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Genre Shift

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Wait a minute, wasn't this supposed to be a harem comedy? I-is that the same little boy?!
[a montage of people driving in cars]
Narrator: I am your permit, your license, your permission to drive. I am a privilege, and an obligation... Your obligation to drive skillfully, carefully, and legally.
[someone suddenly gets into a car crash, with quick cuts to up-close shots of innocent bystanders reacting, before settling on a long shot of a traffic light in a fog of smoke]
Josh Way: Suddenly, Fritz Lang's directing! ...[sigh] It's no time to get arty, movie.

Controversial or extremely different ideas are very hard to get past sponsors and audiences suspicious of anything new and unfamiliar. An easy if sneaky way around this is merely to present the beginning of the story as something familiar. However, once the main plot kicks in, your audience is hopefully loyal enough not to notice the quick shift in tone and pacing. If you did it well, in hindsight they might notice little hints you dropped about what was to come. As a side effect, the story will probably also undergo Mood Whiplash.

Genre Shifts are sometimes used in Sequel stories.

Genre Shifts sometimes occur at the ends of a series when the writers finally get around to soapboxing their opinions. Many fluffy, over-the-top comedies will suddenly find their last episode making an attempt at drama. On the other hand, some cutesy or romance-based stories can experience Genre Shift simply because they start running so long the writer figured if they have to derail the original plot, they might as well do it with something creative.

It is possible for this to work, as long as the creators know what they're doing, and it can pay off quite well at times. Usually, however, this requires planning it from the start, allowing the Writers to set it up ahead of time so it doesn't feel like it comes out of nowhere. Because of their sudden onset, Genre Shifts motivated by Executive Meddling are likely doomed.

Even worse is if a genre shift is used as the solution to a plot point, which just feels tacky.

If this happens only once in a series before reverting back to the main genre, it's an Out-of-Genre Experience. If it happens before the work is released to the public, it's a case of Mid-Development Genre Shift. If it suddenly ends up being a horror story, possibly even a Cosmic Horror Story, without much foreshadowing, that’s Disguised Horror Story and Cosmic Horror Reveal. If it happens during one specific installment (such as an episode of a series), then it's a Halfway Plot Switch. In the middle of a song, it can be Song Style Shift.

Not to be confused with Art Shift, Genre Roulette or Genre Turning Point. Compare with Tone Shift, where the tone is what changes, and Cerebus Syndrome, where the story/series becomes more dramatic over time.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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  • AT&T has an ad campaign involving the commercials beginning with one specific genre and then transitioning to another one halfway through in order to advertise the variety of movies that come with their unlimited plans. The genres are picked to be as unexpected as possible to make the transitions more of a surprise and include numerous visual and audio cues representative of each genre (usually the lighting and score) to help viewers ease into them.
    • "Surprise" starts as a romantic comedy with the female lead getting onto the airplane that the male lead is on right before it takes off and confesses her love to him, turning into a horror movie when she turns into a zombie while they're driving.
    • "The Bus" starts as a suspense thriller with a bus driving through a mountain pass getting derailed and hanging off the edge of a cliff, but turns into a musical with a number about the passengers all getting out of the bus safely and celebrating their survival.
    • "The Shot" starts as a sports movie about a high school basketball player leading his team to victory after scoring the winning point at the last minute, turning into sci-fi when two mysterious agents show up in the locker room, fight with the student, who is revealed to be a robot after he gets knocked out during the fight.
    • "Train" starts as a Western about a group of robbers setting off some dynamite on a train track to derail an upcoming locomotive, only to turn into an animated family film after the train gets derailed, with the train cars becoming anthropomorphic and getting themselves back on the tracks.

    Asian Animation 
  • The South Korean/Canadian series Noonbory and the Super 7 was originally a superhero show where the Borys would fight off the evil Gurys with superpowers based off of the five human senses (hearing, sight, taste, smell, and touch). Then there came a Korea-exclusive second season called Tooba Tooba Noonbory, which scraps the superhero plot entirely, inclduing ridding the Borys of their powers, in favor of Slice of Life stories.
  • While the comedy element of Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf remains consistent, the series gradually becomes more centered on sci-fi and fantasy action plots compared to the earlier, much simpler slapstick seasons. Besides that, the series also shifts to a sports story twice, once in the second season Pleasant Goat Sports Game and again in the later basketball-based season Dunk for Victories (and by extension, its accompanying movie Dunk for Future).

