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Darkness Induced Audience Apathy / Comic Books

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DC Comics

  • All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder: The lead character is a murderous Sociopathic Hero who insults and attacks pretty much everyone around him, including Alfred and Dick Grayson (age twelve), while almost everyone else is stupid, ineffectual, or in the case of Black Canary, as mad and violent as Batman.
  • DC Rebirth was supposed to mark a shift away from the grimdark that had become (rightly or wrongly) associated with the New 52 era. Instead, it's seen a number of high profile, very dark series, notably Tom King's ongoing Batman (Rebirth); the introduction of the Dark Multiverse in the Dark Nights: Metal crossover and its fallout in the current Justice League series and elsewhere; the Heroes in Crisis crossover (in which a hero goes mad and kills a bunch of other heroes); the Event Leviathan crossover (also in which a hero goes mad and kills a bunch of other heroes); the Year of the Villain storyline. Doomsday Clock seemingly finally makes things right, but not before putting the heroes through absolute hell. At least till it was declared an Alternate Continuity which rendered everything for nought.
    • Batman (Rebirth) deserves its own entry because its often-cited as the biggest flaw of Tom King's run. After the failed Batman/Catwoman wedding, the run saw Bruce take a major level in jerkass that saw him alienate and even abuse several members of the Bat-Family, with every patch excuse for his behavior (the aforementioned failed wedding and the manipulations of a Big Bad Duumvirate composed of Bane and Flashpoint Thomas Wayne) either falling flat or making him even more Unintentionally Unsympathetic. Without a likable protagonist, the run fell into the same pitfall that the above All-Star Batman and Robin fell into, in that there wasn't anyone to root for and thus no reason to appreciate any eventual triumphs the characters got.
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  • Hardware is a deconstruction of the '90s Anti-Hero, in which the titular anti-hero pursues a vendetta against a racist white Corrupt Corporate Executive named Alva, causing all manner of havoc along the way, only to discover that Alva is the only one preventing even worse things from happening, forcing him to work for the villain instead. It's a great treatise on the futile nature of vendettas and anti-heroism, but that doesn't make it a fun read.
  • An increasing criticism about about The Joker is that many writers treat him as less a person and more of an unpredictable, seemingly unstoppable force of chaos who commits acts of gruesome torture (of both the physical and psychological formats) and mass murder, with an ever increasing body count that's often in the four to five digits. Many complain that this not only ruins any comedic value the character is supposed to have, but it also renders Batman's no-kill policy absolutely pointless and even a little Secretly Selfish, as it becomes less about him keeping Gotham safe and more about him staying true to his personal code no matter the consequences.
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  • Justice League: The Rise of Arsenal was responsible for destroying Roy Harper's character following his dismemberment at the hands of Prometheus and the death of his daughter in Justice League: Cry for Justice. On the one side there is Roy, reeling from the loss of his only child, grappling with the fact that he may no longer be able to use a bow and arrow, and suffering from impotency and hallucinations (whose source was not clarified as stemming from grief, pain medication, or his infected right arm). He lashes out at his friends and family for trying to help, begins stealing pain killers from Dr. Mid-Nite, goes back on heroin, and turns into a murderous anti-hero after being goaded into killing Prometheus's ally the Electrocutioner (by a hallucination of Lian) then burning down his home. However, on the other side, his friends and family truly don't help the situation that much. They don't seem to have fully understood just what Roy has lost. Dr. Mid-Nite was completely oblivious to the fact that Roy was stealing pain killers, quite easily in fact. Cyborg designed him a shoddy mechanical arm meant to work around the infected nerve endings in Roy's arm, while simultaneously enhancing his pain and limiting whatever abilities as an archer he had left. Wally West does absolutely nothing to help, Donna Troy stops after Roy accuses her of "whoring around in space with Kyle Rayner" while her husband and son died in a car crash. Though, someone who's gone through everything Donna has should've understood Roy's suffering a little easier. And Dick Grayson consigns to have Roy locked in a substance abuse center for super villains after he has a vivid hallucination while on heroin. Dick does so with the consent of Black Canary, who washes her hands of Roy and considers him a lost cause. It's hard to root for Roy when he's acting like such an asshole, but given that his family and friends treat his loss with such negligence, it's hard to side with anyone in this comic. Good thing Convergence undid most of the damage.
