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Unexpectedly Dark Episode

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You have a work that's generally a comedy, or at least played less than seriously. Suddenly, the Black Comedy is more black than comic, the Heroic Comedic Sociopath or seemingly Harmless Villain's actions are played dead seriously, half the cast is dead, and it turns out that the Plucky Comic Relief has a horrific backstory.

This episode will likely have a Downer Ending, or at least a bittersweet one. Black Comedy may also become this if more emphasis is placed on the Black than on the Comedy, or if themes previously played for laughs are treated seriously.

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This isn't necessarily a sign of Cerebus Syndrome, since the comedic tone may return after the Unexpectedly Dark Episode, but it may not. These may also be Very Special Episodes if they also tackle a serious Real Life issue in the process. It is, however, likely to be a Wham Episode. It may lead to Cerebus Syndrome if there are multiple episodes like this, or a Sudden Downer Ending if it happens at the end. All that's required is that a usually comic or upbeat series suddenly includes a very serious episode.

Contrast Breather Episode, where a serious show has a comparatively light episode. Compare Mood Whiplash and Wham Episode (where the shift isn't necessarily to Darker and Edgier, but often is), and How Unscientific!, in which a show generally grounded in reality suddenly has a supernatural-based episode. The two tropes may go together in a Halloween Episode.

