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

BoJack: Come on, guys, this is ridiculous - is this even a movie anymore?
Todd: Maybe is ISN'T a movie!
Quentin Tarantutino: Yeah! Maybe it's an immersive smartphone app! Or... a 21st-century approach to 360 degree media envelopment!
Todd: Yeah, or... maybe it's just like a feeling... you know?
Quentin Tarantutino: We've got work to do!
BoJack Horseman

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.


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     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.
  • Tiger & Bunny is of the first variety. Originally, it was supposed to be much darker and more morbid in its theme and mood, with heavy drama and tragedy and different personalities for both main characters. The creators later decided to go for a more light-hearted story with an overall comedic theme accompanied by some drama; traces of the aforementioned serious tone can be seen in the second cour.

     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.

     Film - Animated 
  • The Emperor's New Groove was originally conceived as a dark musical film rather than a lighthearted comedy with only one or two songs. And Yzma was originally going to have her own song.
  • Quest for Camelot was written to be a serious PG-13 animated film. During development, producers decided to amp up the slapstick and make it more kid-oriented. They also turned it into a musical - with the result that nearly every cast member has a Non-Singing Voice.

     Film - Live Action  

  • Cool World was originally intended to be a horror film but Executive Meddling demanded a more family-friendly plot and rewrote it. This explains the 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.
  • Zombieland was originally intended as 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.
  • 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 becomes Romeo and Juliet.
  • The first draft of Clerks was a Lynchian surreal horror film about a convenience store clerk and the odd characters he meets during the graveyard shift.
  • Beverly Hills Cop was originally a violent action film starring Sylvester Stallone. When he dropped out, it became an Eddie Murphy comedy.
  • On a similar note, The Golden Child was originally a serious action-fantasy starring Mel Gibson that became a Murphy vehicle.
  • Big Trouble in Little China was going to be a western at one stage.
  • Pretty Woman was originally dark drama about prostitution before becoming a Romantic Comedy.
  • Jaws 3D started life as an Airplane!-style parody called Jaws 3 People 0.
  • Bride Wars was originally a high school comedy. Which explains so much.
  • King Creole was originally a serious drama starring James Dean. After Dean's death, it was re-tooled into an Elvis Presley vehicle.
  • Annie Hall was originally a murder-mystery with a comic and romantic subplot. Woody Allen later resurrected the idea for Manhattan Murder Mystery. At one point, the film was also a period comedy set in Victorian London.
  • Francis Ford Coppola originally envisioned The Conversation as a horror film.
  • Similar to the above, Christopher Nolan originally envisioned Inception as a horror film.
  • Casino Royale (1967) was supposed to be a serious adaptation of the novel and proper James Bond film to compete with the proper series. When the filmmakers couldn't get Sean Connery, it became a spoof.
  • The Cannonball Run was originally a serious action film starring Steve McQueen. Upon McQueen's death, it became a Burt Reynolds comedy.
  • According to legend, Steven Spielberg considered making 1941 a musical.
  • The Crow was almost a musical starring Michael Jackson. Seriously.
  • Oliver Stone was asked to direct Conan the Barbarian (1982). His version would have taken place in post-apocalyptic Earth rather than the fantasy setting of the stories.
  • Face/Off was originally a science-fiction film.
  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory was made a musical during production. The director was against this, but the producers convinced him by pointing out the success of Mary Poppins and The Wizard of Oz.
  • The Slumber Party Massacre was originally written as a parody of the slasher genre, but it was filmed as a straight horror film.
  • After Earth started life as a story about a father and son crashing their car in the mountains or some remote region, with the son having to go out and get rescue for his father.
  • Conrad Ball originally wrote American Beauty as a play.
  • Mel Brooks originally conceived The Producers as a non-musical play, but realized it required too many set changes. He then played with the idea of it as a book, but it had too much dialogue. Eventually, he realized it could only work as a movie.
  • Tommy Wiseau originally wrote The Room as a play. The title comes from the intent that it would only take place in the one room. He supposedly then adapted the play into a 500-page book, which he was unable to get published.
  • The Three Stooges film was originally going to be a Biopic of the comedy trio.
  • Hollywood Homicide was originally going to be a drama before Suge Knight complained to the producers. The film was subsequently turned into a comedy.
  • Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day was planned as a musical headlined by Billie Burke as the titular character. Production was cancelled due to World War II and it didn't get made until 2008 - where it was now a Genre Throwback to Screwball Comedy.
  • Hook was planned as a musical, possibly with songs written by Michael Jackson. When it actually went into production Leslie Bricusse and John Williams had a clutch of songs ready to go, but plans were changed in an attempt to rein in the budget. Two songs do remain though, one sung by the mock Lost Boys in the School Play that opens the film, and another by Maggie to the pirates in the real Neverland. "Childhood", a song that didn't make it, appears in the Leslie Bricusse Songbook sheet music collection.
  • Alien: Resurrection was written as a Camp parody of the Alien films. Director Jean Pierre Jeunet decided to play it straight.
  • Showgirls was envisioned as a dark, pro-feminist satire on the lives of Vegas showgirls. Along the way it became a notoriously Camp exploitation film. Magic Mike is closer to what it was originally conceived as.
  • Convoy went from light-hearted comedy in vein of Smokey and the Bandit to a more serious action film.
  • Gigli started as a straightforward gangster film that became a Romantic Comedy by way of Executive Meddling.
  • When Bruce Willis was attached to star in Fire Down Below, the screenplay by Jeb Staurt, was more a drama with detective elements. When Steven Seagal came aboard after Willis departed, writer Phillip Morton was brought in to convert the material into an action film that incorporated the genre staples Seagal was famous for.
  • Suicide Squad was meant to remain in the Darker and Edgier footsteps of previous DC Extended Universe movies. Then some audiences showing more interest in the "fun and edgy" parts of the trailers, leading the studio to want more comedy and even hiring additional editors (the end credits list five!). As a result, the tone is inconsistent as hell.
  • Santa Claus: The Movie was written as a musical with Leslie Bricusse-Henry Mancini songs, but the producers decided that genre wouldn't sell in the mid-1980s (this was just after Annie (1982) had underperformed against its massive budget). Several of those songs do appear as background/diegetic music in the finished film, but so do some pop songs by other hands, and Bricusse was really bitter about this. The film didn't do well at the box office in any case.
  • Pod People was initially written as a horror film, with an alien killing poachers and a vacationing rock band in a forest. Then E.T. came out, so Pod People was rewritten to copy its success, adding scenes of a child protagonist befriending a younger alien. But the killings, crude humor, and sexual innuendo remained from the earlier version, resulting in a film that couldn't decide who it was trying to appeal to.