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  • There's more than a few people thinking that the New 52 was toeing the line on this trope. As an example, the Future's End maxi-series (which showcases two increasingly Darker and Edgier Bad Futures and starts with the Terminator Twosome undershooting the mark - so the fight to Set Right What Once Went Wrong is even harder because one Bad Future already happened - and plenty of evidence that the "lesser" and closer of the Bad Futures - if not both of them - cannot be stopped from happening) and Earth 2's "World's End" (Earth-2 is gonna get blasted so thoroughly to Hell by Apokolips that people will escape from that to another dimension - "Future's End" shows this, amongst other From Bad to Worse things for the Earth-2 heroes once they arrive to Earth-1, like Apokolips chasing after them to finish the job, "World's End" sees the events leading to them).
  • Omega Men (2015) is a self-contained Space Opera war story starring Green Lantern Kyle Rayner in an alien galaxy far away from Earth. On one side is a vast, corrupt, galactic empire that subjugates planets, oppresses its citizens, will murder everyone on a planet for profit, and commit mass murder to keep dissenters in line. On the other side are a bunch of very self-righteous terrorists who feel okay with letting thousands of people get killed if it furthers their goals and kidnap Kyle Rayner to make him into a living bomb. At first you want Kyle Rayner to escape, but then he joins the terrorists side and it's hard to like anybody until the story ends dismally.
  • Tales from the Dark Multiverse's mere concept can cause this as it's basically "What if everything in these classic stories went horribly wrong?", including heroes undergoing Face-Heel Turns, plenty of Downer Endings, and massive body counts.

Marvel Comics

  • This is the attitude some people have had towards Avengers Arena. The promises that the series would feature a lot of deaths by the end has resulted in a heavily Broken Base, with some people rejecting the book along these lines.
  • Avengers vs. X-Men flanderized Cyclops into a Jerkass and derailed Captain America into being one as well. While the ultimate purpose of the crossover (to undo the damage done in Decimation) was good, the way the crossover was carried out just pissed everybody off.
  • Tischman's brief Cable run had a sound concept: averting the Reed Richards Is Useless trope by exploring what would happen if a godlike superhuman intervened in real (sort of) wars. Unfortunately, in execution, the cast consisted of 75% villains (including everyone on both sides of the various conflicts, even the side Cable ostensibly fights for), 21% helpless victims, 3% actually sympathetic characters who accomplish anything, and 1% Cable himself, who is a Mighty Whitey played depressingly straight and who flat-out admits that even with all his phenomenal power, he can't really change anything, and that his goal is to make things better for only a handful of people for the immediate future.
  • This was the most common criticism about the post-Civil War Marvel Universe. The heroes, with few-and-far-between exceptions, were written as being either well-intentioned but immensely flawed at the very best or horrible/hypocritical people with flimsy moral standards at worst. Coupled with the villains getting nastier and nastier, it only ensured nobody cared who won. Following the events of Secret Invasion, Dark Reign saw Norman Osborn being put in charge of SHIELD and forming his own Avengers team. While the heroes would get small victories here and there, they were still much too divided to do anything to effectively challenge Osborn, who for the most part was always one step ahead of them. It didn't help matters that this era would see the public reach unprecedented levels of Too Dumb to Live, blindly eating up everything Osborn and the Dark Avengers want them to believe and demonizing the actual heroes. Thankfully, things began to look up with the resurrection of Captain America, though it wasn't until Siege that this era would finally be brought to an end, reuniting the Avengers into one team.
  • Civil War II treaded similar ground as its predecessor, the only real change being that it's a debate on whether Pre Crime Arrest is a good idea or not (turns out that the future-seer Inhuman that is central to this plot not only provides very sketchy information (so a Prophecy Twist is heavily assured), but said visions are only of probable futures (Screw Destiny is a pretty heavy possibility, and acting on the visions has a high chance of them becoming a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy). This information is presented to the pro-Pre Crime Arrest faction, who doesn't gives a crap.) The whole thing has been written trying to present both sides as sympathetic... the problem is that this was done by stuffing War Machine in a fridge, and makes both Captain Marvel and Iron Man unable to stop wangsting long enough to ask themselves if what they are doing is actually being a Well-Intentioned Extremist or just trying to one-up each other, and on top of this the Inhumans have taken so many levels in jerkass that it resulted in a "Mutants vs. Inhumans" storyline. the new version of "Marvel Now" that came out of this storyline had the Marvel Universe divided once again (seriously, the Tag Line is "Divided, We Stand")... The combination of factors, including it coming up very shortly after the end of Secret Wars (2015), has had some people tossing their hands up and quitting in disgust at what seemed like a new Status Quo, where "Let's You and Him Fight" goes Up to Eleven.