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For an unexpectedly dark villain, see Vile Villain, Saccharine Show. For the non-canon versions, see Dark Fic and Dark Parody.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • While Digimon Adventure 02 could get pretty dark, the episode "His Master's Voice" was an outright Cosmic Horror Story, with Hikari being threatened by Deep Ones and Dagomon, an outright Cthulhu Expy. The events of this episode were never mentioned again, aside from occasional references to the Dark Ocean.
  • It's difficult to believe nowadays as it's become possibly the most iconic episode of the series, but Cowboy Bebop's fifth episode, "Ballad of Fallen Angels" was a shocker in the show's original run. The episodes to this point were heavy on the comedy and while there was violence throughout, this is the first episode to almost entirely drop the comedic elements and delve into Spike's Dark and Troubled Past, shifting from bounty hunting hijinx to a Heroic Bloodshed story and establishing Vicious as a Knight of Cerebus. Later dark episodes don't share this same distinction, as the "pattern" of darker episodes had been established by this first one.
  • El Cazador de la Bruja consists mostly of light-hearted wacky adventures, but "Maple Leaf" is an extremely moody Origins Episode for Ellis, revealing her childhood as a living genetic experiment and her apparent murder of her handler-slash-father figure when she lost control of her powers.
  • Every episode of Excel Saga has a particular gimmick or theme, usually Played for Laughs. One of the later episodes is the only exception to this, as its gimmick is removing all of the comedy.
  • I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying is, for the most part, Happily Married Slice of Life hi-jinx. Episode 11 is a Flashback Nightmare to before Kaoru met Hajime. Although it still ends on an incredibly sweet note.
  • The Aliea Academy arc in Inazuma Eleven is already Darker and Edgier as it is, but the anime episode "The Captain's Trial" somehow managed to push it into this; even reaching Psychological Horror territory despite the already grimdark tone of the arc. The episode starts with Kazemaru crossing the Despair Event Horizon and leaving Raimon, then Fubuki's Sanity Slippage gets ramped up, then Kurimatsu follows in Kazemaru's footsteps. This might be the only time in the franchise's history when someone actually got depressed, let alone because of something unrelated to soccer.
  • One Piece:
    • Most flashback sequences that explore a character's background tend to be this, as they can feature rampant death, which is rare in the present storyline. At least two of those have involved plotting the genocide of entire countries. Children aren't spared.
    • The sixth movie, Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island. In contrast to the rest of the movies or the series in general, this one contains some really dark and disturbing imagery that would fit better in an actual horror movie.
  • Osomatsu-san is a slice of life comedy about six quirky brothers and the weird people around them. Despite that, some episodes have some Tear Jerker skits, where the comedy is toned down a great deal:
    • Episode 5's "ESP Kitty", in which Lazy Bum Ichimatsu is forced to face his insecurities and social issues. It reveals that Ichimatsu is actually lonely, but afraid of making friends, something a lot of socially awkward people can relate with.
    • Episode 9's "Jyuushimatsu Falls in Love". It's really jarring when the Perpetual Smiler Cloudcuckoolander Jyuushimatsu breaks down crying due to heartbreak. It gets darker when it's implied the girl he's in love with is a suicidal porn star. Unlike "ESP Kitty", which at least ends with a gag, this skit ends on a completely serious note.
  • Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt has an episode from the viewpoint of a civilian family, an overworked Salaryman who gets chewed out by his boss. It doesn't help that they're drawn much more realistically than the pseudo-The Powerpuff Girls style of the show.
  • Pokémon
    • Pokemon Advanced crosses this with Bizarro Episode in the episode "Time Warp Heals All Wounds!", that features May and Meowth travelling back in time in order to stop a man before he takes the train where he will die before his wife can tell him that she is pregnant.
    • While the Sun and Moon series is seen as the most light-hearted the anime has been in a while, it also has "One Journey Ends, Another Begins...", which can be considered one of the bleakest episodes in the series, as it features the presumed death of an old Stoutland who was Litten's primary caregiver.
    • This also applies to the episode "Inside Tapu-Fini's Mist". The main plot focuses on Mallow coming to terms with the death of her mother prior to the events of the story, and Hapu also coming to terms with the death of her grandfather Sofu, the previous Island Kahuna. The previously-mentioned Stoutland also makes an appearance as an apparition; and the episode is very light on humor as the themes of grief and forgiveness are very realistically Played for Drama.
  • Sailor Moon is mostly a lighthearted Magical Girl series, but it has several episodes which are darker than the norm.
    • "Naru's Tears: Nephrite Dies For Love", which contains Nephrite's death.
    • The two-part finale of season 1, consisting of "Death of the Sailor Guardians: The Tragic Final Battle" and "Usagi's Eternal Wish: A Brand New Life", where Makoto, Ami, Minako and Rei are all killed one by one, then Mamoru, and finally Usagi after disintegrating Metallia/Beryl with the power of the Silver Crystal. Luckily, they get better, but it was still a sudden horrible two episodes for a mostly lighthearted show up to that point.
    • "Invitation to Terror: Usagi's Night Flight", where Sailor Aluminum Siren dies. Unlike Sailor Iron Mouse's death earlier in the season, this was not Played for Laughs.
  • Smile Pretty Cure! is considered to be Lighter and Softer compared to most of the Pretty Cure seasons, settling on throwing in nonsensical stories that doesn't have any real bearing on the overall plot. Most of the time.
    • Episode 19 addresses Yayoi's Disappeared Dad without a hint of humor attached to it, and even making Yayoi go through a Heroic BSoD. Notably, this is one of the episodes Saban opted not to dub for the Glitter Force release.
    • Episode 42 has one of the villains Majorina attempt to kill Nao's younger siblings after being threatened by Joker over her failures. Unlike Episode 19, this is an episode Saban actually dubbed, while keeping all of the horrific elements relatively untouched.
    • Basically any episode where Joker decides that Authority Equals Asskicking qualifies, as his actions can range from trapping the heroes into a pocket dimension where they become emotionless puppets, to making Evil Counterparts that plays up the Cures' positive and negative aspects to sadistic levels.
  • Yo-Kai Watch: Jibanyan's backstory episode is one of the few predominantly dramatic episodes in the mainly comedic series. It reveals that he was a pet kitten who died committing a Heroic Sacrifice for his teenage owner, who was meant to die that day instead of him.