  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson 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 or his short story "The Library Policeman" were going when he wrote the first several pages. Both started out considerably lighter and more comedic than they ended up. "The Mist" and "Apt Pupil" underwent shifts from short story to novella due to a case of "literary diarrhoea".

     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. "Assignment Two", however, clearly indicates the shift, with its even more frightening atmosphere, adult subject matter related to war and sexual relationships and a very grim ending.
  • Charmed was thought up as basically a TV version of The Craft about three roommates who were witches. Networks weren't really interested in the witchcraft until Constance M Burge made the characters sisters, and it became the Supernatural Soap Opera it was best known as.


  • 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 Arthurian 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 which originally had nothing to do with the movie. After tacking on the movie license, the game's publisher, Virgin Interactive, forced the developers to make it into a more straightforward action game.
  • 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.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VII:
      • The game's plot was originally conceived as having a real-world American Urban Fantasy Noir setting inspired by popular mid-90s TV shows like The X-Files and Twin Peaks, which would focus on a Hot-Blooded detective tracking down a group of terrorists in the mean streets of New York. At some point it was decided to make it into a more conventional High Fantasy setting, although still featuring The Big Rotten Pizza and a quasi-'murder mystery' ("who killed Sephiroth?") in a disturbing mountain town. The idea of a Final Fantasy game taking place in a realistic 20th Century America influenced setting was later revisited in Final Fantasy XV.
      • As a hangover from the above concept, Vincent was intended to be a Genre Refugee from 90s American television, an Expy of Agent Mulder and Agent Cooper, being a secret agent, conspiracy theorist, movie fanatic and amateur occultist who stumbled upon the goings-on in Nibelheim and was transformed into a shapeshifter. Relatively late in development he was retooled into a more straightforward Gothic Horror-themed character without the Ascended Fanboy elements, and his backstory revised to fit more into the main storyline.
    • Final Fantasy X started as a non-FF project called "Seventeen", which would have been a sci-fi game about a virus that killed people on their eighteenth birthday, and a seventeen-year-old doctor/priestess who was travelling all over the world to deliver vaccines on behalf of a pharma company/cult. Later, it would have become apparent that the cure was actually causing the sickness, and this was deliberately engineered by the pharma company to establish social control. When it was decided to make it into a Final Fantasy game instead, the setting was reformatted into a fantasy world besieged by a monster, while the doctor became a religious pilgrim ready to give her life to temporarily destroy the monster in a ritual used by a Corrupt Church to maintain theocratic control.
  • According to an interview on Gamespy, the Vehicular Combat title Full Auto was initially developed as a straight racing simulation until the developers realized it made no sense to have the main selling point of the game (extensive damage modeling) only be able to be experienced by being bad at the game.

     Western Animation  

Alternative Title(s): Mid Development Medium Shift