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Mid-Development Genre Shift

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BoJack: Come on, guys, this is ridiculous — is this even a movie anymore?
Todd: Maybe it ISN'T a movie!
Quentin Tarantulino: Yeah! Maybe it's an immersive smartphone app! Or... a 21st-century approach to 360 degree media envelopment!
Todd: Yeah, or... maybe it's just like a feeling... you know?
Quentin Tarantulino: We've got work to do!

An author, developer, or a group of them start with a basic idea, and from there start building a new work intended to be released to the public, but sometimes these author(s) may see that their creation isn't working like they intended to, it's missing a little something in it. Maybe the creators are not very talented in the genre or media they used to start their work, maybe those just don't, or flat out can't, show the work the way they intended to, or maybe it's just for a meddling executive getting involved.

Whatever the reason, they see that the bases they have chosen for their work just aren't working the way they want to, so it's time to change one or more of these bases before they release anything.

This can come in two flavors:

  • Genre shift: The work keeps its grounds on the same media, but changes its style to other of the many genres inside that media, like from Comedy to Drama in Theater, or a Platformer to Action Adventure in Video Games.
  • Media Shift: Unusual but not unheard of, this one generally occurs during the first moments of the work's creation, and regularly means that the author's goal for this work just wasn't expressed well in the media chosen. For example, the author could have started with his work in written media, but then (s)he sees that without visuals it feels incomplete and/or that a fitting BGM could do a much better job conveying the feelings that (s)he intends to show; or maybe started with some sort of visual media, but later thinks that using more reader's interpretation and less "this is how it was and looked like" is a better option for his intentions.

Don't confuse with Genre Shift, Cerebus Syndrome, Reverse Cerebus Syndrome, and Cerebus Rollercoaster, which are changes during a work's run instead of before its release. Subtrope of What Could Have Been.


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     Anime & Manga  

  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha was originally intended to be a straight Magical Girl series, but ended up somewhat closer to Humongous Mecha show with cute girls once it was released because someone on the production team noticed that the Giant Poofy Sleeves on the main character's outfit made her look like a Gundam.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! was originally intended to be a straight-up dark fantasy manga focused on games in general, before the card game that was introduced took off in popularity and quickly proved to be quite the cash cow, which caused the manga to become the card battle series it's recognized as today.
  • Tiger & Bunny is of the first variety. Originally, it was supposed to be much darker and more morbid in its theme and mood, with heavy drama and tragedy and different personalities for both main characters. The creators later decided to go for a more light-hearted story with an overall comedic theme accompanied by some drama; traces of the aforementioned serious tone can be seen in the second cour.
  • Kinnikuman was originally a superhero parody, specifically of Superman, where all the citizens hated their savior and how overly gross he was, as well as being generally creepy and at times sexist. It slowly morphed into a semi-comedy wrestling shounen. This explains the stranger aspects from earlier chapters, like Kinnikuman hailing from Planet Kinniku, being enemies with Terryman, and his ability to fly.

     Comic Books  

     Fan Works  
  • Quite a lot of The Next Frontier had been written before its creator had firmly decided just what it was going to be a crossover with. (My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was the other possibility.) The decision to make The Reveal of the crossover an invoked Ass Pull was therefore something of a Throw It In! moment.
  • Paradoxus (Winx Club, World of Warcraft): Since it's a fanfic, its development and "airing" phases are mixed, but it has been retooled several times which resulted in profound changes in its plot, tone, and characters. In the beginning, Paradoxus was an upbeat and rather generic Fan-Created Offspring focused crossover fan fic with shared elements of both Winx Club and World of Warcraft. Now it's Darker and Edgier, Bloodier and Gorier, and a Deconstruction Fic of how young fairies will fare with being put in charge of saving the magical dimension and dealing with the ensuing psychological trauma.
  • Turnabout Storm started out as a written fanfiction, but as it progressed evolved to an attempt at a game in order to be able to put music in it, then to a radio play, and finally to it settled with Ace Attorney game-walkthrough-like videos so visual elements could be added.
  • Ultimate Chat Fic is an extreme example, slated to transition from role-play to fanfic after three chapters have already been published, on account of many players leaving the group.

     Films — Animation 
  • The Emperor's New Groove was originally conceived as a dramatic, 90s-esque musical film rather than a zany and lighthearted comedy with only one or two songs. And Yzma was originally going to have her own song.
  • Kung Fu Panda was originally going to be a spoof of the Kung Fu genre, but one of the directors, John Stevenson, wanted to have a blend of comedy and action to make this movie more epic, saying, "I wasn't interested in making fun of martial arts movies, because I really think they can be great films. They can be as good as any genre movie when they're done properly."
  • Quest for Camelot was written to be a serious PG-13 animated film. During development, producers decided to amp up the slapstick and make it more kid-oriented. They also turned it into a musical - with the result that nearly every cast member has a Non-Singing Voice.
  • Zootopia was originally going to be a much darker dystopian film where the predator population was oppressed by the herbivore population and forced to wear shock collars to rein in their alleged savage impulses. There was a lot of animatics and concept art for this version and dialogue was even starting to be recorded before the creators decided it wasn't quite working and scrapped it for a much Lighter and Softer concept that was much less dystopian while still featuring commentaries on racism. They have stated in interviews that this was an artistic choice and not a mandate from higher up to make something more child friendly.

