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Advertising

  • OnDigital, later ITV Digital, was an early attempt to bring digital TV to British viewers. It was advertised by Johnny Vegas and a cute little Deadpan Snarker sock puppet monkey sidekick as in this advert. It wasn't a resounding success and ITV Digital died a quite public death with a lot of recrimination and lawsuits and all that fun stuff. But the Vegas/Monkey team were so loved that they ended up becoming the mascots of a completely different product, namely PG Tips. And their idea of reintroducing a pair of endearing and loved characters was this, apparently.
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  • A literal example: Restoration Hardware, an upscale home furnishing chain, went from white walls, brightly lit stores, and a retro-industrial-Thirties/Forties/Fifties aesthetic to dark gray walls, very dim lights, and items with a modern/rough-edged look at some point after 2008.
  • T-Mobile tried this in Spring of 2012. Their spokeswoman, the T-Mobile Girl, before seen with only white backgrounds and wearing pink sundresses, is now being advertised as bored with the "nice, safe" life she has. She searches for, and finds, a black full-bodied motorcycle jumpsuit (with pink accents) and rides into the night on a Yamaha-looking sport bike.
  • Captain Morgan rum usually portrays their Captain as a playful partygoer. Their new campaign has gone for giving him a more daring and adventurous personality; likely due to the popularity of Pirates of the Caribbean.
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  • Life Alert is a serious product - it's meant for older and disabled people if they ever, say, fall down and need help when no one is around — but the old commercials have been the product of giggles for years. "I've fallen and I can't get up!" was subject to Memetic Mutation throughout the 90's and frequently mocked and parodied. In 2014, they decided to darken up their ads into pure Nightmare Fuel. Instead of the old ladies almost comically on the floor, the mood is noticeably darker and you can feel the pain and fear, as if Life Alert is saying "Thought that was funny, did ya? Well, yuk it up now, you little shits." The darker turn wound up backfiring, with complaints and reports of panic attacks pouring in, forcing the company to pull the ad after two short months.
  • Nationwide Insurance (2015 Super Bowl) - Many audiences thought this advertisement was try to pull too hard on heart-strings. A kid talks about life insurance but ends by saying "because I am dead". The commercial ends with the motto Make Safe Happen. This disturbing commercial aimed to up the ante during the crucial advertising season, which ended up backfiring.
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  • In what is ostensibly not intended as a parody of this trope, Fairy — who have for decades had a baby as a mascot to symbolise the "baby soft hands" you'll have after washing the dishes with their detergent — introduced a new "Tough Baby" mascot in 2017 to emphasize being tough on dirt. Still a baby, but now he's a tattooed, studded-leather-jacketed Quincy Punk baby with a deep Cockney growl, a motorbike, and the catchphrase "No More Mr. Nice Baby".

Music

  • When Dragnet premiered in 1949, it used subject matter that previous crime dramas wouldn't have touched with a ten-foot pole, like rape and child murder.
  • Many Adventures in Odyssey listeners remember the episode "The Mortal Coil". Whit tries to program a special "Heaven" program into the Imagination Station. Long story short, Whit almost dies, Eugene has a Heroic BSoD from experiencing Hell when he tried the programnote , and other things which made that episode famous among listeners as the most terrifying episode in the show's history.
  • The BBC skewered this idea on April Fools Day 2012 with The Archers - Unchained, a spoof trailer for a Grand Theft Auto style version of the beloved farming soap.

Mythology

  • Contrary to what popular belief holds, this is what modern adaptations do, to an extent, to ancient Greek myths. Some of the grotesque demons and horrid monstrosities, the hellish underworld and evil gods (Hades in particular), that we see in modern movies and video games inspired by Greek mythology are the product of blending the ancient myths with the nightmarish medieval European folklore.
    • Hades and his underworld qualify, as they are often portrayed as horrifying, ghastly, and generally evil. In reality, the Greek underworld, Erebos, is more like a pleasant inn, and Hades was just a little emotionally unstable. The only commonly-found no-no he did in mythology was kidnapping Persephone, and even then, some variations have Zeus selling her to him.
  • This tends to go for the other gods as well. Zeus is often thought of only as the god who went around having sex with women. Never mind he often punished evil doers or helped maintain the world. This is true for the other gods who had their petty moments, but were not evil or went around smiting humans for no reason. They usually had a reason even if only slight. They also had moments where they would help people who were beneficial to civilization.
  • While Norse Mythology was never actually Lighter and Softer, some believe Loki himself became this, as he was associated with the Devil by Christianity and his role as the Omnicidal Maniac during Ragnarok was a product of Christianization.

