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Deconstructed Trope / Live-Action TV

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  • Degrassi: The Next Generation
    • The character Riley is a deconstruction of the gym bunny gay trope. Usually played for laughs on other TV shows, it's implied that Riley's masculinity and steroid use are attempts to compensate for his sexuality.
    • Paige's rape is a deconstruction of Rape Portrayed as Redemption. Paige is not only raped, but years later when she brings her rapist to trial, she doesn't win the trial case and Dean suffers absolutely no consequences. As a result, Paige begins to act out and even steals Spinner's car and crashes it into Dean's as revenge before realizing something most girls should: it was a terrible experience, but it shouldn't consume one's life. She then confesses to everything and completely throws this ugly chapter out of her life, but becomes a better person because of it.
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    • The belief that all people need to be comforted until fully healed is deconstructed at its fullest after Cam's suicide through Eli and Clare. Having discovered Cam's dead body, Eli was clearly distraught and afraid, but such a thing is normal. Clare knows that she must be there for Eli, and attempts to help him as much as possible with his grieving. The thing is, every time they meet up, she brings up Cam's suicide, constantly reminding Eli of the event and keeping him from moving on. As a result, he begins to distance himself from her and experiments with MDMA, until ending their relationship for the second time.
  • The new Battlestar Galactica deconstructed the maverick/rogue trope with Starbuck. Ron Moore played the trope straight, even admitting using it slightly unrealistically by having Starbuck be as good a sharpshooter out of the cockpit as in the cockpit too. Yet they showed exactly how messed up and driven by demons that person would have to be to be that good and yet that much of a loose cannon. And of course, the consequences in military and personal terms for those actions as well.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles:
    • It makes it a point to show just how badly a teenager would be affected Because Destiny Says So and being forced to constantly move around the country, with the only people he can trust being his mother and a very scary Robot Girl.
    • The whole "robot learning to act human" plot portrayed as adorable in the movies is seen as frightening and unnatural in the series.
    • John Connor himself is a Deconstruction of the Future Badass, in that he's always known he's going to become one. The series pulls no punches with putting him through the traumas and harsh life lessons that would turn somebody into one. He's also frequently seen asking characters from the future (who are often disappointed and frustrated that he's still just a kid) what his future self would do in a given situation.
    • "Self-Made Man" asks wouldn't it be great if Cameron was your friend. In the end, she drove away the only friend she had but that's okay he has a replacement whom she can exploit.
  • Supernatural is partially based on this, taking tropes related to monsters from myth and legend (of the week)and deconstructing the hell out of them. Call it 75% establishing a unique universe and 25% this trope.
    • Around Season Two, they started deconstructing Really Gets Around with Dean. Sure, he's Mr Yo-Yo Boxers but it's compulsive, his own brother believes that he's a whore with no standards and he's on his way to getting a slightly nasty reputation.
    • It also began examining just how incredibly screwed up a person would have to be to lead the lifestyle hunters do. Although it never sacrifices its premise of being a fun show about two guys with a cool car hunting monsters, it gets very serious and thus very dark on these occasions.
    • It deconstructed Heroic Sacrifices with Dean's "Deal With The Devil" storyline. He knows it was selfish and only did it because he should have stayed dead, feels like he's fucked up so much that he deserves eternal torture, he can't be without his brother and because John told him to look after Sam at all costs. For his part, Sam thinks it was self-righteous, hypocritical, suicidal and extremely selfish. As for the others - Bobby finally realizes how broken Dean was and how much he hates himself, both the Crossroad Demons call it needy and Azazel knows it was self-destructive, pathetic and self-loathing. So Heroic Sacrifices? Not so noble after all - more like selfish, pathetic, destructive and so very suicidal.
    • One episode deconstructs the idea of standing up to a bully. As a kid, Sam beat up a bully named Dirk and saddled him with an unflattering nickname, "The Jerk". This ruins Dirk's reputation and his life spiraled out of control as he grew up until he died of a drug overdose. Since the Winchesters moved around a lot, Sam left before he could witness any of the fallout. It's only years later that Sam found out Dirk was also oppressed in school for being poor and stupid.
    • "Wishful Thinking" deconstructs a Satellite Love Interest in an example of a guy who made the wish that his high school crush would love him over anything else. At first, he is happy with this new situation but eventually, he becomes disheartened by the fact she literally has no other personality other than pleasing and loving him, even resorting to murder for him to maintain their "love".
  • The British Superhero comedy-drama, Misfits, is a deconstruction of the Superhero franchise. Getting powers that reflects one's personality isn't always a good thing. The main characters are all foul mouthed, drug taking delinquents, and yet THEY'RE the good guys. It's the girl who spreads the knowledge of virtue, the probation workers who keep the kids in line, the church pastor, and the woman in a coma who are the evil ones. And when you think about it, that actually makes a lot of sense. Out of all the five original main characters, only one of them ever came up with the idea of using their powers to help people, and it's The Quiet One who's usually picked on. That's rare. To this day, none of the characters have become intentional super heroes. Superpowers in this show are also not what one would expect. The girl who you think would get super strength instead gets the power to read minds, the guy who you think would have either the best or worst power gets the power of immortality, which of course, only works for him and otherwise isn't truly useful. Not to mention the fact that some of these supers include a girl who can make people automatically want to have sex with her through skin contact (and can never turn this ability off), a girl who can give cheating or distrustful men STDs, a man who can turn into a woman, and a trans man who can take male genitalia. You don't get stuff like this on the Justice League.
