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Uncertain Audience
"In the anime industry's quest for ratings, the creators of shows with strong cross-demographic appeal must pander to two separate, yet equally important groups: the Shōnen fandom, who enjoy Giant Robots, short-skirted schoolgirls and long, drawn-out fights between musclebound supermen full of thinly veiled homoeroticism; and the Shoujo fandom, who like their schoolgirls magical, their Giant Robot pilots Bishōnen, and their homoeroticism right out in the open. These are their stories..."

Uncertain Audience takes place when producers have not positioned a certain enough target for their work's release.

Occurs when a form of media seems unaware of its target demographic, appealing to a wide range of different people. It can be a candy-coated squee with a squick center for some people (Like a Tootsie Roll lollipop for those who don't like chocolate, or prefer real chocolate) or vice versa (Like salted peanuts that you can't eat until you bust em open.) For chocolate-munching, peanut-swallowing people on the other hand, this genre blend can be the perfect flavor for you. On the other hand, if you have diabetes or high blood pressure, your best bet is to stay away from this.

Food metaphors aside, it generally comes in three forms:
  • The direct result of a Genre Shift.
  • The media's style was predetermined from before the author started by a gigantic melting pot of various genres combined into one.
  • The author/writer/producer/what-have-you simply not considering their audience when writing the story.

Compare Multiple Demographic Appeal.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Code Geass seems to have about five different genres it wants to be in, ranging from robots to politics and back around to high school comedy, with elements of supernatural thriller thrown in.
    • In fact, the reason the Mecha aspect can be excised from the show with no real impact on the plot is because it was not, in fact, originally conceived as a Mecha show. However, being a Sunrise Anime, one thing led to another...
  • Similar to Code Geass, Full Metal Panic! manages to find a way to take a giant robot military thriller and include high school comedy.
  • Negima! started out looking like a Harem Comedy, then took a hard turn into a fighting series in volume three. Since then it's remained a fighting series, albeit with Harem Comedy elements left in it. It works pretty well.
    • This can be blamed on Executive Meddling - Ken Akamatsu wanted to write a fighting series, but the publisher wanted another harem series like Love Hina. Akamatsu essentially pretended to be writing a harem comedy, and gradually turned it into the fighting shounen he'd wanted.
  • As a Space Western, Cowboy Bebop runs the gamut in terms of genre and tone from comedy, like in "Mushroom Samba", to gruesome horror as in "Pierrot le Fou". This sometimes leads to extreme Mood Whiplash, though it is also what makes the series so popular in many people's eyes. In fact, in the preview for "Black Dog Serenade" Jet even warns the children and women in the audience that they won't care for the plot of the next episode because it is aimed at the middle-aged men.
  • .hack//Legend of the Twilight:On one side, it was considerably more light-hearted and childish than .hack//SIGN, with more comic relief and cute monsters. On the other side, it also had more Fanservice and Implied Twin Cest between the two main characters such that the series has arguably become infamously immortalized because of it.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha has elements of a traditional Magical Girl series with a large helping of sc-fi added on.
  • Some anime Anthology Films like Robot Carnival, Genius Party and Genius Party Beyond fit in this category due the complete change of mood (And sometimes of genre) in each animated short. For example, in Genius Party, there was a science fiction adventure ("Shanghai Dragon") a Magic Realism tale ("Doorbell")a Tim Burton-esque comedy ("Deathtic 4") a philosophical monologue ("Limit Cycle") and it ends with a Slice of Life romance story ("Baby Blue")
  • It can be argued that this trope, combined with Values Dissonance, is why Detective Conan (a.k.a., Case Closed!) failed when it was broadcast on Cartoon Network in the United States: it was too childish for [adult swim], yet too violent for Toonami, having brutal murders, complex plots involving suicide, drugs and business dealings but also many childish comedy moments.
  • Shugo Chara!: It has a young girl protagonist, adorable fairy mascots, and sparkly Magical Girl battles. It also deals with some surprisingly dark subjects, many characters have deep psychological issues, and a huge part of the story is the heroine's romance with a boy in his late teens (who is openly sexually attracted to her). There's also lots of moe elements in order to appeal to otaku. This may be why no licensing company wants to pick the anime version up.
  • Jewelpet Sunshine is often accused of this. It's a wacky kids school comedy that deals with issues such as incest and zoophilia.
  • Watashi ni XX Shinasai! can't decide if it's a mature shoujo romance or a shounen moe ecchi. And it's serialized in Nakayoshi, a little girls' manga magazine, further confusing things.