    Comic Books 
  • During the tail end of The Golden Age of Comic Books, many superhero characters were changed to civilian detectives, adventurers, horror hosts, etc, to accommodate the changing tastes of the reading public. Earlier, something similar happened to many non-superhero characters who went from pulp-style adventurers to pulp-style adventurers in tights.
    • A character known as Phantom Falcon stands out because he went through both - he began as a non-costumed air ace, turned into a superhero after being presumed dead and then turned into a civilian detective.
    • The Crimson Avenger and Wing started off as Expies of The Green Hornet and Kato, complete with Wing wearing a chauffeur's uniform and a Domino Mask. When Batman and Robin started becoming more popular, the two became more traditional superheroes and started wearing proper costumes.
    • The Black Hood gets an odd one in the very last issue of his Golden Age run when a villain unmasks him and he dropped the costume to become a civilian detective. The 'civilian detective' direction continued for a few back-up stories in Pep Comics.
    • The Spectre went from being a dark supernatural hero to being a guardian angel for "Percival Popp, Super Cop!"
    • The original Blue Beetle title had the character in a Film Noir setting and a Coat, Hat, Mask costume. He was later changed to a more traditional superhero, started wearing tights, and now had superpowers granted to him by a magical scarab.
    • When the franchise was revived again in the 60's, Steve Ditko killed off the original Blue Beetle and introduced his successor, Ted Kord, who was more in line with the popular superheroes of the era like Spider-Man and Batman.
  • Amelia Rules! shifted from wacky comedy about a girl moving to a new town and making quirky friends to an emotional Slice of Life Coming of Age Story about halfway through its run.
  • Bone starts out as a silly gag comic about three cartoon characters ending up in a strange land, but slowly reveals itself to be a sprawling, The Lord of the Rings-inspired Low Fantasy story. Jeff Smith did this deliberately, figuring it would be better to ease readers into the Myth Arc over time instead of throwing them right in.
  • Cerebus the Aardvark, which went from adventure-parody to straight-adventure, to... well, no one's quite sure what it ended up as.
  • Daredevil in his early days dealt with street-level crime but had none of the gritty crime-noir feel that Frank Miller brought to the table during his run.
  • G.I. Joe (2016) moves from the dark, realistic military science fiction of the previous IDW series to a Denser and Wackier sci-fi adventure inspired by the Sunbow cartoon.
  • When atmospheric (and occasionally supernatural) western title Jonah Hex ended its eight-year run in 1985, DC published a followup series called Hex, about the gunfighter getting sucked into a time rift and stranded in the post-apocalyptic 2050s.
  • The Avengers (Jonathan Hickman) starts out seeming like a standard superhero story, albeit one with an unusually large cosmic scale. Than as things progress and the Incursions and other threats get worse, it becomes clear you're actually reading a Cosmic Horror Story that just happens to include superheroes. The contrast between the early and later parts of the story is highlighted when Captain America gives a passionate, epic speech about how he saves worlds and will find a way to save everyone. Previous, similar speeches had been treated as rightfully awe-inspiring and hopeful. This speech? Kang bluntly tells Cap that nobody cares and that his Heroic Willpower won't stop the Incursions.
  • Millie the Model was a humor feature that became a romance-adventure in the mid-1960s, then shifted back to humor.
  • Grant Morrison seems to enjoy switching up or tweaking the genres of any previously-established characters they write on, largely to reinvent the characters and "revitalize" the story. Some examples:
    • Under their pen, Batman shifted from a noir-style detective series with superhero styling to a Doc Savage-style, globe-trotting pulp adventure series. The plot changed from Batman fighting local crime in Gotham to Batman travelling the world to create a globalized crime-fighting force while trying to solve an Ancient Conspiracy.
    • In their run on X-Men, they deliberately shifted the book away from the superhero genre, making it more of a general Sci-Fi adventure series. The plot changed accordingly, becoming about the X-Men dealing with mutant-related crimes and conflicts rather than fighting mutant-themed supervillains.
    • Their run on Doom Patrol took the book from standard Silver Age superheroing to...very much not that.
  • Under Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir, New X-Men: Academy X was essentially a teen drama WITH SUPERPOWERS! When Craig Kyle and Chris Yost took over, it rather abruptly (and with lots of Stuff Blowing Up) became a more standard superhero comic.
  • This trope was probably the single biggest problem with Novas Aventuras de Megaman, an infamous Brazilian comic that Capcom actually authorized. The writers have actually admitted to changing the genre nearly every issue, because they wanted to see which sort of storylines the readers liked best. As such, one comic could be a flashback to a horrifying backstory about Roll's mind being taken from a young girl whom an evil scientist murdered for his mad robotics experiment, while another could be an anything goes, Large Ham comedy with No Fourth Wall. By the time it settled into the action-adventure style of plot, most readers had probably dropped it in frustration.
  • Likewise, fellow Marvel girl comic Patsy Walker went the romance-adventure route during the same time period. Amusingly, her books were cancelled around the time Millie's books shifted back. Oddly enough, the character herself went through a genre shift when she became a superheroine and member of both The Defenders and The Avengers. She no longer had a series at this point, but the contrast was jarring.
  • Reyn starts off as a typical medieval fantasy with a few sci-fi elements mixed in. By chapter five, it shifts into a full-on sci-fi when the fifth issue reveals that the whole story takes place on a giant spaceship thousands of years in the future.
  • The Sandman (1989) starts out as a horror comic firmly entrenched in The DCU and gradually becomes a character-driven fantasy epic with only occasional continuity nods to other DC characters.
  • Savage starts off as an Alternate History action series, with technology slightly more advanced than the present day. Around 2009 or 2010, it shifts to full-on Science Fiction, with teleporting tigers and the predecessors of the ABC Warriors appearing.
  • The initial Strangers in Paradise miniseries was a Slapstick Love Triangle comedy. When creator Terry Moore launched the ongoing series, he added a crime drama plot, and subsequent arcs alternated between this and the Will They or Won't They? love triangle story, which also took on a more serious tone. Then, about two-thirds of the way through, Moore wrapped up the criminal conspiracy plot and for the remainder of the series focused on the romance story which soon expanded into a Love Dodecahedron.
  • Even though W.I.T.C.H. was already a fantasy magical girl comic series for young girls, it was originally intended to be a darker in tone. However, after the 2nd issue, Disney removed the original creators (granted, artist team Alessandro Barbucci and Barbara Canepa were already planning on leaving anyway due to the struggles involved in getting Disney to give the comic a chance) and the tone was lightened, and the target demographic dropped from teenagers to preteens:
    "We conceived of "W.I.T.C.H." together with Elisabetta Gnone, the then director of girls publications for Disney. We worked for three years in secret on it and she then presented the project to the big bosses at Disney. They thought that this project was crazy, a sure-fire bomb, complete waste of time, and that mangas wouldn't have a chance in Europe anyway (!!!). However, we didn't let ourselves be led astray and worked for another year on it anyway, with a tiny budget and without publicity. And then the series became a worldwide hit. The official version from Disney is, of course, that "W.I.T.C.H." is a product of their brilliant, visionary marketing strategy...the end of the series was then taken out of our hands, we actually had something a lot more intelligent planned for it. Now, as you can see, Elisabetta Gnone and the two of us no longer work for Disney...a really sad story."
  • Zero goes from spy fiction to a metafictional meditation on violence and war.

    Comic Strips 
  • Blondie started out with the title character as a single woman with a string of suitors, with the fabulously wealthy Dagwood Bumstead as just one. When they got married, Dagwood was disinherited, shifting the strip from flapper comedy to everyday struggles.
  • Chester Gould's strange twist of Dick Tracy from crime drama (albeit with futuristic technology) to science fiction is one of the most infamous genre shifts of all time.
  • The first few years of Garfield focused on the daily life of the titular cynical cat and his long-suffering everyman owner Jon. Then in the mid 1980s the strip adopted a light surrealist style, with Garfield becoming a playful Cloud Cuckoo Lander and Jon becoming a lovable loser, and started to focus on their interactions with the other equally-bizarre inhabitants of the strip. This iteration lasted until the late 1990s, when the strip became flanderized into a strange hybrid of the first and second iterations, with Garfield regaining his older cynical personality but with Jon keeping his loser characterization.
  • During the Great Depression, a good number of comic strips shifted from domestic comedy to comedic adventure.

