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Cerebus Syndrome / Fan Works

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Examples of fanfiction and other fan works getting progressively more serious.

  • Misadventures Of The Baby Batbros started out as a lighthearted tale about Tim's joining the Batclan earlier with some dark elements because it's set in Gotham. Then Jason dies offscreen and it's notable that Red Rising is the darkest entry in the series, as it deals with the fallout of his death and Tim's attempt to prevent Batman from falling apart.
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  • Babysitter From Heaven was a story that started as fluff about the younger Loud siblings forming a friendship with Carol Pingrey, before quickly becoming more dramatic during the climax. Then a sequel known as Out of the Way shows that Lori had crossed the Despair Event Horizon because of her actions in that earlier fic's climax.
  • The tone of Ruby and Nora was already pretty shaky, with the first two stories having their own Knight of Cerebus, but when Father Scorch killed Ren things got even more devastating.
  • Zenith, Darkness, Reverie, a Death Note fanfiction, commences with a rock-climbing, Redditing nightcore fan locating a Death Note. It's destined to become a relatively light, humorous fanfic, of course. By chapter five (or approximately there), the protagonist is soliloquizing about obliterating humanity. By chapter fourteen, she has committed over one thousand murders.
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  • The Child of Love: This story starts off as a dramatic but mostly romantic tale with bits of lighthearted comedy. In the chapter 4 the story begins turning darker when it is revealed Gendo has designs upon Asuka and her baby. From that point the dramatic, dark elements increase and overtook the comedic ones.
  • The Lion King Adventures starts off as a cute, comedic adventure series featuring Simba and Nala starting a romance as cubs. However, it evolves into a dark, gritty drama, rife with character deaths and tragedy.
  • While the story was never all that lighthearted to begin with, Racer and the Geek has definitely been going this way, starting from about chapter 3 with the introduction of gunponies, but with some fairly meaningful foreshadowing showing up in chapter 2. Considering who the author is, this is not unexpected.
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  • Pedestal started out as a lighthearted fic about the narrator's Pokémon journey. Halfway though, things suddenly get much, much worse.
  • The Tamers Forever Series. To give the man due credit, though, he never completely abandons the humour; in fact, several scenes from later books are absolutely hilarious. The drama is taken Up to Eleven during Silent Sorrow. The author says it best:
    "When 'Tamers Forever' was originally conceived, it was supposed to be a ten-story series mainly concerning a Takato/Rika relationship. It was supposed to be more of a romantic comedy, however, I realized my strong point wasn't comedy, as I unconsciously deepened and filled the plot with questions and secrets."
  • New Tamaran has more mature content that its parent show, but it still begins as a fairly light-hearted superhero story. Then a certain someone shows up at the wedding...
  • Nine Knackered Souls started as the Red vs. Blue cast thrown into the wonderful Sugar Bowl world of ponies, and trying and failing to fit in. Then Maine appears....
  • In Ace Combat: The Equestrian War, despite things going well for the ponies for majority of the war, the griffins always find a way to get them on the edge. Then chapter 15 comes.
  • Six Days the Animorphs Were Idiots begins as the crackiest of Crack Fic, with silly events happening and no real plot to speak of. Marco takes acid and hallucinates the brightly colored clouds on the book covers, Vissers 1 and 3 go on a date, Cassie forms a whale-worshiping cult. But the cast ends up hijacking a Yeerk spacecraft and travel to the Andalite homeworld, and the plot takes a turn for something that would not be out of place in the original book series. The sequel/prequel fanfic, The Other Attack begins with roughly the same level of serious that the first fanfic ended with.
  • Clash of the Elements Part 1 starts out with a little bit of humor and some of the light-heartedness you'd come to expect from a Mario game, but as time goes on and more details get revealed, everything starts becoming rather grim, culminating in the final battle where everything pretty much goes to hell and even when things are resolved it is a rather Bittersweet conclusion...
  • Calvin and Hobbes: The Series is mostly comedy, but it gets a fair amount more adventurous with each passing season. The Season Finales are quite dramatic, however. Taken Up to Eleven in the Series Finale, Black Rain, with an open that could pass for a slasher film, and Dr. Thunderstorm and Shadow possibly die at the end. Oh, and Slender Man appears. And he's a good guy.
