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Sugar Apocalypse

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"Pepperland is a tickle of joy on the blue belly of the universe... It must be scratched."
The Blue Meanie, Yellow Submarine

Oh, how beautiful a place is the Sugar Bowl! As are the Ridiculously Cute Critters that live in it. The best part? Even when menaced by Mr. Meanie, nothing bad will ever happen!... Right?

Not quite. A popular subversion and parody of the Sugar Bowl setting and its overly cute residents is to have them get hilariously and painfully massacred. Whether it's "Mr. Meanie" going stir crazy, invading armies, holocausts, firestorms, disasters, or other acts of Powers That Be, the residents will suffer for their adorableness with pain.

The inverse of this parody is when the cute critters decide to take the offensive. Whether they're really a gang of Killer Rabbits, or secretly evil and planning to conquer our world, they mean our heroes harm in lovably cute musical numbers.

Yet another inverse is when someone throws a Genesis Effect at the Crapsack World, possibly changing it into anywhere between a World Half Full or even a full blown Sugar Bowl.


It should be noted that this can be played seriously in the case of a Vile Villain, Saccharine Show or Knight of Cerebus making themselves known. In this case, it's not for parody and is instead showing the new villain is not to be taken lightly. Done right, this version is normally downright heartbreaking.

See also Subverted Kids Show, Superweapon Surprise, Crapsaccharine World, Surprise Creepy, Troubled Backstory Flashback, and Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror. Vile Villain, Saccharine Show is when the show has a villain that by all rights should cause it, but doesn't...most of the time. Art-Style Dissonance is practically a requirement.

Contrast No Endor Holocaust, where, by all rights, the actions of the main characters should have led to massive destruction and death, but didn't, because The Word of God says so.


Has nothing to do with someone on a destructive sugar rush (though this could conceivably be the outcome) or sugar being used as an accelerant.


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  • An infamous animated promo for a 1983 special report entitled “Green Street Reds” for the KGO (San Francisco ABC affiliate) local evening news showed a Soviet SAM shooting Santa Claus and his sleigh out of the sky. This resulted in many angry calls from parents with inconsolable children and the offending clip was quickly pulled. You can watch the clip here.
  • The "Let's All Go to the Lobby" promo parody, Follow the Sun...
  • In an old issue of Nintendo Power, there was a full-page ad for the Nintendo 64 game Battletanx: Global Assault which featured tanks blowing up a world of absolutely-not-Teletubbies-honest.
    • Likewise, TV ads for the game had the so-not-the-Snuggles-fabric-softener-bear chased down and mauled by one of the tanks.
  • The initial advertisement for Super Smash Bros. was Nintendo's mascots kicking the crap out of each other to the tune of "Happy Together".
    Don LaFontaine: "Something's gone wrong in the happy-go-lucky world of Nintendo!"
    • The page picture is part of a campaign in Belgium using The Smurfs to raise awareness of child soldiers in Africa. The full commercial is here. UNICEF had to run the advert late at night to avoid scarring any children for life with it. The words at the end are something to the effect of "Don't let war destroy the world of children."
    • If you're familiar with other UNICEF ads, you probably won't be surprised to hear that they seem to have quite a thing for this trope. Among other things, they had a little girl play with her dog and step on a landmine (all done in what appears to be crayon drawings), followed by a picture of several heavily bandaged, realistically drawn children. Or the other one where storks drop several babies over a city, they slowly land with parachutes, smiling while looking down on the city or up at the sky with those big eyes, then a squadron of evil looking airplanes show up, carpet bombing the entire city, using bombs with psychotic grins painted on them. The ad ends with the babies landing on the smoking ruins of the city, looking frightened and hopeless. You can tell something like this leaves a big impact if someone can recall it after 12 years with great detail, after seeing it exactly once.
  • This ad for 13eme rue, a French action and thriller network. The statement translates to "This is how we'll do a children's show if we have to do one".

