Nickelodeon went in this direction with their SNICK block in 1992, which consisted of shows that were considerably darker and more teen-focused than the otherwise perfectly kid-friendly programming of their main television block. In particular, Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Roundhouse were among the darkest and edgiest programs Nick had ever put out at that point. The former was a horror-themed series with some genuinely scary/creepy moments (which were sometimes undercut by the show's low budget), while the latter was a single-stage sketch show with numerousGetting Crap Past the Radar jokes and scenes. Unfortunately, while AYAOTD proved to be quite popular and lasted several seasons before cancellation, Roundhouse turned out to be a little too edgy for Nickelodeon's target audience and was replaced after two years with the Lighter and SofterAll That.
Louis Theroux's documentary work provides one of the rare examples of this in non-fiction: whilst his early series Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends was light and silly in tone and investigated amusingly weird and kooky subcultures (UFO nuts, pro-wrestling, swingers, bodybuilders) or in some cases took a fairly fluffy take on potentially dark subject matter (porn, Thai brides), his later documentaries have veered into much, much darker and more serious territory, including neo-Nazis, crystal meth addiction, the Coalinga centre for the treatment of paedophiles, the Westboro Baptist Church and life in prison.
From 1995 until 1998, Belgian Network VT 4 was this in comparison to the other Belgian networks that were airing at the time. They even pretended that they were illegal. In reality though they were only a Rule-Abiding Rebel. The headquarters of the owners were located in London and they send their content through U-turn construction. That means that they have to abide to the British law instead of the Belgian one.
The 2018 adaptation of The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie. The novel is already one of her darker works from that period, but this adaptation went to great lengths to make it as grim as possible. Many characters were depicted in a very negative light with Inspector Crome being openly antagonistic against Poirot and the press being openly hostile as well. Many smaller characters are depicted as card-carrying members of the British Union of Fascists (a plot line that goes nowhere). Even Poirot's backstory is grimmer than him simply being a refugee re-settling in England because of the Great War. It creates a very odd, almost uncomfortable mood for people used to the more lighter but still serious Poirot adaptations.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gets progressively darker each season. This reaches its peak in season four due to the introduction of Ghost Rider and the LMD storyline.
The second season introduces the Inhumans and showcases their distrust of humanity - not helped by the fact that a radical group called the Watchdogs are trying to wipe them out. The season closes with Daisy's mother (the leader of the Inhumans) turning on Shield and trying to kill her own daughter.
Daisy becomes the anti hero known as Quake in season four due to Lincoln's death in season three.
Ghost Rider is driven by the spirit of vengeance and straight up kills criminals. Robbie Reyes first becomes the Ghost Rider due to a car crash which killed him and crippled his younger brother and the spirit of vengeance drives him to punish criminals - the very first episode of the season shows him torturing someone for information.
For Ki.Ka, a German public channel aimed at kindergarten-aged kids at the least and young teens at the most, it was the teen drama Allein gegen die Zeit that crossed some borders. It treated such wonderfully whimsical topics like school hostage crises, terrorism, fascism, attempted mass murder, deadly viruses, had a rather unvilified take on ethnic youths (Turks in particular), and a less-than-family-friendly death or two.
And Then There Were None (2015): The miniseries goes for this to some extent, including scenes such as Marston taking cocaine, Rogers beating his wife, gorier deaths than those described in the book, and very brutal flashbacks to the murders committed by each victim. And to top all that, all but two of the indirect deaths caused by the guests in the novels are turned into straight up murders committed by their own hands, presumably to make said flashbacks more interesting.
Arrow Season two and three were darker then the already dark first season. In the second and third seasons, it deals with more mature topics and shows Oliver's weakness. In season two, Oliver's actions created the villain Deathstroke. In season three, Oliver joins the league of shadows and fights his former team, and it is later revealed that he believed that he needed to stop them all on his own. It also shows how Oliver thought the best way to defeat them was to be like them. In season five, the show becomes even darker when it has Oliver refuses to admit his mistakes and the new villain tries to destroy Oliver and everything that he stands for; this is also the season where Oliver decides Thou Shalt Not Kill isn't quite working, and also has flashbacks to his most violent days in the past, beyond anything in even season one. The reason why season five is one of the darkest seasons is due to season four getting negative press and negative reviews, as it was when they tried to make the show more lighthearted.
Banshee The already dark TV show becomes more grim and more depressing as the series progress, the people who started out as good people become more corrupt and broken.
Battlestar Galactica (2003). The Continuity Reboot is one of the more successful — and for that matter, logical — cases of darkening. The original Battlestar Galactica (1978) wasn't exactly WAFFy, but it did devolve into 1970s camp a lot. In the reboot characters die, the show had onscreen rape and implied rape, the show had onscreen sex. As the show progressed it became darker every season: during the second season, Pegasus' admiral allowed torture of Cylons and would kill anyone who would not follow her orders; she also forced civilians into the war and destroyed civilian ships. The third season has death squads that go though New Caprica and arrest/ kill anyone who tries to fight the Cylons. When the humans escape New Caprica the people who were in though death squads are secretly killed due to people wanting vengeance. The show was also more violent and much more religious.
The 2007 revival of The Bionic Woman. Did we mention that it was produced by David Eick, the co-Exec Producer of the Edgier & Darker Battlestar Galactica? Oh, yeah... in the show's short lifetime, BSG stars Katee Sackhoff and Aaron Douglas came in to help add that extra touch of dark.
Blackadder is a very odd example since dark humour is always its main characteristic and each season's different elements can be darker or more lighthearted depending on the direction. Thanks to a more cinematic appeal, the first season has a grittier, more gothic atmosphere with emphasis on the dung part of the Dung Ages and the squalor that people are forced to live in. Because of its budget and a more visual approach, it has the most brutal onscreen scenes of violence and often blurs the line between black comedy and historical dramedy with a very morose and sad ending. Even its soundtrack is complemented by grim and ominous church organ music. Blackadder II was much lighter (though not without its dark moments) because of the changes in all the aforementioned areas. Blackadder the Third, while still following the second series' direction, is edgier due to the absence of the slapstick of the first season and picturesque quality of the second season. In particular, Blackadder is shown to intentionally kill a larger number of people, with a higher proportion of them being undeserving than the previous ones, though the series is the only one of the four which doesn't feature an ending where everyone dies. Blackadder Goes Forth is the darkest and the most tragic series, with the main characters living permanently under the shadow of death, and a classic Downer Ending.
Blue Heelers took a big one in 2004 with the station being bombed, killing Jo and Clancy, and Tom's wife raped and murdered. Dark, grisly crimes would become more of a forefront and rather than glossing over the details it became akin to something like CSI Mount Thomas or Criminal Minds Australia.
The TV series is a considerable case of "Darker and Edgier" than the movie, which was a high-camp spoof of horror movies. Though most viewers agree that the tone of the TV series was a marked improvement, the series continually topped itself with even moodier stories. And a Darker and Edgier remake of the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie is currently under development.
