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Deconstructed Trope

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"The bipedal body shape is a very practical solution for a human-sized thing made of bones and meat. But thanks to the square-cube law it stops working as well as it gets bigger. And even if we replace the bones and muscles with steel and fishing line, there are so many other problems with large, walking, combat machines. Compared to something like a tank, they're slower, harder to armor, and have a preposterously large surface area to hit. There's no reason this thing should even exist."

The intentional use and exploration of a trope, typically for ironic or satirical purposes. This differs from subverting a trope and Lampshade Hanging because the trope is not altered in any way, nor is any attempt made to make it more believable. It is used straight - far straighter than normal, in fact — and is examined in great detail, usually to try and show what circumstances would cause the trope to manifest in real life and/or what the real-life consequences of this trope would be, revealing some flaws beneath, like saying, "Be careful: this is what happens when you have this trope."

Alternately, the trope can be used in a manner that differs greatly from its usual context. For example, many characters in comedies display behavior that, though played for laughs in the show, could in Real Life be the end result of a mental or social anxiety problem - Yanderes, Hard Drinking Party Girls, Tsunderes and Lovable Sex Maniacs, to name a few. A more serious show might play with these tropes by presenting identical characters as unstable or even dangerous.


If an entire genre gets this treatment (which usually happens over the course of an entire story), then it's a Genre Deconstruction, and they belong in that article, not here. Deconstructed Tropes occur in Deconstructions, but they can just as easily appear in straight examples of a genre, or even in Reconstructionist works.

It's (probably) Older Than Dirt. Ancient people might not have the term "deconstruct" or "trope" and it's hard to know exactly what tropes existed in earliest human history, but what might be the oldest preserved story, the Gilgamesh epic, deconstructs the idea of a perfect Femme Fatale. The goddess Ishtar lures men to their destruction, but when she tries this with Gilgamesh word about what happens to her lovers has gotten around. Not being completely ruled by his private parts, Gilgamesh simply says "no". Likewise the story of Helen of Troy seems to deconstruct what really happens if there was such a thing as a woman that was clearly the World's Most Beautiful Woman. It ain't pretty...


It should be noted that a deconstruction doesn't have to be Darker and Edgier than its source. If a negative trope is taken apart and shown to not necessarily be as bad as it's generally made to look, that's a Lighter and Softer deconstruction. Also, just because the trope is taken in a darker direction, it doesn't mean it's been deconstructed. Tropes darkened unrealistically don't provide the meaningful insight that a deconstruction is supposed to. For more examples of what a deconstruction is not, see Not a Deconstruction.

This can overlap with Played for Horror if the deconstruction plays up the scary consequences.

Deconstructed Character Archetype is a subtrope (insofar as character archetypes are tropes in their own right): examples of character types being deconstructed go on that page. See also Playing with a Trope for comparison with the other ways tropes can be used. May lead to Reality Ensuing. When a Trope Maker seems to have done this, it's because it was an Unbuilt Trope.

Examples from Fan Fic are to go in Deconstruction Fic.

Examples go in subpages:

Other examples:

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  • This Skittles commercial deconstructs turning everything you touch into candy. A woman brings a normal guy in to see a man who turns everything he touches into candy. After a demonstration, the normal guy says "That's awesome!" Then, the man with the candy hands explains how depressing it is to turn everything you touch into candy ("Did you feed or dress yourself this morning? I didn't.").
    • This YouTube comment says it all:
      Linda Stimus died yesterday at age 37. She is survived by husband Jim and two children, Louis and Emily, both under 24-hour psychiatric care. Police found Stimus in her home face down in a substance the autopsy report labeled a "mixture of 3% blood and 97% rays of sunshine" confirming her as the 6th victim of what the media has labeled The Citrus Strangler. A memorial service will be held Saturday in Benton Park where Stevie Wonder will sing his hit song "You are the Sunshine of my Life."
  • This PSA for gun control destroys the appeal behind Stuff Blowing Up, by showing a bullet passing through targets of food in magnificent showers of debris, then applying that imagery to the head of a child.