     Films — Live Action 
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes started as a standalone horror with a premise inspired by reports of people raising chimps as pets and being mauled by them when they reach adulthood. After completing the first draft, however, the writers realized that the script could easily be turned into a prequel for Planet of the Apes (1968), and once FOX accepted their offer, they rewrote it as more of an adventure-drama, with a heroic Uplifted Animal as the lead instead of the antagonist, and multiple references to the Apes franchise.
  • Dr. Strangelove was originally meant to be a straight drama, much like the original novel, but Stanley Kubrick found the situations so ridiculous and over-the-top that he decided to play it for dark laughs.
  • Mulholland Dr. was originally going to be a TV series. The first two-thirds (made for TV) are nowhere near as surreal or adult-oriented as the climax, made to wrap everything up as a film.
  • Good Will Hunting was originally conceived of by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck as a thriller, before the Weinsteins encouraged them to instead emphasize the relationship between Will and his psychologist.
  • Seen in the Korean movie Windstruck (the loose prequel to My Sassy Girl), which veered from Rom Com to Fantasy to Tragedy and back.
  • Zombieland was originally intended as a TV series, with a pilot script shopped around from as early as 2005 before its creators decided to make a standalone film that was released in 2009. A particular one-off gag — the "Zombie Kill of the Week" — is very clearly a holdover from the idea of Zombieland being an episodic series, delivered much like a Once per Episode Running Gag.
  • Dear Diary - a Short Film - was a sitcom pilot that wasn't picked up. Won an Oscar for Best Short Subject.
  • Beetlejuice was originally supposed to be a horror movie, but was changed to a supernatural comedy.
  • Evolution (2001) was going to be a serious sci-fi movie but became a sci-fi comedy.
  • Holiday Inn was originally to have been produced on Broadway as a plotless revue.
  • Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer's Disaster Movie started life as a Superbad parody called "Goodie Two Shoes", but for whatever reason changed to a loose parody of Cloverfield in the middle of production
  • Cool World was originally intended to be a horror film but Executive Meddling demanded a more family-friendly plot and rewrote it. This explains the resultant tonal inconsistency.
  • In-universe example: in Shakespeare in Love, Shakespeare starts writing a comedy named "Romeo And Ethel, The Pirate's Daughter", which becomes Romeo and Juliet.
  • The first draft of Clerks was a Lynchian surreal horror film about a convenience store clerk and the odd characters he meets during the graveyard shift.
  • Beverly Hills Cop was originally a violent action film starring Sylvester Stallone. When he dropped out, it became an Eddie Murphy comedy.
  • On a similar note, The Golden Child was originally a serious action-fantasy starring Mel Gibson that became a Murphy vehicle.
  • Big Trouble in Little China was originally written as a western, but the producers felt that the western elements on top of all the fantasy elements would be too much for the audience. Some western touches remain, however, such as Jack's saddlebag and the fact that he rides off into the sunset without getting the girl.
  • Pretty Woman was originally a dark drama about prostitution before becoming a Romantic Comedy. Rather than the Knight in Shining Armor ending, Vivian would have screamed obscenities at Edward as he threw money into the gutter and peeled away in his limo.
  • Jaws 3-D started life as an Airplane!-style parody called Jaws 3 People 0.
  • Bride Wars was originally a high school comedy. Which explains so much.
  • King Creole was originally a serious drama starring James Dean. After Dean's death, it was re-tooled into an Elvis Presley vehicle.
  • Annie Hall was originally a murder mystery with a comic and romantic subplot. Most of the mystery was actually filmed before getting cut completely and making the romance the whole story. Woody Allen later resurrected the idea for Manhattan Murder Mystery. At one point, the film was also a period comedy set in Victorian London.
  • Francis Ford Coppola originally envisioned The Conversation as a horror film.
  • Christopher Nolan originally envisioned Inception as a horror film.
  • The Mask was also conceived as a gory horror movie with black comedy elements, true to the source material's tone, even bringing on horror veteran Chuck Russell as director. However, no matter what was tried with the script, the film's think tank realized it was audience-alienating and niche (especially since the budget needed would be significant enough to require a big box office haul to recoup). It was finally reworked into an out-and-out comedy, with several darker scenes not making the final cut, and nabbed Jim Carrey on the cusp of breaking out as a mega-star. The result was one of the biggest hits of 1994.
  • The Cable Guy was originally "a What About Bob? annoying friend movie" regarding a guy's life being invaded by the guy who installed his cable TV. Judd Apatow, Ben Stiller, and Jim Carrey rewrote the script to be a parody of stalking thrillers such as Cape Fear, Unlawful Entry and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and have the cable guy as a very dangerous and obsessive Stalker with a Crush.
  • Casino Royale (1967) was supposed to be a serious adaptation of the novel and a proper James Bond film to compete with the proper series. When the filmmakers couldn't get Sean Connery, it became a spoof.
  • The Cannonball Run was originally a serious action film starring Steve McQueen (actor). McQueen was forced to turn it down due to battling the cancer he would later die from. Afterwards, it became a Burt Reynolds comedy.
  • The Dark (1979) was originally a film about a hulking mentally disabled man who breaks out of his parent's attic and goes on a rampage. However, the developers saw the growing popularity of sci-fi films and revised the script so that the monster was now an invading alien and added extremely obvious special effects to simulate its powers.
  • According to legend, Steven Spielberg considered making 1941 (1979) a musical.
  • The Crow (1994) was almost a musical starring Michael Jackson. Seriously.
  • Oliver Stone was asked to direct Conan the Barbarian (1982). His version would have taken place on post-apocalyptic Earth rather than in the fantasy setting of the stories.
  • Face/Off was originally a straight science-fiction film. The final film is set in the present day, with the face-swapping procedure and magnetic-boot prison being presented as bleeding-edge technology.
  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory was made into a musical during production. The director was against this, but the producers convinced him by pointing out the success of Mary Poppins and The Wizard of Oz.
  • The Slumber Party Massacre was originally written as a parody of the slasher genre, but it was filmed as a straight horror film.
  • After Earth started life as a story about a father and son crashing their car in the mountains or some remote region, with the son having to go out and get rescue for his father.
  • Alan Ball originally wrote American Beauty as a play.
  • Mel Brooks originally conceived The Producers as a non-musical play, but realized it required too many set changes. He then played with the idea of it as a book, but it had too much dialogue. Eventually, he realized it could only work as a movie.
