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Filibuster Freefall

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Art tends to draw extreme personalities. Regardless of their politics, creative types usually have their ideas and stick to them. Sometimes these ideas are central to the work; sometimes they're more subtle or peripheral.

There are some cases, however, where their ideas start out subtle or peripheral, only to later become central. Suddenly, you're cracking open the latest book in a fantasy series and there's a hundred page section on how people wearing funny hats on Sunday should be sentenced to death by firing squad. Where once there was just military action, there are now long sections on the moral failings of the Clinton administration. Something has changed, and the author has ended up firmly in Filibuster Freefall.

Remember that Tropes Are Tools; sometimes this change can be a good thing, or even the Growing the Beard moment for the series as a whole. In some cases, creators can find inspiration that was lacking before by diving into political, religious, and cultural issues that they are passionate about, and produce work that's interesting where it had once been growing dull, precisely because it is offering bold takes on these subjects. These changes do, however, often result in backlash, particularly if fans preferred the work the way it was before or if the newly-central ideas and politics are particularly divisive.

The phenomenon was first noted by author James Nicoll on the rec.arts.sf newsgroup and dubbed "The Brain Eater" (not to be confused with the trope about eating brains). It can be the result of Protection from Editors, which allows the author to freely enter Author Tract territory or spout off on their views without fear of repercussion. For interest of clarification, it does not apply to authors who have always discoursed on their political positions in their works or which began as an Author Tract. For Filibuster Freefall to apply, there has to have been a change - a point where the author's ideas or politics suddenly became central when they previously were not.

If this is limited to one work or series rather than the author's entire body of work, the work has undergone Issue Drift. This may be the reason for Seasonal Rot. Franchise Original Sin is a related trope, in which various elements (including the plot turning into an Author Tract) that were manageable before start to take over a story to its detriment. See also Audience-Alienating Era and Overshadowed by Controversy.


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  • This article from Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger seems to indicate that Gallagher had fallen hard into this at one point, with the show being talked about in the article focused on ranting against the French, women's lib, tattoos, and homosexuality, with the show ending with Gallagher smashing a pie tin and screaming, "This is the China people and the queers!", which makes one of the first steps in his decline from the public eye (a joke about burning flags, which "accidentally" came out as "fags") a lot Harsher in Hindsight.
  • '90s stand-up comics Dennis Miller and Janeane Garofalo. As noted here by Bob Chipman, while their politics were on opposite ends of the spectrum (conservative/libertarian in Miller's case, liberal in Garofalo's), they both followed nearly identical paths into this trope until, by the mid-'00s, both of them had become political Talk Show hosts whose comedy work was likely unknown to anyone who hadn't grown up with it in the '90s. Miller's turn in particular happened due to a shift in his politics; he asserts that 9/11 had caused him to become more right-wing politically. Garofalo, meanwhile, was known to be a fairly staunch left-winger as far back as her brief stint on Saturday Night Live, having left that show due to what she felt was a sexist environment behind the scenes.
  • Lest it be thought this phenomenon is exclusive to the Anglosphere, there is the case of French stand-up comedian Dieudonné M'bala M'bala. His skits had always included rather risky socio-political commentary and satire — being very critical of Israel's policies concerning Palestinians being only one among many, many other things — but his early career had him in a duo with Élie Semoun, a school friend of Jewish Moroccan origins, and their skits mainly mocked racist attitudes. However, his stance began to change in the early-mid-2000s, with his shows gradually but rapidly becoming antisemitic screeds and his politics moving from the left to the far-right, including friendships with both French extremist figures and Holocaust-denying Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. These days, he's mostly associated with the French far-right and considered by most everyone else in France to be something of a national embarrassment, with his former collaborator Semoun more or less saying that That Man Is Dead when asked to describe the man he once considered a close friend.
  • George Carlin's early comedy was fairly normal and goofy, and even in his middle years, when he started getting edgy and talking about "the Seven Dirty Words," it was still pretty standard (if sharp) comedy. In his later years, however, his comedy became increasingly nihilistic, and his performances became increasingly reliant on rants about how (in his view) everything in society is worthless, pointless and stupid. Of course, many would argue that in this case, as with The Daily Show further down, it's not necessarily a bad thing.
  • Steve Allen got very cynical in his old age as well; by the time he wrote Dumbth he probably would have described Idiocracy as a documentary had it existed during his lifetime.
  • JP Sears started his career as a self-described "spiritual as fuck" comedian in 2014, his main shtick being an Affectionate Parody of New Age spirituality and wellness culture. His politics trended broadly libertarian, but often weren't the main focus and weren't outside the ordinary for internet humor in the mid-late 2010s. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, however, Sears became better known as an activist against the public health measures taken to control the spread of the virus, particularly vaccines, and by 2021 his material became increasingly focused on promoting anti-vaccination conspiracy theories and quack cures for the virus.

