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Demographic-Dissonant Crossover

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"Speaking of brands, how exactly is my brand going to mesh with a kids game? I'm Deadpool! I hack off limbs and blow people's brains out! I've been sodomized by Inara from Firefly. I drop more F-Bombs than a face-blind Tourette's patient yelling at his own reflection in the mirror."
Deadpool, questioning how an adult character like him could work in Fortnite, Deadpool Tries Joining the MCU

When a franchise meant for an older demographic with copious amounts of swearing, erotica, violence and gore, and other such mature nastiness that isn't for children to witness crosses over with another franchise meant for a general audience with hardly any of those things, it results in the creation of a Demographic-Dissonant Crossover.

To avoid controversy from Moral Guardians, the adult-oriented property is often Bowdlerised, especially with characters from those properties becoming Badbutts. Though the reverse also tends to be true, where the child-oriented property is made Darker and Edgier or Ruder and Cruder to Avoid the Dreaded G Rating. However, this may result in fans of the edited property being alienated by the changes. This is a common issue with a Demographic-Dissonant Crossover, as often times fans of one property will be satisfied while fans of the other property will be angry. It can be extremely difficult, if not outright impossible, to please everyone. Some of the more contentious examples of Demographic-Dissonant Crossovers (among the fandom) have an Audience-Alienating Premise as a result.

This is quite common in Fan Works, as the world of fanfiction gives aspiring writers the ability to combine whatever franchises they are fans of without copyright or trademark concerns as long as the fanfiction creator doesn't profit from the fan works nor deprive the creators of the original works of revenue. Fan works, naturally, do not have to worry about adhering to network standards, and can make the child-oriented properties as "adult" as they wish to a certain degree, without attracting lawyers from the creators of the original properties, who may fear that the fan works could ruin the reputation if they become sufficiently popular and later implement a Fanwork Ban.

Official such crossovers happen occasionally, and they can work surprisingly well if the tonal dissonance is kept under control—for one famous example, The Punisher agreeing ahead of time not to kill anyone in Riverdale is what allows Archie Meets the Punisher to work as well as it does. If the crossover takes place in the show or series catering to the younger Demographic, expect The Theme Park Version or Lighter and Softer version of the character(s).

Note that if a work happens to be suitable for children but is targeted to an older demographic and has official crossovers with works not suitable for children, it does not count - as an example, the XCOM Squad from the M-rated XCOM: Enemy Unknown makes an appearance in the Brave New World expansion for Civilization V, which is rated E10+ but is squarely aimed at adult gamers on account of its complex strategic gameplay and mature presentation of world history. There's a reason why this trope isn't called "Age-Rating-Dissonant Crossover".

Demographic-Dissonant Crossovers are often a Gateway Series for the mature works that cross over into it.

A Sub-Trope of Weird Crossover. A Super-Trope to "Sesame Street" Cred, specifically in the cases creators of adult-oriented media make a cameo on a kids' show, and So My Kids Can Watch when those creators make a cameo on a kids' show to show to their own children. Compare and contrast the similarly named Demographically Inappropriate Humour, as well as Misaimed Merchandising and Story-Breaker Team-Up.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • This Kids' WB! promotion crosses over Pokémon: The Series with... 7th Heaven, which wasn't even on Kids WB.
  • In the 90s Fox Kids held an event promoting the adult animated series King of the Hill, complete with animated crossover bumps featuring the King of the Hill cast interacting with characters from Fox Kids series. Here is a bump where Hank tries to sell propane to the Silver Surfer.
  • A promotion for Life with Louie featured Louie Anderson waking up in a live-action rendition of the house of The Simpsons.
  • This Target commercial promoting The Peanuts Movie has a cameo appearance by Stewie and Brian from Family Guy, a show with a much older target demographic than that of Peanuts.
  • Paramount+'s "A Mountain of Entertainment" commercials feature a wide array of IPs the company owns, to the point where characters from Nick Jr. and Comedy Central shows will appear in the same commercial. Pluto TV, also owned by Paramount Global, does this as well.