  • Tommy Wiseau originally wrote The Room (2003) as a play. The title comes from the intent that it would only take place in one room. He supposedly then adapted the play into a 500-page book, which he was unable to get published.
  • The Three Stooges film was originally going to be a Biopic of the comedy trio.
  • Hollywood Homicide was originally going to be a drama before Suge Knight complained to the producers. The film was subsequently turned into a comedy.
  • Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day was planned as a musical headlined by Billie Burke as the titular character. Production was canceled due to World War II and it didn't get made until 2008 - where it was now a Genre Throwback to Screwball Comedy.
  • Hook was planned as a musical, possibly with songs written by Michael Jackson. When it actually went into production Leslie Bricusse and John Williams had a clutch of songs ready to go, but plans were changed in an attempt to rein in the budget. Two songs do remain though, one sung by the mock Lost Boys in the School Play that opens the film, and another by Maggie to the pirates in the real Neverland. "Childhood", a song that didn't make it, appears in the Leslie Bricusse Songbook sheet music collection.
  • Joss Whedon wrote Alien: Resurrection as a Camp parody of the Alien films. Jean-Pierre Jeunet decided to play it straight.
  • Showgirls was envisioned as a dark, pro-feminist satire on the lives of Vegas showgirls. Along the way it became a notoriously Camp exploitation film. Magic Mike is closer to what it was originally conceived as.
  • Convoy went from light-hearted comedy in the vein of Smokey and the Bandit to a more serious action film.
  • Gigli started as a straightforward gangster film that became a Romantic Comedy by way of Executive Meddling.
  • When Bruce Willis was attached to star in Fire Down Below, the screenplay by Jeb Stuart, was more a drama with detective elements. When Steven Seagal came aboard after Willis departed, writer Phillip Morton was brought in to convert the material into an action film that incorporated the genre staples Seagal was famous for.
  • Suicide Squad (2016) was meant to remain in the Darker and Edgier footsteps of previous DC Extended Universe movies. Then some audiences showed more interest in the "fun and edgy" parts of the trailers, expecting something along the lines of the recently released Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), leading the studio to add more comedy scenes and even hire additional editors (the end credits list five!). As a result, the tone is inconsistent as hell.
  • Santa Claus: The Movie was written as a musical with Leslie Bricusse-Henry Mancini songs, but the producers decided that genre wouldn't sell in the mid-1980s (this was just after Annie (1982) had underperformed against its massive budget). Several of those songs do appear as background/diegetic music in the finished film, but so do some pop songs by other hands, and Bricusse was really bitter about this. The film didn't do well at the box office in any case.
  • Pod People was initially written as a horror film, with alien killing poachers and a vacationing rock band in a forest. Then E.T. came out, so Pod People was rewritten to copy its success, adding scenes of a child protagonist befriending a younger alien. But the killings, crude humor, and sexual innuendo remained from the earlier version, resulting in a film that couldn't decide who it was trying to appeal to.
  • Mute was not written as a science fiction film. Duncan Jones added its futuristic setting.
  • Shock Treatment was supposed to be a parody of horror films like its predecessor, The Rocky Horror Picture Show but due to the director thinking it was too similar to the first movie, it was rewritten into a comedy.
  • Blow Up was originally intended to be something closer to a straight mystery, before being recut into a Mockstery Tale.
  • Rapid Fire was originally envisioned as a Heroic Bloodshed film, with John Woo directing, but the studio wanted it to be a martial arts film.
  • Paddy Chayefsky's Oscar-winning screenplays for The Hospital and Network were both originally conceived as a TV series, but were re-written after being rejected by the networks.
  • Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues was originally conceived as a musical.
  • Caddyshack started out as a coming-of-age comedy about caddies working at a country club to a wacky screwball comedy that Harold Ramis described as a modern-day Marx Brothers film.
  • Jules Feiffer originally wrote Carnal Knowledge as a play, but Mike Nichols felt it would work better as a film.
  • Solo was originally envisioned by initial directors Phil Lord & Chris Miller to be a Screwball Comedy-styled Self-Parody of the whole Star Wars franchise, and for the first four months of shooting, that was the direction it was taking. However, this created enough friction with Lucasfilm that they ended up getting booted from production and replaced with Ron Howard, who reshot much of the content (approximately 80% of the final film) to be a slightly more comedic, but overall traditional Star Wars film.
  • Deathstalker II: Duel of the Titans was originally meant to be very similar to its predecessor — a B-grade Sword and Sorcery ripoff of Conan the Barbarian — but reportedly, its shooting script was so terrible that by the time everyone got to the shoot (on a crappy backlot in Argentina between a highway and an airport), they collectively decided to just have fun and wing an Affectionate Parody of their own genre tropes, playing up the gory violence and fanservice they could afford, but full of tongue-in-cheek one-liners and anachronistic references.
  • The original script for the 1983 remake of Scarface, penned by Brian De Palma and David Rabe, told the story as a Period Piece set in the 1920s Chicago. Then came Oliver Stone, who was suggested by Sidney Lumet (who was briefly attached to direct), who rewrote the story with a Setting Update in contemporary Miami.
  • Joan Alison and Murray Burnett wrote Casablanca as a play, Everybody Comes to Rick's.
  • At one point, Randal Kleiser tried to make The Blue Lagoon as a miniseries for NBC. When Fred Silverman became president of that network, he decided to turn his pitch into a feature film instead.
  • Scooby-Doo was originally written by James Gunn as a PG-13 parody of the series, with Shaggy and Scooby being explicit stoners and Daphne and Velma implied to be lesbians. After the cast had signed on, the film was retooled to be a more family-friendly, traditional adaptation, though some jokes still made their way into the final cut. The sequel, on the other hand, was made from the ground up to be a family film, and little-to-none of the film series' raunchy origins is present.
  • King of Jazz began filming as a Biopic of bandleader Paul Whiteman. A few Whiteman-focused scenes were shot before it was decided to expand the movie into a musical revue with assorted other performers.
  • Glen or Glenda was originally intended as a semi-documentary about Christine Jorgensen, the world's first trans woman to undergo sex-change therapy. When Ed Wood signed on to the project, it was turned into a genuine piece of fiction, based on his crossdressing experiences.
  • Lady Ballers was originally intended to be a serious documentary about a team of cisgender male athletes pretending to be transgender women to play in a women's sports league, before being retooled in fictional comedy.