    Comic Books 
  • Life Sucks deconstructs every vampire trope it can get its hands on (and its fangs sunk into), and towards the end it lists them off as it does so. The main thrust of it is that most vampire stories portray ordinary humans as mindless cattle and vampires as liberated beings that can do whatever they want, whereas the protagonist is enslaved both by the rules necessary to uphold The Masquerade, and by the older vampire who sired him and can kill him at will. It also touches on just how alienating the inability to go out in sunlight can be, how humiliating it is to steal from blood banks (and how dehumanizing it is to obtain blood more directly), and how the ability to charm and enslave humans is tantamount to rape, with an ultimate message that nobody should ever want to be a vampire. Whew!
  • Irredeemable deconstructs Face–Heel Turn by exploring reasons behind superhero making such decision as well as consequences of world's greatest protector turning into the bad guy - Plutonian's entire life was full of experiencing fear, mistrust and alienation, followed by a nasty case of Samaritan Syndrome and a disaster he unintentionally caused which turned his best friend against him and which he himself considers his Moral Event Horizon and his rampage brings Type I Apocalypse. Its Spin-Off series, Incorruptible does the same with Heel–Face Turn - Max Damage turns into a good guy because of cold logical calculation that with all the damage Plutonian did and typical threats any superhero universe faces, without somebody taking his place humanity would be at the edge of extinction, rather than Power of Love or Power of Friendship. He also has no idea how to be a hero, aside doing opposite of what he was doing before (He is however Genre Savvy enough to gather several people to be his Morality Pets and teach him).
  • Batman's Papa Wolf and his Berserk Button of "killing a couple in front of their son" was deconstructed in "Broken City", in which he pursues a criminal who had shot and killed a couple, leaving the boy in a state of shock. Batman naturally is bent to get the criminal. It turns out the guy he was chasing never really had it in him to shoot a gun, and the boy had shot and killed his parents while the criminal was just nearby. Batman's Berserk Button made him chase after the wrong person.
    Batman: Everything I've done in the past three nights, I've been doing for the wrong little boy.
    • The Commissioner Gordon is deconstructed at Batman: No Man's Land: Sarah Essen explains that Gordon tried to get a job outside Gotham City when No Man's Land was declared, but had been laughed at because he couldn't keep his city safe without the help of a Vigilante Man. She warns the officers to not speak about Batman around him anymore.note 
    • A Golden Age story called The cop who hated the Batman deconstructed The Determinator: Batman is attacked and challenged to a fight by a cop who mistakenly thinks that Batman killed his dad, that incident happened five years before Batman built his reputation with the cops. The fight goes as you'd expect from Batman. As expected of the trope, the cop keeps getting back up, but it's very clear that he's outmatched, having trouble standing up before passing out. And since Golden Age Batman was formally made an honorary cop by Commissioner Gordon, the cop is arrested for assaulting a fellow officer, and it's only because of Batman's good will that the charges are dropped.
    • The Batman comics arguably deconstruct Thou Shalt Not Kill and If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him. Batman repeatedly refuses to kill anyone, and even goes so far as to Save the Villain whenever possible. This even extends to the Joker, despite knowing that the Joker is evil and Ax-Crazy beyond any hope of redemption, and Batman's repeated refusal to kill him only allows the Joker to continue killing people, especially since the Joker loves committing such atrocities merely for the sake of rubbing them in Batman's face.
      • This reaches a point in Detective Comics (Rebirth) #975 — two issues earlier, Batwoman is forced to kill Clayface to stop his out of control rampage and to save Cassandra Cain. Batman calls in Batgirl and the Robins to figure out how to punish Kate for her actions. While Dick and Tim side with Bruce (and Damian just thinks they don't deserve to call themselves a "Bat-Family"), Jason and Barbara side with Kate and call out Bruce for his actions. Jason thinks that Bruce is upset because someone didn't follow his rules and doesn't think Kate should be punished for his double standards while Barbara accuses Bruce of acting the way he was because he was scared of losing his last connection with his mother, Martha, and even more damning, being afraid that, had Martha been alive when this happened, she would have sided with Kate, effectively killing any argument against his rule.
    • The Knightfall storyline deconstructs the Anti-Hero Substitute. After Batman is broken by Bane, Bruce appoints Jean-Paul Valley to be Batman. However, the System kicks in and Jean-Paul finds himself lost in the brainwashing, being driven slowly insane in a war of ideologies before ultimately slipping back into his Azrael persona and decided to just try to kill criminals, forcing Bruce to take back the mantle.
  • It's almost the purpose of Marvel's Runaways. The characters are meant to be real kids who just happened to live in a superhero universe. The results of them gaining superpowers and fighting supervillains is fearing for their very lives everyday and trying to avoid actual superheroes by seeing them as the same as their supervillain parents in how immature their viewpoints are. Gert even gets into an intellectual argument with Spider-Man on his "With Great Power" philosophy.
    Gert: Really? That's inane. Most people in life don't have great power, and the few that do are almost never responsible with it. The people who have the greatest responsibility are the kids with no power because we're the ones that have to keep everyone in check.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog comics produced by Archie has a deconstruction of Invincible Hero. After failing to beat Sonic after so many years, Dr. Eggman is driven insane, unable to comprehend how Sonic does it. He regains control once he realizes that something was enabling Sonic to win all those times, akin to an unpredictable chaotic factor in every experiment. Specifically, that Sonic has absorbed so much Chaos Energy, and had so many transformations, that he's become an embodiment of chaos.
  • Joss Whedon's "Breakworld" arc from Astonishing X-Men deconstructed the Always Chaotic Evil trope with its portrayal of the eponymous Planet of Hats. At first glance, the Breakworlders seem to be a clear example of this, since their entire culture is built around endless war, and their governments are universally led by barbaric tyrants who consider freedom an abomination. But then there's The Reveal that the arc's true Big Bad is actually the leader of a seemingly noble resistance group that wants to end the wars destroying the Breakworld and wiping out its entire population. The conclusion points out that most people in a species like the Breakworlders wouldn't be truly "evil", since their actions would simply reflect the cultural values that they were raised with. But on the other hand, someone willing to completely reject every underlying value of their planet's culture would probably be far less sane than the common citizenry who simply follow cultural norms (even if that culture seems evil to us). At the same time this also deconstructs Token Heroic Orc by making the aforementioned "heroic" orc a lunatic who wants to blow up her own planet.
