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Cerebus Call-Back

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A specific type of Call-Back wherein a previously humorous or light hearted moment in the continuity is called back to and takes on a much harsher tone. For example a previously funny catch phrase will be repeated on someone's deathbed or a light-hearted memory will be referenced, making the memory take on a darker tone.

Compare Cerebus Retcon when a comedy plot element is deconstructed and played straight and Dark Reprise when it's a song. See also Harsher in Hindsight for an unintentional version of this. Note that it only counts when the previous moment is actually referenced. When it's a form of dialogue reversal, see Ironic Echo. When the thing being called back to seemed like more of a throwaway than anything, that's Meaningful Echo. When an apparent throwaway gag turns out to be significant to the plot, it's a Chekhov's Gag.

Works with their own pages:

Fan Works

Western Animation

Other examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Early in Attack on Titan, the Plucky Comic Relief Sasha steals meat from her supervisor. Years later, she dreams about meat as she passes.
  • In Heavenly Delusion, Kiruko once made a deal with Maru that if he accomplished a dangerous task he would get to grope her breasts (which he set forth to accomplish immediately upon hearing this). But when it came time for him to collect, she panicked and tried to dissuade him with multiple reasons, including trying to convince him that because she had Haruki Takehaya's brain due to a Brain Transplant in the past, she considered herself a guy, therefore Maru would be feeling up a man instead of a woman. This didn't work because Haruki's brain was inside Kiriko Takehaya's body (Haruki's sister), which was clearly that of a beautiful and well-endowed woman, although she managed to escape because she screamed out loud by accident and caught the innkeeper's attention of the hotel they were in, who promptly dragged Maru out of the room.
    Later, Kiruko ends up a similar situation, but this time around it's not played for comedy. After Robin handcuffed Kiruko in an abandoned room when they were alone, he began to rape her. She tried getting Robin to stop by telling him that she was "Haruki", like she had done with Maru in the past, but Robin didn't believe this either. In order to get her to stop resisting him, all the while knowing she was very conscious about her identity, he began to gaslight her by stating that even if she had Haruki Takehaya's brain and memories it didn't mean she was "Haruki". After all, she also had Kiriko's body, which meant it was possible her mind was that of "Kiriko" the entire time who only believed herself to be "Haruki" since she could tap into his memories. This revelation broke down Kiruko, who realized she couldn't disprove Robin’s claim, turning her into a traumatized sex slave who could only beg for Maru to save her (which he eventually does after punching Robin's lights out).
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War: When Yu Ishigami is first introduced, Suicide as Comedy is a major part of his character; because he wrongly thinks he's pissed off Kaguya (and believes she's rich and powerful enough that making him "disappear" would be trivial), several chapters had him announce "I'm going home early so I can kill myself", and one sight gag even had him trying on a noose for size. Much later in the series, he unintentionally hurts the feelings of the girl he likes; as a result he actually does want to die, and when he trips and starts falling down a flight of stairs he doesn't even attempt to catch himself. The only reason he isn't severely hurt is because someone else caught him, breaking her arm in the process.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • What is a Person Worth?:
    • Why did Mr. Grouse not say or do anything when Lincoln was forced out into the backyard in the episode? He thought that the kid's family was playing a trick on him for lying and weren't actually serious about kicking him out of the house. Finding out that they were serious about it disgusts the old man, and he warns Lynn Sr that he will call the police if they ever do that again.
    • Chapter 12 reveals why Mrs. Johnson is currently dating despite her prefix indicating she’s married. She was married years ago… to an abusive jerk who is currently in prison and who refuses to give any support money towards the child who was a product of the relationship.
    • "Fool's Paradise" actually went pretty badly for everyone. Lucy wouldn't go to school until all the bleach washed off, Lynn had to have a medical exam to make sure she didn't catch anything from that monkey bite, Lola refused to leave her room until the stink of trash went away, Lincoln admits that Lana's reaction to the rhubarb, even if it was mild, was the worst he had ever seen on her and he also wonders if the prank that Rita sprung was meant for Lily, which he outright states could have killed her. Luan actually gets sick to her stomach when Lincoln deconstructs her intended prank for him, being doused in tar and then catapulted across the street into a pile of feathers, (her imagination running away with her didn't help either) and runs off to cry in the bathroom, spending the next few hours extremely morose and even delving into self-loathing.
    • Chapter 18 reveals that the reason why Rita said 'ten kids' in "Ties That Bind" instead of eleven was because she was tired from dealing with her husband's ties and it was a simple mix up.
    • Inverted in chapter 19, when Lori reveals that her and Bobby breaking up in "Save the Date" due to Ronnie Anne and Lincoln breaking up was actually just a ruse to get the two back together. She also admits that she wouldn't have followed up on her threats to Lincoln, or else she would get in deep trouble with her parents.
    • In chapter 20, we learn that due to poor communication, Lynn Sr. honestly didn't know that "Take Your Daughter To Work Day" had been changed to include sons as well back in 2003, and he had thus been excluding Lincoln for no reason.

