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Audience Shift

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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.

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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 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.

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Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     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 the main Pokémon anime. 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.
  • 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 adaptions 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 usual 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 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 shonen 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.
  • 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 and middle 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. In America, it's TV-PG and airs on Toonami. 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.
  • 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 Rhythm 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 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.
  • Denkou Choujin 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.

    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, 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 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.
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    Films — Animation 
  • Toy Story, where Andy's age roughly mirrored the viewers'. Toy Story 3, released fifteen years after 1, is pretty much about the loss of childhood innocence and entering the adult world, and is very much written with the college audience as the first priority.
  • This has somewhat occurred with hand-drawn animation in general. Other than TV, the medium has rarely had a shot in theaters since the mid-2000s and any attempts otherwise (like with The Princess and the Frog or Winnie the Pooh (2011)) have largely failed. With the rise of internet streaming and the GKIDS release of The Secret of Kells however, hand-drawn features have seen a revival in the indie and underground markets whichnote  are made up of adults and animation enthusiasts alike regardless of the film's intended audience.
  • Disney Animated Canon works are aimed at general audiences. This means they're not kid's films, they're family films that can be enjoyed by all audiences. However, most merchandise however is aimed at young children. They do have stuff aimed at the slightly older preteen audience such as the Frozen book A Frozen Heart (which has a recommended age range of 10-13), and some for adults, often their collectable merchandise, but most Disney merchandise is aimed at at their youngest demographics.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • 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 
  • The Dukes of Hazzard began as a more serious, adult-oriented television series. After the first few episodes were filmed and audience testing began, the studio decided it was playing better to younger audiences and the series was toned down and made more family friendly.
  • Conversely, the game show Family Feud has become more adult-oriented over time. It can be argued that this started when Ray Combs became host, although a notable shift was in 2010: not only was Steve Harvey introduced to YouTube before he made his television debut, but adult-themed questions became the norm.
  • Following the successes of High School Musical and Hannah Montana, ongoing Disney Channel shows from around 2006 such as The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and That's So Raven were changed from High Concept Slice of Life comedies aimed at kids of both genders, to shows about fame and romance aimed at teenage girls. It shifted back to kids in 2017.

    Music 
  • Happens regularly to teen oriented pop bands (Duran Duran, the Backstreet Boys, and Bon Jovi being three 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.
  • Raw is basically a three-hour variety show, or a commercial for a national tourist board. Everyone's goofy and having fun, smiling and laughing, making jokes, nobody is being serious about the fact that they're supposedly fighters trying to settle feuds and obtain championship belts. This is amplified by the commentary team consisting of three salesmen constantly trying to pitch you something (which isn't even being presented at the moment). Come to the WWE... We have entertainments.
    • 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. No longer making any pretense of being child friendly, the Attitude Era was aimed squarely at the rich in disposable income 18-to-25 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. The avid teen viewership was starting to grow up and move on and, thanks largely to its edgy product, younger viewers had been discouraged from watching. Starting in late 2002, the second major retool began with the rise of stars like John Cena and Randy Orton, largely discouraging blatant swearing and over-the-top hardcore violence on the weekly shows and toning down the amount of female Fanservice. The result is a much more family-friendly, if not as revolutionary product, albeit one that acknowledges a more "educated" wrestling audience by not insulting their intelligence. As much.
  • 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.

    Toys 
  • 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-grades 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 son's wanted to bake but didn't enjoy the pink and purple colors of the toy.
  • After multipled 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.

    Video Games 
  • Pokémon:
  • 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's 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 its 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 borderline Up to Eleven 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 an 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.
  • 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 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.

     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 was largely phased out in favor of comedy series children' television networks during The New '10s.

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