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Internal Deconstruction

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Robin: [regarding a Fallback Marriage Pact] We still have our deal, right? If we're both still single when we're 40?
Ted: Yeah. [long pause] No. I'm sorry. I can't do that anymore. As long as the door is even a little bit open, I have this feeling that I'll just be waiting around to see if I win the lottery when you turn 40.

There are several series that establish their own status quo; even if it is subject to change periodically, there is usually still a basic formula that surrounds each installment. There are just certain conventions linked to the premise or the characters that remain in place throughout a work's run that serve as a framework with which to create stories. This gives the series some sort of structure and the audience an idea of what to expect; even if they have no idea how the story will actually go, they'll know to expect at least [X] and [Y] to happen at some point.

However, as a series goes on, it will begin playing with its status quo. And one of the ways in which it may do so is by looking back and pointing out the realistic issues regarding their own conventions and how they use their tropes. They'll take an aspect of the work and explore the realistic consequences of it, sometimes to the point of Mind Screw. This is referred to as Internal Deconstruction due to the work undergoing the task of deconstructing itself, rather than the deconstruction being done by some sort of fanwork or some other piece regarding it.

To be considered for this trope, the series in question must have established a common pattern and spend a fair amount of its run using it without irony. After that pattern has become a series staple, that's when they start to poke holes in it. It isn't just Growing the Beard by refining the original pattern to its apex.

It may be the result of Cerebus Syndrome. It may also be an Author's Saving Throw or an answer to an unrelenting Status Quo Is God. Compare Ascended Fridge Horror. If a series starts off idealistic and then deconstructs its own ideals, then Graying Morality may ensue.


Examples


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War: The series is built around the ongoing Duel of Seduction between genius students Kaguya and Shirogane, who are in love with each other but far too proud to admit it, and thus enact overcomplicated schemes to make the other confess first. However, the Culture Festival arc makes it clear that they each have a host of psychological issues (Kaguya's self-hatred, Shirogane tying his self-worth to his accomplishments), showing that both are driven by deep-rooted insecurities. Even after they confess and have The Big Damn Kiss, those issues don't go away, and the next arc has them struggling to figure out how to continue opening up before they can become an Official Couple.
  • Bleach: The first movie briefly deals with the consequences of Ichigo's habit of leaving his physical body lying aroundnote  when he transforms into a Soul Reaper. By the time he gets back to it, a small crowd has gathered around his lifeless body while a team of paramedics are trying to resuscitate him.
  • Digimon Tamers is this toward the first two seasons of Digimon. The real consequences of having a highly powerful and destructive monster as a pet/friend are really explored here, especially with the government keeping a very close eye on the mysterious creatures (although the original Adventure gave glimpses at this, this was the season that really dives into the concept).
  • The Majin Buu Saga of Dragon Ball Z deconstructs the growing reliance on power upgrade after power upgrade by introducing a villain which raw force just would not work against, and the heroes constantly trying to get more power only ends up repeatedly making things worse. The Super Saiyan 3 transformation subverts No Conservation of Energy and cuts Goku's limited time that he's available to help short, as well as greatly tiring him in the final confrontation. The Fusion Dance proves useless because the only ones available for it are kids who don't entirely understand the dire nature of their situation. And Gohan having his full potential unlocked makes him cocky and ends up making Buu stronger instead. Even forming Vegito to decisively overpower Buu doesn't work, as rescuing Buu's hostages runs out the fusion's time limit and unleashes the chaotic Kid Buu. It takes an elaborate strategy to finish off the evil majin once and for all, and even that very nearly failed. The arc also does a good job of showing why Goku being on the side of good was the best course of action for Earth—by showing Majin Buu as an unhinged Evil Counterpart to Goku's younger years.
  • Gundam
    • Mobile Suit Gundam 00 had a few instances of Deconstructing tropes from previous Gundam series, such as showing the corpse of Neil Dylandy to show everyone that he is indeed very dead, a very realistic portrayal of just how hopeless Rebellious Princess's Marina's situation is (her nation is now gone and her country never got better beforehand) and Wang Liu Mei as a more realistic representation of a celebrity gaining political power.
      • The Movie has a different ending; a Happily Ever After and World Peace for everyone through an Assimilation Plot, including the aliens who killed countless human soldiers. It preaches that war is the product of misunderstandings and everyone would get along as long as we didn't miscommunicate. This may also be considered a deconstruction of the traditional Gundam ending, which is often bittersweet, if not a complete downer. Also because not only do the resident Expy Newtypes really are the next stage in human evolution and really do lead humanity to glory, the usual denial of this becoming of a Gundam trope in itself. Thereby Reconstructing the typical shonen mecha genre.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans takes a sledgehammer to numerous longstanding Gundam tropes. As implied by the title, the majority of the main characters are actual Child Soldiers conscripted by a Private Military Contractor, many of them slaves rounded up by pirates. Troubling Unchildlike Behavior is rampant, as this is the only life they know and the main Gundam pilot Mikazuki is among the most brutal, even sociopathic, lead characters. In prior Gundam works the teenage main characters are more like young adults and the war story gives them a Coming of Age arc. The Gundam is typically seen as a method of empowerment, the hero gets to inflict fear on their enemies. Gundam Barbatos (and other Gundams) in this series are instead seen as almost demonic figures, and partially because the kids didn't really know what they had the return of the Gundams comes across opening the Sealed Evil in a Can. And in the end, their effort and determination ultimately fails to defeat Gjallarhorn.
      • The Char Clone in this series McGillis is unusually ruthless, and the act of betraying his closest friends is shown to be a demonstration that he is discarding his morality in service of his goals, rather than having a stronger sense of morality than the rest of his faction. He eventually acquires a specific rival in Vidar, who seeks to understand what kind of person would do that.
  • The most Love Live! animes are quite lighthearted. Furthermore, they often follows the formula: Winning the Love Live! competition and save the school from closing. This formula starts with the orignal series Love Live School Idol Project and is still used for Love Live! Superstar!!, even when the saving-the-school-part is not much more than a side note. But Love Live! Sunshine!! deconstructed this formula when the school can not be saved in the end and therefore they failed to reach one of their main goals. This deconstruction gets even more highlighted by the fact, that the parallelism to the original series is discussed within Love Live! Sunshine!! itself.
  • The longer it runs, the more My Hero Academia (and the spin-off Vigilantes) criticizes the Punch-Clock Hero premise it is based around. Hero Society is increasingly depicted as a deeply corrupt and flawed institution that encourages nepotism, glory-seeking, greed, in-fighting, and all other sorts of antiheroic behavior, while the Mutant Draft Board brands genuine superheroes as illegal vigilantes for the crime of daring to be independent and even sometimes uses deniable black-ops agents to preemptively murder potential threats to maintain the image they are bringing peace to the world. The Everyone Is a Super nature of the setting is also deconstructed, such as showing the borderline-draconian lengths necessary to police a world where most people have superpowers, as well as how distressingly easy it can be for even children to dangerously misuse their powers and be branded villains. One character even speculates that the whole series is set Just Before the End, pointing out the growing number of powered people (as well as the fact that powers can strengthen over generations and mix with other powers) and wondering if human civilization will soon begin to self-destruct when the whole population ends up consisting of people whose Quirks are so powerful/uncontrollable that they're in a constant state of Super-Power Meltdown.
  • One Piece, known for its unrelenting characters despite impossible odds, got struck hard with this when the obstacles in front of them become simply too hard to break away with their power (physical and will) alone. Case in point: during Luffy's struggle on rescuing Ace, he takes more punishment than usual — busting through the harsh condition of the prison, being poisoned to near-death, having to struggle against said poison with the help of Ivankov's hormones which takes off his lifespan (and 20 hours, during which Ace is transferred to Marineford), having to fight back up to escape, needing a doping hormone (twice), and finally trying to dig in to Ace's platform (with the help of Whitebeard and co). Not to mention the taxing Gear Second that he uses repeatedly. All of them are worth it, as Ace managed to break free... only for him to be goaded into a fight, and killed, by Akainu. Luffy's resulting Heroic BSoD is so great that, after he recovers from his wounds, he starts questioning his own power and worth, something he never does before.
  • Pokémon Horizons: The Series picks apart a few aspects of Ash's tenure using entirely new characters.
    • In Episode 18, the audience learns that Professor Friede, the series' new mentor figure, hated his job as a traditional Pokémon Professor. While previous professors like Oak had nothing but praise for their efforts, Friede found it a Soul-Crushing Desk Job and quit researching for a while because all that time being stuck in a lab didn't fuel his passions for Pokémon like he would have hoped.
    • Episode 20 picks apart Ash and co.'s Nice Guy tendencies. Though the heroes would always stop to help despite it delaying their journeys, they rarely, if ever, suffered any consequences down the line for doing so. However, Liko proves that this only worked in Ash and friends' favor for so long because they stayed true to their goals and personalities. Liko being an Extreme Doormat who bends over backwards to please everyone stunts her own growth as a trainer, and her lacking a goal only does her more harm than good. When she throws a fight against Wakaba to make sure she wins, Wakaba and Liko's Sprigatito are not happy about Liko just giving up like that. Kabu has to tell Liko that she's only hurting herself with this attitude, however noble it may be.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion deconstructs the original series' ending by showing just how damaging losing Madoka in the finale was to Homura, as well as Homura's intense devotion in general. Although there were a few hints that Homura's devotion was unhealthy in the series, the movie goes as far as to show that Homura would go against Madoka, become the devil and steal Madoka's power just because she believes it would make Madoka safer and happier.
  • Rebuild of Evangelion: Of the first three movies, two go into working Shinji Ikari into an Adaptational Badass, the kind of Shinji 'with a spine' that Fanon and non-canon media like Super Robot Wars likes to portray (and/or wishes he was in the original canon), who will do incredible things to save his friends' lives. Then comes the third movie where things have gone straight to hell, and have gotten even worse by the time the film ends… all of which can be blamed on Shinji and him pulling a reality-bending Moment of Awesome on the end of the second movie without knowing the collateral damage that would ensue.
    • And by that same token, the third movie also takes great pains to point out the mental gymnastics required for the people to blame everything that's gone wrong solely on Shinji's shoulders while accepting none of the responsibility for their own actions. Misato turns into a second Gendo, Asuka almost kills him at least once...
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie deconstructed the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise's portrayal of Evil Knock Off Metal Sonic. In the games, Sonic would usually be able to fight toe to toe with Metal Sonic. The OVA however shows that since Metal Sonic is an Elite Mook robot who has the same powers that Sonic does, but he has the added benefit of having unlimited energy due to being a robot, he is able to beat Sonic both times he fought him. Also, it shows that because Metal Sonic is an exact clone of Sonic, he also has some of Sonic's personality, which makes things complicated for Dr. Robotnik's plans. And also, the only way that the heroes were able to defeat Metal Sonic was for Tails to mess with his programming, not with Heroic Willpower.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX:
    • Judai/Jaden was unabashedly The Ace and The Chosen One for the first two seasons, with all major victories and Myth Arc based stories revolving around his ability to beat the toughest opponents. The third season drops some bombshells as he sees the consequences for always having to be the Hero and alienating his friends along the way. When once he was The Pollyanna, he has an emotional meltdown and he grows to have No Sense of Humor.
    • Also done with Ryo Marafuji/Zane Truesdale. Like Jaden, he was The Ace of the school, but after suffering a sequence of losses and losing respect and self-worth that he had in himself, he too snapped. Unlike Jaden who shuts down, Zane lashes out with extreme brutality. It ain't pretty, and by the time he finally snaps out of it in season four, he's been physically crippled.
    • In general, GX heavily deconstructs the franchise’s notorious Serious Business treatment of Duel Monsters, with the protagonists growing more and more disillusioned with the game because it’s just not enjoyable when people are constantly being put in stressful, life-threatening situations by it. The absurdity of treating a card game as a life-or-death matter is repeatedly called out, and Judai himself starts to outright hate the game after awhile, desperately trying to convince others to stop taking it so seriously only to get ignored or shouted down. In the end, he’s only able to find any enjoyment from the game when he meets a kindred spirit in Yugi, playing a duel with zero stakes behind it at all.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V shows the potential dangers of powers that can make a simple game a Duel to the Death by giving the power to almost everybody. An entire army uses it to enact genocide, and the survivors take the same power to fight back. It's not pretty on either side. The series has a lot of examples that are franchise-specific rather than series-specific, but a particularly obvious example is when the lesson Yuya learns in episode 53 is deconstructed in episode 56.

