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My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
- A Puppet To Her Fame is notorious for its grim dark and heavy levels of abuse. Even MLP story reader ObabScribbler acknowledged that the story was difficult even for her, stating she felt horrible after finishing up a reading afterwards.
- Like its name suggests, The Assassination of Twilight Sparkle deals with the emotional and political fallout of Princess Twilight's murder. Its sequel fic, Aftermath of a Fallen Star, attempts to expand upon this before devolving into a Deconstruction of Equestria's Sugar Bowl setting, including mental illness induced suicide, rape, terroristic bombing, lack of even a shred of empathy on the part of Canterlot's citizens to the point of Aristocrats Are Evil, the existence of Unicornia, a separatist nation of Unicorn Supremacists allied with Tirek, a draconian law dictating a pony must take a job corresponding with their Cutie Mark and falsifying ones Cutie Mark to work in any other field is an act of fraud and punishable by imprisonment and an on going conspiracy by Duke Blueblood to overthrow the Royal Sisters and place his pureblood Alicorn daughter on the throne, all happening right under Celestia's nose without her knowledge. It got to the point more than one viewer was hoping Canterlot would eventually meet the same fate as the one in Fallout: Equestria.
- In Asylum, some readers found the degree to which Twilight Sparkle is ground down emotionally and the overall sense of gloom throughout the first part of the story, coupled with the story's considerable length, very gradual plot development, and lack of Hope Spots, to be more trouble than the Ontological Mystery at the center was worth.
- A few readers feel this way about Background Pony. The story is pretty bleak and resolute about grinding Lyra into the dirt, with hope seeming so distant or unreachable at times that it's easy to simply become exhausted with the entire narrative. The final chapter is especially bad in this regard; though her decision in the end was utterly selfless, the focus on her loss from said selflessness adds one final bout of angst to the pile.
- The increasing focus of The Dear Sweetie Belle Continuity on foreshadowing/setting up a coming cataclysmic conflict which portends doom for Equestria, and the distinct possibility of unhappy endings for most characters involved, has driven off a few commenters (though many more are still hooked). Some also find the behavior of the royals who receive much of the focus to be extremely unpleasant, especially considering that their divisive behavior is implied to be at least partially responsible for said conflict.
- Fallout: Equestria, not only in the main story, but in many side-stories as well (especially Project Horizons). People have called it even more depressing than the Fallout canon, because of a simple reason: there is only so much horror that can be placed in a video game before it becomes impossible to sell, while a fan fiction doesn't has the same restrictions... and there are so many rapes, brutal deaths (and especially "pointless" deaths), post-apocalyptic inhumanity and Scenery Gorn of beloved Equestrian locations (more often than not loaded with literal Gorn) before people call it quits. The flashback sequences to pre-cataclysm Equestria are even worse triggers of this, because they all showcase much-beloved F.I.M. characters (especially the Mane Six) devolving into complete Jerkasses because of the pressures of the Great War and Doomed by Canon to die in said war, so why bother?
- In the MLP story Harmony Theory, some readers are starting to feel this way, due to very little being revealed about the central mystery, despite being on chapter thirty-four and with over five hundred thousand words in with no end in sight and the villains-especially Max Cash-managing to turn around any victory the heroes do have, and coming out on top, anyway. No matter how hard the heroes have fought, it can occasionally feel like they have very little progress, while the villains seem to continuously gain progress with their mysterious plans, only being slightly inconvenienced. The fact that it takes place in a Bad Future where a pony can get a cutie mark/talent glyph in killing, Celestia and Luna are both trapped in their respected celestial bodies, there is a rogue War Goddess running around, planning to turn the world to ash, and the two countries that used to be Equestria are on the brink of war and even with the world at stake, many of them stubbornly refuse to work together, just might have something to do with that.