    Anime & Manga 
  • Excel Saga has the cute little Puchuus, who are actually violent and imperialistic. When they get injured or killed they shift from cute to plain ol' hideous, resembling Golgo 13. There is also a sudden shift from their tiny, adorable cries of "Puuchuu!" to overly dramatic broken English. "Ow that hurt! You make-a me bleeeeeed!". The protagonists seem to enjoy blowing them up and kicking them around.
  • Hibiki no Mahou features extremely cute character designs, some of them very Moe. But the subject matter and overall tone of the series is dark, considering it's a Deconstruction of the magical school genre.
  • Arguably the entire plot of Higurashi: When They Cry.
    • Higurashi's story is a time loop wherein several characters always start out as schoolyard best friends in a sleepy little rural Japanese town called Hinamizawa. Each cycle of the loop starts out sickeningly cutesy - playground hijinks, characters making nonsense noises ("nipaa") and other characters gushing over how adorable it is, and typical melodramatization of the mundane. Baseball and hide-and-seek, in particular, are seen as Serious Business with the former regarded as an epic battle and the latter subjected to a child's idea of in-depth military strategy. An episode or two into the cycle, though, characters begin to die in horrifically violent, painful and gruesome ways and one character - Rika - is conscious of the cycle of reincarnation and the futility of fighting it. If you've seen the South Park Mysterion/"Coon And Friends"/Cthulhu episodes, you get the idea. She's Kenny. Only rather than being played for dark laughs, it's played just plain dark. Then, when everyone you care about has been reduced to ashes, wet meat, or a comatose vegetable, the plot reset button gets hit and it's time to watch them suffer all over again.
  • Made In Abyss appears to be a whimsical Puni Plush adventure story about a girl and her robo-boy and, later, an adorable bunny-person. And that's essentially accurate, but along the way they must cope with ruthless man-eating monsters, and a "curse" built into the abyss with effects ranging from those of the bends to horrific mutations and death. The curse created the bunny-person through unique circumstances; normally it turns people into deformed mutants. The main character manages to escape several encounters with dangerous beasts unscathed, but when her luck inevitably runs out, the aftermath plays out in excruciating detail. She survives, barely, with a massive scar from an attempted amputation.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica, another Magical Girl deconstruction, takes this trope to horrific and heartbreaking levels. The fact that those cutesy little magic critter Familiars all want to kill the Magical Girls and any poor Muggle who happens to fall prey to a Witch's Kiss is bad enough, but that is but a scratch on the surface of how disturbing and terrifying the world of Magical Girls really is...
  • This is seen in the latter half of Umi Monogatari, as the formerly tranquil island and ocean begin to be corrupted.
  • The book and film versions of Ringing Bell are kind of like this. Watch the first few minutes/pages and you think it is a sweet little story about a lamb that has to learn on how to be careful in the big world, breathing the idea of Bambi and Lambert the Sheepish Lion. Jump to the second half to realize why the movie instead is often compared to Attack on Titan and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

    Comic Books 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW): We get a chilling vision of what could have happened to Equestria in the form of what the Changelings do to a peaceful land of cute kitty people they just so happened to land in after "A Canterlot Wedding".
  • The Smurfs once has a Zombie Apocalypse complete with The Virus. Only seen by day. And all the Smurfs get bitten, before the cure is spread by accident. And it has lingering effects even after being cured: Grouchy Smurf, the first infected and the one who stayed under its effects the longest, used to not be grouchy before that. Oh, and it predates Night of the Living Dead (1968) by nine years.note 
  • I Hate Fairyland is about a young girl who wound up stuck in the eponymous Fairyland and sent forth on a quest to unlock her way home... 27 years ago. While she hasn't aged physically, mentally she is now 33 years old and has been driven murderously insane after nearly three decades of failure and now goes around causing all sorts of chaos and carnage.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • The destruction of Cloud Cuckoo Land in The LEGO Movie.
  • Shrek - Duloc was already a Crapsaccharine World at best, but the Scared Shrekless special revisits it after everyone's cleared out and it's a run-down, creepy mess. To underline the point, that Lyrical Dissonance singing booth is now openly threatening.
  • In Wreck-It Ralph, the Cy-Bugs completely overrun Sugar Rush, forcing an evacuation of all of its residents (except for Vanellope, who is a glitch and cannot physically leave) and almost annihilating their world. Fortunately, after permanently stopping the Cy-Bugs, everything in Sugar Rush was reset by having Princess Vanellope cross the finish line.
  • Sausage Party runs a lot on this; In it we see cute, cartoony, living Anthropomorphic Food getting cut, cooked and gruesomely killed.
  • The Storm King immediately conquers Canterlot in My Little Pony: The Movie (2017) and enslaves its residents, and plans redecorate to be less cute in order to better fit his brand.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Oz: The Great and Powerful there's Oz as a whole, and the land of Teacups and porcelain people in particular. Though there are dangers in Oz most of it highly colorful, whimsical and safe, especially those parts under the good witch Glinda's protection. The "apocalypse" comes in from the wicked witch besieging it with flying monkeys; the land of Teacups is shattered and its denizens massacred. Main character China Girl is actually introduced after having had both of her legs broken to bits. The rest of the movie could be seen as an attempt to undo this trope and save Oz.
  • Gremlins runs on this. The setting is a small American town straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting, and the first act feels like a lighthearted family comedy about a father who adopts a magical, cuddly pet for his son. Even when Gizmo gets water spilled on him and spawns several evil mogwai, the film doesn't feel like it's going to be any edgier than, say, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, with Stripe and his gang's antics being mostly harmless. Then the evil mogwai get fed after midnight, turn into the titular, genuinely scary-looking gremlins, and wreak havoc on the town (including murdering multiple characters on screen). It's an '80s Amblin family adventure film that suddenly drops its characters into a monster movie halfway through, at which point you realize why this is considered one of the films that led a horrified MPAA to create the PG-13 rating.