  • God Save the Esteem begins by exploring the quirks of having Daria be raised by punks instead of yuppies. By the end, her father has nearly died, Daria has nearly been killed, a friend is in psychiatric treatment, the school has been shut down for good thanks to a prank that Daria pulled on the cheerleaders, and martial law is declared, culminating in an epic battle of punks vs. police (with the National Guard preparing to move in).
  • The Intercontinental Union Of Disgusting Characters is a series about exploiting the loopholes in the 1st Edition AD&D rules. But by the middle of The Sick Kids, well... just try reading the final moments of Sick Sword's life without getting a lump in your throat. (Or the funeral for Ringman in The Intercontinental Proliferation of Disgusting Characters.)
  • Children of Time is a Doctor Who/Sherlock Holmes Crossover that goes from typical Doctor Who adventure and angst to Darker and Edgier in the three-part finale, helped along by a definite Knight of Cerebus, Professor Moriarty. Holmes himself does a Face–Heel Turn.
  • My Little Alicorn starts out as a quirky comedy about Celestia being turned into a filly and Twilight and Luna having to put up with her antics while they also struggle to effectively rule the country until they can turn Celestia back to normal. Eventually though, things get much more serious and dark as we're shown how no one has forgiven Luna for her crimes as Nightmare Moon, we see just how self serving and manipulative the Canterlot nobility is, Blueblood becomes increasingly violent and deranged as he becomes obsessed with getting revenge on the Mane Six for the events of The Best Night Ever, and we get a firsthand look at how dark and graphic Discord's reign over Equestria, and the war to topple him was. And this is all before the appearance of an Ax-Crazy sorcerer who has murdered literally millions in his quest for immortality.
  • Getting Back on Your Hooves begins as a Slice of Life fic dealing with Trixie...well, trying to get back on her hooves with assistance of the mane six. While some serious moments, its still comical and Trixie's mess ups are presented comically. Then the Cutie Mark Crusaders decide to try and find a camping spot in the Everfree Forest, forcing Trixie and Fluttershy to go on a dangerous adventure to save them...and then Checker Monarch enters the story and pushes the plot in a direction more in tune with the two-parters of the actual series.
  • The Nuptialverse: The first story, Post Nuptials, is a W.A.F.F. about the Mane Six dealing with the Guilt Complexes that resulted from not believing Twilight about the impostor Princess Cadence and their friendships coming out stronger for it. Then Families comes out and, on top of having to still deal with Spike's guilt and Pinkie's personal problems with her family, they also have to deal with a conspiracy to discredit and usurp Princess Celestia one member of which happens to be Scootaloo's total monster of a father. And that's not even mentioning the side story Metamorphosis, which explores Queen Chrysalis' incredibly dark Start of Darkness.
  • The MLP fanfic Trixie has a Problem, by the author of Ask Twixie Genies, starts out as a comedic Slice of Life fic where Trixie is accidentally turned into a human, and the hijinks that ensue as Twilight struggles to cure her. Then Human Trixie is kidnapped by the Apple Family, who in this story turn out to be cannibals. And then comes chapter 6, where Applejack murders Twilight just because she tried to save Trixie.
  • The Ask a Pony blog Ask Jappleack started off with Surreal Humour, Black Comedy, Crosses the Line Twice, and the likes. But after Applebloom dies, and Jappleack is asked "What's the point of growing apples?", Jappleack goes through a bit of an existential crisis. Much drama follows. Not to mention what happens with the .MOV series, which started as a Black Comedy parody bordering Toilet Humour starring Applejack (Jappleack in the series). After a Kaiju version of Discord is unleashed in the world, it becomes an arc-driven story, Killing main characters, such as Apple Bloom and Rainbow Dash and transforming its universe into a Crapsack World.