  • Foyle's War deconstructs the myth of wartime Britain being a place where everyone pulled together to make a stand and fight the common foe; in the early years especially, there's an awful lot of defeatism, cynicism and would-be collaboration afoot, and there's more than a few people who are willing to cynically exploit the confusion, desperation and uncertainty produced by the war to venally line their own pockets. Furthermore, the British government is willing to do whatever it takes and make deals with whomever they need to win the war, resulting in an awful lot of Karma Houdinis in DCS Foyle's investigations.
  • Angel:
    • Jasmine is a deconstructed Mary Sue; she's beautiful, her mother is in a coma, and from her first appearance, she completely steals the spotlight from the main cast, who are instantly trying to help her accomplish her goals, while constantly talking about how wonderful she is. (Because they're Brainwashed!)
    • The Big Guy. Charles Gunn resents being thought of as little more than "the muscle," and so make a (basically literal) Deal with the Devil to gain intricate knowledge of the law, human and demon alike. To maintain this new skill, Gunn makes a second deal that ends up killing someone he loved. He doesn't even realize that his upgrade has actually made him The Big Guy version of a lawyer.
    • Illyria deconstructs the Replacement Goldfish. As she inhabits Fred's body, effectively killing her, she's a living reminder of the Fred they used to know. Wesley, Fred's boyfriend, is stricken with grief over the loss and keeps Illyria around partially because she looks like Fred. It's eerily paralleled to Loving a Shadow and, although Illyria offers to pretend to be Fred, Wesley can't accept this.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Season 6 episode "Dead Things" consciously deconstructs the trope of Mind Control by following it through to its unsettling conclusions. Led by Warren, the geeky Trio use a device to hypnotize Warren's ex-girlfriend into doing their bidding, even having her dressed up in a French maid's outfit. Jonathan and Andrew even giggle childishly about how cool the situation is ... until Warren takes his ex into another room and orders her to give him oral sex. She comes out of the trance, is utterly squicked by what the Trio are doing and points out that it's rape. She is then killed by Warren in her attempt to escape the basement, and the Trio are sobered out of ever using their Mind Control device again.
    • Buffy's whole arc that season can be considered a deconstruction of Back from the Dead, and why it can be a bad idea. She was so miserable that season because of the contrast between heaven and earth, her life doesn't seem to matter without death, and the world pretty much completely overwhelmed her. How crappy her life was that year doesn't help either.
    • The same season also deconstructs the Foe Yay relationship by showing what would happen if a heroine and villain surrendered to their attraction to each other, with the combat-as-sex metaphor becoming rough sex devoid of any tenderness, and their mutual Values Dissonance culminating in Spike's Attempted Rape of Buffy.
    • And, of course, Buffy deconstructed the Mary Sue even more blatantly than the Angel example above in "Superstar," in which Jonathan, having cast a spell on himself, becomes one not only overshadowing Buffy as one of the Scoobies but apparently the entire world, retconning himself into a famous basketball player (despite being shorter than Buffy), the star of The Matrix, and a strategic genius to whom even the most classified of military operations defer.
    • Buffy's status as The Chosen One increasingly made her emotionally distant towards her family and friends.
    • The final few episodes of Season 7 show a deconstruction of Asskicking Equals Authority; after losing faith in Buffy's leadership skills and methods, the Scoobies mutiny against her, force her out of her own house, and appoint Faith the new leader on the logic that, as the only other full-fledged Slayer, Faith is the most qualified for the job, despite Giles and Willow both having far more leadership experience than her. While things initially go well, Faith soon leads herself and several Potential Slayers into a Death Trap, and they are only saved by Buffy's Big Damn Heroes moment. The survivors even consider the whole ordeal as Laser-Guided Karma for turning against Buffy.
  • The League of Gentlemen has deconstructed both the Fag Hag and the equating of gay people with vampires. One of the League members is gay.
  • The characters Han Won Soo and Mo Ji Ran from the Korean Drama First Wives Club deconstructs the typical portrayal of the Victorious Childhood Friend. In order to be together, the childhood sweethearts cheated on their respective marital partners, with Ji Ran abandoning her family, and Won Soo beating up his wife when she doesn't want to sign their divorce papers.
  • In Flashpoint, Parker and his team generally try to avoid Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?, even when they get a clear shot of the hostage taker. Because they want to ensure that casualties are minimal to none, which includes the life of the hostage-taker, only using lethal force as a last resort. Not to mention the show deconstructs the general idea that all hostage-takers are crazy, unbalanced criminals. The viewers get a chance to see what lead to the events, which are often because of misunderstandings or an emotional crisis. More than once, the hostage-takers never intended for things to spiral out of their control, which causes them to panic and things get messy, both for them and for the team.
    • Babies Make Everything Better is taken apart in "Backwards Day" where the frustrations of not having a baby caused the husband to cheat on his wife with an old flame, though he genuinely felt guilty afterwards and remained faithful afterwards. His adultery lead to the old flame becoming pregnant. Things got worse.