    Film — Animated 
  • The Bad Guys (2022):
    • When Mr. Wolf first introduces himself to the audience, he refers to himself as The Big Bad Wolf, "the villain in every story", followed by a shot of a dozen children's books where the wolf is the antagonist. While he does this to brag about how villainous he is, his later conversation with Diane reveals how those kinds of stories left a bigger emotional scar than he's willing to admit.
    • The highlight of the first trailer featured Mr. Wolf saving an old lady, resulting him in being called a good boy and giving him a tingling sensation. In the actual film, he saves her in order not to draw attention at his pickpocket attempt. But then the whole scene takes a different turn when Marmalade reveals it was him in disguise as an old lady and he intentionally goaded Wolf to do what he did in order to make him feel good and be an Unwitting Pawn.
    • The mugshot moment shown in the trailers made it look like it was something that happens early in the film with some lightheartedness due to how comical they looked when getting their photos. It actually takes place at the last act and it was during a tense moment between Wolf and the gang. Somehow they just need to have a good photo while they were having a heated moment, especially Wolf.
  • In Coraline, each of the wonders that the Other Mother made become this. Coraline gets terrorized by the birds and plants in the garden, the theater ends up being filled with dog-bats while the Other Spink and Forcible have turned into taffy monsters, and in Other Bobinski's circus she is attacked by everything in the room (including the cotton candy cannons) with the mice turning into rats.
  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World: When Hiccup makes the new automatic tail fin for Toothless, Toothless rears up on his back legs to lick at his face and pull him into a hug. Before taking the dragons away to the Hidden World, he hugs a crying Hiccup in the same way, and this time, it's anything but humorous.
  • During the number "A Guy Like You" in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney), the gargoyles give Quasimodo the Ace of Hearts card while they're trying to convince him that Esmeralda would love him. Shortly after this, when he sees Esmeralda kissing Phoebus, he pulls out the card and rips it up.
  • Soul: When 22 reveals that she's gone through hundreds if not thousands of mentor figures in the You Seminar, we are shown a montage of her annoying several of them and them declaring 22 a lost cause. Later on, in Lost Soul state, 22's insecurities and belief that she really is a lost cause and doesn't deserve to have a life on Earth are represented by ghostly visages of the same mentor figures (now including Joe himself) calling 22 hopeless, which she actually tries to weaponise against Joe.
  • Tangled:
    • As Flynn lies dying he whispers to Rapunzel "You were my new dream", referencing a light-hearted song from earlier in the film "I've Got A Dream".
    • During Flynn and Rapunzel's conversation while waiting for the lanterns, Rapunzel asks what will happen to her after her dream of seeing the lanterns is fulfilled, and Flynn answers "Well, that's the good part, I guess. You get to go find a new dream."

    Film — Live Action 
  • American Animals: After The Caper goes horribly awry, Spencer flashes back to all the fun times he had planning the caper from earlier in the film.
  • The Breakfast Club has Brian talking about how he failed shop because he couldn't make a ceramic elephant, which leads into a bit of joking on the part of the others. A few minutes later when the entire discussion has gone a bit more dramatic, Brian reveals he brought a gun to school because he couldn't get the elephant to work, implying he wanted to kill himself. It gets subverted when they all end up laughing about it anyway, as it was a) a flare gun, and b) he further implies he was going to use it to destroy the elephant.
  • The group picture the girls in The Descent take of themselves the morning of the caving trip shows up at the end with the credits rolling over it.
  • Early in Halloween (1978), Laurie gets scared by an ominous-sounding phone call... which turns out to be Annie playing a prank. She later overhears Lynda being strangled over the phone, and assumes it's another of Annie's pranks.
  • The Hole has a really dark example. In Liz's version of events the group make up a fake scenario to fool Martyn. The scene is done comically but then when we see the real story the same things they used appear again such as Frankie getting sick (and eventually dying), the water going off and everyone ganging up on Liz.
  • In the horror film The Innocents, we first see Flora's pet tortoise, Rupert, in a number of lighthearted scenes early in the film. He appears for the last time towards the end, when an arguably possessed Miles throws him through a greenhouse wall in a fit of blind fury, presumably killing him.
  • A Knight's Tale has a scene where William first arrives in London, he imagines that a young boy cheering him on is himself as a child. Later on as he sits in the stocks the same boy runs up to him and slaps him in the face.
  • The Princess Diaries:
    • Mia and Clarisse go out for a day of fun and take a string of funny photos together in a booth. After Mia has been publicly humiliated at the beach party, when Clarisse is criticising her you see Mia looking sadly at the photos.
    • Early in the film, in the scene before Mia visits Clarisse for the first time, Mia and her classmates are put in a choir to sing a song called "Catch a Falling Star". Said song is also sung during the climax, when Mia is on her car out on the pouring rain.
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home sees the BARF device from Captain America: Civil War fall under this as a pre-Mysterio Quentin Beck is revealed to be the one who created the device, intended to weaponize it, was fired for being unstable, hated the name Tony gave it and one of the people helping Beck is the tech Stane assigned to build the Iron Monger suit in Iron Man. Interestingly, a sign of his instability is when his Self-Serving Memory has an audience heard laughing at the name when that never happened in the actual film.
  • In Thelma & Louise, Thelma and Louise take a polaroid photo of themselves at the start of their trip and stick it to the rear view mirror in the car. The photo flies off the mirror just as the car goes plunging into the Grand Canyon.

