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Audience Shift

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"Edgy and angry, so zesty and tangy!
There's new demographics
When nobody asked for it!"

Retooling a show or theme for a different audience is an especially tricky process. Very successful shows are often structured around a specific appeal to demographics into a winning combo, with minor (un)intentional concessions to Periphery Demographics, creating happy side revenue. This is evident in anime fandom's terms like shojo and shonen being treated as quasi-genres. But actively retooling a show to a new specific audience tends to result in stuff not seen as good as the original, perhaps because it automatically invites comparisons. This can create bad situations like Recycled In Space, and eventually lead to Pandering to the Base, although there are occasional gems. In less cynical situations, this may happen just because writers tend to be out of their element in different kinds of stories.

Sometimes, this is a result of a long-since-discontinued series being revived years after the fact. Technically, it's aimed at the same demographic as before—they're just older and can handle more adult things now. Of course, remember that Tropes Are Tools; it can be hard for less experienced writers to work more mature material into the aforementioned series without coming off as pandering, and even if the transition is handled relatively well, it can still be disconcerting to see characters the audience has treasured since childhood suddenly start cursing and making sex jokes.

Due to Values Dissonance, many anime and manga are aimed at older audiences in dubs and translations. This causes fans to mistake them for being aimed at more mature viewers/readers than they really are.

Note that the Audience Shift is different from a Genre Shift, as the latter's changes usually keep the same kind of viewers.

