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Darkness Induced Audience Apathy / Fan Works

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     My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic 
  • The Assassination of Twilight Sparkle had a Bittersweet Ending while the sequel Aftermath of a Fallen Star further explored how it effected her loved ones while developing into a Deconstruction of Equestria's Sugar Bowl setting. This increasing darkness culminated in a Happy Ending Override revealing the seeming good to come out of it played into the hands of the true mastermind behind the assassination and Equestria was so intolerant and backwards the attempt to modernize the country is met with civil war, leading to a Genre Shift away from the personal tragedy that made the story popular. In its place was an increasingly Crapsack World so bleak it now came off as meaningless shock valueexample , villains too evil to be compelling yet would inevitably come out ahead, and the heroes being useless to stop this or making things worse trying, leaving seemingly no chance of a worthwhile ending. The sequels to Aftermath of a Fallen Star took over six months to receive 100 likes while the author's later one-shot stories easily breached that number in a couple weeks. They later admitted they mishandeled the story such they're canceling the sequels and rebooting the series.
  • 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. The author admitted to losing interest in the work, which they later canceled promising a reboot.
    I think with this story, I let things get so dark that even I don't know how they can save their world, or even if they can win. I want them to win, but when even the actual angel meant to save the world (Vale) is powerless, what hope do they have.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • A Brighter Dark: When the main character is an unlikable Designated Hero, the country she's fighting for is a Crapsack World more than happy to Rape, Pillage, and Burn, and the country they're fighting against is a ridiculously racist Crapsaccharine World, readers may find it hard to care. That's not even getting into the ridiculous Adaptational Angst Upgrade...
  • 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 Hetalia: Axis Powers, 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.
  • Be My Escape is widely considered one of the most depressing Adventure Time fanfics in existence, and for good reason. The story revolves around Finn never getting adopted by Jake's parents and instead lived most of his life inside a Circus of Fear, where he was emotionally and physically abused before finally seizing a chance to escape. The land of Ooo is written as being a Wretched Hive devoid of any law or morality, a good chunk of the characters are either psychologically unwell or straight-up jerks, and there's overall a strong sense of hopelessness in the tone.
  • Some readers of Digimon Adventure 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".
  • Faery Heroes: A Peggy Sue in which Harry, Hermione, and Luna go back in time. This in of itself is not apathy-inducing, but the story suffers from both Ron the Death Eater and Designated Hero, and the resulting Evil vs. Evil conflict is so bland and cliché-riddled that you'll want everyone to be killed by the fae.
  • Forged Destiny: It can be argued that the story suffers this starting from Book 5. While the first four Books of Forged Destiny has elements of darkness and each Book had a Bittersweet Ending, there was usually still enough of a balance between the darker moments with moments of levity, worldbuilding and character building moments to counteract it. However, from Book 5 onwards, many of the arcs end with progressively darker and more bitter consequences with very little levity or time to relax and process the events properly in between. The end result is that the story feels like it's determined to drag Jaune through the dirt, breaking down his friendship with the Guild, putting him into an environment of extreme paranoia and distrust, killing off several people who he had come to respect and trust and overall undermining any sense of growth or levity for the sake of drama. The current arc in Book 8 only seems determined to continue this trend with the reveal that Blake's family might have been attacked and murdered by Ruby's mother, a person who for all intents and purposes was seen as a decent person with, at worst, a bad case of Chronic Hero Syndrome.
  • 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.
  • The Longest Road falls into this every once in a while, especially when it tries to make scenes that are supposed to be emotional. Perhaps the most egregious example is during the Pokémon League, when Ash battles Lance and, despite winning, his Squirtle (evolving to Wartortle during the match) ends up badly injured because Ash refused to switch him out (never mind he had the rest of the team available). Not only Ash falls into a blatant case of Wangst about it, but he also somehow decides that it's Misty's fault because she failed to convince him to switch Pokémon.
  • The Nowakverse as a whole. It is a product of the late '90s, Under the Bridge being amongst the first Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers fanfics. The very first one, Rhyme and Reason, had pretty much set the tone for most of these early works, and that tone was pretty dark, taking the possibilities that the crime-fighting setting of CDRR offered its creative fans to extremes without time constraints or Disney's in-house rules. And although they don't have Downer Endings, John Nowak's fics in particular can get very dark. This sort of fic was very popular back in those days, not only, but particulary in the CDRR fandom. However, seen from the point of view from some ten years later or even today, this can be too much darkness at once. And Nowak himself was convinced enough of having overdone it shortly after publishing Under the Bridge that he MSTed his very own fic together with Matt Plotecher, himself famous for his Chip Noir Dales Rescue Rangers series which doesn't have "Noir" in its name for nothing either.
  • 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 crumbling apart for them.
  • 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.
  • Super Sentai vs. Power Rangers fell into this, despite the author aiming for a Lighter and Softer tone. Given that most of the heroes are extremely OOC Designated Heroes who punish characters the author hates for minor offences (and in one chapter, when the Power Rangers Operation Overdrive die, they show up to the funeral purely to mock them. Fortunately, this was later deleted due to the backlash it received.). Normally this would lead to a Rooting for the Empire situation, but the villains are all assholes and depraved individuals with no moral ambiguity who commit wanton murder with no remorse. The only character remotely likeable is Flurious, who exists to be humiliated by everyone and is killed off with no fanfare.
  • Whenever Super Smash Bros. The Animated Series isn't being mind-bogglingly weird, it's this. The author clearly intends for it to be a Darker and Edgier take on the world of Super Smash Bros...which apparently equates to poorly-described fight scenes, random swearing, lots and lots of Gratuitous Rape, and most of the cast becoming completely interchangeable Jerkasses. This, combined with being outright boring, makes the series unbelievably hard to get through.
  • 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.

Alternative Title(s): Fan Fics


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