    Films — Animated 
  • Perhaps the main flaw of Titan A.E. was it did not seem to have a target demographic: The harder Science Fiction elements turned off children from it, and the goofier moments (already hit by the Animation Age Ghetto) turned off Science Fiction fans.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Pirates of the Caribbean plays up both the romance angle and the pirate angle, as well as the kiddie comedy angle and the zombie curse angle. Taken individually, each would seem to mesh poorly with the others, but (the first, at least) is notable for its success in Multiple Demographic Appeal.
  • Also the bad sci fi Pod People, now mainly known through MST3K. It features an E.T.-like Friendly Alien who befriends a little kid, but also features a duo of poachers and a pop music band with some coarse language and sexual innuendo. It also contains a B-plot about a second alien, identical to the first, going on a murderous killing "spree" against the rest of the trapped-in-a-cabin cast.. so it's basically E.T. meets Friday the 13th. Possibly a result of Executive Meddling; originally it was written to be a straight up horror film, but when E.T. was released they tried to capitalize on the success and turn it into an alien buddy film. Didn't really go well.
  • Speaking of MST3K, who the hell was Hobgoblins made for? It's about a bunch of Grotesque Cute obvious puppets who trap people in twisted versions of their wildest fantasies... all of which seem to be about everybody boning their brains out. If you thought the movie it was ripping off was a bit confused about its target audience, wait until you see this thing.
  • Hudson Hawk. A parody of musical comedy (a singing cat burglar) and action/adventure/espionage.
  • Last Action Hero. A mass Lampshade Hanging of action/adventure movie tropes mixed with a comparison between Real Life and cinematic reality.
  • There's also movies like Dick and Across the Universe which are meant to appeal to a young audience but deal with things (Watergate and The Sixties, respectively) that are more likely to appeal to baby boomers.
  • Battlefield Baseball, which is sort of a spoof of baseball movies... but also has gratuitous violence, an inexplicable plot, and a few musical numbers, all wrapped up in a martial-arts package. Its weird.
  • Spice World. The Nostalgia Chick comments on how she has no idea who it was being marketed towards, given that some of the jokes were clearly meant for adults (such as men in thongs and one of the girls suggesting that they get naked for a young boy in the hospital), but other jokes seemed more geared for kids, or at least would be unfunny to adults. Of course, you could make much the same point about the band themselves, so maybe the target audience was just "Spice Girls fans".
  • The live action film adaptation of Yatterman made by Takashi Miike seems pretty childish, with lots of slapstick humor, colorful special effects, cheesy action scenes and a clumsy villain trio... but it also had many sex- related jokes, including one scene where one robot starts acting as if it was having an orgasm.
  • The 2009 film of Land of the Lost with Will Ferrell, which is probably why it flopped. It has a goofy, slapsticky sci-fi plot you'd expect to see in a kids' movie, but most of the humor is very dark and sexual.
  • Sucker Punch: While the trailers make it look like it was a pop-corn flick(With Giant robots, dragons and samurai monsters), is actually a serious drama about a girl being put in a mental institution that uses her imagination to escape from harsh reality, involving at least two fantasy sub-plots: One that takes place in a brothel, and another that involves different genres, such as Tolkienesque High Fantasy, Sci-Fi/Cyberpunk,Steampunk/Diesel Punk/War Movie.
  • Despite being rated "PG", and having lots of childish humor, the movie version of Howard the Duck also contains lots of sexual humor and innuendo, including references to zoophilia.
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show In a commentary on the DVD, Richard O'brien mentions that this was a concern around the time the film was released.
  • Several Anthology Films tend to do this, such as New York Stories and Paris, je t'aime (This one had elements of comedy, drama, fantasy, Magic Realism, and one story involving vampires)
  • It is not quite clear if Barry Levinson's Toys was intended as a kids' comedy or a satire for adults, having elements from both genres.