Compare Unisex Series, Gendered Merchandise. Contrast Fleeting Demographic.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon Origins, while still family-friendly, is the first Pokémon work to definitely be aimed at the franchise's adult fansnote  more than its traditional demographic of children. Other incarnations are mostly "all-ages" (like the main RPG games) or for kids. Pokémon Generations, its Spiritual Successor, continues this trend.
    • Similarly, the Mega Evolution specials are a spinoff of Pokémon the Series: XY. Unlike the rest of the series, they are clearly meant to appeal to teenagers and young adults just as much as kids due to their older cast and focus on the "badass" mons, as well as their similarity to the popular Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 animated trailer. Eventually, the storyline would fully merge with the main series itself, turning the final arc of the XY series, XYZ, into an action-packed, darker and more dramatic adventure for Ash and his friends than in the past.
  • Saiyuki was originally shonen manga but shifted to a josei publication.
  • While the idea of Sasami from Tenchi Muyo! as a Magical Girl had been done both in parody and as a 'serious' story within the franchise, Sasami: Magical Girls Club, a straight adaptation for young girls, is mostly ignored by the fandom.
  • Despite being an ostensibly shonen production, The Vision of Escaflowne tended to fall in the middle ground of fandom. Interestingly, its two print adaptations are more obviously marketed to a male audience and a female audience but are usually seen as inferior.
  • The OAVs of Magic Knight Rayearth are likewise made with a knowledge of the show's male fandom, to detrimental results.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha is an odd case, being a fanboy Dating Sim spin-off. It mutated into a Magical Girl show, of which (wholesome) versions are usually targeted to young girls. However, its philosophy and treatment of the main character was very different than shoujo usually plays, which ended up attracting the usual fans who wanted something different. This group is big enough that some countries that licensed it cut out the Fanservice and ended up marketing directly to this younger age group.
  • There are a few Shounen titles which have had Seinen releases in their later installments (generally in manga). Some of these instances are Fist of the North Star, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, and Trigun.
  • The infamous anime version of Rosario + Vampire was aimed at a male audience, moreso than the manga was. Its emphasis on sexual fanservice at the expense of the original plot of the manga was a cause of outrage among fans, many of whom to this day are still demanding a more manga-faithful reboot.
  • GaoGaiGar was ostensibly a kid's show when it originally aired in 1997. The sequel OVA series, GaoGaiGar FINAL, tried banking on the Periphery Demographic with some Darker and Edgier content.
  • The Astro Fighter Sunred anime was based on a seinen manga, yet with the removal of some sex jokes and a downplay of the violence to the cartoonish the result was a perfectly kid-friendly sentai parody, without losing any of the underlying satire and adult-aimed situational comedy of the original.
  • Shugo Chara Party!, the third anime season of Shugo Chara! was aimed at the preschool/early elementary crowd, while the previous seasons were aimed at older children. It unsurprisingly bombed, and pretty much killed off the franchise in Japan.
  • The Sailor Moon franchise is usually for young girls, but Sailor Moon Crystal is targeted at the adult women who grew up with the 90's anime and manga, complete with merchandise like adult-sized shoes and makeup.
  • Sailor Moon's contemporary Dragon Ball also fell into this, but mostly in North America. Starting when Dragon Ball Z Kai ended its run on children's networks and was later relocated to [adult swim]'s Toonami, the franchise has been primarily marketed to teenagers and adults in America despite the fact that it was conceived as a Shōnen series for young boys (and was marketed as such for most of its life worldwide). Dragon Ball Super, despite having toned-down violence from previous series, exclusively airs on Toonami with a faithful, uncensored dub aimed towards teenagers and adults.
  • The Digimon franchise was initially conceived as and is most known for being a children's franchise, but dwindling sales of franchise media among children have caused Bandai Namco and Toei Animation to shift their focus towards older teenagers and adults, especially those who grew up with the original series. This is reflected in the video games having much darker plots than before and the Digimon Adventure tri. anime featuring the original cast during high school and all the angst and Growing Up Sucks that comes with it. On ther other end of the spectrum, while the original Digimon Adventure was aimed more at tweens, the 2020 reboot was aimed at younger kids, having a more episodic structure that younger kids could more easily follow even if they missed a few episodes.
  • Joining the ranks of Digimon and Sailor Moon, Magical Doremi is a show targeted towards young girls. After nearly 7 years after the original series' end, a light novel series titled Ojamajo Doremi 16 was released, taking place when the characters are in high school. Since the 15th anniversary of the series' first release, products for adult women, such as makeup and jewelry accessories, were being released for the audience that grew up with the show.
  • Naruto:
