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A World Half Full

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Ruby: As a girl, I wanted to be one of those heroes from the books! Someone who fought for what was right, and protected people who couldn't protect themselves!
Blake: That's... very ambitious for a child... Unfortunately, the real world isn't the same as a fairy tale.
Ruby: ...Well, that's why we're here. To make it better.

A World Half Full is the other half of the unambiguously awful Crapsack World (formerly known as World Half Empty). It is usually featured in a similar condition to the above, a place where the world is in an extremely broken state. In fact, it is almost the same hellhole as it was when it was more depressing. However, it can be saved, sort of...

In this world, The Protagonist is only one individual; they can't bring life instantly to an abandoned village, but they can find the materials needed to bring upon the seeds of growth that will bring life back to the once-desolate town. However, such changes are not overnight miracles, and many of them will not be noticed in their lifetime. They are also quite tempted to exploit the wasteland and will have to resist such urges. More Anti-Heroic characters may not even bother holding back on allowing themself an indulgence or two even if their ultimate goal is benevolent.

Just as before, the forces of darkness run through relatively unmolested and it is ill-advised for characters to confront them head-on. Most of the time, the protagonist will skirt around the major sources of power and just go for the source of ills itself and it will rarely result in the total destruction of the enemy, especially if the problem is Inherent in the System and the Big Bad is, for all their current importance, ultimately replaceable.

However, victory is often a minor one as it is only a small portion of a constantly decaying world that has been fixed. While you may change life for the better for your people and solve today's ills, everyone else could potentially suffer whether or not you are deliberately or accidentally causing it through false progress or is still suffering as usual, unaffected by the hero's successes. Nevertheless, it's still better than waiting for the end to come, as any Knight in Sour Armor will tell you. Besides, there's always the possibility that things are Crapsack Only by Comparison.

Has been referred to as "NobleDark", derived from the term "GrimDark" and its inverse "NobleBright": the world is a dark, horrible place, but change is not impossible if it is strived for. note 

Compare Scenery Dissonance.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Fist of the North Star exemplifies this: just because the world is torn by nuclear fire doesn't mean it can't be rebuilt, and just because violence can be used to oppress the weak doesn't mean you can't use it to protect the weak and make the world a better place either.
  • Code Geass: A third of the world is ruled by an insane Straw Nihilist. Another third is ruled by the corrupt advisors of a pre-teen child empress. They are locked into a state of perpetual war, while we never see the other third. The hero is an incredibly flawed, cynical teenager who pursues justice via morally questionable acts with frightening regularity, and the most idealistic character in the series is a self-deluded Knight Templar who is complicit in genocide. However, the ending does provide some measure of hope that things will get better, with most of the surviving characters shown to be relatively happy, although it's a Bittersweet Ending for all of the major protagonists.
  • Ghost in the Shell is a world half full for most of the main characters. They frequently expose corruption and conspiracies, and stop terrorists from killing more innocents, but at the end of the day, their actions don't do anything to change the corrupt and uncaring system of Japanese society. Still, they feel pretty good about what little good they can do.
  • Gundam:
    • Gundam X was all about this, taking place After the End. We would expect a Mad Max or Fist of the North Star world where the entire earth was an unsafe place where slavers took anyone they like, Raider left behind huge examples of their brutality and the government purging and reclaiming what is theirs. Instead, humanity continues to move on. The world isn't some sort of badly irradiated earth despite its share of Colony Drop and humanity has begun its path towards civilization. Sure, we got a few hiccups like the Frost Brothers and remnant of Earth and Space's army wanting to continue the war. But the setting is notably light for a supposedly Crapsack World.
    • Gundam 00 and Gundam SEED are also like this. This is the reason that, respectively, Marina Ismail & Celestial Being and Lacus Clyne & the Three-Ship Alliance are here, to make sure their worlds don't become true crapsack ones.
    • Gundam AGE starts off as this. In spite of the Earth Federation being rotten and incompetent in handling the problem of the Ax-Crazy UE murdering colonies mercilessly, Flit Asuno and Grodek were dedicated to saving humanity from the UE's vile clutches and promoting peace and harmony. That is, until the Diva's crew realize that the UE are human soldiers for Veigan and Grodek shows that his true goal was revenge against the man who killed his family, not to save humanity. Worst of all, Flit Asuno refuses to accept that the Veigan soldiers are human and prefers to continue viewing himself as a savior... for the corrupt Earth Federation. And he's more than willing to take Veigan lives to become this. The war's only going to get worse from there...
    • G Gundam, once Domon finds out just how the Gundam Fights have destroyed Earth and the Devil Gundam's true programming and Master Asia's intentions. He finds out that everyone he thought was a villain was really trying to restore Earth and protect it from the real bad guys.
  • Darker than Black is a Darker and Edgier deconstruction of superhumans, whose protagonist is a mass-murdering assassin who's basically just working for The Syndicate for lack of other options. The world is full of superpowered sociopaths, and the governmental agencies and criminal groups that employ them are locked in a pretty much constant underground struggle to control both the Contractors and the Imported Alien Phlebotinum from the Gate. Nevertheless, over the course of the show, it becomes clear that Contractors can have feelings and morals, and that it's possible for things to improve; several mini-arcs end relatively happily, and in the end Hei manages to Take a Third Option when forced to choose between allowing a genocide of all Contractors and wiping Japan off the map, and the end of the first season shows that the broken Masquerade will help prevent rogue Contractors from running wild. Still a Bittersweet Ending, and things haven't improved too much by the second season, but there's hope.
  • The first arc of Fullmetal Alchemist involves the protagonists Edward and Alphonse Elric exposing and bringing down the false prophet ruling the town of Liore/Reole (spelling depends on translation). While they dismantle the religion that had given the people a false sense of hope and security, Ed leaves Rose with a message about them carrying on with their own strength; by the time the Van Hohenheim arrives in the town later in the manga, it is seen to be recovering quite nicely and the people are genuinely happier than they were before. This is just a microcosm of the Elric Brothers' actions: over the course of the manga, their actions expose the State's true intentions to a number of high-ranking officers unwilling to allow it to happen, make inroads with foreigners who happen to practice the perfect counter to Father's alchemy, and redeem one of their greatest foes, all leading to the creation of a coalition capable of thwarting the Big Bad's plan to sacrifice the entire country to usurp God. By the end of the manga, the different members of that coalition then set about righting the wrongs of their predecessors, working to make the world a better place.
  • Pleasant as it may seem, Sound of the Sky's Earth is dying a slow death while the survivors fight for the last fertile lands rather than cooperate. Yet the girls of the Helvetian 1121st Tank Platoon and their bastard princess friend will have none of that.
  • Monster is a bleak world where lots of violence and death happen. The villain, Johan, is a heavy contender for the most evil bastard ever written into existence. But it's shown that he and his supporters are the exception. Most of the people in the series are decent to really good people who just want to help others succeed or atone for past misdeeds. And those who go through horrific trauma can put the pieces back together and enjoy life. It's never too late to start anew. Accentuated by Nina who after the terrible things she goes through and coming so close to suicide goes on to live a normal and happy life afterwards.
  • In Bleach, Soul Society is becoming this, thanks to Ichigo. In chapter 461, we've learned that the influence of Ichigo Kurosaki has changed General Yamamoto so thoroughly that the previously Lawful Neutral commander of the Gotei 13 gave a direct order to all Gotei Captains to restore Ichigo's powers. Captain Hitsugaya comments that before Ichigo came along, the General never would have given any such order.
  • Madoka's Abstract Apotheosis helps Puella Magi Madoka Magica move into this territory. It's confirmed in the sequel movie, where- for the first time ever- magical girls are working together on a large scale to support each other, and they die peacefully instead of being warped into murderous witches. When Homura falls, it's because she rejects salvation, not because there is no salvation.
  • In Naruto, the world was a war-torn Crapsack World before Hashirama Senju and Madara Uchiha made peace between their clans, jump-starting the Hidden Village system that somewhat limited the bloodshed. The world's still far from perfect, but good people can and do make a difference. Ironically, the main villains of the series are people who believe the world is still a Crapsack one and they are willing to do anything to make their ideal world a reality.
  • Trigun fits this trope to a T. Vash spends the whole anime trying to defuse bad situations in a world that is running out of resources and is functionally lawless despite the best efforts of authorities. It's not all bad though, and a lot of the world's inhabitants seem relatively content until Vash shows up and often as not makes everything worse.
  • Snow White and Seven Dwarfs takes place in a post-apocalyptic Japan run by a dictatorship government, leaving most of its people in despair and without hope for a better future. That said, you can bet the heroes—either people who haven't given up or who regain faith—work like hell to earn their 'happily ever after.' While Tokyo is still in shambles by the end, the worst is over and it's rebuilding from there on.
  • The world of Attack on Titan may be a brutal place to live, but hope still exists. For one thing, if it weren't for Eren and his friends, then humanity would've never earned its first victory against the Titans.
    • Though things outside the walls aren't much better. Turned out that the humans are alive and well, except for the fact that it has been engaged in an on-and-off world war with Morley trying to remedy their military shortfalls by trying to secure the Reiss family from the "Walls", which turned out to be a remnant of an old empire that once used Titans to rule the world until Morley turned against them.
  • In World's End Harem billions of men died due to the virus, and society collapsed because of it, but while they couldn’t salvage everything yet the remaining women could keep some areas functioning to a decent state, they’ve studied the five remaining men and reached the conclusion children born from their genes are immune to what killed the previous men, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

