The three OVAs of Gunsmith Cats, in addition to telling their own storyline rather than risking trying to adopt the manga storyline, also toned a lot of things down. May Hopkin's status as an underaged child prostitute and her sexual fetish for explosions and the scent of gunpowder, Rally Vincent's tendency to stop her opponents by blowing off their fingers or arms, the firepower of May's handgrenades, the general copious amounts of death, all of it went out the window. It is still pretty violent, though.
Pokémon is considerably lighter and softer than the games, which are slowly growing darker and darker as they go on. Some dark elements still show up on occasion though, especially in the movies. In the show itself, they just don't stick very long.
Example A: Team Galactic, a very dark, sinister villain group from the video game, show up in the Diamond/Pearl series....in just 10 episodes out of 191.
Example B: Due to trauma stasis, the two episodes involving Team Plasma fighting Team Rocket and creating mass destruction in Castelia City were not aired, and the Team was introduced in a different way.
The anime adaptation of the original Slayers novels has its fair share of emotional turmoil and grisly moments (enough to be denied the right to air on the old Fox Kids network back in the late 90's, believe it or not), but in general it is much lighter in tone and sillier (replacing the female protagonist's First-Person Smartass humor from the novels to slapstick). Also, the character Xellos, an Affably Evil demon-priest, is far more sadistic in the novels, whereas his affably-evil attitude in the anime makes him comical. A story involving a cult supporting the world's Big Bad was also never bought into anime form.
Most of the manga and video games that followed are also this trope.
Sailor Moon played this straight for Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. Some elements were toned down in the anime compared to the manga, but it wasn't lighter. For instance, in the first story arc, only Usagi dies (from using the crystal's full power) and Mamoru revives her with a kiss; whereas the anime version had everyone brutally die in pure Nightmare Fuel. Then again, Usagi was less of a "bunny" in the anime version.
Also done in the anime itself with the SuperS season, after the previously unseen level of darkness in the preceding S season.
It's still fairly dark, though. That it manages to qualify as lighter and softer says far more about the original than it.
Girlfriend of Steel does this too, obviously. Everyone seems to be alive and flourishing. Rei is a Genki Girl. Yikes. Oddly enough despite that Rei has the exact same backstory.
Parallel Trouble Adventure Dual takes the general characters — a brown-haired boy with parental issues, a complex soul tie to a giant mecha, and rare hallucinations, a tsundere girl trying to prove herself, and a partially alien 'soul' inhabiting an artificial body with the resulting identity and self-worth issues — and setting of Neon Genesis Evangelion and looks at how it'd perform if everyone involved was at least sane enough to have not taken a pencil to their eyeballs long ago. Given that it belongs to the Tenchi Muyo!Multiverse it's hardly surprising.
Argento Soma, another Take That series, is still fairly grim, and its heroes are still full of issues, but overall seem to cope pretty well, up to making the half of the cast Warrior Therapists, as the authors believed that being badass makes wonders with one's mental health.
Probably the best example in EVA spin-off, is Evangelion @ School (or Petit Eva), where there are chibis of MASS-PRODUCED EVAS!
The anime version of Magic Knight Rayearth does this with Alcyone's death. Not only does Alcyone not die after the first failed attempt at killing the Magic Knights, but she actually gets to redeem herself and save Cephiro in the second season.
Subverted when Presea is actually killed off. In the manga she never dies though so naturally the anime fixes that.
Axis Powers Hetalia does this for all of history. The anime took it even further. But it still applies to the comic itself; the earlier strips had a lot more dark humour.
Most anime adaptations of Osamu Tezuka's manga get this, as most of the great man's work, while having a generally cartoony look & feel with an uplifting message, still involved copious amounts of death and destruction (Lost World, one of his earliest forays into the world of boys' adventure stories was infamous at the time for having the highest body count of any manga up to that point, with only three members of the cast surviving to the end of the book). In more recent years this has started to swing the other way, though (the Metropolis animé is far more bloody than the original, and the 2003 Astro Boy series' version of Dr. Tenma takes the Evilutionary Biologist gimmick that was only briefly touched upon in the manga and turns it up to 11).
In light of this, it is interesting to consider Astro Boy: Omega Factor for the GBA. The first half of the game shows the world growing steadily Darker and Edgier; the second half is Astro making things lighter and softer.
At some points, things just get weird ( OK, so Eponine and Enjorlas still have to die, yet Javert, the freaking antagonist, DOESN'T commit suicide and LIVES?)
The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya, a web series spin off of a similarly titled blockbuster franchise, seems very much a lighter and softer take on its source material, rendering every character as a Super-Deformed version, recasting Yuki Nagato as an eroge-obsessed otaku, and generally coming across as the original series' writers, animators and voice actors just having fun with the source material.
Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu. The primary mech is a ridiculously cute mascot character named Bonta-kun, which can only "speak" by squeaking a high-pitched "Fumoffu!" Sandwiched between the original, serious series and the Darker and Edgier The Second Raid, it makes the differences all the more pronounced.
The fluffy Bonta-kun suit is also quite literally both lighter and softer than the huge metal mechas from the original and "The Second Raid."
Even in The Second Raid, Sousuke shows his trust towards Kaname by letting her cut his hair. Let's review it: a teenage Child Soldier conditioned to perceive everyone as a potential enemy is letting another person handle scissors near his head and behind his back (falling asleep in the process). More so, he actually gets aroused by her proximity even though he is The Stoic. It doesn't make him any less of a Bad Ass, though. That's just some good character development.
Death Note certainly had more comedic moments while Light was no longer Kira as the result of a Memory Gambit, mostly because of Misa and Matsuda. Compared to the rest of the series only one named character was killed and he was a minor antagonist, and it was offscreen and the Kira Investigation Unit's base gave everything a sort of sitcom vibe.
SD Gundam Force. It's Gundam, but all the characters are chibis, everything is completely light-hearted, and hardly anyone ever dies. Though it can have it's nightmare fuel-like moments. That said, it's only slightly lighter and softer than some of the SDGundam stuff that preceded it...
 is decidedly less (visibly) brutal than many of Tomino's other Gundam works, with more lighthearted and very optimistic (or at least hopeful) themes.
Stitch!, the anime adaptation of Lilo & Stitch and Lilo & Stitch: The Series, is not just more lighthearted than the originals, but also replaced the human characters, and is possibly an alternate version of the series entirely.
In the original Yu-Gi-Oh!, Yugi once had someone who had a gun to his face set himself on fire and kill himself. Joey (Jonouchi) was involved in a vicious street gang, that beat the crap out of him, and almost murdered him and Yugi. Tea (Anzu) was almost blown up by a terrorist. People got into vicious fights. People got offed now and then. In later adaptations of the franchise, everybody just plays cards.
Yu-Gi-Oh! GX is lighter and softer than its predecessor up until season 3.
Yu Gi Oh 5 DS, which had a gritty apocalypse story, was followed by Yu Gi Oh Zexal, which is a much more optimistic series with a space-age theme and more focus on comedy.
Not quite to the same degree, but the manga adaptation of Fate/stay night itself is leaning in this direction. It was already focusing mostly on the 'Fate' route of the visual novel, which is notable for being the most idealistic of the three routes, but then went even further by removing the multiple rapes and other trauma in Sakura's backstory, and humanizing and sparing the life of Shinji.
As both series are intended to be comedies to the core, it would be inaccurate to claim that either version of Ranma ˝ is Darker and Edgier then the other. The anime version can still be seen as lighter and softer then the manga. Not only does it lack the somewhat darker storylines that the author created after the anime was cancelled... which includes, among other things, a Villain of the Week whose father was technically killed by Genma, Ranma meeting his mother — and then being threatened with Seppuku because Happosai dressed him in girl's clothes, Ranma being trapped in female form by a group of more powerful and much more vicious martial artists, and Akane being kidnapped, near-drowned and then changed into a doll, an almost fatal experience, over Jusenkyo... but also removes several of the more Comedic Sociopathy moments from shared storylines. Examples of this include Akane's viciously vindictive speech to Ranma after the first Nekoken incident, Happosai's attempt to murder what he believes is baby PantyhoseTaro because he thinks Taro will become an even better Panty Thief then himself, and the ending of the Hypnotic Mushrooms story, which in the anime ends with a gag and in the manga ends with Akane surrounding herself with weapons to use against Ranma if he "tries something" while Ranma gives her a Deadpan Snarker response.
Japanese fans of Lupin III were quite nonplussed when The Castle of Cagliostro hit theaters, as Miyazaki had made the normally-obnoxious Lupin and his cohorts unrecognizably nice. The film originally flopped at the box office. It took the passage of years, and fans who were able to see the movie on its own merits, for it to gain the popularity and critical acclaim it has today.
The same could be said of the second Lupin anime series, which is a lot goofier in tone than the original comics and 1971 anime series. Not to the degree of Cagliostro, but it definitely fits this trope.
The Getter Robo 70's anime series removes the batshit insane elements the original manga had. Ryouma becomes a virtuous, Hot-Blooded straightforward hero, while Hayato becomes the archetypical 'cool guy' loner... all in high school setting. They're still Hot-Blooded, though. But just try to compare that version to the latter closer-to-manga versions (Shin vs Neo, Armageddon, NEW)... where they're both Ax-CrazySociopathic Heroes with the side order of Hot-Blooded.
The 1972 anime adaptation of Devilman was considerably lighter and softer in comparison with the original manga: Lots of changes to the story were made, the violence and nudity were considerably toned down, comic relief was included, and the most of the character whodied at the end of the manga are still alive in the last chapter of the first anime series, which also has a Bitter Sweet Ending instead of the tragic conclusion of the manga.
Soul Eater's sidestory manga from the same mangaka Soul Eater Not! appears to be a twist of this from the first three chapters. It is focused on a period prior to Sid becoming a zombie (an event from Chapter 1 of the manga) and looks at how new normal academy students (instead of how badass seniors) fit in. Along with how students can raise money, waste money, get their names (Eternal Feather for example) and live in academy quarters.
In the Mai Hi ME manga, the only person who dies at any point is an Asshole Victim who previously tried to sexually assault Shiho. After the characters work through their competing approaches to fighting Orphans in the first arc, they work together against common enemies, instead of being manipulated into fighting each other like in the anime. The characters also suffer significantly less emotional trauma than they do in the anime. A notable example is that Akane is able to win her fight and profess her love to Kazuya without her CHILD (and Kazuya by proxy) being killed and her descending into insanity.
The Mai-Otome manga is similar, with Nina remaining emotionally stable and loyal to the heroes the entire time, largely related to Erstin surviving, and Arika and Mashiro never quite sink to the depths of despair that they do in the darker parts of the anime. On the other hand, several characters who survive the anime are killed off, and Sergay is arguably more evil than the Otome anime version of Nagi.
The Mai-Otome anime can also be considered this in comparison to the Mai-HiME anime, as while the story is, in the best of times, more serious, it never seems quite as dark or hopeless, and there are fewer character deaths, although they are more often permanent.
The anime adaptation of Rosario + Vampire definitely is this. It cuts out most of the darker story arcs that crop up later in the storyline, while considerably softening many of the earlier ones, and generally portraying a lot of antagonists as less evil than their manga counterparts. For example, the Attempted Rape element of Mizore's introductory arc was removed completely, while Ruby's master Yukata, a notable Knight of Cerebus, was reduced to a tragic Posthumous Character. Finally, Tsukune's ghoul transformation, a major contributing factor to the series' Cerebus Syndrome, was ignored completely.
The Black Jack TV anime series adapted stories from the manga, but occasionally removed some of the downer material.
In the manga story "Thieving Dog", a dog dies saving Jack and Pinoko from an earthquake, while in the anime the dog survives the incident and becomes their pet.
