This entry is trivia, which is cool and all, but not a trope. On a work, it goes on the Trivia tab.

Mid-Development Genre Shift

An author, developer, or a group of them start with a basic idea, and from there start building a new work intended to be released to the public, but sometimes these author(s) may see that their creation isn't working like they intended to, it's missing a little something in it. Maybe the creators are not very talented in the genre or media they used to start their work, maybe those just don't, or flat out can't, show the work the way they intended to, or maybe it's just for a meddling executive getting involved.

Whatever the reason, they see that the bases they have chosen for their work just aren't working the way they want to, so it's time to change one or more of these bases before they release anything.

This can come in two flavors:

  • Genre shift: The work keeps its grounds on the same media, but changes its style to other of the many genres inside that media, like from Comedy to Drama in Theater, or a Platformer to Action Adventure in Video Games.
  • Media Shift: Unusual but not unheard of, this one generally occurs during the first moments of the work's creation, and regularly means that the author's goal for this work just wasn't expressed well in the media chosen. For example, the author could have started with his work in written media, but then (s)he sees that without visuals it feels incomplete and/or that a fitting BGM could do a much better job conveying the feelings that (s)he intends to show; or maybe started with some sort of visual media, but later thinks that using more reader's interpretation and less "this is how it was and looked like" is a better option for his intentions.

Don't confuse with Genre Shift, Cerebus Syndrome, Reverse Cerebus Syndrome, and Cerebus Rollercoaster, which are changes during a work's run instead of before its release. Subtrope of What Could Have Been.


    open/close all folders 

     Anime And Manga  

  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha was originally intended to be a straight Magical Girl series, but ended up somewhat closer to Humongous Mecha show with cute girls once it was released.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! was originally intended to be a straight-up horror manga, before transitioning to the game/card battle series it's recognized as.

     Comic Books  

  • The Griff was written by Christopher Moore and Ian Corson. It started as another Moore novel, but when he realized the idea was too visually dependent for the written word he set it aside - until the opportunity to make a graphic novel arose.

     Fan Works  

  • Turnabout Storm started out as a written fanfiction, but as it progressed evolved to an attempt at a game in order to be able to put music in it, then to a radio play, and finally to it settled with Ace Attorney game-walkthrough-like videos so visual elements could be added.
  • Quite a lot of The Next Frontier had been written before its creator had firmly decided just what it was going to be a crossover with. (My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was the other possibility.) The decision to make The Reveal of the crossover an invoked Shocking Swerve was therefore something of a Throw It In moment.


  • Cool World was originally intended to be a horror film but Executive Meddling demanded a more family friendly plot and basically rewrote it, explaining its resultant tonal inconsistency.
  • Dr. Strangelove was originally meant to be a straight drama, much like the original novel, but Stanley Kubrick found the situations so ridiculous and over-the-top that he decided to play it for dark laughs.
  • Mulholland Dr. was originally going to be a TV series. The first two thirds (made for TV) are nowhere near as surreal or adult oriented as the climax (made to wrap everything up as a film).
  • Good Will Hunting was originally conceived of by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck as a thriller, before the Weinsteins encouraged them to instead emphasize the relationship between Will and his psychologist.
  • Seen in the Korean movie Windstruck (the loose prequel to My Sassy Girl), which veered from Rom Com to Fantasy to Tragedy and back again.
  • Zombieland was originally intended to be a TV series.
  • Dear Diary - a Short Film - was a sitcom pilot that wasn't picked up. Won an Oscar for Best Short Subject.
  • Beetlejuice was originally supposed to be a horror movie, but was changed to a supernatural comedy.
  • Evolution was going to be a serious sci-fi movie but became a sci-fi comedy.
  • Holiday Inn was originally to have been produced on Broadway as a plotless revue.
  • The Emperor's New Groove was originally conceived as a dark musical film instead of a lighthearted comedy film with only one or two songs. And Yzma was originally going to have her own song.
  • Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer's Disaster Movie started life as a Superbad parody called "Goodie Two Shoes", but for whatever reason changed to a loose parody of Cloverfield in the middle of production.
  • In-universe example: In Shakespeare in Love, Shakespeare starts writing a comedy named "Romeo And Ethel, The Pirate's Daughter", which later becomes the well known tragedy Romeo and Juliet.
  • The first draft of Clerks was a surreal horror film a 'la David Lynch about a convenience store clerk and the odd characters he meets during the graveyard shift.