    • Naruto is aimed at elementary schoolers in Japan, even with all the blood and violence. For the English dub, when it began airing in the 2000s, Cartoon Network would air a "family friendly" version that censored some of that stuff, while the "uncut" version was aimed at teenagers and adults. Since the show was Screwed by the Network and mainly regulated to home releases until the Toonami relaunch, the series has mostly done away with the "family friendly" version and focuses on the "uncut" one.
    • In Japan, Boruto is aimed at a younger audience than its predecessor Naruto and was even moved to a kid's block alongside Pokémon: The Series. In America, it's TV-PG and airs on Toonami (one of the episodes was rated TV-MA-S, a first for not just the series, but the whole franchise). It's not even one of the Toonami anime advertised at kids, like My Hero Academia and Dragon Ball Super.
  • Osomatsu-kun was family friendly. Osomatsu-san takes place ten years afterwards and portrays the characters as much more flawed, and adult, than before. The troublesome sextuplets grew up to be NEETs, and much of the humor stems from watching them either try to make something out of their lives or avoid the responsibility for as long as possible. Then oddly, there's the spinoff Matsuinu, which features the San versions of the characters as dogs, but the anime version at least premiered in a timeslot meant for preschoolers.
  • King of Prism is a whole different beast from the anime it spun off from, let alone the rest of the young girl-focused Pretty Series franchise. With its primarily pretty boy cast, oodles of fanservice, and bigger emphasis on relationships between the boys, it's much more geared at the older girls who watched Pretty Rhythm than their younger peers.
  • Wandering Son is aimed at men in Japan. Its English translation is aimed at teenagers in general.
  • Lupin III swaps between Shōnen and Seinen at what is basically random - none of it is strictly kids stuff, but it ranges from James Bond-esq "risque, but basically family-friendly" (The Castle of Cagliostro and Red Jacket) to containing extremely violent situations and dark, gritty themes. (The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, some parts of Part 5, and the Jigen and Goemon short films) The original manga itself is kind of a middle ground - it arguably has the darkest, most adult situations of the entire franchise, but also at the same time has an off-the-wall, No Fourth Wall style of humor.
  • Gon is a seinen manga but the CGI anime adaptation was aimed at young children.
  • Yo-Kai Watch is predominantly aimed at kids but it does have a seinen manga named Komasan ~A Time for Fireworks and Miracles~.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion is, according to the creator, intended to be for children. However, it's treated as a seinen series by most marketing and is targeted at adults (or at least, older teens). The movie End of Evangelion is also very much an R rated affair.
  • Zig-Zagged with Crayon Shin-chan. In Japan, the manga was published in a seinen magazine but the anime version is more aimed at kids and families with its marketing and timeslot (Yes, really). Then Funimation made a more vulgar English Gag Dub, making it for adults again.
  • Similar to Shin-Chan, Ghost Stories is a kids show, but licensor ADV Films figured it would sell better if they gave it a crass Gag Dub and aimed it at adults. It worked, as the gag dub is pretty much the only reason the show is even remembered in the United States.
  • Cells at Work! CODE BLACK is a seinen spinoff of Cells at Work!, although the similarity ends at the usage of Anthropomorphized Anatomy and basic character designs. The content shifts from body functions to diseases in CODE BLACK, and is Darker and Edgier, Hotter and Sexier, and Bloodier and Gorier than the original or any of its other spinoffs, to the point that its creators are ecchi artists. It had surprisingly good reception to get Un-Cancelled, and Kodansha Comics considers it appropriate to license it in the US, despite having a 18+ rating.
  • Denkō Chōjin Gridman and its US counterpart Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad were primarily aimed at kids. SSSS.GRIDMAN, on the other hand, is more geared the teens and young adults that grew up with the former two, and as a result tends to have more lower-deck scenes and Darker and Edgier plots. The merch is similarly shifted to a general non-tokusatsu audience, with most of it focusing on Rikka and Akane over Gridman and the kaijuu.
  • The original manga for the romance series Boys over Flowers was a Shoujo series. Its sequel, Boys Over Flowers Season 2, while still a romance series, shifted gears to Shōnen.
  • Pretty Cure is mainly aimed at elementary school girls, but one season, KiraKira★Pretty Cure ŕ la Mode, was mainly geared towards preschool and kindergarten aged girls and therefore lacked the usual hands-on combat of the franchise. This was because several parents complained about intense scenes in Go! Princess Pretty Cure frightening very young children.
    • Smile PreCure! also shifted its' focus to the younger demographics for the Pretty Cure franchise by making the show Lighter and Softer and more episodic and Slice of Life-based than previous installments. But unlike Kira Kira, the hands-on combat was kept. However, this was averted by the Glitter Force dub, which aimed the show at the original demographic of elementary schoolers.
    • The stage show Dancing Star Pretty Cure and the Otona Pretty Cure series are both aimed at adult women rather than children. In fact, preschool kids were banned from attending showings of Dancing Star Pretty Cure.