  • Jag Lever Pappa ("I live, daddy") by Siri Marie Seim Sønstelie describes the Utøya massacre, where on July 22, 2011 a gunman Andreas Breivik killed 69 people on the Norwegian island Utøya, most of them teenagers, and wounded many others. Siri Sønstelie, a survivor, recounts how Utøya seemed a paradise for her before the attack, a carefree place of peace and harmony with a special atmosphere where you had fun and could feel completely safe, and how the attacker turned it into hell.
  • The Looking-Glass Wars depicts Wonderland as a Sugar Bowl with a capital named Wondertropolis and food items called things like "tarty tarts", where imagination makes things real and a beautiful queen rules the land with love. Then the villain, who's big on things like mass graves and execution of prisoners and torture and so on, takes over, and everything goes straight to hell.
  • Sweet Story is about a cutesy children's-story world descending into carnage, savagery and ultimately the end of all life on the planet. Since the reason for it all is that it's started raining candy instead of water, it is also literally about an apocalypse caused by sugar.
  • Villains by Necessity:
    • Turns out that wickedness and evil are needed in the world, otherwise a cosmos of nothing but virtue and innocence will be wiped out in a great blinding light, essentially this trope.
    • On a smaller scale, the protagonists at one point find a village of Gnifty Gnomes; tiny, disgustingly cute little critters who only want to play games and sing songs. After our villains narrowly escape their proposed party, Blackmail gallantly chops down a tree that crushes their village, wiping them out.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Ik Mik Loreland no one is physically hurt, but all the letters disappear from the main character's colorful homeland, everyone forgets how to read and write, everyone's clothes become plainer, and the place just generally looks like it's been sent back to the dark ages.
  • The first teaser for Scream Queens features a perky college girl blowing a bubble while an obnoxiously catchy teen pop song plays. At first glance, it looks like a promo for Glee (both shows were created by Ryan Murphy)... until the girl is stabbed and the bubble explodes with blood, splattering the screen red.
    • Later promos have two of the show's cast members, Emma Roberts and Keke Palmer, stepping outside of a sorority house and blowing bubbles to the camera... and a demonic face shows up in them before they pop.

  • Dirty Paws by Of Monsters And Men recounts a story in a fairy-tale forest which is ravaged by a war between the birds and bees. the titular character Dirty Paws leads a group of ground creatures allied with the birds to defeat the Queen Bee.