    Comic Books 
  • One of the most infamous examples in all of comics-dom, Cerebus the Aardvark. Starting as a look at the life of an aardvark hero and his brushes against society as a whole, the comic took a noticeable change in direction after author Dave Sim underwent a nasty divorce. From that point on, there was a lot of Abrahamic fiddling and angry rants about how anything with a vagina drains the warmth and creativity from the world.
  • Marville went from an unfunny Shallow Parody to an even more unfunny Author Tract about evolution and the comic book industry, or something. No one thinks the change was for the better, even though no one actually liked what came before.
  • The idea behind Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is that he takes famous characters from popular culture, such as Professor Moriarty or Captain Nemo, and deconstructs them. Usually, it works out pretty well and you can see where he is coming from. For example, he's hardly the first person to portray James Bond not as The Casanova, but as a misogynistic jerk plagued with venereal diseases who's overly reliant on his gadgets. However, his take on Harry Potter embodies practically every stereotype about millennials there is, turns him into what amounts to a school shooter, and suggests him to be The Antichrist. Even some who don't even like Potter think that the characterization is so off that it can barely be considered a Deconstruction, and comes off as Moore's personal opinions leaking into his writing. (Now that JK Rowling has had a freefall of her own (see Literature below) and there has been something of a backlash against the Potter books because of it, this may come off as an especially cringy sort of Hilarious in Hindsight.)
  • Steve Ditko made a name for himself as one of the co-creators of Spider-Man and countless other superhero stories in the Marvel Universe, but following his departure from Marvel in the late '60s (the reasons for which remain disputed due to the high obfuscation of his personal life), his work started to become vastly more influenced by his appreciation of Objectivism and Ayn Rand, represented by Mr. A and The Question (the latter being a more commercial-friendly expy of the former to be released through Charlton Comics). While The Question was generally more sanded down in such political views (something which has lent the character to explore more philosophical directions following his later induction into DC Comics with other writers), Mr. A is a thorough Author Tract, posturing the titular character as a "true" superhero through Objectivist fables of moral absolution at enormous length.

    Comic Strips 
  • Inverted and Zig-Zagged with Gaturro. Gaturro was initially created as a supporting character on the Political Cartoons of his creator Nik, but over time he became popular enough to spawn his own comic strip. Despite that, Nik still uses Gaturro as a mouthpiece for his political views in his political cartoons to this day, just like when he was first conceived. As a result, it can be somewhat strange to see Gaturro, a character for children who talks about how beautiful love is and that it is good for children to read, harshly criticizing Argentine politicians.
  • B.C. started as a gag strip about cavemen. In 1984, however, creator Johnny Hart became born again, and he started incorporating increasingly heavy-handed (and, given the prehistoric setting, anachronistic) Christian themes, to the point where some newspapers pulled the strip or moved it to their religious sections. When he passed away in 2007, his grandchildren took a meat cleaver to the hardcore religious content and made it a gag strip again.
  • This was pretty much Harold Gray's oeuvre:
    • Though he had long been something of a populist (and the strip reflected it), the New Deal and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration prompted a change in his personal politics, and he began to include more and more lectures on the benefits of economic conservatism into his work, sometimes regardless of whether it seemed out of place or not. This reached a head when Daddy Warbucks melodramatically passed away following Roosevelt's election to fourth term, stating that he wasn't "wanted" anymore — the metaphor being that the New Deal was literally killing capitalism; after FDR himself died, Gray then wrote a series of widely criticized strips where Warbucks revealed he was back, saying he felt the "new climate" was much healthier for him.
    • When Gray tried to apply for extra gas credits during WWII so he could tour the countryside scouting for new material and storylines, the O.P.A. clerk, a man named Flack, refused, and a hearing into the matter requested by Gray upheld Flack's ruling that his strip was not of vital importance to the war effort. The whole incident provoked an extended petty tirade in the strip against "bureaucratic restriction and waste" where Annie would cluck her tongue at "Fred Flack", a nepotistic, hypocritical official; the sequence got a lot of angry letters, and Gray stopped only because the real Flack threatened a lawsuit.
  • Li'l Abner had always been in part a vehicle for social satire, but creator Al Capp slowly became more ultra-conservative in the 1960s until almost every strip was openly griping about hippies. While a lot of younger readers were turned off by this shift, other longtime fans complained that the feature's humor went downhill with it, and the strip had become much more mean-spirited and unfunny; the "Peewee" arc, where Capp blasts Charles Schultz as an untalented neurotic, is seen as an all-time low.
  • Percy Crosby's Skippy was originally a Peanuts-like strip, equally lighthearted and somber, about a little dead-end kid living in the city. After FDR's rise to power, Crosby — who had developed into a vocal anti-communist after getting fired from a socialist newspaper as a teenager — became increasingly paranoid that the American government was being infiltrated by or colluding with the Soviet Union, and his deteriorating strips slowly gave way to the same Wall of Text essays he'd written elsewhere, but more rambling and jumbled. In 1948, with his strip gone, his alcoholism at his peak and his family nearly bankrupt from legal troubles with the food company that appropriated the "Skippy" name for a peanut butter brand, Crosby was finally admitted to Bellevue as a paranoid schizophrenic.
  • Dick Tracy creator Chester Gould's work had always had somewhat right-wing leanings, but they weren't particularly strong during his first few decades writing the strip. However, starting in the early 1960s, Gould grew frustrated at court decisions regarding the rights of the accused, and his strip took an increasingly condemnatory tone in regards to those decisions and the changes that resulted, with Tracy's efforts being frustrated by legal technicalities and characters going on lengthy speeches on how the legal system should operate. This would only stop with Gould's 1977 retirement.
  • The Boondocks was always political, but it started out poking fun at a variety of subjects relating to black identity and culture in the US. Then around 2001, out of a belief that post-9/11 Patriotic Fervor was making people afraid to criticize the George W. Bush administration, the author Aaron McGruder used the comic to do pretty much nothing but criticize the Bush administration (except when John Kerry was running for President in 2004 and also deemed fair game for running an inept campaign), something that only required two members of the cast, the cynical would-be revolutionary Huey and his more optimistic foil Caesar. Most notoriously, a series of strips after Bush's reelection were literally nothing but Huey insulting each of the "red" states by name. The Boondocks is also an example of a work clawing its way back from this. Bush's falling approval ratings in his second term made the rest of media less fearful of the federal executive branch, while a much-unwanted invitation from the Green Party to run for President in 2004, even though he was five years too young to do so, caused McGruder to realize that many people saw him as the political voice of the left-wing counterculture in Bush-era America, a responsibility that he felt restricted him. Slowly, more of the comic strip's cast returned, new characters were introduced, and the original discussions of what it means to be black in America found their way back, with a stated goal of the animated adaptation being to stick with "life, love, and lawnmowers".
    McGruder: "I want to do stuff that has a moral center — stuff that I can be proud of. But I'm not trying to be that guy, the political voice of young black America, because then you have to sort of be a responsible grownup, for lack of a better word. And it’s like — you know, Flip Wilson said this, he said, 'I reserve the right to be a nigger.' And I absolutely do, at all times."