When the TV series was rescued from cancellation, there was a sharp turn away from light comedy. The reasons for this are twofold: Buffy was figuratively and literally killed at the end of Season 5, then resurrected when the series was bought by UPN. Secondly, the series was now under Marti Noxon's purview, as series creator Joss Whedon did not return as showrunner (though he remained a producer). Every character underwent a deconstruction of their earlier, comedic roles: Buffy, having been yanked back from a blissful afterlife, became a borderline-suicidal, hedonistic loose cannon. Willow the witch began dabbling in black magic, with animal sacrifices and the like. The slacker student, Xander, did not miraculously become Cary Grant once he reached adulthood; rather, he ended up dirt-poor like the rest of his family, and he still had very little understanding of how to attract women. Giles, the fuddy-duddy who spends every evening curled up with a book, similarly had no romantic prospects; his duties as Watcher were sapping the life from him. And so on, and so forth. There were attempts to emulate Whedon's off-the-cuff meta humor, but this was an entirely different show. Buffy no longer embraced and poked fun at tropes.
Wishverse Buffy is one of if not the darkest heroes in the Buffyverse.
Angel was an even Darker and Edgier spin-off of the already-becoming-Darker-and-Edgier Buffy, dealing with more mature issues, having a higher cast turnover, and including a higher mortality rate. Like its parent show, the angst was ramped up with each passing year. By the final season, the heroes were stabbing each other with sharp weapons more often than the bad guys, and Buffy's faction had completely disowned them.
Chespirito: Most of Chespiritos first episodes were family friendly slapstick comedy and light-hearted jokes with his classic characters like Chavo, Chapulin Colorado, Dr. Chapatin, etc. Later seasons of Chespirito changed the tone and focus only in former thieves Chompiras and Botija with much more adult-oriented plots, sexual innuendos, social issues and adult humor i.e. Darker and Edgier. Cast member Maria Antonieta de las Nieves even said that Chespiritos motivation for the change in tone was because of this trope.
Continuum steadily becomes darker every season. In the second season, it shows decapitated heads. As the series progresses, the police become more and more like a private military and use any means necessary in order to stop terrorism. In the second season, it ends with Carlos leaving the police and Kara and him on the run. One of the FBI agents are killed and it later shows his dead, decaying body.
Parodied on CSI (of all places) in the episode "A Space Oddity", where the Darker and Edgier and Bloodier and Gorier revival of a Star Trek-like show, "Astro Quest", was revealed to SF convention goers by the murder-victim-to be/new show's producer. This Battlestar-esque Edgier version was so bad that one of the con-goers leaps up and screams to the producer, "You suck!" The yeller was Ron D. Moore, creator and Exec Producer of the new Battlestar series, in a real-life Stealth Parody (embedded within a Parody Retcon) of what happened to HIMSELF when he introduced the "re-imagined" BSG, back in 2002. The episode, incidentally, was written by David Weddle and Bradley Thompson, writers of many Battlestar episodes—who got to throw away their BSG Series Bible and use any and all Technobabble that came to mind. During this scene, actress Grace Park (the Cylon Sharon and now-star of Yet Another Edgier and Darker remake, Hawaii Five-O) was in the audience, looking equally appalled, to complete the inside joke. Between the many Battlestar references and Star Trek homages, this was certainly one of the Television's funniest moments. Fortunately for the CSI 'verse the creator of the D&E/BSG version is also the episode's Asshole Victim.
CSI: New York was supposed to be the Darker and Edgier counterpart to the Lighter and SofterCSI: Miami: Mac Taylor lost his wife in 9/11; the lab was in a dingy 100-year old stone building; the area where the deceased were identified by their loved ones was a cramped, dark room where the corpses were lifted into the light by a hydraulic "elevator"; and liberal abuse of Unnaturally Blue Lighting (lampshaded in the pilot when Mac and H are lit by their respective filters: H is bathed in a warm orange glow while Mac is in cold blue shadow), though it only lasted one season.
Degrassi after Miriam McDonald's departure in 2010. The Degrassi franchise has gone Darker and Edgier many, many times over the years, starting with the transition from The Kids of Degrassi Street (typical crisis; friend's having a tonsillectomy and you're too young to visit them in the hospital) to Degrassi Junior High (typical crisis: Teen Pregnancy). The producers once acknowledged that they re-made the theme song (from being performed by a children's choir to being performed by rock band Jackalope) because of the show's shift in tone during the Emma era. Once the show started featuring storylines about STD outbreaks and school shootings, it no longer felt appropriate to have a bunch of children singing the theme song. They discussed leaving the theme entirely out of Bittersweet Symphony pt. 2.
Season 7 boosts the darkness considerably, due to the "real world" Earthbound setting (except for a trip to an alternate universe Earth at the end of the season), the stories featuring more military attacks and harder science fiction, Grey and Grey Morality and Humans Are Bastards becoming a major theme of the show which had previously been very much about how Humans Are Special, and a new, more serious Doctor to contrast with the comedic Second Doctor.
Season 14 amped up the gore and horror from the previous two seasons as much as possible, and combined it with the departure of the Fourth Doctor's very popular and long-serving companion Sarah Jane, making the atmosphere a lot less cozy. Her replacement was a Proud Warrior Race Girl in a Stripperific outfit who liked to stab people, and her relationship with the Doctor was more distant and vertical, making the Doctor come across as a lot colder. The writing became more cynical, and half the stories were different genres of murder mystery. The Doctor was made a lot funnier to distract from the gore and horror, but it didn't work and the production team got fired due to Moral Guardian pressure.
The Master's portrayal in "The Deadly Assassin". Up until this point he had been a charismatic and almost friendly adversary to the Doctor played by Roger Delgado. This was the first time the character wasn't played by Delgado, and instead was made a rotting husk at the edge of his life and driven purely by hatred, especially for the Doctor. By the same token, the Doctor has none of the compassion for the Master he had before, culminating in a fight to the death after which the Doctor even admits that he hopes the Master has gone for good.
The stage play adaptation of "The Robots of Death" is even darker than the unusually dark story, partly due to Exiled from Continuity issues as the playwright did not have permission to use the character of the Doctor or the companions in the story. The result of this is to change the central character from a Cloud Cuckoo LanderScience Hero who's only there to explore and have a good time into a Deadpan Snarker assassin placed there specifically to murder one of the other characters. The ending also goes from a darkly funny hard-science solution that fits the Doctor's irreverent and ingenious personality to a last-minute hijack from the Fendahl resulting in a gun battle.
The last two seasons of the Classic series focused heavily on increasing the emotional realism, with characters having more realistic reactions to the also-increasing horror and gore. It also began expanding the Doctor's mythos. We also the Doctor's The Chessmaster quality cranked up to the point where even his friends may become pieces on the board. It's when I Did What I Had to Do moments become an explicit part of his character.
When Steven Moffat became the head writer/showrunner and the Eleventh Doctor was introduced, the whole show became quite a bit darker he's pretty much the undisputed king of Nightmare Fuel in Doctor Who, with many of his episodes bordering on pure horror. It stops short of an "every episode is 'Blink'"-level of ramping it up, but it's a scarier galaxy under his pen. The Series 5-7 Myth Arc deconstructs the Doctor's MO and his enemies sincerely believe he will be the undoing of the universe. Interestingly, while the stories get darker, the whimsical character of the Eleventh Doctor and Moff's sitcom-esque dialog maintain humor.