  • Y: The Last Man is, among other things, a very thorough deconstruction of the male sexual fantasy of being the last man on earth. Virtually all of society has broken down in the absence of men, and Yorick is constantly at the mercy of those who want to use his scarce genes and reproductive ability for their own ends.
  • Spider-Man is a deconstruction of the secret identity trope, as Peter's duties as Spider-Man have constant, lasting, and almost always negative impact on his social life, and he has to endure bullying because using his powers to get revenge would blow his cover.
  • Joker was written with the title character being so monstrously evil as a way to remind fans not to turn Batman's greatest nemesis into a Draco in Leather Pants.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, the 2008-2010 series, deconstructs the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits. Yes, the Guardians are a rag-tag bunch of misfits and they don't work well together, so much so that Peter Quill had Mantis use telepathy to convince them all to join. They immediately split up when they find out about this. Meanwhile, they have serious trouble with authority figures, who for some reason just don't trust a team which has two known mass-murders on it, along with several others members who have been arrested at one point or another, and refuse to listen to them on several occasions.
  • Secret Wars (2015) deconstructs A God Am I. After vanquishing the Beyonders, Doctor Doom takes their powers and becomes a God. Instead of repairing the universe or making a reasonable facsimile, he instead makes the ultimate Egopolis, Battleworld, and makes everyone his slave. In due time, the survivors of the final Incursion of Earth 616 and Earth 1610 arrive and proceed to turn everyone against Doom, leading to a final showdown between Reed Richards and Doom. Doom is finally forced to admit Reed would have done better, only to have Owen Mercer, the Molecule Man, take that power and give it to Reed, who proceeds to fix the universe with the aid of the Future Foundation. And to add insult to injury, Reed repairs Doom's face, something Doom couldn't do to himself.
  • Avengers (2016)'s .1 issue deconstruct the Ragtag Band of Misfits trope. Set during the "Cap's Kooky Quartet" era, Captain America ends having Hawkeye, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch dropped on his lap when Thor, Iron Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp left the team for their own things. The public isn't keen on Captain America leading a team of super villains, Captain America himself isn't keen on it, the former villains can't stand each other and a horrified Wasp realizes they've made a mistake when they get trounced by the Frightful Four.
  • My Little Pony: Legends of Magic: Issue #2 deconstructs the Big Eater trope. Rockhoof is thrown several feasts in his honor after saving his town from a volcanic eruption. He takes part in numerous eating contests night after night while skipping his Mighty Helm training sessions. His gluttony nearly causes his undoing when the volcano starts showing signs of life. Rockhoof is sent to investigate despite putting on so much weight from partying, and his lack of speed and stamina puts himself and two other guards in danger. He ultimately gets a shrill talking to from his captain for letting his eating habits get the better of him.
  • A story in Astro City deconstructs the Badass Bystander trope. An actor who plays a superhero on TV foils a convenience store robbery with the help of some friends. He becomes a minor celebrity, boosting the show's profile and his career, as his character is pushed into the limelight. However, he quickly realises that since everyone thinks of him as a superhero now, he's in way over his head, especially when actual supervillains come gunning for him. One act of bravery doesn't make you a hero.
  • Dynamo5 deconstructs the Dating Catwoman trope. Captain Dynamo had an affair with one of his enemies, a supervillain named Chrysalis, and had a daughter with her, who he help raise. While Chrysalis herself said that they were in love, that did not stop her and her daughter from taking advantage of his death to impersonate him to increase their power base. Ultimately, Chrysalis is an amoral and ruthless criminal who is willing to murder anyone in her way, who only escapes justice because of her affair with Captain Dynamo.
  • Catwoman from Batman.
    • Deconstructs the Innocently Insensitive trope. When Selina and Sylvia were teenagers working the streets together as prostitutes, Sylvia took Selina's place during their first time so Selina wouldn't have to go through with it. Selina didn't know how to handle Sylvia after the incident or attempt to comfort her, causing Sylvia to develop a deep hatred of Selina because she felt Selina abandoned her. Sylvia's hatred of her was unknown to Selina, who still trusted her and considered Sylvia her closest childhood friend. This allowed Sylvia to betray Selina in the worst way possible.
    • Deconstructs the Oblivious to Hatred trope. Selina's childhood friend Sylvia Sinclair had a deep hatred for her because when they were teenagers working the streets together as prostitutes, Sylvia took Selina's place during their first time so Selina wouldn't have to go through with it. Selina didn't know how to handle Sylvia after the incident or attempt to comfort her, causing Sylvia to develop a deep hatred of Selina because she felt Selina abandoned her. Despite their shaky history - and also that in the past during a heist gone bad, Selina was forced to leave Sylvia to be arrested - Selina was in the dark about Sylvia's hatred for her and trusted her, even considering Sylvia her closest childhood friend. Sylvia abuses that trust by revealing her identity to her enemy Black Mask, who kidnaps Selina's little sister Maggie and her husband Simon Burton. Simon is tortured to death, while Maggie is tortured to insanity.
  • X-Men: Cyclops and Wolverine's relationship could be considered a deconstruction of the typical The Leader/The Lancer dynamic. What happens when two men, both with alpha male personalities, very similar in many ways and very different in others, with opposing outlooks and both obsessed with the same woman are forced not only to work together, but provide leadership to a group of volatile and diverse characters. Do they eventually gain a grudging mutual respect and put aside their differences? No, they're constantly at each other's throats and eventually end up splitting the X-Men into two rival factions because they simply can't coexist.
  • Teen Titans deconstructs Even Evil Can Be Loved as this trope causes nothing but grief for Roy and Lian Harper because of Cheshire, Roy's ex-girlfriend and Lian's mom. Roy fell in love with Cheshire while he was investigating her for the C.B.I., leaving her because he couldn't bring himself to turn her in. Neither of them knew at the time she was pregnant with their daughter. Roy and Lian both love Cheshire to varying degrees, but it's a very strained type of love because she's an unrepentant psychopath and responsible for destroying an entire country with a nuclear weapon because she felt like it. So they know Cheshire's a horrible person, but she's still Lian's mom and Roy doesn't want Lian to endure having a mother who'll spend the rest of her life locked away in prison (though father and daughter both know she deserves it). The worst part is the mounting evidence Cheshire doesn't love either of them and manipulates their emotions to keep them under her control.