      • The same trope is deconstructed with Sam and Jules after the first day of finding out Jules was pregnant. They initially decided that everything was fine and no one needed to know. But throughout the episode, both of them were quietly having minor freakouts, such as calling each other to check up on the baby and panicking when one of them was put in a dangerous situation.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • It deconstructs Runaway Bride and how badly it affected Ted, who was trying to make everyone happy and especially the bride. He was left with serious emotional baggage that affected future relationships, which is not helped at all when that story is depicted in the fictional movie The Wedding Bride that plays him as a more traditional jerk who doesn't deserve the girl he is marrying.
    Ted: [regarding the film] I mean, the guy's life was shattered in a very public humiliation. What a hoot! It may be years before he can look certain family members in the eye again. He may be so emotionally traumatized, he never fully loves or trusts anyone ever again. It was hysterical!
    • In the seventh season, Victoria (Ted's first season girlfriend whom he reunites with) points out that because they are such a close knit group of friends, with Ted in the center, it has become near impossible for Ted to find someone who can enter that bubble. This is further shown as Amicable Exes is deconstructed through the relationship of Ted and Barney with Robin after they had broke up on good terms. Ted's relationships fail because he is still thinking things might work out with Robin in the future. Likewise with Barney, this cost him greatly when he slept with Robin while dating Nora.
    • Season 7 also deconstructs True Companions. Robin's psychologist boyfriend Kevin points out that while the gang cares for each other and would do anything to help them, they are far too codependent and are somewhat dysfunctional because they rarely hang out with other people and meddle in each other's personal lives too much. Additionally, because they are such a tight knit group, it has become nearly impossible for Ted to find someone who can enter the bubble.
    • In season 2, Journey to Find Oneself is taken apart when Lily abandons her loving fiancee and friends to go to an art course in San Francisco to open her horizons and fulfill her dreams to be an artist. But when she actually gets to San Francisco, she realizes that she's broken up the love of her life in the worst possible way and alienates her friends. She spends her time away alone and bitter, afraid that she ruined everything for herself. Lily's old life wasn't holding her back but provided love, happiness and stability.
  • Cold Case deconstructed:
    • In with the In Crowd - A girl was murdered after finding out her friend had been gang raped as part of her initiation into the cheerleader squad. The friend helped cover up the crime because she wanted to be popular.
    • Save Our Students - A teacher is killed by another teacher who's basically a jaded, older version of her, when she tries to get him to confess to drug use to save the future of the student he forced to carry for him. The student in question feels so responsible for her death that he descends into the life of crime he would've had without her intervention, despite his obvious talent as a writer.
    • Rescue Romance - The one about a girl and her friend who got into a car accident and the fireman who saved her and eventually married. He married her out of guilt because his carelessness during the rescue was what crippled her. The friend who was blamed for the accident found out so he had to die.
    • Nostalgia Filter - Up to Eleven, most of the time. Those happy, halcyon days of The ’50s, The '60s, The '70s...and so forth? It was a Crapsack World of homophobia, racism, domestic violence, sexism, well-meaning, but awful ideas, child abuse...all of it just as bad as now, but no one spoke about it.
  • Earth: Final Conflict gives us a rare deconstruction of Energy Beings: the energy-based taelons burn the energy they're made of simply by existing. It turns out that they are, for all intents and purposes, an evolutionary dead-end; they can't naturally reproduce, nor do they have the knowledge to synthesize the energy they're built on, so while an individual taelon with a full life-span would live for a thousand years, they've been dying out and are down to their last generation as the total reserves of core energy dwindle to nothing.
  • Torchwood: Children of Earth did this with the idea of an Alien Invasion. Instead of fighting the aliens back with BFGs and More Dakka, Earth's leaders instead decided to heed the aliens' commands and almost ended up doing potentially very naughty things.
  • Mitchell from Being Human is a deconstruction of the Friendly Neighbourhood Vampire. Blood as an addiction isn't a new metaphor, but consider how difficult it is for real people with real addiction to go a lifetime without falling off the wagon. For Mitchell, losing control means killing people, lots of people, and because he's immortal, it's inevitable that he'll fall off eventually. It happens at the end of series 2 and when his friends find out, they can't forgive Mitchell, even though he's genuinely remorseful.
  • Kamala from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Perfect Mate" is a deconstruction of the Relationship Sue. As the title says, she is bred to be the perfect mate with whoever she's with, having no real desires or passions of her own.
  • The Big Bang Theory subtly picks apart the Manic Pixie Dream Girl and Dogged Nice Guy with Leonard's relationship with Penny. When they get together they are very happy, but the reality was that with Leonard having to convince her to date him there was a significant inequality between them. Leonard even commented that "It's understandable we are in different places, I've been in this relationship two years longer than you." They eventually broke up because she didn't know if she could reciprocate the strong feelings he had for her, but quickly realized that she not only helped build his confidence to be more successful in the dating pool but that from dating Leonard she couldn't go back to dating the dumb guys she did before.
  • Charmed deconstructs Phoebe's Serial Romeo lifestyle by showing how the endless stream of failed relationships, both human and magical, leaves her emotionally fragile and terrified of love. She even resorts to using her premonitions to see if the relationship will go anywhere on the first date and is punished by the Elders. However they eventually delve into reconstruction when Phoebe considers getting a sperm donor and realises that she doesn't just want a baby, she really does want to be in love and a cupid gets sent to help her overcome her problems.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess:
    • Gabrielle deconstructs Wide-Eyed Idealist since her unbending morals and naivete cause her to commit rash though well intentioned actions.