  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson was originally just going to be a straight series of articles covering a motorcycle race in Las Vegas, before becoming the weird, wacky, genre-defining whatever-it-is that it became.
  • Stephen King admitted that he didn't know where Christine or his short story "The Library Policeman" were going when he wrote the first several pages. Both started out considerably lighter and more comedic than they ended up. "The Mist" and "Apt Pupil" underwent shifts from short story to novella due to a case of "literary diarrhoea".
  • Bret Easton Ellis originally imagined American Psycho as the story of a disillusioned but nonviolent protagonist. After a dinner with friends who worked on Wall Street, he decided to make him a serial killer.

     Live-Action TV  
  • The notoriously violent action/intrigue series 24 was originally conceived as a domestic comedy about a family preparing for a wedding. Seriously.
  • Sapphire and Steel was initially commissioned as a children's fantasy series, but when PJ Hammond's scripts turned out to be significantly scarier than would be acceptable for that, the network rethought the idea instead of demanding rewrites. "Assignment One" still shows some signs of the original intended audience, with the child PoV characters, use of nursery rhymes as plot points, rather whimsical kids' TV host characterization of Lead, and probably the show's most uncomplicatedly happy ending. "Assignment Two", however, clearly indicates the shift, with its even more frightening atmosphere, adult subject matter related to war and sexual relationships and an absolutely horrifying Downer Ending.
  • Charmed was thought up as basically a TV version of The Craft about three roommates who were witches. Networks weren't really interested in the witchcraft until Constance M Burge made the characters sisters, and it became the Supernatural Soap Opera it was best known as.
  • A single-episode example - the Farscape episode "Scratch 'N Sniff" was originally intended as a very grim and downbeat anti-sex-industry Very Special Episode about an apparent Pleasure Planet whose Las-Vegas-In Space image was actually a cover for sentient-being trafficking and forced prostitution. At some point, however, it was decided that the episode was coming out as heavy-handed, self-righteous, and boring, and it was decided to turn it into a gonzo comedy episode instead.
  • The Community episode "Intro to Recycled Cinema" has an In-Universe example. Abed reveals that he was shooting a movie with Chang playing a police chief before the latter made it big in a series of commercials. The gang decides to complete the film to cash in on his success and they contact a movie producer to get it published when it's done. The producer suggests changing the crime drama to a space opera. Somehow, they manage to work Chang's already shot scenes into the new genre. (For example, by having him fire a laser out of the phone he's answering.)
  • Ash vs. Evil Dead was originally meant to be the fourth Evil Dead movie, but due to so much material being written, the makers decided to turn it into a television series instead. If the first season was a movie, it would've been around five hours long.
  • Dinosaur Revolution was conceptualized as a raunchy, over-the-top comedic show aimed at adults about scientifically up to date (at least for the time) dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. They wouldn't talk but they'd be slightly anthropomorphized, acting out wacky stories, engage in bloodshed, slapstick, dark humor, sex, getting high, all the while pop culture references abounded. After a couple years, Discovery Channel realized the show did not fit in with their brand, abruptly halted production, took whichever scenes were completed in a semi-presentable form, added narration and tried to pass off this goofy mishmash as a serious educational documentary. Some years later they tried to salvage the show by recutting some of its scenes into a theatrical silent film called Dinotasia (Werner Herzog provided cheesy voiceover, but only during scene transitions). While this was slightly closer to the original idea, it had trouble finding an audience, as without the narration even its educational value was lost.
  • Doctor Who: Writer David Fisher originally envisaged "The Leisure Hive" as a humorous pastiche of gangster movies, in keeping with the tone of the previous few seasons under Graham Williams and Douglas Adams. The desire of the new production team of John Nathan-Turner and Christopher H. Bidmead to make Doctor Who more serious and science-focused meant the story ended up becoming a dystopian drama. Remnants of the original idea are still present in Fisher's novelization of the serial, however.
  • Minder was originally conceived as a gritty crime drama in the vein of the previous series starring Dennis Waterman The Sweeney. Reading creator Leon Griffiths' novel, published a few months before the series began and much Darker and Edgier than any episode of the show, shows what this could have been like. The first two series still have some signs of this, with sometimes dark storylines, occasional death threats and explicit references to Terry's criminal past, though there was plenty of comedy. By the third series Minder had firmly become the lighthearted crime caper it is better remembered as.
  • The Morning Show was envisioned as a lighthearted sitcom about a morning television news station, hence why its leading stars are Steve Carell, Jennifer Aniston, and Reese Witherspoon, who are primarily known for being comedic actors. However, while in pre-production, the showrunners decided it would be more interesting if it focused on the #MeToo moment, leading the show to become much more serious in tone.