  • The trajectory of George A. Romero's career increasingly saw his films become vehicles for his breed of left-wing anti-authoritarian politics informed by the unrest of the late '60s and '70s. It was initially unintentional; the male lead Ben in Night of the Living Dead (1968) wasn't written as black, but casting the black actor Duane Jones in the role added subtext to the ending and his interactions with the rest of the cast. Romero's subsequent Living Dead films, Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985), were far more cognizant of their messages, with Dawn satirizing consumerism and Day satirizing militarism, while The Crazies (1973) was likewise heavily informed by post-Vietnam distrust of the military-industrial complex. (Romero explicitly stated in the documentary The Dead Will Walk that he was trying to be anvilicious when making Dawn.) In these early cases, it was for the better, as Romero's shift to making his political leanings more overt wound up perfectly capturing the zeitgeist of the time, an era in which society's major institutions were seen as having lied to and failed the American people and covered up severe institutional corruption, and made his films into classics of the Zombie Apocalypse genre. Things turned sour, however, when he returned to the zombie genre in the 2000s. Land of the Dead's Capitalism Is Bad and Eat the Rich messages were noticeably more heavy-handed than before, while Diary of the Dead's diatribe against the media was outright fumbled, and by the time of his final film Survival of the Dead, Romero had descended into pure nihilism.
  • While Clint Eastwood has always been open about his conservative politics, he still made it a point to have the characters in his films express multiple viewpoints due to his belief that ultimately Both Sides Have a Point. As he entered old age, his politics began to take precedence over everything else in his work, most notably with Sully portraying the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) as hopelessly corrupt and Richard Jewell portraying the FBI as a nest of traitors and real-life reporter Kathy Scruggs as an Immoral Journalist who sleeps with an FBI agent in order to obtain information that she can use against the titular security guard (with the latter case in particular having zero evidence for having occurred in reality).
  • The Billy Jack series, like the Living Dead Series, is another example whose journey into this trope started positively (with very similar ‘70s politics, in fact) but turned sour with later sequels. The 1967 film The Born Losers, which started the series, was a fairly non-political action film about a half-Indian Vietnam veteran fighting outlaw bikers in a California beach town. For the 1971 sequel Billy Jack, writer/director/star/producer Tom Laughlin had his titular hero fight a corrupt hick and defend a hippie school in a small Arizona town, in a story that ran heavily on the anxieties of the left-wing, anti-authoritarian counterculture of the early '70s (especially the emerging Native American civil rights movement). Audiences ate it up and made it the second-highest-grossing film of the year, and it stands to this day as a Cult Classic of both '70s action and hippie-era cinema. However, with his follow-ups, Laughlin went all-out on politics. 1974’s The Trial of Billy Jack was nearly three hours long and devoted to nothing but politics and Indian Vision Quest scenes, and while his committed fanbase loved it, reviews were far more scathing and box-office returns were substantially lower. 1977’s Billy Jack Goes to Washington, as its title suggests, was a loose remake of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington that was almost as long, dropped the action entirely to focus on Billy Jack giving speeches to the Senate, and was so bad that it didn't even see a wide release. Laughlin devoted the rest of his life to activism and his interest in psychology, all while attempting to get a fifth film off the ground. At one point, his planned film had a title that said it all: Billy Jack's Crusade to End the War in Iraq and Restore America to Its Moral Purpose.
  • The Purge Universe: The first film is a home invasion horror film with a dystopian edge set in a near-future where, for one day a year, all crime is legal. The film hints that the New Founding Fathers, the Fictional Political Party that created the Purge, had darker motives in doing so and that the Purge exists primarily as an excuse to Kill the Poor, but this is mostly background material, with the film using the premise largely as an excuse for why the police aren't stopping the villains. Starting with the sequel The Purge: Anarchy, however, the series leans a lot more heavily on politics, portraying the New Founding Fathers as the series' Greater-Scope Villain and framing them as specifically right-wing plutocrats and ultra-nationalists while the heroes are broadly multiracial, working-class, and coded as left-leaning. General opinion on whether this was a good thing is mixed, though generally more positive than not. For fans of the series, the shift to a more overt political angle was for the better after an underwhelming first film, which was criticized for a shallow plot that didn't explore the full implications of its unique premise, and that it helped the series come into its own as a topical satire of 2010s American radicalism. Among those who don't like it, though, the opinion is that it was a lateral shift from one extreme to another, from an empty treatment of politics that had nothing to say to heavy-handed, simplistic "us versus them" agitprop.
  • Saw VI has a plot that's oddly more political than the rest of the Saw series, including following films. The opening trap has a pair of loan sharks as its victims, and the plot's series-typical origin storyline (which serves as the base for the film's main game) is about how the Jigsaw killer John Kramer was outraged that his health insurance company denied him access to a potentially lifesaving treatment and destroyed his life. This reflects the United States' political situation in 2009 (the year the film was released), when the foreclosure crisis and healthcare reform were at the top of the American political agenda. One scene even has John rant about how politicians who claim that healthcare decisions should be in the hands of doctors and their patients are dishonest because it's actually the insurance companies who make all the decisions.