- This can even happen with shorter stories, as seen with I Am Not the Actor, a study of what might have happened if one of Pinkie's clones had survived the end of "Too Many Pinkie Pies" instead of the real deal. In brief, it switches between the clone screwing up whatever Pinkie used to do (not at all Played for Laughs) and being mostly oblivious to how much everybody around seems to resent her, Twilight attempting to drown her guilt at dooming her friend (and the thought that the other clones may have been as sapient as this one) by switching between trying to self-righteously iron out the clone's "imperfections" and being a mind-boggling Jerkass to "it", and the rest of the mane cast being too uncomfortable and indecisive to have any impact on events. It seems like this cycle would continue forever if the real Pinkie didn't get out of the Mirror Pool and send the clone off to find herself.
- While the original Inner Demons was fairly dark, it still ended up being a case of Earn Your Happy Ending, avoiding this trope... until the sequels, which pulled some downright brutal Happy Ending Override, especially where Rarity is concerned, which turned off many readers. To put it in perspective, both sequels have the Tragedy tag, which is just an advance warning that a story cannot possibly end happily.
- After waiting over a year for the fifth episode, some viewers of My Little Portal were turned off by the exponential increase in both gore and a sense of hopelessness, thanks to the past fall of Canterlot and a great deal of character mutilation, along with the death of most of the original show's cast in gruesome ways. By the end of it there's practically nothing Twilight can return to. Illustrating this phenomenon is the fact the next episode has around one fifth of Episode 5's views, with the drop in views remaining for the one after that.
- The Nuptialverse gradually veers away from the character-focused vignettes of Post Nuptials in favor of arcs such as Scootabuse and an anti-Celestia movement which seems far more effective than any of the characters or situations involved would allow, diverging wildly from canon in both content and tone. A number of readers objected to the point of forcing the addition of a Dark tag to Families, and when the sequel Direction was posted with that tag from the start, they rather vocally swore it off. (Ironically, the author only added that tag to Direction as a pre-emptive response to these objectors and has since removed it.)
- Solitary Locust, the tale of Twilight Sparkle accidentally turning herself into a changeling and going on the run, goes into exhaustive detail on both the physical injuries and mental and emotional scarring inflicted on her, both of which just keep stacking up. It reaches the point where many readers stopped believing anything resembling a happy ending was possible, either because Twilight would be forever scarred by the experience even if she made it out or because they got the impression anything the author did would either dump more misery on Twilight or serve as a Hope Spot before yanking the rug out from under her.
- Volume I of Spectacular Seven has been noted by commenters as being a chore to sit through. The fic keeps piling up angst and stress on top of Sunset Shimmer, from being the only person not affected by a Hate Plague, to making her an Unwitting Instigator of Doom with the Sirens, to having a Third-Act Misunderstanding with Twilight Sparkle. The heroes all act like jerks to each other, the villains seem almost impossibly hard to defeat, and the few ways that everything can be fixed keep becoming vanishingly less likely. While things do eventually lighten up - Sunset does manage to come out of everything in one piece - the author admitted that Volume I ended up far darker than he intended, necessitating a few changes to the second volume to keep the story from being too depressing, and was said to be much better about handling conflict.
- The Titan's Orb by Old Man Dusters, has often been accused of this — largely due to the many Humans Are Bastards moments and the Adaptational Villainy of several canon characters (most notably, Twilight and Celestia). And it only goes Up to Eleven in the second part — while an Author's Saving Throw does reveal said Adaptational Villainy to be a sham caused by the Big Bad being The Corrupter and a Manipulative Bastard, a downright-relentless series of Yank the Dog's Chain moments (E.g.: Diabolus ex Machina-style Mind Rape from said Big Bad, who's an Invincible Villain; Dropped a Bridge on Him-style deaths of several likeable Ensemble Darkhorses) nevertheless seems to be overriding that and making things extra bleak.