In the manga story "Sometimes Like Pearls", Jack's killer whale friend dies of injuries acquired while attacking fishing boats and killing fishermen. In the anime adaptation, "The Gift From a Killer Whale", the whale was hurt fighting another whale who was attacking the fishing boats, and is proven innocent just in time for Jack to save him.
Higurashi: When They Cry: Rei and Kira. Before they came along, Higurashi itself was about murder and mystery, and had various recurring characters beating other people to gory pulps. Rei becomes much lighter in tone after Takano's defeat at the hands of the club and their friends in Matsuribayashi-hen, especially with the hilarious pool episode. And then Kira comes along, and it's much lighter than Rei in every way, with things ranging from Rika and Satoko becoming Magical Girls to hilarious and absurd situations happening during dates between Keiichi and the Sonozaki twins along with the other female protagonists, and even Keiichi ending up dating Oryou, Mion and Shion's grandmother.
To say nothing of the KeiichixSatoshi yaoi joke from Kira. No, really.
The original Fruits Basket is noticeably darker than the anime. Even without trimming some drama here and there, the anime covered the Lightest and Softest part of the manga, cutting off before the main plot really even started. Besides that, the two darkest characters were also the ones that deviated the most from their characterization in the manga: Akito was simplified into a fairly standard villain, and Shigure was relegated to comic relief.
Episode 3 has Manabe beaten up significantly in the anime. In the yonkoma, he got stabbed, and was not conscious when Kotoura came to check on him. Also, Hiyori convinces the thugs to go after Manabe by telling him that he's stalking her. In the yonkoma, she tells them he raped her.
In the anime, one story arc has a criminal prowling the streets savagely beating up schoolgirls, resulting in them getting hospitalized. In the yonkoma, the criminal actually rapes and murders them.
There is a chance that the Shiki anime is this compared to the manga and, especially, the original light novel. At least one character had his worst traits from the manga sanitized in the anime to make him more sympathetic, and in the original light novel Natsuno never rises from the dead, while in the manga and anime he does. Of course, even if this is true, the anime itself is still really, really dark!
Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince is rather light and soft after Hirai's previous works. It has some of the most adorable funny expressions to grace a Hirai anime.
"Don't be ridiculous. We would never shoot the Hulk into space!"
What's ironic is that the Mini Marvels comic strips included at the end of the mainstream Marvel universe actually parodies the shallowness and silliness. The Mini Marvels strips point out how the stories taken seriously are much more ridiculous than their Lighter and Softer counterpart.
The original 1980s version of Power Pack, while not nearly as angsty as Marvel's other works, took itself seriously and attempted to be a serious, but not as serious as usual, comic about kid heroes, with a fair amount of characterization, intelligent plots, and good quality storytelling. It actually tries to realistically portray what children who find themselves with superpowers might actually go through, but still falls short of stereotypical comic angst. The 2000s remake is aimed squarely at a quite young audience and has much cuter art and simpler storytelling.
Tiny Titans is an even lighter version of Teen Titans compared to the TV show. It takes places in a bright happy world where some of the worst things the elementary school Titans need to worry about are: embarrassingly loving father Trigon, grumpy lunch lady Darkseid, and stern principal Slade. In both versions of Teen Titans, Trigon is a demon who wishes to conquer Earth and turn it into hell, Darkseid is out to conquer all life, and Slade is an amoral mercenary and assassin. To say nothing of the comic version Starfire's character design...
The 1994 Continuity Reboot of Legion of Super-Heroes. Over the previous decade, the comic had been hemorrhaging readers for years, having gone from happy young superheroes in a bright and shiny future to cynical adults struggling to hold society together (and the insanely complex Continuity Snarl that came about after Crisis on Infinite Earths). So, the comic started over at the beginning with a focus on youth and idealism. (It got Darker and Edgier again when Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning took over writing duties years later, but that's another story.)
Done in-universe in The Sandman: Abel tells the baby Daniel the story of how he and Cain came to live in Dream's dominion... well, a version appropriate for a toddler, anyway. The story involves Super-Deformed versions of themselves, Dream and Death. Cain is utterly sickened. It's hilarious.
Superman was originally a much rougher and reckless tough guy who was eager to terrorize his enemies and even kill his enemies when suitable. There was even a story where Superman sought to encourage urban renewal by going on a rampage smashing up slums. Within a few years, Superman was changed into his more familiar big boy scout personality.
Transformers: Wings of Honor: The Text stories are usually more humor based, compared to the comicstrip which ended with most of the characters dead. The Generation 2: Redux stories are a lot more upbeat and funny and, on the whole, more optimistic, with the next generation seeing a future working together, rather than an inevitable war that the Wings comics lead into.
Most fluff fics are this to the original work they were based on, especially if it was considerably dark in tone.
Slightly Altered, an AU fic of Slightly Damned, despite having some truly horrific moments, is still a LOT lighter in tone than the original series. As of Chapter 8, nobody apart from Buwaro's biological parents has died, not even Sakido. Rhea is oddly absent, though, so she may be dead.
The first Ponies The Anthology featured a content warning and even a separate clean version, while the second one was specifically designed to stay within a PG-13 level. Word of God from one of the Anthology's contributors is that this actually made them think more about what was funny versus Vulgar Humor.
And then there's The Legend of the Titanic, in which evil sharks tricked a dopey octopus into throwing an iceberg in front of the ship. Tentacles the octopus saves the day, and everyone survives. In the sequel the shark raps.
The first Ice Age was about an unlikely group of animals who had to work together to return a baby to his family. It didn't even focus on comedy, except for a few scenes, and that was it. Ice Age 2 and 3 on the other hand, focus more on comedy and Scrat, mainly because the children loved Scrat so much in the first. The darkest the sequels ever got were when they showed the presumed deaths of the villains in Meltdown.
Disney DTV sequels. This happens in nearly every direct-to-video Disney sequel. The sequel will generally be much lighter and fluffier compared to the previous film.
Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch is also an exception to the rule, and manages to be darker than the first.
The first Brother Bear featured the tearjerking deaths of Kenai's brother Sitka and Koda's mother, so the second one is obviously more lighthearted by comparison, until near the end where Kenai nearly dies after Nita's fiance tries to kill him, which also has Kenai leaving a trail of blood for her to follow.
Bambi II is a midquel that focuses on Bambi's relationship with his father, but it's a somewhat mild example, given the original mostly wasn't that dark to begin with. While it does not feature violent shooting deaths or a forest fire, we see Bambi put in not one but two near-death situations, him coming to terms with his mother's death (even getting his chain yanked and nearly getting shot by a hunter for believing she was still alive) and the stress of earning his stern father's approval.
The sequel to The Hunchback of Notre Dame took this to cringe-worthy levels, especially as the original movie is one of the darkest animated movies of all time. Comparing the villains of both installments (Judge Claude Frollo vs.. er.. Sarousch) makes it even more pathetic.
The Fox and the Hound had this towards the ending... wait... No. Through the whole movie actually. In the original book Todd and Copper weren't even friends. They all die at the end. Oh. And there is no happy singing of being friends or meeting girls either. The animals don't even talk.
Apart from sequels, some installments in the Disney Animated Canon tend to be much, much lighter than others, standing out because of this.
Dumbo was this during Walt Disney's heyday. It was produced on a lower budget with less intricate animation, intended mainly to generate money and therefore more catered toward the intended audience, which resulted in (while still emotionally heavy compared to today's kids films) a more light-hearted adventure compared to the other movies of that era (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia and Bambi). Dumbo does an excellent job of proving Tropes Are Not Bad in this case, though.
Cinderella started a trend of comparably lighter and softer Disney movies from the 1950s through the 1970s, with less menacing villains and the stakes lowered.
Home on the Range broke a trend started in 1989 of Disney movies featuring Family Unfriendly Deaths, Nightmare Fuel, heavy emotion, and dark themes. You can ask anyone, they'll tell you the same thing - this was not a good thing.
The Land Before Time. The first one, while still primarily aimed at children was very dark, featuring the child dinosaurs coming very close to dying several times, adults dinosaurs actually dying, including Littlefoot's mother, who fought a T-Rex, getting a nasty gash on her neck among other things. And then... the sequels came. Never Say "Die" was introduced, to the point where it seems the T-Rexes at most just want to scare the herbivores, and put very little effort into feeding. It gets particularly stupid when a triceratops rammed one, and only pushed it back. Oh, and big musical numbers too, something the original neither had nor needed. This was par the course for every Don Bluth movie ever to receive a sequel. The most major example is The Secret of NIMH II; it is far more light hearted and family friendly than the very dark original.
The Brave Little Toaster sequels were much lighter than original film. Even though it was a kid's movie, the original had numerous moments of Nightmare Fuel, featured some appliance characters being brutally "killed" with one scene having a blender taken apparent in the style of a horror movie, and despite having musical numbers, almost all of them fit within the dark tone of them film, a few of them even about the main characters being obsolete. The sequels were far more kid-friendly and despite not being Tastes Like Diabetes bad definitely upped the sugary factor.
Return of the Jedi, also produced by George Lucas, was more kid-oriented than the well-received and Darker and EdgierThe Empire Strikes Back, the previous film in the original trilogy. Interestingly enough, Lucas, who didn't direct either film, wanted The Empire Strikes Back to be lighter and softer; he was eventually convinced to keep it in its current form, and ended up hiring a director for ROTJ whom Lucas would direct through; nevertheless, The Ewoks and their antics are mostly responsible for the lighter tone, while the scenes that don't involve them (Jabba's palace, the Emperor, etc) are still pretty dark.
The Evil Dead is a straight horror film. The remake/sequel Evil Dead 2 added elements of dark comedy and even slapstick to the mix. Finally, Army of Darkness focused mostly on wisecracks and slapstick action, playing like a parody of an action fantasy film.
Mad Max is an extremely bleak film with a brutal, downer ending. Even though The Road Warrior takes place After the End, it manages to have a lighter tone than the original film. The villains are less psychotic, there are many more sympathetic characters, and the ending is bittersweet. Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome further lightens the mood, with a plot focusing on a group of tribal children who dispatch enemies with frying pans, and who aren't forced to face the machine guns and molotov cocktails of the first film.
RoboCop 3 intentionally toned down the extreme violence, profanity, and drug use of the first two in order to appeal to children. It bombed miserably.
Within The Dark Knight Saga itself, The Dark Knight Rises. While it still maintains a comparatively serious tone to many other Superhero films, it's more of a straight-up action movie than its predecessor (which can be considered more of a depressing drama on psychopathy - in other words, impossibly dark), and even has a happy ending.
The Godzilla films of the 1960s-1970s were considerably more kid-friendly and light-hearted in tone compared to the very dark original 1954 film.
When Gamera The Brave rebooted the series after the dark and critically acclaimed Heisei trilogy, it went back to the child-friendly tone of the 60's films using a younger Gamera.
The original Dragonheart was about leading a revolution against a tyrant king. It featured countless war deaths, a boy getting run through by a stake, a man getting his eyes burnt out (offscreen), and a man getting slain with a battleaxe. The sequel, however, was about a boy raising a dragon and featured no actual violence (or real combat) whatsoever up until the last few minutes.
The Mask starring Jim Carrey already made things too light and soft for most fans of the über-violent original series to accept. Then (11 years later) came Son of the Mask, one of the most universally loathed movies ever, and kicked things down a notch, giving us a PG rating and sparing us the image of the Mask getting freaky with his wife. Although, let's be honest... none of us really wanted to see that.