  • Green Arrow
    • Deconstructs Laser-Guided Karma. During the Cry for Justice & Rise and Fall storyline where Green Arrow I (Oliver Queen) murders Prometheus for destroying Star City and causing the death of his adopted granddaughter Lian Harper. During Oliver's capture and trial, his family washes their hands of him, with his wife Black Canary (Dinah Lance) returning her wedding ring and declaring their marriage over. His adopted son Speedy I/Arsenal/Red Arrow I (Roy Harper) and biological son Green Arrow II (Connor Hawke) tell him they are through with him. It is implied that Oliver killing Prometheus is the last straw, with Oliver constantly cheating on Dinah, his neglect of Roy, and his abandonment of Connor and lying that he did not know he was his son was the main cause of them leaving Oliver. However, before that storyline Oliver Queen works hard to repair his relationships with them, and they had forgiven him before. It is also implied that they had been traumatized by the events of the story, Star City being destroyed for Dinah, the lost of his daughter for Roy, Connor being in a coma and losing and regaining his memories, and with the resentment they have for Oliver despite forgiving him, they all lash out at Oliver.
    • Deconstructs Good Is Not Nice. While Oliver Queen is ultimately a force for good, he has never been particularly nice about it. On his best days, he's rude, arrogant, and is always convinced that his idea is better. On most days, he's a sanctimonious, elitist Jerkass. At his worst, he's a complete asshole. Oliver's personal and professional lives are a wreck because of his behavior and actions. His relationship with his friends and family is strained, with him constantly cheating on his long time girlfriend Black Canary (Dinah Lance), neglecting his sidekick and ward Speedy I/Arsenal/Red Arrow I (Roy Harper), abandoning his biological son Green Arrow II (Connor Hawke) at birth and lying to Connor that he did not know he was his son when they met and Connor became his sidekick. Oliver also doesn't have a great reputation among the superhero community due to his smug tendencies and boorish behavior. While Oliver generally tries and usually manages to do the right thing, there are times were even his teammates at the Justice League barely tolerate him. While he made a genuine effort to be a better boyfriend and husband to his girlfriend/wife Dinah, and reconnect with Roy and Connor while being a better father to them, and was able to repair his relationship with them and become a better superhero, things went crashing down in the Cry for Justice & Rise and Fall storylines where Oliver murders Prometheus for destroying Star City and causing the death of his adopted granddaughter Lian Harper. His family washes their hands of him, with his wife returning her wedding ring and declaring their marriage over and Roy and Connor telling him they are through with him. It's implied that Oliver killing Prometheus is the last straw for his family and his mistreatment of them was the main cause of them leaving him.
  • Black Canary deconstructs Jerkass Ball. During the Cry for Justice & Rise and Fall storyline, Black Canary (Dinah Lance) abandons her husband Green Arrow I (Oliver Queen) and her adopted son Speedy I/Arsenal/Red Arrow I (Roy Harper). When Oliver is in prison for the murder of Prometheus, she returns her wedding ring and declares their marriage over. When Roy goes back to using heroin after the pain in his right arm becomes too unbearable because of the infection and the horrible prosthetic Cyborg made, she officially considers him a lost cause. It is implied that Dinah was traumatized because of the events of the story and was lashing out at them. In Birds of Prey, it is revealed Dinah harbors a hug amount of guilt for her actions and regrets abandoning them when they needed her the most.
  • Princess Ugg deconstructs the (slightly Übermensch-flavoured) Proud Warrior Race Guy archetype: The frost giants and Ulga's people have been fighting each other for centuries, not even remembering (or caring about) what caused the feud in the first place. They are all very good at war, which makes up most of their culture, but it's slowly driving both to extinction, and neither know how to stop.
  • Batgirl (2011) deconstructs Cowboy Cop. Katharsis of the Disgraced used to be a policewoman who was kicked off the force for castrating a sex offender. She apparently got fanmail for this while in prison, until it turned out the guy was innocent.
  • Superman stories have deconstructed superhero tropes, too:
    • The Death of Superman goes out of its way to deconstruct Darker and Edgier:
      • The first part of the story goes out of its way to highlight Superman's genuine, kind-hearted nature. Notably, in a television interview, he's his usual friendly self... then someone asks a question basically boiling down to "Do you agree this JLA chick's a babe?" Superman rather coldly responds that she's a very capable person and a valuable member of the team, "Next question." Watching this interview is a young man, Mitch Anderson, who thinks Superman is boring and lame, preferring edgy and "cool" Guy Gardner. Mitch learns to change his tune when Superman stalls his battle with Doomsday to rescue Mitch's family from the destruction that very battle caused.
      • Even when Superman finally returns, it's with all the trappings of Darker and Edgier, but without their substance. He has a new black costume with no cape, his powers have been drained so he's no longer the Boring Invincible Hero, which requires him to use big honkin' energy guns against the villains at the climax, and his hair has grown out into a mullet. But he's still the kind, good-hearted, complimentary cape we all know and love, who won't let anything get in the way of protecting people, won't let anything stop him from doing what's right. That's Superman, accept no substitutes.
  • Supergirl story arc Who Is Superwoman deconstructs two tropes:
    • Clothes Make the Superman. Lucy Lane dons a super-suit which replicates the powers of several alien races thanks to a combination of magic and technology, and with which she attempts to kill Supergirl. Though, it turns out that a super-suit isn't enough to take down an experienced, prepared meta with natural powers and a volatile temper. Supergirl swiftly guesses what is Superwoman's power's source, and proceeds to easily -and furiously- rip her costume off, meaning Lucy is now helpless against someone who can bench-pressing a whale. And worst of all, her suit being damaged unleashes the magic energies woven into it, destroying Lucy's body.
    • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Superwoman commits abhorrent crimes in order to earn her genocidal and xenophobic father's approval. As long as she gets Sam Lane's attention and love, Lucy doesn't care who gets hurt or killed.
  • In Nova, it's shown that Sam Alexander's Butt-Monkey status -pretty much everything he does seems to make the other heroes dislike him, often through no fault of his own- be taking a real'' toll on him.

