player can walk away rewarded and validated for their fantasies.
    • Red Dead Redemption attempts a Deconstruction of The Western and is set in the Twilight of the Old West in the early twentieth century, and it more or less parodies and makes fun of multiple Western archetypes and tropes from the Western genre, but the main character you play, John Marston, is more or less a Western protagonist in the mould of the classic genre, i.e. an ex-criminal who reforms, wishes to go straight, and is forced by society to go back into crime and is hypocritically punished by the law. John Marston is a classic romantic Outlaw in an utterly un-Romantic setting, which more or less allows gamers to play and enjoy the fantasy of being a badass cowboy without actually feeling culplable or implicated in the historical and socio-economic issues of The Wild West (i.e. expansionism, gun violence, manifest destiny).
  • Far Cry 3 attempts to show the slow devolution of a protagonist into madness. On the other hand, he never seems too crazy and this is the only way to rescue his friends.
  • Despite Final Fantasy VII's deconstruction of many trope (Aerith's death, Cloud just to name a few), it has been jeered by many people to be just your generic Eastern RPG with cliches that maybe, ironically, were the deconstruction. While it is more a case of "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny, FFVII has a vibe that's still same with a usual RPG (quite upbeat), and the Darker and Edgier feeling later that's usually presented with the Deconstructed work in the first place's usually waved off as just those Cerebus Syndrome for still not dark enough. It doesn't help that the fanbase itself rarely realized it and the deconstruction maybe mistaken as an attempt to make a new trope.
  • From the beginning Halo's backstory had subversive elements. The awesome action hero Master Chief turns out to be that way because he was indoctrinated since childhood on how to kill. His One-Man Army status is irrelevant against an enemy who uses Orbital Bombardment. The unified human civilization of the future turns out to be not a benevolent federation but an authoritarian near-empire that just happens to be fighting aliens who are even worse. And sheer willpower by humanity turns out to be incapable of winning the war; humanity only survives because on an Enemy Civil War tangentially related to this conflict that splits the invaders apart. If one just plays the games, though, the story appears like a straight "power of humans" tale, though the later games have been increasingly bringing the darker parts of the backstory into the foreground.
  • Metal Gear Solid V has this most infamously with Quiet (although similar indecisive deconstructions throughout the series can be argued for Eva, The Beauty and the Beast Unit and Paz). With Quiet, Kojima insisted that people who criticised her skimpy outfit before the game came out would be "ashamed of their words and deeds", as he had a deconstruction lined up for her; in-universe, she needs to wear fewer clothes because she breathes through her skin. A lot of people, however, saw this attempt at a deconstruction as just an excuse for her to be wearing a sexy outfit all the time, seeing as the camera is still tracking her in a way that makes some scenes into obvious fanservice, especially as male characters with the same powers as her (namely, The End from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater) didn't need to dress this way. note 

    Web Comics 
  • Girls with Slingshots does this with the main character, Hazel, she started as the Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist, who always makes poor, selfish and short-sighted decisions but manages to pull through thanks to her dream boyfriend, friends and family to run damage control on her, however near the end this started to take a toll on her relationships which culminated with Zach breaking up with her and other setbacks; but in the ending it again plays the trope straight as out of nowhere she gets a book deal and although at the very end she makes the determination of becoming a better person, we don't actually get to see it.

    Western Animation 
  • The Dreamstone comes off as such due to the Urpney scenes, which mock the Serious Business formula of 80s/90s cartoons and put excess Sympathetic P.O.V. on what the Urpneys suffer from being Trapped in Villainy over a futile goal. The heroes themselves however play the formula totally and utterly straight and are always treated as in the right against the Urpneys, making it more a standard Designated Hero vs Designated Villain situation. Later episodes try to tweak the plot to find a middle ground.