Gremlins is a horror-comedy that's pretty dark, though it features a cute little furry creature so many kids saw it. Gremlins 2: The New Batch, despite the PG-13 rating note The original Gremlins was so dark for its PG rating that the PG-13 rating was almost immediately created., is much lighter in tone. While there is still quite a lot of violence, it's much more absurd and generally played for slapstick. Most tellingly, the film even breaks the fourth wall to give Hulk Hogan a humorous cameo.
Park Chan-Wook, director of Oldboy, said he wanted his film Im A Cyborg But Thats OK to appeal to younger audiences as well. The tone is lighter than that of his Vengeance trilogy, but the movie starts with a girl "charging herself" by slitting her wrist and jamming a mains lead into the wound, taping it up carefully before flicking the switch.
In the first Critters the creatures were fairly serious killing machines but had a low body count, they grew when they ate, and some of them died in very violent ways; in the sequel they killed many more people and the creatures have some violent deaths but they are pretty goofy and less intelligent than in the original. The other two films are pretty silly and the bodycounts are pretty low.
The 5th Childs Play, Seed of Chucky, following the tradition of horror franchises eventually collapsing into self-parody.
The Warriors: The book the movie is based on is considerably Darker and Edgier. The gang (called the Devastators in the book) are Villain Protagonists with no redeeming features. Along the way, they brutally gang rape and abandon a random girl. In the film, the Warriors are a bunch of crude but proud street toughs who are unjustly accused of a murder. The girl that was raped in the novel is turned into a love interest in the film.
Oliver!, the 1968 musical adaptation of Oliver Twist. Granted, most musicals are this by nature, but still, the original book is pretty grim.
While they were still R-rated, each A Nightmare on Elm Street was more surreal and comedic than the one before it, peaking with Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, which has Freddy doing a Wicked Witch of the West impression ("I'll get you my pretty, and your little soul too!") during the first few minutes.
Friday the 13th series which gradually became campier until they began parodying themselves. Compare the tongue-in-cheek sci-fi based Jason X with the dark slasher movie tone of the originals.
All of the sequels to The Howling save for Howling IV: The Original Nightmare (which was closest to the novel), and Howling: The Rebirth.
Compare the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film with the second and third. The reason for the second movie being lighter and softer than the first was due to the Moral Guardians reacting to the use of weapons and a few instances of the word "damn" here and there. In fact, all TMNT adaptations are lighter and softer than the original comics, which include quite a lot of bloody murder and are not intended for children.
American horror films usually gets accused of this in spite of the "Splatter Pack" directors. Although most of them are foreign directors.
Conan the Barbarian (1982) is an R-rated fantasy epic that contained considerable amounts of violence and nudity. It also has a large following of fans who consider it one of the greatest fantasy films ever made. For the 1984 sequel Conan the Destroyer the studio decided they wanted a more family-friendly Conan. The result was a PG-rated, more lighthearted Conan adventure that was poorly received by fans of the original film.
Spider-Man 2 toned down some of the violence of the first film and was given a PG by the British Board of Film Classification. This was after Spider-Man was given a 12 rating by the BBFC and described it as one of the most violent films ever aimed at young children, saying that some scenes even warranted a 15. Many councils (who have the final word on film censorship in the UK) boycotted this decision, releasing it as PG or PG-12, but Spider-Man stayed in cinemas long enough for young children to be admitted more widely (under adult supervision) following the introduction of the 12A rating.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy—the Galaxy is presented as more wondrous and grand than the dull, bureaucratic "Earth-society-but-bigger" version we tend to get, and the film ends with the new Earth being put in the place of the old one rather than being dismantled when construction shuts down as in the other versions.
The adaptation of the novel World War Z is lighter and softer, and also dumbed down for better or for worse. According to Brad Pitt it was too complicated for a summer blockbuster.
My Name Is Nobody is this compared to many of the serious Spaghetti Westerns it parodies. There's more humor, the violence is less brutal (no Gorn or torture), the Black and Gray Morality common to the genre is considerably softened (Jack Beauregard is rather jaded but has no real Kick the Dog moments, Nobody is rather idealistic in his quirky way, and while the Wild Bunch are Bad People, the film doesn't depict any atrocities at the level of what Frank or Angel Eyes get up to), and it ends happily.
Mirror, Mirror is probably the most light-hearted film version of the fairytale in which it was inspired (And also specially compared with Snow White & the Huntsman) There is much more comedy and slapstick, The Queen, while still a villain and a Jerk Ass with no redeeming features, has some comical traits and is somewhat less meaner, and also at the end of the movie is revealed that Snow White's father is still alive, in sharp contrast with every other adaptation.
The famous 1939 adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (the Judy Garland one everyone has seen) is much more sacchrine in tone than the original books. Yes, even with the Wicked Witch setting the Scarecrow on fire and threatening "And Your Little Dog Too". The original TinMan's backstory involved being compelled to chop himself to bits with his axe. The book had several beheadings, the Scarecrow performing Neck Snap on an entire murder of crows, the Wicked Witch enslaving Dorothy and the Lion after throwing the Scarecrow and Tin Woodsman down a ravine, and so forth. Return to Oz was actually a much closer adaptation to LFrankBaum's style.
The Little Sister series, compared to The Baby-Sitters Club. The Kids In Ms. Colman's Class was even lighter and softer than that.
Most of the Warhammer 40,000 novels focusing on the Imperial Guard portrays them as actual humans rather than statistics to Zerg Rush with. Perhaps taken to extreme with the Ciaphas Cain novels, which are distinctly comedic against the ridiculously GRIMDARK setting.
Likewise, the Gaunt's Ghosts novels, while still fairly dark, portrays the Imperium in general working order with a healthy dose optimism (a concept often completely unheard of in the 40K universe).
The Earlier versions of codex was essentially one huge Satire, and then the American teenagers bought it into the GRIMDARK and well...it got darker.
The spinoff trilogy of the Petaybee books, featuring Action Girl Yanaba Maddock's children, are far less dark than the originals.
The original fairy tales of The Brothers Grimm were quite grim indeed. The versions published and told to children today are much lighter and less gory than the originals. Partially subverted, as the Grimm Brothers simply collected tales already in existence. Some were lightened (Little Red Riding Hood), some were darkened (Cinderella). The Charles Perrault version of Cinderella, which preceded the Grimm version by nearly 100 years, was adapted by Disney.
Charles Perrault's Sleeping Beauty (properly titled "The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood") was based on the earlier tale Sun, Moon, and Talia. Sun, Moon, and Talia is a dark story infamous for the princess being raped by a king who is cheating on his wife, who tries to eat the resulting children. Perrault's Sleeping Beauty is much cleaner, with the princess getting a proper Prince Charming to rescue her from her enchanted slumber, the couple's children being born after they get married, and the evil wife is replaced by an ogre mother-in-law. It's still darker than most modern versions, though.
Pish, Posh, Said Hieronymus Bosch is a 1991 children's book which depicts the medieval artist Hieronymus Bosch as a Cloud Cuckoolander-type, and not as a person who painted singularly bleak and moralistic visions of Hell.
Fate of the Jedi fits this trope. Yes, there's Force psychosis, an Eldritch Abomination, and attempts on the Solo family's lives in order to discredit not one but two heads of state, but when you consider Legacy of the Force had a teenage boy join the GFFA equivalent of the Hitler Youth, consider cannibalism, almost fall to The Dark Side, lose his mother (which drives his father into a deep depression, contemplating suicide), and be tortured, molested, and forced to watch his mentor figure die, yeah.
Oceanology [Part of the "Oology" series that began with Dragonology] is this to Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea— Land and Aronnax board the Nautilus willingly as part of an organized and publicly-advertised scientific expedition, Nemo doesn't sink any ships or kill sperm whales, and there's no mention of his family being dead. (Nemo still does turn out to be crazy and does try to stop them from leaving, though.)
Fear Street is a series of horror books intended for teenagers, and often contained violence and death. However, its author became more famous for his kid-friendly Goosebumps books, so a Spin-Off called Ghosts of Fear Street was created. It was also set in the town of Shadyside and centered around the titular Fear Street, but the protagonists were all pre-teens and their circumstances were generally much tamer than anything that happened in the main series.
The Rainbow Magic First Reader books are slice of life tales that don't include villains.
Henrik Drescher's children's book Lovethe Beastie is much lighter and softer in tone than its predecessor Patthe Beastie due to Paul and Judy treating their pet Beastie in a more friendly manner rather than torturing the Beastie like they did in the first book.
The E! True Hollywood Story used to be an incredibly depressing show that documented a certain celebrity's fall from grace or detailed their grisly murder or suicide. However, in recent years the show has shifted its focus to the latest hit reality show or celebrities who are at their current peak of popularity.
Doctor Who itself has made tone shifts in a lighter direction several times.
The seventh season, the first with the Third Doctor working with UNIT, was quite dark at times, with some quite brutal fist- and gun-fights, a prickly relationship between the Doctor and the Brigadier, one story ending with the Doctor being disgusted by UNIT massacring a group of sentient non-humans who might have been willing to make peace, and another story featuring the Doctor failing to prevent the complete destruction of a parallel Earth. Over the next season, the tone gradually became lighter, with UNIT becoming more Mildly Military, the stories generally having happy endings, and the violence becoming more fantastic.
The most extreme example is seasons 15-17. Just as the show had reached the height of its dark and intelligent phase it was derailed and audiences were treated to three lighter and softer seasons that verged on comedy. As soon as Philip Hinchcliffe quit as producer, his replacement Graham Williams was called in by BBC executives and bluntly ordered to reduce the amount of graphic violence and horror, which had caused high-profile condemnations of the show by moral purity campaigners, led by the deranged and censorious "Media Watchdog" Mary Whitehouse, and the general press during the previous couple of seasons. The Williams era does have die-hard fans, but most of the child audience seemed to regret the loss of the gore and horror.
In Season 14, the character of the Fourth Doctor was made Lighter and Softer. The writers gave him more silly setpieces, funny lines and moments where he would be really cute, and fewer terrifying impossibly-old alien bits, debates over the morality of genocide and, well, performing outright murders and laughing about it. The writers apparently did this because they hoped it would let them get away with still inserting as much gore, horror and death as they wanted without facing as much objection from Moral Guardians fooled by the lighter tone. It worked... for a little while, anyway. A good example of a story with this tone is "The Robots of Death", which is one of the goriest and most violent stories Tom Baker ever did, but unlike the similarly violent "The Deadly Assassin", the Doctor behaves flippantly and childishly about it throughout and the villain is vanquished in a very silly way.
Season 23 was also the subject of executive edicts demanding that it be made lighter than the very grim and violent previous season. In this case, many fans share the belief that season 22 had got too crapsack.
Debatably, the Eleventh Doctor is this to the Tenth. While 'pure horror' episodes are more common, the series deals with far less serious themes, and the Doctor is portrayed as a slightly mad gentleman waltzing around the universe as opposed to a shell-shocked veteran riddled with guilt from the murder of his own species. Compare 'The End Of Time' special (the last episode featuring the Tenth Doctor) to the first episode of Series Five (the Eleventh Doctor's first appearance). The Mood Whiplash is massive, although quite well pulled-off. This approach is generally justified by the fact that the writers were aiming to make the show more popular and comprehensible to a younger audience, which it did extremely well without alienating the older fans.
The second series of the spin-off series Torchwood actually airs in two versions, one for adults and one for all-ages. There is little difference in the broadcasts, apart from some removal of swearing and gore, such as Alan Dale's character being shot (the all-ages version omitted the squib going off) in "Reset".
Newsround is essentially a simplified version of BBC News with more kid friendly language and some concepts adults would be familiar with more fully explained. It also tends to lack financial news and only goes into politics on rare occasions (around election time for example). It isn't afraid to report on death or depressing topics but is a bit more sensitive about it, they also might report something which seen as a story of high 'kid interest' that the adult news wouldn't bother with.