  • Charles Dickens managed to subvert this. While all of his works got Anvilicious at points — particularly about the plight of the poor and how the rich should do more to help them — Dickens could still tell a convincing story without them. Notably, A Christmas Carol contains a lot of the aforesaid sentiments and themes, but the numerous adaptations of the work tend to leave the classist themes in the background or omit them as much as possible in favor of a pure redemption story. What makes Dickens an aversion is that the man recognized the freefall before he got too far down; one of his later novels, Great Expectations, was Dickens deconstructing many of the Rags to Riches plotlines, themes, and tropes he'd become known for; in that novel, they're either set up for a Surprisingly Realistic Outcome or were Played for Drama.
  • Piers Anthony's works have always had some sexual content. Then he started writing books like Bio of a Space Tyrant and Firefly, where pre-pubescent girls knowingly consent to sex with adults. Concurrently, his Xanth books had an ongoing storyline of the Adult Conspiracy being weakened, allowing the younger characters in those books to have more sexual experiences. For some fans, it's been decidedly controversial.
  • Dean Koontz used to have characters that had a wide variety of different opinions and viewpoints. Now, in recent works, all the protagonists will share Dean Koontz's opinions on things like bioethics, global warming, gun control, and evolution, while his villains will stand for things that Dean Koontz hates. The Taking is the most egregious as The Legions of Hell carry off everyone and everything Koontz finds personally offensive.
  • Orson Scott Card started tracking this way with essays condemning gay marriage and homosexuals in general. Then came Empire, which was about liberal terrorists attacking conservative military interests. Empire, as well as his essays, has somewhat colored Card's works, to the point that there was a fight over Shadow Complex because Card wrote Empire as a tie-in novel that ended up coming out before the game (the game itself was written by noted comic book writer Peter David). Card actually did suggest the decidedly hyper-conservative ideology of the Restoration for the game... then proceeded to make them liberal in the novel anyway. His thoughts on homosexuality are possibly seeping into his other work, such as in Hamlet's Father, where all of Hamlet's issues can be traced back to getting molested by his father, who also then molested around half of the play's cast as children, and then sent Hamlet on a revenge spree so they could all join the father in Hell (Card, however, claims there are no gay characters in "Hamlet's Father"—only pedophiles and damaged adults, but whether that's the truth or after-the-fact backpedaling is severely debatable, to say the least).
  • James P. Hogan's works started off with an anarcho-libertarian bend, but it eventually got to the point where he was writing entire stories supporting AIDS denialism, combined with a one-hundred-eighty-degree reversal of many of his previously strongly held viewpoints, mostly on quack science such as Velikovskiyan catastrophe theory and the integrity of the scientific establishment. Hogan's Author Tracts became so infamous that he inspired the former Trope Namer phrase "The Brain Eater".
  • The Anita Blake series is another famous example of this. Unlike the Merry Gentry series (which pretty much started off as porn), the Blake series initially started as the adventures of a professional necromancer who alternatively hunted and enjoyed sexual tension with the creatures of the night. Then around book six, the sexy times got ramped up to the point where they devoured the book, leaving little space for the actual plot. Many consider the breaking point to be author Laurel K. Hamilton's divorce from her husband.
  • Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series began as a standard fantasy epic about a hero who's fighting his evil emperor father and other supernatural villains. While the first few books held some hints of Objectivist themes, after several more they had taken over, turning the series into an Author Tract supporting the philosophy. The villains soon all grew into thinly veiled caricatures of communists, socialists, liberals and pacifists, while the hero becomes an avatar of Objectivist beliefs. The shift in focus is emphasized when the protagonist occasionally has to explain why his new Objectivist beliefs contradict views he'd expressed earlier, before the free-fall.
  • John Norman's Gor novels were originally Sword and Sorcery potboilers firmly in the style of Edgar Rice Burroughs, but then his male-supremacist views came to the fore and took over the series, turning it into porn focused on sexual slavery.
  • Dan Simmons started entering this territory with Olympos, where a global caliphate releases a virus to kill all Jews on Earth. A bit suspect, but no doubt a look at how things spiraled out of control. Then came a short story posted on his website, wherein a time traveler came back from the future to warn Simmons about the creation of Eurabia. That was more suspect, but hadn't made its way into his published works. Then came Flashback, where, among other dystopian themes, Europe has been taken over by a global caliphate and Islamic terror is widespread in the US, with the "Ground Zero mosque" seen as an impetus and most Americans engaging in "surrender tactics."
  • Robert A. Heinlein got into this territory toward the end of his career. Since his novels always tended to have lectures in them, it was mostly the weirdness of the filibusters that changed.
  • While John Ringo has never been shy about his militant libertarianism, the third Troy Rising novel, The Hot Gate, is basically a long condemnation of South American upper-class culture, and how they would rather risk death than do maintenance work on their shuttles (with a space battle at the end which proves the South Americans wrong about everything).