  • The Fan Fic Sonic Evil Reborn Zero. Already a Deconstruction Fic, the story makes a sharp turn southward at the start of the second arc when Sonic abruptly, for seemingly no reason, turns towards the dark side to join Eggman and Wikke (it's so abrupt even Eggman isn't prepared) and, immediately after, goes on a genocidal rampage through Station Square. Before this, it had been like a darker Sonic Adventure , with some chapters dedicated solely towards comedy and others towards drama, but this was the turning point where it remained dark. Amy's misery makes it worse.
  • When Innortal published his first time loop stories, the characters were just screwing around with their canon. Then Saphroneth came along and started his My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic loops, not only codifying the Infinite Loops setting but deconstructing parts of the premise, though the plot was still mostly the characters screwing around. The Mega Man loops open with their reboot being represented as a garbled datastream and an entire reality being obliterated, necessitating a three-way anchorship and traumatizing Rock, Roll, and Blues.
  • In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, post episode 5, the characters' morale and the tone of events in the story have taken an increasingly dark turn. This is best exemplified by the episode 10 epilogue, which is a nonstop string of tragic events. Episode 11 is the darkest one yet, but has hopeful moments that become most prominent in chapter 11.
  • Happens across the entirety of the Mass Vexations trilogy. The first two parts are a relatively lighthearted romp through the Mass Effect series, with a sense of humor that wasn't afraid to tap into Medium Awareness at some points. The third fic ends with a Class X-2 Apocalypse How over Earth.
  • In Crowns of the Kingdom, the cartoony pratfall type gags taper off as the plot heats up.
  • Sonic X: Dark Chaos starts a lot like the original third season of Sonic X. It doesn't take long before the heroes realize just how messed up the galaxy really is. And then there's Episode 74...
  • The Dear Sweetie Belle Continuity starts out with some family drama but is overall quite optimistic- up until Time Turner cameos in Morning Glory to deliver sudden Foreshadowing, cemented by the very end of Phases of the Moon (which takes place first anyway). If one reads in publication order, the ending of "The Sin of Envy" has this effect as well, but it is meant to be part of a relatively self-contained arc (and also takes place after the other moments).
  • Constant Temptation is a lighthearted, fluffy Romantic Comedy until Beyond Birthday shows up.
  • My Little Portal is exactly what it sounds like: a fusion of its namesakes, with Twilight Sparkle and various personality cores based on her friends traversing a test course. Sounds like silly fun, right? Aside from occasional dark hints of Back Story and a slightly sinister atmosphere (much like Portal, at that), it is... for just about four episodes, until we learn just how everypony got there: Canterlot was sacked by the changelings a decade before and Celestia and Luna were killed, which we get to see in gory detail, and the amnesiac Twilight is expected to be rehabilitated and lead La Résistance.
  • Hear my Song! used to be a lighthearted fluffy fic. Then, it started to take the focus off Miku and Luka and onto other characters. Though there were a lot of dark points, pretty much everything involving Haku counting as one, things didn't get really dark until IA and Yukari entered the plot. And at that point, things went to hell.
  • Star Wars: Light in Dark Time started out as a lighthearted Troll Fic with some Crack Fic elements; however, starting from chapter 3 onward, the series takes a more serious turn, introducing dangerous villains, serious deaths, and a cohesive plot.
  • The Legend of Cynder Series starts off as mostly a comedy, with the focus being 'what would happen if Cynder replaced Spyro?' as well as generally poking fun at the Fridge Logic and Headscratchers the original series presents. (Cynder calling out the guardians for sending a kid dragon to dangerous places while they wait behind, Cynder flying over most enemies and tough areas instead of fighting them, and in general finding ways to cheese a lot of the bosses in the series by fighting them in ways they weren't intended to.) All this continued until Cynder reached Boyzitbig, where the series experiences a Wham Episode where Cynder watches as a pregnant mole is killed in front of her, and she couldn't do anything to save her. Though the series is still not above poking fun at Fridge Logic and Headscratchers, the story in general gets a lot more serious since then, and doesn't gloss over the fact that the characters are in a war in which they're slowly losing ground...