Pinball

Roleplay

Theatre

  • Dog Sees God is a play featuring thinly disguised versions of the Peanuts cast in high school. Snoopy was put down after getting rabies and killing Woodstock. Lucy is in an asylum for lighting the little redheaded girl's hair on fire and that's the tip of the iceberg.
  • Cirque du Soleil's Quidam was intentionally conceived by its creators as a show that would be darker, less whimsical, and more realistic than what the company had produced up to that point. They accomplished this by...telling a story about the commonality of loneliness and alienation through the eyes of a jaded preteen girl who learns to reconnect with others via a trip to a sometimes-melancholy Magical Land.
  • Richard Strauss's opera Elektra, based on the Sophocles play but turn the bloodlust and neurotism up to the eleven, and adds a sister-to-sister Les Yay moment.
  • King Lear, believe it or not, wasn't a tragedy until Shakespeare got his hands on the story. In the story his audience knew, the story ends with Lear coming to his senses, forgiving Cordelia, retaking his throne and ruling until he finally dies of old age. Poor audience.
  • The musical Aida is this to other Disney musicals. No surprise, given that it's based on an opera (which ironically, it is a Lighter and Softer version of).
  • The revival of Miss Saigon is this to the original production—which is already quite gritty. But the language and behavior of nearly everyone in the new version is far coarser and rougher than before.
  • Ebenezer is a prequel to A Christmas Carol where murder, destruction, and secrets abound that cast a dark light on the original story. Jacob Marley was in love with Scrooge and Fran's mother, kills Fran as an act of revenge on their family, and, on Scrooge's orders, forecloses Emily's orphanage on Christmas Eve, killing all the children there. Scrooge is even worse, because when Charles Dickens reveals this to him, he reveals he'd known about everything from the start and is fine with all they'd done, including viciously attacking Emily himself and ordering the foreclosure.
  • Wicked, while lighter than the book, is darker than the The Wonderful Wizard of Oz book and film it takes inspiration from.
  • The opera by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky based on The Queen of Spades has it in spades in relation to the original story. In the story, Herman is a manipulative Villain Protagonist who gets his just desserts when he loses at cards and goes mad, while Liza gets over him and more or less happily marries someone else. In the opera, Herman has Adaptational Heroism, truly loves the girl but can’t let go of his passion for gambling, and kills himself in the end, his last thoughts being of Liza. And before that, Liza realizes her true love is a crazed gambler and she has no future with him, and drowns herself.

Toys

  • BIONICLE, when compared to other LEGO lines. The first LEGO line to feature brutal, on-screen deaths and carry shades of Cosmic Horror Story.
    • Within Bionicle, the story noticeably turned a shade darker from '04 to '05, and with the advent of the online serials in '07, it also became Bloodier and Gorier. So much, in fact, it made the initial years look like a kindergarten play in comparison. A good deal of this stuff LEGO would never have allowed the writer to publish when the theme first started.
      • Fanfics and forum Role playing Games based on BIONICLE will often make the characters take on more human traits compared to their 85% metal, 15% muscle/lung tissue that is canon. While the primary reason by that it's easier to Write What You Know, the addition of human aspects also means that fanfic characters suddenly have more detailed descriptions of such things as pain, bleeding, etc.
    • Everything with Matoro and the Barraki saga basically slaps you in the face if the Piraka saga hasn't already. Not only do we get a downer ending, in another serial we're showned exactly what would have happened if Matoro never put the mask on. The universe dies, and Matoro is labeled a coward and a pariah. Everyone also is now deprived of a home because the universe is crumbling, and Matoro only redeems himself when he sacrifices his life again to save the village. Seriously, this guy just can't catch a break.
  • LEGO Dino Attack features a group known as the D.I.N.O. Attack team battling against mutated or robotic dinosaurs. It's notable in that it is the only post-apoc LEGO Theme, being set in a empty city ravaged by the dinosaurs. In addition, there is a very heavy emphasis on weaponry and military vehicles.
  • LEGO Exo-Force is implied to take place after the end and is inspired by Anime series such as Mobile Suit Gundam. Like many LEGO themes, it was also cancelled before the story was resolved, adding in a dose of Nothing Is Scarier to the mix - what if the robots won?

Alternative Title(s): Toys, Pinball, Theatre, Roleplay, Radio, Mythology, Advertising

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