  • Tom Clancy always had a noticeable conservative, nationalistic America Saves the Day bent in his novels. However, after Bill Clinton's election in 1992, his villains took a staggering swing to into becoming liberal and leftist strawmen. Highlights include a heroin-addicted hippie who deliberately sabotages a POW rescue mission (Without Remorse), an Animal Wrongs Group that want to massacre all of humanity to stop pollution (Rainbow Six), and an Amoral Attorney who tries to prosecute an Army Ranger for killing an armed terrorist during a raid to catch an expy of Osama bin Laden (Dead or Alive). Executive Orders contains the worst filibuster, however, when the plot stops dead for multiple pages so Clancy can rant about the complexity of the US Tax Code. Notably, the filibusters themselves deteriorate in quality; the hippie in Without Remorse is at least portrayed as idealistic and hopeful; despite his stupidity and narcissism, the hippie was being manipulated, and his viewpoints are presented as misguided but well-meaning. By the later books, the other characters do what they do seemingly because they are just bastards who hate freedom.
  • Most of John Grisham's novels after The Pelican Brief are notorious for this. Many critics have said that Grisham's extreme left-wing political commentary on legal matters often detracts significantly from the plot in his later novels, to the point where some of them have been dismissed as propaganda.
  • Michael Crichton also suffered from this in his later books. It's most noticeable in State of Fear, where the plot takes a backseat to the frequent author filibusters in what is essentially a book-long denial of Global Warming. In fact, it literally ends with an essay where Crichton talks about his views directly, not even bothering to put them into the mouth of a character. His next book (and the final one published in his lifetime), Next, likewise ended with a section where he lectures about the laws regulating genetic engineering, and contained a passage featuring a Tuckerization of a journalist who wrote a negative review of State of Fear, portraying him as a baby-raping pedophile with a small penis.
  • The fourth Maximum Ride novel takes a pretty sharp turn into environmentalism, with an Author Filibuster at the end that lasts several pages.
  • In The Amber Spyglass (Philip Pullman's third His Dark Materials book), the series' atheist bent becomes...less than subtle, to say the least up to and including God himself dying.
  • H. G. Wells underwent this. As time went on, his works became more didactic and focused on anvilicious themes about socialism and futurism. G. K. Chesterton famously described it as Wells having "sold his birthright for a pot of message."
  • Thomas Ligotti's works have always had a strong philosophical pessimist/anti-natalist subtext; from late nineties on, as he was suffering from major physical and mental health problems, it increasingly becomes the text of his stories, culminating in The Conspiracy Against the Human Race where he makes a comprehensive case for humanity to stop reproducing.
  • C. S. Lewis's Christian beliefs had a strong influence on The Chronicles of Narnia, but the later books became much more explicit about their themes, often featuring secular and anti-Christian strawmen designed to be proven wrong. Probably the most heavy-handed is The Last Battle, the final of the series, which features a number of dwarves as flat earth atheists who reject Aslan's existence even while he's standing right in front of them.
  • The Cormoran Strike Novels by J. K. Rowling (under the Moustache de Plume Robert Galbraith) always had a degree of queerphobic and anti-transgender subtext to them.
    • The second book, 2014's The Silkworm, featured as supporting characters two trans women who are presented as mockable, one of whom Cormoran threatens with Prison Rape and outing. The third book, 2015's Career of Evil, had a subplot involving an online subculture of people who wish to become physically disabled that read as a metaphorical criticism of various online transgender communities. This community's existence is presented as a Berserk Button for the titular protagonist Cormoran, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who lost a leg in combat.
    • However, it wasn't until the fifth book, 2020's Troubled Blood, that it fell fully into this. In the year before its publication, Rowling had become an increasingly outspoken anti-transgender activist, and Troubled Blood is largely a vehicle for these views, right down to its plot about a Creepy Crossdresser Serial Killer that was rooted heavily in stereotypes of trans women as "men in dresses" who would rape women in public restrooms. While past books had kept it subtextual, here the plot frequently slows to a crawl so that Rowling can lay out her views on how feminism peaked with the second wave in The '70s and lost its way when it embraced trans women and sex workers.
    • Meanwhile, the sixth book, 2022's The Ink Black Heart, is about the creator of a popular children's webtoon who gets murdered after a Loony Fan leads a vicious, grossly disproportionate Internet Counterattack against her, including accusations of ableism and racism. Given Rowling's increasingly controversial public persona and her background as the author of a popular series of children's novels, many critics read the book as a particularly mean-spirited Roman à Clef for the backlash that she herself had received for her transphobia.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid has an in-universe example with a comic strip in Greg's school newspaper, Wacky Dawg. As Greg himself admits, the comic strip in question apparently used to actually be pretty funny when it first started getting published in the school newspaper. But after a while, its cartoonist Bryan Little started using the strip less as a vehicle to tell jokes and more as a means to express his opinions and handle his personal business. And as a result, he gets the axe and has his position as school cartoonist left open for a replacement.