Then there's the Twelfth Doctor. Series 8 alone has Clara Oswald and the Doctor having numerous arguments, her throwing his TARDIS keys into a volcano in an attempt to blackmail him over her boyfriend's death (good thing it's in a dream state), and the season's Big Bad imprisoning dead people in a false Heaven (a stretch that included the infamous "Don't cremate me" line) as a precursor to turning them into an army of Cybermen. Peter Capaldi also gives a far darker portrayal of the Doctor than the last couple of incarnations; he's much more rude, alien, and aloof even when people are dying around him. Over time it becomes clear he is actually amazingly empathetic and compassionate, and he grows even warmer and more whimsical in Series 9... just in time for near-nonstop emotional trauma involving many near-death experiences for him and Clara and the long-term consequences of many of his well-meant decisions. This culminates in a three-episode Season Finale in which his inability to cope with both a cruel betrayal and Clara's actual death, exacerbated by imprisonment in a torture chamber, result in him temporarily becoming The UnfetteredWoobie, Destroyer of Worlds. A most Bittersweet Ending follows.
Also, companions becoming more badass as time goes on is portrayed as not a good thing in this era. (Yeah, we had Davros saying he makes people into weapons in Series 4, but, well, it's Davros.) Going back to the final Eleventh Doctor episodes, Clara takes the usual progression from civilian who's a little smarter than the average governess to someone able to keep up with what's going on around her, but starting with "Flatline" she does a good job of stepping into the Doctor's role too good, in his opinion and becomes increasingly willing to gamble her life, directly leading to his aforementioned climactic ordeal in Series 9.
Series 10 plays with this. The first third is Lighter and Softer as new companion Bill Potts is broken in, but come "Oxygen" things get grim again, with the Monks Trilogy that follows showing things going from bad to worse for a long while before a happy ending is managed. The Vault Story Arc involving Missy's possible redemption serves as a dark backdrop to the whole season, culminating in the Season Finale"World Enough and Time"/"The Doctor Falls", which unleashes Hell on the Doctor and especially Bill on the way to a denouement flush with death, destruction, and straight-up tragedy even as the Doctor reaches new heights of goodness. And then there's a Ray of Hope Ending for the broken, death-seeking Doctor, leading directly into a Grand Finale ("Twice Upon a Time") in which he helps inspire his original self to regenerate, faces an antagonist who isn't actually an antagonist, gets positive closure regarding the fates of all three companions, sees that Everybody Lives, and finally decides to regenerate and keep living to help others using his Final Speech to encourage his next self to "Run fast, laugh hard, be kind." Thus, unlike most Doctors, his Myth Arc sees him become a more uplifting character as it progresses, ending with him proudly embodying kindness (just not niceness).
With its much smaller quantities of humor and less likeable Protagonists, Dollhouse is quite a bit darker than Whedon's other work.
Downton Abbey season 3 edges things up with the Crawleys facing financial ruin, Tom & Sybil getting exiled back to England and finally the double whammy deaths of Sybil and Matthew.
Earth: Final Conflict steadily progresses in this direction with each season. While there are dark undertones even from the start, the first season is more focused on the wonders brought by the Taelons to Earth and the dawning of a new age. Then the main character is seemingly killed off to be replaced by another, and the series grows progressively darker, as it's revealed that the Taelons are a dying race engaged in an endless war with the Jaridians. The fourth season is all about trying to find a way to save the Taelon species. Then alone comes the fifth season, this main character is also seemingly killed off, and a much darker threat is on the horizon. The formerly powerful La Résistance is down to two people, and the villains are a race of vicious animalistic energy vampires.
Emerald City is a dark reimagining of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. NBC and the show's creators advertised the show as "Game of Thrones meets Wizard of Oz". The show is the most violent Wizard of Oz story and turns most characters into antiheroes. The Wizard of Oz is now the ruler of all of Oz and uses tactics such as fear and intimidation in order to get what he wants. Wizard Guards are shown murdering civilians, and Oz has outlawed magic due to it threatening his rule. The Scarecrow is part of the Wizard Guard and is shown murdering people. Dorothy steals from the hospital in order to help her family. In the season one finale, the Wizard is killed by Dorothy's mother.
The Expanse is quite a bit darker than the already somewhat cynical book series it's based on. The main characters are strangers instead of people who have known each other for years and have a falling out, a lot of people get Adaptational Villainy and some of the already quite dark events in the books are even darker here.
Family Matters — with the "Stevil" episodes. For a family friendly sitcom, this is R-rated stuff. But that's only one thing that makes it Darker and Edgier. It's the fact that it's played off for laughs. It seems that in making a comedic villain for halloween episodes, they veered off-course and into The Joker's territory of his properly evil acts becoming even more monstrous because he treats it like a big joke. The Laugh Track didn't dilute the Nightmare Fuel.
It got worse in Season 3 (the second half anyway) in which Barry accidently ran into the future to see Iris murdered by Savitar and Team Flash failing at every turn to prevent it until HR sacrficed himself in her place via chameleon tech. It made even worse when Savitar's true identity was a future version of Barry, created by the abuse of time remnants in an attempt to defeat Savitar, and wanted to kill Iris to secure his own existence. The Stable Time Loop was eventually broken by HR's sarcrifice and Iris fatally shooting him.
Briefly happened with Frasier in season, specifically in the episode "You can't tell a crook by his lover". Roz gets scammed by a group of hardened criminals who are poolers. Daphne, Niles, and Frasier decide to replay them to get their money back, but when it goes wrong, it looks as though they're about to get killed or hurt. Daphne's command to "run for it" saves them as they manage to outwit the crooks and run off.
Game of Thrones spent some time being notably darker than its already dark source material, A Song of Ice and Fire. Whereas the show likes to focus on the violence and sex (and rape), and famously declaring "If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention.", the books remain idealistic, with several of the shows more cynical characters still attempting to be heroes. This was then reversed as soon as the series Overtook the Novels, with the sixth season showing good guys actually achieving concrete things, and some of the novel series' more notorious Karma Houdinis and Invincible Villains actually getting defeated.
A number of characters in the show receive Adaptational Villainy, gaining more villainous traits or becoming less sympathetic. Examples include Stannis, the High Sparrow, Ellaria and Littlefinger.
GARO kicked in, reducing Kamen Rider into a three-story building under its ten-story height. To be short, it is full of monsters which are far, far scarier than your average Kamen Rider, Super Sentai,Ultra Series, or Power RangersMonster of the Week. Oh, and getting touched by their blood begins an infection that leads to a horribly agonizing death. Their hosts are also in tremendous agony; killing the monster kills them, and that is very much an act of mercy. These guys are called the Horrors for a reason! Not to mention all the nudity & sex. IN A TOKUSATSU SHOW!!
The George Lopez Show: For a sitcom, this show is pretty extreme (while still funny). Let us count the ways:
There are multiple character deaths in the series (though none are shown onscreen): George's father Manny, Uncle Joe, Angie's sister-in-law Claudia, mother Emilina and a few others.