  • Lampshaded in Electric Funstuff's The Next Big Thing. A video game in development changes through every step of the process.
  • On Bob Dylan's 1985 album Empire Burlesque, the album for displayed a surprisingly (for its time) contemporary sound for Dylan. For the song "When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky", it was originally going to be an upbeat rock tune with the members of The E Street Band backing him! But when the album was developed, it was drastically rewritten, now sounding like this.
  • Johannes Brahms's Piano Concerto in D minor, Op. 15, was originally sketched as a sonata for two pianos.
  • Diamond Rio's seventh album Completely was originally going to be a double album, with traditional country music on one disc and country-pop on the other. The concept was abandoned partway through, but it explains why the poppier "Beautiful Mess" and a Diane Warren ballad are sharing an album with a bluegrass instrumental and a song written by Bill Anderson.
  • Porter Robinson's Nurture ended up as a project that Robinson wanted to feel as personal as possible, with all the songs being delivered in his own voice. As a result, "Fullmoon Lullaby", a collaboration he had recorded with the Japanese music group Wednesday Campanella, ended up nearly being dropped from the album, but it was kept as a bonus track for its Japanese release.
  • Eminem's Recovery was originally intended to be Relapse 2, a Horrorcore album continuing in the style of Relapse, but Eminem was soon forced by Dr. Dre's commitments to the doomed Detox to seek other producers. The first of these, Denaun Porter, a childhood friend who knew him as a young MC, directed him in the booth to rap in his teenage style and drop that weird accent he had been experimenting with, which led to him developing a more wordplay-focused Boastful Rap style that he felt was much stronger and funnier than his horror work. At around the same time, he exhausted everything he had to write about being a crazy Serial Killer, and wanted to make material with the emotional weight his work had carried on The Eminem Show and Encore. The horror-and-accent-play material that no longer fit his new direction got released as an Updated Re Release of Relapse, the Refill EP; a few of the more mundane Slim cuts that did fit the new sound ended up on a retitled album called Recovery, a pop-crossover New Sound Album that proved wildly popular and kicked off a second imperial phase for Eminem.
  • Kosheen's album Resist seems to have undergone this twice. It probably started off as a pure trip hop album as the band's first two (non-LP) singles were in that genre, as well as a number of the album tracks and b-sides being so - you can put together a playlist of all their trip hop songs and it flows well together. However, the group really took off with a number of drum and bass singles, so those appear on the album (along with the similarly D&B sounding "Pride"). More noticeably, some of the tracks on the album such as "Hungry" and "Face In A Crowd" introduced a pop-rock sound which wasn't really evident on any of the preceding releases (although "Catch" was more melodic than the others). The follow-up album Kokopelli puts the pop-rock to the forefront.

  • Company was originally written by George Furth as a cycle of eleven short plays about different couples. He got the idea of third-person observing each couple, and this third wheel eventually became the main character.
  • Sally was always going to be a musical comedy about a Heartwarming Orphan, but the story was completely different when Guy Bolton and P. G. Wodehouse wrote their early drafts of it (only a few fragments of which have survived). The Little Thing, as it was titled before it was sold to producer Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. as a contemporary Cinderella story, instead portrayed Sally as a Miss Imagination type, with most of the plot taking place in fantasy sequences. Wodehouse was too busy with other projects by the time Sally was produced, and it ultimately retained only two of the songs he wrote with Jerome Kern.
  • Wicked was originally supposed to be an Aida-esque romance, the core of the story being the relationship between Fiyero and Elphaba, with Glinda essentially a supporting character. The finished story instead focused on the Pseudo-Romantic Friendship, making Fiyero more of a Satellite Love Interest.