    Live-Action TV 

  • The Weekly Planet and its sister video series Caravan Of Garbage has always had a running gag of host James (Mr. Sunday Movies) going off on rants, but as time has gone on, the podcast/video has been more and more willing to outright yell about its fairly progressive leanings, well-aware that the whole Youtube commentator/comic book fan crowd often pushes back on anything considered "woke." This is lampshaded in the podcast by the effectively summarizing the situation as getting large enough and being asked his opinions enough that he's willing to "shed some listeners" to share his opinions, and in particular a Youtube video that was just a frothing screed telling people to get the COVID-19 vaccination.

  • Better Days was a furry comic that started off as a story about the constant struggles of a family of anthropomorphic cats. While it did have some strange themes (including an incest storyline), it was all Played for Drama and dealt with the fallout in a realistic manner. Then, author Jay Naylor's Objectivist viewpoints took over the comic partway through, and main character Fisk Black went straight into God-Mode Sue territory as the one who acted as Naylor's mouthpiece. When the comic ended, Naylor created a Sequel Series called Original Life, which he promised would be Lighter and Softer compared to Better Days. But Original Life went straight into the Objectivist themes again almost immediately (most notably during the infamous "Muffin Arc"), along with doses of the author's anti-religious viewpoints.
  • Sinfest started out as an adult-oriented, gag-a-day humor strip, albeit one that nevertheless commented on a variety of political and social issues. In the early 2010s, however, it shifted to a second-wave feminist theme that was highly critical of pornography and sex work in particular, a shift that alienated much of its audience, which leaned strongly towards the sex positivity of the rising third-wave feminist movement. In 2019, it added extreme anti-trans and (to a lesser extent) anti-surrogacy views to the mix, which it followed up in 2020 by tilting hard into "anti-woke" right-wing culture war politics and conspiracy theories that served as a sharp 180-degree turn away from the progressive politics it used to support. The strip's creator Tatsuya Ishida being a poster boy for a Reclusive Artist, the reason for these changes remains unknown. Grey Carter goes into more detail here, describing Sinfest as a case of a "passionate person [who] gets ass deep in [a] pet issue to the point it alienates everyone around them." As of 2024 Tats has now crossed the antisemitism Rubicon and isn't likely to recover.
  • David Willis in many of his later works like Shortpacked or Dumbing of Age included a lot more heavy handed themes about gender, sexuality, and the dangers of reactionary right-wing thinking (drawing heavily from his own fundamentalist upbringing). It can range from "changing characters who were straight to LGBT in order to include more people" to "mocking fan-artists who draw with a religious bent". His penchant for Dear Negative Reader only furthers the divide.
  • Tales of the Questor is an interesting example where this happened to a spin-off comic while surprisingly not touching the core comic. Tales of the Questor is a fantasy comic with Christian themes, but relatively light ones, an agenda promoting science over mere occultism, rational thinking, and a focus on a star who is heavily flawed. Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger has a relatively flawless protagonist, though still with a comical air, whose worst mistakes were caused by either ignorance, or just being put in a bad situation. That said, his biggest screw-up is one that he still loses sleep over. However, it also has as antagonists deconstructions of various concepts, moving from Star Trek, to The Cold Equations, to Space Pirates, to Warhammer. The third strip, the Probability Bomb, has, as an enemy, a Mad Scientist who wants to prove evolution, since everyone knows Intelligent Design is the only option, that the Universe is clearly young, that Earth is only 6,000 years old... and includes a plan solved by libertarian economics.
  • Minna Sundberg's first two major works, A Redtail's Dream and Stand Still, Stay Silent, were apolitical fantasy stories steeped in Scandinavian culture and history. However, Sundberg became a born-again Christian while working on the second webcomic, leading her to announce its abrupt conclusion because it no longer reflected her new religious values. Her third webcomic, Lovely People, heavily reflects this change, railing against political correctness, consumerism, atheism, and having the ultimate lesson that only complete devotion in God and Christ can lead people to salvation. Her following webcomics also followed this same type of strict adherence to evangelical Christian beliefs and storylines.