    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf, a children's series, has had at least two seasons/spinoffs with changes in the target audience:
    • Pleasant Goat Fun Class is aimed at a younger audience than the original. It features cuter designs, less drama, and more education.
    • Mr.Wolffy, Mr.Right! is aimed at a slightly older audience. This is apparent due to it being about Wolffy's relationships at the workplace.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel and DC superhero comics have a long history of this. Originally they were meant for anyone but then The Comics Code happened so they changed to make them more kid-friendly. Eventually both sides got tired of obeying the comics code and began aiming the comics toward older and older audiences. Now the comics are mostly targeted at teens and adults.
  • The Gargoyles continuation comic and its spin-off, Gargoyles: Bad Guys, have a much more adult bent to them, with things like stabbing (with blood!), suicides, and even more complex characterization than the TV series had.
  • 2000 AD was initially aimed at 8-12 year old boys, but like what happened with American comics, gradually started appealing to older tastes as its readers aged. In the late 90s, Tharg attempted to launch a new comic called Earthside 8 to bring in 2000 AD's original demographic, but the plan was scrapped.
  • Archie Comics:
    • Archie Comics occasionally feature a story in which the characters are involved in dangerous or hostage situation, usually featuring a villain with some sort of firearm. At some point Archie Comics decided it needed to be more "kid friendly" and edited out said guns when stories are reprinted. The results were usually odd; Archie and friends would be extremely intimidated by people who were simply pointing at them and unarmed people are depicted walking or running as if they were holding an invisible rifle. In addition, there were a few rare comics that seemingly have stopped being reprinted presumably due to subject matter. One involved Betty and Veronica discussing about Archie (and explicitly calling him "sexy"). An early comic of Cheryl Blossom featured her attempting to go topless at a beach, while her brother disguised a beer can as a soda can. The second comic can be found in a "Best of Archie Comics" release, but otherwise neither of them have been reprinted in over a decade (despite the company's tendency to frequently reprint comics from well over 20 years ago).
    • In the 2010s Archie began expanding their horizon with more Darker and Edgier spinoffs such as Afterlife with Archie or Archie vs. Predator. This is turn caused the Continuity Reboot Archie Comics (2015) to be aimed at slightly older audiences than their original demographic, though they're still pretty family friendly.
  • The Jem cartoon was aimed at girls twelve and under. The IDW Jem and the Holograms (IDW) comic reboot is aimed at an older audience, though not much is actually above PG rating aside from mild swearing and slight sexuality.
  • The The Transformers (IDW) comics are likewise aimed at the older Periphery Demographic of the franchise instead of young boys, although, again, besides a couple of "damns" and alcohol references (though both have some basis in canon), it's fairly tame.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The film of The Lovely Bones had an initially unintentional Audience Shift. It was made tame enough to be rated PG-13 so the scriptwriters' children could watch it, and in marketing tests it did much, much better with teenage girls than with adults. Paramount advertised it heavily on fan blogs for The Twilight Saga.
  • Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith shifted towards a teen/adult focus. This film took the Darker and Edgier route as far as it could possibly go, becoming the first PG-13 Star Wars film.
  • Clash of the Titans (1981) was a film for families and young children; Clash of the Titans (2010) was a movie for teenage boys and college students (as a way to emulate the success of violent action films such as 300).
  • Gross-Out Comedies like Animal House and Porky's were originally made with an adult audience in mind (specifically, they were meant to be nostalgic throwbacks for adults who were in high school or college when those movies took place). However, once teenagers turned out to be the main audience for those movies (with adults actually being offended by them), the demographic for such films shifted to teenagers (with the nostalgic settings dropped).
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe has always been a Multiple Demographic Appeal, its start with Iron Man certainly skewed towards young viewers, as the mature content and violence were mild. However by Phase Three, the films are more suitable for older teens and young adults, with darker themes and many a Gut Punch that will traumatize children. It's even worse in the streaming shows, as the Netflix shows led by Daredevil are certainly adult-skewed, and not only for intense violence, and the two shows with teenage characters, Runaways (2017) and Cloak & Dagger (2018), are not only dark but have the protagonists going through painful things such an drug usage and being pursued by the law.
  • The Fly II experienced this due to a new studio head at 20th Century Fox. He hadn't seen its predecessor according to producer Stuart Cornfeld, and co-writer Mick Garris says "The studio wanted a teenage monster movie". Instead of the B-Team Sequel further exploring such concepts as "insect politics" in an adults-only manner, the film — while still extremely gory — is a thematically Lighter and Softer story of the first film's Spin-Offspring with clear-cut heroes and villains and a Mook Horror Show Roaring Rampage of Revenge climax that encourages the audience to root for the monster.
  • The Banana Splits is a 1960s kids' show. The 2019 film The Banana Splits Movie is a horror film where the animatronics on the show start murdering.