    • "A Day in the Life" deconstructed Improbable Weapon User since Xena used the frying pan to fight off bad guys, they have no way to cook their food. She also used their knife the week before so Gabrielle is forced to use the chakram to slice fish which Xena did not like.
    • In their use of Callisto, the show deconstructed But for Me, It Was Tuesday. Back in her warlord days, Xena led a raid on a village that involved an accidental fire that killed women and children. Though she felt regret, it didn't exactly keep her up at night. Years later, Callisto turns up, swearing vengeance for the deaths of her parents and sister in that raid, and confronting Xena with the fact that her past crimes have created a psychopath. It's not until this point that Xena realizes the full consequences of her actions and the fact that she's unknowingly created her worst enemy, a woman who doesn't want anything in life but to make Xena suffer. Xena's "Tuesday" ends up costing her dearly, both with her Guilt Complex and in all the chaos that Callisto causes.
    • The season 4 episode "A Good Day" deconstructed Training the Peaceful Villagers.
  • Tosh.0 deconstructed Too Soon in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment. During a video breakdown Tosh makes a joke that a guy falling two feet off a roof "Flailed like Saddam at the end of a noose." The audience is shocked by this joke until Tosh responds by saying, "Is it too soon for Saddam jokes? ...Do you guys miss Saddam?"
  • iCarly:
    • It deconstructed Epic Fail in the episodes "iChristmas" and "iGot A Hot Room". Spencer has an innate ability to cause things he creates or even touches to catch on fire. Normally they burst into flames and Spencer puts the fire out, like he did to a drum kit and a reception desk bell. In "iChristmas" he destroys all of their Christmas presents with his metal tree, and in "iGot A Hot Room" his lamp made of gummy bears causes Carly's room to be completely gutted by fire.
    • "iKiss" deconstructs Felony Misdemeanor, in which everyone in whole school makes fun of Freddie for not having had a First Kiss after Sam reveals it on the show. These incidents end up emotionally breaking Freddie so much that he cuts of all social contact, and Carly blasts Sam for the trouble she caused, stating that it all can't be done away with a simple apology.
  • New Girl deconstructed the Tomboy and Girly Girl dynamic when Jess couldn't get along with Nick's lawyer girlfriend from season 1. Jess' speech in the same episode deconstructs the Real Women Never Wear Dresses trope, responding to said girlfriend's mocking by saying that she is no less of a strong woman because of her girly behaviour and interests.
  • The British mini-series Dis/Connected deconstructs The Casanova and Really Gets Around; the character of Ben fancies himself a lady-killer, but all the female characters of substance find him repulsive (resulting in a Gender Flipped version of My Girl Is Not a Slut considering they label him "a little slut" and "a man-whore"), and he only manages to get lucky with unintelligent and/or slutty girls (deemed as such by their peers).
  • In response to Mitt Romney's claim that every business owner built their businesses themselves, Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report deconstructed the idea of the Self-Made Man, first by firing all of his staff, then shutting down all the cameras and doing the show on his iPhone, lit by a desk lamp, and doing the word on a dry-erase board. The segment ends with him choking on the dry-erase marker's cap.
    Colbert: The only accomplishments I value are ones I create entirely by myself. That’s why I’m not that crazy about my children.
  • The Following deconstructs the idea of a Religion of Evil with Joe Carroll's cult of serial killers, showing it to be a self-defeating venture. An organization composed almost entirely of murderous sociopaths couldn't possibly hold itself together, as sooner or later the collective dysfunctions of its individual members will cause the whole thing to fall apart. Forget about finding some kind of common purpose; these people can barely get through a day without almost killing each other. The only thing holding them together at all is the sheer force of Joe Carroll's personality, and since he's also a murderous sociopath with his own agenda that doesn't always jibe with what his followers want, that only goes so far.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider Wizard deconstructs the old classic Kamen Rider trope of having good monsters. For a while, the Kamen Rider Franchise had quite the number of monsters who become good guys, or at least be neutral with varying degrees of good, particularly in the Heisei era, where the monsters in most cases were either human once or took the guise of a human. Kamen Rider Wizard went both ways with that, as Phantoms were human, but were just essentially an inner demon ripping apart and taking control of their human host, called Gates. However, the show wags at the audience with the idea that not all Phantoms are evil, much like the previous shows. However, every time they did, they point out just how absurd that is when the Phantom's personality almost counterbalances the Gate's personality, as the Phantom uses the memories and feelings of their Gate and uses it to their advantage. In two cases, the Phantom managed to convince their victim that there's good in them... only to kick them to the ground and dash any hopes of that. There is a case where a Phantom believes he's still human... And he is, but only because he was so evil to begin with that he pretty much became a Phantom as opposed to having a Phantom rip him apart. It's reconstructed with Haruto's Phantom, Dragon. Even if Dragon is a petty dick who only wants Haruto to fall to despair, he's somewhat surprised when Haruto begs him to lend some power and that he gives him hope. Eventually, he warms up to Haruto and when he gets killed, revives as a being of pure hope, ready to give Haruto all the hope he can muster.