  • The Indian science fiction superhero film Ra.One starts like a kidīs comedy about a nerdy father making a videogame for his son in order to make him think that he is cool. Then, after the first musical sequence (Which doesnīt look at all as something from a kidīs film) the movie turns very serious and dark, with the villain from the videogame becoming real and starting to kill people, including a main character. Then, the movie turns silly again, but after another musical sequence the movie turns serious once again.
  • Ink has many light-hearted and whimsical elements from Fairy Tales and Juvenile Fantasy, but it also has lots of swearing, frightening scenes, deals with several adult themes as drug use and suicide. It also has several elements from arthouse films (Specially in the visual style) and fighting sequences involving martial arts and a shaky camera
  • The film version of Cloud Atlas received a mixed reaction from critics and audiences probably due this: The movie, like the book in which it was inspired involved six different interrelated stories, which were very different from each other: There was a Period Piece, a thriller, a comedy (The story of Timothy Cavendish) a science-fiction Dys Topia similar to Blade Runner and a Post Apocalyptic adventure. While the six stories are connected, there is a complete change of mood and styles in every scene.
  • A frequent complaint about Small Soldiers is that its premise is too silly for adults, but too dark and violent for children.
  • Though the Godzilla films seem to alternate audiences, with some being for adults and others for children, Godzilla vs. Gigan can't quite decide who it's supposed to be geared to. On one hand, it has a lot of goofy elements, including a couple of scenes where Godzilla and Anguirus actually talk. But on the other, the fight scenes are disturbingly violent and show more blood than was ever seen in a Godzilla movie before.
    • Godzilla vs. Hedorah has pretty much the same problem. While it has plenty of aspects pandering to kids, such as a kid main character, silly-sounding music, and Godzilla flying, the film also has Family Unfriendly Deaths of people being disintegrated to their bones, a scene where a guy has an alcohol-fueled hallucination, a creepy-looking Muck Monster villain, and fights between Godzilla and Hedorah that, while not exactly gory, are still rather grotesque due to Hedorah's manner of dumping his slime on Godzilla.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Many Space Western films and series fit this trope:
  • The short lived police musical drama Cop Rock: The dissonance of cheery, happy songs appearing spontaneously in an otherwise relatively serious police drama was probably one of the reason of why it wasnīt very successful.
  • Joan of Arcadia:A Magic Realism Dramedy which also contains some elements of a police drama (Mostly in the parts related with Joan's father) high school romance and many religious/spiritual themes.
  • Glee especially in its first season. It meshes things like oral sex jokes with the teeny angst of Degrassi and the kind of anvillicious messages you'd expect from an 80s kids cartoon along with the cutesy singing appeal of Kidz Bop and The Wiggles. Based on comments from the writers, it eventually decided it was mainly for Tweens.
  • This is, allegedly, the problem with Spaniard fiction series in general. The networks who made them try to appeal to all the niches possible (meaning that they want everybody in the family, from the little kid to the elderly grandma, watching them), while also maintaining the thing as clean and white as possible, regardless of its actual time slot (even if the thing ends airing at Otaku O'Clock despite being cleaner than a Care Bears episode). This approach sometimes gave memorable family series, but on most cases it resulted in deeply conflicted products that oscillated between Glurgey, Narmy, and We're Still Relevant, Dammit. Also, they don't have standardized time durations (alleged Sit Coms and Dom Coms with episodes lasting up to 70 minutes instead of the standard 23 or 42), which make them virtually unreleasable on most countries.

    Western Animation 
  • This may be why Dan Vs. never got much of a mainstream audience. It's a Black Comedy that occasionally deals with mature themes (such as murder and marital problems), has a Heroic Comedic Sociopath as the protagonist, and sometimes heads into very dark territory (one episode ends with the implication that a character is going to be raped). It's also filled to the brim with wacky slapstick, surreal plots, and there's little to no blood or swearing.
  • The Looney Tunes Show could never decide if it wanted to appeal to sitcom fans or fans of classic Looney Tunes, and suffered for it.


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