  • Harry Potter started out as a kids' series, but slowly mutated into more of a young-adult series as the primary fanbase grew older. J. K. Rowling supposedly wrote the later books to acknowledge this, introducing themes when she thought the audience would be ready - thus dating (the Yule Ball) and the death of a schoolmate in Book 4, etcetera.
  • The Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys franchises got a little Spin-Off-happy in the 1980s, and ever since, they've created several spin-off series designed to audience shift in both directions.
    • Each series has had two Spin-Off Babies series shifting even younger than the original preteen markets. Nancy had the Nancy Drew Notebooks and Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew, while the Hardys has The Clues Brothers and The Secret Files.
    • They also each had a Darker and Edgier spinoff geared toward teen and young adult audiences. The Nancy Drew Files and The Hardy Boys Casefiles, and their crossover Supermysteries all dialed up the romance, upped the body count, and dealt with much more mature content (in the very first Casefile, Joe's girlfriend is blown up by a terrorist's car bomb.)
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was designed as a kid's book but it's usually marketed in modern times for teens and adults. In American schools, it's also compulsory reading for high schoolers.

    Live-Action TV 

  • Happens regularly to teen oriented pop bands (Duran Duran, the Backstreet Boys, Bon Jovi, and The Jonas Brothers being some obvious examples) who choose to grow up with their original fans, moving on to a softer, more mature sound, rather than trying to win over a new generation of teens.
  • Linkin Park evoked that with the change of their sound as well, shifting lyrical content from personal issues to political content, decreasing the amount of screaming, and not having as many guitars.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling initially catered to a general audiences when WWWA came through Japan and women's wrestling became something of a fad, though didn't find mainstream stars until the 1970s with The Beauty Pair. In the 1980s, it started catering very heavily to little girls, who especially loved The Crush Gals Lioness Asuka and Chigusa Nagayo. AJW became one of the most successful promotions in the world largely because of those two but it was still behind many other Japanese promotions, at least as far as gates go, so in the 1990s it made a heavy effort to bring male fans to the shows. This would be its last hurrah, as the little girls no longer catered to as heavily largely stopped showing up and the men, well, they may have liked Manami Toyota, Akira Hokuto and the like but they weren't going to become the next generation of women's wrestlers as the women they were watching, many of whom attended shows as little girls, had. About five years into the 2000s AJW and its largest rival GAEA collapsed and women's wrestling hasn't been as popular with any audience since.
    • The Three Month Rule aside, the WWE has undergone two major retools to shift their audience appeal. Throughout the 80s, they had been geared heavily toward a family friendly product, headlined by Hulk Hogan and other colorful characters. Around 1993, with his top stars having been on top of the card for the better part of a decade, Vince McMahon shifted into the "New Generation" era, putting a bit more athleticism into the ring and gradually moving away from cards filled with one-sided squash matches. The idea was that the New Generation would attract a new generation of fans to the sport, headlined by Bret Hart, Diesel, Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, and The Undertaker.
  • In the 1990s, All Japan Pro Wrestling was the place to watch if what you wanted to see was serious, straightforward pro wrestling focused on work rate over gimmicks. In the 2000s, most of All Japan's roster packed up for Mitsuharu Misawa's Pro Wrestling NOAH, which continued to give them the same style for the most part with an added bonus of a Junior Heavyweight Tag Team division, a concept popularized by Genichiro Tenryu's WAR. This meant that even with WAR's roster coming in to replace the lost All Japan wrestlers, NOAH was still doing everything they were already known for doing, leading to the much lighter, softer and stranger Puroresu Love period, designed to attract new fans(and more importantly, new sponsors) to pro wrestling. When Nobuo Shiraishi took over these 'new' fans would turn to Wrestle-1, where most of the All Japan wrestlers he ran off ran to, leading to All Japan switching its focus back to fans of traditional, straight forward pro wrestling again in 2014.
  • Ladies Legend Pro Wrestling started as a shooting style pro wrestling fed akin to the Universal Wrestling Federation, in fact was considered part of the "U System", and was started in opposition to the theatrics of JWP. After the rising tide of mixed martial started to sink shoot style pro wrestling and especially after MMA's own boom died down with the death of Pride Fighting Championships LLPW only survived by restructuring into LLPW-X, which more actively works with pro wrestling promotions of other styles more than it promotes its own title belts, promotions that include JWP and its Spiritual Successor Pure J.
  • IWA Japan was initially a garbage promotion spun off from and competing directly with the most garbage of the garbage feds Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling. But when company founder Victor Quinones left IWA Japan only survived thanks to the funding of a restaurant owner who couldn't give them the budget and wouldn't have the know how even if he did, to compete with FMW. So IWA Japan transitioned into being a comedy based fed that rarely bothered trying to run it's old venues, with the fans who wanted big production garbage going back to FMW or being out of luck unless they could tolerate Big Japan.
  • Spurred on by the more athletic product being delivered by WCW at the time, the New Generation Era morphed into the Attitude Era around 1998. It went Darker and Edgier from its child friendly days, instead aiming for a young adult demographic, with a heavy emphasis on in-ring violence, sex appeal, and more adult storylines. After WCW collapsed and WWE was left standing on top of the heap, the need for the Attitude Era had passed, and they decided they needed to attract young viewers again. Starting in late 2002, the second major retool began with the rise of stars like John Cena and Randy Orton, discouraging swearing and violence on the weekly shows and toning down the amount of female Fanservice.
  • In the 2000s, New Japan Pro-Wrestling switched from the strong style it had pioneered to a mixture of worked pro wrestling matches and mix martial arts fights. Mixed style matches had technically been a thing since the 1970s but out and out MMA feds were not a thing until Shooto, Pancrase, Pride Fighting Championships and the like, New Japan clearly playing Follow the Leader, to mixed results. While "Inokism" as this then new approach to booking was called wasn't a total failure, producing a few financial successes, New Japan's fan base and revenues gradually declined as the neither the pro wrestling nor the mixed martial arts were seen as high quality and the MMA in fact hurt the pro wrestling booking as wrestlers who had no business doing it were put in fights to keep New Japan's promises to fans and MMA promotions and then buried for losing. Several popular wrestlers who weren't destroyed simply left or refused play along if they stayed, resulting in some successful mixed martial artists winning pro wrestling title belts even though they were far from the best pro wrestlers NJPW had(Bob Sapp), a famous case of NJPW hiring an Olympic silver medalist Judoka to beat one of its top stars into retirement for refusing to put pro wrestlers perceived as sub par over and another case of a supposed foreign prospect essentially holding the company hostage by choosing to sit out his contract and then leaving with the IWGP Heavyweight Title belt rather than job to another wrestler who proved successful in mixed marital arts fights. Eventually NJPW decided it was doing better with strong style, even traditional "puroresu", even the super junior athletics and abandoned "Inokism", though it continued to be displayed in IGF.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The range of the target audience to whom Sesame Street is aimed towards—formerly 4 to 6—was bumped down with Elmo's rise in popularity after the Tickle Me Elmo craze in 1996, with two and three-year-old children now being included. Since then, there have been multiple attempts at making the show more accessible to toddlers, like Elmo's World and Play With Me Sesame.