    Fan Works 
  • A Crown of Stars: This story is a sequel to “A Throne of Bayonets”, a military fiction thriller set in a post-apocalyptic setting. A Crown of Stars adds a bunch of sci-fi and fantasy tropes, featuring physical gods, intergalactic empires, dimensional and time travelling, space-ships, power armours… the shift is so abrupt and unexpected than it adds coolness to the story.
  • The Writing on the Wall starts out as a story about Adventurer Archaeologist Daring Do exploring an Ancient Tomb with a group of fellow archaeologists. The story proceeds as normal, using many of the usual tropes, including the protagonist's rival showing up, capturing them and the site, and trying to seize it for themselves. The ending reveals that everyone was Wrong Genre Savvy about the place; it is not an Ancient Tomb at all, and the eponymous writing on the wall was not a curse meant to scare away tomb robbers, but a warning as to the dangers of disturbing what the place was built to contain, and it is actually a Horror story.
  • Racer and the Geek is currently undergoing a transition from romcom to drama. Just compare this to this.
  • Gaijin started as a darkly comic Self-Insert Fic in which the SI character was essentially Murphy's Law incarnate (despite being more powerful than he had any right to be). Then he started disguising himself as Spider-Man. Then more analogues of Marvel characters started appearing, such as the Fantastic Four and "Tako-sama" (Doctor Octopus)...
  • My Immortal starts off as a fairly generic, albeit a little over-the-top, Harry Potter badfic with the usual focus on relationships, clothing and teen popular culture. Then it gradually turns into a surrealistic mish-mash of fanfic clichés and confused plot points involving such things as Time Travel — sort of like a badfic version of Lost.
  • Undocumented Features started off as a joke, a corny self-insert fic in which college students launch part of their dormitory into space to fight anime villains. It quickly went Grimdark with the "Exile" plot, stabilized into an odd mash-up of science-fiction adventure, has intermittently gone Song Fic, and has dipped into romantic fantasy with the "Symphony of the Sword" plot.
  • The Spanish-language Haruhi Suzumiya fic called, unoriginally El ... de Haruhi Suzumiya starts out as your ordinary OC-with-new-powers-joins-the-SOS-Brigade fare, albeit with the twist that the OC's powers are rarely used. Then, the characters all graduate and join the military IN SPACE! At that point, the genre shifts to war story and then to Space Opera, with the characters fighting insectoid aliens who destroy one of Earth's cities. Might I add that the OC from earlier reappears with a bionic arm, and that their faster-than-light spacecraft is so luxurious it has a miniature shopping mall inside? The author expects his reviewers to understand what's going on, but he still has not provided a convincing explanation for the sudden shift in tone.
  • The Code Geass fanfic Code Geass: Infinity starts out as a regular Fix Fic AU, where Shirley doesn't die and she helps Lelouch in the Black Knights; but then, when the fic starts to deal with the origins of Geass, the genre shifts to a Final Fantasy-esque plot, where in the end Lelouch must battle an One-Winged Angel Eldritch Abomination to save the world. The fic itself is not bad but if it were as complex as Code Geass: Lelouch of Britannia, it could easily be the Shinji And Warhammer 40 K of the fandom.
  • The Mass Effect fanfic The Biggest Fan starts as a parody of Self-Insert fics with a passionate but kind fan of the game wakes up in the body of Conrad Verner. Then in the second chapter, the fic jumps into a full deconstruction with Conrad mourning the fact that he will never see his wife and this continues in the third chapter, with him becoming the Cassandra Truth about the Reapers and starts to lose the memories of his life on the real word.
  • Hans Von Hozel's Hetalia: Axis Powers and The Room fics abruptly turn to sci-fi in midstream.
  • A Peccatis keeps switching unpredictably between police procedural and political conspiracy thriller.
  • The writer of Angel of the Bat stated it's The first half of the story is basically written in two parts: The first half of the story is much more focused on the Bat family in their personal, non-costumed lives, Cassandra’s being the most significant. The second half becomes more a more traditional action story. In a sense, the first half is more of a Cassandra story, while the second half is moreso a Batgirl/Angel story.
  • Hotspring Souls!, a Soulsborne (Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, Dark Souls II, and Bloodborne) crossover comedy fic, starts out as a standard Hot Springs Episode, then turns into a giant robot anime halfway through.
  • With the introduction of more mystical elements to Westeros, the A Song of Ice and Fire fic Robb Returns changes Ice and Fire's Dark Fantasy into a more traditional High Fantasy.
  • The first two installments of Peter Chimaera's Digimon Trilogy are epic battles of good versus evil, in which Digimon has to save the world from evil beings who plan to destroy the entire infrastructure of society. The third part is more of a mystery, in which Digimon uncovers a conspiracy in which the FBI plays a central role.
  • Deliberately Invoked in How To Drill Your Way Through Your Problems, a Worm Self-Insert]] fanfiction. The setting is that of Worm, which is a grimdark superhero story, where the "Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!" trope is one of the cornerstones of the setting... which makes it all the more jarring that Will Carran, the SI, has been given Spiral Power. From Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. The setting that took "Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!" very seriously and added fire and giant robots.
  • Perfect Diamond World starts off as a typical historical drama Frozen fic where someone finds out about Elsa and Anna's incestous Secret Relationship. Then, partway through the first story, it takes a shift to fantasy when the ship gets attacked by the Peter Pan pirates. From then the story shifts genres from grounded to fantastical, with Elsa and Anna running off to an alternate universe and later finding out they're half-god, ending in them killing their evil god grandfather.
  • The three stories in the Angel of the Bat trilogy differ from their two companion pieces on the Sliding Scale of Realistic vs. Fantastic. The original story has a few supernatural elements that are genuine, but most of the rest are down to personal interpretation. The first sequel, Times of Heresy, is almost completely grounded, if still indulgent in superhero action. The third story, Da Pacem Domine, goes full fantasy, featuring magic and demons.
  • Due to the fact that the concept (both literally and figuratively) of The Multiverse is entwined into its plot, Communication has more often than not experienced a change in genres and even mediums, it being at its most notable when we from one iteration to the next. So far it has gone from a Grimdark Superhero webseries, to a Dark Magical Girl Anime, and then to a standard fantasy Light Novel.
  • This is mentioned in-universe in Love Is A Funny Thing. Jem and the Holograms have to change their sound as the 1980s changes to the 1990s. Their signature level of pop is just too dated for '90s crowds. In contrast, The Stingers changed little because their sound is still popular and their niche rarely goes out of fashion. Later in the story, however, Jem and the Holograms shift back to their original style while The Stingers become more grunge.
  • The Pokémon Squad was initially targeted at a younger audience. As RM got older, the series also began to aim at a more adult audience. In turn, the humor became noticably raunchier (which was outright admitted in the second Q&A session), while becoming less off-the-walls.
    • The difference between the earlier and later episodes was brought up in "Cigarette Ash", where RM asks Larry why they have to do an anti-smoking PSA, given that Season 1 was the only season aimed at children.
  • Justified in Roulette Wheel Of Fate by the Protagonist changing. Luo Binghe's laser-focus interest in courting his shizun meant Scumbag System was a tragic romance full of misunderstandings; Liu Qingge's more martial nature pushes the romance in the backseat (even if it stays quite prominent) for a Dark Fantasy in which the main goal is to annihilate the demon emperor.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Cars franchise started out as a racing film with the first movie; in Cars 2 it became an action-spy film; in Cars 3, it became a racing film again, and a much more dramatic one at that.
  • DreamWorks Animation: Originally, DreamWorks focused on sweeping epics, and more serious stories such as The Prince of Egypt. These unfortunately fell under the umbrella of All Animation Is Disney. Now, barring some of their more recent efforts, it can be hard to remember when their films weren't based primarily on pop-culture references and heavily marketed celebrity voice-acting. As alluded before, however, DreamWorks shifted once again, with its movies once more taking themselves seriously while remaining healthily comedic. While still not quite as serious as The Prince of Egypt, the tone generally leans towards what was seen in The Road to El Dorado.
  • Footrot Flats: The Dog's Tale movie starts out as slapstick, then turns into an adventure film.
  • The Lion King
    • A particularly famous example of this trope: The first third or so of The Lion King (1994) focuses mainly on Simba's lighthearted escapades around his father's domain, with a tone and style typical of any Disney-made comedy. Then Scar kills Mufasa and makes Simba think it was his own fault. The rest of the film becomes a practical drama that deals with Simba's guilt and his need to fulfill his destiny by kicking Scar off the throne of Pride Rock. Though lighthearted elements are still present.
    • The first three films are set in a mostly realistic setting, with no magical elements except for talking animals and Mufuasa appearing as a ghost. The Lion Guard adds a dash of fantasy to the setting. Simba's son has some kind of magic superpower known as the "Roar of the Elders.' He roars like a adult lion despite being a cub while the ghosts of the kings of the past roar with him in the sky, causing wind so strong it can blow the target away. He can talk to Mufuasa's ghost whenever he wills. The paw prints marking the Lion Guard appeared supernaturally. Rafiki is also shown magically cleaning up a cave, and making a pool of water appear in it out of nowhere with his staff.
  • The My Little Pony: Equestria Girls movies are mostly High School AU with some Magical Girl elements. The third movie, My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games, adds in a few action and science-fiction elements, including talks of alternate worlds, advanced technological devices that could steal magic and the villain of the story causing a Reality Bleed between both worlds.
  • The infamous Tom and Jerry: The Movie actually goes from a zany slapstick cartoon to a generic '90s Disney Renaissance cash-in film within the first few minutes!
  • We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story starts out as a cheery musical film about cute talking dinosaurs, but about halfway through the film, it turns into an animated horror film about an evil scientist and his Circus of Fear.
  • Wreck-It Ralph starts off a soul-searching Disney flick, moves into a parody of the "First-Person Shooter" game, and then goes to "conspiracy movie" when the stars land in Sugar Rush.