     Video Games 
  • Alan Wake was always meant to be a Twin Peaks and Stephen King-inspired Psychological Horror game, but it was originally announced as an open-world Survival Horror game, and after an extended development cycle, it came out the other end as a more linear action-thriller with a horror bend. According to Remedy Entertainment, they wanted to do an open world game specifically to break off from the linearity of Max Payne, but this turned out to be them biting off more than they could chew, as everyone at Remedy faced an increasingly uphill battle dealing with the open-world design, constantly missing deadlines as a result. Halfway through, Remedy went on a two-month break as a "sauna" group of lead developers buckled down to completely overhaul the project, figuring out what to keep and what to sacrifice, and the shift to straightforward, more easily-managable levels and gunplay was a concession to ensure that the game would be finished.
  • Battlefield 2042 — or at the time of inception, just Battlefield 6 — was meant to just be another straightforward multiplayer team-based shooter title, but once development got the go-ahead, DICE was reportedly pressured by Electronic Arts to "copy what's popular" and turn 6 more into a Battle Royale Game, directly inspired by the likes of Fortnite and Apex Legends (the latter being a title that EA had also published and found massive success in). This change in gameplay genre led to the absence of key franchise features, most prominently its class system (now replaced with the gadget-centric "specialist" characters) and a single-player story campaign... which led to further problems by August 2020, as EA — supposedly motivated by the steady success of Apex and Call of Duty: Warzone being released as major competition in the battle royale genre — requested the game be changed back to being the usual team-based multiplayer shoot-fest, with the battle royale aspects being merged into the "Hazard Zone" side mode. By the time this switch-back occurred, DICE had only about 15 months left before the release deadline, forcing them into developing exclusively for the multiplayer.
  • Originally Demon's Souls was going to be an open-world, medieval fantasy game made to appeal to The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion audience, but a Troubled Production and a lack of vision led to a rookie Hidetaka Miyazaki taking over and making a Nintendo Hard, level-based, dark fantasy survival horror Action RPG we know today, one that would literally kickstart a whole new subgenre of Action RPGs in the coming years.
  • The original concept for Epic Mickey was a disturbing, Darker and Edgier horror game take on Disney's most iconic character, with biomechanical Body Horror character concept art that looked more like something from American McGee's Alice. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Disney balked at their mascot being taken in such an overtly mature direction, and the game ended up as a much more conventional, if still slightly grim, platform game.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VII:
      • The game's plot was originally conceived as having a real-world American Urban Fantasy Noir setting inspired by popular mid-90s TV shows like The X-Files and Twin Peaks, which would focus on a Hot-Blooded detective tracking down a group of terrorists in the mean streets of New York. At some point it was decided to make it into a more conventional High Fantasy setting, although still featuring The Big Rotten Pizza and a quasi-'murder mystery' ("who killed Sephiroth?") in a disturbing mountain town. The idea of a Final Fantasy game taking place in a realistic 20th Century America influenced setting was later revisited in Final Fantasy XV.
      • As a hangover from the above concept, Vincent was intended to be a Genre Refugee from 90s American television, an Expy of Agent Mulder and Agent Cooper, being a secret agent, conspiracy theorist, movie fanatic and amateur occultist who stumbled upon the goings-on in Nibelheim and was transformed into a shapeshifter. Relatively late in development he was retooled into a more straightforward Gothic Horror-themed character without the Ascended Fanboy elements, and his backstory revised to fit more into the main storyline.
      • Xenogears actually started out life as another blueprint for Final Fantasy 7. However, it was decided that the concept was too dark and the game was turned into a complete unrelated game that was allowed to be its own thing without concerns of what would be expected of a Final Fantasy installment. And it certainly was very dark...
    • Final Fantasy X started as a non-FF project called "Seventeen", which would have been a sci-fi game about a virus that killed people on their eighteenth birthday, and a seventeen-year-old doctor/priestess who was travelling all over the world to deliver vaccines on behalf of a pharma company/cult. Later, it would have become apparent that the cure was actually causing the sickness, and this was deliberately engineered by the pharma company to establish social control. When it was decided to make it into a Final Fantasy game instead, the setting was reformatted into a fantasy world besieged by a monster, while the doctor became a religious pilgrim ready to give her life to temporarily destroy the monster in a ritual used by a Corrupt Church to maintain theocratic control.
  • According to an interview on Gamespy, the Vehicular Combat title Full Auto was initially developed as a straight racing simulation until the developers realized it made no sense to have the main selling point of the game (extensive damage modeling) only be able to be experienced by being bad at the game.
  • According to developer interviews, Goodbye Volcano High was originally envisioned as an ironic Dating Sim. But as development progressed, the team realized they wanted to tell a more serious story, and the game was retooled into a cinematic narrative game.
  • Halo was originally conceived as a Real-Time Strategy game, but it made it to shelves as a First-Person Shooter, probably because its plot and factions coupled with its genre would have made it too similar to RTS heavyweight StarCraft. Also, the developers changed genres because they decided they wanted to play as the soldiers. Initially Halo was a third person shooter for Macs (which can be seen in early videos and screenshots) but became a first person shooter when Bungie was purchased by Microsoft.
  • Jurassic Park: Trespasser would have been a Survival Horror Adventure Game set in the Jurassic Park universe, mostly centered around avoiding dinosaurs and solving complex puzzles. The dinosaurs were to have realistic mood swings and react differently to their surroundings, making each gameplay unique. Due to a legendarily Troubled Production, years of delay and programming hardships, the game was hastily reconfigured into a bizarre First-Person Shooter where aiming and shooting a gun proved to be one of the least workable functions as the overly feeble arm controls and physics were not optimized for this purpose. The enemy A.I. was stripped of nearly all sophistication, making most of the dinosaurs behave the same way all the time (at least the herbivores and a couple raptors would sometimes act friendly unless provoked), and loads of guns were scattered over the levels with little in-story justification. The game infamously tanked upon release and got horrible press, as the haphazard shifts in style and content were all too obvious.
  • Klonoa was going to be an Action Horror game as seen in one of the concept arts of the story (that depicted Klonoa fighting werewolf-like creatures) and Huepow (in his original monster design) eating and burning up enemies then inflating their lifeless corpses. The werewolves were later retooled into adorable Moos that we all loved today. Hoepow was later retooled into a fairy who allows the titular character to use the Wind Bullet to inflate enemies while being alive and without harm.
  • Lethal Enforcers 1 was originally concieved as an FMV shooter similar to Mad Dog McCree but set in the present day. Konami had rejected this idea, so digitized sprites inspired by Mortal Kombat was used.
  • Magical Mirror Starring Mickey Mouse was originally conceived as a 3d platformer and Spiritual Successor to the Disney's Magical Quest games when it was announced at Nintendo Space World 2001. For some reason, Capcom, at some point between Space World 2001 and E3 2002, decided to retool the game into a Point-And-Click Adventure game. On a console no less.