  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was originally just going to be a straight series of articles covering a motorcycle race in Las Vegas, before becoming the weird, wacky, genre-defining whatever-it-is that it became.
  • Stephen King:
    • He admitted that he didn't know where Christine and his short story The Library Policeman were going when he wrote the first several pages, but both started out considerably lighter and more comedic than they ended up.
    • The Mist and Apt Pupil both underwent a slight media shift from short story to novella due to a case of "literary diarrhea".

     Live Action TV  

  • 24 was originally conceived as a domestic comedy about a family preparing for a wedding. Seriously.
  • Sapphire and Steel was initially commissioned as a children's fantasy series, but when PJ Hammond's scripts turned out to be significantly scarier than would be acceptable for that, the network rethought the idea instead of demanding rewrites. "Assignment One" still shows some signs of the original intended audience, with the child PoV characters, use of nursery rhymes as plot points, rather whimsical kids'-TV-host characterisation of Lead, and probably the show's most uncomplicatedly happy ending. However, "Assignment Two" clearly indicates the shift, with its even more frightening atmosphere, adult subject matter related to war and sexual relationships, and very grim ending.


  • Lampshaded in Electric Funstuff's The Next Big Thing. A video game in development changes through every step of the process.
  • On Bob Dylan's 1985 album Empire Burlesque, the album for displayed a surprisingly (for its time) contemporary sound for Dylan. For the song "When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky", it was originally going to be an upbeat rock tune with the members of The E Street Band backing him! But when the album was developed, it was drastically rewritten, now sounding like this. This song earned Bob Dylan being called "Disco Dylan" when this album came out.


  • Company was originally written by George Furth as a cycle of eleven short plays.
  • Wicked was originally supposed to be an Aida-esque romance, the core of the story being the relationship between Fiyero and Elphaba, with Glinda essentially a supporting character. The finished story instead focused on the Romantic Two-Girl Friendship, making Fiyero more of a Satellite Love Interest.