    • Kamen Rider Kuuga deconstructs the Final Battle for the series. It wasn't some glorious final fight where the Kamen Rider makes one final speech, uses a spectacular weapon and defeats the great evil for good despite overwhelming odds. It was a no holds barred fist fight that Daguva wants out of Kuuga to see that he becomes exactly like him. The fact that Kuuga would become the new avatar of destruction and make humanity just like his people. Yusuke did not derive any enjoyment from the fight or the hope that Daguva's death will end everything, instead he cried throughout the entire fight.
  • Bluestone 42 deconstructs Flanderization and Butt-Monkey. Simon initially starts out as a neurotic and obnoxious but somewhat normal character, and over the course of three seasons becomes increasingly manic, not helped by the breakdown of his engagement and a constant lack of personal and professional respect due to his unlikeable personality, despite his legitimately impressive military accomplishments. The final episode deconstructs this by showing what an actual human being going through that arc would be like- an already unstable man going off the deep end. He deserts from the Army and hides out in the Afghan countryside, talking to his water can.
  • Jonathan Creek has an episode that deconstructs the Connect the Deaths trope. Three women have been murdered, and the police are at a loss to explain how or why. However, Carla twigs to the fact that the women were called Heather, Rose and Iris, and goes on her crime show to share this news with the viewing public, telling them that the killer is symbolically "deflowering women". As it turns out, the first two deaths were done by a psychotic woman that had no discernible motive, and the third was by a police officer who used the first murders to cover up his own crime. That the women had floral names was a complete coincidence, and as Jonathan says at the wrap-up, the fact that Carla shared her bogus theory only resulted in mass panic among women named after a flower (including a woman called Coral, at least until Jonathan assures her that coral is actually an animal).
  • Several in Community.
    • Loony Friends Improve Your Personality is taken apart in Studies In Modern Movement where (relatively) strait-laced Annie angrily calls out Troy and Abed that she is always the one who adapts to their silly antics and it isn't fair that they never meet halfway and adapt to her.
    • Manic Pixie Dream Girl and Cloud Cuckoolanders Minder is deconstructed in Contemporary Impressionists. Troy had been actively avoiding playing that role for Abed because he doesn't want to ruin Abed's fun and points out that Abed makes things more magical and fun for the rest of them. But by the end of the episode, it's seen how exhausting and irresponsible Abed can be and it puts a strain on Troy's friendship with him.
    • Britta's thing for weirdos and jerks is a result of a lot of self-esteem issues and self-loathing on her part from childhood experiences, leading her to throw herself into those disastrous relationships as a subconscious way of validating her self-worth. Likewise, Annie's crush on Jeff is pointed out to be unhealthy due her issues of loneliness and being a bit of a Control Freak who finds the idea of a man completely changing his identity for her appealing.
    • Annie's entire routine in Regional Holiday Music as a Brainless Beauty was this. She was dressed in a short-skirted outfit and began her song in a cutesy-dumb attitude, unlike her normally intelligent and straight-A personality. As the song continues, she dissolves into increasingly childish behavior to the point she was flopping on the ground spewing baby talk. Even Jeff (who she was trying to seduce) is incredibly turned off by this.
    • Season 5 deconstructs Sucky School by showing how difficult everyone's lives after graduating from Greendale became due to having such an institution like Greendale. Jeff's Crusading Lawyer plans left him broke, Britta became a bartender at a sleazy bar, Abed retreated into programming as an escape, Troy is only counting on Abed's friendship to keep him going, Annie is stuck in a dead-end job and Shirley's lack of experience of running her own business led her to use up all her money and her husband taking the kids and leaving.
  • Ryan's father in Wilfred deconstructed Archnemesis Dad. Ryan and his mother spoke of him as if he was the devil himself, whose scheming and obsession with control alienated then both. When he finally appears, he is... just a man. A deeply flawed man who never understood why everything he did to do right by his family kept blowing up in his face.
  • Friends deconstructs Crazy Jealous Guy through Ross and Chandler. Ross's irrational jealousy leads to his and Rachel's breakup. When Chandler becomes jealous of Kathy's co-star, it eventually drives her to sleep with said co-star.
    • One episode deconstructs Improbable Food Budget by showing that Joey (a frequently unemployed actor), Rachel (a waitress) and Phoebe (a freelance masseuse) are struggling to keep up with the expensive meals and plans that Ross (a paleontologist), Chandler (a corporate data analyst), and Monica (a sous chef at a high class restaurant) come up with since they don't earn as much money.
  • Nikita deconstructed Tragic Keepsake. Alex kept getting into trouble because her late father's watch gets recognized by her enemies. Later it gets planted with a tracking device but she can't bear to have it destroyed because it's all she has left of her father.
  • Both Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow'' take apart Token Evil Teammate:
  • Game of Thrones:
  • Last Man Standing deconstructs the Jackie Robinson Story/You Go, Girl! tropes. Eve is asked by her high school's football coach to become the team's kicker after he sees her kicking skills at a contest. After she does well in a few games, everyone keeps praising her for being the only girl in the league and tells her how inspirational it is for women everywhere. On the other hand, Eve hates being singled out by the press and would rather have people not make a big deal of it and treat her just like the other players. Eventually the pressure of representing women gets to her and her performance suffers as a result. It's also worth mentioning that there is never any mention of her teammates being sexist towards her and that she joined the team because she thought it'd be fun, not to show people she's just as good as the boys.