At Carmen's first high school, one of her ex-boyfriends spreads a rumor which causes Carmen to become "the school whore" or more accurately "Carmen Hopez. She was unrelentlessly bullied as a result. Even after the boyfriend debunked the rumor, Carmen was still bullied, even implying that some boys tried to rape her. George and Angie knew she would never get her reputation back and Carmen went to private school.
George going to jail for punching his father after he called Benny a cabrona (Spanish for asshole).
One episode deals with Carmen running away from home and becoming a rap groupie after she and George had a pretty intense argument.
A school shooting occurs at Max's school, with the episode focusing on the effect it had on the students.
Carmen's boyfriend Jason has Roid Rage, shatters a lamp and almost attacks Carmen and George.
Veronica's professor/boyfriend starts stalking her and George beats him up (though only one punch is shown on camera).
A sexual predator moves into the neighborhood, with George rallying the neighbors together to start a riot. They calm down once they find out the predator is a woman who deeply regrets her actions. (Max was later found at her house attempting to be raped on purpose.)
Gotham: For the Batman mythos as a whole, this show is, compared to others, one of its darkest adaptations. Even in-universe to a slight extent, while the show was never lighthearted at all, as the series progressed it became even darker and more violent. Many characters were made into psychopaths and shown as corrupt. In most Batman shows/movies/ comics Jim Gordon is shown as a purely morally flawless character, in Gotham Jim Gordon has been forced to break the law on multiple occasions to get anything done, because of his fighting a losing war against an absolutely rotten system and the darkness of human nature, and has killed criminals when he realised that they deserved it and that there was no other way to deal with them and gradually became more of an antihero. The show has a bleak depressing tone where even main characters can die and no one is a pure hero. It eventually got to the point where before the third season was over, a since-Jossed theory stated that the series was set in an alternate universe where Bruce Wayne becomes the supervillain Owlman. That theory alone, even if it was Jossed, should tell someone not familiar with the series how dark things can get.
The Handmaid's Tale: If that's possible for source material that was already pretty dark to begin with. Janine gets an eye ripped out for sassing the Aunts at the reeducation center, and Ofglen is also subjected to female genital mutilation after she's 'reprieved' from being executed for homosexuality.
The first two seasons of The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries had a very light-hearted, humorous tone. Season Three, though... oh dear GOD. It not only dropped Nancy Drew completely, but started off by killing Joe's fiancée in a car wreck (complete with Joe weeping over her body) and having Joe go on a Roaring Rampageof Revenge in response (Last Kiss of Summer). Season Three ditched almost all the light-hearted humor, showed actual dead bodies, and involved more dangerous situations (including references to selling off Joe and a missing woman to white slavers in China huhwhat?) and more conflict between the brothers ("Game Plan" had Frank pulling a gun on Joe). The turn confused the show's teen audience, and lost viewers.
Heroes Reborn (2015) is the much darker sequel to Heroes. In the first episode alone, a bombing kills over a thousand people, including Claire Bennet herself, and people with special abilities are persecuted, even murdered by anti-special extremists. As Noah Bennet puts it, all the specials are either hiding or dead. Even Rene, his former partner dies from a gunshot wound to the heart.
Any Queen song notwithstanding, the series was firmly in the "Living Forever Is Awesome" camp. During the last two years, however, the plot began focusing more on Duncan's pain and alienation of being immortal; this angst eventually carried over into The Raven, the ultimately doomed spin-off. One of the show's directors, Dennis Barry, suggested that the writers were dreading middle age, and that Duncan's existentialist crisis was a reflection of their collective mid-life crisis.
Paradoxically, The Raven was an uneasy mix of this andLighter and Softer. Amanda, the spin-off character, was intended as a Plucky Comic Relief character. To achieve the desired result, Amanda discovered (sixty years after the fact) that an armored truck she once robbed was actually carrying WWI battle plans, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of British troops. Despite this, the show's biggest weakness was its attempts to merge Highlander lore — lopping off heads, etc. — with domesticity and light comedy. There were creative differences over what the general tone should be, and the show ended on a confused coda: the male lead is transformed into an immortal. ...After being poisoned by golf balls filled with green gas by a comical bad guy.
Home and Away took this direction in 2004 with the Summer Bay stalker storyline and has arguably remained the same.
House of Anubis: In season 1, the mystery was finding clues, building a cup, and learning secrets about the house. Season 2 got darker, with curses and much more on the line, not to mention some more intense scenes (including the main villain being sucked into the Egyptian underworld). Season 3, and characters are losing their souls, someone impersonated their mentally ill adoptive sister, and even the romance is becoming more intense. No wonder it's been moved to TeenNick...
iCarly: While "iPsycho" was scary yet had some awesome and humorous moments, the sequel "iStill Psycho" is probably the most dangerous situation Dan Schneider put the gang in.
"iQuit iCarly" explored the strained relationship character study of the comedy pair when the majority of the special was filled with hard-to-watch heated arguments and eventual vindictive web-show ratings-related competition between the two comediennes Carly and Sam after another argumentative web-show comedy pair Fleck and Dave unintentionally manipulated them to turn against each other, which eventually led their feud to nearly cost their lives at the special's climax. While this was the third episode that featured Carly and Sam in a strained relationship and a temporary separation, this special was considerably darker and nearly bleaker then the past two as their feuding was mostly heart-wrenchingly mean-spirited, intense and almost culminated in nearly killing them because of it.
Judge Mathis Season 13, with more cussing with sounds of bleeps unlike previous seasons with less profanity with cuss words muted out.
Among the Heisei era of Kamen Rider, the darkest series to date was not Kamen Rider Kuuga but Kamen Rider Ryuki as even in Kuuga most of the protagonists were definitely good and the main character is a by the book Showa type hero who doesn't get put down for being a Wide-Eyed Idealist. Ryuki however has most of the Riders as bad as their monsters they fight - it's Highlander as a Toku series and revolves around humans trying to kill humans more than anything else; some have sympathetic reasons for seeking the wish the winner will receive but are still trying to kill people; some are as murderous as any villain. Of thirteen Riders, fifteen if the Alternatives count, there are two that you would consider pure "good guys" and they spend most of the series unable to actually steer the course of events as the Big Bad holds all the cards. In the end, everyone dies, and to reset it, one of the remaining main characters must also die. It's complicated, but not only is she gone, but in the new, reset world, no one will ever know that she was their friend, or what she did to save them. One of the final scenes is her aunt, all alone in the Local Hangout that they once ran together.
Some believed that Kamen Rider 555 was the darkest of the Heisei era, as you had important characters dying on a regular basis by dissolving to ash, tragic monsters who are all as human as you or me and often are being coerced into attacking humans by the Big Bads, one of the "good guys" being good purely in that he doesn't want the villains to kill all humans and take over the world - but outside that, he's a Manipulative Bastard who'll do anything to anyone to get what he feels he deserves, and the even darker novel (double the Family-Unfriendly Violence and add a dose of rape.) Regardly, both Ryuki and 555 are commonly accepted as being the darkest rider series of them all.