    Tabletop Games 

     Video Games 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • There is a story called Day of the Barney in which the purple dinosaur commands his young viewers to kill all the adults. He then takes over using his armies of hooded, mutant "Loved Ones" and enforces a children-only world by having a ceremony occur whenever a child turns 13-years-old: the boys are decapitated, and the girls are brainwashed, locked into rape camps, and forced to give birth to more half-human "Beloved Ones." The memorable thing about the story? It was played straight (and was surprisingly well-written). In the sequel story, it's revealed Barney is actually an Elder God.
  • Hello Kitty 40000. "In the grim future of Hello Kitty there is only war" — "In the grim future of Hello Vader..."
  • In Hatchling, the player has to induce this in the Sugar Bowl region of the Sacchari Range in order to reach the true ending.
  • This legend from Hitherby Dragons. And it's certainly not the only one; many, many other stories having coming apocalypses and slaughters happening to a variety of Sugar Bowl worlds. The entire "Unclean Legacy" story is a bleak landscape that occurs after Gargamel has captured the Smurfs, and one stretch of the story of Ink Catherly is in a corrupted, putrefying version of Candyland.
  • If Balloons Could Talk by Neil Cicierega poses the titular question. The first few seconds of the hypothetical world involves everyone happily skipping around with their talking balloons, and then...
  • The Cyriak Harris Flash cartoon "Meow." A Sugar Zombie Apocalypse made worse because headshots and suicide don't work.
  • MS Paint Adventures Fan Adventures has a trope dedicated to this.
  • Paul Robertson work is all about this. For example, Pirate Babys Cabana Battle Street Fight emulates a Zombie Apocalypse Beat 'em Up with chibi characters.
  • Ruby Quest. Cute anthropomorphic animals right out of Animal Crossing... in a setting that's H. P. Lovecraft meets Silent Hill.
  • There Will Be Brawl: This is what happens when the psychopathic serial killer Kirby pays the Mushroom Kingdom a visit. This is also what he did to his homeland Dreamland.
  • Treknologic: The Mike-pocalypse manifested itself as this, forcing the crew to review My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
  • A Lasagna Cat episode has a giant Garfield accidentally, but rather violently destroying an idyllic and peaceful village that is build from and habited by creatures made of breakfast products by sneezing on it.