  • Once Upon a Time has made a habit out of deconstructing I Did What I Had to Do and highlighting that the phrase doesn't excuse one from the consequences of their actions:
    • The main plot has Snow White and the prince sending their newborn daughter through a portal to another world, to help her escape the Dark Curse. While she grows up into The Saviour and breaks the curse, she still has huge amounts of resentment from having to grow up without parents. And she points out that if they hadn't done "what they had to do", she would have at least grown up happily. It's three seasons before she properly comes to terms with these issues.
    • Snow White uses a pragmatic choice to trick Regina into murdering Cora, which provides a double whammy of saving Rumpelstiltskin from the curse Cora had used. Although this is the best possible option, Snow instead suffers My God, What Have I Done? - because she pretty much manipulated Regina into killing her own mother. Snow later refutes the saying, claiming she didn't have to do it. She did it because it was easy. It's also strongly implied she was motivated by revenge over what Cora did to her.
    • Rumpelstiltskin's master plan involved casting the Dark Curse so he could be reunited with his son. The show never hesitates to point out that he ruined hundreds of lives for his own desires. When he's reunited with his son, the son is disgusted at what he did.
    • Geppetto sent his son Pinocchio through a second portal in order to save him from possibly turning back to wood as the Dark Curse was cast. In this case doing what he 'has to do' is separating a mother from her child (as Snow could have used the second portal to go with Emma). In fact, when Geppetto confessed the truth about the second portal in "Selfless, Brave, and True", Snow is extremely pissed off and punches him in the face for betraying her trust and depriving her of a chance to care for her daughter. And in this case it acts as a Start of Darkness for Pinocchio, since his father is still abandoning a young boy to fend for himself.
    • The Chosen One is massively deconstructed in the sixth season. Rumple was revealed to have the previous Savior. So, how did Emma end up taking over? Well, when Rumple was born, his parents were told of his destiny by Tiger Lily. However, Rumple's mother read up on the rest of the prophecy and learned that he may die in the Final Battle. So, she and Tiger Lily went on a search for the enemy that he was supposed to fight. However, her extreme measures in wanting to protect him resulted in a) her becoming the enemy that he was supposed to fight; and b) her using magic to ruin his destiny. She was then banished and became the Black Fairy, while Rumple was raised by his father who blamed him for her fate and eventually became Peter Pan.
  • Downton Abbey deconstucts The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry, by showing us just how nasty it can get if the parents do nothing to stop it. Being the popular and beautiful sister, Mary believes that she is superior to Hollywood Homely Edith in every way. And she can see no other purpose for Edith existing than that she can use her as her personal punching bag to make herself feel better. And it becomes very clear that Edith also is their mother's least favorite daughter, so she can get no sympathy from her either. The father is a bit better, but he too dotes on Mary (who is the oldest daughter, who will do everything to keep the family estate running) and has little time for the unlucky middle child Edith. What should have only been a teenage grudge between the two sisters turns into a poisonous relationship, that will not change for the better until they have both reached their 30s.
  • Sherlock deconstructs "The Reason You Suck" Speech in the latest premiere. Sherlock and the others catch the bad guy, and he tears into her...only for her to pull out a gun. Mary ends up Taking the Bullet and dies, effectively ending Sherlock's relationship with John. Theses types of speeches are apparently on the other person just standing there and taking it as opposed to reacting violently.
  • Motive deconstructed My Greatest Second Chance in an early episode. An emotionally abusive woman wants to gain custody of her granddaughter in order to have another shot at motherhood, rather than make any sort of amends with her estranged son. The child's mother calls her out on her selfishness and Never My Fault tendencies, and ends up killing her to keep the child out of her hands.
  • NCIS: Los Angeles brutally deconstructed Action Girl in the eighth season, in terms of how it is seen as one's identity. During a mission, Kensi was badly injured and was put into a coma. When she finally awoke, she learned that she was crippled on one side of her body. She took up rehab therapy in the angriest way possible, lashing out at Deeks and her doctors nearly every chance she had. Meanwhile, she had to resentfully watch as her team temporarily moved on without her, as her replacements (Anna and Nell) proved to be more than up to the task. This led to a fantasy she had where she bested the two of them in a fight during a Christmas party, only to be greeted with cheers and hopes for her return in reality. Everyone stayed supportive of Kensi and wanted her to come back, whereas she was very afraid that she wouldn't recover in time and could be replaced very easily.
  • The Lone Gunmen episode "Like Water for Octane" deconstructed the Perpetual Motion Machine and related "free energy" conspiracy theories with a story about a man who actually built one (specifically, a car powered by water), which was supposedly suppressed by the energy industry in order to protect its profits. The big reveal of the episode is that the car's inventor destroyed it himself; having built it in order to save the world from pollution, he realized that freeing the world from its reliance on fossil fuels would merely kick its consumption of other resources into overdrive, leading to a new age of resource exploitation, suburban sprawl, and environmental destruction. The shadowy figures looking for the car? They wanted to put it into mass production in order to save the economy (and their own wealth) from the looming threat of peak oil, not destroy it.