  • The BeForever revamp of the American Girls Collection flagship historical line and the Truly Me revamp of the modern line are intended to try and prevent this. These dolls are, like the books they're paired with, intended for the 8-12 demographic with a clear stated aim of letting these kids be kids instead of be pressured to age out of age-appropriate things and try to grow up fast. However, parents who didn't get the memo are actually contributing to the problem by buying the dolls for younger kids, sometimes even toddlers, to the point where kids declare that they've grown out of their "babyish" dolls before they actually hit the appropriate age for them! The other problem with this is that these parents are risking their kids' health with choking and injury hazards (though the newer accessories go for plastic instead of glass and metal and bunch things like food items together instead of making them separate and more easily lost). Thus, with the aforementioned revamps, the company put a focus on the books and compiled them into larger editions with no illustrations, so they're more obviously middle-grade books; they also put heavy emphasis on the fact that these characters are 9-10-year-old girls and meant to be viewed as equal playmates, and ads show girls in the 8-12 age range.
  • In the 2010s the Easy Bake Oven changed its marketing strategy to be aimed at girls and boys instead of only girls. In 2012 Hasbro decided to redesign the oven to be gender neutral, in response to people whose sons wanted to bake but didn't enjoy the pink and purple colors of the toy.
  • After multiple failed attempts to reboot the children's Masters of the Universe franchise, Mattel gave up and aimed the latest incartion of the toyline, MOTUS Classics, strictly towards adult collectors.
  • Transformers, traditionally aimed at the 8-12 crowd, had the short-lived "First Transformers" line in 1986, a collaboration with Playskool that was intended for very young children in the 1-3 range. It used greatly simplified transformations, rounded edges, and colorful designs to give it better appeal to toddlers. (This is only partially an Audience Shift, as the original series was still ongoing at the time.)
  • McDonald's Happy Meal toys are primarily aimed towards young kids. However, in October 2022, the company will introduce the first Happy Meal set aimed towards adults, themed around the Cactus Flea Market fashion brand, which contains figures of three of the McDonaldland characters (Grimace, Birdie and the Hamburglar) and a figure of the Cactus Flea Market mascot (Cactus Buddy). This is only a partial shift though, as this is treated as separate from the normal Happy Meal brand (not using the Happy Meal branding or name), which remains aimed at kids.