    Art 
  • In 1963, Norman Rockwell, the famed illustrator of down-home Americana, quit his job at The Saturday Evening Post when, after receiving backlash from segregationists for drawing a 1961 cover, "Golden Rule", featuring a pro-civil rights message, the Post told him to stop drawing covers featuring Black people on equal footing with white people. He subsequently went to work for the liberal magazine Look, drawing covers and illustrations that resembled the dark subversions of his sentimental style that later artists would use to satirize '50s America. "The Problem We All Live With", for instance, depicted Ruby Bridges going to a newly-integrated school under the protection of federal marshals while walking past racist graffiti, "Murder in Mississippi" depicted the 1964 murder of three civil rights activists by a Vigilante Militia in Philadelphia, Mississippi, and "New Kids in the Neighborhood" depicted Black children helping their family unload a moving van in a white neighborhood and being stared at by a group of white kids with a mix of puzzlement and suspicion.
  • The final addition to North America: Portrait of a Continent is a cartouche that essentially divides it into its two major elements: the minimap depicts North America itself in a more natural state, free of the myriad details seen on the main body, whereas the surrounding frame is comprised entirely of a selection of said details and iconography. Of note is Thomas' sign-off being carried by a macaw, symbolic of how the content is what carries him up, not the other way around.

    Audio Plays 
  • A Big Finish Doctor Who story, "The Gathering", suggests that traveling with the Doctor can poison your mind. When the Doctor revisits Tegan late in life, it turns out she left the TARDIS disenchanted with her previous lifestyle, turned away friends, lost herself in a boring job and resented pretty much her entire life. She also has a brain tumor, which is hinted to be a side-effect of TARDIS travel (It is alien, after all).