  • In the first novel of Accel World, Haruyuki, facing his friend Takumu in a duel, declares that even if Taku is better than him at most things, Haru can't be defeated at video games. Despite being at a disadvantage against Taku, since they're respectively Level 1 and Level 4, Haru awakens his unique Flight ability and has Taku at his mercy, but allows the duel to end in a draw so that Taku doesn't lose all his points. Ten volumes later, Haru, now Level 5, goes up against Wolfram Cerberus, a Level 1, and ends up losing badly, in large part due to Cerberus' Physical Immunity move. Haru, realizing that the tables have been turned, and he's the higher level player who loses to a newcomer with a strong ability, feels awful about saying such a thing to Taku, but Taku doesn't hold it against him.
  • Alan Alone: Downplayed. Alan faces a number of accidents throughout the story, but when Bai reveals to him that Alan contains technology that makes him more durable, those events are called back to in a more serious light. The most apparent of them, however, is when Miss Tijah spills her cooking oil from Alan playing a prank on her and punishes him for it, only to recall when relaying the incident to his parents much later that Alan didn't notice that he stepped in the hot oil, much to her shock earlier.
  • In Animorphs, Rachel is initially simply more short-tempered than the others, causing Marco to refer to her as "Xena: Warrior Princess." However, as the book series goes on, she starts becoming more and more violent, culminating with her going on a suicide mission that involves a lot of bloodshed.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Harry's snarky remarks in the earlier novels about how human stupidity and Selective Obliviousness are all that's needed to preserve The Masquerade come across as laughably naïve as not only does The Masquerade grow increasingly thin as the series goes on (what with the Wild Hunt and Kemmlerites both making a mess of Chicago in Dead Beat, the extinction of the entire Red Court of Vampires in Changes, the rise of the Fomor in Ghost Story, and the entire Battle of Chicago in Battle Ground), but Battle Ground reveals that the US federal government secretly has a ruthlessly competent Creature-Hunter Organization called the "Special Collections Division" under the Library of Congress' purview, and they're tasked with both researching the supernatural and upholding The Masquerade.
    • In Death Masks, when Harry asks the Archive ("Ivy") why she would need an adult bodyguard like Kincaid, her response is to give him an irritated look and note "My feet can't reach the pedals" (as in, the brake and gas pedals for a car). This is Played for Laughs at the time as Harry just not thinking everything through while showing Ivy is actually a Little Miss Snarker... but the phrase gets reused many years later in a far more heartbreaking context in the microfiction "Goodbye", wherein Ivy is outraged at learning Kincaid has accepted Harry's request for a Mercy Kill. As Kincaid goes to do the deed (and enough Character Development has passed over the books to make it clear that Kincaid has actually been serving as Ivy's Parental Substitute), Ivy coldly informs Kincaid that "My feet can reach the pedals, now" and fires him, showing that she no longer needs him and she will never forgive him for killing one of her Only Friends.
    • Notably inverted in Brief Cases. Back in Changes, Harry said "I will make Maggie safe. If the world burns because of that, then so be it. Me and the kid will roast some marshmallows," and it was one of the signs of him becoming The Unfettered. Here, in the short story "Zoo Day", Maggie asks, "What if I set something on fire?", and Harry replies "Maybe we’ll roast some marshmallows", but this time it's a lighthearted joke meant to reassure Maggie that he is with her and nothing bad is going to happen.
  • Shadow of the Conqueror:
    • Cueseg continuously teases Lyrah about sex early on, and her intense discomfort is Played for Laughs. This humor becomes utterly horrifying when it's revealed later in the book that she was given The Scarpia Ultimatum when she was fourteen, and subsequently raped dozens of times by Dayless the Conqueror. Cueseg himself is the first to realize it.
    • Ahrek and Lyrah have a similar reaction at around the same time when they learn that Daylen is actually Dayless, which makes all of their previous interactions with him incredibly disturbing for both of them.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Shallan tends to attract this, given her many layers of tragic backstory. Simply to start, we're introduced early to her tendency to blurt out snark and jokes at the first opportunity. Later we learn she got in the habit desperately trying to cheer up her brothers in their broken home.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On 30 Rock episode Reunion, Liz dreads attending her high school reunion and is shown in flashbacks being aggressively approached by the popular kids and mumbling and fleeing in fear while others laugh at her. Then, at the reunion it's revealed that Liz was actually considered to be the school bully and that what she remembers as awkwardly mumbled excuses were actually devastating put downs that hurt people who were reaching out in genuine friendship.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: In "FZZT" Ward jumps out of an airplane to save Simmons. This gets him a slap-on-the-wrist reprimand from Coulson for endangering himself as well, but also endears him to the team as he shows that despite his Ineffectual Loner personality, he does care about them and has a Big Brother Instinct. Later, in "Providence", Ward cites this story as the moment he gained the rest of the team's trust. By that point, however, it had been revealed that Ward was actually an agent of HYDRA. He then goes on to explain how he saved Simmons solely to provoke this response.