    Web Original 
  • While the Silent Hill video games haven't gone through this, their main fandom wiki experienced a case of it. In late 2015, the administrator of the wiki known as AlexShepard (after the protagonist in Silent Hill: Homecoming) developed an obsession with circumcision, viewing it as part of a Satanic/Illuminati plot and the games as having been devoted to exposing this great evil in society. As such, he started rewriting articles to add his Epileptic Trees, presenting them as though they were the canonical interpretations of the games. Since he was the admin, the other users and moderators couldn't do a thing about it without seeing their edits reverted and the pages protected, with AlexShepard lashing out at anybody who protested by claiming that they had been brainwashed by The Illuminati. As news of the meltdown spread across the internet, it threatened to stain the reputation of the entire franchise. The rest of the wiki eventually had to appeal to the administration at hosting platform Wikia itself in order to get AlexShepard stripped of his admin powers and permanently banned from the site.
  • On, the story New Deal Coalition Retained started out as a What If? about the political coalitions of the post-World War II eranote  surviving into The Present Day. The story seemed to have a generally conservative political lean, but it still tried to play fair and be plausible in showing the different development of the various ideologies at its core. Eyebrows were raised, however, when the story started to get into the '70s and '80s, as historical far-right figures like Gerhard Freynote , George Lincoln Rockwellnote , George Wallacenote  and Yukio Mishimanote  became prominent political figures and pundits in their countries, often with only a Hand Wave about how they had been reformed from their far-right pasts, while dictators like Augusto Pinochet instead became democratically elected leaders of their respective countries. The tipping point for many readers was when it culminated in a conventional, non-nuclear World War III being fought in the late '80s, one where Frey brought a notorious Nazi soldier and war criminal out of retirement to lead the West German forces. The ensuing controversy surrounding the story made it into a magnet for moderator actions, and eventually caused its author to end it.
  • The Onion's politics were always generally left-leaning, but they were even-handed in their satire and jabs, being as willing to make fun of politicians and activists from the Democratic Party as they were the Republicans. That changed in the late 2010s, however, when they became outspoken supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders and his brand of left-wing populism, portraying him as the Only Sane Man in American politics and frequently embracing his talking points while attacking his rivals, especially those within the moderate wing of the Democratic Party. A good portion of this shift came from a belief that they'd gone too easy on Vice President Joe Biden during the Barack Obama administration, and that the "Diamond Joe" persona they'd created of a lovable "cool" uncle who embraces stereotypically lowbrow culture (strippers, beer, Dave & Buster's, Trans Ams, '70s/'80s Hard Rock) enabled his rise to become the frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic primary while his actual policy positions went ignored. Scott Dikkers and Tim Keck, two of the co-creators of The Onion, in turn stated that they felt the site was going too easy on Sanders. This article by Derek Robertson for Politico goes into more detail.
  • A similar process in the other direction befell the Babylon Bee. The site was originally created in 2016 as a Christian version of The Onion that affectionately parodied American evangelical culture. As one might expect, its politics were generally socially conservative, but they weren't afraid to mock absurdities on their own side. In 2018, however, the site was sold to the right-wing businessman Seth Dillon who took its politics into the ultra-conservative, with Donald Trump treated as a Sacred Cow and liberalism, vaccines, transgender people, and anything else that goes against its politics treated as the devil. Jim Swift, writing for The Bulwark, described the site after its shift as "not the Churchy Onion so much as low-rent John Oliver", its humor more interested in driving home the author's point and confirming the readers' worldview than in making them laugh.
  • Film analysis show Brows Held High teetered very close into a freefall, but swerved away at seemingly the last second. While host Kyle Kallgren has always been open to discuss sociopolitical issues as they pertain to media, discussion ramped up immensely following the 2016 US election (in particular, rants against fascism), with some criticizing his newer work due to his politics overshadowing the actual films he's ostensibly talking about. He took note of this and compromised by starting a subseries in 2019 called Cinema Antifa which would separately cover such uncomfortable topics, but it only lasted 2 episodes within a few months due to persistent targeted harassment from fascist apologists, leading him to cancel the show, remove its content, and declare the whole endeavor a mistake. Brows Held High itself has continued since then, and Kyle has since resettled in a toned-down approach to politics akin to his pre-2016 material.
  • TSSZ News was one of the most prominent Sonic the Hedgehog fansites, reporting Sonic-related news and occasionally gaming-related news. In its final years, the site and its social media accounts were used by creator and owner Tristan Oliver as a platform for his personal views rather than Sonic news. The freefall ended in May 2020, when Oliver retweeted pro-Black Lives Matter protest tweets on the TSSZ News Twitter account. Oliver attempted to defend the act by comparing the movement to the events of Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Forces, and then shutting down the entire site after backlash, which was seen as a non-apologetic tantrum. (Thankfully, the site was archived by a former TSSZ staff member.)