Perhaps its greatest moment was breaking the news of the Challenger disaster in the United Kingdom.
It was the go-to source for Harry Potter-related news in the UK, less so since Internet access became all but universal.
It is lighter on politics than it used to be. It was the first television programme that some kids saw Michael Howard MP, interviewed at the Rio Earth Summit by a Press Packer in 1992 as Environment Secretary.
Stargate SG-1 has gradually taken this course over its ten seasons, getting closer and closer to self-parody in the process.
Season 7 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer starts out with a much lighter mood than the dark, dark, dark Season 6 — a deliberate move from the writers to give the audience a break from the doom and gloom. The season did take a noticeably grimmer tone as it progressed.
"A Hole In The World" and "Shells" notwithstanding, the same could be said for Angel Season 5. The entire season is a bit of a relief after the relentless Season 4.
Charmed increasingly took this direction with each passing season. First there were mermaids, then there were leprechauns, and finally a unicorn show up. Dwarves (from Snow White) showed up in a fairy tale based episode. All of which occurred in Season 5. But after the intense and continual darkness of Seasons 3 and 4 (ESPECIALLY season 4), Season 5 is more like a Breather Season.
Season Four of House is much lighter than the depressingly dark third season. And then it immediately went back to dark and depressing when it was time for the finale.
Gordon Ramsay in The F Word Is not as much of a bastard as he is in Hells Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares. In fact, he is much more pleasant and enjoys cooking in this one rather than what happens in his other shows.
You mean the US version of Kitchen Nightmares. The British version of KN also paints Ramsey in this light instead of the scream hound in the bombastic American adaptation. Even in the instances that he does lose his cool, it's easy to see that it comes from genuine frustration instead of exaggerated ranting.
And in FOX's summer series of Master Chef, Ramsey was even more considerably friendly; in fact, he was the encouraging judge of the three. While he did show flashes of his usual temper and frustrated mannerisms, he oft-encouraged contestants, even sending one who screwed up on her audition to go home and bring back items from home to make a dish as her own (she went on to compete on the show). Justified in that unlike Hell's Kitchen, these are people not in the dining business to begin with, but normal Joes looking to broaden their love of cooking by becoming a chef.
There was an interesting back-and-forth with The Addams Family across different media. The original single-panel cartoons depicted the characters as genuinely misanthropic monsters who killed random people for the lulz. The TV show, by contrast, depicted them as nice, arty bohemians whose square neighbours were frightened of them because of their weird lifestyle. The cinema films swung the pendulum back towards actual violence and death, but the animated kids-TV show spun off from the films went fluffier again.
The Adventures of Superman was actually a hard-hitting and violent crime drama in its first season, and featured Phyllis Coates as an especially tough and strong-willed Lois Lane. For the second season, Noel Neill replaced Coates, and played a much softer and more traditionally feminine Lois. The show itself became less violent and more kid-oriented. By the third season, the show had become much more lighthearted and whimsical, with more science-fiction and fantasy elements and less violence.
When the Argentinian Soap Opera "Floricienta" was adapted for Chilean viewers as "Floribella", some aspects of the show became this. In example, the original Evil Matriarch was portrayed as very malevolent, but in the Chilean version she's portrayed somewhat more comically. (It doesn't help that the Chilean actress is actually known for comical villain roles, which isn't the case with the Argentinean counterpart.)
Jeopardy!, to a degree. Until about the 1990s, the clues were often straightforward, and host Alex Trebek was rather stuffy and formal. Over time, the clues have become more whimsical and punny, with occasional pop culture references and Getting Crap Past the Radar (arguably without dumbing the show down). Trebek has also loosened up in the 2000s, as he now smiles and laughs more, and gets in plenty of Deadpan Snarker moments.
This, along with Reconstruction, may explain the success behind Once Upon a Time. After years of sexed-up comedy shows, reality TV, Darker and Edgier dramas with Black and Gray Morality conflicts, and grisly police/medical/lawyer procedural shows, a straight up battle between good and evil with an intriguing mystery at the core feels so refreshing to audiences in comparison.
Once Upon A Time even manages to retain its basically optimistic outlook when it's at its darkest. Snow murdering Cora is depicted as being evil not just for the sadistic way that it was done, but because it's made clear that she could have been redeemed instead.
Rizzoli & Isles is much "lighter and softer" than the books it is based on—a more comedic tone, everyone much better looker than their book counterpart, etc.
Red Dwarf. Its latest series (Red Dwarf X) is much more easy going, episodic, and not as self serious as the Darker and Edgier adventure-com direction Red Dwarf VII tried to go, nor is it story arc driven, and prison orientated as Red Dwarf VIII was either. It's gone back to its simple, light hearted sit-com roots.
Hunter beginning in season 2 when the late Roy Huggins took over as executive producer and tone down the violence.
In the 90's, John Larroquette had his own show called, well, the John Larroquette Show. The protagonist was a recovering alcoholic working as the night shift manager of a run down bus station in East St. Louis, and he lived in a one room flop house. Some of the other main characters included a prostitute, a homeless man, and a janitor who took laziness to new extremes. Plots included finding a brick of cocaine in a locker and using it to set up a drug dealer who was trying to extort them. Then the next season came on. John moved to a spacious apartment, started working days, the bum now worked at a newsstand, and the prostitute straightened up, and now owns and runs the local bar. They managed to kill the dark and edgy humor that was the attraction of the original, and the show was summarily canceled.
The third season of Community had a fan-trollingLighter and Softer opening (complete with Laugh Track) and glurgey theme song (see page quote), all to spoof the wildly exaggerated fears of what the show would turn into after the sacking of its perfectionist auteur Dan Harmon. (In the end, the series wasn't any lighter or softer... but also wasn't especially funny, so Harmon got his job back for the next season.)
The departure of Roger Waters from Pink Floyd was followed by a classic Lightening and Softening. From mental breakdowns rendered into music and harsh lyrics condemning modern life, Pink Floyd moved to David Gilmour's gentle dreamy soundscapes. Lyrically, the later albums tend to unfocused expressions of good will and an earnest appreciation for life. The remaining angst now seemed more of pose: a mere colour on the palette, not a raw daub of blood. Interestingly, the Waters-lead era (beginning with The Dark Side of the Moon) was itself a Darker and Edgier version Pink Floyd. Before this point, Floyd albums were known for being spacey and psychedelic rather than particularly dark. Indeed, their original Syd Barrett era was downright whimsical at times.
In terms of singing style, In This Moment's second album The Dream, which placed a lot more emphasis on clean vocals than the Metal Screams of Beautiful Tragedy. This was because lead singer Maria Brink wanted to challenge herself with what she (personally) found a more difficult singing style.
One could make a case for this happening to Joy Division after they changed their name to New Order. Not that New Order doesn't have a certain edge to their brand of pop.
The Misfits in the 90s, sort of. The low-budget, dirty hardcore punk turned into cleanly-produced punk/metal. Profane lyrics about sex, rape, and chaotic violence stopped, but lyrics about violent horror movies remain.
Hardcore Techno fans have a huge chip on their shoulder about its' lighter and softer cousins: Happy Hardcore and Hardstyle, which charted pretty heavily in the 90s (happy hardcore) and the early 00s (Hardstyle).
The Tubes. The glitter-shock incarnation that did "White Punks On Dope" in the '70s were a far cry from the group that had a hit with "She's a Beauty" in the '80s. Singer Fee Waybill has acknowledged that this was done intentionally. His reason? "Nothing shocks anybody anymore."
This happened to many pop-metal bands in the '70s and '80s as they gained commercial success. An example is REO Speedwagon. Their first album included tracks called "Five Men Were Killed Today" and "Dead At Last." Years later, they would have big hits with the power ballads "Keep On Lovin' You" and "Can't Fight This Feelin'."
American Slang seems to be this for The Gaslight Anthem.
The Velvet Underground have an interesting trajectory in this regard. Their first album—1967's The Velvet Underground & Nico—was a fairly eclectic mix of soft stuff, hard stuff, and hard stuff that sounds soft (consider "Sunday Morning," for instance). The next album, White Light/White Heat, took a definite turn for the experimental and dark (the title track is about amphetamines, and it gets more macabre—often humorously so—from there; John Cale stated that it was "consciously anti-beauty"). However, the third album, 1969's The Velvet Underground, is a lot mellower (if nevertheless experimental) — something the band occasionally attributed to having their equipment stolen before recording —, and finally 1970's Loaded (so called because the label wanted an album "loaded with hits"), which is much softer musically (but also just as experimental and ridiculouslylistenable, proving that Tropes Are Not Bad).
The first two albums by Mötley Crüe, Live Wire and Shout at the Devil, were dark and gritty Heavy Metal albums with lyrics that dealt with things like drug abuse and Satanism. Beginning with their third album, Theater Of Pain, they moved in a more MTV-friendly hard rock direction with rock anthems like "Smokin' In The Boys' Room" and ballads like "Home Sweet Home."
In an intentional case of this trope, Prince's "Lovesexy" was released as a light and fluffy response to the zany, mean-spirited "Black Album," complete with a pink album cover with a flower on it.
Gorillaz followed up his darkest and most depressive work on "Demon Days" with a flashy synthpop album, "Plastic Beach."
VNV Nation's 2010 album, Of Faith, Power and Glory, was very depressive and cynical, but the follow-up, Automatic, is much brighter and more upbeat. The band in general are the trope codifiers of the Futurepop subgenre, the lighter and softer version of EBM.
The Pierces had three dark-sounding, Femme Fatale-like albums out with very little success. Their fourth album, involving gentler songs reminiscent of The Bangles, got them breaking into the mainstream.
A lot of Hip-Hop fans say this is what happened to mainstream rap music. The days of the weed smoking gangstas, and proud to be black Afrocentric political rappers with their gritty Justified crime tales, and socio-political street knowledge were long gone. Only to be replaced (circa early 00's) by champagne sipping pimps, and playas, who love to rap about wealth, cheesy love songs, and club anthems.
Madonna's Confessions On A Dancefloor and it's sequel, Hard Candy.
Synthpop duo Future Perfect's first album, Dirty Little Secrets, is dark, angsty, and depressing at times. Their second, Escape, looks to be headed in the upbeat and energetic direction, by the previews.
Avenged Sevenfold, although their music is still dark-and-edgy by general music standards.
Many thrash metal bands went in this direction around the time of the grunge explosion, partially to keep up with the times and partially because the bandmembers themselves were growing tired of the musical style they were playing. During the last decade, however, this has been subverted by many of these same bands.
Testament subverted this trope after their "lighter and softer" The Ritual flopped. Demonic, in particular, borders on being a full-blown death metal album.
Oshare kei is this to Visual Kei—oshare kei tends to be much lighter and more playful than other visual genres (expect lots of bright colors and pastels), and, while most other VK subgenres tend to play some form of Heavy Metal, oshare kei generally prefers Pop Punk. Just compare, for example, D (kote kei, the most common VK subgenre) with An Cafe (oshare kei).
Played straight, then modestly averted with Underoath. Those familiar with their commercial successes They're Only Chasing Safety and Define the Great Line might be shocked upon listening to their first two releases, Act of Depression and Cries of the Past, both of which are full-blown Death Metal albums. The aptly-titled follow-up The Changing of Times marked a break away from their original Death Metal sound into the more melodic and accessible Post Hardcore sound they became known for today.