  • Pet Shop Boys like to do this to individual songs. The most relevant example is their version of the so-often-covered "Always On My Mind", which, by putting it to a dance beat and singing it in a detached sort of way, makes it sound less like a love song and more like a half-hearted apology from a neglectful lover. The subject of the song probably wouldn't stick around if the words were spoken instead of sung.
  • The works of Gustav Mahler could be viewed as deconstructions of Romantic era music, particularly his later symphonies. His 6th symphony, for example, takes apart the idea of the "Heroic" symphony that Beethoven codified in his 3rd. In Mahler's version, the hero is not quite so successful. He then went on to parody himself and his critics alike in his 7th symphony.
    • Not quite so successful? The sixth symphony could be subtitled "Life's a bitch and then you die." Mahler burst into tears whenever he had to compose it, and took out one of the hammerblows because it was autobiographical and he was a bit skittish about having his own death sounded forth at the climax of the work.
  • Many of the songs written by Serge Gainsbourg for the 60's French pop star France Gall were deconstructions of common themes in pop music and its role at the time in everyday life. The most well-known example is probably Poupée de cire, Poupée de son, winner of the Eurovision Song Contest of 1965, which deconstructs the idea of a star too young to actually understand love singing Silly Love Songs for cash that younger kids will believe.
  • Khanate play crushingly slow music based on super-distorted guitar "riffs" stretched out for ten or twenty minutes, over which lie demented shrieking and arhythmic, cacophonic drumming. Their music is so alien that # 182 of Terrorizer magazine described their fourth album Clean Hands Go Foul as "musical deconstruction", explaining that it lacked "coherency, rhythm, melody, structure and all aspects of what would typically be associated with the art of songwriting". They also gave it an 8.5/10.
  • Da Vinci's Notebook's song "Title of the Song" is a deconstruction of '90s boyband songs.
  • Polish grunge band "Hey" is particularly fond of including deconstruction in their lyrics. One example would be the song "Mikimoto - król pereł" ("Mikimoto - king of pearls") which deconstructs popularity. The lyrics, roughly translated, go: "He was the king of this city/ With a cigarette in the place of a scepter/ He was the local saint/ With a halo of gray smoke/ He was the sluts' pet/ Quoted by the bartenders/ He was everyone's favourite/ Everyone wanted to be close with him/ He was found in the morning/ While everyone was still asleep/ Leaving a short letter behind/ About the unbearable loneliness".
  • The Temptations deconstructed the previously romantic view of being a runaway in "Runaway Child, Running Wild".
  • Lil B is to Hip-Hop what Neon Genesis Evangelion is to Anime.
  • "Fences" by Paramore is a deconstruction of the Rock Star Song, among some other similar stardom-related tropes. Its narrative explains how a celebrity is so reliant on their fame they've become a Stepford Smiler and are nothing without it.
    Don't you know by now? You can't turn back, because this road is all you'll ever have.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 deconstructed The Paladin in the form of the incorruptible Grey Knights. Not one of them has fallen to Chaos or turned rogue but that's only because they were given the "666 Rites of the Emperor" which accounts to 666 brain washings.
  • Exalted deconstructs every single trope that can be attributed to Heroism. If an Exalt is a hero, expect him to eventually steps on everyone even as he believes that he's doing the right thing. He's a Hero, he believes he's a hero, he won't listen to anyone who says otherwise, and he's got more than enough firepower to blow the world to smithereens. Underwent a Decon-Recon Switch later in its run, when it became clear that overdoing the deconstruction could drop you neck-deep in Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy.