    Comic Books 
  • The cast of Stray Bullets is filled with liars, thieves, and murderers. Nearly all of them are Jerkasses and those who aren't are still horribly flawed. You can count on your fingers the characters in the series who may qualify as being genuinely good people. But in spite of all that, certain moments will still make you smile, and the main characters never lose hope.
  • The DC Universe and Marvel Universe (the mainstream ones anyway) arguably fit this description. Both of them are full of terrible beasts from beyond the veil, ruthless alien conquerors, cunning and vicious demons out for souls and blood, charismatic and savvy villains who look cool even when they make life worse for everybody else, masters of dark magic, scientists with absolutely no regard for ethics or safety, insane and insanely powerful machine gods, multiple crime syndicates with access to any combination of the above, and plenty of good ol' fashioned human evil. But even at their lowest points, the heroes of both universes never stop fighting evil, the occasional Heroic BSoD aside. And despite the prevailing All of the Other Reindeer attitude the people of both universes (especially Marvel) display most of the time, plenty of people (not just humans) are decent enough to justify the heroes' efforts to defend them. A brief dialogue from Superman: The Animated Series sums it up (paraphrased):
    Superman: You came after all. What changed your mind?
    Doctor Fate: You. You didn't have a chance, but you went back [into the fight] anyway. You reminded me that it's not just the forces of evil that never give up.
    • Both universes (especially the DC universe) are subversions though: the people are totally happy and just as well-off (if not even more so, considering their excellent role models/guardians and superior technology and possibilities) as people are in Real Life because they've been dealing with that sort of thing on an everyday basis for decades, and don't consider the danger and destruction to be anything out of the ordinary, nor does this Seen It All mentality make them cynical or depressed.
    • Arguably, from the point of view of mutants if nothing else, the future the X-Man Bishop came from would be a World Half Full contrasted against the Crapsack World future of Days of Future Past. Both look like post-apocalyptic urban hellscapes whenever we see them, but Bishop's future features a mutant police force trying to put the world back together while Days of Future Past has mutants hunted almost to extinction.
    • DC: The New Frontier plays this idea to the hilt. The world the series occupies has all the problems our world did in the late 50s and early 60s: the aftermath of the Korean War, the legalized segregation of the American South, the Red Scare, and so on. Over the course of the story, quite a few characters die and holes are repeatedly punched into the society they uphold. Yet the heroes of the book, though troubled, are no less heroic than they were in the Silver Age, and the ending is unambiguously happy and hopeful.
  • The final issue of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel) has Snake-Eyes write a letter to an acquaintance who asks him about joining the military. After laying out numerous horror stories about war and the treatment of veterans, Snake-Eyes says that he had no regrets about serving his country or fighting alongside the other members of Joe.
  • The eponymous hero of Moonshadow sees his mother die violently, is committed to a madhouse, fights a war, and ends up in a concentration camp (among other things) in a world full of meaningless deaths, tragic ironies, and no clear answers. Or to quote the title of a work of philosophy everyone in this world has read, We Are All Ants In A Meaningless Cosmos. Regardless, Moonshadow adopts a more hopeful philosophy, though, as exemplified by the other work of philosophy everyone has read, and finds peace anyway. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • The ending of Watchmen, possibly. It's a Crapsack World prior to the "villain's" Utopia Justifies the Means gambit, which may or may not be successful.
    • Cruelly subverted in Doomsday Clock. The world has completely gone to shit after the exposure of said “villain’s” actions, with nations at each other’s throats, riots in the streets, and nuclear war impending. Thankfully, it gets better, becoming double-subverted.
  • Transmetropolitan. The world has a lot of problems, but people fighting for the truth can and does make it better.
  • V for Vendetta: Britain is a harsh, oppressive dictatorship, ruled by the fascist-in-anything-but-name Norsefire Party after World War III. However, it gets better thanks to V and Evey... likely. (In the 2006 film version, more likely.)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): Mobius gets increasingly crapsack as the story goes. Not only Robotnik/Eggman restlessly tries to Take Over the World, but the increasing civilization of the Funny Animal arguably corrupts them and causes them to constantly fight each other for trivial reasons; on the other hand, most conflicts are solved with the existence of Knothole Freedom Fighters, and the series marks it that no matter how dire the situations get, Sonic will win in the end.

    Fan Works 
  • A Man of Iron: As Tony said in his suit-up montage, Westeros has become a terrible hell hole with the apathetic lords and the supernatural evils growing in the world. But into this world, another force is rising. A world of heroes. Those who care about the smallfolk, the realm, honor, and making the best of their lots in life. So yes, it might be hard to save Westeros and Essos, but at the very least, they will all avenge the victims.
  • Midgar and the Planet by the end of The Fifth Act. Yes, Shinra still controls the world and is draining the Lifestream. But the terrible tragedy and huge death tolls from Meteor, Geostigma, and Deepground never happened, Midgar isn't as bad as Cloud remembers it, Wutai retains a large amount of its autonomy and there's plenty of high-ranking employees willing to change Shinra. As Aerith says "The Planet's stronger than you think."
  • Amazingly, The Lady Inquisitor, Weiss, from A World of Bloody Evolution thinks this about the Warhammer40000 universe. She has dedicated her entire life to refilling it, even if she has to tear it all down first.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) fanfic build your wings on the way down Edward thought the military was a horrible place where alchemy is abused to its darkest uses and the likes of Shou Tucker are condoned. Only to find that the military does have some good people in it like Maes Hughes or Roy Mustang who oppose such actions and he does manage to save Nina and reverse her chimera transformation.
  • Despite having the story start with the world ending, and the new world that follows being darker than the original anime, Pokémon Reset Bloodlines generally maintains this feeling. The author takes care to ensure that dark elements of the universe are balanced out by light elements and a general sense that things have gotten better and will continue to get better.
  • A Brighter Dark seems to be attempting this, with much more emphasis on the original story's darker elements and an overall more grim outlook on the world, yet even at its lowest points the story still offers some form of hope for things eventually getting better.
  • The backstory of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Thousand Year Door shows that the Shadow Queen gained power by extinguishing Hope as a concept with a dark curse of Despair, and further goes into detail with the Three Heroes, a small group who, a thousand years ago rekindled a small mote of Hope that grew into a blazing fire. In the present day, the Queen seeks to extinguish it completely and gain complete freedom, only to start the process all over again.
  • Tower of Babel takes place in the Crapsack World of NieR, but the main characters are determined to fix things. The solution they find is nowhere near perfect, but it is a solution and it does prevent the End of the World.

    Film — Animation 
  • WALL•E:
    • The eponymous character's job is to clean up the Earth so people can live there again. It gets delayed a bit.
    • The Humans aboard the Axiom are a better example, even if it's done for comedy. WALL•E is just following his Directive, the Captain making the decision to return to Earth is this trope. The film ends without directly answering whether the Earth can actually sustain life, although the credits show the restoration was successful.
  • While Joss Whedon likes to use True Art Is Angsty, one can say one can view the world as either half empty or half full in his works. For example, in Titan A.E., Earth is gone and we have only begun to rebuild our lives after spending so many years in an inhospitable system mocked and slowly dwindling. Earth was eventually recreated and a new life begins. It will be a while before humanity becomes a superpower, but it is a start.
  • 9: Everyone on the planet is dead, except for some little robots and a giant war machine that killed all the people. And in the end, life is back - in the form of bacteria, meaning that evolution might evolve intelligence again in a couple billion years.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • American Cyborg: Steel Warrior: A nuclear war has rendered everybody infertile, and everybody is stuck in settlements controlled by AIs. Humanity is slowly circling the drain till extinction, and cyborgs working for the robot overlords enforce their totalitarian will. Also there's cannibal raiders. However, a resistance is burgeoning in Europe, and scientists have perfected artificial insemination.
  • Some of the background material to Avatar implies that the horrific environmental destruction inflicted on Earth might just be capable of repair by imported Pandoran lifeforms, and by learning environmental respect from the Na'vi.
    • This also implies that stopping or reducing the delivery of unobtanium might be for the better since the RDA not only sabotages attempts to artificially create it but also uses it to create wasteful mega-projects which will ultimately drive Earth's economy into the ground. For example, they plan to use it for a mega-monorail to get cheap workers into rich countries to do jobs and send them back into their slums at the end of the day, essentially destroying millions of jobs in these countries and dooming their economies.
  • Battleship Potemkin, which ended far more optimistically than the Real Life incident.
  • By the ending of The Dark Crystal the Crystal is healed, the urSkeks are restored and the land becomes green and good again, but the Gelfling race is still all but extinct with seemingly only two left, not to mention the decimation of the Podling racenote . There's a feeling that while things are much better, they aren't as good as the time before all the strife began; much like the scarring of Mordor and its surrounding lands in The Lord of the Rings, the mistakes of the urSkeks and the evils of the Skeksis can never be completely undone.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy. Gotham is a horrible city to live in with violent criminals, corruption everywhere, and it's on the verge of economic collapse. But throughout the trilogy, it's shown that one man can truly make a difference and the average person will strive to do the right thing at the end of the day.
  • Doctor Zhivago: A bourgeois doctor (Omar Sharif) chases the love of his life through Russia after the Revolution and nearly freezes to death in the process, in this David Lean film based on the book by Boris Pasternak.
  • Elysium: Max's Heroic Sacrifice grants everyone on Earth citizenry of Elysium, and Med-Pods are flown out to Earth, providing everyone proper and adequate enough health care service.
  • Life Is Beautiful. A cheerful and whimsical film set against the backdrop of the Holocaust.
  • The Postman: The world as we know it was destroyed in an apocalypse. The United States no longer exists. Yet Kevin Costner, in an accidental act of heroism, reignites the U.S. Postal Service, bringing hope to the hopeless and hap to the hapless.
  • Slumdog Millionaire: Sometimes, in spite of all the impossible obstacles, even you get a Happily Ever After.
  • Unforgiven: The Wild West in general is a Crapsack World where killing is an everyday occurrence. Surprisingly enough, this movie seems to be just another example... until we realize that Claudia has been dead for years and she still has influence over Munny... it could be said that the movie is her tale... how she still manages to be the only light in all the darkness that is The Western.