  • The My Little Pony fanfiction The Lost Element starts off as a Slice of Life story wherein the main character gets transported to Equestria and has to deal with being the first human to exist there. While the story does take a temporary dark turn when Diamond Tiara tricks James into hiding in the Everfree Forest in fear of having broken an outdated law that prevented sexual intercourse between a human and pony, and he in turn discovers Sunny Town, where the ponies turn into zombies at nighttime, it goes back to the usual lighthearted plotline of the first few chapters. The story takes another trip into the darkness with the discovery that the ponies at Sunny Town murdered a filly for having a cutie mark, before dumping her corpse into an abandoned house and being cursed by Princess Luna to roam the night for all eternity until they atoned for their sins, as well as the return of ightmare Moon, which sets off a story arc involving the serious injury of several characters. The story ONCE AGAIN goes back to the regularly scheduled daily life observation, until things go to utter crap with the return of Discord, which leads to James witnessing all his friends turning away from him, and him even being dumped by Fluttershy. This causes him to slip into a grief induced madness that causes him to trick Discord into a fight to the death where James beats the crap out of Discord, tears off his wings, eats them, dismembers him, tears the Elements of Harmony out of his chest, and finally kills him. To make it worse, all of James's friends get to watch as all this happens, including Rainbow Dash, who wasn't corrupted by Discord.
    • To make it worse, the author then immediately put the story on hiatus so he could write an EVEN MORE depressing story where James gets killed in the battle with Discord and the Mane 6 have to deal with the repercussions, opting to finish this story before continuing the main one.
  • Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality starts off as a frequently hilarious fic about a brilliant Ravenclaw Harry who plans to overturn the Wizarding World through the application of Reason and Science! The laughs have been few and far between since Hermione was brutally killed by Mountain Troll, thereby triggering a prophecy suggesting that Harry will destroy the world that has even Voldemort himself in a panic.
  • While it was never light per se, Young Justice: Darkness Falls takes a sharp turn into danger and darkness on chapter 40, which has the partial destruction of Watchtower by the forces of Apokalips and the scattering of several team members.
  • The Demesne Of The Reluctant Twilight Sparkle is in large part a Slice of Life story dealing with Twilight's (increasingly less) reluctant sudden sovereignty over Ponyville and the surrounding lands, courtesy of disused laws and a gift from Luna. Then it turns out that so many nobles now know that they have claims to their own demesnes that they threaten to plunge Equestria into civil war.
  • The Equestrian Wind Mage starts out with a relatively lighthearted first season as Vaati adjusts to life in Equestria. Then Dethl shows up, and his presence reveals that Equestria has caught the eye of none other than Majora himself, who now intends to bring Equestria under his dominion, by any means necessary.
  • I Against I, Me Against You starts with Twilight Sparkle's hapless adventures with Church and the other Blood Gulch boys, but gets progressively darker as more of Equestria's connection to Project Freelancer is revealed.
  • Intercom starts out as a comedic and very heartwarming story revolving around Riley meeting her emotions. However, it begins to turn into a Tear Jerker drama when the story starts focusing more on Riley's major concerns of Hearing Voices and a Loss of Identity.
  • The Racket-Rotter Chronicles starts off as a collection of light-hearted vignettes about two pre-made characters from The Sims 3, until the resident Knight of Cerebus is introduced. Then the story takes a turn into a downright gory string of deaths and torture.
  • The Contractually Obligated Chaos series has taken this route. The original story, which was supposed to be the only story, is quirky and bears strong resemblance to an episode of the cartoon which inspired it. When it was expanded into a series, it kept some of the lighthearted elements of the first installment but also became darker and more serious, particularly with regards to the Arc Villains.
  • The MLP Fan Fic When a Pony Calls starts out as a very lighthearted story, about a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fan named Soren, (Not the character from the show) accidentally switching bodies with Lyra. Cue lots of slapstick, awkward situations, and Soren and his parents trying to - surprisingly casually - adjust to the situation for the time being. Then Soren gets bitten by his own dog and almost dies thanks to his/her uncontrollable magic. And that is just the tip of the iceberg, as we later find out a natural memory implant in Lyra's horn is slowly over riding Soren's memories, the magical environment of Equestria is slowly morphing his original body into a pony, the combined pressure of the above is starting to drive him/her insane. This leads to Twilight putting a spell on him/her, to keep him from hurting himself, which leads to him being unable to save a child, and he comes within inches of killing Twilight, because of the above. Ultimately leading to a Bittersweet Ending, where Soren has to start his life anew in Equestria, as Silver Script.