  • This is commonly cited as a barrier to entry for Daredevil. The series is so dark, and Matt loses so much so often that it's hard to get invested in him as a character.
    • Matt falls in love with Karen Page? She moves away to become an actress, gets hooked on drugs, and sells his identity to her dealer. The info makes its way to the Kingpin, who uses it to completely destroy Matt's life. He demolishes the gym Matt's dad went to, gets Matt disbarred from law, and gets him kicked out of his apartment. Matt beats Fisk in a fight? Well, Kingpin knows who Daredevil is... and will forever use it to hurt Matt.
    • Karen herself went to resume her relationship with Matt, leave him after he cheats on her with a supervillain, get back together with him again, break up with him again, be told that she's HIV-positive, and then get murdered by Bullseye. A What If? revealed that if she'd survived, Matt would have gone to prison for beating the Kingpin to death.
    • Matt has firm Secret Keepers, from Foggy, his best friend, to the Kingpin (Wilson Fisk), who makes it a point to not divulge his identity... except to his son, who spreads it among Kingpin's crew. A newcomer gets pissed that Daredevil's allowed to continue hurting criminals, so Kingpin's taken out and Matt is outed in the press. He eventually gets the media to lay off, and he "proves" that he's not Daredevil... and it weighs heavily on his conscious, and people still know he's Daredevil, it's just not in the headlines. And of course, when Matt is being tried for this stuff, the FBI drags its feet, because they want to make an example of him.
    • Matt falls in love with, and marries, Milla Donovan. She almost has an emotional breakdown when Matt's in jail, and when Matt busts out, it gets worse. Then, when Matt returns, he's visited by a woman who has the ability to smell like what a person most wants her to smell like; to Matt, she smells like Karen Page. At the same time, Milla's being drugged, and eventually tries to kill the aforementioned woman, but ends up killing an innocent man by accident. She's put in jail, while Matt tries to find a cure for whatever drug is in her system... turns out, there is no cure. The guy who did this, Mister Fear, only did so because Matt was better in law school than him. Fear is incarcerated, but not before transferring all of his assets to the Hood, on condition that he fuck with Matt even more. And Fear has applied the "smell power" to himself, so he lives like a king in prison, while at the same time being safe from all superheroes.
    • While Matt is in prison awaiting his never-to-come day in court, he's unable to defend himself, since this would support the FBI's case in proving he's Daredevil. Of course, they know this, and all the criminals know he's Daredevil, so it goes as well as can be expected, and Matt is deemed able to defend himself and put in gen pop. After Foggy visits him, Foggy is stabbed repeatedly, and Matt hears it and tells the guard to help... but he spitefully asks how Matt knows this, and does nothing. Matt literally hears his best friends being killed, and the Kingpin laughing. It turns out, all of this was not Fisk's plan, but his wife's (Vanessa), who has done this so that she can force Matt into defending Kingpin in court, so that whatever crime he commits after he's released will be on Matt's conscience. And of course, this will start up their cycle of revenge, which Vanessa wants. Why? Because the two deserve each other and she wants to die knowing that they'll kill each other one day.
    • Mark Waid's aim for his much Lighter and Softer run on the series was to avoid this, with Waid stating that he wanted to see a Daredevil comic that didn't drive him to drink.
  • Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy has gotten people feeling like this because of two elements: a retcon that during the events of The Night Gwen Stacy Died that Gwen, who'd hated Spider-Man since she blamed him for her father's death, had regain consciousness enough to overhear the Green Goblin call Spider-Man "Peter" and spent her final moments hating Peter, and The Reveal that the Big Bad is really Ben Reilly, having done a Face–Heel Turn after being killed and resurrected repeatedly by Miles Warren.
  • The Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe sequel Deadpool Killustrated invokes this as Dreadpool's plan. If he kills enough characters (and their inspirations), people will stop caring about the characters and whether they live or die, thus allowing him to find the oblivion he wants.
  • For a one-book example, The Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe. It's basically Exactly What It Says on the Tin, making for a very bleak story.
  • Outlawed opens with the apparent death of fan-favorite Viv Vision, the hospitalization of Kamala Khan, and the passage of a new law against teenage vigilantism that's also being exploited to harass minority teenagers. The Champions are now in disarray, the New Warriors have become government stooges, which is massively out-of-character for them considering how they were victimized during the aforementioned Civil War.