  • In the Angel episode "A Hole In The World" there is a Running Gag early on about the characters arguing on who would win in a fight - cavemen or astronauts. Towards the end of the episode as Fred lies dying, infected with the spirit of an ancient demon she whispers "cavemen win, cavemen always win" as a reference to the plot parallel of their modern technologies being unable to stop the ancient demon.
    • The same episode has a light-hearted flashback scene of Fred packing up her things preparing to move to Los Angeles. At the end of the next episode when Fred has died they show another scene of her waving goodbye to her parents and driving off to Los Angeles.
    • In the episode where Doyle dies, there is a lighthearted scene with him making a commercial for Angel Investigations. The final product is shown at the end with his Heroic Sacrifice coloring the lines very differently. In particular, he says, "Is that it? Am I done?" asking about finishing the filming, but it becomes about his time on the show afterwards.
  • In Breaking Bad, Walter laughs about a furniture store jingle with a person he kidnapped. The furniture store is called Tampico, and as he eventually ends up killing the person he kidnapped in self defence just as he was about to let him go the next time they show the Tampico brand, it is quite a dark moment.
  • The Charmed episode "Vaya Con Leos" opens with a humorous scene of Leo trying to persuade Piper to buy an old van. At the end of the episode when he has to be taken away to save his life Piper is seen in the garage tearfully looking at the van.
  • All of Sherlock's hectic behavior in Elementary becomes less amusing after he's diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome in part due to his recklessness.
  • The George Lopez Show: In the Season 3 premiere "Dubya, Dad and Dating", Benny makes an off-hand mention of a crime she committed 30 years ago in El Paso. At the beginning of Season 6, this funny joke becomes a full-blown story arc when Benny is arrested and put on trial for her crime.
  • In the first episode of Kamen Rider Gaim, Kouta is looking for a missing friend when he's attacked by a monster. He transforms into Gaim for the first time and destroys it, and like the beginnings of other Kamen Rider series it's presented as a triumphant warrior ready to claim his heroic destiny. But later on, it's revealed that the monster that Kouta killed that day was his missing friend, turning the whole scene on its head. The series even managed to use this call back twice; once when the audience found out and again when Kouta himself discovered it.
  • Kevin Can F**k Himself: The show does this to itself repeatedly by depicting the repercussions of the multi-cam show's gags through the more dramatic single-cam lens. For instance, a silly exchange about Kevin leaving a note on the couple's bathroom mirror in permanent marker becomes dismally sad when we actually see it depicted onscreen as part of the general decay of Allison's surroundings. There's even the odd inversion when something previously Played for Drama is taken into the sitcom half.
  • Loki (2021): When Loki is first processed by the TVA, it's comedic, karmic punishment for someone who just tried taking over Earth to be treated with utter apathy by bored bureaucrats and dropped through room after room. Later, seeing the exact same thing, happen to an innocent little girl who was just playing with her toys and is terrified, is heartbreaking.
  • Orange Is the New Black: In the early seasons, the Latina inmates give Daya a hard time for not knowing any Spanish, when even some of the white inmates like Piper can speak a little. In the fourth season, Daya holds "Humps", an abusive prison guard, at gunpoint with a weapon he brought into the prison. When he tries to pull a Commonality Connection by speaking to her in what he thinks is her native language, she snaps "I don't fucking speak Spanish!" and shoots him, officially kicking off a riot.
  • In the first episode of Red Dwarf, Lister says that the last time Rimmer took the astronavigation exam, he wrote "I am a fish" 400 times, did a funny little dance, and fainted. In the Series XII episode "Siliconia", Rimmer has a mostly Played for Drama speech about The Evils of Free Will, in which says that he spent his miserable childhood envying his goldfish.
  • In Season 1 of Schitt's Creek, family matriarch and Lady Drunk Moira Rose freaks out after googling herself and hides in the motel closet. This is Played for Laughs as her put-upon but devoted husband and two adult children discuss how to manage her meltdown, something they are all experienced at doing. In Season 5, The Roses are hosting an after party for her successful community theatre production when Moira receives word that her movie comeback has been shelved. She wails, collapses and crawls into the same closet. This time, the audience is well aware of how much the movie meant to Moira and how hard she works at her creative endeavors. It's still funny, but this time it's heartbreaking as well.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation had an early episode "The Naked Now" when Tasha had sex with Data while everyone was intoxicated then at the end insisted it "never happened". More than a year later and after Tasha has died in the acclaimed episode, "The Measure of a Man", when Data was on trial to defend his rights, it's shown that he keeps a holographic image of Tasha. When asked why this particular crew member meant so much to him, he mentions how they'd been intimate.