  • While Fireball was a fairly conventional electro-mechanical pinball without any real plot, for some reason the sequel was advertised as part of Bally's "Superhero Series".

  • Dice Funk is ostensibly a comedy with a fantasy setting, but Episode 9 makes a hard right into horror.
  • Wolf 359 begins as a sci-fi comedy, and then suddenly adds drama and mystery at the end of the first season.
  • Episode one of the Cool Kids Table game Bloody Mooney is very zany, and episode two starts similarly with JT doing a sweet dance move to distract the government agents. Then Keri finds a blood-covered blanket hanging from the lights in her room, and blood all over Mooney's face. And one of her twin brothers missing. The other twin does show up. However, Keri's mother is not so lucky. From then on it's almost straight 80s horror.
  • The first two seasons of the Juno Steel storyline of The Penumbra Podcast are a Fantastic Noir, focusing on a detective solving crimes in the largest city on Mars. But then Juno and Rita leave Mars for good in the Season 2 finale, and as of season 3 it's shifted to become a Space Opera centered around a six-person Ensemble Cast.

    Print Media 
  • Billboard was originally a magazine dedicated to bill posting back in 1894. It evolved in the 1920s to advertise circuses, carnivals, fairs, and vaudeville shows, and continued to shift to a more entertainment-driven focus in the 1930s. By the 1940s, they began issuing music charts. The shift was completed in 1961, when the magazine moved entirely to publication of music charts and music industry-related news.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Championship Wrestling From Florida went from a regional territory in the 1950s featuring matches made up mostly of mat wrestling, to a premier member of the National Wrestling Alliance in the 1970s-80s that featured a very rough mix of grappling and brawling alongside such angles as a Satanic cult, to the FCW super indie in the late 1980s that relied more on showcasing hyped up wrestlers and angles from elsewhere with very few regulars (which briefly took back the CWF name in 2003), to a developmental brand in the late 2000s whose purpose was to send wrestlers elsewhere that was much more consistent in tone than its super indie days but much cleaner and more watered down from its NWA heyday.
  • Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling started out as an anything goes martial arts vs pro wrestling company but increasingly the "anything goes" started to push out the "martial arts", eventually becoming blood sport featuring all kinds of improvised weapons, fights happening in all sorts of locations and all sorts of pro wrestling styles not usually found together on a single card. Then Kodo Fuyuki became booker to a more angle/story driven product with more homogenized wrestling but wilder and more shocking publicity stunts. The revival is closer to the blood sport, many styles anything goes approach but still has some nods to the "sports entertainment" era.
  • IWA Japan started out as a violent garbage fed but in the long run it proved unable to compete directly with FMW on that front and became a more comedy driven product.
  • In the mid 1990s, Eastern Championship Wrestling was the flagship of the National Wrestling Alliance, featuring some silly gimmicks but mostly no nonsense technical wrestling matches. Then a certain Shane Douglas promo was cut and garbage wrestlers began to multiply within the roster. Although this wasn't entirely by design. The company was still centered around technical wrestlers, and many wrestlers from Japan and luchadors from Mexico who were well versed in styles other than garbage were also brought in, it's just those wrestlers got poached by WCW, so hardcore violence ended up being ECW's legacy.
  • CZW went from Backyard Wrestling, to ECW imitator, to a more regulated, if highly divided by factions, sports fed that just so happened to regularly sanction garbage wrestling.
  • All Japan Pro Wrestling's infamous "Puroresu Love" period was a major genre shift away from the highly regulated, formal approach Giant Baba had as booker to a much sillier angle driven approach mandated by Keiji Mutoh on account the old approach would no longer work for them when NOAH was also using it with most of what used to be All Japan's roster. NOAH's decline and Muto's departure saw an attempted return to form.
  • New Japan Pro-Wrestling dramatically switched from a promotion based around kicks, submission holds and junior heavyweight athletics lightened by comic relief and strange gimmicks to a "shoot" promotion that pitted pro wrestlers against judoka, mixed martial artists and such in a period known as "Inokism". This proved to be failure, with NJPW switching back and the "Inokism" approach finding more success in IGF.
  • Pro Wrestling ZERO1 was initially a Shinya Hashimoto Vanity Project about his rise back to the top to defeat the shooters that had knocked him low (teaming up with the most infamous of them at one point) with some strong style matches and NWA stuff on the under card. There were always weird things down there, such as FMW wrestlers Atsushi Onita, Masato Tanaka, Mr Gannosuke, pornstar Chocoball Mukai and an entry in the "Differ Cup" crossover that saw Stalker Ichikawa beaten up for groping Amazing Kong. But it wasn't until Hashimoto died that things went off rails with, Distaff Counterpart shows, Holiday Festivals, other sport showcases, "friendship" shows for foreign promotions, Munenori Sawa brought in his Lingerie Muto parody of Keiji Muto.
  • Ring of Honor increasingly moved away from the super indie it was at its inception towards the model of a more grounded wrestling promotion with a larger regular roster, more schedule and intermediate events in between larger shows while also relaxing some of the strict conduct enforcement that distinguished it from the other super indies somewhat(which makes sense, seeing as it no longer qualified).
  • EVOLVE went from a highly strict and regulated promotion with harsh punishment for violators with a constantly changing hierarchy based around mixed style fights to a very loosely enforced fed which power stables run rampant over (basically diet Dragon Gate, to the point it ate DG USA). From there it found itself in the strange position as a shill for larger companies like Flo Sports and WWE developmental while at the same time trying to attract their fans to independent wrestling.