  • The Anderssons by Solveig Olsson-Hultgren has a good balance between realism and optimism. The message is basically "Things might look hard now. But if you work hard and don't give up, your dreams will come true".
  • The Arts of Dark and Light and its world Selenoth can often seem fairly grim, due to the series' relatively "realistic" portrayal of medieval conditions of life and of politics and human nature in general, from the flaws of the stolidly conservative Amorran Republic and the decadent liberalism of Elebrion to the brutal totalitarianism of Savondir. At the same time, however, the books go out of their way to show that even in the most evil states, most people are not monsters, but simply trying to carry on with their lives as best they can—and that moreover, there are also many true idealists working hard to make their dark world a better place. Sometimes they can even succeed, in great things or small, perhaps by staving off a war or even saving just one innocent life. And should they fail, there is still the comfort that they tried.
  • The setting of Beware of Chicken is your typical Xianxia nightmare: they're stuck at the technology level of classical China, but with all the plagues amped up on Qi; the world is ruled by amoral cultivators who can get away with anything as long as they are strong; there's always an army of demons trying to come in and destroy the world, and relations between humans and spirit beasts are generally violent. However, Jin with his modern and good-natured sensibilities, small but still advanced farming knowledge, ability to make friends with anybody, and surprisingly strong Qi, is able to make his own little slice of heaven instead of trying to ascend to the heavens. And his influence is spreading.
  • Brennus takes place in a world where Supervillains outnumber the heroes three-to-one, the Cold War is ongoing and about to heat up, most of Africa is controlled by a megalomaniac Mad Scientist, and cities are regularly wiped out by things like the Savage Six and Desolation-In-Light. Yet the story retains an optimistic tone: in spite of everything that says it shouldn't be, the world is still here, thanks to the heroes, and even some of the more noble-minded villains like The Dark. And of course, the story kicks off with Basil and his True Companions starting what are looking to be very promising careers as Superheroes.
  • Andrew Vachss' Burke books. Beneath the veneer of civility citizens see is a veritable cesspit of crime, the system is at best apathetic and at worst actively malicious and Burke can't stamp out all crime or save everyone — in fact, each book's villain invariably has quite a few notches on his belt by the time Burke gets to him — but every scumbag he manages to put down means a few more innocents who won't have to be victims.
  • Joseph Heller's Catch-22. Over the course of the series, the entire supporting cast dies meaningless deaths, scheming bureaucrats sacrifice lives like pawns in chess while incompetent commanders vie to outdo one another in how many casualties they can rack up, and the only person who has the balls to do anything about it is a self-confessed madman. But at the end, the protagonist has the following revelation: his superiors are literally too incompetent to stop him from deserting, meaning that he could have left anytime he wanted to; the only thing stopping him was his own inaction. He does so, and the story is given at least some semblance of a Happy Ending.
  • Rick Riordan's series: The Camp Half-Blood Series, The Kane Chronicles, and most especially Magnus Chase And The Godsof Asgard are all this. While there are plenty of monsters out there, the world is also full of heroes, magical and mundane, who will step up to fight the forces of darkness, even when it seems impossible. And while the Norse prophecy of Ragnarok will come true one day, it can be delayed, and life can be lived and enjoyed in the meantime.
  • Robin Jarvis' Deptford Mice resembles a Crapsack Mouse World at first, with evil gods easily overpowering good, Ax-Crazy worshipers roaming the countryside to murder and devour anyone they see, death on a massive scale, and a villain who resurrects himself into a god right after his first defeat. Even the few "good" societies are either extremely insular and intolerant or on the brink of extinction. However, despite all of this, good always endures, and The Final Reckoning ends on a bittersweet note.
  • In the Divergent series, though the world is admittedly less bleaker than Panem. The society conforms you to living in one of the five factions; if you don't fit, you're either expelled and forced to live in the streets, or worse, being outright killed. The same is true outside this society, except that it's reversed: if you only have one "inherent" personality corresponding to the faction, then you're flawed and have to prepare for a heavy discrimination that screws your mind enough into planning a deadly coup. Tris, one of those people who can't conform to one of the factions, proceeds to Screw Destiny and goes through a process to end this Fantastic Racism, while her faction-fitting friends attempt to stop people from killing each other, especially due to the situation outside the society mentioned above. Both succeed, but Tris has to lose her life.
  • Surprisingly enough, The Dresden Files. At first, it may seem like a Crapsack World, full of monsters who prey on the unsuspecting and do terrible things, not to mention hefty doses of Grey-and-Gray Morality. However, real heroes like Knight in Shining Armor Michael Carpenter do exist and give others an ideal to strive towards. Even Harry, Knight in Sour Armor that he is, serves as The Paragon to all of the many people he's inspired to do good. When he is killed temporarily after Changes, his friends create the "Justice League of Chicago," and even Marcone builds a monument to everything Harry stood for on the ruins of his old boardinghouse. Every book, no matter how dark it gets, ends on an uplifting note and is full of Heartwarming Moments. In one of the short stories, Uriel lists all of the many actions Harry performed that would save lives and inspire others, over the course of just a few days. While these all seemed like small things, they had an incredible impact, which would echo for generations. The message is clear: No matter how bad things get, every person (whether they be a rebellious teen, a polkaphile ME, or a beat cop) can be a hero and stand up against the darkness.
  • Most of Driftless Wormhole is set during a brutal war, and even though the main characters are outside of the combat zones, there's always the fear of the fighting overwhelming them, and they're suffering from all kinds of shortages. Even the good guys sometimes surrender to the pressure, decide that Good is Impotent and opt for tactics that are anti-heroic at best and Stupid Evil at worst. Time Travel means that there's proof that terrible things will happen in the future as well. However, there's also beauty, The Power of Friendship, smart people working hard to make things better, one genuine misunderstanding that's resolved by simply figuring out what's going on, a lot of funny moments, and a flawed but better future.
  • The Harry Potter universe. While Harry might have been the one destined to defeat Voldemort, it's pointed out time and time again that he couldn't have done it without friends. And even if they've defeated the Big Bad, the world will need lots of support to reduce the power of pure-bloods, limit Wizards-First prejudice, reform the extremely screwed-up Ministry of Magic, and make a more peaceful place altogether.
  • Nancy Farmer's House of the Scorpion: The United States and Mexico are both Crapsack World societies, but Matt, now in charge of the nation of Opium, may be able to right many of the problems that have befallen them.
  • The world of The Hunger Games series is extremely crapsack and cynical; Panem is what would happen when a real-life dictatorship made a sport out of kids killing one another, especially since it seems to be the only state left in Earth (basically, if V4V-verse UK met Battle Royale-verse Japan... in America). However, there is a saying: a dictator suppresses the people not because they are intimidating and brave, but because they are scared that the people would assemble and topple them in a rebellion. When Katniss decides to spare herself and Peeta from the Hunger Games, a flame of hope is ignited in the people, and, though it goes through an extremely complicated and screwed-up process showing the best way to completely break the mind of a 16-year-old teenager, both the dictator and ''potential'' dictator are toppled, and Panem manages to finally rebuild in the end.
  • Jessica Darling tends to conclude that she lives in a world like this, at least during the end of each book when she's calmed down from whatever drama it was about. Life Isn't Fair, death is at once inevitable and random, nothing ever goes as planned and nothing quite lives up to the hype. But at the same time - supposed disasters usually turn out to not be as disastrous as all that, people frequently turn out to have unexpected redeeming features, and there's some fun to be had in between the bummers.* The Lassa Ward appears to portray Sierra Leone as this trope. Yes, the country is ravaged by a decade-long civil war that resulted in it having the lowest life expectancy of any place on the planet, yes, the majority of Sierra Leoneans live in poverty and have no access to the education that would get them out of it, yes, Ross's mentor Dr. Conteh gets a bridge dropped on him at the end, and yes, medical science knows no more about Lassa fever at the end of the book than when it started, but Ross gets to see that there are kind people everywhere and that he personally saves at least two lives, and, in real life, Liberia, which started the conflict in the first place, appears to finally be stable again, more than a decade later.
  • After John Geary is recovered from a century in cryo-stasis, he discovers the war that began with the attack that put him in that situation is still ongoing, the war between the Alliance and the Syndics has devolved into mutual atrocities and Zerg Rush tactics, professionalism has been lost, the Alliance's economy is on the verge of collapse, politicians are terrified of a military coup, and he's been rescued by a fleet that's been lured into an ambush and he suddenly finds himself in charge of it far from home and all by themselves, all while dealing with a mythical reputation he never earned and finds embarrassing. By pure guts, determination, moral courage, Geary begins the process of making things right eventually ending the war, inspiring a revolution within the Syndic Worlds that begins to reform their corrupt system, returning the concept of honor to the fleet, beginning to restore their professionalism, starting to mend the distrust between politicians and the military, and justly earning that legendary reputation. And he gets the girl.
  • The Maze Runner series features an After the End world in which everyone, sans a few hundred, are susceptible to a virus that breaks their mind while they undergo a slow death. To find a cure, some scientists put a few dozen teenagers who are immune to the virus so they can study their genes, while the outer world continues to crumble. At the end, it's certain that all of these experiments are very much egotistical, uncaring, and ultimately a futile one, and the elders, instead of continuing to torture these immune youngsters, have to entrust the Earth to them.
  • Simona Ahrnstedt shows us that 1880s Sweden was this in her debut novel Överenskommelser. There were still many injustices to fight against, and yeah, the protagonists have to deal with three different villains. But still, things will eventually get better...
  • For those who place the ultra-dark, ultra-depressing The Road on the idealistic end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, the characters of the novel move the world to this category. The victories they win are small and moral in nature, and tend to be along the lines of "not eating people." But the strength of spirit in the two protagonists is enough to keep a spark of genuine humanity alive.
  • A Scanner Darkly. The hero's brain is fried from Substance D but that allows him to infiltrate the drug manufacturing facility the rehab clinic he was taken to and gather the evidence needed to destroy the syndicate making the drug.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold's The Sharing Knife: There are life-sucking demons that surface with some frequency and can only be killed with human sacrifice; the Lakewalkers, who fight the demons, don't respect the farmers and the farmers don't trust the Lakewalkers. The heroes of the story don't believe they can eliminate the demons or even make the fight against them substantially easier, but they work to foster greater understanding between the farmer and Lakewalker populations so their society isn't undone by avoidable ignorance and mistrust.
  • The world of Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities is a dark and miserable one, and the protagonists (Nailer and Mahlia respectively) can't do much about that. But as of the end of his book, Nailer has managed to rid the world of his father and has a grateful Nita's promise that she will fix the Wretched Hive he lives in. Similarly, Mahlia can't stop all of the warlords from tearing the Drowned Cities apart — or even save her best friend Mouse. Yet through her efforts, the United Patriotic Front is destroyed and she leads a small band of soldier boys out of the cities and towards a hopefully brighter future.
  • "Arda Marred", ie the fallen world in which most of J. R. R. Tolkien's works take place. This is especially notable in The Silmarillion, a long series of defeats and bloody infighting with some rare uplifting moments and a Bittersweet Ending.
  • The galaxy shown in the Star Wars Legends varies wildly Depending on the Writer, but in all of Matt Stover's books — Shatterpoint, the novelization of Revenge of the Sith, Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor, Traitor — it's this. The galaxy is corrupt and messy and hostile, people are ungrateful, not everyone can be saved and those who were will die soon enough anyway, nothing will ever last — but it's still worth fighting for a better day, and a difference can be made.
  • Stephen King's The Stand. A book in which almost everyone on the planet dies, including the main characters, yet it has a happy ending, and the planet got better in the absence of all those humans. As for the survivors, they find hope in humanity's continued survival with the birth of Peter, and his immunity to the Superflu.
    • In a sense, any ending survival or not is preferable to the consequences of Flagg's victory, which is heavily implied (and if The Stand is looked at as a prequel to The Dark Tower, confirmed) to be Cessation of Existence. After all, a world in tatters is at least a world that still exists.
  • The Switch, by Roland Smith, is a dystopian novel that ends months after an unexplained but destructive EMP and lots of anarchy, looting, and starvation. However, the fortified valley the main character, his large extended family, and their neighbors live in remains secure. They also find Henry's missing father. Outside of the valley, more people are restoring cars (although the parts are hard to combine) and making electricity with wind turbines. The military is slowly restoring order, and the police and fire departments are reforming. And while Caroline is still dead, Henry still hears her talking to him in a mostly pleasant way in a Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane fashion from time to time.
  • Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds. Things are actually worse at the end of the book than at the beginning, but the characters now know not only how to fix things, but also how to make the whole world better than before. It's a very long road, but they've taken the first steps.
  • In There Is No Anti Memetics Division, the big bad SCP-3125 banished and possibly destroyed, but at tremendous cost. Over a year of history is missing. Huge parts of every urban center are walled out from normal consciousness, millions of people are missing, and almost no one is even aware that this has happened.
  • In This Immortal, most of Earth is a nuclear wasteland inhabited by half-human mutants and without a proper government, dependent on help from and trade with the Vegan Combine, with babies being born deformed even in the civilized areas. Yet Radpol and the Returnist movement work toward making it a better place to live again and towards inciting more humans to come back to Earth.
  • The Dark Forest ends on this note after Earth and Trisolaris make peace. Although the universe is still a terrifying hellhole where millions of space-faring civilizations prey on each other on sight, Ji Luo and his family get to live Happily Ever After and it's implied that the two worlds will one day work to broker peace with the rest of the galaxy.
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: In the first five paragraphs of the novel, the great Kansas prairies is established as a place where the sun had baked the plowed land into a gray mass, with little cracks running through it. The house, Uncle Henry and Aunt Em had been made as gray as the prairie by the unforgiving sun, they never laughed, and they lived in a house with only a room, in Perpetual Poverty. However, It was Toto that made Dorothy laugh, and saved her from growing as gray as her other surroundings. Toto was not gray; he was a little black dog, with long silky hair and small black eyes that twinkled merrily on either side of his funny, wee nose. Toto played all day long, and Dorothy played with him, and loved him dearly.. It’s those words that transform Kansas from a Crapsack World into A World Half Full, and that establish the true reason Dorothy needs to return to Kansas: She is the only thing between two persons and despair. This idea, that the only thing human beings truly need is each other (or a dog) is the Central Theme of the book.
  • Terry Brooks' The Word and the Void. The war between The Word and The Void will never end, the feeders and the demons will always be trying to corrupt people, and there's no real way for the Knights of the Word to do anything more than stave off Armageddon. Yet in the end, they can save a few people, and that's what really matters.
  • Worm starts off as a Crapsack World. Due to the way powers manifest, villains outnumber heroes two to one, The Endbringers are slowly destroying the world piece by piece (leveling cities, sinking islands, killing heroes, devastating nations beyond repair), a group of serial killers is causing mass violence across North America purely For the Evulz, the world's most powerful hero is simple-minded and never guaranteed to show up where he's needed most, and mass violence is so common as to be an accepted part of life. However, Skitter and her friends seek to improve the situation. By doing the wrong things for the right reasons.
  • Zombies and Shit ends with Wayne having the zombie-killing device snuck on set within a lawn gnome meant as a zombie-repellant weapon where Scavy and Mr. T plan on amplifying the device's signal, ending the zombie menace once and for all and bringing down the corrupt regime of the Platinum Quadrant in the process.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Firefly/Serenity: The series starts with the protagonist powerless to prevent the destruction of his homeworld by the Lawful Evil Alliance and the final defeat of the Independents at Serenity Valley. His faith in humanity and God shattered, he abandons his cause and flees to the edge of colonized space, where begins life anew as an outlaw space pirate/mercenary. Over the course of the series, The heroes face many hardships, and even their few victories cost them dearly, but ultimately, they are able to find it in themselves to carry on. And when the dust clears, they're still flying. They may not be able to save the galaxy, but they can at least save themselves. And that's a start.
    By the end of the movie, they've actually unveiled and broken a government human-experiment conspiracy, unlocked River Tam's hidden Badass, inadvertently brought about the decimation of the Reavers, and given the tyrannical government two black eyes and a bloody nose. Dozens of their friends and two of their crew have died, and they're now on the run for their lives from the government's vengeance, but that wasn't much different from what they had before so it's all good.
    It is indicated that any government vengeance may very well be passive at worst. From the Alliance's point of view, the crew of Serenity has done all the damage they possibly could. Indeed, their (implied) victory over the Reavers' fleet could even let them spin this into a huge victory and come out in an even better position than before. It looks like they even helped repair Mal's ship, though that might have just been the Operative using his unquestionable authority to pull strings. That's not to say they probably aren't still wanted criminals, with a number of enemies even amongst the outlaws, but they're still flying. Which is enough.
  • The Buffyverse, especially Angel, tend to bounce back and forth on whether they live in a half full or half empty world. Angel himself expresses an existential take on the whole matter; striving for a living in-the-moment application of Good Feels Good despite the bleakness of the big picture.
  • For All Mankind — an Alternate History series in which the Soviets beat NASA to the Moon and The Space Race continued into the '90s — doesn't shy away from depicting the realpolitik that went on during the Cold War on both sides, and the racial divisions, gender politics, and homophobia of the era are very much Played for Drama. Despite this, the series takes a mostly optimistic, hopeful view of things, presenting space travel as a grand adventure that forces cooperation even in the face of rivalries or bigotry, and one that can help to drive positive change on Earth. And while the series mostly focuses on NASA's side of the story, the Soviet Union's own space program is generally treated as the Hero of Another Story rather than a malevolent antagonist.
  • GARO: Horrors will still arise and plague humanity on a weekly basis, but at least the heroes managed to defeat one major menace.
  • While the Star Trek universe is famously idealistic and hopeful, it's been made increasingly clear in more modern entries to the franchise (particularly First Contact and Picard) that this status quo is a major case of Earn Your Happy Ending.
    • In the 21st century, hundreds of millions of people died in the Eugenics Wars and World War III, and by all accounts, the Earth had already declined into an apathetic Crapsack World by that point. It took decades of blood, sweat, and tears for the survivors to turn things around and rebuild human civilization After the End. But rebuild they did, and the whole galaxy is grateful for it.
    • When humanity entered the galactic stage in 2151, as seen in Enterprise, the political landscape was dominated by a centuries-long Space Cold War between the Vulcans, the Andorians, and the Tellarites, and more active threats like the Klingons, the Suliban, and the Xindi operated with impunity. But Humans Are Diplomats, and once Earth established itself they were able to negotiate an end to these hostilities one by one, culminating in a coalition against the Romulan Star Empire and the formation of The Federation in 2161. And more often than not, it was one ship (the titular Enterprise NX-01) and her crew that made all the difference.
  • The Whoniverse, composed of the series Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, could probably be best described as this. On one hand, you have the Torchwood crew, who at best are able to fight aliens and threats, but find themselves weak when having to fight injustices committed by their own governments. On the other hand, you've got characters like the Doctor who swoop in and save the day- but can't (or don't) remain to help deal with the fallout. And on the more idealistic end, you have Sarah Jane and her gang, who save the world from their attic without needing to use weapons. In the end, the show is about people, as a whole, deciding to do what's right- whether that's fighting for Ood rights, overcoming corrupt governments, making peace between two races, or something else entirely. While the Doctor can save the day, it's up to the 'normal' people to keep it safe. And, most of the time, they do a pretty good job.
  • Once Upon a Time: In the backstories told, not every storybook character who was meant to get a happy ending got one. There were evil manipulators, savage beast armies, human evil, and general misery in all corners of the Once Multiverse. But at the same time, several characters did get their happy endings at least for a while in the past, and in the present, there are all-new opportunities to get them as well. Even as evil rises to corrupt, kill and steal, good people are still there to oppose them, and even some villains start finding redemption as well.