- What Have You Done and its sequel Even As... have garnered this reaction, postulating that if Chrysalis had not bothered to banish Twilight Sparkle to the caves after her argument with her friends, Twilight would have taken it badly enough to free Discord from his imprisonment and bugger off, with much Wangsting. Said friends, meanwhile, are rejected by their Elements of Harmony for a momentary error (and Word of God is that even the Elements don't really understand what they're doing), and with both them and Celestia cast in the wrong by the narrative, the only character available to root for is Twilight Velvet, a borderline O.C. Stand-in (with a dose of Unreliable Narrator).
- This is a bit of an issue in the Dan Vs. and MLP crossover The Wheel and the Butterfly Saga. The cast of Dan Vs. were never very pleasant people and the cast of MLP Took a Level in Jerkass to be just as unlikable as the former. Particularly Pinkie Pie, who very soon turn into just as much of a Heroic Comedic Sociopath as Dan himself, thanks to the latter's influence. The "heroes" repeatedly torment innocent people and cause massive collateral damage with no repercussions, the antagonist are even more unlikable, and the whole story is brimming with Comedic Sociopathy.
- The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fic Whiplash (by Molotov Cocktail) has gotten some flack for featuring — among other things — a cliched combination of Humans Are Bastards and nuclear warfare, a Butt-Monkey protagonist who gets a rather-ridiculous amount of No Sympathy from others (Including some he's supposed to help, no less!) even after they know about his Dark and Troubled Past of being the Last of His Kind, a borderline-Moral Event Horizon-crossing Celestia who's willing to let innocent members of another species die horribly in a rather-convoluted plan to save Equestria from yet another looming threat, and a Gainax Ending Reset Button that's left some wondering whether or not anything's actually been resolved. In fact, even the author seems to have realized this — the (currently unfinished) sequel is noticeably Lighter and Softer (despite some retained dark elements here and there), and more readers seem to feel that this group of protagonists has a decent shot at invoking Earn Your Happy Ending.
- All He Ever Wanted: When almost every character is either an unlikable bastard/bitch or being constantly tortured, readers may not be sure who to root for at all. Or if there's any character worth rooting for. Especially considering that in canon Axis Powers Hetalia, all nations are given at least some sympathetic and/or kind moments, even the worst Jerk Asses... and yet the fic removes almost all of them; i.e., seeing Prussia as a megalomaniac, abusive, rapist Nazi Card-Carrying Villain when he's at most a Hot-Blooded Butt-Monkey in canon is all kinds of NO.
- All You Need Is Love. Even if it is a Crack Fic and based on Death Note, it can be hard to maintain interest when everyone is either an asshole if not outright villainous, an idiot or a Butt-Monkey. Or a combination of the three.
- Ambience: A Fleet Symphony: Ties in with Audience-Alienating Premise. Even if one able to get past Damon's questionable behavior, almost everyone is revealed to not have clean hands, the obvious villains notwithstanding. Even the "good" factions that Damon works with aren't above things such as highly questionable experiments, hostage-taking, and "retiring" people. This makes it really difficult to cheer for anyone.
- Some readers of Digimon 02 The Story We Never Told were either turned off by the much more cynical and angsty version of the story compared to canon to the point of being grimdark, or the fact that certain characters (Matt, Mimi, and Cody in particular) are much more unpleasant than they ever were in the show. However, once Ken dies, most of their jerkass traits disappear and the series slowly but surely becomes more optimistic as the Digidestined starts to make their own resolve, thus subverting this trope over time.
- Dumbledore's Army and the Year of Darkness and its sequels want to be a "serious" take on the Harry Potter series. Unfortunately, the author has mistaken gratuitous gore and bloodshed for seriousness. People die en masse even when canon insists they lived, morally-ambiguous characters are transformed into pure evil, nobody gets out without severe injury (physical or mental), and if it looks like something good is about to happen, the heroes will destroy it with their own stupidity or selfishness—and yet the narrative expects us to sympathize with them, especially in the case of Neville Longbottom. Once hailed as a work of art, it's now seen as a mass of potential buried in overdone "drama".