  • Marvel/DC: After Hours has this in a big way. What started off as an uber-topical superhero satire slowly started to become a kind of uber-fanfic, placing the gamut of comic book characters in a world with very flexible rules. The first series only even begins to have a plot at episode three, the second series consists of five 20-minute episodes, and is so plot-centric that the jokes start to become slightly forced (most of them come from the Green Goblin being on tranquilizers, and then pretending to be on tranquilizers) it remains to be seen how long the creators can keep up the game before they run out of plot. They still do intermittent comedic side-series as well, which have thus far retained the comedic element completely. It seems to be the method RandomGuy is adopting. Start off a new series with comedy and delve into darker elements by the finale, rise and repeat. Lampshaded in the teaser for Season 3 — "Zero Hour". Season 2 is explicitly a Deconstruction of Darker and Edgier.
  • "Sweetie's Big Race" from Friendship is Witchcraft is a cute song about Sweetie Belle racing and hanging out with Applejack. The last 20 seconds is about existentialism. It's justified in-series because Sweetie couldn't rhyme anymore.
  • Dawn of Shimmer, an installment in the ridiculous EQUESTRIA GIRLS parodies, while still being incredibly silly, is more dramatic than the other episodes. It basically involves Sunset Shimmer, the villain of the official movie, showing up and causing trouble. [[spoilerDiscord winds up sacrificing himself to stop her. Fluttershy pays a visit to his grave and gives him a tearful send-off, and then gets crushed by a giant Jigglypuff. And there's a subplot about Queen Chrysalis being The Dragon to Lauren Faust and plotting to take down Hasbro.]] This from a series where a regular episode involves apples shooting lasers and a cutout of Nicolas Cage getting screwed over.
  • The PreDespair Kids begins with many of the Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc characters enjoying their lives at Hope's Peak Academy. Even before veering away into an Alternate Universe with Mukuro's Heel–Face Turn, it was inevitable that those happy times were going to end. That's when the 1000th page update occurs, with Mahiru, Ibuki, and Mikan discovering Hiyoko's body in the gym.
  • My Little Animaniacs is about hilarity ensuing after Twilight summons the Animaniacs to Ponyville. It gets more serious in the second half when it introduces a monster that's kidnapping everyone.
  • Freakin Gensokyo began with Brad romping around the Scarlet Devil Mansion, getting into fights, stealing end tables and beating up fairies, all in good fun of course. Now his best friend from the Outside World is murdering people and keeping child prostitutes, and as of Chapter 94 some figures from Gensokyo's past are coming into the fold.
    • An early example appears in Chapter 38, where Brad and Marisa almost die of hypothermia thanks to the former's antics.
  • As Dreams Are Made On starts with a fictionalized version of the author landing in Bella Swan's body on the day she arrives in Forks, arranging a meeting with Alice Cullen, and inadvertently triggering Love at First Sight. The author admits she started it as a lark, and the early chapters aren't too serious, though more serious elements are gradually introduced as the protagonist (referred to out of text as Cass/Bella or CB) begins to open up to Alice and other characters. Around midway through the story, however, the stakes do rise considerably, as CB's power is revealed to be dangerous to her health (and even causes brain damage), and later on CB's best friend from her original Earth makes herself known, it's revealed that she and CB come from an alternate 2025 and not 2015 as CB originally thought, CB's original Earth has been destroyed, magic is in play, and there are implications that CB herself may have become some kind of Eldritch Abomination in waiting. And that's just the first volume in an expected trilogy, plus side stories.
  • While Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness starts out relatively light-hearted, similar to the anime, each subsequent act gets Darker and Edgier, featuring such things as rape, Cold-Blooded Torture, terrorism, and war. Word of God confirms that Act VII will be the darkest yet, and that unlike the previous acts where Death Is Cheap for Tsukune and the gang, All Deaths Final will be in full effect.