  • Metal Gear began development as a straightforward shoot-'em-up, cashing in on the popularity of Capcom's arcade game Commando, but the programmers were having too much trouble creating a similar game on the MSX2 since the hardware couldn't handle too many enemy soldiers and bullets on-screen at the same time. When Hideo Kojima was brought into the project to salvage it, he decided to shift the game's focus to avoiding combat.
    • Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops started development as an online multiplayer deathmatch-style shooter unrelated to the main Metal Gear Solid storyline. Portable Ops Plus does include the online multiplayer though.
    • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance originally was named Metal Gear Solid: Rising and was a stealth-action game that emphasized hunting enemies. When the game switched developers from Kojima Productions to PlatinumGames, the stealth aspect was toned down in favor of more straightforward combat (hence the title change), though some stealth remains as the player can kill enemies without them expecting it.
  • When id Software first described their concept for Quake, it was a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (before Ultima Online made the genre mainstream) with characters taking control of Norse-inspired warriors armed with hammers. At some point they scaled their ambition way down to just producing another First-Person Shooter.
  • Rareware has a habit of doing this:
    • Banjo-Kazooie was originally conceived as Dream, a 2D Super Nintendo RPG with human characters rather than a 3D Funny Animal platformer.
    • Conker's Bad Fur Day was originally just another generic kiddie platformer before they retooled it into the rude, crude, offensively over-the-top game everyone knows and loves in order to make it stand out from other Rare and Nintendo 64 games. This was after the tie-in Game Boy game, which really was as saccharine as Conker was intended to be, had been released as well.
    • GoldenEye (1997) was originally to be an on-rails light-gun shooter like Lethal Enforcers 1 or Virtua Cop. Before that it would have been a pre-rendered 2D platformer, like Donkey Kong Country but with guns. The unrelated Game Boy James Bond game is much closer to this design.
    • Star Fox Adventures started off as an high-fantasy, action-adventure game titled Dinosaur Planet before Executive Meddling told them to retool it into a Star Fox game, adding shmup sections to the gameplay and a sci-fi tone to the story.
  • Rayman Raving Rabbids was conceived as a Rayman 2-esque platformer with original creator Michel Ancel having full involvement, but Executive Meddling caused the switch to a minigame collection and Ancel being dropped from the project.
  • Ride to Hell: Retribution was originally planned to be a Wide-Open Sandbox game when it was first announced in 2008, but following its trip into Development Hell, only emerging out of it and seeing release in 2013, it ended up being changed into a much more linear action/driving game with limited sidequests. It's unknown why this was changed as details on the game's production history is oddly scant, but this explains why several maps in the final product (most notably the hub town and casino level) are fully modelled and set-dressed as if they were to be for a sandbox game, but are either severely blocked off by Invisible Walls or used for a 10-minute shoot-em-up section and never seen again.
  • The Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves game for the NES by Sculptured Software was initially conceived as an action RPG titled The Legend of Robin Hood which originally had nothing to do with the movie. After tacking on the movie license, the game's publisher, Virgin Interactive, forced the developers to make it into a more straightforward action game.
  • Shadows of the Damned — a Grindhouse-inspired Horror Comedy Third-Person Shooter — is almost an entirely different beast to what creators Suda51 and Shinji Mikami intended, that being a subtle Psychological Survival Horror game heavily inspired by The Castle called Kurayami. This was entirely thanks to Executive Meddling, as after Electronic Arts were secured as publisher — on the grounds that they actually liked their original concept and were willing to support it— they suddenly began pressuring drastic changes in tone and gameplay (for instance, Kurayami had no weapons, but the presence of guns was because of EA's edict that "westerners are about guns"). The game's entire concept had to be overhauled a total of five different times before EA were satisfied, and neither Suda or Mikami were at all satisfied with the final product.
  • Shinobi began development as a game about shooting shurikens at enemies from a first-person view. The developers planned to include a shuriken-shaped paddle to control the player's aim. The concept didn't prove to be that interesting and Sega decided to revamp Shinobi as a side-scrolling action game, with the shuriken-throwing game idea used for the bonus stages instead.
  • A light variation with Sonic the Hedgehog, the initial concept was a more traditional platformer with puzzles and exploration akin to Super Mario Bros. 2. The final product, while still a platformer, focused more dominantly on its now trademark speed. This evolution is even more prominent in its sequel.
  • According to 1upnote , the NES version of Super Mario Bros. was going to be a shoot-em-up platformer, and Mario was going to carry guns, like the beam gun similar to those in Metroid and a rifle. Also, he was going to punch and kick enemies while empty-handed, ride on clouds (which were previously rockets in earlier development) and fire at enemies in cloud drive-bys that would soon become bonus coin stages. Also, the "jump button" was going to be "up" on the Control Pad, leaving the "A" button open for attacks.
  • Tabula Rasa suffered a great deal in Development Hell due to its production having resulted in almost three entirely different games. Originally it was meant to be a direct sequel to the successful 1997 MMO Ultima Online titled Ultima X, but it was cancelled by Electronic Arts as they got cold feet from the whole project, spurning the original Ultima creators (including Raph Koster and Richard Garriot) into starting a new studio, Destination Games, in favor of their own original fantasy-themed MMO, finding a publisher in the form of NCsoft. However, while the project was fairly complete by 2004, it was abruptly overhauled as NCSoft didn't believe it would have legs in their native South Korea, resulting in another reboot with almost entirely-replaced staff. By 2005, Tabula Rasa was properly announced with its final massive sci-fi FPS retool of its aesthetic. With the fact Destination Games were crammed into an entirely different game than was envisioned, combined with further impatience from NCsoft demanding them to get it out as quickly as possible, this ended up killing a lot of the game's momentum even before it was released, leading it to a lukewarm launch and only fifteen months of activity before it bit the dust.
  • Team Fortress 2 began as a realistic, serious FPS that was going to be just like its predecessor, but with more realistic physics. Then in 2003, they retooled it into a sci-fi FPS entitled Invasion, which involved a humans vs. aliens plot. Finally, in 2006, the game was retooled into the humorous, cartoonish, lighthearted FPS we all know of today.
  • Tengai Makyou: Ziria was first pitched to Daiei as a live-action feature film, then to Tokyo Movie Shinsha as an anime series. Even after Hudson Soft began producing it as a video game, the game had a Troubled Production with many false turns, including designing the game as an Action RPG.
  • Thief started life as an Arthurian legend swashbuckling game with minor emphasis on stealth with the tentative name Dark Camelot. Once Looking Glass Studios realized just how good they made stealthing (ie, enemies not able to see you in the dark and having to be aware of your footsteps), they made a game specifically tailored for the mechanic, instead.
  • Toobin' was originally in development as a kayaking game, with a kayak paddle controller based on the flight stick from Atari's Star Wars Arcade Game. The development team eventually decided the controls weren't intuitive and the gameplay wasn't fun enough.