  • Henrik Ibsen's The Wild Duck deconstructs the Wide-Eyed Idealist in the form of Gregers, a self-righteous meddler whose belief in exposing the family's problems so they can be solved, backfires spectacularly. The play can also be said to deconstruct Gregers´ counterpart Relling, a cynical psychologist who plays on people´s illusions. Which of the two who is morally right, is under heavy debate.
    • Ibsen also deconstructs Manic Pixie Dream Girl with A Doll's House and Hedda Gabler. In Doll's House, the heroine Nora is a (seemingly) flighty, vivacious, kooky child-woman who gradually realizes that she's been so working so hard at playing this role for her more conventional husband — even through bearing him three children — that she has never really grown up and has no idea of her true self, and that their relationship is thus only a game, not adult love. She leaves him to try and learn how to be a fully formed human being. And in Hedda, the eponymous Hedda grows to find her more conventional husband boring, and when she tries to put some spice back into her life by starting an affair with a much more interesting man, she discovers that he's a commandeering, blackmailing Jerkass. The play ends with Hedda being Driven to Suicide.
    • A Doll's House and Hedda Gabler are best known for their deconstruction of Happily Ever After; they criticized the institution of marriage and the nuclear family.
    • Doll's house also deconstructs All Devouring Black Hole Loan Sharks: the guy who Nora owes a large debt to, Nils Krogstad, is... a human person with his own set of problems instead of a mere unidimensional Jerkass, and he does really need the money since he's just lost his job - and the boss who kicked him out is Nora's husband.. That, and having the final paying off of the loan cause more trouble than the loan itself ever did. If not for Kristine offering her help...
      • And there's Dr. Ranke and his deconstruction of Unrequited Love, since loving Nora from afar is extremely painful for a man who is actually about to die.
    • Name any realistic drama of Ibsen and you will bump into some kind of deconstruction: An Enemy of the People, about a political idealist who ends up with the entire society hating him, is another good example of this. And then there is his masterpiece Peer Gynt, deconstructing Norway.
    • His last play When we dead awaken, where Ibsen partly deconstructs himself!
  • Swedish playwright August Strindberg used some of his plays to actively deconstruct the plays of Henrik Ibsen.
  • Carmen also deconstructs Manic Pixie Dream Girl: she's a gypsy woman who seduces and enchants the lead male, Don Jose, with her free-spirited nature, but quickly tires of him as he proclaims his everlasting love for her. Turns out she's not so much for the forever love, and she leaves him for someone much more exciting. As a result, he kills her out of jealousy at the end of the opera.
  • Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children deconstructs the idea that war can ever be beneficial to a nation, by showing how the children are all killed because of their own best traits (courage, honour and compassion respectively).
  • The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh is a deconstruction of Bury Your Disabled. It plays with all three sub-types of the trope, then ends with the Iron Woobie protagonist facing the horrible realization that his days are numbered.
  • Romeo and Juliet is a big deconstruction of the idea of Love at First Sight. The titular characters aren't presented as lovers who are destined to be together; they're two infatuated kids who are in way over their heads, making an already bad situation even worse.
    • It's also possibly the earliest example of why Faking the Dead isn't a good idea. If someone thinks that you're dead, you never really know how they're going to react. Juliet finds this out the hard way when Romeo, thinking she's dead, kills himself.
  • The fate of Ophelia in Hamlet is a sad deconstruction of It's Not You, It's My Enemies.
    • Hamlet itself is a deconstruction of the revenge-tragedy genre that was extremely popular in the decades before the play was written (Shakespeare had contributed to the trend himself with Titus Andronicus). Hence, Hamlet's constant deliberation over his actions - the play has the structure of a revenge tragedy but, unlike other plays in the genre which tend not to question the motivations of their heroes, it's very serious about the moral and theological consequences of seeking vengeance.
  • That Championship Season shows the viewer what would happen to the Six Student Clique when they grow up.


    Web Original 
  • Dive Quest, from the guy behind Ruby Quest, deconstructs the usual structure of Collective Games by having the "players" exist in universe, as facets of the protagonists personality, accessed through the Orb of Infinite Psyche. This proved so popular that it's been used in several other games. It also provided justification for switching the player character by having the second character find a shard of the orb.
  • I'm a Marvel... and I'm a DC deconstructs The Cape tendencies of Superman, where he spends his time remembering back when righteous heroes were idolized, fully aware that his nobility and incredibly overpowered persona are frowned upon by current comic book fans, who want a hero that's full of faults so they're more relatable. Lex Luthor tries to use this to convince Superman into writing Marvel out of history. Without Marvel making flawed superheroes, everyone would still idolize the perfect, heroic good guys of yesteryear. The interesting thing about this deconstruction is that it essentially says that comics need Superman because he does still act as a standard, and that the entire basis of Marvel heroes is that they're trying to be like Superman, so without Superman, there's nothing to strive for.
    • Season 2 Happy Hours deconstructs Darker and Edgier, as the Joker brainwashed almost all the characters to become more like Batman. Green Goblin tells off the Joker since if all characters are dark and there is no Lighter and Softer counterparts, then they lose what made them interesting since there wouldn't be any contrast.
    • Also the Physical God tropes are deconstructed in-universe during the conversation between Darkseid and the Joker. Darkseid is quick to boast about being a god and the most powerful being in the universe, only to meet the Joker's laughter in return. The Joker then delivers a Breaking Speech Darkseid by telling him that the only reason why he's so powerful is because he's nothing but a fictional character, designed that way by a comic book writer, and that Stan Lee is the closest thing to a god that exist in their universe since he's also a comic book writer, spending his days creating characters in the ways it seems fit to him. Darkseid can't do nothing but stare in shock of the reveal.
    • That season then goes on to deconstruct reboots. Namely, the idea that decades of accomplishment can and will be completely erased in order to make a quick buck is depicted as a horrifying revelation in-universe, with Darkseid himself believing it to be the true Anti-Life Equation- i.e. nothing that you accomplish will actually matter in a few years. Contrary to Darkseid's expectations, the reveal does not break the heroes.
  • This Cracked article shows what happens if you try to copy romantic gestures from films to real life. They all involve jail time.
  • This can sometimes happen within a fandom, such as the Furry Fandom. The "New Found Form" series is about mysterious runed artifacts which just happen to turn people into sexy animal-hybrid hermaphroditesnote , because, as Rule 34 says, some people like that sort of thing. One writer came up with "New Found Frost" and turned the story into Lovecraft-influenced psychological horror, telling the tale of a fallen-from-wealth Russian family forced to choose between giving up their humanity and dying in their snowbound house. And that author does this sort of thing all the time.
  • The SCP Foundation has a few subjects that break down some tropes. For example, SPC-085 (a.k.a. Cassy) is a living two-dimensional woman in a canvas. When she has Medium Awareness, the trope is deconstructed; instead of taking advantage of it, she slips into a deep existential crisis.
  • This article written by Watson Technical Counseling, in the form of an in-universe Daily Planet op-ed by Perry White, deconstructs the amount of Stuff Blowing Up in Man of Steel and many other recent Hollywood blockbusters. It was based on their analysis of the destruction in that film and how, if it had happened in real life, it would have produced a death toll on the order of the Nagasaki bomb and an economic impact close to two trillion dollars.
  • Worm:
    • The story deconstructs the Batman-style Badass Normal-apart-from-being-a-Gadgeteer Genius with Armsmaster, who has no social life because every free moment is spent either training or building better gear. Even so, he still Can't Catch Up to "real" capes. This leads to him becoming The Resenter and a desperately attention-seeking Glory Hound.
    • The superhero setting in general is deconstructed repeatedly over the course of the series. For one thing, the fact that a Traumatic Superpower Awakening is required to gain powers means that empowered individuals generally have psychological problems, struggle to cooperate and are far more likely to become villains than heroes.
    • Shadow Stalker's methods deconstruct the Sink-or-Swim Mentor. She refuses to save people who don't first try to fight back against their attackers, regardless of whether they are able to, and it's portrayed exactly as messed up as one might expect.
    • Aegis's fate is a deconstruction of Critical Existence Failure. His power alters his body to be massively redundant and he can run on adrenaline for hours, enabling him to keep fighting after taking injuries that should down if not kill normal people. But that also means it's hard to tell when he's seriously hurt, and when Leviathan kills him it happens very suddenly.
  • Noob:
    • Appliance Defenestration is deconstructed when a computer thrown out a window by a player with Hair-Trigger Temper killed someone and had him end up in jail.
    • The webseries also gave Mistaken for Badass a quite realistic treatment, with the mistaken character never figuring out the situation due to sheer idiocy and the person conviced that he is more than he seems ending up loosing all credibility in the eyes of anyone that is not his devoted student.
  • In RWBY, Jaune shows how hard it is to be a Plucky Comic Relief and being Unskilled, but Strong. It is clear from the start that he is leagues behind everyone else in combat skills and knowledge, especially since we learn he cheated his way into Beacon using fake transcripts. He has a strong Aura but has no idea how to use it and his potential does nothing for him until he gets some proper training. He's aware he is seen as a "lovable idiot" and suffers a severe inferiority complex as a result.
    • Pyrrha, Jaune's partner and Foil, deconstructs The Ace. Because she is incredibly talented, pretty and skilled, she is put on a pedestal, constantly treated like a celebrity and she finds it hard to develop a relationship with anyone because no one would talk to her. In addition, she may have made a mistake when not allowing Jaune to accompany her in her final fight against Cinder. While this was to protect him, she did not take into account how he could have helped her out, such as when she had Cinder in a choke hold and vulnerable to attack.