  • The two-issue miniseries by Warren Ellis entitled Ruins, a Darker and Edgier take on Marvels where pretty much all of the iconic Marvel characters are either dead, horrifically mutilated, corrupt, or insane and Philip Sheldon struggles to get a book about his discoveries and encounters published before succumbing to a lethal virus. There aren't many things as depressingly dark. Made all the worse by Ellis' claim that Ruins was supposed to be a comedy.
  • This is a recurring issue with Runaways, due to Brian K. Vaughan's preference for dark stories.
    • Throughout the first three runs, the team constantly lost members or were driven from whichever hideout they were using at the time. Their few victories never lasted long, and their failures tended to have more or less permanent consequences, including death. Add in subplots about homophobia, mental illness, and depression, and the series was a hard sell.
    • Rainbow Rowell's Runaways has the team reforming after two of its members are unexpectedly resurrected, but the old dynamic is not there. Nico is still haunted by the events of Avengers Arena, Gert has become so afraid of being abandoned that she is sabotaging her friends' lives so that they won't leave the team, Alex can no longer touch people without repelling them, Victor's wrestling with a Superpowered Evil Side, Molly is so lonely that she's begun to pine for her supervillain parents, and Karolina's gradually reverting to a Stepford Smiler. The only Runaway who's actually happy is Klara, and this is only because she chose to get far away from her old friends.
  • Secret Empire has Captain America himself as an agent of HYDRA taking over S.H.I.E.L.D. and the world in just the first issue. The most powerful heroes have been cast off-world or trapped on Manhattan Island, whoever's left is on the run, kids have been indoctrinated into HYDRA sympathizers (with copious amounts of Orwellian Retcon with their books because of Cap's version of history being mucked about) and everyone was supposed to accept that everything would be set back to normal afterwards? It's no wonder fans were growling out their hatred of this story.
  • A lot of Spider-Man fans have this problem when his Failure Hero status gets a little too out of hand. Howard Mackie's run featured Peter going through one Kick the Dog moment after another, losing his job, his wife seemingly dying, and ultimately becoming homeless until fans were all too happy to finally have him off the title. The infamous One More Day story had him give up his marriage, one of the real good constants in his life, to the equivalent of Satan to save Aunt May and alienated several fans.
  • The Ultimates 3 and Ultimatum had this effect for the Ultimate Marvel comics. Ultimates 3 completely abandoned the superhero deconstruction of the first two miniseries and featured instead a standard story of robot duplicates and a conflict with Magneto. And the awesome cinematic scenes of the first miniseries were replaced by shocking images taken straight from the worst moments of The Dark Age of Comic Books. And Ultimatum was a Kill 'Em All crossover event that killed off most of the Ultimate cast, usually in cruel, shocking and disgusting ways. This caused a big decline in the interest in the Ultimate comics, which never quite recovered from, even with the surging of Miles Morales and The Maker.
  • A major issue with X-Men and all the associated mutant-related titles. Despite major progress in civil rights for racial minorities, women and LGBT people in Real Life during the decades since the X-Men were first introduced in 1963, in-universe the situation for mutants has remained consistently bleak. Indeed, given the sheer number of canonical Bad Futures that characters are either predestined to end up in, or in some cases come from, it can seem as if the humans vs. mutants conflict is a Forever War with no hope of ever getting any better. This has led some long-time readers to back away from the titles. It should be noted that Chris Claremont actually had plans to address this issue decades before Jonathan Hickman finally did. With his planned The Shadow King is responsible for the majority of humanity's hatred/fear of Mutants and has been increasing tensions between both groups so he can feed on the Negative Energy it generates.
    • The X-Men franchise is bleak by its very nature, given that they can never stop being feared and hated, but since 2005 this was dialed Up to Eleven with M-Day, an event that reduced mutants from a population of millions to less than 200, with no more on the way. The remaining mutants are reduced to huddling together for protection (inside a walled compound, then inside a different walled compound, then on a tiny island) and trying to avert their own extinction. After years, the thoroughly unpopular plotline was finally resolved, new mutants start appearing again - and then Secret Wars (2015) happens. When the dust clears, the new status quo is... mutants are on the verge of extinction, no more mutants are being born, and the remaining mutants are huddled together for their own survival. Again. And the less we speak about their never-ending desire to be at each other's throats for whichever reason they want to be at each other's throats, from love triangles to whoever is the Well-Intentioned Extremist-du-jour coming to blows with the ones that aren't so extreme (yet), and even the ones that got fed up with all of the crap vs. the ones still aren't (again, yet) and so wish to knuckle down and keep fighting, which is occasionally the reason they aren't as effective against a threat as they should be, with the escalation having reached the point of multiple consecutive "disbanding" arcs starting with Schism (if not earlier), the better.