In a similar tone to the Japanese Kamen Rider series, Kamen Rider Dragon Knight is this for North American tokusatsu. KRDK regularly dealt with betrayal, distrust, questionable motives and underlying truths in initially good-looking characters, and the MIB were "good guys" with highly questionable methods and even played a part in The Sociopath JTC's Start of Darkness. It also did away with the formulaic Monster of the Week in lieu of the "season-long movie chopped into episode-length segments" format the Japanese KR series used from Kuuga through Kabuto. There was comic relief in the form of Lacey, Trent, and Aunt Grace, but Aunt Grace got Chuck Cunningham Syndrome midseason and Lacey said Screw This, I'm Outta Here! once things started to get too hot. They had to deal with Never Say "Die"... and did it by replacing death with something worse. While still considerably lighter than Kamen Rider Ryuki, KRDK deserves mention for making itself a name in tokusatsu circles as an attempt to make a US Kamen Rider without tampering with what makes a Kamen Rider a Kamen Rider by toning it down to a Power Rangers rip-off/copy.
Kamen Rider Gaim might have a bright fruit theme to it, but its head writer is Gen Urobuchi of Puella Magi Madoka Magica infamy. For those not familiar with Madoka Magica, the fact that he's nicknamed "Urobutcher" and that he specifically named Black, Ryuki and Faiz as influences on Gaim should start ringing alarm bells. It starts out with Deconstructions of Mons and the Kid Hero before getting to a situation similar to Ryuki with multiple Riders of which only Gaim himself has a fully functional moral compass; the rest range from AntiVillains using questionable methods for good goals to Social Darwinists pursuing power at any cost to a Jerkass who uses his influence to pick on children. But the real trap was sprung a quarter of the way in: a supporting character is turned into a monster, but unlike other recent Rider series he isn't saved and is killed despite Gaim's best efforts. The one who did the deed proceeds to rub it in by stating he did a heroic thing by eliminating a threat to innocents. And even as Gaim asserts that he can't killa human, we find out that some of the monsters are also transformed humans - one (the first one he faced, in fact) was even a friend of his that had gone missing. A few episodes later makes it even worse - it's a Cosmic Horror Story, the thing making the monsters had already overtaken at least one alien world (meaning that even the monsters that weren't once human were still people), and Earth will likely be overtaken within ten years. Even its Bittersweet Ending has some ominousness: Specifically, while the heroes do save the world, the Cosmic Horror Story elements are something that will always continue on other worlds, and there's no restoring those who were lost.
Despite the gaming theme, Kamen Rider Ex-Aid has managed to take on darker tone similar to the earlier Heisei era Kamen Rider such as Faiz as it resembles a medical drama rather than a regular heroes show. Bugsters are Serious Business in this setting, most of the Riders are either amoral Anti-Heroes or flat-out Jerkasses as they are forced to make difficult disease in medicine just like Real Life, a special surgery is required to become a Rider, the Proto Gashats having severe side effects if overused, which leads to the permanent death of the user .
The medical theme means we do sometimes encounter real life diseases. It's the only series where you have one Rider keeping the monster outside a hospital so the other can perform surgery on a cancer patient whose disease was so far along that other surgeons had refused to treat him because his inevitable death would tarnish their reputations. Dear God. Worse, it was pancreatic cancer, which in Real Life has a habit of popping up again and killing sufferers right on schedule even when doctors are sure it's been eliminated. This isn't discussed, but anyone familiar with the disease will expect Hiiro to not really have bought the patient a great deal of time despite the successful procedure, and to know that Hiiro and the patient both know this. Due to the comparison, the ending was treated rather realistically as the patients who died from the disease do not return from the dead but despite that still ends with a hopeful note that one day such diseases can be cured.
Kamen Rider Build starts off with a Downer Beginning which is easily the darkest of all the TV Kamen Rider series, topped only by the aforementioned Amazons in-franchise. It features unethical human experimentation, humans being turned into Smashes, one of the main characters being framed for murder - and mind you, that's just within the first episode. For comparison's sake, the aforementioned Gaim and Ex-Aid started out light-hearted (the former revolving around street dancing at first, the latter started by having the main character treat sick patients successfully), but eventually, things took a turn for the worse later on. Things manage to get even worse here as well. The first part of the series ends with the villains finally managing to spark the civil war that's been brewing, and the show does not hesitate to demonstrate that War Is Hell. In addition, the heroes end up feeling responsible for the rapidly escalating conflict due to having played right into the villains' hands. And it still gets worse - like Gaim, this series is also a Cosmic Horror Story. The StarscreamDragon with an Agenda turns out to an alien who goes around destroying planets for fun, just because he can, and everything, including the war, has been part of a years-long plan to not only regain his world-destroying power so that he can do so to Earth, but also become powerful enough to destroy the universe.
Kamen Rider Zi-O has its titular Rider being an Evil Overlord that caused a dystopian future in which he took over the world and had many time travelers from that future come to the present time and prevent it from happening. Even with its fair share of lighthearted moments, Zi-O eventually became more intense with Sougo finally coming face to face with Oma Zi-O, resulting in his temporary Heroic BSoD, White Woz's presence in the show, the zero amount of loyalty among the Time Jackers, Sougo spending about 5 episodes with Geiz and Tsukuyomi against him, the fact that Sougo never had friends prior to them, and the Kiva tribute in general. Not to mention how Sougo and Hiryu lost his parents plus more of Tsukuyomi's past, all courtesy of Swartz himself; the fact that he was Tsukuyomi's brother and erased her memories out of the fact that she was next in line to rule instead of him as well as being responsible for the accident that led to loss of those parents and being the reason Sougo had time powers and how Oma Zi-O's future came to be - all so he can become king himself and obtain power.
Happened twice in The Killing. The third season took a much darker and more nihilistic tone than the previous two, complete with a Downer Ending. The fourth season, due to its shift to Netflix, featured much more coarse language and heavier violence.
Lincoln Heights, an ABC Family show. For a show on a network known for soft-hearted family, teen shows it was pretty dark and gritty in the beginning. The first two seasons alone had robberies, kidnapping of minors, gang violence, prostitution, incest, racial tension, and drug use. Although by season 4 the show had mellowed out considerably and seemed to become more like a typical ABC Family show, it still remains the darkest show the network has aired.
The Magicians starts off as a somewhat lighthearted TV show, but as the show progresses, it becomes darker and more serious. Julia starts out as a hopeful character who cares about her friends and family, but she is consumed by a desire for vengeance which makes her lose any sense of empathy. In the second season, Quentin is forced to kill Alice due to her being consumed by magic, which causes him to go insane. Eliot and Margo start off as close friends in the first season but by the second season they constantly disagree with each other and go behind each other's backs. The show also becomes more violent.
Magnum, P.I. was a happy-fun private eye show until Magnum asked a Russian spy: "...Ivan, did you see the sunrise?" Ivan, who had previously tortured Magnum and a couple of his buddies in a POW camp in Vietnam, planted a bomb in Magnum's car. The bomb killed one Magnum's friends, who had suggested a drive to watch the sunrise. Magnum caught Ivan but Ivan was immune from prosecution; Magnum threatened him, but Ivan said "you can't shoot me like this. I'm unarmed. You're too much of a good guy." Magnum asked Ivan "did you see the sunrise?" When Ivan said "yes," Magnum shot him in cold blood, right in the face.