  • You gotta be by Des'ree. It has the vibe of a parent giving advice to their child. She tells the child about all of the trials and tribulations of life, but also how to face and overcome them.
  • Moonshadow by Cat Stevens is one long list of this trope.
    I ever lose my eyes, if my colours all run dry,
    Yes if I ever lose my eyes, Oh if... I won't have to cry no more.
  • Year of the Rat by Badly Drawn Boy seems to think this trope holds water.
  • A lot of Leonard Cohen, especially "Anthem". "Democracy" and "Dance Me to the End of Love" are also up there.
    Ring the bells that still can ring
    Forget your perfect offering.
    There is a crack, a crack in everything,
    That's how the light gets in.
  • "Land of Confusion" by Genesis is all about this trope:
    "This is the world we live in, and these are the hands we're given, use them and let's start trying to make it a place worth living in."
  • Dinah Washington's "This Bitter Earth" at first sounds like a Crapsack World, but a few choice lyrics make it clear that things aren't all that bad.
    "And this bitter earth may not be so bitter after all."
  • In Poets of the Fall's "Nothing Stays the Same," the singer ends up forming the opinion that, on balance, the world is pretty decent, weighing the world's problems and his life dissatisfactions against good experiences and the presence of someone who cares about him.
    When sorrow calls my name
    I know nothing stays the same.
  • Cormorant seem to exemplify this trope in lyrical form; shifting from Horrible History Metal and ones that have Downer Endings to songs that are about being peaceful with death and that the world at large would flourish, in one way or another, with or without humanity. Perhaps why the band goes with a more triumphant and at worst melancholy sound as opposed to a darker, bleaker one that their genres are known for.
  • This seems to be the meaning of Bruce Hornsby's "The Way It Is". He lists a bunch of blatantly unfair policies (such as racial discrimination) and notes that while people at the time said that's just the way it was and it would never change, such things have mostly been remedied, and implies that current injustices will eventually be abolished in the same way.

  • Embers in the Dusk. The Imperium fell and most of its remnants now are worshipping the Abomination, the fifth god of Chaos, uncorrupted human realms fall like ripe fruits to numerous enemies. But being more progressive and less dogmatic and xenophobic, the Imperial Trust is much more sympathetic than the old Imperium. Also, unlike in The Shape of the Nightmare to Come, the Abomination and the Emperor are different entities. Fifteen centuries in, the Sane powers are barely holding one-twentieth of the galaxy. But they are holding it, while the remaining sides are squabbling too much to take over.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Divided Loyalties: Taking place many years before "canon" Warhammer Fantasy, Sylvania has been largely conquered by the Empire and with the reconquest of Karak Eight Peaks, reconnecting of Karak Azul, and return of Karak Vlag, the Karaz Ankor is the strongest its been since the Great War Against Chaos. The world is still a place of great danger and evil, and by Word of God the Gods of Chaos are in the process of determining who will be their 13th Everchosen, canonically won by Archaon, but every little bit helps. Perhaps the greatest impact so far, however, has been the fact that the success of Eight Peaks, Azul, and Vlag have broken Thorgrimm Grudgebearer out of his belief that the Karaz Ankor is doomed to fall, and given him hope for the future.