    Web Videos 
  • Google Translate Sings started out as just being a place to play with "Blind Idiot" Translation, but towards the end of The New '10s, things began to take a turn, first towards venting personal frustrations about matters like Donald Trump, climate change, and the COVID-19 Pandemic, first in the "Honest Christmas Song" videos, then that venting slipping into the translations — an egregious example being the translation of Hey There Delilah, in which the phrase "What's wrong with you" pops up numerous times, each accompanied by text listing people supporting these frustrations.
  • Shad of Shadiversity started his career examining historical weapons, armor, and buildings, fantasy weapons in light of Historical European Martial Arts, and many science-fiction and fantasy tropes; all his videos made little, if any, mention of his conservative stances. Over time, Shad became more open about his conservative leanings and freely expresses this on Knights Watch, his spin-off channel (he tends to keep his political views off his main channel, and the times he does bring them up are few and far in between, and only then if he finds them relevant to his commentary). For example, Shad has a strong stance on how girls who can fight are portrayed in media, stemming from his traditional stance on women, like how women on average tend to be physically weaker and more expressive about their feelings than men. He faults Captain Marvel for her lack of emotional vulnerabilities, saying that it gives her the personality of a stump of wood. On the other hand, Alita is just as capable of fighting, and yet her moments of vulnerability make her a more "human" and relatable character. Likewise, Shad made a video touting He-Man as a symbol of "Virtuous Masculinity" who is worthy of imitation.

    Western Animation 
  • South Park's creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have always been known as fairly staunch libertarians politically and philosophically, but sometime in the '10s, political commentary began to take over the show. The tipping point for many viewers was season 19, which was built around a season-long Story Arc about political correctness (personified by the school's new principal) taking over the town, and which split the fanbase right down the middle. On top of the debates over whether or not the switch to a story arc (versus previous seasons' Negative Continuity and gag-a-day humor) was a good or a bad thing, some fans declared that Stone and Parker, after years of being the countercultural voice of Generation X, had finally 'gotten old' and were doing little more than ranting at the politics of the millennial generation, while other fans loved season 19 for precisely that reason. Season 20 got hit even worse, as in that case, they had to hastily rewrite the arc they'd spent a whole season building up when real life wrote the plot.note  Parker and Stone themselves would eventually conclude that the greater focus on political humor had sent the show astray, with season 21 notably putting far less emphasis on it.
  • Parodied and Invoked in the Rick and Morty episode "Never Ricking Morty", in which Rick and Morty are trapped in a device that will extract all of their "storytelling potential". As the duo is trapped in a hypothetical "final episode", they escape by getting on their knees and praying to Jesus, turning their show into a Christian Author Tract and dramatically dropping its appeal, ruining Story Lord's plot, and allowing them to escape.

  • Eric S. Raymond, one of the pioneers of the free and open-source (FOSS) software movement, is now arguably more (in)famous for the hard-right turn he took in his politics after 9/11. In 2003, he not only published a new version of the "Jargon File", a repository of hacker culture that he helped maintain in the '90s, that contained numerous changes to bring it more in line with his views, he also wrote his "Anti-Idiotarian Manifesto" that bashed all critics of the invasion of Iraq as being useful idiots for al-Qaeda. Between that, his fights with other members of the FOSS community, and the increasingly overt sexism, bigotry, and crank views on science that showed up on his blog, much of the FOSS community has come to view Raymond as someone who's long since stopped having anything useful to say on the subject.

Alternative Title(s): The Brain Eater, Brain Eater