However, after Only Chasing Safety, their (relatively) Lightest and Softest albumnote containing lines such as "Sleeping with the girl next door, I always knew you were a sucker for that" that were a stark contrast to the punishingly dark themes on the first two albums such as suicide, abortion, rape and damnation marked by a change in vocalist from their original Unintelligible Death Metal shrieker to more ear-freindle Hardcore vocalist Spencer Chamberlain and switch to a more radio-friendly "screaming verse, singing chorus, rinse and repeat", each release afterward was noticeably darker and heavier than the last. The departure of long-time drummer and clean singer Aaron Gillespe has left the band in a position between the dissonant Death Metal of the debut and the commercial melodic Hardcore of Chasing Safety, sporting a Doom Metal-esque sound with emphasis on neither heaviness or melody.
The Break Up, while still slightly dark, are definitely lighter than Severina X Sol's previous bands; Diva Destruction, Fockewolf, and Cylab.
Believe it or not, Def Leppard was once considered one of the major bands of the new wave of British metal alongside bands like Iron Maiden and Motorhead. These days, most people only know the band for their radio-friendly Hair Metal hits that started with their third album, Pyromania. The members of Def Leppard openly admit that they adopted a softer and more mainstream sound in an effort to become more popular and successful. It worked, big time.
Country Music band Lonestar. They were a bit edgy and more rocking on their first album; the second was smooth, almost Eagles-esque; the third was anchored by the Power Ballad "Amazed" and other songs like it; and all the successive albums contained a mix of "Amazed"-style power ballads (e.g. "Not a Day Goes By", "Let's Be Us Again"); mushy, bland, family-friendly, soccer-mom-targeting fare (such as "I'm Already There", "My Front Porch Looking In", and "Mr. Mom"), and otherwise safe, totally de-fanged lite-country-pop. It's hard to believe that this is the same band whose first #1 hit, "No News", had a Ku Klux Klan reference Bowdlerised from it.
Acid Bath could have been said to have done this with their second album, which toned down the abrasive sludge, death metal, grindcore, and post-hardcore elements of When the Kite String Pops while bumping up the stoner, blues, gothic rock, folk, and country influences. Of course, given that it was Acid Bath, Paegan Terrorism Tactics was still incredibly dark and nightmarish, just a lot more prone to Lyrical Dissonance. It was also a perfect example of Tropes Are Not Bad and how to pull this trope off the right way.
Breaking Benjamin did this somewhat. Their first two albums, Saturate and We are not Alone, were both had heavier Alternative Metal influences, drawing inspiration from Alice in Chains and Tool. Their next two albums, Phobia and Dear Agony, had more of an alt rock/grungy sound and were a little bit softer musically. Lyrically though, they were about the same, with the later two albums possibly even being a slight bit darker than their first two.
Tricia Brock's departure from Superchic[k] saw her take this route, ditching the rock sound and teen angst inspired lyrics.
Parodied in FoxTrot at the end of a 1997 storyline where Paige receives an evaluation copy of the upcoming sequel to Jason's favorite computer game:
Jason: What's that? Paige: It's a letter from the President of Blizzerbund Software. Jason: No way! What's it say? What's it say? Paige:(reading letter) "Dear Ms. Fox, thank you for your evaluation of our Riviablo CD-ROM beta. Per your suggestions, the final version of the game will have less violence, cuter monsters, and significantly easier puzzles. P.S. Thanks especially for the great idea to change the game's title to Happy Town." (A few seconds later) Peter: I thought they sent you a form letter. Paige: Oops. You're right. I must've misread it. Andy:(offscreen) Jason, will you stop bawling long enough to tell me what's wrong?!
Also, a later storyline has Andy forcing Peter and Jason to play Mothers Against Gory Games-approved versions of popular video games (such as Nice City) in an attempt to make them stop playing video games altogether.
Sir Orfeo, a Medieval poem by an unknown author (and translated by J. R. R. Tolkien) is a much, much lighter retelling/reimagining of the story of Orpheus. His wife is simply kidnapped by The Fair Folk rather than dying, and, unlike in the source material, our hero is successful in rescuing her and bringing her back home. It's arguably the UR Example of a Fix Fic.
WWE shifted their free TV programming from a TV-14 rating to TV-PG starting in 2008; this was done to help distance the current product from the "anything goes" Attitude Era (especially in light of the Chris Benoit tragedy and the steroid scandals brought to light by a Sports Illustrated article in 2006 that named names), due to the company realizing that they are able to fit John Cena in the same kid-friendly superhero role that Hulk Hogan played in the '80s, as well as to help attract new advertisers (and a younger demographic). It's also been speculated that the shift was to accommodate Linda McMahon's run for the US Senate; an attempt to portray her as a CEO of a "family-friendly" organization, even going so far as to attempt to block all videos on YouTube taken during the Attitude Era. Nevertheless, when the campaign failed, it didn't result into the TV-14 rebound some IWC fans were hoping for. Which may or may not cast doubt on if this was ever really a factor at all. Though teasing a few times that it might be getting edgy again, so far WWE hasn't followed through, and probably aren't going to anytime soon.
In the mid 80's, WWF's Rock 'N' Wrestling evolved Pro Wrestling from male niche entertainment to family entertainment.
The revived "ECW". It was used more as a launching platform for up and coming wrestlers and a place to dump useless ones.
John Cena: "I know that kids are watching my every move and there are a lot of parents know their kids look up to me and [...] I kind of live by the motto — 'Hustle, Loyalty, Respect'. If someone is out of line, I think instead of giving them an FU, it's better to give them an attitude adjustment."
The F-U was also a Take That to the F-5 finishing move of Brock Lesnar. Officially, one of the reasons for changing the name was that the reference was beyond outdated, as a lot of Cena's present fanbase wasn't even toilet-trained when Lesnar was first wrestling.
When Mick Foley hit legitimate main event status in late 1998, he traded in a lot of the more sado-masochistic elements of his gimmick for a more humorous approach (which Triple H referred to as a "human muppet") that included a sock puppet and a more child-like demeanor. He, however, still retained bits of his Crazy Awesome tolerance for pain which, combined with his new more innocent behavior turned into The Woobie of the WWF.
Prior to coming to the WWF, The Sheepherders were one of the most hardcore tag teams in pro wrestling. Upon their arrival, Butch Miller and Luke Williams changed their name to the Bushwhackers, became faces, and played their brawling style more for laughs than for heat.
The entire CHIKARA wrestling league is built around this. Television production is broken into distinct "seasons", with each season's DVD release being designed as a comic book cover. Several wrestlers are based on video game and comic book characters. There is no swearing whatsoever, to the point where attempts to start a swearing chant by the crowd are shouted down by the rest of the audience. Rule of Funny holds sway, with stunts like holding the first minute or so of a match in slow motion, while another has a wrestler who doesn't like where the match is going, so he pauses and rewinds the match several seconds, starts again, and this time reverses a move he now sees coming.
Magic: The Gathering has "Lorwyn," a plane which by its design was meant to be lighter and softer, until you looked closer. Its Darker and Edgier counterpart is "Shadowmoor." Which is appropriate, considering that the two sets' inspiration were fairy tales and their older folk tale counterparts respectively.
Lorwyn was something of an inversion of the way worlds usually work in Magic: the Gathering. Goblins and faeries were both the same as they always are, but the world is so much lighter and softer than usual that their traditional mischief and hedonism is close enough to true evil to be aligned with black mana. Merfolk, generally xenophobic and hostile to surface-dwellers, got hit with true Disneyfication and became sociable, lounging out of wells and on riverbanks chatting with townfolk. Elves were the biggest reversal; in normal Magic settings they are definitively from forests and green mana, but generally leaning towards white mana on the side, indicating a preference for order and the status quo versus whatever maniac was trying to conquer the world in the storyline of this expansion. With no world-ending threat to Lorwyn, though, they are still green but their pride and disdain for everything else is sufficient to make them the closest thing to a Big Bad. And then Shadowmoor came along and partially inverted it in a few more ways all over again.
Warhammer 40,000. During 3e , there were chaos cultists on Terra, the Imperium was losing worlds by the hundreds and High Lords did not care, in fact most of them had been driven insane by imperfect deageing treatments. This was before the Horus Heresy, before the Imperium's methods were justified by dozens of books. There was no Ciaphas Cain, no likable or sane character to be found. The Sisters of Battle fielded suicide bomber cadres, the Space Marines were a shadow of their power in later editions, and more insane: imperfections in their half forgotten surgical techniques rendered 9 out of 10 recruits dead and the survivors deranged. The Religious Horror was at its peak, the artwork like of things that can barely be called human hugging and kissing undetonated artillery shells, begging the gods of war for salvation has never been reprinted, the forces of Chaos, later Ultimate Evil, were simply presented as an alternate form of insanity to that of the Imperium's. By 5e, Warhammer shows an Age of War where humanity's survival hangs in the balance. 3e showed an Age of Insanity where the spirit of man was long dead.
Little Fears Nightmare Edition as compared to the original. The constant pall of child abuse is gone, and it's actually fairly well-suited to running a relatively light-hearted Kids Vs. Monsters adventure in the vein of The Monster Squad. It has suggested rules modifications for taking it even further in this direction with the Dark Fairy Tales playmode (think Coraline — or your choice of children's fairy stories with a dark cast to them, if that one scared you too much)... or, alternately, darkening it to the point that it's more in line with the original game.
Mutant Chronicles can be considered a lighter and softer take on Warhammer 40,000. There are a lot of similar elements and the feel is much the same, but in Mutant Chronicles, human life is considered precious and humanity still has a fighting chance.
Half-orcs, previously stereotyped with a Child by Rape backstory, are in this rendition a true-breeding race of their own with no known origin, but several possibilities, most of which involve transformed humans (or orcs) or Interspecies Romance.
Wicked became a kid-friendly preteen-girl-targeted musical, in sharp contrast to the rape and murder filled original book.
The Phantom of the Opera, although it still retains some of the darker themes of the original novel, is ultimately far less tragic than the original novel, which was written more as a crime thriller and had a lot more Unfortunate Implications.
Lego's Hero Factory, when compared to its predecessor BIONICLE. Bionicle had plenty of Nightmare Fuel and some death, while Hero Factory has a more comedic feel to it and is made to appeal to little kids. This is one of the main reasons fans have bashed at it.
In American Mc Gees Grimm the story of Little Red Riding Hood (save for a few curse words) actually manages to be slightly tamer in that the wolf was given a quick mercy killing via ax to the stomach. All in all this is a far better fate than say starving to death or having your belly get filled with rocks and drown like in some versions. If American McGee REALLY wanted to be Darker and Edgier then he should have stuck with the original ending: no friendly woodsman and Red and Granny don't get eaten whole.Lampshaded in the game — in the "original story" telling of it, Grimm mentions this about older versions... but comments that he couldn't go with that for his corrupted version while he's telling it — presumably because it'd be straying too far from the well-known story.
My Sims is a lighter and softer version of The Sims with chibis, no child-rearing or romance, and very few actual social aspects from The Sims. It's a very fun game, but it is more like Animal Crossing for people who don't like being bossed about by a tanuki. In other words, if the only thing you liked about The Sims was killing them in various and evil waysďż˝My Sims might not be for you. There are no swimming pools, eating is something that happens because they happen to encounter a table and chair, and you can't block doorways with furniture (and if you could, you'd be stuck until you removed it). The worst you can do is Be Mean, which seems to range from insults and hitting them with water balloons to stepping on their feet and getting into dust-ups, complete with dust cloud.
Mostly because it came off on the heels of FFVI/VII/Tactics, which are almost universally considered the darkest and heaviest in tone of the entire FF Series. The fact that the theme of the story is about the extremely optimistic subject of Life triumphing over Death, it's still lighter and softer then previous entries. Though FFVIII was also extremely lighthearted at it's core in comparison to FFVII, where an entire Race DOES die off and the main villain is either an unrepentant psychotic mama's boy, or an Eldritch Abomination that takes human form. The tragic Kuja and the Giant Space Final Boss from Nowhere seems downright tame in comparison.