    Western Animation 
  • People in the Candy Kingdom on Adventure Time explode when they're scared. So Princess Bubblegum has to resurrect the dead. This results in zombies. So she has a huge slumber party with everyone, with Finn guarding the castle, and he can't tell anyone about the zombies. It's actually a subversion.
    • The Cute King and his army of Cuties accidentally do this to themselves. They always fall apart or explode if they work themselves too much.
  • In Barbie and the Secret Door, the land of Zinnia is a magical land full of fairies, unicorns, and mermaids, and its entire color palette is very bright and almost like candy. It doesn't stay that way when Malucia drains the entire land of magic.
  • Drawn Together
    • The Strawberry Shortcake parody people launch a genocidal campaign of dehumanization and consumption of the Sockbat race.
    • The Smurf village is destroyed by a lawnmower.
    • Clara (Tricked by Spanky) lures in cute forest animals so they could get eaten. She is horrified after finding out.
  • There's an episode of The Fairly Oddparents involving "the Giggle Pies", which are adorable, cuddly, rhyming puffballs of cuteness. They actually are evil, though, and plan to take over the world by subjugating the populace to their cuteness. They are said to taste like manure, which is how the Yugopotamians beat them: Yugopotamians find manure delicious.
  • "Five Fat Sausages" is a disturbing take on the nursery rhyme about apparently sentient sausages slowly burning to death in a heated pan.
  • Gravity Falls, a sleepy, eccentric town populated by kooky and (for the most part) well-intentioned citizens…destined to be the site of the apocalypse. The darkness begins to set in at the beginning of Season 2, cumulating in Wham Episode "Dipper and Mabel vs. the Future", which ends with the sky opening up and demons pouring out.
  • Happy Tree Friends enjoys both repeatedly massacring the cutesy Gang of Critters and causing wholesale destruction of their wooded homeland, along with setting fire to the Earth itself on occasion.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, a Unicorn Omnicidal Maniac Twinkles the Terrible causes planets to explode in an explosion of pink dust, which settles in a heart-shape.
  • The pilot special for the My Little Pony 'n Friends series. It starts off with the cutesy sweetness usually associated with the franchise, then reptilian monsters come out of the sky and snatch up ponies to be turned into the dragon-like servants of a demon-centaur named Tirek. My Little Pony: The Movie (1986) had some evil witches unleash The Smooze on Dream Valley, and several episodes of My Little Pony 'n Friends had Ponyland being threatened with danger, such as the chauvinistic penguins from "Baby It's Cold Outside" and the magic-stealing Lavan from "Quest of the Princess Ponies".
  • The series premiere of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic ends on a cliffhanger as a Mad God, Nightmare Moon, is freed from her thousand-year imprisonment, captures the resident sky-goddess, and threatens the world with extinction by triumphantly plunging it into The Night That Never Ends.
  • Rainbow Brite: Inverted in The Beginning of Rainbow Land when you find out that Rainbow Land was originally a lifeless wasteland.
  • Robot Chicken — Uses the trope to exhaustion. Serial-killing Smurfs, genocidal Care Bears, bitter Strawberry Shortcake, etc. And the Horsemen of the Apocalypse in the form of My Little Pony.
    Death Pony: "And I am Death Pony!"
    Woman: "Oh, how sad! The poor thing can't hear."
    Boy: "No mom, I think he said-"
    Death Pony: "Raaaaarrrrgh!"
    • They die, by the way.
    • The gummy bear gnawing her foot off.
    • Or Watership Down as done by Fraggle Rock.
    • In one segment the Care Bears decide to purify their land by massacring the Care Bear Cousins. The Great Cloudkeeper in the Sky, incensed by their barbarity, punishes them by turning Care-a-Lot into a Hell on Earth: New Jersey.
    Jon Corzine: Hello, I'm New Jersey's governor Jon Corzine. I hope you've enjoyed this re-enactment of our state's proud history. The Garden State. Come get in on some of this rainbow!
  • South Park
    • The three-parter, "Imaginationland", in which the land of good thoughts is being slaughtered by the land of bad thoughts.
    • This also cued the return of the Woodland Critters that Cartman had thought up. They're a level of nasty so bad that even Jason didn't want to meet the person that imagined them!
    • "Woodland Critter Christmas". The sickeningly cute, (yet devil-worshiping) Woodland Critters are subject to a Sugar Apocalypse. To be fair, they DID deserve it.
    • In "Dances with Smurfs", the Smurf village is destroyed by bulldozers. It wouldn't have been so funny if UNICEF had not already been there.
    • The Amazon is commonly a victim of the Sugar Apocalypse in Green Aesops. To prevent this, the kids are forced by their parents to join a choir to travel to the Amazon. The choir is even more sugary. By the end of the episode, nature abhors a vegan, and they all want to destroy the Amazon.
  • Strawberry Shortcake's world has been targeted with this in parodies (see above), but years before those the first of the 1980s animated specials actually played the trope straight. In The World of Strawberry Shortcake, the Peculiar Purple Pieman of Porcupine Peak manages to magically flood the valley of Strawberryland by tricking the kids into using a never-runs-dry watering can that only he can stop, and once they've given him what he wants (all of its strawberries) and the waters recede, it's reduced to a muddy wallow. It isn't even restored to its Sugar Bowl self until the next special.
  • In Trollz, this happened in the backstory, with the old Trollzopolis being destroyed by Simon, as well as a lot of their magic being corrupted and taken. The world almost bit it, too.
  • Watership Down. Played straight, then inverted when you find out what the rabbits are capable of doing to each other.
    Fiver: The field... the field... it's covered with blood!
    Hazel: Blood? Don't be ridiculous... Why don't you go fetch me a cowslip? There's some fine grass over here.
  • Wizards. An evil wizard unleashes his hellish forces on an ugly little hippy-dippy land populated by cutesy elves and fairies. Then there's the big battle scene in which little Rice Krispies mascot look-a-likes get mercilessly slaughtered.
  • In Yellow Submarine, quoted above, one of these gets the plot moving. The heroes must resort to The Power of Rock to save Pepperland.
  • The Wander over Yonder episode "The Greatest" opens with a race of Ridiculously Cute Critters called Binglebops in the middle of their sickeningly cutesy Bingleberry Festival when Lord Hater shows up and ruthlessly conquers their home planet Bingleborp.

  • This series of art pieces showing the Sylvanian Families being invaded by MICE-IS terrorists, which was forbidden from being displayed at London Mall Galleries' Freedom of Speech exhibition in 2015 for "potentially inflammatory content".


Example of: