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Harsher in Hindsight
aka: Unfunny Aneurysm Moment

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"This building will stand forever."
Lewis Schiliro, Head of the FBI's New York Office, after the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing.

Harsher in Hindsight is a certain event, plotline or saying where a later event (in the story or real life) comes up and only serves to make it worse. It can lead to episodes or issues being pulled or held from re-running if executives want it to be Distanced from Current Events.


This leads to a rather heart-wrenching moment and makes some people feel uneasy when they view the event in the original work.

It is different from Does This Remind You of Anything?, which is for works released shortly after the tragic event, and where the similarity in the plot is intentional. Note, however, that there is usually a delay between the creation of a work and the day when it finally becomes available to the public, and sometimes a tragic event similar to a point from the plot takes place in the meantime. Sometimes the work is slightly modified to avoid this effect, but sometimes doing so would change it so much, or would demand so many resources, that the work is released anyway as it was initially conceived.

Compare "Funny Aneurysm" Moment, Distanced from Current Events, Life Imitates Art, Cerebus Retcon (elements that were originally comedic or light-hearted are later deconstructed and played as tragic).


Note that if the event in question is something inevitable, such as people dying, that's not necessarily this. We all have to go at some point. It would only be this trope if the death was somehow similar to how they died onscreen. It is possible that the portrayer of a sympathetic character turns out to be a heinous person, but that is not enough to deem all of their scenes as harsher in hindsight; the moment in the work must come from something already dramatic and then felt worse because of the scandal.

Contrast Hilarious in Hindsight, Heartwarming in Hindsight.


Note: Examples can only be added once the event that makes it harsher has ended. In particular, anything related to a widespread disease, basic hygiene, hoarding of any kind, or something similar to social distancing doesn't inherently mean that there's a connection to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Please don't add examples of this nature.


Keep in mind, this is for stuff that was already dramatic/serious to begin with, but is now worse due to history. For stuff that started out funny and now isn't because of history, the correct page is "Funny Aneurysm" Moment.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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  • This work (warning, NSFW) by Boris Vallejo, painted in 1997, is supposed to depict the ruins of New York City a thousand years in the future (as Vallejo himself commented on after the 9/11 attacks), but the Twin Towers are still standing.

  • Like most podcasts produced through a network, Mystery Show ends some episodes with promos for the network (Gimlet Media in this case) and their other shows. Starlee gushing about her employers and their other projects can be uncomfortable considering their somewhat bitter separation after the first season.

Alternative Title(s): Unfunny Aneurysm Moment


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