  • Wrestling/NXT began as a hybrid reality show/wrestling show in which FCW revival wrestlers (AKA the Rookies) are paired with the WWE main roster wrestlers (AKA the Pros) where the winner received either a championship match or a main roster contract. But in the summer of 2012, WWE NXT replaced FCW as WWE's developmental brand where many of the matches got rave reviews, not just the men but the women as well.
  • Speaking of WWE's female talents, when the WWE Divas Division was rebranded as the WWE Women's Division in the spring of 2016 thanks in large part to the Four Horsewomen (Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Bayley and Charlotte Flair), the WWE phased out much of the eye candy stuff in favor of more edgy women with unique characters. In addition, there are multiple women's storylines, matches being much longer and competing in matches that were previously open to only male wrestlers such as the Royal Rumble match, the Elimination Chamber match, the Money in the Bank ladder match and the Hell in a Cell match, among others.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Adventure S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks starts off as a standard "clean out the monster-filled dungeon" scenario. After the PCs enter, they discover that the dungeon is actually part of a derelict spacecraft and they're fighting alien monsters armed with high-tech weapons.
    • The 1st Edition Dungeon Master's Guide had advice for sending a party of PCs (whose players were playing a fantasy RPG) to The Wild West, an After the End setting or adventuring on a derelict starship. Each possibility used one of TSR's other games as the basis for the new setting (Boot Hill, Gamma World and Metamorphosis Alpha, respectively.
  • Exalted Started off as a Deconstruction of fantasy with a Pulp Fantasy feel, then faded Darker and Edgier and ultimately Grimdark. The latter parts of Second Edition went into a gonzo high-powered direction around Infernals, and a third edition has been stated with the intent of returning to the Pulp roots of the game.
  • Lesser Shades Of Evil — the book begins with a disclaimer telling would-be PCs not to read any further, which is setting them up to make blessed champions of the gods in a high fantasy setting, then face all of the following in the very first session: that was all centuries ago, their powers are all genetic engineering and nanomachines, the intervening time has moved the setting After the End... and the idyllic fantasy setting was after a separate, earlier, end. Also, their main superpower is creating multiple bodies for themselves. After this exposition-heavy first session (which fast-forwards the PCs through their actions over these hundreds of years), one assumes the players are meant to go home and contemplate why any of that was kept secret if it were just going to be revealed as soon as they made their characters, anyway.
  • In the Magic: The Gathering expansion Zendikar, the first two sets of the block are about adventure and surivial on a Death World. The last set turns it into a Cosmic Horror Story.
  • Pathfinder:
    • The primary campaign setting, Golarion, has different nations that could be considered a Fantasy Counterpart Culture Kitchen Sink, with regions that resemble colonial America, revolutionary France, the Wild West, Transylvania, the Conan mythos, Darkest Africa, etc, allowing for vastly different story genres. Perhaps the most out of place one (in a typical fantasy RPG anyway) is Numeria, which similar to the "Barrier Peaks" D&D example above involves a crashed alien spaceship, futuristic technology, and all sorts of robots and Green Rocks.
    • They also created rulebooks for the other planets in Golarion's solar system—one is populated by alien-worshipping robots who don't understand their own technology, another is the undead ruins of a planet that destroyed itself when it used a superweapon on a neighboring world. The gas giants have merging gas-creatures as the primary form of life, while their (many) moons serve as more conventional adventuring worlds. A planet tidally locked to the sun has one side that is murderously hot and another that is equally cold, permitting life only in the border between them—this planet is an actively space-faring culture. Another world is a jungle-planet of psychics, while near the outer edges of the system is a planet that is actually just a rocky crust over a gigantic spaceship meant to collect genetic samples. And on the very outmost part is a world that may be a living creature—and an Eldritch Abomination to boot, and it serves as a central point of the cultists of the Lovecraftian entities of the Dark Tapestry (this is meant in the most literal manner possible. The presence of the Outer Gods and Great Old Ones is canon).
    • Many of the Adventure Path's represent different genres. Iron Gods is Science Fantasy (set in the aforementioned Numeria), Mummy's Mask is an Indiana Jones style archeological adventure, Skull & Shackles is piracy on the high seas, Reign of Winter starts as a take on Russian fairy tales then turns into a world hopping adventure reminiscent of Doctor Who with a chapter set in World War I. Carrion Crown however is the king of this trope; it takes on Horror Movie tropes, but each chapter is based around a different subgenre; haunted house, Frankenstein story, lycanthropes, Lovecraftian horror, vampire story, and apocalyptic horror.
  • Two of Pokemon Tabletop United's sourcebooks, The Game of Throhs and Do Porygon Dream of Mareep, provide guidelines for playing fantasy and science-fiction themed games, respectively.
  • Warhammer was one of the more famous examples of Dark Fantasy, taking place in a Standard Medieval European Fantasy with most of the factions falling somewhere on a spectrum of Black-and-Grey Morality. It's successor, Warhammer: Age of Sigmar is much closer to Heroic High Fantasy, with a multi-dimensional war across eight "realms" of a highly magical nature. While several of the "good guy" factions of Order can charitably be described as anti-heroic note  they're pretty much always portrayed as heroes compared to the near-universally evil factions of Chaos, Death, and Destruction. Suffice it to say, this led to a lot of Broken Base, and we'll leave it at that.