- As if Hammer Brother couldn't possibly have more going against it, the fact that it ends with the eponymous hero being eaten by the Buried Alive Model makes all the suffering you went through all for naught. Even before that, a near complete lack of power-ups, absurd difficulty and getting stuck at random makes the already horrible fangame even worse. On top of that, it tries to mimic Brutal Mario, but fails to understand why that game's darkness worked.
- Heimatfront, a crossover series, takes place in Nazi Germany during the last days of the war, focuses on Maria Nitzchmann (aka Miho Nishizumi), a BDM conscript, who delivers some tanks to the German army, but finds herself caught up in the fighting, and wants to do what she can to ensure a more favorable outcome for Nazi Germany. Unfortunately, not only do you know how this will end, especially considering Maria's lucky to even survive her battles, but when Maria finds out about the Holocaust, her superior, Roy Messner (aka Roy Mustang) bluntly tells her that he knows about it, too, and essentially says she has two choices- fight a losing battle and essentially enable crimes against humanity to continue, or let Germany fall to its enemies, who will take revenge on the people. It's historically accurate, but not only do you know Maria won't succeed, you have to question whether she should.
- In The Jaded Eyes Series, the author said they wanted to write a Harry Potter darkfic, and lord but it shows. It starts with a six-year-old Harry not only being beaten and abused by the Dursleys to such extent that he ought to be dead (how a six-year-old survives being kicked around a basement by his considerably larger uncle is never made clear), and apparently not one single person in the neighborhood or school notice any of his copious injuries. From there, Harry murders all three Dursleys in their sleep, sets out on his own, and every single person he meets from there on out are either selfish or put through circumstances that are horrible. Characters like Lily and James Potter, Dumbledore, and Lupin are given Ron the Death Eater treatment so they're completely unlikable, but the characters who show Undying Loyalty to Harry come across as equally horrible because they know he's doing things like dissecting kidnapped Muggles and overlook it because he's somehow just that charismatic. When the protagonist is a nihilistic kid who only views others as tools, the supporting cast are either Jerkasses or his enablers, and the story ends with his helpers gladly helping him take over the world and murder countless Muggles and his adopted mother magically aborting her conscious-but-unborn baby so she can birth him after he's turned into stone, the entire thing is incredibly unpleasant. Oh, and it goes on for nearly seventy chapters.
- Latias' Journey is a prime case of such, right where the Your Secret Admirer prequel (which goes to hell rather quickly in its own right) left off. Almost right out of the gate, there is plenty of moments of over-the-top violence, Gratuitous Rape, sex, profanity, and Ri2's refusal to show and not tell with a side-order of Wangst (Mostly from the titular heroine, but May also has her moments of such as well.) and Flanderization, among the cast. The real kicker is that Latias falls in love with the Ghost King, the being responsible for destroying Latias' home in the first place. The author himself eventually gets fed up with making the characters suffer and decides to give them all a happy ending at the last minute, except for James who is left in outer space.
- Requiem for a Loud is about Lincoln Loud suffering from neurofibromatosisnote and is only given about two-to-three weeks to live. While the whole terminal illness concept has been done to death already, the story manages to work around it by showing how Lincoln dying is affecting those around him (i.e. his friends and family). By exploring the characterization and how they're dealing with the situation, the story manages to be quite depressing given that each of his 10 sisters has reacted very badly towards Lincoln's imminent death. Overall, everything just seems to be crumpling apart for them.
- In The Rival Prefects Trilogy, no reason is given for the rivalry between the two prefects so it might be difficult to care about who comes out on top. The fact that one of them gets turned to stone and remains conscious afterwards also makes for a rather dark ending.
- The Road To Cydonia reveals itself as this soon after Reflections Lost on a Dark Road begins; InuYasha shows up as a more idealistic figure, but is revealed as All Just a Dream of a schizophrenic psionic Kagome. Or rather her mother. But even that pales before the introduction of the Dark Titans—all are quickly neutralized by UNETCO forces, upon which they are repeatedly subjected to intense, prosthelytizing cynicism.