  • Welcome to Night Vale:
    • An early episode has the throw-away line, "As my mother always told me, One day someone is going to kill you, Cecil. And it will involve a mirror." Objectively a disturbing statement, but (like most things on the show) funny because of the delivery. And then a few episodes later we get to hear recordings he apparently made when he was a teenager (but now has no memory of), and the tape seems to end with 15-year-old Cecil being killed by some supernatural entity that came out of his mirror. Present-day Cecil is understandably freaked out and destroys the tape.
    • There's an even bigger, scarier call back to this moment in a later episode, when Cecil experiences the same moment again, only this time he *is* the entity emerging from the mirror, frightening his teenage self.

  • In "Don't Let Me Go", Donkey's introductory song in Shrek: The Musical, he sings, "You need a pal, my calendar's open!" to Shrek. Given the nature of the song and character, it's a silly plea to Shrek to take Donkey along with him. Cut to Shrek singing "Who I'd Be", where Donkey's line is repeated but in a much more somber context and is a more genuine attempt to reach out to Shrek and offer friendship; it's right after Shrek sings of being in the dark and alone for his entire life, before Donkey and Fiona showed him compassion.

    Video Games 
  • God of War Ragnarök: Relatively early on, Brok manages to stump Mimir, the smartest man alive, with a simple riddle: 'what grows bigger the more you take away?' Mimir will ponder the question every so often and come up completely blank until Brok's funeral, when he realizes the answer after seeing Sindri coldly reject his friendship with Kratos and Atreus- a hole, like the hole in Sindri's heart that he's just making bigger by rejecting his friends.
  • Honkai Impact 3rd: In the official manga, Kiana catches Mei in a Princess Carry style. In the Chapter 8 of the game, same thing happens, but this time it's Herrscher of the Void in Kiana's body. A few moments later, she's trying to kill Mei.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, whenever Link purifies a Light Spirit spring and frees the surrounding region of Twilight, Midna, who rides on Wolf Link's back in the Twilight but must hide in his shadow in normal Hyrule, will playfully say "See you later!" before disappearing into his shadow. She says this again at the end when she must return to the Twilight Realm while destroying the Mirror of Twilight, knowing fully well that this means she will never see Link again.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword begins with Zelda waking up Link by having her Loftwing deliver a letter to him that brings up how much of a Sleepyhead he is. Later, when Zelda decides to go into a deep sleep in the Temple of Hylia thousands of years in the past to maintain the seal keeping Demise imprisoned, she notes that Link is the one who will have to wake her up in the present once Demise is destroyed.
  • In Paper Mario: Sticker Star, the first Thing Sticker we see in action is the pair of green scissors slicing away Bowser Jr, who ends up defeated but still whole and fine, and the whole thing is mostly Played for Laughs. Come Paper Mario: The Origami King, and the scene repeats: the green Scissors are introduced by slicing Bowser Jr... however this time it's played dead serious: the scissors are actually a supremely dangerous enemy and poor Bowser Jr ends up sliced into still-sentient confettis.
  • Undertale features a gag early on where examining Sans' book reveals that it's a joke book hidden in a quantum physics book, with a joke book inside the quantum physics book, with a quantum physics book behind that joke book. At first it just seems like Sans being his goofy self, but as the game goes on, we learn that Sans has a measure of Medium Awareness and his personality is more of a Sad Clown...because there's almost nothing he can do to stop some schmuck from another dimension from murdering him and all of his friends just for the fun of it.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Apollo Justice's "I'm fine!" catchphrase gets its fair share of these in the series, the first being the Flashback to Catchphrase in "Dual Destinies" which reveals that Apollo and his childhood friend used to say it to convince themselves they were okay after their parents died, and again in "Spirit of Justice" where Trucy tries adopting it after her murder accusation but is very clearly being a Stepford Smiler.
    • Earlier, there's Godot's hatred of adding things to coffee. Funny when he says that cream or sugar will corrupt its purity, not so funny when you realize someone tampering with his coffee is what sent him into a coma and rendered him blind.
  • In Rose Guns Days Season 1, there's a gag of Richard threatening someone on the phone to cut their fingers if they pay their debt too late… but stumbling on his words because he misread his cheat sheet, with Leo and Richard's bodyguard Cyrus laughing in the background. In Season 4 Richard has turned into a ruthless leader and uses the exact same thread on a businessman late to pay his protection money. This time, not only is it played completely seriously, but Richard does enforce his threat. Leo and Cyrus are still in the background, but the former, back after 3 years of absence, is not at all amused while the latter tells him it's Necessarily Evil.
  • Steins;Gate: When Ruka is first introduced, there is a Running Gag where Okabe will mention how ridiculously effeminate Ruka is, before saying "But... he's a guy!" This becomes a lot less funny the last time the gag is used, as by this time, Ruka has successfully (somehow) changed her gender to female at birth using D-Mail and is much happier as a result, but, as one of many changes made early in the story, must be changed back to save Mayuri's life and avert a Bad Future. And she knows it due to some Past-Life Memories leaking through. Okabe sounds extremely depressed when he says the line the final time.