    • X-Men: Gold, X-Men: Blue, X-Men: Red and Jonathan Hickman's run have attempted to address/fix these problems and has even won some former readers back.

Other Comics

  • The Arawn graphic novel series tells the story of the eponymous Evil Overlord that rules the underworld and details how he came to be this way. It's hard to get invested already as it is, due to the Foregone Conclusion stating that he lost everyone he loved and was betrayed by those he trusted in the prologue, but as the story unfolds, virtually none of the supporting cast come out in a sympathetic light since they commit some truly heinous atrocities or make the situation worse than it already is. Not even Deidre, who is most likely to garner sympathy from readers is above crossing the line when kills her innocent son to spite his father in revenge for killing her child with Arawn.
  • The Borgia series by Alejandro Jodorowsky has as its protagonists the notorious Borgia family, who kill, rape, and torture their way into power. You may better remember their patriarch, Rodrigo, as the final boss from Assassin's Creed II. They operate in a world full of other raping, murdering, torturing assholes. You know something is off when Church Militant killjoy Savonrola is likeable compared to our heroes.
  • As brutal as The Boys can be, the comic was much darker. But even with people who like dark... well... see above about the difference between conflict and meaningful conflict. When you've got Black-and-Gray Morality taken to the point that the closest thing to 'good guys' we've got amounts to "every faction is a bunch of amoral killers, but when that bunch of amoral killers are tearing people into chunky salsa, it's to people worse than themselves often enough that they sometimes seem like the lesser evil," and every issue trying to out-horrify the last, do you have a compelling story where a lot of bad stuff happens, or is it total bleakness that makes it easy to say the Eight Deadly Words?
  • Brat Pack is meant to be a Deconstruction of the very idea of the Kid Sidekick in the spirit of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns. However, unlike those two, Brat Pack is devoid of any type of joy, comfort, or hope, with the main cast molded into emotional wrecks by their "hero" mentors who are worse than most villains of the The Dark Age of Comic Books. Also, not helping the comic's message is that superhero-related media since the Turn of the Millennium has dealt with the lives of young pre-adult heroes in a much more reasonable and compelling manner.
  • Crossed. The premise of the series is basically "you think the Zombie Apocalypse would be awesome? Wrong!" coupled with "let's see how we can make each atrocity more Gorn-filled and horrific than the last one" and sprinkled with a dash of "almost everyone's gonna die horribly". However, unlike a lot of Garth Ennis's work, which tends to balance the dark and often nihilistic subject matter with moments of levity (albeit usually black in nature), the works in the Crossed series often tend to be quite grim and serious and such moments, while not entirely absent, are often a lot rarer. This means that the series can often risk turning into a series of escalating unpleasant and gruesome events happening to doomed people in an atmosphere of unrelenting misery, meaning that it's easy for burn-out to set in.
  • The Dark Age of Comic Books, with its heavy use of Black-and-Gray Morality was prone to this. The villains were all absolutely detestable, but the "heroes" ranged from dysfunctional Jerkasses to murderous borderline psychotics.
  • Many think that the comic Invincible went over the edge, as it started off as a fun parody of superheroes with some dramatic elements but then got too complicated and too mean-spirited. Many of the characters become unlikable either because they do nothing to stop evil or they just turn into straight up-jerks, and it feels like many of the harsher moments happen simply for shock-value.
  • Adam Warren's Empowered is a highly potential case. The Jerkass-to-genuine-good-guy ratio in the cast leans pretty hard in the Jerkass direction and Cerebus Retcon is also on a high ratio (at least Volumes 7 and 8). The entire cast (except the pure evil villains) is a Dysfunction Junction mine field. The titular heroine being a brutal case of Failure Hero with a Burj Khalifa-sized dose of Dude, Where's My Respect? (and other Dysfunction Junction issues such as a big case of Hollywood Pudgy, Family-Unfriendly Death of her dad, said Jerkasses on the cast fanatically keeping her down and so on) balancing out her Determinator attitude can also trigger this. And the villains who are running around, at best held back for another day, and at worst completely unstoppable.