Final Fantasy X-2 is this, big time. The body count is almost non-existent. Everything is more cheerful. The music is upbeat. Hey, the end of Final Fantasy X had an ultimate force of death and destruction wiped off the plane of existence, it's needed.
Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria is remarkably more colorful in setting, has much more vibrant and upbeat music, and starts off with a lighter plot - a far cry from the original Valkyrie Profile, with its drab color palette, depressing soundtrack, and story involving loads and loads of death and Ragnarok around the corner. Oddly enough, this is justified - As explained in Silmeria, a MacGuffin (the Dragon Orb) keeps Midgard stable, and when Odin takes it away, Midgard turns into the Crapsack World as seen later in the game and in the original game.
After the fanbase displeasure about the Darker and EdgierPrince of Persia: Warrior Within, Ubisoft made The Two Thrones less immaturely outrageous, although still a M-rated game. The hero even apologizes for his foul mood in the previous game. The 2008 iteration dialed it back to a Teen rating, aiming for a fantastical, exotic, magical atmosphere reminiscent of Sands of Time. 2010's "Forgotten Sands" took this even further, mimicking the first game in mechanics and tone so closely that it might as well have been a spiritual successor.
Command & Conquer Red Alert 2 was much lighter and softer than its predecessors. Red Alert 1 was a game where Einstein went back in time and killed Adolf Hitler, allowing a power hungry Stalin to invade Europe. Red Alert 2 was a game where the Soviet Union invaded the USA with blimps and mind-controlled squid. This was a reaction to the Darker and EdgierTiberium Sun, which most fans of the C&C series didn't like.
And Tiberium series got Tiberium Wars. Its NOT exactly rainbow and puppies with Tiberium WMDs, Alien invasions and Maniacs in command (on both sides). But in contrast with Tiberian Sun, we see Blue Zones where the humanity is thriving in futuristic cities (with basically unlimited resources thanks to Tiberium) and that GDI ZOCOM forces started to utilize technologies able to destroy Tiberium and managed to reclaim several territories already.
The fourth game in the Tiberium series once again turns darker, not to mention a slightly different genre.
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe: A crossover with all of MK's blood removed and the fatalities severely toned down to comply with DC's restrictions and the ESRB T Rating. The Joker's awesome Fatality from the game's early PR was even replaced with a Gory Discretion Shot for American audiences.
The Lego Star Wars games are a lot more light-hearted and less self-serious than the various source material. That goes for the other Lego games as well.
Diablo II comes off as significantly lighter and softer than its predecessor. This mostly has to do with the outside levels and there being a day/night cycle. A jungle (and a desert in all it's sun-baked brightness, for that matter) during the day is just not as creepy as an underground crypt or a perpetually night time village. On the other hand, Act 4 is more creepy then the original game.
While not exactly softer, Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is lighter than its vanilla counterpart: Frank West's lack of a personal steak in the Fortune City outbreak means that there is more room for humor, helped a bit by Frank being quite a bit chattier (and snarkier) than Chuck Greene.
There's also the cartoon series and the first two CD-i games. Everything, including the character designs, dialogue, and boss deaths, is much more comical and cartoonish than in any of the canon games. No Tear Jerker moments to speak of, either.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is in the middle between the darker style of Twilight Princess and the lighter style of The Wind Waker, which is evident by both the visual style and the storyline.
While the Boss is much, much more cruel, vicious, and just plain evil than the latest GTA protagonists (CJ and Niko), the ways in which the Boss carries out his (or her) various murders are so over the top it's impossible to take any of it seriously. You get to be a cop and break up domestic disputes with a chainsaw, or a bodyguard and remove annoying paparazzi by stuffing them into a jet engine. It seems every single named character is in on the joke and lives only to see wanton ultraviolence, except the few sympathetic characters that get shot to pieces in short order.
Another example comes from Saints Row IV, where even the intro says that the Saint's decided to be puckish rogues instead of deranged sociopaths so they set a course for "more fun and less mercy killing" which somehow landed the Boss in the presidency of the United States just before aliens invade.
A straighter example of lighter and softer applied to the GTA series is the shift in tone between IV and Grand Theft Auto V. Granted it's still not a completely cheerful game (Trevor's a crazy speed-freak who has mental stability issues, and Micheal has a dysfunctional family), but compared to the bleak outlook of IV, V is a bit more in like with the GTA III era games in terms of it's movie-like portrayal on the crime world. Plus you have Franklin as a younger, more well adjusted character to round out Trevor and Micheal's more negative character traits.
The arcade racing game Wangan Midnight R uses dark visuals with lots of grays, whites, and orange and a soundtrack that sounds like something out of a chase scene in an older film. Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune is, in comparison, substantially more colorful (both in scenery and interface), has any number of Joke Cars (A Corolla and a HiAce van in a racing game full of cars that have 280 stock horsepower?), and uses a surreal trance soundtrack.
The Halo series has partially fallen into this, with the amount of blood sprayed around being reduced from enough to paint the walls purple (or blue, or orange, or red) to barely enough to fill a shot glass. Averted in that the storyline maintains its position half-way down the cynicism side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism.
Persona 4 is a considerably more cheerful game compared to its predecessors.
It also makes for a nice change after the seriously Bittersweet Ending of Persona 3, and though it has a lighter feeling to it, it still contains some really dark subject matter. It also helped that it didn't seem as forced with kids using "guns" to shoot themselves in the head.
The game is about tracking down a serial murderer while being confronted with the party's darkest secrets and deepest fears. It just has a very good attitude about the whole thing.
In the bigger picture, that is, the Megaten franchise as a whole, the Devil Children/Demi Kids series is Lighter and Softer than... well, everything else. The demons are cuter, the characters are bright and colorful children, we have the usual friendship messages etc. It was actually pretty successful in Japan, spawning two anime series plus manga and other merchandising. Its run in the U.S. was less fortunate, as Book of Light/Dark didn't impress.
The persona spinoff is definitely lighter and softer when compared to the original series. Consider that the original game involved the heroes party betraying each other and leading bloody campaigns of violence to seize control of a post-apocalyptic Tokyo, the genocide of whatever side you don't align yourself with, the murder of just about every unfortunate civilian you meet. as well as other horrors. Persona 2: Innocent Sin's ending is the exception, being undoubtedly the darkest point in the entire Persona series.
When you look at it at one way, God of War is really a Lighter and Softer take on Greek myth heroes. Their idealized hero is a guy who raids and pillages non-Greek villages, taking slaves and plunder... who kills dozens of men for daring to seek his wife's hand when he's been considered legally dead for years... and who hangs all the servant-girls who have been taken advantage of by said men, just because. Kratos? He kills a few people, but mostly just chops up monsters. Doesn't even have a single known case of rape to his name.
That's actually pretty much how it actually worked in Greek mythology: Ares was the god of war for war's sake, honor, slaughtering enemies and bathing in their blood, etc. The god of war with a specific goal or in the defense of one's homeland with minimal collateral damage was Athena. You can probably guess which one was more highly-regarded by the Greeks and which one was regarded as somewhat evil and to be avoided by which one had a major Greek city-state named after her. The transfer of sensible warfare and strategy to Ares' domain happened under Rome (as Mars), which had much more... restrictive ideas about what roles were appropriate to what gender, even in their mythology, and additionally didn't really want to worship the patron of Athens, so she was demoted to a divine second-stringer.
The Mega Man ZX series compared to the previous series, Mega Man Zero, which is the darkest chapter in the series. It doesn't mean that ZX is actually kid-friendly; it's just that Zero is too pitch...
Mega Man Powered Up could be considered this compared to the original game, with the brighter graphics, the cutesy voices, the Super Deformed art style, and the lowered difficulty.
A well-received mod for the sombre nuclear war simulator DEFCON exchanged Mutually Assured Destruction for Christmas and Santa Claus: the silos become Christmas trees, the ICBMs are presents, the bombers are reindeer-pulled sleighs, and the megadeath casualties become millions of happy children.
The House of the Dead EX takes this to an extreme. The story consists of Cute Zombie Girl Zobiko and her love interest Zobio breaking out of a lab and escaping a zombie invasion through minigames such as catching apples, battling a zombie sumo wrestler, and encountering the first boss of The House of the Dead 4 and shooting out his bad teeth. Yes, this game exists. And the zombie couple appear as playable characters in Sega All-Stars Racing.
The Typing Of The Dead spoofs the whole thing in The House of the Dead 2 to the extreme. After finishing the Emperor, you are asked about how you want to execute Goldman; depending on how you answer the questions, one of the three funny endings would be played.
House of the Dead: Overkill was not only lessBloodier and Gorier (relative to previous entries in the franchise), it had loads of camp elements and humour.
Academy of Champions: Soccer is a kid-targeted soccer game for the Wii. It in itself is not a lighter and softer version of any extant franchise, but it's published by Ubisoft, and contains a special team composed of characters from other Ubisoft franchises. What does that mean? Cute and cuddly, brightly-colored Fun Size versions of Altaiir, Sam Fisher, Jade, and the Prince footying along with the game's Kid Heroes.
WiiWare game Water Warfare is a lighter and softer version of the entire "FPS Deathmatch" genre. While it plays much the same as other multiplayer FPSes, with multiple weapons and areas, deathmatches, Capture the Flag games, and the like, it's entirely nonviolent—all the weapons are squirt guns and water balloons, and the worst that ever happens to anyone is that they get wet.
Before that there was Nerf Arena on the PC, which played out like your average Deathmatch FPS, but with harmless Nerf weapons.
One person on the GameFAQs forum for the game (about 6 days before the American release) said that "If Parodius is a Cute 'em Up then this game is... a first person cuter!"
The first game in the Shadow Hearts RPG series was M-rated, gloomy, and fairly gory; the second game scored a T-rating and abandoned most of the gore for oddball humor, but kept the grim atmosphere fairly intact; and the third game, also rated T, was so goofy and light-hearted in comparison that it threw some fans off. The Lighter and Softer trend is even more obvious if Koudelka, the Survival-Horror semi-prequel to the original, is considered.
Death Smiles, a shooter by CAVE while not too dark, reduced a bit of its horror elements with a lighter style where the girls stops an evil Santa Claus to find several MacGuffins to wake up their benefactor who saves them from certain death.
Illusion's H-Game library started off as dark sci-fi and fantasy style H-Games, as they gotten newer 3D technology, it has soften a bit compared to its past games. Compare Rapelay to Sexy Beach 3, Illusion characters are now more or less Adult Video Actresses.
Chaos;Head was a suspense/mystery story that blurred the lines between fantasy and reality. Chaos;Head Love Chu Chu is an Unwanted Harem romantic comedy. For one entry, at least, the series fully embraces that aspect of itself. 5pb. repeats the process with Stein's Gate Hiyoku Renri no Darling, which eschews the time travel and conspiracies in favor of fanservice and fun.
The Baldur's Gate spinoff series Dark Alliance does this to the Harpers. In DA, they're a benevolent organization that genuinely seeks to protect the world, while in the actual Forgotten Realms series (including the original Baldur's Gate games), they're totalitarian, borderline-fascist Knight Templar who are more than willing to murder innocent people for what they believe to be the greater good.
In the tabletop game setting the Harpers are described as good guys. On the other hand, there are always those in an organisation that want to go further than the others...
The darker view of the Harpers usually comes from the schism, even then, they get along better with the "traitors" that left the Harpers to form their own organization than most other factions get along with other members of the same faction. On a superficial level, the Harpers sound like Knight Templars for calling the Moonstars "traitors," but their actions are very different. They get along very well with them for the most part and can and have worked together, since they still have the same goals, just different views on how to approach them, this is nowhere near how a "totalitarian, borderline-fascist Knight Templar" organization should act. They just happen to not mince words.