    Web Animation 

  • Looking for Group: The dimwitted troll Tim is introduced early on and is a source of comedy with his ditzy stupid antics with his superior, Styx, joking that it's because he took too many blows to the head. The prequel stories revisits this with the reveal that Styx and Tim are brothers and Tim was actually very witty and coherent in his youth and took care of Styx (then a child). After Tim's brain injury Styx grows older and cares for his now mentally impaired brother with their roles reversed.

    Web Video 
  • During the events of Bennett the Sage's review of Jungle de Ikou!, Sage gouged out one of Gabe's eyes as a bit of Black Comedy. In the review for Sins of the Sisters, however, it is shown that Sage does harbor guilt over what he did and in the commentary, Bennett admitted this came from the realization that the original act was a rather hateful one and crafted the subplot to show Sage's guilt.
  • In Everyman HYBRID, "A Day In The Life" was a Breather Episode of sorts, until hidden clips in future videos paint a more sinister tone on the whole day.
  • My Little Pony: The Mentally Advanced Series: Well not exactly a light moment Celestia tearing apart filly!Twilight's prized stuffed bumblebee, was meant to be just another element of Black Comedy in a show full of it. But in RDP: The Haunting, an Eldritch Abomination uses this experience, to brainwash her into aiding it
  • Philosophy Tube:
    • "Suic!de and Ment@l He@lth" consists of Abigail holding a very academically focused monologue about what classifies suicidality, and to what degree it's linked with mental illness, interspersed with little snippets of a conversation between a therapist and a Russian Cosmonaut, both played by Abigail. Then, the conversation suddenly shifts, with Abigail delivering a heartbreaking account of her own two suicide attempts and history of self-harm, and how she uses the image of the Cosmonaut as a metaphor for how she feels in the moments where she wants to kill herself.
    • The followup video, "Men. Abuse. Trauma.", has Abigail recounting her first experience with a therapist. During her first session, she told her a funny story about her recent ex-girlfriend. When she moved out, she left an IKEA-cabinet behind, and Abigail needed to take it apart and throw it out. She describes how, eventually, she got so worked up over it she just started ripping it apart with her bare hands, kicking it apart and throwing the pieces onto the curb. Her therapist then explained to her that this was a symptom of trauma as a result of abuse. Abigail denied that she was traumatized... but then started recounting stories about her girlfriend's verbal, emotional, sometimes physical abuse, all while making increasingly flimsy excuses for her, to the point where she starts literally screaming at the camera that it was her own fault anyway.
  • Suburban Knights:
    • The Nostalgia Critic gives Ma-Ti the "important mission" of getting him a coffee to keep him out of the way. In the end, after Ma-Ti sacrifices his life to defeat Malachite, the Critic goes back home to find Ma-Ti got him the coffee after all. Cue tears.
    • Remember all that funny Becoming the Mask and Critic refusing to get into character? Well, Ma-Ti dies, he rips off his always-present tie while running to him, loses his glasses and looks like he can't bear to wear his full Critic costume when he's depressed at home.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: All throughout Season 1 and the beginning of Season 2, humorous things happen to Zuko that foil his attempts at catching Aang. At the end of "Bitter Work" (after being unable to create lightning), he's screaming into a storm about how cruel the universe has always been to him and finally breaks down. Suddenly, all those silly things go from the universe poking fun at an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain to the turmoils of a young man desperate to go home and be loved by his father.
  • Bojack Horseman has quite a few of these:
    • In a Flash Back scene Bojack is heckled onstage by his future comedy mentor Herb Kazzaz, and offstage Bojack responds by telling him to "get cancer." In a later episode, Herb is reintroduced in the present day, heavily debilitated and on his deathbed from... rectal cancer.
    • Secretariat's following Wham Shot aside, the start of Season 1's last episode has Secretatiat reading a letter from Bojack during a televised interview, and giving him advice about what he does when he's sad. The start of Season 2 shows Bojack's side of this. What was a friendly, and on the surface seemingly happy interview, barely gets to be heard by the young Bojack when his parents return home and immediately begin to row, forcing him to sit closer to the TV with the volume up as they shout and eventually throw flatwear around with loud crashes in the background.
  • DuckTales (2017):
    • Glomgold being dragged into the water by his shadow in "Shadow War!" is treated as just a humorous moment since it was just one scene. "The Ballad Of Duke Baloney!" shows a darker repercussion to it. He gets amnesia, and thinks he's someone named Duke Baloney. It turns that this is his actual name, and he slowly starts remembering how Scrooge inadvertently shortchanged him as a child in South Africa for a shoe shine, and vowed revenge on him.