Starfire runs right into Herb of the Musk, who is so dedicated to Just Following Orders that despite realizing that she's desperately trying not to kill him, he just uses her hesitation to casually beat her unconscious. X-COM then Mind Rapes her to try to deduce her origins. Only the appearance of the other Titans proves her a non-combatant (due to voluntarily allowing their minds to be read), which leads them to instead cautiously draft her and return her to the rest of the Titans with the intention of turning her into an ally while they research the dimensional crossover. When most of the other Titans petition for national citizenship to register to fight the aliens, it is mentioned that according to UN legislation aliens have no rights, and she's not an exception.
Jinx makes a friend for the first time since she left both the HIVE Academy and the Titans, a rogue alien clone of Akari Unryuu, only for X-COM to accidentally-on-purpose return her to alien control, rather than let her die, so they can experiment on her to discover weaknesses in human-ethereal hybrids.
Raven gets a pat on the head by X-COM psi researchers, who refuse to acknowledge her Eldritch Abomination father as a "demon" rather than an alien, instead encouraging her to abandon her training and tap into her new-found Mind Control abilities, as being in the X-COM dimension actually dulls Raven's darker emotions and demon power and allows her to tap into her human-side's powers instead. This presents other dark temptations, however, and after a return to Azarath, she gets Drunk on the Dark Side, bringing the Raven/Ryoga/Jinx love triangle back to square one (if not pulling a flat-out three-way Ship Sinking) via mind raping Jinx into forgetting her love for Ryoga and (in Ryoga's eyes) crossing the Moral Event Horizon. Also Jinx starts to believe thanks to this that being a heroine just isn't her calling in life.
Titans!Ryoga efforts at bonding with his fellow Titans are at one time mocked by his militaristic counterpart, saying that pretending to be a Nice Guy will compromise his ability to command a team in the field. The two Ryougas spend much of the story unable to see eye-to-eye for a variety of reasons.
Cyborg gets it the lightest—his courageous superhero act is typically less valued by X-COM, who want him to Stay In The Lab building superweapons. He tried to skirt both areas, helping in the lab and in the field. He decides to shut down the empathic parts of his mind to be more effective, with the predictable backfire that follows.
All in all, you don't read the fic wondering what will happen to anyone from the X-COMverse, as it's mentioned multiple times that they will likely all die in the titular assault on Cydonia. Some profess that they don't care if they live or die, or what happens to their civilization after they kill all the aliens, as long as there is a civilization at all to return to, so why should the reader? What you wonder is if Our Heroes the Teen Titans will make it out of the Waffen-XX dimension alive, or if they'll even get to die sane.
Though, conversely, many characters speak often about the end of the war and their desire to survive it, for example, X-COM's Ryouga, who has slowly and painfully found a way out of his previous depression, and Ryu, who hopes to rebuild his family dojo and have a family, and the Amazons who want to rebuild their village after the terror site, but all have heard that Cydonia is likely to be a suicide mission and as a result of recent alien assaults on X-COM bases, morale is at a low point. Mental states are further stretched thin by efforts to investigate other dimensions and attempt to return the Titans to their home.
- Before the rewrite, Sonic X: Dark Chaos had this in spades and was strongly criticized for it by several reviewers. The Sonic characters were even bigger jerks than their original depictions. The extremely grimdark setting didn't help, with the entire universe doomed in an over-the-top Cosmic Horror Story filled with gruesome violence and a generous topping of Evil vs. Evil and Black and Gray Morality for good measure. Maledict and Tsali being absurdly overpowered didn't help. The author rewrote it several years later partially to avoid this trope - while the setting is actually darker than before, the story itself has a somewhat more upbeat conclusion.