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Ahsoka: A NZRE Star Wars Story: E1 does this to the quest to find Ezra and the fact that it's taken four years for Ahsoka and Sabine to get to that point.
  • A Case Study in the Sturdiness of the Rookie 9 is a Naruto fanfic where Naruto and his classmates are assigned to different teams. The new teams have their own dynamics and methodology brought by their teachers. However, besides Kurenai's Team 8 (Shikamaru, Hinata, and Sasuke), these dynamics gets deconstructed as the series goes on.
    • For Team 7 (Shino, Sakura, and Choji), the team developed a series of self-reliance and self-training thinking that's the lesson Kakashi is putting on them, rather than him leaving them to their own devices. This ends up leading them to favor their team's well-being over everyone else, up to betraying a fellow Konaha Team during the Chunin Exam.
    • For Team 10, Asuma is stuck with both Naruto and Kiba butting heads. In order to get them to work together, he has Ino use the Yamanaka Clan's mind-control technique to rein them in. Ultimately, the technique has more brutal impact on the boys' mind than either Asuma or Ino realized. Even worse, the damage made Kiba more vulnerable to Orochimaru's Curse Seal.
  • I Against I, Me Against You: Several fanfics depict Prince Blueblood as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who only behaved like an ass to Rarity because he was angered by her advances on him, and eventually gives her a "The Reason You Suck" Speech about it. Here, when he uses this as an excuse, Tucker tears him apart, pointing out that Rarity was at worst naive and a bit pushy and nothing she did justified his dickishness.
  • Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail
    • Act 2 begins seriously dissecting the concept of an Accusation Fic, as the punishments being doled out in response to the situation start crossing the line from justified to increasingly disproportionate. What began as Laser-Guided Karma snowballs into anything but.
    • The dramatic turning point of Act 2 kicks off with another long, detailed lecture about how horribly Chloe was mistreated, followed by another harsh punishment being meted out. Except this time, the one making the speech and doling out the punishments isn't as justified as they believe, and their actions cross the line over into monstrous. From here, the story explores what kind of horrible things can happen when somebody decides that their personal catharsis overrides more measured or appropriate responses, or is more concerned with vengeance than healing.
    • Chloe as a character is increasingly dissected as the story delves into the roots of her issues, showing that many of her problems stemmed from mounting self-hatred over the bullying she faced, along with her personal biases and resentments growing deeply ingrained. More and more, the choices she made are called into question, brought into harsher scrutiny over time.
    • The same applies to Parker, particularly after the Unown come into play, as the darker aspects of his relationship with Chloe come into play. His insistence that everything is clearly black and white, with his sister as a clear-cut victim and everyone else aligned against her, gives way to Black-and-White Insanity and mounting anger issues at any display of injustice, real, imagined, or exaggerated.
    • The amount of lectures and rants directed at the characters in story eventually gets to a point that both Cerise parents are sick of hearing them. When Talia sends a Tough Love email to Chloe, she bluntly tells Chloe that at this point they'd been told everything there is possible to say a ton of times already while the parents mentally snark that everyone seems to think they were the first to tell them both how they failed as parents.
  • Redaction of the Golden Witch
    • Walter Absalom picks apart the Forgery he's studying and examines why it was rejected by the Witch Hunter fandom in the first place.
    • The 1996!Protagonist takes an especially harsh look at the Witch Hunt phenomenon. Each of their companions appears to have completely lost sight of the fact that the Ushiromiya family and their staff were real victims of an actual tragedy.
  • Abyssal is a dark, epic Mega Man X fic set in a dystopia where corporate greed enslaved both human and Reploid alike. The main problem in Abyssal was that Reploids were not legally considered people while still acknowledging free will, which passed the buck on any 'crimes' committed by a Reploid (as minor as not showing up to work) squarely on them rather than the corporations, thereby giving corporations free rein to dispose of problematic Reploids with no oversight. The same author deconstructs the system they created in Thanks for Nothing Dad, where the government being a bit more proactive nipped the entire plot in the bud. The courts ruled that the manufacturers are responsible for their Reploid's well-being, and holds them liable if an error drove a Reploids to crime. Abyssal is 36 chapters long, and Thanks for Nothing Dad is one.