    • Volumes 1-3 end up deconstructing Recruit Teenagers with Attitude. The kingdom's prestigious academies accept students when they're about 17, thus barely skirting this trope. However, Headmaster Ozpin of Beacon Academy seems relaxed in his choosing, allowing Ruby Rose and Jaune Arc in despite Ruby being younger and still inexperienced and Jaune having cheated his way in by forging documents. Thus, there is strife when they're made leaders of their respective teams (Weiss clearly hated Ruby being leader when she should have and Jaune is teased for being the normal guy of the group). Furthermore, Ozpin allows Team RWBY to investigate a possible hideout for villains despite being 1st year students, which ends up getting Vale invaded by Grimm and Ozpin disgraced. To complete the deconstruction, Pyrrha is asked by Ozpin to take up the powers of the Fall Maiden to keep it away from Cinder, who has part of that power. Pyrrha ends up panicking at the possible end results, leading to Cinder gaining the rest of those powers, Pyrrha and Ozpin's current incarnation dying, Vale ravaged, Beacon destroyed and the remaining members of RWBY and JNPR being forced to find Cinder to fight back.
    • The events of Vol. 3 Episodes 6-8 prove to be a deconstruction of Yang's Blood Knight tendencies when she breaks Mercury's leg. Yang thinks that Mercury was trying to attack her and she was putting him down. Everyone saw her attack her defenseless opponent in a fit of unsportsmanlike conduct. Neither realize that this was all part of a Wounded Gazelle Gambit. Either way, everyone now sees Yang as someone unbecoming either a sportsman or a Hunter at the kindest and a bully picking on the helpless at the worst.
    • The leaders of the four major Huntsman academies are working together behind the scenes to protect everyone from threats people know about and the ones they don't. One of their core motivations for secrecy is to avoid causing panic which would draw in hordes of Grimm. In the Volume 3, Cinder took advantage of the secrecy and exposed it, sowing distrust amongst the people.
    • Salem's faction deconstructs the typical villainous team dynamic by portraying all of the members as regular people, capable of small-talk, friendships, and even taunting the "runt" of the group. In addition, judging by Mercury and Emerald's expressions in Salem's domain, the trope Even Evil Has Standards is also deconstructed in that they are clearly disgusted but they need to continue out of fear.
    • Salem deconstructs the concept of a Big Bad Team Mom. While in episode one she seemed to care for all her subjects, episode three reveals that she has quite the temper for even the smallest misunderstanding. Also, her "treatment" seems incredibly painful; and she shows a complete disregard for Cinder's pain.
    • Blake's It's Not You, It's My Enemies is deconstructed in the episode "Taking Control" when Sun calls out Blake on her decision to "protect" her friends by running away constantly. While she might think she is being "selfless" in getting as much distance as possible between her, her friends, and the danger she thinks she's putting them in by being around them, she's instead hurting them by running away.
  • This video deconstructs the trend of GoAnimate videos promoting both You Are Grounded and Disproportionate Retribution towards "baby shows" like Caillou by having Caillou's dad declare that he's the Only Sane Man in a house out of control (when, as Caillou points out, he's being punished for watching shows that are "too scary" or light teasing), only to have his wife tell him he's utterly out of control and slug it out, grounding him instead and putting him in the closet. A follow-up has Caillou's mom reassure him that he's not in trouble after he and his friends panic in a fire alarm and his teacher threatens to tell their parents for it. She even tells him not to listen to his dad when he attempts to ground him.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • The Blood Gulch Chronicles deconstructs many FPS-related tropes, including - perphaps most notably - Capture the Flag. Nobody knows why the flags even matter, and the Reds eventually decide that capturing one isn't really worth the trouble. This becomes outright Parodied in seazon 3, with a bunch of...not very competent soldiers fighting over the flags for religious reasons.
    • At the end of season 10 Epsilon leaves with Carolina to investigate Freelancer equipment without saying goodbye to Tucker and Caboose. The rest of season 11 and 12 showed the results of this. Caboose spiraled into a depression and latched onto a very dangerous Freckles the Mantis assault droid as a Replacement Goldfish. Tucker became bitter and angry with Epsilon for abandoning them and constantly clashed with the latter when they were reunited. Epsilon later did admit it was a jerk move to do to his friends.
    • Epsilon later deconstructs another trope - namely Heroic Sacrifice. While his sacrifice is presented a noble, the series averts the Dying Moment of Awesome by having Epsilon simply shatter into fragments. It also shows how, despite not fearing death all that much, he is not content with that kind of fate, as he will never know if the sacrifice had any real meaning
  • The Christmas Episode of the Sawbones Podcast deconstructs the figure of Santa Claus, as Doctor Sydnee ennumerates the numerous serious health problems that would plague an overweight, middle-aged man who consumes prodigious quantities of sugar and dairy, and then spends an entire night trying to maintain control over an animal-driven flying sleigh. By the end of the episode, Justin is traumatized:
    Dr. Sydnee McElroy: Now, let's talk about Santa's heart.
    Justin McElroy (extremely distressed) Yes! It's a big heart, big enough for all the children in the world!
    Dr. Sydnee McElroy: Right. An enlarged heart can mean all kinds of bad things...
  • Twitch Plays Pokémon completely tears apart the Mind Hive trope, showing that if many minds are trapped in one body yet retain themselves they are NOT going to work together unless they absolutely have to. Instead they will waste much of their time and progress fighting for control over their shared body.
  • In Death Battle, Deadpool vs. The Mask deconstructs the Curb-Stomp Battle. Wiz and Boomstick are so annoyed over Deadpool that they literally plan a match against someone who is clearly superior to him in every which way that it completely wrecks their draw as impartial judges. When Deadpool is killed off, they both are suitably upset over doing so and are incredibly regretful over acting this way.

Alternative Title(s): Trope Deconstruction


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