  • Cristela deconstructed Deadpan Snarker a few years back. In one episode, her niece was accused of bullying, and the whole family was evaluating each others' behaviour to see which one of them was being a bad influence on her. Toward the end of the episode, Cristela had an argument with a friend, during which she asked him why he didn't tell her something. When he responds by saying that she would have just made fun of him, she realizes that she is actually capable of hurting others with her wisecracks. She then explains to her niece that she just defaults to snarking as a defense mechanism in uncomfortable situations and has done so since childhood, but that isn't a good way to behave in general.
  • The Wire being a deconstruction of police procedural drama goes on the deep end of cynicism when dealing with the issues throughout the series.
    • A Father to His Men:
      • In season two Frank Sobotka is a popular well-meaning union president a the local docks. In the hopes of reviving the shipping industry in Baltimore leads him to aligning himself with international criminals for money needed to finance his ambitions as well as neglecting his son Ziggy. Ultimately he gets himself killed before he can testify against said criminals and his neglected son snaps under constantly being treated as a joke and kills a man who screwed him over.
      • In season three, Major Howard “Bunny” Colvin decides to enable drug dealing to flourish in a certain area to better combat the drug trade overall under the condition that nobody is killed in said area. As a result crime is lowered the quality of life among the working and impoverished citizens does improve. When his experiment is exposed, his superior officers Rawls and Burrell blackmail him into retirement at a lowered rank. He’s forced to take the retirement with a downgraded pension when they threaten the careers of the officers under his command.
    • Beneath Notice: Marlo is introduced as a middle player in the drug trade in season 3. He is not given much attention aside from a murder charge which he beat when the pricicpal witness turns up dead. After the Barksdale Organization is taken down the Major Crimes Unit goes after politicians and others prominent figures throughout the city for corruptions and bribery. Meanwhile no murders have popped up in West Baltimore where Marlo reigns supreme, that is until the twenty plus bodies in the vacant row houses turn up
    • Butt-Monkey: Ziggy the aforementioned son of Frank is constantly treated like a joke by his peers and colleagues at the docks due to the stupid antics he pulls as well a never being held accountable at his job due to the union president being his father. After successfully pulling of a scam, he is screwed over by the international criminal organizations frontman. As a result, he snaps and kills said frontman over payment.
    • Cowboy Cop:
      • Herc and Carver show how their gung-ho, headcracking style of busting street corner hustlers is actually not very useful policework. Over the course of the show, Carver matures into a more competent policeman who becomes a part of his community and uses more intelligent tactics to disrupt the drug trade. Herc, not so much.
      • McNulty is a cowboy who plays by his own rules and is constantly getting into hot water with his superiors despite the fact that he gets results. How he goes about it, however, is completely the opposite of a standard movie cowboy cop. His tactics involve navigating government bureaucracy and patiently building up intelligence on high-ranking targets rather than busting street hoodlums, which is what his superiors actually want him to do.
      • There's also another layer of deconstruction present with Jimmy. On several occasions he gets impatient with doing things the proper ways and tries to take shortcuts in getting the information he wants. He winds up getting the information... only to find that other competent detectives going through the proper ways have already gotten the same information, or more than he did, without committing unprofessional or possibly illegal actions, as Jimmy did.
    • The Chains of Commanding: While being promoted gives the recipients a better pay grade and more influence, it can lead to a variety of different problems.
      • Daniels in season one is given command over a few dectectives to investigate the Barksdale. He has to deal with Cowboy Cops such as McNulty who constantly tries to undermine his authority when they butt heads on which direction to go with the investigation. He also has to deal with the political fallout when Herc, Carver and Prez’s outing into a Baltimore neighborhood results in a teenager being blinded in one eye, destruction of the car they were riding in and Herc’s head injury. There are also the two lazy dectectives under his command that also drink on the job. Lastly, he figure out that Carver is the mole that has been feeding the higher ups information that results in stonewalling a long term investigation.
      • Even Burrell himself is not immune to this as his stonewalling the long term efforts of Daniels to investigate the political ties of the Barksdales leads him to being blackmailed by the lower ranked, but influential Valchek, into getting more capable dectectives to investigate Sobotka.
      • In season 3 has a major who can’t deliver when it comes to lowering the crime stats in his district. This leads to his brutal humiliation at the hands of Rawls and his dismissal from the department.
      • Carver himself runs into this problem in season 5. When one of his subordinates gets into an altercation with a motorist and remains unrepentant about the issue, Carver is forced to write him up for excessive force. He gets the reputation of being a rat in the department.
      • The drug trade also has its own set of problems between the leaders and their subordinates. Stringer Bell orders the hit on his strip club frontman Wendell “Orland” Blocker because he became a liability when he was arrested for selling drugs to an undercover cop. While Orlando is killed by Wee-bey and Little Man the rash decision of Little Man leads to Kima getting wounded. This also leads to Little Man’s death as well as the Barksdales losing their top enforcer when Wee-Bey is arrested.
      • The Barksdale's rival Proposition Joe constantly has to worry about his own relatives incompetence and can’t kill any of them due to their kinship
    • Clueless Boss:
      • Being concerned with lowering the crime stats and making major crime bust often leaves the upper managemnt of the police force unconcerned with long term implications. Such is the case in season one when Burrells interference with the Barksdale case only nets the arrest of Wee-bey, the leader Avon Barksdale, his nephew, and soldier Savino Bratton. While Wee-bey gets life imprisonment and D’Angelo receives twenty years, Avon recieves seven years with parole and Bratton only recieves three years. Furthermore, Avon’s number two Stringer Bell remains unscathed and able to keep the organization afloat. The early busts also stonewall any attempts to find out who the Barksdale have been bribing in the political arena.