    Tabletop Games  
  • Deadlands. The setting is an Alternate History Wild West. After the Europeans settled the whole country, a group of Native Americans decided to get revenge, by releasing some Sealed Evil in a Can. Needless to say, the evil is rather indiscriminate. Horrifying monsters lurk in the shadows spreading fear, and a new source of energy, Ghost Rock, has literally fueled a new technological dawn. Of course, it also has the side effect of driving those that work with it absolutely insane as demons haunt their mind. Still, the heroes can, if they so choose (specifically if they are heroes and not merely protagonists), fight back and make the world just a little bit of a better place and less welcome for the antagonists.
  • Both versions of the World of Darkness tend to be just a Crapsack World. Hunter: The Vigil, however, casts a ray of light, by allowing players to play perfectly normal humans fighting back against the monsters of the night. Likewise, any game where the DM allows the heroes to make positive changes to the world also qualifies.
  • Quite a few Dungeons & Dragons settings:
    • Ravenloft, often thought of as the Crapsack World of the game line, turned out to be a World Half Full. Yes, it's a hellish place, but because it's explicitly stated to be Gothic Horror, it is never "Evil triumphs." The game line ever since its 2nd Edition forms explicitly states evil is being punished and justice may be delayed, but it is not denied. Player characters are often the Spanner in the Works which can bring about that justice and make some small part of the world better. The 3rd Edition White Wolf version even digressed for a few pages about how in early Gothic Horror literature, evil may seem overwhelming, but there was always God or some cosmic force that saw it foiled and punished. Innocents would suffer, but the guilty were damned and would know it.
    • Dark Sun is a Death World where the halflings will eat you, magic drains the world of its life, and having enough water to drink is a sign of power. Neutral characters are kind of the norm, but good characters frequently have the chance to affect some small change for the better. Players familiar with the Fallout series would understand.
    • Forgotten Realms in its earliest incarnations fit this trope. The world had been ruled and toyed with by one species of Eldritch Abomination after another, and there were whole empires of twisted races as well as cruel empires. However, there were places like Cormyr and the Dales which were the proverbial candles in the dark, the good gods schemed as hard as the evil ones, and most adventures featured chances to save something of value. 4th Edition made it a lot darker, possibly pushing it straight into Crapsack World... then 5th Edition turned back the clock.
    • Dragonlance has whole races of evil and orders of evil knights. The Big Good has to die to stop the Big Bad and the gods remove their support from mortals for a while. It's still a High Fantasy world where some hero has always stepped up in the Darkest Hour. Latter adaptations written by other writers tended to miss this element.
    • Planescape has seven independent hells, each infinite, and seven heavens all of which are rather terrifying in their own way. Good is downright terrifying when it isn't pants-on-head stupid. The central City of Adventure is a dystopian blend of Charles Dickens and Dungeon Punk. Completely incompatible ideological groups have taken over vast aspects of public life and so are always a hair's breadth from civil war. Most of the planes are Death Worlds whose (mortal) inhabitants have come up with ways to survive the various demons and Eldritch Abominations. Yet in just the published adventures, players can cripple the demons and devils forever, prevent the return of a massive Big Bad (the trope-naming Orcus), and help free Sigil from its unending strife all before 12th level.
    • The old granddad of the settings, Greyhawk, is another fine example. It's so full of evil forces that they tend to war amongst themselves and suffer Gambit Pileup, but the heroes' efforts can heal some of these woes and make a difference - at least to the extent of overthrowing a few tyrants and preventing a few demons from running amok.
    • White Wolf's Scarred Lands setting. The entire world has been torn apart by a Divine Conflict between the Titans and their offspring, the Gods. Although the Gods won, much of the world remains devastated, and still overrun by the Titans' creations. Many of the new nations struggle constantly just to survive, Ghelspad is tormented by the seemingly unstoppable advance of the tyrannical Calastia nation, the Titans' remains corrupt the land, the dark gods scheme, and there are many horrors who owe allegiance to neither the Titans nor the Gods just waiting to be unleashed. And yet, the good gods are just as active as the evil ones, and for every source of evil in the setting, there are individuals and organizations ready to fight it. It's clear that even in places where evil is powerful, it is never unopposed. It's suggested that in the long run, the land can be healed, the titanspawn can be beaten and the divine races can prosper. Additionally, a trilogy of novels written for the setting ends with the resurrection of an important good-aligned demigod.
    • Eberron. One continent is recovering from a major war that wasn't so much won as called off for fear of more nations being utterly destroyed by dead-grey mist, one is ruled by mind-controlling dream demons, most of the world is a succession of cans for sealing evil, Khorvaire is dominated by what amount to corporations so powerful it's unclear if the Five Nations can control them without the power of a united Galifar, and so on. Per Word of God, the universe has a bit of a metaphysical bias towards evil...but mortal will and mortal heroism can make up the difference, as shown by things like the sacrifice of Tira Miron to bind the Overlord Bel Shalor and create the Silver Flame. Indeed, the point of it being kind of sucky in so many ways is to give mortal heroes (read: player characters) a selection of evils to fight.
  • Eclipse Phase: Extinction is approaching. Fight it.
  • Exalted is this trope. Sure, the entire world is filled with monsters and divided between varyingly unpleasant nations, (some of) the heroes are cursed and being hunted as anathema, there are several different forces trying to conquer/destroy the world, and the gods are busy playing games...but you are Exalted, you have the powers of a god and were created specifically to be a badass hero. The entire point of the game is to beat the shit out of the various world-destroying cosmic forces, preferably in the most spectacularly epic way physically possible. You can, and indeed are encouraged to, solve at least most of the world's problems, but you're going to have to work your ass off to do it.
  • The default assumptions of Ironsworn: Starforged, on one hand, is that it's set in a future that's perilous, lonely, and unjust. On the other end, it's "a hopeful future," with that hope fulfilled through the vows that the players and other Ironsworn forge.
  • Warhammer is very much like this, if you ignore the fact that it's already doomed. The world is threatened constantly by all kinds of dark forces - Daemons, the Warriors of Chaos gathering in the north, the machinations of Vampires and Necromancers, Dark Elf slavers, the Skaven burrowing beneath the earth, and corrupt cultists within civilized society. But it's also a world full of heroes, with hope for better days, and they sure as hell aren't going to go down without a fight. The history of the Warhammer World is riddled with great heroes turning back the tide: Lord Kroak fought off the daemons for a thousand years at the dawn of history. Caledor's great vortex drained away the world's raw magic and saved it from destruction. Sigmar founded an Empire, and Karl Franz leads it into a new age of progress and prosperity. Tyrion and Teclis turned back the Dark Elves on Finuval Plain and taught the ways of magic to men to aid in their defence against the ruinous powers.
  • Warhammer 40,000 is a heavily downplayed example of this: It is set in a Crapsack Galaxy. A galaxy where it is entirely justified to be an Absolute Xenophobe because, yes, everyone that isn't your own kind is absolutely out for their own gains - and often not even your own kind is safe. It is a galaxy where billions of people of all kinds of species are fed to the Forever War daily, feeding a God of Evil - and any hope for change inevitably feeds a different God of Evil whose schemes work to ensure that everything stays in this horrible nightmare forever. But while the galaxy as a whole is thoroughly fucked barring some Reality Warper intervention of the highest degreenote , there are a lot of worlds that aren't irreversibly screwed. The galaxy is a big place, and while a single mortal cannot make a difference on the galaxy as a whole, they can affect change locally.
    • Perhaps the largest contrast between Warhammer 40,000 and its fantasy counterpart is that despite being arguably a far worse place to live in as a whole, it's hinted that the 40k universe still has a chance at reaching a non-terrible ending. Somehow.
    • The 8th Edition of the game is shaping up to be this trope. While the Chaos has succeeded in breaching the Cadian Gate, which the fortress world of Cadia exploded from the destruction of its pylons keeping the Chaos at bay, and caused larger numbers of warp storms that eventually formed itself as The Great Rift, Roboute Guilliman woke up and held the Imperium with the assistance of Eldar under an uneasy alliance. Much to Guilliman's disgust over the current state of the Imperium, he set out to reform by having Bellisarius Cawl innovate without obstructions and reorganize the obstructive High Lords of Terra. Though he left the Ecclesiarchy alone out of pragmatism, he made sure that much of its worst aspects are controlled. Unlike his "father", the Emperor of Mankind, Guilliman is shown to care for individual humans without any form of callous nature or disconnection
  • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar appears to be taking a more direct go at this. Chaos has returned, indomitable as ever, and more than a few forces seeking to save the world are doing so only to rule whatever remains. However, the good gods have true power against Chaos, the various factions are more integrated and more willing to work together, and the Elves managed to imprison Slaanesh.
  • AT-43 is far more optimistic than WH40k, every faction has some positive motives with them. The U.N.A. are a democratic government fighting for humanity's survival. The Red Blok are fighting for their independence. The Therians want to conquer the universe in order to preserve it from its inevitable destruction and were responsible for the creation of the humans on Ava. The Karmans are fighting for the balance of the universe.
  • Rocket Age is a surprisingly dark setting given the idealistic tone of the writing. Set in an alternate 1938, the great powers of Earth have conquered great swathes of the solar system while Earth itself is under constant threat of annihilation from the Europans, who have already done horrible, nearly genocidal things to two other species. Despite this, the moment you drop a group of player-controlled heroes into the mix, the dark gets pushed back very quickly.
  • Magic: The Gathering preaches that while some characters and planes are doomed to being Killed Off for Real or to be overturned into a Crapsack World, a glimmer of hope in the form of small victories exists to show that The Multiverse has a fighting chance to whatever awaits it.
  • Blue Rose has drifted from a borderline utopia in its infamous First Edition into this trope's territory in the new Second Edition. The kingdom and its society are still clearly fundamentally good, but the players have to fight harder than ever to keep it from collapsing in the face of demonic cults, foreign invasions, religious unrest, greedy merchants, and political intrigue.
  • The world of JAGS Wonderland has a lower plane of reality called Wonderland that is divided into layers called chessboards, with reality getting more and more warped the further you go. People all over the world randomly fall into Wonderland and it’s full of eldritch abominations who want to drag all of humanity down into Wonderland. However, it is a mathematically proven inevitably that humanity will one day fight their way down to the lowest chessboard and destroy Wonderland, at which point they will become the true masters of everything and nothing.

  • Avenue Q is a truly terrible place to live — but everyone makes the best of it and keeps on keeping on, knowing they at least have each other. After all, "everything in life is only for now."
  • The Signature Song from Man of La Mancha, "The Impossible Dream", is all about Don Quixote's desire to make the world a better place, even if it's an Impossible Task.