The Punisher (2017) is easily one of the most serious entries of the MCU. Unlike Daredevil (2015) and the rest of The Defenders (2017), the fantastic elements are absent here and is much more oriented towards espionage, action, as well as conspiracies that deal with government and corporate corruption. Basically, the series is less MCU and more like 24.
Mech-X4 is still firmly a TV-Y7 Disney action comedy. However, those used to the idea of Disney live action shows being lighthearted comedic affairs where nothing bad really happens might be surprised to see characters physically injured and in dangerous situations. They also don't shy away from death actually being a possibility for the characters and mentioning it instead of using euphemisms.
Merlin has certainly gotten darker over its five year run. While Deliberate Values Dissonance has allowed them to have the hero impale someone in the back in the very first episode, most fans agree that the show grew the beard in The Beginning of the End when Merlin takes in an innocent orphan boy and Arthur helps him escape Camelot, and it turns out that he's Mordred. And this was just the first season.
Merlin's Character Development is probably the best example of this, as he started as a Constantly Curious oblivious teenage boy, but over the years of Shoot the Dog, hiding who he is from his friends, having to deal with his problems completely alone, and having Aithusa, who he hatched and considers his kin, choose his enemy over him for a yet unknown reason, he's become an extremely dark antihero who is a Stepford Smiler and is only holding together because he's a absolutely focused on keeping his friends safe and freeing the magical people.
Miami Vice seasons 3-5 are a marked departure from the first 2 seasons. This was largely caused by Law & Order writer Dick Wolf taking up head writer duties on the show. The Daytona was destroyed and replaced with the Testarossa, the pastel colors disappeared, the plots got much more serious (see Zito's death), and the overall tone was much more grim.
Mocked in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, where Crow writes a Christmas carol entitled "Let's Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas" (based on his favorite movie, Road House). Needless to say, this goes downhill rather quickly, but Joel and Tom Servo draw the line at the inclusion of a fight scene.
Crow: Hey, what, like a good action sequence don't belong at Christmas? Joel: Well, no, it's just that I've never heard an action sequence in a Christmas carol before...
Once Upon a Time: Much of the series following the first season, particularly the second half of Season 2, the first half of Season 3, and all of Season 5.
The Pacific, when compared to its companion series Band of Brothers. Band of Brothers wasn't a picnic, but The Pacific goes much deeper into the horrific conditions of the battlefields the men fought in and the psychological and emotional scarring that resulted from it. Plus, the tactics used by the Japanese army were far more malicious and atrocious than those used by the Germans in Europe. Even Bill Guarnere (from BoB) said in no uncertain terms that as bad as the War in Europe was, the Marines in the Pacific had it even worse.
Person of Interest season 3. Carter dies and Team Machine fails to stop Samaritan from activating.
Power Rangers in Space seemed to have a more mature theme compared to the previous seasons at the time. It was the first season to carry the Luke, I Am Your Father trope. It was also the first season where the bad guys actually used their forces to take over all of Earth, not just aim for a single city. It was also a tragic farewell to a mentor who started it all, Zordon, who commits a Heroic Sacrifice, the first death of a good guy in the series.
Power Rangers RPM is much, much, much darker than either the whole Power Rangers franchise or its source material Engine Sentai Go-onger, going so far as to kill off a large percentage of humanity in the nuclear bombardment of a Robot War, and deal with serious psychological repercussions of traumatic events and childhoods at times. It wasn't all doom and gloom, but even its sense of humor was sharper, relying less on random silliness and more on taking the silliness inherited from the franchise and mocking it. Power Rangers in general, by contrast, is generally the poster child for Never Say "Die", and Go-Onger was very much a silly Lighter and SofterSuper Sentai series, complete with monster song-and-dance numbers.
Other Darker Power Rangers shows include Power Rangers Lost Galaxy and Power Rangers Time Force. Lost Galaxy features the first death of a core Ranger and the main villain ordering attacks by suicide bombers later in the season, along with the origin of the Magna Defender's and the ON-SCREEN death of his child. Time Force had frequent death and a complete defiance of Never Say "Die", and a legion of mutants on the receiving end of Fantastic Racism and the whole concept of Predestination vs. Free Will, which was a fairly dark theme throughout the series. Ironically Time Force was adapted from a sentai series that was MUCH DARKER.
Power Rangers Samurai is largely a Shot-for-Shot Remake of the darker Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, and while it loses some of the darkness (the occasional Victim of the Week has his sad backstory toned down, Deker is so not Juzo) it adds some more of its own when diverging from the source material. We have villains who are made stronger by human sadness, so the enemy plans are most often "make a whole lot of people suffer." Serrator's Long Game manipulations make him a Knight of Cerebus extraordinaire. Deker is so not Juzo and has to die anyway. His last words are "Finally I'm free." Dayu is brought to such despair by his loss that she is able to revive Xandred with her sadness alone, and is willing to because by now she just doesn't care what happens to the world, or herself, as she doesn't resist when he absorbs her to become part human and gain immunity to the sealing symbol.
Season VI is of particular note because it downplayed the comedy elements in favor of sci-fi horror. Despite this, many fans like it.
Season VIII combined very dark storylines with forced comedy.
Revolution: Episode 11, "The Stand" (the first episode after the show's four-month hiatus), starts the second half of Season 1 in this direction, with enough graphic war violence that NBC slapped the episode with a Viewer Discretion Advised warning.
The Archie Comics adaptation Riverdale is a more modern and dark take on the original sentimental, Americana-fueled comics and characters.
Season 2 takes this even further. There is more violence and tragedy, with less levity to balance it out, and more of an emphasis on psychological horror. The new villain, the Black Hood, is a vicious Serial Killer who is more openly sadistic and Axe-Crazy than anyone before.
The Scarlet Pimpernel (1999) had a lot more of violence, gore and sex than Emma Orczy's original novels. Some viewers liked it as they felt that The French Revolution was a bloody and gory business in the first place, but some felt that it didn't focus much on deep love between Sir Percy and his wife and romantic sub-plots. There were also at least two heart-breaking Deaths by Adaptation.
The third season of seaQuest DSV takes place after a 10-year time shift, although many of the main characters (who have survived the season 2 finale) look the same due to Time Dilation. The world is no longer the relatively peaceful place. Basically, the first two seasons could more be more accurately described as "Star TrekIN SPACE!", if one talks about Original TOS or TNG with a lot of exploring the wonders of the ocean and some Negative Sea Wedgies. The third season is basically DS9 with the focus on the looming conflict between the UEO and the steadily-rising Macronesian Alliance. This is made clear in the first episode of the season, when Captain Bridger passes the torch to the much more militant Captain Hudson.