    • In "Glomtales!" , it's revealed that Magica is stripped of her magic and is reduced to performing for kids' parties at Funzo's Funzone. The mascot then casually talks to her, as if he's completely oblivious to her evilness. Then the season 2 finale "Moonvasion!" shows that he's actually the Phantom Blot, who's working for FOWL, which is being run by Scrooge's board of directors without him knowing. And in "The Phantom and the Sorceress!", it turns out that the Phantom Blot has a vendette against Magica (and all magic-users in general) for destroying his village.
    • In "Quack Pack!", there is a quick gag about public disapproval being Dewey's one weakness, which causes him to comically lose his strength, energy and determination. Later in the season during "The Rumble for Ragnarok!", it returns, only this time his need for approval is Played for Drama as he feels that getting respect is just about the only thing that gives him worth.
    • Everything about Magica DeSpell when we see episode "The Life and Crimes of Scrooge McDuck!".
      • Magica told Webby and Lena that she created Lena from a shadow, and Lena is not family to her. It's because her last family member was her brother, whom Magica accidentally transformed into a raven.
      • Likewise, Magica swears to Scrooge that she will take away everything that he loves. That's because he did the same thing to her, albeit by accident.
      • Magica's original plan 15 years ago was to trap Scrooge in his #1 Dime to torture him with the one item he loves unconditionally. It's because that same dime recoiled her magic and got her brother transformed.
      • Remember Magica's Big "NO!" when her magic hits Scrooge's dime and it frees him from the metal prison? The last time the Dime recoiled such magic, her brother got caught in the crossfire.
      • Magica has Comical Overreacting when Scrooge sincerely thanks her. He says that by attacking him, his family mounted a rescue and reconciled with him, so she saved his family indirectly. Magica wanted that chance with Poe as well but never received it, partly in thanks to Scrooge. No wonder she completely lost it then and he was able to steal her staff.
      • She's very protective of that staff, and forcibly took the amulet away from Lena after succeeding in getting the dime. It's the last thing she has of her brother's, and she knows that part is her fault at least.
  • Family Guy episode "Screams of Silence: The Story of Brenda Q." is a Very Special Episode about Quagmire's sister and her abusive boyfriend, who actually appeared two seasons earlier as a throwaway gag in "Jerome is the New Black".
  • In the Fancy Nancy episode "Shoe La La", a running gag has Nancy acting rather dramatically about not getting a pair of fancy red shows, eventually culminating in her wearing a funeral outfit, in a scene that's black comedy. She wears the same outfit in "Au Revoir Jean Claude", only this time to Jean Claude's funeral, which isn't played for laughs.
  • Kaeloo: Episode 105 shows flashbacks to several episodes where Stumpy was abused or made fun of by his friends. When you watch those episodes at first, they seem funny, but not when you see the poor kid remember those things with tears in his eyes and his friends finally realize just how cruel they've been.
  • King of the Hill: Episode "Nancy Boys" really hammers in the ramifications of Nancy's affair with John Redcorn by demonstrating Dale, for all of his faults, genuinely worships the ground Nancy walks on and loves the shit out of her. Nancy eventually realizes she was wrong to keep betraying Dale's trust for all of these years, and John Redcorn also starts feeling guilty when Dale offers to help him reclaim some land that used to belong to the local Native Americans. Even if Dale is still a paranoid gun nut, he's also legitimately devoted to his wife and didn't deserve to be cuckolded for so long.
  • Scar using Jaziri’s upbeat “sisi na sawa” song to taunt Kion in The Lion Guard. Jaziri was showing Kion that lions and hyenas aren’t so different, while Scar was invoking it to convince Kion he was destined to be evil after Kion got his scar from Ushari and the venom was affecting him.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "Ponyville Confidential", the Cutie Mark Crusaders' first attempt at journalism for the Foal Free Press ends with them in embarrassing situations; Scootaloo falls into a mud puddle, Sweetie Belle models a gaudy outfit, and Apple Bloom finds her baby pictures. Later on, it's revealed that Featherweight secretly took photographs of these moments, and Diamond Tiara blackmails them for trying to back out of writing hurtful gossip by threatening to publish them in the paper if they do.
    • In "It's About Time", Cerberus having wandered away from guarding the gates of Tartarus is treated as a one-off joke. Come the season 4 finale "Twilight's Kingdom", we learn that one of the most evil beings in Equestria escaped while Cerberus was away.
    • In "Do Princesses Dream Of Magic Sheep" Big Macintosh turns into an alicorn prince(ss?), Magical Girl Transformation Sequence and all. It's cute and funny until "Brotherhooves Social" reveals why he dreams about this: he feels inadequate next to his sister Applejack who's a national hero, thinks his sister Apple Bloom doesn't think much of him anymore, and just wants to be special: being a heroic alicorn prince would fix all of this.
  • Rick and Morty: The deaths of Lady Katana, Diablo Verde, and Calypso are put in a darker light in "Vindicators 2". While they were offhandedly claimed to have died in the fight against Doom-Nomitron in "Vindicators 3: The Return of World Ender", we're shown in "Girls Night" how they actually died. They were all murdered by Supernova while she was blackout drunk, with the remaining team members using their "victory" over Doom-Nomitron (actually Rick's) to cover it up. Also, Doom-Nomitron wasn't even near Dorian 5. The planet exploded because Supernova miscarried her baby there, which caused her to create an explosion that destroyed the planet.
  • The fifth season of Samurai Jack introduces the Daughters of Aku, seven assassins trained from birth to believe Aku is a benevolent being and Jack is a menace that must be disposed of. This calls back to the first season's "Aku's Fairy Tales", where Aku himself tries to brainwash children into thinking the same thing, but fails. Here we see the successful results of that, and it's not pretty.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Radio Bart", Bart gets a label maker from Patty and Selma for his birthday, and he uses it to stick "Property of Bart Simpson" labels all over the house. Later, when Bart uses a microphone and radio to trick the town into thinking a little boy is trapped down a well, he brags to Lisa that the police will never know the culprit even if they grow wise to the prank... until he realizes that he put such a property label on the radio, forcing him to try to retrieve it from the well and end up getting trapped for real.
    • Parodied in "Dark Knight Court," in which it's revealed that Moe is apparently traumatized by Bart's prank calls to him, a Running Gag in the early seasons.
  • In the Star Trek: Lower Decks season 3 episode "Reflections", Boimler goes on a "The Reason You Suck" Speech rampage, stating that Starfleet just wants to study things in space, not be the first line of defense against things like the Borg or the Dominion. In the season 4 episode "The Inner Fight", Mariner states this as the reason she joined Starfleet and that losing friends to the Cardassians and the Dominion caused her to get PTSD that manifests in her viciously Declining Promotion.
  • In the season one finale of Star vs. the Forces of Evil, "Storm the Castle", Star Butterfly gets rid of Big Bad Wannabe Ludo by throwing him through a random portal with nothing but the clothes on his back, and it's played for laughs. Then in the season 2 episode "Ludo in the Wild" we find Ludo was driven half-mad by starvation and isolation after getting stranded in an inter-dimensional void, and then subsequently got stranded in a snowy wilderness. Ludo not only comes out of this experience tougher and meaner, but in the process finds the other half of Star's wand, which had been "cleaved" in the season one finale.
  • In Steven Universe, when Steven talks to Peridot for the first time in "Marble Madness", she asks if "Stevens" have replaced "humans" as Earth's dominant species. He denies that, telling her about his friends. This comes back to bite him when the people he mentioned become the targets of Aquamarine and Topaz.
    Steven: Oh no, there's lots of humans! There's my dad, Connie, Lars and Sadie, the mailman, Onion... I think... Lots of people!
  • The Venture Bros.:
    • In his first appearances, Jonas Venture seemed to be a mostly good person, and as a father was only slightly negligent and hard for Rusty to live up to. It isn't until we later learn about some of the darker secrets of Venture Industries (such as keeping a population of drug-addicted orphans in the tunnels beneath their house for decades) that we begin to see Jonas as he really was.
    • In the episode "Careers in Science", Colonel Bud Manstrong shares a story with the Ventures from his days as a paperboy aboard the space station Gargantua-1; during the station’s Movie Night back in the 80s, a deranged employee nicknamed "Phantom Spaceman" went mad and ejected most of the station's employees out the cargo bay doors to their death. Six seasons later, in the episode "The Rorqual Affair", we get a more detailed, graphic account of the incident from Red Death. Unlike Manstrong, who treated it like a campfire ghost story, he was there to see the horror of the whole thing.
    Red Death: You ever see a man die in space? You can tell the ones who held their breath. Their lungs rupture from all that gas expanding. Blood from their mouth like a torn pillow stuffed with red BB's. Stab Girl, she was a little thing. Carried switchblades. She knew to exhale. Watched her for a full minute. Puffed up like she had a peanut allergy. Floating by me with her mouth open, screaming, making no sound. Spit on her tongue boiling.
  • Villainous (Cartoon Network): Dr. Flug hatred towards Goldheart. It's Played for Laughs episode 6 where it's become important for a plot: Miss Heed fell in love with Goldheart when she was studying in Black Hat's Academy and wanted his attention so she stole a part of Flug's thesis about controling emotions and became a "heroine" and broke Dr.Flug's heart. When she does it in the present and Flug remembered this and realized that she's using him for Goldheart again he freed from Mind Control and became immune to it. Also Goldheart becomes A Greater-Scope Antagonist of the series.