    Video Games 
  • Fallout. For a series of games set after a nuclear holocaust in the blasted, irradiated ruins of the U.S., infested with monsters and raiders and mutants and worse, it takes a surprisingly optimistic view of human nature and people's ability to stick together and make things better, especially taking the games' canon endings into account, where No Canon for the Wicked generally hold true.
    • Fallout 2: Each town has their own ending upon the hero defeating the Enclave. The best route of options to save the Wasteland will involve Modoc being able to feed the people surrounding them with the Slags, The Den becoming a tough-but-honest bar, turning New Reno into a center of education, Redding becoming a mining town with its own say in their affairs, and NCR and Vault 15 beginning their path to rebuild civilization. This is of course the most morally correct answer, and naturally screwing up is always possible in Fallout no matter what situation you are in.
    • Fallout 3, however, is a pure Crapsack World. You are raised in a Vault that has a despotic authority over its people, a hotel tower housing a snooty man who views the survivors of the Wasteland as entertainment, Ghouls who will use you left and right for their own aims, towns that condone slavery, and our favorite untrusted government remnant come back to purge the Wasteland of all mutation - which, at this point, is all life that isn't still locked up in a Vault. Yet in spite of that, you have a father who has an ambitious dream to bring water to the Wasteland ( it's a pity he gets killed for his dream), a radio station that preaches the hopes of the good fight and the freedom fighters who risk their safety to allow an outsider to free slaves, and for the first time in 200 years, a piece of sanctuary (Oasis) that won't get purged by the Enclave and hopefully not by you (compare that to Vault 13 in Fallout 2, where the last of the intelligent Deathclaws were killed off along with others).
      • Arguably, the good ending of Fallout 3 fits pretty well with A World Half Full. Despite the player character's father and, without Broken Steel, the player character themselves getting killed, the Capital Wasteland finally has clean water dispersed to the masses, making life easier for everyone involved. The bad ending averts this and the world becomes even more crapsack as a result. If you choose to poison the same water supply by the request of President Eden, you doom everybody, including yourself.
      • Also, there's Moira Brown, the cheery and at times naive scientist who outright states that the best way for humanity to survive is to move on from the past and try to pick up the shattered pieces back together. She also says that the world will never be the same as before, but that doesn't mean we can't make the world a better place.
    • Fallout: New Vegas depicts a world in the Southwest that is steadily recovering and may not be that bad to live in. In the Mojave Wasteland, you'll find functional civilizations every several miles, working electricity and plumbing, food and fresh water that won't give you a dose of rads with every bite, and even green trees and plants appear. Also the Mojave Wasteland is set in between NCR and Caesar's Legion, both of which are implied to be bigger and more well-populated than the Mojave.
      • The Lonesome Road DLC has this at its end. Ulysses wants to rain destruction on everything because he thinks the Bear (NCR) is diseased, the Bull (Caesar's Legion) will feed on itself, and Vegas has too many ghosts of the past to ever let go. You can however convince him that the world can be saved and civilization built anew - after all, you did it before.
    • Fallout 4 continues the trend from New Vegas. Compared to D.C. in Fallout 3, the Commonwealth of Boston is much more hospitable. Pretty successful settlements have appeared, and while it is more barren than the Mojave Wasteland, filled with rampaging marauders and mutants, and less organized (at first), it's not a war zone like it was in D.C. In fact, one particular faction's main goal is to do exactly what the above description of this Trope describes: To slowly, but steadily rebuild settlements all over the Commonwealth and help them survive... And you can help them achieve this. While it'll suck time and resources like no other questchain in the game, the end result will be a wasteland slowly reaching the levels of civilization only previously seen in the NCR and New Vegas.
  • Advance Wars: Days of Ruin goes this way with the After the End setting. The world is obliterated, and many of the survivors are still fighting each other- but characters like Captain O'Brian/Brenner, and soon the protagonist Ed/Will hold strong faith in human goodness and are fighting tooth and nail to save humanity. The 'S' rank victory animation has a touch of this theme, with white doves flying over the devastated battlefield. Interesting note 
  • In Epic Mickey, after Mickey Mouse accidentally creates him, the Phantom Blot turns the Cartoon Wasteland into a twisted, Disney Theme Park themed Crapsack World. Part of the game's main plot is that Mickey must stop the Blot and restore the world to its former self.
  • In the Wild ARMs series a common theme is how the environment will only last a couple more years, so obviously the main characters save it. Of course, if the manual is correct, and all the games take place on the same planet, there's an invasion/war/disaster scheduled for a century or two after they do save it, and it's going to set everything back to ruined square one... but a new bunch of heroes always end up fixing things a couple thousand years later. It isn't very fun for the people in the intervening years, but things do get fixed eventually each time.
  • In World of Warcraft:
    • Starting off with the awful:
      • The world of Azeroth is inherently hostile: Because of a slumbering Titan World Soul inside the planet's core, elemental forces which are supposed to cooperate instead of fight each other, since the elements make up all reality, this means the world itself trends towards conflict, often resulting in local wildlife that is more hostile than it really should be - which in turn means that even something as commonplace as forest wolves often need the aid of trained warriors and magicians to quell the numbers of.
      • Aside from the elemental reality, the Warcraft universe is home to six semi-Sentient Cosmic Forces. None of them are particularly good, ranging from the Nature Is Not Nice of 'Life', to the Lovecraft Lite of the 'Void'. These background forces manifest as magic in the warcraft universe and using said magic inadvertently brings you further into that Sentient Cosmic Force's alignment, making magic in general addictive to various extents.
      • Because of this, Azeroth has seen no shortage of irradiated monsters, oozes, corrupt nobles, rampant racism, magical addiction, eldritch abominations, the list goes on and on, and there is never a shortage of problems to be fixed...
    • Now for the hopeful:
      • The world is a vibrant Science Fantasy setting where limits are constantly pushed; whether it be through technology, science, or magic, new discoveries are constantly made and few problems exist that can't be found a solution for.
      • The monsters are generally killed off and the really nasty characters are decreasing more rapidly than they appear, and though the Hour of Twilight can never be truly prevented, it can be postponed through blood, sweat, and tears again, and again, and again. As the old guard grow old or die on the battlefield, new blood is ready to step up to the plate simply because the constant threats of the world have ensured a World of Badass more than capable to deal with what emerges. It's telling that when Cthulhu needs to be punched, it is done not by armies, but by Taught by Experience adventurers who had their start by being the Right Man in the Wrong Place when shit hit the fan.
      • While there are occasions where the world is irrevocably changed, change is not necessarily bad; When the Dragon Aspect Deathwing broke free and reshaped the world, much of the world was damaged. When Deathwing was dealt with, the world had scars, yes, but even those scars quickly became another feature of the world - and some of the areas are distinctly better off than they were before. In general, you can always count on things getting worse before they get better, but they will get better.
  • Deus Ex, depending on your personal beliefs, any of the endings can fall under this.
    • The endings of Deus Ex: Invisible War, the Helios endings has the minds of humanity united in one electronic link providing a perfect democracy. Or Illuminati wins and their vision of a perfect world really does work. In the Omar ending, everyone is wiped out but the Omar survive and are able to rebuild humanity their way. As for the Templars, all biomodificatons are purged, and they rule the world in a new Theocracy.
  • The world of Elden Ring is very dark and depressing: the World Tree is dying, the rules of nature have been broken, The Shattering has torn the land itself and left it littered with corpses, unspeakable monstrosities roam the world and the demigods who were supposed to rule justly have turned into tyrants and madmen... But it can be fixed, and you have the power and tenacity to repair the titular Elden Ring and bring peace to the Lands Between. Melina even spells this out should the player character start approaching the Frenzied Flame, an alien power with the capacity to bring ruin and death to the entire world.
    Melina: However ruined this world has become, however mired in torment and despair... Life endures. Births continue. There is beauty in that, is there not? If you would become Lord, do not deny this notion. Please, leave the Frenzied Flame alone.
  • The Milky Way in Mass Effect is a dangerous and brutal place to live. Filled with monstrous aliens, pirate fleets, amoral mercenaries, and cruel slavers, with the largest civilized government hamstrung by red tape and millennia of tradition and unwillingness to budge, an entire species has been driven from their homeworld and is locked in a 300-year-long Hopeless War with their mechanical creations, and every 50,000-odd years, all technologically advanced sapient life is purged and consumed by Eldritch Abominations. Yet in spite of this, one person can make an incredible difference, galactic peace can be attained, pirates can be brought to justice, slaves can be freed, the aforementioned Hopeless War between the exiled species and their creations can be negotiated to a possible reconciliation, and you can punch out Cthulhu. Stopping the Reapers takes immense sacrifice, but provided you didn't fail to sufficiently unite the galaxy, the overall picture is hopeful: Galactic civilization survived and is already rebuilding, potentially with the aid of the Reapers or the evolution from Synthesis.note  Even in the Refusal ending, the cycle of destruction is eventually stopped, in part thanks to what Shepard and their allies did in their cycle and the crucial information they made sure to leave behind.
    • Looking at Paragon versus Renegade effects on the galaxy, when Shepard goes Renegade, it's darker and more of a Crapsack Galaxy, but the Paragon route is immensely idealistic. A Paragon Shepard is constantly appealing to people's better natures, urging them to forget their bad blood, giving second and third chances, extensively helping people in exchange for promises and trusting that they will do as they've promised... and almost every time, it works. There are maybe four or five points in the whole crowded, sprawling trilogy where a hard-working Paragon Shepard's trust and faith are betrayed. Everyone else, to paraphrase King Jonathan - "If you keep faith with me, I will keep faith with you."
  • The Light Side path of Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords is this. Despite how, in the main plot, Kreia is pretty much manipulating everyone all the time, the Exile's actions throughout the Galaxy can drastically improve life for both individuals and for entire planets (though, this being an Obsidian game, a lot of the 'good' decisions can end up having sizable downsides as well).
  • God of War III is this at the end. The world has gone straight to hell due to Kratos killing damn near every Olympian there is. However, Kratos, in one of his rare acts of selflessness, decides in the end to restore Hope back to the world by sacrificing himself rather than simply handing the power back to Athena.
    It's still more like "A World Millionth Full", though, when you consider just how many people and creatures he killed For the Evulz.
  • City of Heroes, heavily inspired by both Marvel and DC, sets out its world like this. The world is filled with criminals, monsters, and Supervillains of every imaginable kind, is recovering from an Alien Invasion that's not quite over, and looking at The Multiverse, this is one of the best options. So what stands in the way of evil? Superheroes. Lots and lots of superheroes. (and even the villains can help out a bit)
  • Baroque is set in an After the End world where humanity has been reduced to a handful of mutated freaks whose forms are based on their own individual psychoses. At the end, you don't fix the world. But you do make it so that the world has a chance.
  • In a franchise where God is almost always evil or out of the picture, and the heroes never save the day without a huge sacrifice on their part, Persona 4 stands out by having this type of message at the end. It basically boils down to "Humans can act like assholes, but we can change for the better if we have the courage to accept that fact first."
    • Devil Survivor also qualifies. God is actually good and will accept whatever future you build, even if you mess up big time! That's right. God basically trusts you to govern the entire planet, in spite of all the horrible things human beings are capable of. Then it's revealed in Overclocked that he is responsible for the Cain and Abel happening because he wanted a Martyr and Murderer while also wanting Cain to atone to him when he manipulated him into killing the brother he loved. He's perfectly willing to have his Angels threaten to murder innocents in order to get them to attack the Overlord as well, or just giving up cause humanity won't do what he wants and leave for good.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild takes place After the End: Hyrule's capital has been left in ruins, and Calamity Ganon is slowly regaining its power in Hyrule Castle. Nonetheless, there is a functioning society that persists in spite of the destruction Ganon wrought: towns and settlements dot Hyrule, and people seem to be getting by fairly well, even with the threat of Ganon looming over the realm.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, the direct sequel to Breath of the Wild, opens with a Happy Ending Override. Demon King Ganondorf, the original source of Calamity Ganon, awakens from eons of being sealed in the Depths of Hyrule. He proceeds to cripple Link's arm, destroy the Master Sword, send Princess Zelda tumbling down a pit, raise Hyrule Castle into the air, and cause havoc in the four corners of the land. Yet Hyrule still comes across as better off than it was in the previous game, even taking into account the aforementioned catastrophe. Zelda has worked to reestablish a central government in Hyrule, squadrons of Hylian soldiers strive to fight back the monsters that once had free reign over the ruined kingdom, the Hudson Construction Company offers its services to rebuild civilization, and the various races of Hyrule more actively cooperate with each other.
  • The world of the Ace Attorney series, though the world's crappiness is much less severe (and therefore much less readily apparent) than many other examples of this trope. Crime is apparently so common that the justice system's been perverted into a series of all-but-kangaroo courts, the vast majority of prosecutors will do anything to get their conviction, and nobody seems to give a good damn about due process or suspect's rights anymore— nobody, that is, except for the main character and his few but loyal allies, who will willingly walk through fire for the innocent, for justice, and for each other.
  • Sera in Gears of War becomes this after Adam Fenix's Heroic Sacrifice. The Locust and Lambent are wiped out and the Imulsion is destroyed, but Humanity finally has its future.
    • In the second trilogy, the original, even more badass locust emerge and the world is plagued by firestorm hurricanes, but humanity finally developed advanced killer robots and nanomachine fabricators, so it's an even fight.
  • The StarCraft universe, after being a Crapsack World in the original opus, is slowly heading toward this in StarCraft II. By the end of Brood War, Terrans were now mostly under the Dictatorship of Arcturus Mengsk, the Protoss were on the verge of extinction with most of their heroes killed off and separated, the only decent Terran hero at this point, Jim Raynor, has been reduced to a powerless rebel leader, and the Zerg are stronger than ever, led by Sarah Kerrigan, who has at that point been Brainwashed and Crazy into becoming the vilest character in the whole franchise. And Duran is plotting to create Zerg/Protoss Hybrids (as well as, as later revealed, revive an Evil God and wipe out the Universe), which he succeeded by manipulating everybody. However, in StarCraft II, Raynor is able to bring Kerrigan back to her original personality, and she goes to redeem herself as well as the whole Zerg species, Mensgk is killed and his son and heir Valerian shows promise as a more benevolent ruler, and Duran / Narud is killed. By the end of Legacy of the Void, things have genuinely turned out better, with the above mentioned Evil God dead, Kerrigan having become a benevolent Xel'Naga, the Terran Dominion being ruled by Arcturus' son (who actually is a good person) and the Protoss having rebuilt their civilization.
  • Planescape: Torment: Sigil is filled with criminals and poverty, the multiverse is a dangerous place where bad things happen to good people, and the protagonist deserves to die for his crimes. But the overwhelming majority of characters are simply good people in desperate situations, and the game is famous for allowing multiple ways to resolve conflict- often before conflict even occurs. There are still happy families, freedom of expression, genuine heroism, and wondrous art- just less of these things.
  • Phantasy Star series:
    • Phantasy Star II is known more for a dark interpretation of the plot, where you destroy your homeland's AI to prevent it from prolonging the False Utopia, and less known for being a tale that runs on strict Black-and-White Morality. Your quest is to prevent a series of immediate disasters, which is ultimately for Algo system's greater good. The known bystanders never stop supporting you, and the only parties that oppose you are berserk biomonsters and robots and Obviously Evil human aliens.
    • Phantasy Star IV takes place After the End on a desert planet, a typical setup of an angsty tale, but turns out to play the heroic anime tropes straighter than ever. It is the most hilarious and lighthearted game of the entire franchise.
  • Dishonored: The world becomes this in the Good Ending. Evil men are brought to justice, your name is cleared, Emily is put on the throne, the plague is cured, and the nation enters what the Outsider calls a "Golden Age." The city's still half-overrun with zombies and there is still a Cosmic Horror Story going on in the universe at large, but you've made your corner of existence just a little bit brighter.
  • This is a core theme of Destiny: that despite the destruction of humanity's Golden Age, reduced to a single City, the silence of the Traveler, and surrounded by ruin and horrifying alien threats that want to wipe out humankind, there remains hope. And that bit by bit, humanity and its allies are taking back their lost homeworlds and glory.
  • This is the ending of Battleborn storyline, especially the Heliophage mission where Solus system may finally have a breather if not victory with the death of Lothar Rendain that crippled the momentum of Valresi onslaught. While the universe would still end from Valresi assault or reaching its lifespan, people like Battleborn chose to fight together rather than dying alone.
  • Wars against unfeeling hordes of robots, genocide, highly-efficient terrorist organizations sowing chaos for seemingly no reason at all, corporations exploiting the weak and underprivileged, the Australian mainland being an irradiated wasteland filled with roaming bandits, consistent racism towards peaceful AIs, entire countries controlled by organized crime, and the few people left to do something about it branded as criminals by the masses and forced to go underground... And yet, the world of Overwatch still has heroes who want to do what's right, no matter what they have to go through to get there.
  • With the use of in-game commentary, Darkest Dungeon relieves the stress of the player by giving a certain amount of flair to every victory (and some retreats) to give hope that they will prevail in a Random Number God-based Nintendo Hard game. The more you upgrade the town of Hamlet, the more that the game notes that its inhabitants are given hope for the first time. The ending plays with this trope, if not outright subverting it.
    • Then again, there is The Light, the deity worshipped by characters like the Vestal and the Crusader. Religious characters regularly perform miracles, holy water is actually holy, and the Crusader even deals more damage to the undead. The Light is definitely a real power in the world, and it is opposed to the Heart. Word of God states that the Light is humanity's combined faith in good, justice, and the Divine. Humanity lived in a world without God, so they made one.
  • The Rimworld 'verse, ultimately. Your characters are stranded in the wilderness on a barely-civilised planet with dangerous wildlife, roving gangs of bandits and slavers, and the occasional horde of homicidal war-robots to contend with, you've got nothing to work with but the clothes you stand up in and a very small quantity of emergency supplies from the Escape Pods... And yet with enough determination, cleverness, and patience -and a bit of luck- they can eventually turn even the most barren and unwelcoming spot into a thriving community.
  • Depending on interpretation, especially Sylus' dialogue about Faro's "saving" humanity by deleting APOLLO that caused the revived humanity descended into a primitive lifestyle that included the worst aspects like Carja's Red Raids, where a mad Carja king launched slave raids across the lands to sacrifice to his god in an ill-thought attempt to stop the machine derangement, Horizon Zero Dawn may have a future after the complete erasure of Old Earth—which itself was suffering from ecological catastrophe and constant wars conducted through unmanned drones—by Faro Plague. While the current status of humanity after Zero Dawn's restoration of Earth's ecosystem may still be a troubled world where tribalism and harsh laws are common, there are many people are attempting to connect with each other and reform their society. This can be seen with Carja under King Avad, who overthrew his tyrannical father to stop his Red Raids and began dismantling social discrimination within his society upon his reign. Even the Nora, a generally isolationist tribe, are willing to accept a Carja Sun Priest as a guest of honor and cultural ambassador. As Aloy insisted based on her journey across the lands, there are good people attempting to make the world a better place in spite of the cruel people and culture surrounding them.
  • Die Anstalt is crapsacky with the poor stuffed animals driven insane by their owners' abuse, but it takes on a more optimistic view if you can cure them. Also, Humans Are Flawed because they're products of a consumerist culture (rather than flat-out monsters).
  • The world of the Reboot XCOM has had it rough. First, it was invaded, then taken over, and went through 20 years as Vichy Earth to Alien Overlords using Industrialized Evil to further their goals before it was liberated. Five years after liberation humanity and the alien invaders' alien slave races are attempting to rebuild the world. The world bears many scars from the biological and chemical weaponry used during the Alien Invasion and the subsequent 20 years, with detritus of the invasion and wars littering the ruins of pre-invasion civilisation and having left much of the world a Polluted Wasteland (There's even a non-virulent Zombie Apocalypse going on in what used to be major city centers) - but all isn't lost, and five years after the liberation, real progress is being made - humans and aliens show they can live together and rebuild, and while the transition hasn't been smooth, the world is recovering - in part because of all the futuristic technology that the invading aliens utilized.
  • In After the End: A Post-Apocalyptic America, the former United States are doing reasonably well seven centuries after the Event. Either the Unspecified Apocalypse didn't seriously harm the environment, or it's recovered; the land is fertile enough to support medieval-level civilizations and, Video Game Cruelty Potential aside, the world seems to be heading towards a renaissance.
  • While Dark Souls and III are rather on the Crapsack World end, Dark Souls II surprisingly takes this approach:
    • While the game takes place in a kingdom brought to ruin by the undead curse, there are still thriving lands outside of that, with several characters talking fondly of their homeland. The only nation to reappear from the first game is even Catarina, the land of the jovial onion knights.
    • Majula, the Hub World, is far different from either Firelink Shrines. Majula is a Ghost Town that slowly comes back to life as you meet up with merchants, bathed in warm sunlight, and featuring friendly and helpful NPCs.
    • Speaking of the NPC merchants, most of them survive past the end of the game, and none of them are truly terrible people. Even the ones that actively lie and deceive you, like Licia the miracle merchant, is more of a scammer than truly malicious. However, she does invade you a couple of times as the Nameless Usurper.
    • Several characters start out as rather depressed and doubtful of your odds of survival when you first meet them, then slowly warm up to you and gain hope as you go on. The Emerald Herald grows more affectionate as the game goes on, one of the old Fire Keepers in Things Betwixt gains some respect for your progress, and even the game's crestfallen character gets happier as more people move to Majula.
  • Surprisingly, Total War: Warhammer has this feel. Yes, you are in a world where there are vampires, hordes of marauding goblins and orcs, torture happy elves, slaughtering rat men, and literal daemons who want to kill you, to say nothing of how much Humans Are Bastards is in effect, but despite all this, there's plenty of hope left in this world, and if you choose to play as one of the order factions, you can make the world a better place. Notably, the Apocalypse that destroyed the Warhammer World? Not only can you stop it, but doing so is required for some factions.
    • Total War: Warhammer III takes this even further, with two of the human nations deciding they've had enough and making expeditions into the Chaos Wastes to take the fight to the Dark Gods themselves. Let me say that again: The Forces of Order are Invading Hell!
  • The climax of Jak II has the Metal Heads invade Haven City after Kor disables the shield walls. Ashelin is convinced that the war cannot be won and tells Jak and Daxter to leave the Bad Future and return to their own time. Jak refuses, citing that Haven City is worth fighting for, and manages to temporary stop the war by destroying the Metal Head nest and killing the leader.
  • The Metro franchise is an incredibly bleak post-apocalyptic world. Yet the games still fit this trope (the books... don't).
    • The first game, through great struggles, has the player end the threat of the Dark Ones with nuclear bombs, saving the metro as a whole. Except the Dark Ones aren't actually hostile and wish to understand humanity, but their Psychic Powers inevitably destroy the mind of those they come in contact with, with Artyom being the only known person resistant to their powers. By exploring the game world, acting charitably, avoiding killing as much as possible, and listening to what others have to say, you gain morality points, symbolizing a more spiritual quest for understanding that leads to the realization that the Dark Ones want peace, and aborting the missile launch at the last minute, thus unlocking the secret ending where Artyom contemplates the possibility of entering dialogue with the Dark Ones and how they can offer hope for the future.
      Khan: "You reap what you sow, Artyom. Force answers force, war breeds war, and death only brings death. To break this vicious circle one must do more than just act without any thought or doubt."
    • The sequel follows up on the atomic destruction of the Dark Ones with rumours of a Sole Survivor baby Dark One and the need to destroy it to finish the job. The game follows up on the Bad Ending of the first game. Once again, Artyom can try to gain a better understanding of the world to finally communicate with the baby Dark One and learn of more Dark Ones hibernating in secret vaults in the metro, and they pull off a Big Damn Heroes at the Final Battle of the game, saving Artyom and the Rangers against overwhelming odds and promising to return one day to rebuild alongside humanity.
  • Punishing: Gray Raven is actually quite optimistic about human nature compared to other post-apocalyptic stories, choosing to portray the people of Babylonia and those on Earth as flawed but ultimately willing and able to make both pragmatic and moral choices, and whose soldiers are loyal and true to one another. The story also averts the status quo, choosing not to continually regress humanity's accomplishments to reclaim Earth, with every rediscovery and victory made contributing to the unfolding narrative. While the war continues to grind on, hope remains strong.
  • Every game of Stellaris starts with a galaxy that's full of dead worlds, tragedies, monuments to past glories, and ancient horrors. But half the fun of Stellaris is to subvert all that and create a galactic community that would surpass even the golden age of old, leading to everlasting peace and cooperation. Of course, the other half is to throw what's left in the glass and subjugate the galaxy under your rule.