  • Craig Thompson's Habibi gets this complaint. The story is set in a rather unflattering imagining of the Arab world in which men are almost universally savage brutes who rape and oppress women with impunity and seem to have no qualms about pedophilia. To make matters worse, the heroine has very little agency of her own and spends most of her time getting pulled from one melodrama to the next.
  • Brian Azzarello's Loveless is a Western comic about the failure of Reconstruction, and is utterly devoid of sympathy and hope even in comparison to Azzarello's already-quite-dark magnum opus 100 Bullets. The Northerners are imperialistic bullies, the Southerners are violent, backwards hillbillies, both are disgustingly racist, and by the end there isn't a single major character that hasn't committed either murder or rape, even the ex-slave who might otherwise be the most sympathetic character. Halfway through, the Decoy Protagonist dies a pathetic and pointless death, and focus shifts to his vengeful wife who swears a Sweeney Todd-esque vendetta to murder the entire town as payback for his death. And unlike Sweeney, she succeeds. The series was quickly canceled and the final three-issue epilogue arc resolved little but the fates of a few minor characters that escaped the slaughter, none of which were pleasant.
  • The Metabarons is a long, grim epic about a Big, Screwed-Up Family where the son of each generation is forced to mutilate himself and kill his father in single combat, leading to a whole bunch of anti-heroes who are progressively more screwed up.
  • Mark Millar:
    • Kick-Ass. Anyone who seems to be in the right is quickly revealed to be naive or secretly an asshole; the main character is a spineless worm who's deluding himself into thinking he can be a hero, while the primary hero character is an utter tool who has turned his daughter into a violent criminal to live out his own dreams. And yet the people they fight against are even worse. There's a reason a lot of people prefer the movie's significantly more idealistic take on the story.
    • The UnfunniesFunny Animals get raped and abused as their world is transformed by a Karma Houdini serial killer/child molester human. Um, yay?
    • Wanted. In a fight between a group of nihilistic, mass-murdering, serial-raping assholes who want to continue ruling the world in secret and a group of nihilistic, mass-murdering, serial-raping assholes who want to rule the world openly, why should the reader really care who wins? Heck, you might as well root for the series' antagonist, Mr. Rictus. At least he's good for some Black Comedy (if you're amused by the slaughter of children). The You Bastard! ending seems to indicate that the author himself hates both the story, and anyone who read it through to the end. One of the possible interpretations is that he's condemning anyone who could accept a universe so devoid of hope. Like Kick-Ass, the movie gets more love for embracing fun instead of nihilism.
  • Alan Moore's works often skirt the edge of this trope, or dive right over it:
    • Miracleman sees its heroes defeat possibly one of the most horrific monsters in comics history, but in the denouement the world, as a result of Miracleman's Blue-and-Orange Morality, changes so much and so quickly that one can hardly even call it human society anymore.
    • V for Vendetta gives the reader the choice of fascist totalitarianism that keeps order and keeps the people fed or the chaos and violence of the post-revolutionary era which the comic makes overtly clear will lead to mass starvation (we're to understand that the eventual "voluntary anarchic order" will make things better in the long run).
    • Watchmen gives us the choice of "inevitable" nuclear annihilation or a Roman peace maintained by fear, mass murder, and a lie.
  • Rat Queens spent an arc with one member of the team turning full Chaotic Evil and the team making only a token attempt to either reclaim or restrain her before ditching toward home. Then there was a left-field murder of a fan-favored character by his intimate partner with no explanation. The backlash put the series on hiatus for a year.
  • Requiem Vampire Knight: The world is so grimdark that there's hardly anyone to root for. Let's see, it's set on a hellworld where the wicked are rewarded by being turned into powerful monsters and the good are punished by being turned into less powerful monsters, the whole culture is built around violence, bloodshed, and betraying anyone you can, and even the gods are terrible eldritch entities at war with each other. Even the main character is an ex-Nazi who is the reincarnation of possibly the most evil character in the setting.