      • Jay Landsman is able to get Ziggy to confess to the murder of the Greeks organization frontman. However he neglects to inform Daniels, who was concurrently investigating the Greeks, of this. As a result the Greeks are able to destroy any evidence in the store, that could have helped Daniels in his investigation.
    • False Flag Operation: McNulty's fake serial killer is this, with the funds and overtime being used to take down the Stainfield organization. When it is exposed, most of the political elite are more concerned maintaining or enhancing their careers. While the organization's top enforcer and other lieutenant getting imprisioned, Marlo is able to retire and never answers for his crimes. Furthermore, while McNulty and Lester Freeman are able to keep their jobs, they leave the force when they are told that their days of investigating criminals are over.
    • Friend on the Force: FBI Agent Fitzhugh usually tries to aid the Baltimore Police Department whenever he can. This becomes especially helpful in the Major Crimes Unit investigation against the Greek organization. However, not everybody in the FBI who are investigating the Greeks have reasons for not bringing down the Greeks. Such is the case of when Fitzhugh inform another FBI agent of flipping Frank Sobotka. Said FBI agent has the leader of the Greeks on his payroll as an informant on the War on Terror. This results in Sobotka getting killed and the leader and his number leaving Baltimore and ultimately escaping punishment.
    • Hard Work Fallacy: Bodie early on proves to be obversant out the going ons in the pit where he works. The viewer sees his rise in the drug trade under the mentorship of Stringer Bell. When the Barksdale Organization is permanently dismantled, his rise is stagnant due to being strong armed into work for Marlo. [[spoiler Before he is killed]] he realizes despite the work he put in, he remains nothing but a pawn.
    • Headbutting Heroes: Just because they are colleagues does not mean all police get along. Mcnulty often goes behind his superiors backs to get the investigations he desires, much to the consternation of his bosses and fellow dectectives. When he tries to rope Kima in the fake serial killer scheme in order to investigate the Stanfield Organization she exposes this to Daniels. This results in him, along with Lester, from getting blacklisted from doing any investignational work in the police department.
    • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: When more than a dozen corpses are discovered in a shipping container on the docks, the dectectives start questening the crew members. While all the crew members are capable of speaking English, they resort to speaking their native languages out of fear of their lives, when the dectectives question them. The dectectives realize that no one is going to talk so they ultimately let the ship leave the port it is being held at.
    • Nepotism: putting relatives in positions of authority often times can backfire.
      • D’Angelo is given prominent positions of power due to his status as being Avon’s newphew. While he is demoted after his acquittal (due to killing a drug dealer) he still is entrusted with certain positions, when it is clear that he is not mentally cut out for being a soldier in the brutal drug trade. This cumulates into him being arrested and his death
      • Prez, the aforementioned officer is the son-in-law to Major Valchek. Only receiving his position as dectective due to the latter’s influence. After accidentally killing a fellow officer, he resigns from the force.
      • Melvin “Cheese” Wagstaff like D’Angleo above is often give positions of prominence due to being the nephew of Proposition Joe. Proposition Joe’s propensity to look after his nephew is one of the contributing factors that gets Joe killed
  • In Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Rosa Diaz deconstructs All Girls Want Bad Boys. She tends to fall for bad guys such as the Vulture and Pimento but she admits that she is the one to end these relationships because all the guys are messed-up losers and that she enters into these relationships precisely so she could be the one to break up with them as a subtle way to maintain control over how the relationship progresses/ends.
  • Season three of The Flash (2014) deconstructs the Close-Enough Timeline trope. In the throes of depression following his father's murder, Barry goes back in time and saves his mother from death, creating the Flashpoint timeline. Eventually he realizes his mistake and undoes his revision of the timeline. However, while Barry is relatively unaffected by the timeline changes, they are devastating to the people around him: Joe and Iris have a wedge driven between them, Cisco's older brother is dead in a hit-and-run, Caitlin is being taken over by Killer Frost, John Diggle's daughter is erased from existence and replaced with a son, and two villains (the Dominators and Savitar) enter the picture as a direct result of Barry's interference with time.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit ends up deconstructing The Scrappy. Dale Stuckley is a new forensics technician to the team. He was smart, but he ended up being annoying to the others, even causing groaning whenever he called out to the others. This ultimately lead to "Zebras", where his public humiliation over allowing a criminal to go Off on a Technicality and his swift rebuking by both the judge and Stabler causes him to snap and murder various people in order to try to catch the criminal he let go. His rampage also leads to the death of one of the SVU's team and Stabler getting kidnapped by Stuckley.
  • The Orville deconstructs the One-Gender Race trope through the Moclans. They live in a harsh, inhospitable world inhabited only by males, who procreate with each other. However, not only are female Moclans born every so often, and in far greater numbers than the government will admit, they are also forced to undergo "corrective surgery" to make them male. Moreover, the Moclans are Homonormative Crusaders who consider heterosexuality to be an abomination, and persecute any Moclans who express it.


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