    Web Animation 
  • This is ultimately the goal of the titular Emperor from If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, as the Warhammer 40,000 universe is a bonafide Crapsack Galaxy that's filled to the brim with psychopathic cultists, ravenous alien swarms, and Eldritch Abominations, but the text-to-speech device significantly helps The Emperor slowly improve the wretched setting and turn it into a less grim paradise for humans and xenos to coexist (so long as the latter doesn't interfere with his plans at least). Despite being an asshole the Emperor usually is, his ideals are genuinely benevolent.
  • RWBY: Remnant is a Death World, swarming with mysterious monsters whose sole purpose appears to be the destruction of humanity. Civilization clings to existence with the aid of powerful fortifications, natural barriers and Dust, relying on four safe havens and specially trained Huntsmen to hold back the tide; it's implied that this is unprecedented protection compared to most of humanity's known history. Attempts to expand often fail, and both violent prejudice and criminal conspiracies are additional threats to humanity's survival. However, this doesn't stop dedicated heroes from finding solutions that first begin with a positive outlook. Volume 3 kicks the villains' plan into high gear, sending the storyline into much darker territory where the fight between hope and despair is revealed to be the primary battleground between the Big Good and Big Bad. The Atlas Arc explores the relationship between trust and fear as the villains gain the upper hand and the heroes themselves succumb to despair; at the heroes' lowest point, their leader Ruby Rose is Driven to Suicide by the weight of her burdens before she comes through the other side renewed and more determined than ever.