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • In one Calvin and Hobbes strip, Calvin and Hobbes find an injured baby raccoon in the woods, who eventually dies.
  • Garfield has the infamous Halloween Story Arc of 1989, which involved Garfield suddenly waking up in a future where he hasn't existed, Jon and Odie are gone, and eventually going mad from the loneliness, upon which the ordeal winds up being All Just a Dream. The sudden shift of a family-friendly comic like Garfield into borderline psychological horror (and the abrupt shift back) is very notable among comic strip enthusiasts and Garfield detractors.
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    Fan Works 
  • While the CATverse is in general a Black Comedy, several stories are much darker than average. The issues of bullying and child abuse, a key part of the Scarecrow's backstory, are treated very seriously when they come up in Paean of the Bells and Noel respectively. Small World is also very low on the comedy and contains a graphic murder, Adult Fear, flashbacks to abuse, psychological torture of a child, and culminates in a horrific Kick the Dog moment from Crane and a Downer Ending that is not Played for Laughs one bit.
  • "The History of Trunks" in Dragon Ball Z Abridged is one of the darker episodes, with the Androids' sociopathic behavior and the deaths of the majority of the cast in Trunks' timeline played relatively seriously, especially Gohan.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has a fanfic called Pound and Pumpkin Cake's Adventures (and Misadventures) in Potty Training. It is mainly a light-hearted comedy about the twins going through potty training, but there are two chapters that are a little darker:
    • "The 'Joy' of Flushing" starts out comically, with the twins flushing a games console down the toilet, but when Mrs. Cake punishes them for it, it's actual spanking as opposed to the usual punishment for the story of timeouts. The spanking is also played completely seriously, with the twins begging her not to do it and still hurting afterwards, and to top it all off, the chapter has a Downer Ending— the twins are in pain, the parents have to deal with an angry customer, and said customer thinks the Cake parents are bad parents while her son has no game console.
    • "Foalhood's End" has hardly any humour, and it focuses on the rather poignant theme of fear of growing older. It also has a Downer Beginning, with the twins still in pain from their aforementioned spanking and the parents still dealing with an angry customer.
  • While Tommy Pickles: The Terrible Twos is normally just a lighthearted Continuation of Rugrats, it does venture into Dark Fic territory in two storylines: in "Tommy's Fear", Tommy becomes extremely afraid of water and gets amnesia due to a water-related accident, and in "Visiting Uncle Ben and Aunt Elaine", Aunt Elaine suffers a placental eruption and survives but her unborn baby doesn't.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Disney Animated Canon has a few films that are darker than their normal fare:
    • You've got The Black Cauldron. While not as dark and violent as it could have been (uncut, the film probably would have gotten an R rating), it was still dark and violent enough to carry the canon's first PG rating.
    • On a similar note, we have The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Incredibles, both of which deal with genocide as well as having two of the most evil Disney Villains ever. The Incredibles: With gun violence, Electric Torture, suicide attempts (though not by a main character), large-scale destruction, bad guys who Would Hurt a Child, and "good guys" who run from the police and lie to their own families, all in the same film, The Incredibles may very well be the darkest Pixar movie yet. Brad Bird's history of working on The Simpsons really comes through here.
    Brad: Really, really little kids should not see this movie. They should wait till they get older. We're getting some reactions from people who were disappointed that their four-year-old was a little freaked out by it. Well, I don't want to compromise the intensity in order to please a four-year-old.
    • The Hunchback of Notre Dame, despite getting a G rating, is just as dark. The whole story is driven by the villain's sexual obsession with one of the female protagonists, and a number of darker themes — including lust and religious fanaticism — are shown. For that matter, Frollo tries to drown baby Quasimodo solely because of his deformities, right after killing his mother early in the film. It's still Lighter and Softer than the original book, however.
  • The Lion King II: Simba's Pride for the direct-to video sequels. For one, Zira, the movie's main villain, sings a Villain Song about killing Simba and the Pridelanders in order to have Kovu be ruler of the Pridelands. And another, she was originally going to commit suicide until Disney decided against it. Other aspects of Simba's Pride would be considered dark such as Kiara and Kovu being in danger of being eaten by crocodiles, the savannah fire that Kiara nearly perishes in, the nightmare Simba has and even the ambush in which Simba barely escapes with his life and Nuka is killed.
  • Pooh's Grand Adventure for Winnie-the-Pooh. The typical wacky hijinks of the characters in the Hundred Acre Wood where the biggest danger to be found was bad weather and annoying pests gives way to a perilous journey from their homes to the "great unknown" in search of a missing Christopher Robin. Pooh and the others face their respective signature character flaws head on and at several points are very nearly overcome by them. To say nothing of them all thinking that Pooh has been killed at one point. It even ends on a fairly bittersweet note. It's not really considered a bad movie because of it, but the complex plot and actual peril for the cuddly Pooh and friends still took many by surprise.