In The '70s, not long after Sesame Street was created, MAD Magazine gave us a parody with random gang violence, drugs, evictions, prostitutes, pimps and gangsters called Reality Street (the writer was a pessimist). Even the intro was changed: "Smoggy days, feeling my lungs decay. It's a street of depression, Corruption, oppression! It's a sadist's dream come true! And masochists, too! Can you tell me how to get, get away from Reality Street?"
The American remake of Shameless (UK) (its own page is here. The original already takes place in a Crapsack World filled with Dirty Cops and other degenerates, and is generally hailed as a pretty accurate depiction of modern poverty. The American remake is much harsher, with the family patriarch being a much less sympathetic character than his original source, and the Cerebus Syndrome really takes hold in the fourth season.
Series 4 of Sherlock is significantly darker than the past three series, due to life-changing events that almost tore Sherlock's and John's friendship apart and destroyed Sherlock himself, like Mary's death taking a bullet for Sherlock, with the latter overdosing on drugs as a result of him feeling responsible, the reveal of the sadistic Eurus Holmes, the third Holmes sibling, who forces Sherlock, John and Mycroft into a maze of challenges that rivals Saw in terms of complexity and mental trauma, as well as the revelation that Sherlock had a childhood friend named Victor Trevor, who was killed by Eurus after she became jealous of their friendship. This traumatic event caused Sherlock to rewrite his memory so that instead of having a childhood friend, he had a childhood dog named Redbeard, and transformed him into the anti-social, "high-functioning sociopath" we have known from the very beginning.
Smallville was initially a very family-friendly show that gradually turned Darker and Edgier throughout its ten years of running, taking its first attempt around season four, but the story arc is widely criticized as it doesn't fit well in the Superman background. Zod (season six premiere) (the episode) has a fair bit of unnecessary violence, but Phantom (season six finale) is a serious dip with high amounts of gore and violence wherever Bizarro goes (Enfant Terrible alert!), and more in season seven due to increased Brainiac activity. Season eight introduces Doomsday, which is pretty much a walking terror tank. On the morality side, Lana Lang dabbles in the Luthor business around season six; Kal-El proclaims "Clark Kent is dead" in the season eight finale, but the most shocking swerve comes in the beginning of season nine, with Chloe Sullivan, previously the living embodiment of Incorruptible Pure Pureness, turning into a Manipulative Bitch.
Season 5 also had some darker edges to it, as the characters graduated from the high school setting, Lana and Clark's relationship frayed as the former grew closer to Lex, and Jonathan Kent succumbed to a heart attack and died, leaving Clark without a supportive father figure.
Sonny with a Chance is a peppy teen comedy about a girl making it big in Hollywood, but the two-parter contains things like Sonny getting framed for several crimes, the main cast almost going down in a plane and Sonny's attempted murder.
The Sopranos in general. This may explain the show's success. Much like Watchmen did for comics, The Sopranos had a significant impact on the shape of the American television industry, creating a huge push for more Darker and Edgier TV shows with difficult and controversial subjects including crime, Italian-American stereotypes, graphic sex, graphic violence, Black Comedy, Evil vs. Evil conflicts, unsympathetic characters, and villainous protagonists. The show itself became increasingly darker and more violent starting with Season 3. As for cinematography, there's the bleak, almost eerie atmosphere, especially in the final season.
The 1994-1995 Gerry Anderson sci-fi series Space Precinct is a darker, more serious reworking of a primarily comedic pilot called Space Police that Anderson made a decade earlier.
To be fair, early on Stargate Atlantis did a good job of killing or bussing well-liked supporting characters and a main character was even Put on a Bus mid-season 2. They did start to shift away from this as the series progressed, though.
Stargate Universe in turn is a Darker and Edgier version of the previous two Stargate series. What makes this one significant is that the creators stated that it will be a Darker and Edgier Stargate from the get-go. And then... They never really shut up about it and all they were ever talking about was how much darker, edgier and grittier Universe will be.
The final two seasons of Stargate SG-1 were noticeably darker than the first eight, with the good guys on the wrong side of a galactic Curbstomp Battle against a Nigh Invulnerable enemy.
Star Trek as a franchise see-saws between light and dark.
Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the first season and a few lingering bits of it in the second season, Picard is antisocial and short-tempered, Q is a whimsical monster, the sets are dimly-lit, a major character is violently killed off, and the topic of sex feels forced into many episodes. We encounter aliens with drug problems, cannibalistic Ferengi, phaser beams that set people on fire, and one infamous episode in which a character has his head shot off and then his stomach explode outwards with alien parasites. The show got more critical notice right about the same time these bits went away, focusing a bit more on highbrow concepts and moral dilemmas. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is considered by many to be the 'dark' entry in the franchise, but it has nothing on TNG Season One.
DS9 claims credit for it, but it was really "The Best of Both Worlds", which featured the infamous battle at Wolf 359—referred to in some circles as "The 9/11 of Star Trek"—and what followed it. After this point, stories started focusing more on the imperfections of the Federation, which had until that point been portrayed as a Utopia, and introduced some grey into their allies and their enemies. This is especially relevant to the plots of Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager.
The actual 9/11 had a profound effect on Star Trek: Enterprise. Picture it as George W. Bush's America in Space, right down to the "enhanced interrogation" and terrorism allegories which don't do much in the way of making anyone think too hard about it all. Although it's true that the show didn't really have a direction beforehand, and considering the S3 Xindi arc was the best the show ever did, it's fair to argue the show was improved by September 11th in some ways.
Star Trek: Discovery seems to be going the darker edgier route, Star Trek Discovery is the first Star Trek show to receive a TV-MA rating. The fact that the show is airing on a streaming platform is a major departure from every other Star Trek show. The trailers show a darker, more violent Star Trek show. The creators of the show have said on multiple occasions that the show will deal with more mature themes.
Suburgatory towards the end of its second season starts putting its characters through a lot more emotionally and in one surprising case, physically, culminating in a major downer ending. The third season retains some of this but not as much as the second season's ending.
Much like with the below mentioned Ohranger, J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai started out darker in comparison to Himitsu Sentai Goranger, but due to how much of an impact this had on ratings, it was retooled into something more lighthearted.
Samurai Sentai Shinkenger is far darker than the previous series, Engine Sentai Go-onger with shots of the previous Shinkenger team being killed and mauled, very brutal sword duels between Takeru and Juzo, a Big Bad who personally killed Takeru's father, Deconstruction of fealty and loyalty tropes, even class distinctions (Sixth Ranger Genta is initially looked down upon by Takeru and Kaoru's Jerkass attendant Tanba always insults him for being a 'mere Sushi Seller' and not a true Samurai), and a Dragon trying to open the gates of Hell themselves to cause a literal Hell on Earth for shits and giggles! Due to all of this, as well as balancing out with very good humor, likable characters, and extremely good action Shinkenger is considered one of the best Super Sentai ever created.