  • Something similar to this — the couching of ideas or stories that may be disturbing and/or controversial within a more conventional, non-threatening story - has happened throughout the history of art and literature.
  • The first two acts of La Bohème are a light, happy portrayal of bohemian life, with blissful romance and comedy to spare, where poverty is only a mild inconvenience and even jealousy and infidelity are Played for Laughs. The latter two acts are heartbreaking drama (though still with some comic relief), as jealousy, infidelity and poverty become serious issues, as the two romantic couples both break up, and as Mimí rapidly succumbs to her Incurable Cough of Death.
  • Punk Rock Girl by Joe Iconis starts out as a slice-of-life high school musical about a shy nerd finding a passion for punk rock music. However, near the end of act two, her new punk friends turn out to be space aliens who are trying to unite humanity through music as part of a social experiment, and the story takes a turn for science fiction.
  • Older Than Steam: William Shakespeare did it:
    • Romeo and Juliet goes from sweet and funny romantic comedy to an Anyone Can Die Tragedy with lightning speed.
    • Witness Hamlet turning the standard bloodthirsty revenge plot into a more philosophical meditation on the human condition. Indeed, a lost play by the same title (c. 1589-1594), which if written by Shakespeare would have been one of his earliest works, was apparently a far more straightforward revenge tragedy (and according to one source, not a particularly good one either).
    • The Winter's Tale plays this the straightest: for the first half it's a tragedy similar to Othello with a king falsely accusing his wife of infidelity, ending with the queen and their young son dying and their newborn daughter being abandoned to die in the wilderness. Fast-forward sixteen years and it's a pastoral comedy, complete with an archetypal Clown and the people-in-disguise hijinks reminiscent of As You Like It and Twelfth Night. For added fun, there's some Greek mythology mixed in throughout, with a Chorus of narrators, a trip to an oracle, and a statue of the queen coming to life.
  • Most of the first act of Wicked is a Be Yourself kind of story, with the Daria-esque outcast protagonist hating, then befriending the preppy girl, falling in love with the class clown, dreaming of a political career, and discovering that she's a powerful witch. Then she actually goes to pursue said political career, and absolutely nothing is how she expected.