  • Tower of God: The Tower might be too large and diverse to generalise, but it keeps turning up nasty places and sides. The rulers and ruling class seem to be largely corrupt and abusive; King Jahad manipulates his subjects to fight and kill each other to maintain his own power, while the members of the Ten Great Families are often abusive and callous towards people of lesser status. On the other hand, the rebellious FUG organisation opposed to them is no better and maybe worse — destructive, coercive, and manipulative. The Regulars desperately trying to reach the top of the Tower are in a constant and sometimes deadly competition against each other that encourages an attitude of caring about nothing but your own advancement. In addition, they are taken advantage of by others, like the loan sharks on the 20th floor. Other individual places in the Tower show examples of abusive power structures too. The Name Hunt Station is built around a system of slavery and is used to get rid of people the ruling class finds inconvenient, and in the virtual world of the Hidden Floor, the Big Breeders have been known to have their minions beat up the data humans and then wipe out the memory of the incident. And this is to say nothing of the two kingdoms whom a certain monster set up to wage war indefinitely so that he could harvest billions of souls over generations — although that was a bit too much even by the Tower's standards, and the powers that be put an end to it. Yet individual people can be noble, and many are motivated to change the Tower (although in this world, they really need to be careful of the He Who Fights Monsters trope). Bam typically impresses people with his simple benevolent attitude and desire to help everyone, and he's managed to make a concrete change now and then, as with redeeming the ruler of the Name Hunt Station. And he's pretty clearly The Chosen One destined to change the Tower forever.
  • The Schlockniverse is a vast, dangerous, weird place, full of hostile alien races, tin-pot dictators ruling backwater colonies, and a central Human government so corrupt that plutocracy is actually an integral institution in its proper function. And then there are Rogue AIs, Mad Scientists, and Eldritch Abominations to deal with to boot. And yet, there are good people to be found in the most unlikely places, and they always try to do the right thing. Our protagonists are nominally mercenaries and do nasty things for money, but they're fiercely loyal to each other and always strive to do those nasty things for the right - or at least, the least morally objectionable - reasons. They have made powerful friends and allies who do want to make the galaxy a better place, including a functionally immortal race who want to share their gifts with everyone, and one of those Rogue A.I.s who has ascended to godhood and is doing his best to protect the galaxy from the monsters from beyond.
  • Girl Genius presents a world half-full Played for Laughs. Mad Scientist overlords rampage through a Europe that now consists mostly of monster-haunted wilderness: walled and well-armed city-states compete to overthrow their neighbors. Within living memory the Baron's Pax Transylvania - a tense forced truce - is the closest thing anybody has known to peace. The Heterodyne Boys were hailed as Big Damn Heroes not because they ended the Long War or anything grand like that, but because they worked relentlessly to save the day, over and over, for whoever was in peril. The protagonist Agatha is eager to follow in her father and uncle's footsteps, but there have been many, many, many complications.
  • Ruby Quest. The Metal Glen facility is infested with horrible zombie creatures that used to be patients, insanity is rampant, and the whole place is one huge puzzle. It's evil, crazy, and a whole lot of other horrible things, but there's one thing it's not: inescapable.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers: The Crown Empire may be crumbling, but it's still powerful. The Queen herself is a bloodthirsty, genocidal megalomaniac. The jail system is about as good as Arkham Asylum. Tortuna is a Wretched Hive, and some other planets aren't much better. Earth's politicians are often questionable or worse, as are the business-beings. One of the Rangers is essentially a slave. A quarter of the episodes are Bittersweet Endings. A few are Downer Endings. Oh, and Eliza is never rescuednote . Still, sometimes the "villains" are merely misguided. There are also Honest Corporate Executives, benevolent scientists, competent military personnel, friendly alien factions, and sometimes the townsfolk have a change of heart and show up to help.
  • Surprisingly, The Amazing World of Gumball often leans towards this, with its bright and wacky cartoon world often proven to be a lot more cynical, harsh, unfair, and even downright cruel than it would appear on the surface, but never entirely bleak or hopeless. The Wattersons are a heavily flawed and dysfunctional family, but they still love each other. Most people have serious issues that can make life hell for those around them, but with few exceptions, they are still decent people at heart. Things rarely work out too well for the characters, but they can still Earn Their Happy Ending, even if it's still not perfect. Probably best shown in "The Faith", when Alan, the biggest Nice Guy and most optimistic character in all of Elmore, loses his faith in the world and quits doing everything he can to help others, literally causing the world to start to lose its color in the process, until Gumball and Darwin sing him a song that starts out about all the things for him to be pessimistic about and how hard it can be to look towards the future with any optimism with the world in such a miserable state and little to suggest things will get better anytime soon, which unsurprisingly, only makes Alan feel worse, leading into this moment:
    Alan: How's all that supposed to make me feel better? My life's unraveling just like threads pulled from a sweater. There's no sunshine in my future, it is gray desaturated. Tell me why I shouldn't feel sooo deflated?
    Gumball: Because... Because! if you stop halfway up the mountain! You will never see the view!
    Darwlin: When you look how far you climbed you'll find the courage to pull through!
    Gumball: You'll wonder how on Earth you can put up with all of this, then you come across a memory of perfect bliss! (An image of Alan and his girlfriend Carmen appears)
    In unison: So keep following the light! no matter how much your heart aches. Because this sad old world, is going need your hope, to fix it when it breaks!
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: War, genocide, death, a cast of Child Soldiers on both sides...but that just makes any success by the Gaang all the sweeter.
    • The sequel to Avatar, The Legend of Korra definitely showed the results of their works. While crises like Equalists and Kuvira's attempt at conquering the United Republic do occur, the entire world has shown to have improved after Firelord Ozai and Azula were defeated with Zuko as the new Firelord. Unlike the original, the series' tone for the society showed technological advancement and improved living standards in a cosmopolitan city rather than a war-torn landscape. In contrast to harmony based on separations between four cultures before Hundred Year War, the world of Korra had been globalized to the point where multi-ethnic families had become a common sight in places like Republic City. While problems like income inequality and initial discrimination against non-benders do arise, the world of Korra had shown to be a paradise compared to Aang's world with the said issues being addressed later on.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door takes place in a World Gone Mad where many adults are evil villains bent on enslaving or abusing children. Still, the eponymous organization fights this tyranny at every turn, the point driven home unsubtly in the movie, where it is stated that Hope as a concept is the Greater-Scope Villain's Weaksauce Weakness.
  • Fairly OddParents pretty much enforces this. Any kid whose life is miserable enough gets a fairy godparent or two to balance things out, but if they become too happy then their godparent is taken away again. Timmy is neglected by his parents, abused by his teacher and babysitter, and all too often his own wishes come back to bite him in the ass, but he has so much fun with Cosmo and Wanda that he's willing to endure it all just to keep them in his life. Indeed, on multiple occasions Timmy has the opportunity to get Vicky out of his life forever but refuses to take them, claiming it's worth it just to have Cosmo and Wanda in his life for a few more years.
  • Futurama: It's legal to eat human meat, but protecting the environment is a crime, Richard Nixon is once again president, and this time of the entire world, suicide booths are commonplace, the world's military is controlled by an incompetent, amoral, womanizing buffoon, there is no ozone layer, and crack is readily available in vending machines. However, several episodes show that the planet's inhabitants can band together and make significant and positive changes, such as "Proposition Infinity", "Crimes of the Hot", and "The Mutants are Revolting".
  • Motorcity: Old Detroit is covered on top by Abraham Kane's futuristic Detroit Deluxe. As a consequence, there's no sunlight, and most of it appears a dirty, dingy slum, cut off from the rest of the world, and it is constantly under attack (either by force or brainwashing) from Kane's forces. However, they also have a lot of fun and freedom, they own cars, they have a wider choice of fashion, and even have theme parks and festivals.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has a downplayed version in "The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone". Griffonstone is a miserable and depressing place full of cynical inhabitants. The heroes can't just find a MacGuffin to create one big revelation about The Power of Friendship and convince everyone to be better (though one of them tries to do just this). Instead, what they end up doing is getting through to one of the griffons and planting a seed of hope with potential to grow. Oh, and advising her to use baking soda so that there are non-horrible cupcakes available. Every little bit helps.
  • Samurai Jack takes place hundreds of years in the future, where an all-powerful embodiment of evil runs his Villain World without anyone being able to oppose him. His only weakness is a single magical sword that can be lost, stolen, or otherwise rendered useless. However, this sword is wielded by an Experienced Protagonist who can take down literal armies by himself, defeat five highly trained assassins in the time it takes for a drop of water to fall, jump so high that other characters mistake it for flying, all while being an Embodiment of Virtue. Yeah, Aku doesn't stand a chance.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM): A sadist Big Bad Dr. Robotnik takes over the world, turns most of it into polluted ruins, and captures innocents to turn them into robotic slaves, so the people pretty much struggle days in and out from being hunted. The show's premise is as much dark as what the early 90s Funny Animal shows can get. Then comes the heroes, who are bright and competent enough to screw the bad guy's plans continuously and spectacularly.

Alternative Title(s): World Half Full