- This trope is also why the author discontinued the prequels Fall of the Seedrians and Battlestar Dandelion. In particular, the latter has Tsali (a genocidal mass-murdering fox android) as the protagonist against the Metarex in a blatantly Evil vs. Evil war, while Hertia and her people slowly descend into religious fanaticism, civil strife, and He Who Fights Monsters in their desperation to stay alive. And pretty much all of them are Doomed by Canon anyway.
- Their Bond is a doorstopper of a Zelda fic that ships Zelda and Impa, but it's also a Dark Fic with emphasis on the "dark". There's a major plot thread about Zelda dealing with her Dark and Troubled Past. The first 20 chapters alone go into great detail about how deeply troubled Zelda is but there's little levity between the chapters of suicidal depression and descriptions of her past abuse and Rape as Backstory. It doesn't get much better when other characters are revealed to have their own problems, such as Link's alcoholism. This can make the story difficult to get through.
- Another Death Note fanfic, Those Who Stand for Nothing Fall for Anything, can easily induce apathy in many readers. While it IS supposed to be satirical, it's difficult at times to care about the characters when they're not only mostly sleazy politicians, but exhibit few redeeming qualities among them and seem increasingly bent on making their lives and each other's miserable. L and Light are the worst of the bunch, and so far they've not gotten much comeuppance for any of the rotten things they do.
- KnightMysterio, the author for Waking Nightmares, is aware of this and has mentioned in this tumblr post that he is attempting to make sure that this does not happen. (Given that the story has Slenderman as the main villain.)
- Excessive darkness is an all too common problem in Fire Emblem Awakening fanworks. The game does has a very dark phase, but the fanworkers fixate on that dark phase and make it the bread and butter of their fanwork, with the resulting art/fic being ridiculously melodramatic, wangsty, and worst of all, boring. It also tends to parallel the rather creepy tendency of some fans to take Video Game Caring Potential centered on the Second Generation characters to the extreme of viewing them almost as if they were the fans's real life children, focusing only on their difficult backstories and reducing them to woobies to coddle and adore and project issues on. (Often while ignoring/handwaving the First Generation characters' also rather harsh problems.)
A good example was the now lost "Future of Despair" webcomic, based on said dark phase alias the Bad Future. Some fans used to criticize it for its contrived melodrama, its portrayal of the female characters as weaker or weepier than they ACTUALLY are in canon (and, in at least one case, as downright Too Dumb to Live), the Cliché Storm and how it downright ignores/handwaves some parts of the canon itself solely to force sympathies out of the readers.
- Random commenter: I like drama, don't get me wrong. But there's drama...and well, there's drama.
- Pretty much everything ever written by Dakari-King Mykan is either this, or inverts it Las Lindas-style. In a nutshell, the fanfics that play this straight involve either Daisuke/Davis Motomiya or Beast Boy level-grinding in douchebaggery because they didn't get Kari/Terra (respectively), and pushing away their friends...or their friends turning unsympathetic for no reason. And needless to say, it's all downhill from there. Expect bad endings should those happen. The End of Ends being especially bad in this regard. (Except for the other Titans being woobies compared to Count Logan.) In short, it's virtually impossible to be invested in any of his fanfics...unless you're masochistic enough to put yourself through reading them.
- And there's a big case of the aforementioned inversion in the My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic series. It's a maelstrom of sentai cliches, cases of racism and sexism, and a few cases of line-crossing by the so-called heroes of Starfleet. (Especially in regards to what happens to Ace Ray.) And yet, everything'll just turn out rosy for the heroes in the end. Doesn't help that the Mane Six are shadows of their former selves. (Nevermind the fact that Twilight dies in episode 16 of the second sequel, or Princess Cadance being the author's chewtoy just because she got happily married.) Of course, the villains suffer from a dose of incompetence, being generic in their evilness, and how by-the-numbers their plans are pretty much negates any chance of them being rooted for to kick the asses of the "heroic" cast right out of the gate.