     Visual Novels 
  • Higurashi: When They Cry was originally conceived as a single-setting stage play called "Hinamizawa Bus Stop." Although the main elements of the sound novels' plot are still present (the dam conflict, the curse of Oyashiro-sama, and the Hate Plague having a scientific origin; the play also hints at the "Groundhog Day" Loop present in the games), most of the franchise's major characters had not been created at this point. The play would be scrapped and expanded into the sound novels, although adaptations of the original script would appear in both manga and sound novel format.

     Web Animation 
  • Lobo (Webseries) was originally going to be a family friendly show on Kids WB but was retooled into an adult oriented web cartoon due to Lobo himself being an adult oriented DC character.
  • hololive took this a step farther than usual because its parent company Cover Corp. wasn't intended to be any kind of art or media company at all when it was founded in 2016 — it initially focused on AR and VR hardware and software development. It wasn't until after they learned about what a Virtual YouTuber like Kizuna AI is and was approached by someone who had a dream of being an idol about getting into the burgeoning field that the company decided to change focus towards the field, establishing the hololive group with the one who approached them becoming their first VTuber talent, Sora Tokino.

     Web Original 
  • In universe example in Jeffrey C. Wells' short story "Pretty Peacocks", which is about a writer who started writing a thriller about a female spy with a cool car, but his editor told him he was obsessing over the details too much, so he changed them. But his editor kept insisting that his enthusiasm for certain aspects of the story was getting in the way, and so he kept changing them, until he found something he wasn't interested in at all. The story is told as he accepts his Vintage Automotive Tech Manual of the Year award for his non-fiction book about Datsun transfer cases.

     Western Animation  

Alternative Title(s): Mid Development Medium Shift