  • Achewood shifts back and forth between domestic, observational strips that find humor in the mundane, and surreal fantasy arcs involving Mexican Magical Realism, three-hundred-man outdoor brawls, and Heaven burning down.
  • Korean Webtoon Blood Bank started as a smutty BDSM postapocalyptic yaoi romance comedy & ended as an action-packed horror war magic-fighting series with a borderline Downer Ending.
  • Bob and George was originally intended to be a superhero comedy webcomic about the titular brothers. It changed into a sprite comic after the author realized he couldn't draw.
  • College Roomies from Hell!!! is looking like it might be doing this. The strip started out as the standard light college campus humor, but little hints and bits have added up so that it looks like it might have always been intended to end up with an apocalyptic ending. If the author has stated for sure one way or another, I haven't heard.
  • Janet Steele in Contest Jitters was a budding amateur bodybuilder. In Satin Steele, she has become a professional bodybuilder who confronts aliens and a conspiracy.
  • Since-ended Keenspot comic Cool Cat Studio started out as a mundane office comedy without any hint of unusual goings-on. Then one of the characters underwent Alien Abduction and cloning. Eventually the comic became an all-out Fantasy Kitchen Sink, with arcs centered around ghosts, magic, private eyes, and extraterrestrial war.
  • El Goonish Shive's change from comedy to dramedy was apparently planned from the very beginning.
  • FOG Club began life as a romcom about four college anime fans, before — with little to no explanation — having the cast sucked through a portal into an alternate dimension based on Trigun, where they fought an evil scientist called Falco Amadeus and an android duplicate of the main character.
  • Freaking Romance: The supernatural elements, while always present in the story, really get kicked into high gear after Zylith falls from the roof and doesn't appear on the ground.
  • Homestuck started out as a simple Spiritual Successor to Problem Sleuth, but in time became a riff on epic stories and creation mythos, which made the series much more popular. Later, When the trolls were introduced, the entire comic shifted to have Romantic Comedy elements and took a turn for the darker.
  • It Hurts!! starts out as a crude high school comedy with certain hints at terrible life circumstances. Come strip 100, and the apocalypse happens, sci-fi elements and deities are introduced, and it looks at the concept of obtaining happiness.
  • Kid Radd started out as a general parody of video games. Then Cerebus Syndrome sets in.
  • MegaTokyo began as a simple, four panel webcomic about two friends trapped in Japan, the focus being more on the two men playing off each other verbally and talking about video games. As time went on, the comic drifted away from this, and began to focus more on the relationships Piro and Largo were creating in Japan, and picking apart aspects of popular Japanese culture.
  • NonPack is a Mature Animal Story about Gangbangers fighting turf wars in a World of Funny Animals version of Puerto Rico. It starts as a relatively realistic Crime Drama, but takes a turn into Sci-Fi Horror when we learn that one of the major villains is using a Psycho Serum that causes him to Hulk out. Eventually, Supernatural Fiction is added to the mix when the protagonist defeats the villain by temporarily turning into a literal monster, due to the implied intervention of the setting's Crystal Dragon Jesus.
  • Penny and Aggie began as a relatively light-hearted, family-friendly Betty and Veronica comic with brief story arcs and a long stretch of unconnected gag-a-day strips. Word of God says this was because the creators tried to pitch it as a syndicated newspaper comic. When the syndicates failed to show interest, the creators took advantage of the Webcomic medium's greater flexibility by increasing the drama-to-comedy ratio and by introducing more experimental storytelling techniques ("Second Looks," "20 2020 Pennies"), mature themes ("Behind Closed Doors," "Awakening," "The Last Summer of Youth"), and arcs running several months ("Dinner for Six," "The Popsicle War," and "Missing Person," the first chapter of which was a Police Procedural, and the final chapter a Psychological Thriller).
  • Questionable Content started out about a post-college Indie rocker, his friends, and his weird little Robot Buddy. Then Faye got her tragic backstory, Pintsize got increasingly destructive and psychotic, Raven got kinda skanky, etc, until you can barely recognize the characters from the early strips.
    • The comic was always set 20 Minutes into the Future, with sentient robots like Pintsize and Winslow running around, but recently the comic has shifted heavily towards storylines involving robots and AI. It may have started with Marten, Marigold, and Hannelore visiting her dad in deep space and coming into contact with Station, but since Faye got hired at the local bot-fighting ring the comic has almost become all robots, all the time. Lampshaded here.
  • My Delirium Alcazar follows the everyday life of a broke content creator starting over in a new town, with light sci-fi elements... during the day. The protagonist dreams of a dark fantasy dungeon, full of body horror and video game mechanics, which she is forced into every night in a repeating loop. Once killed there, she re-awakens to her normal, mundane life. The switch is even accompanied by a change in art style, from sprites to a sketchy, inconsistent hand drawn look and back.
  • Scoob and Shag: This happens twice, in quick succession, in the early sections of Part 1.
    • Firstly, the comic begins as a collection of disconnected strips focusing on absurdist humor, without any overarching continuity. One of these strips, about Scooby and Shaggy running from the cops and fleeing into a wood, rapidly turns into a much darker horror segment reminiscent of the work of Junji Ito. This is marked by a shift from the simple lineart of the first strips to heavily shaded, visually oppressive art.
    • This horror theme remains prevalent for another segment of strips, until the whole thing is revealed to be taking place in a holodeck within a crashed starship. Afterwards, while horror elements return sporadically, the comic turns into a parody of Shōnen manga and remains like that afterwards.
  • Seasons starts out as a melodramatic Slice of Life romance, until it gets derailed by the lead's love interest dating someone else. Then, it radically shifts into Urban Fantasy as the main character develops a shadowy counterpart, and supernatural powers.
  • Slightly Damned starts out as a comedic Bangsian Fantasy about the periphery of Hell, but rather abruptly turns into a Walking the Earth fantasy adventure a few years in.
  • Sluggy Freelance, while quite often is still the Science Fiction/Fantasy/Slice of Life comedy it started out as, has made increasing use of darker, more dramatic storylines as it's continued.
  • Ditto Unicorn Jelly, which goes from a quirky almost-but-not-quite Fantasy series (the main character is a witch with apparently no magic) to science fiction spanning hundreds of thousands of years and multiple universes. A Powers Of 10 map on the site really hits it home, going from the main character's home out into the multiverse.
  • The Walkyverse has done this over the course of its various entries. Roomies! was a Slice of Life story about dorm life, which slowly became more of a dramedy after the introduction and later death of Ruth. An initially one-off alien abduction plot also returns and takes over the final arc, leading into the next comic. It's Walky! is half sci-fi adventure story and half sitcom, following the various alien abductees as they fight the machinations of the Head Alien while dealing with their own personal problems. After that the story splits in two: Shortpacked! is a Denser and Wackier sequel about the quirky and geeky staff of a toy store, and engages in frequent pop culture parodies, along with the odd serious storyline. Finally Joyce and Walky more directly follows It's Walky, beginning as a domestic sitcom, but eventually reintegrating the science fiction elements and tying up loose ends from the alien plot. This is averted with Dumbing of Age, a spin-off-slash-reboot of the Walkyverse that excises the sci-fi elements, combines the casts of all the previous comics, and is a straight up dramedy throughout.
  • Wapsi Square started out as a lightweight and slightly surreal urban Sitcom, but gradually began adding elements of Science Fiction and/or Fantasy with the introduction of characters who might be gods, immortals or aliens, the concept of humans possessing (or being possessed by) inner demons, and a 12,000 year old mystery. In spite of all this, the sitcom elements are still present, and often just as strong as ever.
  • Within this xkcd strip.
  • xkcd: Parodied in strip #734 "Outbreak", where the first five minutes of a movie are action/horror, while the remaining 90 minutes are a romantic comedy.
  • YU+ME: dream starts out as a romantic story between two girls at a Catholic school, dealing with the various issues that comes with, with some family drama — an average young adult romance story. Then after a hefty Wham Episode it turns into a slightly-psychological adventure-based story on an epic scale.