Tokumei Sentai Go Busters went the same way as Ohranger, as it too dealt with robot terrorism and the Busters themselves can be weakened to the point where a city could be destroyed and the Enetron could be stolen - and also went Lighter and Softer midway through, shifting towards being more comedy-oriented specifically involving the BuddyRoids. In fact, it shifted up and down the scale a few times, so that you have Go-onger scale wackiness at some points and things that would never happen in any of the above series in others. The end in particular cements the inability to Screw Destiny in two cases ( You figured no matter how many times we heard it couldn't be done, they'd find a way to save their parents and the other researchers, who were digitized within the Disc-One Final Boss. Also, a Ranger Living on Borrowed Time will usually be saved. When the final curtain closes, it's official: They really did have to kill their parents with Messiah, and saving Jin isn't possible.) Yes, we are still talking about the same series whose wacky robots made it seem the Spiritual Successor to Go-Onger.
Uchu Sentai Kyuranger may have a cast that's a lot quirkier than other entries, but it has easily the biggest Downer Beginning in all of Sentai - the entire universe was conquered by Jark Matter, with civilians shown being killed in the openingnote for comparison's sake, the closet Sentai had come before was near the end of the aforementioned Ohranger, where the villains had conquered the entire earth, with only the below-mentioned Ultraman Geed topping it. Additionally, it features one of the earliest deaths of a Sentai ranger (Champ) in the entire franchise (Although he got better at the end, 16 episodes in, with only Mika dying earlier.
Survivors: The original version's third season goes in this direction. At the very least, the characters appear to be taking a lot fewer baths.
Teen Wolf, compared to the original movie. The movie was mostly a comedy, but the show adds a ton of action, drama, and angst. It's hard to even see it as a reboot of the original by now.
Tin Man has DG (Dorothy Gale) going to the Outer Zone (yup, the O.Z.) where she befriends a man who has lost part of his brain to evil experimenters, and a tortured empathic beast who seems to be a human/lion crossbreed, and the "Tin Man" of the title, a cop who wears a tin star.
He was also locked in a metal life support box that kept him alive but awake and unable to move or talk, furthering the Darker And Edgier parallels. The whole thing is a combination of the movies, the book, and a bunch of Darker and Edgier twists and story details.
Torchwood, a spinoff of Doctor Who, was billed as "Darker and Edgier" than its family-aimed parent, which amounted to quite a bit of sex and violence. While not as overt, series 2 still had far more sensitive material than could ever be shown at 7 pm, and the miniseries Children of Earth upped the depression and utter hopelessness of the show to eleven.
And then they took it to an entirely new level with the "Torchwood" Miracle Day miniseries in 2011. "Dark" doesn't begin to describe it. It may have gotten too dark though, as in 2014, there was no information on new Torchwood.
First, there was Ultraseven (1967). Unlike its family-friendly predecessor Ultraman (1966), the usual threats to Earth this time was not rampaging kaiju, but intelligent, cunning aliens. In addition, The Hero Dan Moroboshi/Ultraseven frequently faced moral dilemmas. Humans Are the Real Monsters was a theme that frequently popped up throughout the show.
Then there was Ultraman Leo in 1974, which dealt with slavery and had a Kill Em All style ending before Tomino even had his own series. People get dismembered on screen, burned to death, crowds are crushed or drowned, and there is infighting among the Ultras.
Ultraman Gaia (1998) was much serious in tone compared to the generally humorous and light-hearted Ultraman Dyna (1997). Gaia also featured the first Anti-Hero Ultra and kaiju threats on a planetary scale.
Ultraman Nexus (2004), was supposed to be a Deconstruction reboot of the franchise aimed at a shonen/seinen audience with things like horrifying kaiju killing and eating people, deaths of major characters, thought-provoking themes, and so on and so forth. But it got Screwed by the Network and placed in a Saturday Morning Kids Slot.
Ultraman Geed (2017) takes Leo's Downer BeginningUp to Eleven with the entire galaxy being destroyed, only being restored by the efforts of Ultraman King, and the titular Ultraman is the son of Ultraman Belial, having to face an uphill battle with only the help of a seriously wounded Ultraman Zero. If it isn't enough and if director Koichi Sakamoto's words to be believed, there's an implication that Geed's Earth is the same as Ultra Brothers, and the whole society in its current state are no longer believes in Ultraman and other past attack teams, thanks to the aforementioned Downer Beginning.
Ken Burns's War Trilogy gets progressively darker with each installment. The Civil War, while pretty violent at times, was still light enough to be rated TV-PG. Not so much with The War, a chronicle of World War II which includes, among other things, graphic battlefield scenes and the horrors of the concentration camps. Even with all that, The Vietnam War looks to be the edgiest yet, with every last episode being rated TV-MA for violence and most installments also set to include an unprecedented amount of foul language for a PBS program. As brutal as World War II was, Vietnam was a lot deadlier, not to mention Bloodier and Gorier, and this documentary miniseries proves it; one promo shown with general programming in the months leading up to it even explicitly mentions Ludicrous Gibs as one soldier, a certain Roger Harris, recalls "putting pieces of 'special' people in bags".
The West Wing: This trope happened in an odd way since the original show had almost no on-screen violence involving the main cast, it couldn't be ramped-up: the last three seasons saw the artificial retconning of character personalities from the idealistic to the cynical end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism, deleting a lot of the morality from the characters' choices to make them "grayer", a shift to Ripped from the Headlines crises instead of political ones, a lot more military-oriented storylines, more disasters and suspense, a lot of verbal fighting and drama to make up for the fact that there was no regular violence, making the rare instances of violence more frequent, and casting a much darker political climate over the previously sensible in-universe Washington. Needless to say, the fans saw through this ploy right away and disapproved of its artificiality, especially as seasons 3 and 4 had already done a very different, organic take on the darker and edgier convention. Oddly enough however, the show did avoid MOST (emphasis on "most") easy opportunities for inserting more sex into the show.
As Wizards of Waverly Place progressed, werewolves, vampires, mummies and Franken-monsters passed by, not to mention that Alex's magnificent Noble Demon skills developed and Justin became a monster hunter and a Mad Scientist. Oh, and Max lost his conscience for an episode or two. Really. Not to mention that they apparently killed off Stevie without anyone seeming to care. Alex even made a harsh, sarcastic comment about her death, then walked away happily.
Season 4 seems to be taking it up a notch with the "Wizards vs. Angels" trilogy.
Wonder Womanalmost got this treatment: The Wonder Woman (2011 pilot), although not picked up by NBC, was examined by a number of reviewers who almost unanimously indicated that Diana was depicted as an ultra-violent In Name OnlyDesignated Hero who tortured and killed without hesitation. Villains' Offstage Villainy combined with Diana's very much onstage over-the-top brutality makes her come off as the true villain of the piece.
The Wrong Mans had a case of this with the second series. The first series, while dark in some places, started on a humorous note and kept the stakes lower. The second, by contrast, opens with an attempted car bombing, forces the characters to fake their deaths and migrate to the States, and then continues with Phil's mum at risk of dying from heart problems. From there, things go From Bad to Worse.
Z Cars was launched as a Darker and Edgier alternative to Dixon of Dock Green among British Police Procedurals. While pretty tame by modern standards, its first airing in 1962 caused shock in the British public (especially the scene where a policeman calls someone over in the street to milk them for the horse-racing results). Z Cars was later overtaken by The Sweeney in the "grimdark"-department.