Touhou has a somewhat odd relationship with this trope. Early on, every game was lighter than the last: Embodiment of Scarlet Devil has a cast composed of people-eaters and serial killersnote this fact has been largely retconned away, and the threat to the land is fairly serious. Two games later, only the weakest bosses have anything against humans, and the threat turns out not to be a big deal, though there's still an obsession with death and somewhat disturbing backstory. This culminates in Mountain of Faith, in which nothing is (discovered to be) at stake and everyone you meet is friendly. This is immediately followed by Subterranean Animism, where the fact that your character end up averting a global holocaust is one of less worrying thing that come up. Since then, things have kind of gotten lighter, with actual threats being rare, but there's more emphasis on Fantastic Racism, reasons for said racism, unhappy backstories, and messed up metaphysics. And, of course, there's genuinely lighter side entries like Hisoutensoku and Fairy Wars. As a whole, Touhou gives a lighter and softer version of various elements in Japanese mythologies and folklores. Everyone is a little girl, to boot.
Epic Mickey is admittedly Darker and Edgier for a Mickey Mouse game, but it's actually lighter and softer for a game by Warren Spector. As he put it, "I want people to smile when theyďż˝re playing, not get all scrunched up with adrenaline."
Day Of The Tentacle is more purely a comedy, as opposed to its predecessor, Maniac Mansion, which was a horror/sci-fi game with some funny bits. Also, unlike the first game, DotT has no unwinnable scenarios or time limits.
Skies of Arcadia compared to RPGs in general at the time of its release (originally in 2000 on the Dreamcast, then ported in 2003 for the Nintendo GameCube) was lighter and softer in its impossibly optimistic and clean-cut protagonist Vyse, as opposed to the more (at the time) recent cynical brooding heroes Cloud Strife and Squall Leonhart, a not-too-overly-complicated plot (it had its dark moments, but even so), and rather simplistic battle system. Because of the amounts of darkness and cynicism that began to dominate, however, this was well-received. Taken somewhat further in the U.S Dreamcast release when situations involving drunkenness and a particular near-rape scene involving one of the female protagonists was edited out.
Kingdom Hearts Coded is probably the cheeriest game in the entire series. The plot is light—"let's make a data-Sora and have a nostalgic romp through a bunch of worlds from the first game while he fixes some inconsistencies in Jiminy's Journal!"—and there's a bigger focus on fun gameplay than in other installments of the series. The game has its sad and scary parts, for sure, but it's still more optimistic than its contemporaries, Birth by Sleep and 358/2 Days. And while the saga itself isn't particularly lighter and softer that anything, its take to some Disney stories is, like the case of Pirates of the Caribbean where Jack is an outright good guy instead of the morally ambivalent character from the films.
From Software developed the Armored Core series; a series of mecha games set in post-apocalyptic futures and generally being full of War Is Hell, cynical rebellions, Real Is Brown, and all the ensuing tragedy and horror. Then, in 2004, the developer decided to use Armored Core's engine and gameplay to make a Spiritual Successor robot game. Said game, called Metal Wolf Chaos, is about the President of the United States using a Mini Mecha to fight off a coup d'etat by his evil Vice President (who is also in a mecha), while sprouting phrases like "EAT MY FLAME OF JUSTICE!" and "Nothing is pointless! And the reason is: Because I'm the president of the Great United States of America! YEAH!". Needless to say it falls under this.
Red Faction 1 and 2, despite being in the same series, barely resemble each other in many ways, especially overall tone. The first game mostly took place in Mars within many dark tunnels, and you're part of a miner rebellion to fight off an evil corporation. In short, it was Total Recall (1990) as a first person shooter. The following game? Yeah, you're part of a super soldier squad overthrowing a Stalin expy dictator, and yeah, it's still violent, but the game's direction is nowhere near as grim and desperate. When enemies nearly get shot dead on the first game, they're screaming for help. On the second one, they jokingly flee, saying they need to think of a new strategy. No, that part's not a joke.
The endings in the Twisted Metal games made by 989 Studios (Twisted Metal III and Twisted Metal 4) tend to be much less darker and sometimes downright comedic when compared to their predecessors. That said, it was impossible for anyone to outwit Kalypso in 989's timeline where sometimes the cast manages to subvert the Deal with the Devil. There's also Small Brawl, which invokes this trope via Spinoff Babies.
Fallout 2, compared to the rest of the Fallout games its full of humor and pop culture jokes and the main villains are cartoonly evil rather than the anti-villains the last game had.
Oddly, the game is also horrifically dark compared to the old game. Genocide, prostitution, organized crime, corruption, political subversion, and slavery were far more prominent. In addition, the first time you see the Enclave, they murder a family with a minigun over a perceived slight. The Super Mutants in the first game never are shown to visibly do anything similar. Then again Fallout has always been a Black Comedy, so its naturally the funniest of the games as well as one of the darkest.
Drakengard 2 might be considered pretty dark compared to other JRPGs, but it is incredibly lighter than its predecessor. The main character isn't a complete kill-happy sociopath, has a chance to have a love interest that doesn't end horribly, and the game actually includes one ending where the world and the main characters are not doomed to suffer and/or die in various terrible ways.
Bet you never thought you'd see the day Postal 2 got called lighter and softer. But the second game took the series' ultraviolence into near cartoonish levels and played all of its depravity for laughs. But while Postal 2 was a dark comedy, Postal 1 was just... dark.
Invoked in Mass Effect 3. Jack had become an instructor and no longer swears like she used to. In fact the worst she does is punch Shepard in the face, before kissing him if romanced. Lampshaded when she tells her students to cover their ears, before telling Joker "Hey, Joker! F—"[LOADING SCREEN]
That said, Mass Effect 3 is mostly a VERY dark and grim game. It's final piece of DLC on the other hand, Citadel is anything but. Meant as a final sendoff to the trilogy and its characters, it's goofy, cheesy, fun, lampshades anything and everything in the trilogy, and ends on a long party for every surviving squad member from the series.
A rather bizarre example occurs with the video game adaptation of Adventures In Dinosaur City. The main characters of the film are fans of a cartoon series, of which we only see the intro, before being sucked into it's Darker and Edgier real version. However the game based it's aesthetic more on said cartoon, thereby being lighter and softer then the film, but also truer to the, fictitious, source material.
While Resistance: Fall of Man and Resistance 2 were on the hopeless side, depicting humanity being slowly overwhelmed by an alien menace. Resistance 3 and Resistance: Burning Skies became much more optimistic and heroic than the preceding games. Unfortunately, True Art Is Angsty and neither Resistance 3 or Burning Skies sold well.
The hideous True Ogre from the Tekken series can wear a mask in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 that not only replaces his demon horns with red maple bonsai trees, it also makes him look like a cartoony version of himself with Puppy-Dog Eyes. It's somewhat... cute. The mask can be seen at the beginning of this video.
Portal 2 is a few shades lighter than its predecessor, being a little less dark than the original in exchange for being a little bit sillier. While Portal 2 is certainly dark, it doesn't have the constant feeling that something is wrong like the first game did, due mostly to Portal 2 exploring a lot of the mysteries that the first game left unanswered.
Part of the appeal of Lollipop Chainsaw is that it's less intense and more humorous than the usual zombie game. However, despite its lighthearted and comical nature, it manages to have a somewhat unsettling Game Over screen (you actually see the main character becoming a zombie, as opposed to serious zombie games, which have a very generic Game Over screen).
Super Robot Wars UX may have some depressing and dark series like Fafner in the Azure and Demonbane, but it still manages to be quite fun. So much fun that even Setsuna who never laughs, laughs in the ending.
Left 4 Dead 2 still retains its horror and scares that the first game was built upon, but it steers a bit towards the lighter side where there are more levels in the daytime instead of nighttime and the survivors are open to joke with each other every now and then.
Bizarrely for a First-Person Shooter, the Alternate Continuity of Tron 2.0 is much softer and upbeat in tone than the canon built around TronLegacy. This despite Flynn going MIA in both timelines, Lora Baines-Bradley being Stuffed into the Fridge, and swapping A.I. Is a Crapshoot for Humans Are the Real Monsters. Killing civilian Programs instantly nets you a Nonstandard Game Over, the Programs who are not actively shooting at Jet tend to be very friendly and helpful (and one of the factions who do shoot at Jet call it off when they realize he's on their side after all). Contrast with Legacy where every Program was trying to get Sam killed in a messy and painful way, or TRON: Uprising where the protagonist is openly hated by most of the citizens. Furthermore, Jet is able to rescue his father and save cyberspace from the Datawraith mercenaries and viral threat. Of the Legacy canon, Anon stops Abraxas and dies horribly. Sam has to watch his father die in front of him, and Beck's Doomed by Canon
The Wiiware titles of  series are much more lighthearted then the previous games, using the chibi Pokemon models first seen in Pokemon Ranch and having a silly plot, with its climax boiling down to you stopping the townsfolk from arguing over some chocolate you brought them by finding some special cookies for them to share (As opposed to preventing the world from being destroyed).
In fact, Living In Greytown itself was made lighter and softer midway through the comic's life. The wacky vulgarity and silly deaths started being played for drama, and the comic was literally made lighter and softer by being drawn in colored pencils in bright soft colors, and culminating with a heartwarming ending.
Zeus And Sons is lighter and softer than the Greek mythology that it parodies, turning even the most horrible acts of the Greek gods into comical mishaps.
In El Goonish Shive, after several very dramatic arcs in a row, "New and Old Flames" is...well, something else entirely.
Happened before with Grace's Birthday Party being full of genderbending hijinks after the mega-grimdark Painted Black arc. The writer doesn't like Darker and Edgier and doesn't find it fun to write, but drama begins to creep up, so its pretty cyclical.
Sinfest is a webcomic that used to be extremely cynical and celebrated the sinful lives of the main characters. Nowadays, the overall tone of the strip is very optimistic and deals with how the very human characters deal with the temptation of sin while exploring the connections they have with each other. It's hard to point out exactly where the shift occurred, but consensus says it became official during the Love Redeems storyline between one of the succubi and the nerdy bookworm.
In Homestuck, the alien trolls are violent, amoral, and unstable. In their previous incarnation they were peaceful, kind, and so weak they couldn't play the game that would create a new universe so they had to reboot it and be manipulated into something more aggressive.
Neopets was made by, and for college kids when it first started. The early plots all were filled with black comedy, where the staff members (fictionally) were killed off one by one (the players got to vote on who died). The site was made kid friendly after two years, but the old pages from early plots still exist, which are all Nightmare Fuel.
This trope is parodied here, with an attempt to make Watchmen lighter and softer. It's a parody of the animated cartoon versions of films geared towards adult audiences (see Western Animation below). In particular, Rorschach describes himself as "nutty" (he's relegated to comic relief) and the Comedian... has a crush on Silk Spectre.
And, there's this comic. Be sure to read the rest of the chapters as well!
After the Incarnates arc in We Are Our Avatars, which is chockfull of Grimdark, many of the Arcs started to get lighter, although many exceptions have applied.
Tobuscus started out his vlogging career with a very gritty, profanity-laced style, clearly going for a "bad boy" vibe. Around 2010, however, his popularity started to really grow, his sponsorships took off, and his teenage niece, Ciara, started appearing in his videos — and suddenly the grittiness was gone, replaced by a Toby who never swears, pretends to be oblivious to things like sex and alcohol, and is almost entirely comedic. His niece aside, this was almost certainly a calculated career move to broaden his appeal, although there are still occasional comments on his videos expressing longing for the "old Toby".
In Highlander The Animated Series, immortals don't behead each other. They choose to pass on the knowledge by handing their sword over to the other Immortal, giving them everything the other immortal experienced through their lives.