    Web Original 
  • Decker: The first two seasons are political action thrillers (granted, most likely a parody of them). The third season "Decker vs Dracula" though introduces monster horror, featuring many of the monsters from Universal Horror, to the series. This is rather short lived as Decker vs Dracula only lasted 3 episodes and the fourth season "Decker: Unclassified" went back to being an action thriller series until the last episode where the Big Bad is revealed to be Dracula. It seems some of the episodes in Decker: Unsealed with also involve monster horror
  • YouTube channel Midnight's Edge started out dedicated to Darker and Edgier comic book characters, but after the success of their Trankgate series chronicling the Troubled Production of Fantastic Four (2015), they shifted focus to covering the inside details surrounding the productions of films part of major blockbuster franchises.
  • Red vs. Blue veers all over the genre map as it progresses. Beginning as a mildly surreal, Halo-themed take on M*A*S*H, it quickly becomes more and more Pythonesque until it's nearly crossed into slapstick, Looney Tunes territory. Then, beginning with side stories like Out of Mind, it suddenly veers into serious science fiction, which spills over into the main series before settling into a very odd fusion of all the above genres. Which genre or combination of genres works best is definitely a matter of personal taste. As of its later seasons, it is firmly entrenched in Serious Business, albeit with some gags.
  • While many of the chapter reviews on the Mark Reads Twilight weblog follow the traditional "quote the source text, mock it ruthlessly, add some funny Angrish" formula that's far too common in most MST blogs, reviewer Mark Oshiro often goes out of his way to mix up the structure of his posts. A handful of his best genre shifts include: Bella and Edward writing letters to Stephenie Meyer questioning their own character development; Mark's own autopsy report after the chapter's stupidity drove him to "suicide"; legendary announcer Vin Scully giving a play-by-play of the infamous "Vampire Baseball" scene; Charlie and Jacob staging an intervention to stop Bella from submitting to "Cullenism"; and Bella Tweeting away while she stalks Jacob Black. He also likes to change his targets, for example, mocking the hate mail he gets from Twilight fans, liveblogging the Twilight movie with his readers, (attempting to) read the "Making of New Moon" page on Meyer's website, and calling out a relationship counsellor who uses Edward Cullen to give boys advice on romance. Although he far preferred Harry Potter and The Hunger Games which he also reviewed at Mark Reads Harry Potter, he also mixed those ones up. He'd write the reviews as a script of the book, with characters commenting on plot developments, liveblog entries from various characters, and Hedwig-the-spy writing entries on her mission to guard the boy who lived.
  • Reasoning starts off as a typical slasher story about a woman being terrorized by a Serial Killer, up until it's revealed that killer is actually a multi-eyed, man-eating, rat-like sapient monster. As the story progresses, more monsters similar to the rat start showing up, until the story completely takes a turn and it's revealed that the monsters are from another realm and are trying to exterminate humanity for the sake of not starving.
  • "Okay, so we're playing as an adorable bunny with amnesia. And we have to rescue our little cat friend from his cell. Okay, seems to be a standard puzzle game, so far so good...hey, is there someone behind that door?"
  • The Nostalgia Chick talks about how Dragonheart went from A Boy and His X to Buddy Comedy halfway through. Similarly, The Nostalgia Chick herself went through a major genre shift. Going from the linear nature of the Critic to doing analytical reviews with her friends doing sketches related to the movie. She also no longer reviews movies aimed toward women exclusively, reviewing different films like Cool Runnings every once in a while.
  • Used to creative effect in this short film by Mathieu Ratthe: "Lovefield". In the middle of a secluded cornfield a man appears to be finishing killing a bloodied woman off screen. Hurrying back to his truck, he grabs a towel and the audience presumes he's trying to cover up the body and perhaps dispose it in some way. During this time, suspenseful music plays to heighten the horror. Then just at the end the man says "It's a boy", and a newborn baby appears in view. The woman who sounded like she was dying was in fact in the midst of giving birth and the blood was just the afterbirth. The ending is accompanied by heartwarming music.
  • The Onion's reality TV satire Sex House starts out as, well, a satire of reality TV, and a hilarious one, at that. While the series takes on a darker tone pretty early on, the later episodes seem to be heading to full-on horror and Genre Deconstruction territory.
  • "The Review Must Go On" to both The Nostalgia Critic and Demo Reel. Both had their moments of horror, but the former was a character-driven review show and the latter was a dramedy. The only genre that can describe "The Review Must Go On" is Psychological Horror.
  • A writer at The Rumpus described various classic novels as if they were bodice-rippers. For example, here's the spin on the classic Czech novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being:
    Tereza is an ambitious photo journalist who's as sexy as she is talented. But after the Czech beauty takes a dangerous assignment, the Russians mark her as a dissident and nowhere is safe. To the rescue is Tomas, a distinguished surgeon who is very skilled with his hands. As he aids her perilous escape to Switzerland, the question (and other things) will arise: Can he be trusted? Tereza isn't sure, but she knows the doctor administers one hell of a physical exam.
  • Anna Akana's "Things Only Cat People Understand" begins as another one of her ordinary advice videos, until one of her cats, Congress, barges in wearing a giant robot suit, and Anna must stop him from taking over the universe.
  • Twelve Hundred Ghosts is over 400 adaptations of A Christmas Carol and shifts from the regular work to steamy romances, comedies, parodies, and back again.
  • The early episodes of lonelygirl15 were in the style of a realistic video blog. Over time, it turned into a sort of soap opera/drama/thriller hybrid with evil cults, conspiracies, guns and laser beams. For an example of just how different the show has become, compare classic episode "Proving Science Wrong!"[1] to one of the early season 2 episodes, "Home Invasion".[2]
  • RWBY started off as science fiction Superhero School with Fairytale Motifs, with hints of a greater plot going on in the background beyond school drama and the upcoming Tournament Arc. Then magic is revealed to exist, the Tournament Arc slams to a halt when the Academy of Adventure is destroyed, and the whole thing is revealed to be just another move in a Secret War between two immortals over four Relics that will bring back the missing gods for a final day of judgment to see whether humanity will regain their magic or be utterly destroyed. The Fairytale Motifs go from aesthetics and influences to a reconstruction of fairy tales themselves, the emphasis on hope against fear and the protagonists' innate powers shows definite Magical Girl influence, and the apocalyptic vibes previously in the background gain far more significance. Unlike Red vs. Blue by the same company, this was clearly intended from the beginning and there's a lot of Foreshadowing before the shift officially happens.
  • The Twins (2022) begins as a fairly straightforward sibling drama that quickly turns into a horror film in its second half.

    Western Animation 


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