  • Not Your Enemy is the latest Invader Zim fanfic series created by the same person who did the HTF + MLP Creepypasta series, It serves as a Fan Sequel to the original series and the Netflix movie. When Zim finds out that his Tallests Red and Purple told him that his mission was all a lie to exile him from the Irken Empire and that GIR was not advanced, but made out of spare parts and garbage. When Zim tries committing suicide by jumping into water, Zita rescues him from drowning and she and Dib Membrane comfort him. When Zim and GIR confront the Tallests, they began fighting them damn well. Sadly, GIR was put down by the Tallests, and using a device to erase all of his data from his body. Thus, causing Zim to snap after thinking that GIR is dead. It gets even more shocking as Zim kills the Almighty Tallests by shooting lasers at them repeatedly. There’s also an original character named Syss, who lost her SIR named Eros in the Florpus.
  • The Portal starts out relatively light-hearted with the main character adapting to his new life as a dragon, enrolling in a Dragon Academy, and meeting his new girlfriend, Storm. However, once the Dark Ones come into the story, things take a much darker turn.
  • Tokimeki PokéLive! and TwinBee started out as a series that only had lighthearted one shot Slice of Life stories until the "Ideal Hero" Side Story arc (Itself an adaptation of "The King Returns" from Pokémon Generations.) was written, which finally gave the PokéLive! series it's own brand of Shonen-like action/adventure stories which also up the stakes as well in addition to the Special Stories on occasion revealing terrifying bits of lore for the series as well as the crossover arcs also upping the stakes just like the Side Story arcs do!
    • The short lived Alternate Universe spinoff Tokimeki Splatoon, which crossed Splatoon with PokéLive! especially upped the stakes more so than even the main series' Side Stories and Special Stories as well as the drama.
  • Children of Remnant: Considering the premise, this story has a surprising amount of funny and lighthearted moments, with stories including the Claimed attending a party and Emerald going on a date with Neopolitan - all of which goes to hell when Kali attempts to assassinate Jaune.
  • Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail: Most of Chloe's adventures on the Train in Act 1 are relatively low-stakes; most of her more dangerous trials are covered in Flashbacks, while most of the Cars we see are more pleasant and enjoyable. Most of the drama and angst stems from her strained and shattered relationships with Goh, Ash and her father, along with disturbing revelations about how badly she was bullied by her classmates. Act 2 sees her and her companions starting to hunt for the Apex in earnest, raises questions about what happens to passengers who die on the Train, and extends the Crossover to Silent Hill through the Fog Car, with Walter scheming to enact some sort of ritual using several passengers. Meanwhile, back in Vermillion, Goh's going through Sanity Slippage, and the Unown get unleashed by Parker. Then while Act 3 has the Pokémon world slowly trying to recover form the fall out, on the Infinity Train, Chloe has finally entered Silent Hill and must confront its monsters, the Apex and rescue the three Pokémon Trainers that were being used for Walter's plans.
  • The Avantasia Protag AU series definitely. It starts out just being episodic one-shot chapters of the main characters being roommates and dealing with each other's idiosyncrasies in a pretty lighthearted way, then becomes progressively darker and more serious. Some of this is because canon demons and villains start appearing and some is due to the characters' canon personality quirks and experiences being taken to logical results, for example Scarecrow's canon ambiguous mental health issues get explained and lead to problems and Aaron's obsession with time starts becoming less lighthearted and more concerning. Each turn towards greater darkness seems like the worst it can get until the next. The series got a timeline after about 15 or 20 chapters to organize the events into chronological order since it started building on itself (plus the individual chapter collections and longer multi-chapter fics are published out of order, although the bulk are progressively later in the timeline). It's important to note though that the darkness and seriousness are in the events that happen and not the main characters' relationships with each other, as they bond closer together as a family instead of just roommates and stick together no matter what's thrown at them.
  • Becoming A True Invader starts out very silly and nonsensical, but gets darker and more serious as time goes by.

Alternative Title(s): Fanfic


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