     Video Games  

  • Halo was originally conceived as a Real-Time Strategy game, but it made it to shelves as a First-Person Shooter, probably because its plot and factions coupled with its genre would have made it too similar to RTS heavyweight Starcraft. They eventually revisited the RTS idea, though.
    • Also, the developers changed genres because they decided they wanted to play as the soldiers. Initially Halo was a third person shooter for Macs (which can be seen in early videos and screenshots) but became a first person shooter when Bungie was purchased by Microsoft.
  • A light variation with Sonic the Hedgehog, the initial concept was a more traditional platformer with puzzles and exploration akin to Super Mario Bros. 2. The final product, while still a platformer, focused more dominantly on its now trademark speed. This evolution is even more prominent in its sequel.
  • According to 1upnote , the NES version of Super Mario Bros. was going to be a shoot-em-up platformer, and Mario was going to carry guns, like the beam gun similar to those in Metroid and a rifle. Also, he was going to punch and kick enemies while empty-handed, ride on clouds (which were previously rockets in earlier development) and fire at enemies in cloud drive-bys that would soon become bonus coin stages. Also, the "jump button" was going to be "up" on the Control Pad, leaving the "A" button open for attacks.
  • Rareware has a habit of doing this:
    • Banjo-Kazooie was originally conceived as Dream, a 2D Super Nintendo RPG with human characters rather than a 3D Funny Animal platformer.
    • GoldenEye (1997) was originally to be an on-rails light-gun shooter like Lethal Enforcers or Virtua Cop. Before that it would have been a pre-rendered 2D platformer, like Donkey Kong Country but with guns. The unrelated Game Boy James Bond game is much closer to this design.
    • Conker's Bad Fur Day was originally just another generic kiddie platformer before they retooled it into the rude, crude, offensively over-the-top game everyone knows and loves. This was after the tie-in Game Boy game, which really was as saccharine as Conker was intended to be, had been released as well.
    • Star Fox Adventures started off as an original IP titled Dinosaur Planet before Executive Meddling told them to retool it into a Star Fox game, complete with shmup sections and a surprise final boss that were so very obviously tacked-on near the end of production.
  • Rayman Raving Rabbids was conceived as a Rayman 2-esque platformer with original creator Michel Ancel having full involvement, but Executive Meddling caused the switch to a minigame collection and Ancel being dropped from the project.
  • Metal Gear began development as a straightforward shoot-'em-up, cashing in on the popularity of Capcom's arcade game Commando, but the programmers were having too much trouble creating a similar game on the MSX2 since the hardware couldn't handle too many enemy soldiers and bullets on-screen at the same time. When Hideo Kojima was brought into the project to salvage it, he decided to shift the game's focus to avoiding combat.
    • Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops started development as an online multiplayer deathmatch-style shooter unrelated to the main Metal Gear Solid storyline. Portable Ops Plus does include the online multiplayer though.
    • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance originally was named Metal Gear Solid: Rising and was a stealth-action game that emphasized hunting enemies. When the game switched developers from Kojima Productions to PlatinumGames, the stealth aspect was toned down in favor of more straightforward combat (hence the title change), though some stealth remains as the player can kill enemies without them expecting it.
  • Shinobi began development as a game about shooting shurikens at enemies from a first-person view. The developers planned to include a shuriken-shaped paddle to control the player's aim. The concept didn't prove to be that interesting and Sega decided to revamp Shinobi as a side-scrolling action game, with the shuriken-throwing game idea used for the bonus stages instead.
  • Thief started life as an Authurian-legend swashbuckling game with minor emphasis on stealth (with the tentative name Dark Camelot.) Once Looking Glass Studios realized just how GOOD they made stealthing (ie, enemies not able to see you in the dark and having to be aware of your footsteps), they made a game specifically tailored for the mechanic, instead.
  • The Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves game for the NES by Sculptured Software was initially conceived as an action-RPG titled The Legend of Robin Hood that originally had nothing to do with the movie. The game's publisher, Virgin Interactive, forced the developers to make it into a more straightforward action game after tacking on the movie license.
  • Tabula Rasa was developed as a fantasy MMORPG before becoming a sci-fi MMOFPS.
  • Team Fortress 2 began as a realistic, serious FPS that was going to be just like its predecessor, but with more realistic physics. Then in 2003, they retooled it into a sci-fi FPS entitled Invasion, which involved a humans vs. aliens plot. Finally, in 2006, the game was retooled into the humorous, cartoonish, lighthearted FPS we all know of today.

     Western Animation  

  • The Dreamstone was initially conceived as Darker and Edgier storybook with more action and mystical concepts. While some of these concepts make it into the finalized TV series (especially the pilot episode), the setup was reinvented into a more light-hearted Road Runner vs. Coyote style cartoon.
  • Family Guy flip flops with this throughout its development. Its prototype short The Life of Larry was something of a faux sitcom and had already invented the cutaway setup and heavy pop culture humor. The second prototype, a What-A-Cartoon short Larry And Steve played more along the lines of a Tex Avery style kids cartoon, with the satirical humor being much more subtle. In its intitial run Family Guy played something of a mix of both, using the original cutaway and parody humor, but maintaining heavy use of light hearted slapstick. Following its UnCancellation however, the show slowly evolved into a shock value Sadist Show.
  • Planet Sheen was intended to be more serious and dramatic, but it ended up becoming even Denser and Wackier then Jimmy Neutron

Alternative Title(s): Mid Development Medium Shift