    Video Games 
  • Cut the Rope: While the first games where for general audiences, the success of Om Nom Stories with young kids has made that the franchise in general became marketed more towards toddlers.
  • Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth and its follow up Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth - Hacker's Memory targets the older fans of the Digimon franchise, featuring a darker story, Ms. Fanservice characters and a plot with implications and exploration that has received comparisons to the Megami Tensei series, especially the newer Persona games, Soul Hackers and Devil Survivor 2, with the game outright using Devil Survivor's lead designer and artstyle with one of its characters being a Shout-Out to the hero of Devil Survivor 2. Appropriately enough, the two games are rated T for Teen under the ERSB.
  • Final Fantasy XVI is the first game in the Final Fantasy series to be made with Western adult audiences in mind, given that it is the first mainline M-rated title in the series, the Game of Thrones influence in the plot and world design, and that while the voice script was written in Japanese first, it was recorded in English first, with the localization changes made to the English script translated back into Japanese, then recorded in Japanese.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon Sun and Moon is meant to appeal to the older teens and fans as the 20th anniversary, and it shows. Many fans were surprised it didn't get the E10+ rating. It includes adult themes such as heavy parental abuse (worse than in Pokémon Black and White), an Alien Invasion and the world turning Crapsaccharine as well as lots of Nightmare Fuel. And it's much harder than previous games, too.
    • When introduced in the 1990s, Pokémon was strictly marketed at children. After "Poké Mania" died down, and especially when the original Pokémon Red and Blue fans begin growing into teens and adults, the marketing switched. While the games are still geared at general audiences and all media (ranging from the various manga and anime to the games themselves) are family-friendly, there's plenty of merch for adults as well as kids.
    • The mobile game Pokémon Masters is aimed at older fans. It has a focus on trainers from throughout the game's history and it has a Loot Box mechanic that uses real money.
  • The mean age of the RuneScape players has gotten older. Jagex has acknowledged that and many things can be seen as a result such as more sophisticated storylines and eventually, making the profanity filter optional.
  • Metroid: Other M, to counter a history of low sales in its native land, was designed to appeal to Japanese audiences with a stronger emphasis on story and a more linear style of gameplay. This backfired badly, as the changes to Samus' character to make her more appealing to a Japanese audience alienated the series' western fan base and wasn't exactly a popular move back home, either.

    Web Original 
  • Neopets was originally designed for college students, but over time its primary demographic has shifted younger and younger until it became mainly aimed at little kids. This can lead to What Do You Mean, It's for Kids? when younger users stumble upon some of the remnants of the site's early days. However, a second audience shift that balanced its focus to both kids and adults started around 2012 when older players (many of whom joined as kids) came back, culminating in the site being acquired from Viacom/Nickelodeon by Jump Start specifically because it skewed older.
  • Facebook was originally just for college students, but then it opened up to high school students as well, and eventually to everyone. This is part of the reason for its many layout changes over the years (for example, the decision to make it less oriented around school and work networks came not long after opening the site to everyone).