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • The LEGO Batman Movie (which is aimed towards families) contains references to all different Batman media, where it's all implied to happen in the same universe, from the Darker and Edgier Dark Knight Trilogy and DC Extended Universe to the campy Adam West TV series. But where the film plays this the most straight is when the prisoners from the Phantom Zone are revealed to be famous antagonists from many well-known works of fiction. Most of the works represented are at least appropriate for children, such as The Wizard of Oz, King Kong, and Harry Potter. One notable exception, however, is the presence of Agent Smith and his clones from the R-rated The Matrix movies, as well as the shark from Jaws, though he is used as the punchline for a joke.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Many crossovers in the franchise are this due to the inclusion of Kamen Rider Shin from Shin Kamen Rider: Prologue. While most Kamen Rider instalments have dark and serious themes, they're still aimed at young audiences and can be goofy at times, whereas Shin comes from a movie aimed at an adult audience that contains gruesome imagery, a nude scene, and no lighthearted moments. This is amplified in any crossover including their Lighter and Softer sister series Super Sentai.
    • Kamen Rider × Super Sentai: Chou Super Hero Taisen includes a brief appearance from the protagonists of the Kamen Rider Amazons spin-off web series, which is also aimed at adult audiences, containing many graphic and bloody fight scenes and heavier themes than the usual affair Super Sentai and Kamen Rider tend to deal with. They also reappear in other crossover media still aimed at younger audiences such as video games or stage shows.
    • Kamen Rider Saber + Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger Super Hero Senki has a cameo from the Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger team, a comedic spin-off aimed at adult audiences due to its raunchy humor and more adult jokes.
  • "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End", the two-part finale of Doctor Who Series 4, was a Crisis Crossover between the parent series, a family show, and contemporary spin-offs Torchwood, which was very much adult-themed, and The Sarah Jane Adventures, which aired on a children's TV channel. "The Stolen Earth" highlights the differences the spin-offs when Sarah mentions that she tries to avoid the Torchwood team on account of them carrying "too many guns", nodding to her teenage son as she does so. Far from offended, Captain Jack cannot resist flirting with her and she seems to appreciate his compliment.
  • The adult live-action horror TV series Supernatural had a crossover episode with the children-oriented Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, with Sam and Dean Winchester being sucked into an enchanted television and assuming animated form. The episode is tonally very much adult-oriented, with the Scooby-Doo characters being horrified to encounter genuinely supernatural events and actual murder.
  • Sesame Street is aimed at kids of preschool and early elementary school age, but there have been a few appearances of characters from works for older people:
    • Three skits (one about the letter W, one about body parts, and one about brushing teeth) featured characters from Happy Days (Fonzie was in all three and Richie also featured in the tooth-brushing skit). While Happy Days isn't an adult show, it contains risqué jokes that make it more suitable for around middle school age and up.
    • One skit involves the characters C-3P0 and R2-D2 from Star Wars visiting. Star Wars is kid-friendly, but is a bit too violent for kids that young; it's more suitable for ages seven and up.
    • The remake of the song "Monster In The Mirror" features many celebrities who were very popular at the time the song was produced, including an appearance from The Simpsons, which is a series MUCH too adult for Sesame Street's audience of children.
    • A particularly noteworthy example of this trope is a Game of Thrones skit where Elmo asks Cersei and Tyrion Lannister to be more respectful and work with others. Game of Thrones is a show that's way too inappropriate for young kids watching Sesame Street since the former series is famously filled with violence (though not particularly Gorny), foul language and especially sexual content.

    Magazines 
  • The German version of MAD had numerous cases of this with its pages covering animated media, such as the general audience-aimed SpongeBob SquarePants with the adult-oriented Happy Tree Friends. In general, while most of its pages about animated media include only family-friendly works, they tend to feature a decent amount of slapstick-style gore, as well as occasional sexual content.

    Theme Parks 

    Toys 
  • Tamagotchi
  • Transformers is a series for the most part aimed at children, and even installments and products aimed at adults are still appropriate for older children and teens. This makes it surprising that there exists an official crossover with Neon Genesis Evangelion, with the release of an Optimus Prime in the colors of the Eva Unit-01, accompanied by a short story about the ghost of Starscream possessing an angel and Optimus helping NERV defeat him.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 

    Web Video 
  • Cartoons in Danganronpa: Asides from the fact that the series is based around the mature Danganronpa franchise, most of the characters involved are from series aimed at or are at least appropriate for children, with the glaring exceptions of South Park and Rick and Morty. It gets lampshaded in the "Teaching Charlotte French" short when Dib notices that Kyle, Cartman, and Morty all swear more often than anyone else.
  • Masahiro Inoue's indie Tokusatsu production Jisariz, aimed at adults, features two of the villains from Dogengers, which tends to be more family friendly.
  • GTA... but with talking trains!! crosses over Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Thomas & Friends, faithfully retelling the events of the former's "Wrong Side of the Tracks" mission in the much more family-friendly style of the latter.

    Western Animation 

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