    • Seems to be a recurring issue in comics made by Pat Mills, in Nemesis the Warlock with the exception of Purity Brown, there are hardly sympathetic characters worth rooting for, including Nemesis, who's a brutal demonic Anti-Hero fighting against Torquemada for all the wrong reasons. The series' heavy handed theme of Humans Are Bastards, with most human characters being shown as sleazy and pathetic individuals when not committing atrocities, and Kevin O'Neill's grotesque artwork don't help much either.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW): The Metal Virus arc is a Zombie Apocalypse in the Sonic universe played completely straight, and arguably the bleakest Sonic tale ever told. While the idea of Sonic and friends being powerless, even helpless for once is an interesting one, what readers actually get in execution is a depressing slog where the heroes constantly lose whatever small victories they can get, Dr. Eggman and Starline continually make huge strides, and beloved characters undergo a Face–Monster Turn almost once an issue (even Cream isn't safe!). So much emphasis is placed on the loss and suffering caused as a result of said robo-zombie apocalypse that a lot of fans just felt burned out by the time the Darkest Hour hit and Team Sonic finally started clawing their way back from the brink... and one can only imagine how the target audience must have felt. While things obviously get better for the heroes eventually, the one-arc-a-year policy results in eight straight issues of nonstop loss and misery, which unsurprisingly makes for a very draining read. Not helping issues is that of the villains involved in this plot, one has Joker Immunity and the other is a Karma Houdini despite gleefully bounding across the Moral Event Horizon—he has to survive to headline the Bad Guys subline.
  • The Transformers (IDW) has taken a darker tone on Transformers: Generation 1; the Autobots before the war weren't saints as the ones in the present, who aren't always as nice as we used to know them. Their relations with the humans who fear and hate them aren't good, all thanks to the Decepticons who are as ruthless as ever. Even though the Autobots have saved Cybertron, their victory seems hollow. A band of Cybertronians who fled the war blame both sides for tearing Cybertron apart, Optimus steps down as Prime as part of a deal so that the Autobots can stay and goes into exile. Meanwhile an even greater threat looms, as an entire universe called the Dead Universe seeks to extinguish all life in normal space. More Than Meets The Eye has largely averted this trope by actually having the heroes succeed and keeping them sympathetic while not playing up the darker ideas as much (or at least toning them down significantly), but its sister series Robots In Disguise is steadily slipping into it. Some fans have started abandoning Robots In Disguise because unlike MTMTE it sometimes gets really depressing.

    Season 2 seems to be taking steps to reverse this; Dark Cybertron left things in a much better state than at the start of MTMTE and RID, and RID has adopted a more humorous tone, making the mood a little more consistent for the two comics.
  • Über was stated by its author to be a story not meant to be enjoyed, with the author's intent being to utterly demolish the typical comic book themes of Heroic Spirit, Underdogs Never Lose and Stupid Jetpack Hitler. It's World War II, and Hitler got himself a shiny new weapon in the form of super-powered soldiers, with the rest of the comic being one absurdly-gory slaughterfest after another absurdly-gory slaughterfest performed by these super-soldiers as the Allies rush to find something, anything, that can provide them a fighting chance. Good guys with a strong desire to win get slaughtered mercilessly, bad guys walk away to fight another day even in the worst situations they get into, the Red Shirt Army soldiers on all sides are about as useful as a new coat of paint (and quickly become a new coat of paint)... essentially, the story can be described as "let's take the Second World War, crank the bloodshed and horror Up to Eleven, and brutally snuff out any reason we can think of to make the reader feel hopeful that maybe things might get better". The author has become aware of this trope and has made an effort to avert this in later issues, but whether he actually succeeds or not is still debatable.
  • The Walking Dead is obviously not meant to be a light-hearted comic, being set in a Zombie Apocalypse, but even for the genre it gets progressively darker over time. Every single gain the characters manage to find is always ruined, many characters continually die in dark and gory ways, and the ones who've managed to stay alive become more and more traumatized until Rick declares "WE ARE THE WALKING DEAD!" And since the zombie apocalypse is global with no known cure, there seems to be no end in sight. In addition, as usually happens in these kinds of stories, the humans are more evil and a bigger threat than the zombies.
  • One of the reasons why Youngblood proved to be such a disaster: The nominal heroes weren't allowed a win because every enemy they faced was a potential Spin-Off, so they had to be subjected to The Worf Effect. For the book's entire run, they only had one clear victory: A Qurac dictator whose head was burst by a psychic hero... to set up his Face–Heel Turn.
    • The spinoffs themselves were even worse. Brigade Vs. Bloodstrike was an Evil vs. Evil story, since both team leaders were Youngblood villains given their own books. And the miniseries ended with no clear victor (so there could be a rematch) meaning we didn't even get to see one of the bad guys lose.


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