    Western Animation 
  • The original silent Felix the Cat cartoons were made for general audiences (leaning towards adult in some of their subject matter) while the made-for-TV Joe Oriolo cartoons from the 1950's were aimed exclusively at kids instead.
  • G.I. Joe is a franchise that was traditionally aimed as Merchandise-Driven for children. While the comics and movie always tended to attract a more adult audience, G.I. Joe: Resolute is so far the sole animated exception. Granted Hasbro had flirted with the idea since The Transformers: The Movie and G.I. Joe: Renegades is fairly dark for a kids show, but GI Joe Resolute was the first GI Joe production to be aimed at older viewers only.
  • Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon", due to Executive Meddling, went all-out with all the grossness, violence and homoeroticism that could only be hinted at in the original The Ren & Stimpy Show. Many claim that this was the show's downfall, as it took too far what was already pushing it in the first place.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • The show changed noticeably when teens and grown-ups started watching it and the kids who were around during its inception grew up.
    • After The Movie, SpongeBob began aiming itself more at a younger audience. Art Evolution lead to cuter, more expressive and brightly coloured characters while flanderization made SpongeBob and Patrick into even bigger man children. Nick pushed the show earlier into their timeslots until it became one of the most popular cartoons amongst preschoolers.
  • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is this, shifting the demographics from all-ages to seven-and-under. Other than the aforementioned kids, the only people who seemed to like it are parents glad that their toddlers can sit still for thirty minutes, for once.
    • Even Mickey Mouse merchandise has fallen under this trope. Many modern pieces of merchandise for the character have the Disney Junior logo on them.
  • My Little Pony:
    • The toyline for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is aimed at a toddler to mid-elementary demographic. The spinoff My Little Pony: Equestria Girls is aimed at a more late elementary to middle school aged demographic, somewhere between 9 and 13.
    • The toys were originally meant to be aimed at unisex audiences but Hasbro enforced a Girliness Upgrade early on and made it exclusively aimed at girls. Friendship Is Magic is aimed at unisex audiences according to Word of God, and is supposed to be something that both little girls and their family members can find enjoyable. A secondary shift occurred during that series, when adult fans eventually outnumbered the main intended audience of kids, and the writers of the show started including various nods to the new older fanbase - which paradoxically contributed to many of these older fans eventually leaving, due to awkward shifts in the show's tone and premise which resulted partially from said nods. There have also been a second periphery demographic of older fans who collected the toys pretty much since the beginning, and Hasbro have been throwing the odd bit of merch their way since G3. So, in short, there are three different audiences - kids, bronies, and old-school collectors - who rarely meet and are all catered to one way or another.
  • A mild example with newer episodes of The Simpsons which add more pop-culture references and sight gags (as well as more edgy humour) in order to try and appeal to young viewers.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998) was not aimed at only girls. It was aimed at a unisex audience, though merchandise was mainly female aimed. The reboot is aimed much more at girls than the original, focusing less on the superhero spectacle and more on the story and interactions between characters.
  • The 2003 Teen Titans cartoon was aimed toward older kids (which was already a downgrade of the original comics’ demographics for older teens, hence the name), yet still had some mature themes. The new incarnation, called Teen Titans Go!, is clearly aimed toward very young kids. Despite this, the original is TV-Y7 while the reboot is TV-PG.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles began life as an indie comic for adults. All four animated series have been aimed at children.
  • Originally Looney Tunes was aimed at general audiences and many shorts were even aimed specifically at adults. Over time, the Animation Age Ghetto became a thing and Looney Tunes became associated with being a children's cartoon, causing a lot of Values Dissonance and awkwardness with certain shorts. Almost any modern take on the characters, such as Space Jam or The Looney Tunes Show, will be aimed at younger audiences.
  • Samurai Jack was a Cartoon Network series which aired on 2001 to 2004. When the show was revived for a fifth and final season, it aired on sister channel [adult swim]'s Toonami programming block. As the name of the channel implies, this season is aimed towards adult fans who grew up with the series and is by equal turns Darker and Edgier, Bloodier and Gorier, and Hotter and Sexier than the original series.
  • The classic Tom and Jerry shorts were aimed at adults and were at most general audience. Somewhere between the 1960s and 1980s, Tom and Jerry became a children's franchise.
  • The early seasons of Hey Arnold! were more childish in tone than the later ones (though the series was always rated TV-Y7). Once the Uncancelled Grand Finale known as Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie came out in 2017, which was 13 years after the series' original run ended, it got a TV-PG rating. It was far more action-packed than even Hey Arnold! The Movie and had multiple onscreen deaths occur to appease its now adult fanbase. If it weren't for the fact that there was no blood, it may have even gotten a TV-14 rating.
  • Winnie the Pooh is historically aimed at children in general. Over time, however, there has been a push for it being for young children six and under. More recently, Disney has also begun marketing the franchise towards the older Periphery Demographic. Christopher Robin being one such case.
  • The original Total Drama series was generally designed for older kids/teens to enjoy, with its occasional hidden adult humor, darker moments and serialized season-long storylines. Total DramaRama on the other hand is much Lighter and Softer and revolves around the cast being in kindergarten with no complex storylines due to being aimed at younger children overall.
  • The first two seasons of Young Justice (2010) were primarily aimed at a pre-teen and teenager crowd. After getting Uncancelled and moving to the streaming service DC Universe, the series shifted to a Darker and Edgier Hotter and Sexier tone now targeted toward older teens and adults.
  • The DC Animated Universe was always aimed at children despite carrying a mature enough tone that teens and adults could enjoy it as well. Once the Universe was revived in the late 2010s with Batman and Harley Quinn and Justice League vs. The Fatal Five, it became strictly adult oriented, with characters openly swearing and references to sex being explicit rather than implied.

    Real Life 
  • Toonami originally aired during the daytime on Cartoon Network with programs aimed at a pre-teen and teen audience. When it was Un-Canceled, it received a new placement after the watershed on [adult swim]. In a odd twist, though, at least half of what the midnight block airs is still content that would be suitable for a young audience on Cartoon Network (albeit with slight editing to remove or tone down blood, lewd situations, and cursing), if not for the fact that action/adventure animation has largely been phased out in favor of comedy series on children's television networks during The New '10s (with the exception, ironically, of Disney, which still airs Marvel and Star Wars cartoons).