    Literature 
  • The The First Law series begins with a trilogy of novels that are very clearly intended as a Deconstructor Fleet of heroic fantasy/high fantasy tropes. Red Country feels like a case of internal deconstruction in that it shows how normal people would react to the actions of the characters from the original trilogy.
  • The Noon Universe novels began extremely idealistically with Noon: 22nd Century, which described a utopian future society where everyone is honest and hard-working for the good of humanity. But already in the second and third books, Escape Attempt and Far Rainbow, the authors basically show that even in a perfect society, human beings remain fundamentally flawed, so all the advances of civilization cannot prevent humanity from destroying itself and their environment. It only gets worse from there on, mirroring the Strugatsky Brothers' progressive disillusionment with Soviet ideology and goals.
  • The late-period Saint short story "The Spanish Cow" internally deconstructs Simon Templar's more snobbish tendencies, and overall Karmic Thief attitude, by having him come close to seducing and stealing from an unattractive, middle-aged, poorly-educated wealthy woman because he dislikes her. He only realises at the last moment that he is about to do something truly cruel and evil to a completely non-villainous person just because he thinks that she isn't cool and sexy enough to deserve her lifestyle.
  • By Word of God, Kameron Hurley started writing the Bel Dame Apocrypha trilogy because of her dissatisfaction with the way that Action Girls in SF and Urban Fantasy were often written: as having been made that way against their wills, lamenting their inability to achieve Acceptable Feminine Goals, and benefiting from Beauty Is Never Tarnished to keep them sexy for male audience members. She decided to create a female character who actually was a gender-swapped version of a truly badass male action hero. Then she decided that action heroes of that kind were basically assholes regardless of gender, explaining why the books become gradually less approving of Nix as a person as they go on.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Harry Dresden's Hot-Blooded nature and proclivity for the Indy Ploy is savagely deconstructed as the series goes on, with it being shown that his "spur of the moment" ideas might work and be effective at the time (or even be the only possibility he has open to him), but they can have horrible consequences down the road since he didn't properly plan ahead and account for all the variables. Just a few examples include him deciding to risk his life for his girlfriend Susan in Grave Peril (sparking an incredibly bloody war that lasts for at least an In-Universe decade), him helping Lara Raith depose her father in Blood Rites (meaning that the White Court of Vampires now has a dangerously intelligent and ruthless Chessmaster in charge), and wiping out the entire Red Court of Vampires in Changes causes a hideously massive Evil Power Vacuum in the supernatural world (to the point where even the series' Extra-Strength Masquerade is starting to fall through). Understandably, this all helps incite Character Development for Harry as he learns to act more carefully and rationally, using more Xanatos Speed Chess instead of being a Leeroy Jenkins.
    • Relatedly, Harry is quite the Destructive Saviour, to the point where there's a series-wide Running Gag of Harry burning down a building practically once a book. However, in Changes, this widespread history of property damage that follows in his wake results in the FBI suspecting Dresden for a terrorist bombing. It even bleeds back over into the supernatural side of things, with Harry having to fight the assumption by both his enemies and allies that he's just a Dumb Muscle Person of Mass Destruction for constantly knocking down buildings as he learns to become more of a Genius Bruiser who can get shit done without causing massive property damage.
    • Harry's It's All My Fault tendencies have been pretty reliably shown to be a tragic but not exactly noteworthy element of his personality and natural part of his Chronic Hero Syndrome. However, Ghost Story deconstructs this being overlooked and taken in stride by showing how Harry was Driven to Suicide when a Fallen Angel whispered the right seven words in his ear to perfectly prey on his massive Guilt Complex. In Skin Game, Michael Carpenter literally calls Harry a "pigheaded, arrogant idiot" for unnecessarily heaping such guilt onto himself and calls him to stop holding himself up to such impossibly high standards.
  • The first Earthsea trilogy established the craft of wizardry as restricted to men, with the maxims "weak as women's magic, wicked as women's magic" never shown to be unjustified. Ged's first teacher, his aunt, is a petty and self-important hedgewitch, and another budding sorceress tries to manipulate him into casting spells beyond his means. Le Guin later realized that there was no actual reason for her to have written this except that it was common genre convention, so her second trilogy takes a good hard look at this attitude, where it could have come from, and the consequences to subjugating women and shutting them out of proper education.
  • In the Heralds of Valdemar series, Valdemar is normally portrayed as The Good Kingdom, with a Monarch who's been accepted by the gods (in the form of their Companion) and a shining example of tolerance because their ideal is that "There Is No One True Way." Sure, there's noble conspiracies, bad Valdemarans and bigoted villains who won't get with the program, but that's not the way the system is supposed to work. Closer to Home, however, shows that The Good Kingdom is still an oppressive system in many ways, where the theoretical freedoms available to women don't prevent them from being trapped in social controls that force them into the roles of wife or victim. The villain of the story, while exceptionally cruel even by Valdemaran noble standards, is a product of the system and benefits from its inherent abuses. Mags and Dallen even spend a bit of time discussing how the King and Prince are personally babysitting a noble feud that threatens to break into violence, while in the poorer parts of Haven, people murder each other every day and nobody thinks much of it - and while it's wrong, it's the way Valdemar is.
  • Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs is infamous for its usage of Lady Land, what with most women being originally characterized as a Spoiled Brat paired with Rich Bitch and/or Gold Digger. But this gets deconstructed…
    • The Alternate Timeline Marie Route Web Novel series shows Marie’s Sympathetic P.O.V. about how many of the boys in the academy are just as bad as the girls, while introducing a number of other sympathetic girls as Marie’s friends.
    • In the eighth light novel volume, it’s shown that higher level Blue Blood nobles have a sexism problem, with Clarice being victim to Slut-Shaming, as well as the kingdom having undergone a Full-Circle Revolution and Leon having to defend one of his sisters against male bullying resembling what he had faced.

    Music 
  • Eminem created his "Slim Shady" alter ego as A Darker Me for his fans to vicariously live through, a violent sadist who frequently engages in Comedic Sociopathy. On two songs from The Marshall Mathers LP, "Stan" and "Kim", he shows what happened if somebody actually tried to do the things that "Slim Shady" did in his songs.
    • On "Stan", the titular Loony Fan of Eminem hears his music and thinks that his persona isn't an act. Wanting to be more like his idol, he commits a Murder-Suicide of himself and his pregnant girlfriend in imitation of Eminem's Murder Ballad "'97 Bonnie & Clyde". When Eminem reads the increasingly unhinged letters that Stan sent him, he is absolutely horrified, especially when he turns on the TV and realizes that the details of the grisly news report he's watching line up with the details that Stan wrote down in his letters. Years later, on The Marshall Mathers LP 2, he wrote a Sequel Song called "Bad Guy" in which Stan's brother Matthew, who Stan described as even more obsessed with Eminem than he was, kidnaps and kills Eminem as revenge for destroying Stan's life and his family.
    • "Kim" shows what Slim Shady's behavior would look like without the "Comedic" part of Comedic Sociopathy. A prequel to the more comedic "'97 Bonnie & Clyde", to which it serves as a Spiritual Antithesis, it's a brutal, unflinching, six-minute song in which Eminem raps as Marshall Mathers about murdering his wife, making it clear that anything funny about such a situation comes purely from the sick manner in which Slim Shady frames it for the listener. It's one of the most horrifying rap songs ever written, and reportedly, the real Kim tried to kill herself when she saw a live performance of it.

    Video Games 
  • The Ultima series is not the straightest example, since its metaplot really kicked off in Ultima IV, but if you count from there, IV is extremely idealistic, introducing the series' trademark Eight Virtues (and pioneering the morality aspect in the RPG genre), but V and VI immediately start to viciously deconstruct them by driving the Virtues to logical (and radical) extremes and by flipping them on their head and showing that the result just as good, respectively. It only gets worse in the final trilogy.
    • Ultima IV is one itself to the previous games, taking on the series' Black-and-White Morality. All the major villains are gone, and instead of becoming a utopia, Britannia falls into moral decay without some kind of great evil to oppose it. To the hero falls the less glamorous task of merely being good, rather than defeating evil.
  • Kingdom Hearts deconstructed The Power of Friendship, the defining trope of the series, in Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance]. The villains accuse Sora of only being able to wield the Keyblade because he holds Ven's heart and his bonds with the other heroes strengthen him. On his own, he would never have the Keyblade and wouldn't be strong enough to get one of his own. Also counts as an Internal Reconstruction as Sora acknowledges and is fine with this as it makes him part of something greater than himself.
  • Touhou: As the series continued to grow, many of the tropes and concepts introduced in earlier entries that used to be taken for granted starts to become increasingly questioned. Things such as the tense political climate, cultural isolation, the meaning of being human in a fantasy land, social segregation and more are put under scrutiny revealing that the characters are fighting to maintain what is, at best, an unstable illusion. And with numerous characters and new power-blocks trying to swing it towards their vision of what it should be, it could all come crashing down at a moment's notice.
  • Grand Theft Auto:
    • Grand Theft Auto IV and its episodes deconstruct the Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster! elements that have been the Thematic Series' staples. The three Player Characters pull jobs for several different crime bosses, as per series tradition; however, they end up shoehorned into said bosses' conflicts, endangering their loved ones and often leaving them empty-handed. Some of the main game's missions are seen from the other two protagonists' perspectives in their episodes and vice-versa, exploring the terrible consequences of the destruction you normally leave in your wake.
    • Grand Theft Auto V, meanwhile, deconstructs the typical GTA protagonist from three separate angles with its protagonists. Michael is this character after he's already won, having settled down on his ill-gotten gains and entered Witness Protection, only to grow so bored with domestic suburban life that he gets back into crime simply because he has nothing better to do and Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!. Franklin, meanwhile, is this character when he's just starting out and rising through the ranks of the criminal underworld; halfway through the game, after he's gotten a real taste of bigger scores than he can make just hustling, he fully leaves the gang banger lifestyle behind, moving into a mansion and becoming a full-time associate of Michael's. (Compare him to CJ from San Andreas, whose ultimate goal, even after building a criminal empire across San Fierro and Las Venturas, was always to reclaim the Grove Street Families' home turf in Los Santos.) And last but certainly not least, Trevor is the sort of person who would fully engage in the Video Game Cruelty Potential endemic to GTA and other Wide-Open Sandbox games: an Ax-Crazy psychopath of a drug lord who lives in a trailer in the desert and repulses everybody around him, even close friends and associates, and is strongly implied to have a legitimate mental illness.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords: Chris Avellone hated how the Force was used in the Expanded Universe, considering it a blatant Happy Ending Override. As such, he dedicated the game's storyline to deconstructing exactly that.
    • The fact that the Sith and the Jedi have existed and warred for millennia have made the two factions indistinguishable from one another to the vast majority of the galaxy, thus the conflict of the first game is referred to as the "Jedi Civil War". The fact that they still exist despite possessing exactly opposite philosophies suggests that neither of them have a grasp on the full nature of the Force that empowers them.
    • Several other Star Wars stories constantly mention the "will of the Force," as if it's a good thing, but if the Force does indeed have a destiny for every single being in the galaxy, does that mean every war is caused by the Force? Every death? Every Face–Heel Turn? Darth Traya seems to think so, which is why she wants to destroy it.
    • Because Revan and Malak were Jedi who turned to the Dark Side, and built their Sith off like-minded Jedi and Republic troops who followed Revan in the Mandalorian Wars, the average citizen of the galaxy doesn't see the events surrounding the first game as a glorious battle of the Jedi and an "army of light" against implacable evil made manifest. Instead, they see a horrifyingly destructive conflict between two sects of Jedi with slightly different ideals. After all, even if you see Jedi and Sith fight each other, the only difference to most observers would be their fashion sense and lightsaber colors.
  • Pokémon
    • The franchise deconstructed its villainous teams two times:
    • In being a Prequel to the rest of the franchise, Pokémon Legends: Arceus deconstructs its central idea of people exploring a world filled with superpowered creatures. In the main games, the Player Character has to receive a starter Pokémon to even leave their hometown, with it being a silently accepted fact that their Pokémon will protect them from the hostile wildlife. Legends: Arceus instead shows what such a world is like during a time when Pokémon training is not widely practiced: the humans inhabiting the region largely fear Pokémon for being dangerous and unpredictable wild creatures, and in gameplay, many of the Pokémon indeed chase and attack the Player Character on sight; taking too much damage even leaves the player injured and having to be rescued so they can be nursed back to health. In fact, it's only because the player character is from the present day when Pokémon training is widely practiced that they are even able to thrive in the wilds.
  • The Imperial Agent's storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic deconstructs the Sith Empire, showing just how unstable and volatile such a society would be. While the Sith are in charge it is the agents of Imperial Intelligence, average men and women with no force powers, that perform the thankless tasks necessary to actually keep everything running. Mitigating the damage caused by the sith's infighting or incompetence, and making sure that the overzealous and bloodthirsty officers in the military don't do anything too stupid in addition to their regular duties. When the Sith have Intelligence disbanded things swiftly go down hill for the Empire, since there is no one around to be the Only Sane Employee, as well as conduct espionage and keep the Empire safe form unseen threats.
  • Spider-Man (PS4) deconstructs the entire underlying aesop of the franchise ("With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility") by having it pretty much be Doctor Octopus’s motive; he believes that those with power, like himself and Spider-Man, have a responsibility to use it for the benefit of "those beneath us", because they're just too stupid and helpless to do it themselves. He also tries to use it as an excuse for the monstrous crimes he committed in his quest for revenge, claiming he was the only person willing to do what was supposedly "necessary" for his responsibility.
  • Devil Survivor includes an examination of some of the core elements of the Shin Megami Tensei franchise.
    • The obvious deconstruction is "what happens when you give demon-summoning power to random schlubs?" The locked-down Tokyo quickly becomes a war zone as Yakuza, renegade police, and ordinary citizens kill each other with demons, self-proclaimed "heroes" turn into tyrants, and the only ones who initially seem to have a clue are being manipulated by the Big Bad. The demon-summoning power that's at the core of the franchise really isn't a good thing for the average person, and can in fact be just as apocalyptic as the nuclear missiles from the first game.
    • The conceit that God Is Evil also gets looked at. In DS, humans have become powerful enough to effectively challenge God, and in fact they struck the first blow. Viewed in this context, putting Humanity on Trial to determine whether they can still be trusted with free will and stewardship over the Earth looks pretty reasonable, but it also sets God against humanity, and one possible answer to God's Ordeal is to continue the war the Shomonkai started and defeat God, saving humanity from His retribution and freeing them from divine control. On the other hand, there are plenty of other solutions to the Ordeal, and God (through Remiel) will do His best to help you succeed. In the end, God can't really be called evil in this game, but neither is He perfectly good, either.
  • In Jade Empire, BioWare tore apart their own Signature Style, the cliches associated with their games, and the genre they helped pioneer. Your Player Character, rather than being The Chosen One thrust into adventure, is an Unwitting Pawn and Tyke Bomb who has been carefully manipulated their entire life into being a weapon against the supposed Big Bad. Your wise Old Master who trained you in the magical arts is actually the treacherous brother of said Big Bad and a manipulative Knight Templar who killed and replaced your real master, arranged the entire conflict to eliminate his enemies, and purposefully trained you wrong so that he could exploit the flaws in your technique to kill you once you outlive your usefulness. That's just the central plot twist; there are many other storylines dedicated to deconstructing the same tropes and conventions that BioWare used before and would use many times again.
  • The Legend of Zelda has deconstructed its focus on a "chosen one" narrative twice:
    • The Wind Waker opens with a narration detailing the story and aftermath of Ocarina of Time, showing that the people of Hyrule wanted another hero to save them when Ganon inevitably broke free of his seal. However, due to Zelda removing the Hero of Time from the timeline, no hero came, and so the people were forced to plea to the gods to save them as a last resort, which would lead to Hyrule being sealed beneath a torrential flood and becoming The Great Sea. During the present day, many people doubt the Hero of Winds's ability to be a new hero as he is explicitly The Unchosen One, and only by Link's efforts is he able to prove them wrong.
    • Breath of the Wild spotlights the emotional consequences of being destined to defeat Big Bad Ganon. Link himself is forced to hide his emotions in order to portray himself as the perfect "strong, silent" hero as other Links were. As for Zelda, she undergoes much turmoil in seemingly being unable to awaken the power of her bloodline, resulting in her growing resentful of Link for his natural talent with fighting and even being chosen by the Master Sword. Zelda would much rather pursue her passions in researching ancient technology due to her inability to use her power, but her father insists that she focus on her training despite the lack of information regarding said power due to the queen's death. The story implies that this turmoil simply worsens the problem with Zelda's dormant power, and by the time she awakens her power as a pure leap of faith, it's too late for an Only Mostly Dead Link and mostly destroyed Hyrule, forcing their allies to enact a century-long plan to revive Link while Zelda keeps Ganon temporarily sealed during that time.
  • Ace Attorney deconstructs its own trademark Courtroom Antics and zany portrayal of law in Dual Destinies by revealing that four games of growing madness in the courts is causing the next generation of lawyers to realize their profession is entering The Tyson Zone and adopt a crazy "win at any cost" attitude in response, resorting to increasingly batshit insane behavior to win and causing courtroom standards to degrade ever further. Older attorneys lament that the nation's legal system has entered into a "Dark Age of the Law".
  • The Halo games started as a depiction of Master Chief, a Super-Soldier fighting battle after battle to defend humanity and despite losing a number of friends in the war against the Covenant he always wins the day and looks badass while doing it. Halo 4 takes a bit of time peeling away the layers of who Master Chief is as a person, as being recruited as a child meant that war and conflict is all he knew. Cortana even quips that they need to figure out who between them is the machine. While he still comes out victorious it is only achieved from Cortana's Heroic Sacrifice, which is the first time that he allows himself to feel sorrow and guilt rather than just reloading for the next mission. Halo Infinite brings up similar themes and uses his own experiences to help a civilian mechanic who feels he is way out of his depth.

    Web Animation 
  • DEATH BATTLE!:
    • The analysis for both characters of any Death Battle are often presented as the hosts going over the characters fresh, aside from when they're already legitimate fans of them. In "SpongeBob VS Aquaman", doing it like this with only the understanding of the connections between SpongeBob and Aquaman means they don't understand just how big the gap between both characters truly is. While Boomstick is presented as a more neutral and reasonable party, Wiz enters each analysis expecting SpongeBob to be a legitimate joke and Aquaman an impressively broken character... only for those to flip incredibly quickly.
    • The Season 10 episode "Martian Manhunter VS Silver Surfer" deconstructs how the show often uses Excuse Plots, Out-of-Character Moments, and No Plot? No Problem! to make the combatants fight each other to the death. In this episode's climax, the Silver Surfer wonders why they're even fighting, seemingly realizing that some higher power (likely referring to the show's creators themselves) is causing the battle to happen for reasons he does not understand.
  • Helluva Boss: Millie’s status as a Satellite Character is portrayed rather realistically in episode "Unhappy Campers". She expresses how she never has any moments to shine, and for how supportive she’s been toward Moxxie, he hasn’t been supportive of her own ambitions. As such, once Millie gets a lot of popularity as "Millerd" among the campers, she revels in the attention.
  • Red vs. Blue: Reconstruction is a deconstruction of The Blood Gulch Chronicles. Everything the Reds and Blues got away with in their own canyon is torn apart when they're reassigned elsewhere. Caboose is tied up in the brig due to his Friendly Fire tendencies. Grif and Simmons face the firing squad after selling all their ammo to the Blue team. The reason that all the Red and Blue conflicts were nothing more than pointless squabbling over equally pointless flags and bases is revealed to be a conspiracy by command.

    Web Original 
  • Newer works in SCP Foundation, itself a deconstruction of the Urban Fantasy genre, increasingly question the implications of a shadowy organisation with more power than many world governments being tasked to preserve normalcy in the world. Especially from 2016 onward, several entries such as SCP-3985 have explored how quickly such an organisation can become unaccountably self-serving and corrupt. Other entries, such as SCP-4000 and SCP-3293, go a step further and deconstruct the basic premise of containing anomalies (especially sapient ones) and its moral and ethical implications, especially considering how far the Foundation can go to do it.
    • Other entries deconstruct the entire Ancient Conspiracy angle of the Foundation by applying Science Marches On; SCP-1851-EX is the desire for slaves to escape to freedom labeled as an anomalous phenomenon, while SCP-2750 portrays skinwalkers as a Native American ethnic group that was driven to near-extinction by pogroms when a Foundation precursor group took the prejudices and superstitions of rival tribes at face value.
    • SCP-6140 is a reinterpretation of SCP-140 that frames the bloodthirsty Daevite Empire as an orientalist view of Daeva culture and mythology written by a foreigner that ultimately got a more realistic country hidden from the world, which would have superseded the true history and become real if the books that caused the anomaly weren't destroyed to let Daevastan come back in its original form.

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