The heroes do this. The villain, however, opts for the classic decapitation (though it's off screen).
They also offhandedly mention that he killed Connor McLeod after Connor chose to fight the Big Bad after giving an oath not to.
Teen Titans was definitely lighter and fluffier than the comic. Much retooling was needed to make some of the storylines kid-friendly, such as how in the comic, Terra was having an affair with Slade (akaDeathstroke the Terminator) while willingly being his mole; and Brother Blood is a cult-leading sorcerer who practices Blood Magic. Others elements, like Trigon having raped Raven's mother to conceive her and Starfire being a former slave (and not the window-washing kind) are kept but delicately presented. It's been noted that in an ironic twist, Teen Titans was far closer in tone to the Lighter and Softer Young Justice comics, while the Young Justice cartoon was a Darker and Edgier show that had content more in line with the 80's Teen Titans comics.
The 2003 cartoon came closer to the original comic books, until Season 6, Fast Forward, which is considerately lighter and more laughable than all the five seasons before it. It doesn't even feature any deaths, save for Sh'Okanabo's at the end of the penultimate episode when he gets killed by a light grenade batted into his mouth by Donatello. When they return to the present, the old atmosphere returns as well.
The 2012 show adopts bits and pieces of the tone of the 1987 series, but character designs and certain villains occasionally veer the show into darker territory, with the tone being more or less a moderation of the 1987 and 2003 shows.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold, especially compared to that other Batman adaptation as well as previous cartoons featuring the Batman. One of its episodes was the only Animated Adaptation of the comic book Emperor Joker, where Batman's deaths at the hands of The Joker were less graphic and more comical and off-screen than the original, but still a little disturbing for children. Ironically, it managed to make Batman's origin darker than the original, and it's overall still darker than the 60s show— and occasionally surprised audiences with less-whimsical stories (since, with one exception, death was not a revolving door).
"To be sure, this is a lighter incarnation, but it's certainly no less valid and true to the character's roots than the tortured avenger crying out for mommy and daddy."
Catscratch is an adaptation of a comic book called Gear, which centers on a war between anthropomorphic species, fought on giant robots, and doesn't shy away from depicting murders, genocide, body horror and torture. The cartoon not only didn't have one of the main characters, who died, but didn't let another character suffer his Fate Worse than Death.
Beast Machines is about planetary genocide, religious fanaticism and unceasing, torrential whining. Transformers: Robots In Disguise is about the wacky adventures of a put-upon space shark and the delightful things he does. That's something of a simplification, but the fact remains: Transformers has never gotten quite so dark as Beast Machines since, note until Transformers: Prime, anyways, if only because presumably Hasbro have decided they'd quite like people to actually buy their toys.
Everything is lighter and softer compared to Beast Machines, even its Anyone Can Die-prone immediate predecessor Beast Wars. Let's put it this way - when Simon Furman, who is sometimes Britain's answer to Yoshiyuki Tomino in the Anyone Can Die (and probably will) department and who (reportedly) immediately asked "Who can I kill?" when asked to work on your series, says you're getting too dark, you're getting too dark. Of course, RID is still the lightest TF series yet, and one where nobody dies - not even Prime puts in the obligatory temporary death. It's pretty accurately described above, and would fit the trope no matter what series it followed.
Also, there's Transformers Animated following the first PG-13 movie by a few months. The movie: every so often, the torrent of sex jokes pauses to depict bots getting savagely ripped apart. The fact many humans caught in the crossfire would get all kinds of dead goes from Fridge Logic to onscreen reality. So of course we follow it with the cutesiest TF series ever. However, it was prone to Cerebus Syndrome and winds up second only to Beast Machines in the darkness category (at the time. Prime hadn't had its say yet.)
No longer "allegedly." Prime is usually played by Peter Cullen these days so his (highly redesigned) presence wasn't proof, but now we've seen Bumblebee portrayed just as he is in TFP and get clear references to the series anytime someone from it shows up. It's interesting to see the Rescue Bots series dance around the violence of the crossover characters' world; Prime says Bumblebee "lost his voice in the line of duty" because "The Ax-CrazyEvil Overlord Megatron horribly tortured him, and when he still wouldn't talk after days of it, Megs ripped his voice box out so he'd never talk again. Oh, did I mention Cybertronians totally feel pain, too?" is a teensy bit heavier than what you usually see in RB.
The short lived cult series Cybersix was waaaay lighter and softer than the original comic it was based on: All the nazi backstory of Von Reichter becomes subtext; when defeated the Fixed Ideas evaporate videogame-style leaving behind a pile of clothes & a "Sustenance" health powerup for Cybersix so she didn't need to bite them like a vampire as in the comic; and nothing of all the high sexual content of the original.
Making Fiends is a good example for Nick. During its jump to TV, Nick made changes to many of the darker things, such as a "A is for alimony" poster, and a poster of a cat being hanged. Also in remakes of web episodes, they replaced lines like "Tempt not yon hellcat" to "Tempt not yon fiendcat", and the line "And your eyeballs will fall out" to "and your eyebrows will fall out."
Batman Beyond's spin off show The Zeta Project is much cuter and softer than what it was spun off from. MUCH. They also redesigned Zeta to be much more human-looking without even a Hand Wave. When Batman shows up in a Crossover episode, he doesn't mention that Zeta looks different than he remembers.
Ultimate Spider-Man is a much more comedic approach to the franchise than any series before it, falling somewhere between sitcom level and Looney Tunes level, unless certain Knight of Cerebus villains are around to make you say "Damn, am I still watching the same show?! Also the show's take on Carnage, but it'd have to be, since an Ax-Crazy serial killer doesn't really fit in a campy show aimed at children.
During production, the crew behind Robotomy had to constantly be reminded that the show was airing in primetime, and so not to go too much toward [adult swim] content.
G1 My Little Pony could be summed up as "Disney Princesses visit Sunnydale", as it featured very cutesy pastel-colored pony girls getting routinely threatened by horrible monsters.note It should be noted that the original Pilot special was considerably darker then the G1 series. Follow-up Series My Little Pony Tales dropped the monsters and the magic, and turned it into a teen drama/comedy set in a quaint little town of near-anthropomorphic ponies. The G3 series, however, goes full-blownSugar Bowl. The new My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic series dials it back a bit, finding a happy medium between cute slice-of-life comedy and adventure and danger.
Most people ignore that "Rescue from Midnight Castle" aka the 1984 pilot is considered the darkest and edgier incarnation of the entire franchise, featuring creepy characters, real death situations, competent henchmen and the infamous Big Bad Tirec, who was a genocidal (and hyper competent) villain who used physical violence and death threats. Without mentioning how the original incarnation of Megan was a rough cowgirl who ended up graphically killing Tirec by ripping him into shreds with the power of her Rainbow of Light (and then finishing him off by destroying what was left of Tirec in a big explosion.)
The second season of Superjail! at least compared to the first. Characters are more humanized and sympathetic and less wantonly cruel, and this includes the inmates. Make no mistake that it's still a Gorn series, but less randomly cruel than in the first season.
Little Shop of Horrors had an animated series, where the killer, man-eating plant was now friendly and tried to help the main character, and the psychotic sadistic dentist was a school yard bully who stole lunch money and food from Seymour.
Later episodes of Rugrats. While the show was already about babies going on adventures, the later seasons dumbed down the baby talk and almost all of the parental bonuses were removed.
Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade was a more subtle example. The gang's crazy schemes were nowhere near as epic as they were in the show itself (aside from T.J.'s boycott against school in the beginning), and became more Slice of Life.
Beavis and Butt-Head, Daria and King of the Hill, in comparison to other adult sitcoms, like Family Guy, Drawn Together, EVEN SpongeBob (after the movie) or South Park. While Beavis and Butt-Head itself is not kid-friendly and full of dirty jokes about sex and bodily functions and has some violent moments, it is still looks light with the other two series, compared to other adults sitcoms, who are full of Nausea Fuel, Squick, Nightmare Fuel, on-screen sexual moments and extremely violent moments. In addition, this shows are more realistic and doesn't focus on over the top Comedic Sociopathy and the most violent moments in the show look child friendly compared to violence in other sitcoms. Try watching Family Guy and then watch this shows. There is a clear difference.
While Beware the Batman is a Darker and Edgier incarnation, the show also softens the portrayal of certain villains. For example, Professor Pyg is a affable, well-intentioned eco-terrorist instead of the brutal psychopath he was in the comics. Humpty Dumpty has been described as being less dark than his comics counterpart, which makes sense since there's no way in hell Cartoon Network was going to allow scenes of a deformed, mentally deficient man dismembering his victims.
The Cleveland Show is a much more lighter and softer version of Family Guy, with gore and extreme domestic abuse / violence much more minimized, in comparison with the original series.
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is this to the whole Mickey Mouse franchise. While Mickey Mouse and his friends have been universal characters for all ages, this recent incarnation is specifically aimed at pre-schoolers. Meanwhile, Mickey's only other involvement (if any at all, thanks to Disney's focus on pre-teen sitcoms) have been in video game titles such as Kingdom Hearts and Epic Mickey.
The Lion King was a movie about a manipulative, power hungry villain killing his brother in a coup, convincing his nephew he killed his father, and trying to kill his nephew but failing to do so. Then said nephew grows up and is having trouble challenging the villain to the throne because he still feels guilty for his father's death and has to get over it to save everybody. The movie's TV Spin-Off, Timon & Pumbaa, on the other hand, was a wacky slapstick comedy in the vein of The Ren & Stimpy Show.
BIONICLE: The Legend Reborn is an animated movie with slapstick comedy, cartoon sound effects, a cutesy animal sidekick, easily beatable bad guys, a great emphasis on friendship and unity, and mild fantasy violence. A drastic shift from its prequel novel Raid on Vulcanus, which is a serious-toned tale of gruesome fights, death, cynical and morally vague heroes, dangerous villains and ungrateful villagers. The novel adaptation of TLR is more in line with the book's tone.
Loonatics Unleashed: Taking notice of the popularity of Darker and Edgier cartoons from Japan, Warner Bros. tried to jump on the bandwagon by reinventing the Looney Tunes as intimidating crime fighters in a gritty futuristic setting. After a huge amount of Internet Backdraft they realized that was soemthing most people in fact didn't want to see and tried to salvage the show by instead reworking it into a more standard superhero cartoon that happened to have heroes who looked like famous funny animals. When that still failed to capture an audience they went even lighter, playing up comedy and reintroducing the rest of classic characters in futuristic form. It didn't work, and the series was abandoned after only two seasons.
Rabbit Ears Productions' version of The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship was much lighter and softer compared to the original Russian folktale due to making the characters more wacky and changing some scenes from the original text. For example, there was a scene in the original folktale where the Fool and the man who carries the straw have to stay in a heated bath house over night. This scene was cut out in the Rabbit Ears version.
Major League Baseball opened the 1998 season with two new teams, both named after incredibly deadly animals - the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. While the Diamondbacks are much less threatening than their name implies, the Devil Rays changed their name to the Rays in 2007, the name now describing rays of sunshine rather than dangerous marine life. Oddly, ever since then they've been extremely good. It was also changed due to Moral Guardians (and reportedly former Ray Josh Hamilton, who became a born-again Christian after kicking drug addiction) thinking that the name promoted Satanism.
Aerogel, if you want to take this trope literally. It's the lightest known solid and has the consistency of styrofoam.
Some grandparents are accused of this by their children.
A lot of people will describe college like this to high-school students, especially those who didn't care for high school and are afraid college will be more of the same. They mention that while the work will be more difficult, the environment will be a lot more pleasant, since everybody is there by choice, and there's a lot less bullying and teasing going on.