    Literature 
  • The Berenstain Bears:
    • In "Lose a Friend", Goldie the fish dies.
    • "Too Much Internet" has An Aesop about cybersafety— and one person on the Internet was a bomber and was planning to bomb Squire Grizzly.
  • Howard B Wigglebottom: Most of the books are generally lighthearted, even though pretty much all of them have An Aesop: then, there's the one about grief and loss. Any grief and loss story is going to be heavy, but in this story, it's Kiki's puppy who dies. Not her grandparent. Not her cousin. Not even her elderly dog. Her puppy. Not to mention the online video based on the book: those online videos come with songs, and most of the songs are rousing ditties, whereas this one is just a somber "to listen is to love and to love is to listen...".
  • Milly, Molly:
    • One of the books that never got adapted into the cartoon series, "Jimmy's Seeds". Jimmy, a classmate of Milly's and Molly's who is very benevolent and a good student, doesn't show up for school for ages and then Miss Blythe reveals that he died. Even the majority of the darker Milly, Molly books and TV episodes don't go as dark as the Death of a Child.
    • There's also "Milly, Molly and I Love You", which involves saying, "I love you" to everyone after a goldfish dies. Not as dark as "Jimmy's Seeds" but still a bit heavy.
    • "Aunt Maude" (which involves Maude breaking her leg and several others, including the girls, ending up in hospital), and "Grandpa's Oak Tree" (which has two deaths and one threat of a special tree being cut down) feature in both the TV series and the book series.
    • "Oink" is similar to the TV episode "Wags" in that they both involve an animal getting animal-napped by a "bad stranger" (in this case, a pig, who thankfully also comes back).
  • Mr. Men:
    • Little Miss Lucky's story has the title character almost get killed at a few points in the story, culminating with her getting chased by a sentient tree with intention to kill her. The author even asks the reader why her story is called Little Miss Lucky. It all turns out to be a dream, but it's still rather disturbing.
    • In Little Miss Trouble's story, the title character tricks Mr. Uppity and Mr. Clever into attacking Mr. Small and the beatings aren't Played for Laughs, instead Mr. Small ends up with two visible black eyes.
  • Mog: Subverted for "Goodbye, Mog" which supposedly deals with Mog's death, but then another book, "Mog's Christmas Calamity", was written, in which Mog was alive.
  • Roys Bedoys:
    • In "Stay Inside, Roys Bedoys", Roys is bored because he has to stay inside due to Covid-19. He goes outside anyway, and ends up thinking he has the virus because he sneezed.
    • Downplayed for "Distance Learning Has Rules, Roys Bedoys", where the characters are social distancing, but it's still played for laughs.
  • Vita Nuova: After a series of rather domestic poems about the beauty of a kind woman, the Fever Dream Episode suddenly employs apocalyptic and spiritual imagery to describe how Dante wished to die after facing his love's mortality.
  • Winnie-the-Pooh: The final story, the one about the enchanted place, involves the creatures in the forest anticipating Christopher Robin going away, ostensibly to boarding school, which implies that he will never see his friends again until he's an adult.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the final episode of ALF, the title alien is captured and taken away by the Alien Task Force. Before this, the series was a lighthearted comedy. There was a TV movie to finish the story (which was still much darker than the main series), but viewers who didn't see it were left with the impression that Alf was going to be tortured and killed.
  • While Baywatch Nights (before it was revamped into a rip-off of The X-Files) was a more action and thrills-oriented spin-off of Baywatch, it was still a relatively lighthearted show, with the exception of the episode "The Curator." The villain of the story, Garth Youngblood, is a grimly realistic Stalker with a Crush who is eventually revealed to be a severely mentally-ill Serial Killer whose abandoned ranger station hideout turns out to contain various "exhibits" showcasing the festering corpses of his victims, including his Abusive Father. He dies from being impaled by a piece of rebar (with there being several lingering shots of his skewered body) and the episode ends with it being made clear that Caroline is still deeply traumatized by being stalked, terrorized, and held captive by Garth.
  • The British cozy crime series Bergerac had a very disturbing horror episode called "The Dig", in which gruesome events started occurring on an archaeological investigation of Norse graves, and it was implied right up to the end that they were due not to a "Scooby-Doo" Hoax but to real evil supernatural forces.
  • The final episode of Blackadder Goes Forth ends with Edmund, Baldrick, George, and Darling being sent over the trench, which was made clear over the series to be a death sentence that Edmund desperately wants to avoid. They are strongly implied to have been killed.
  • Community has "Basic Intergluteal Numismatics". The episode has a decidedly darker tone than your usual episode and shortly after it begins, someone sticks a quarter in Garrett's butt crack. The rest of the episode focuses on finding the "Ass Crack Bandit" in a way similar to hunting a Serial Killer. Subverted in that despite the dark atmosphere, the hunt for the perpetrator is still relatively silly compared to an actual serial killer search. Double Subverted when their final pursuit of the Ass Crack Bandit is interrupted by Shirley telling Jeff and Annie that Pierce has died.
  • The final episode of Dinosaurs, a comedy series, ends with all of the main characters being killed in an ice age, and the main character (who was responsible) explaining why they're going to die to his youngest child.
  • Doctor Who, a sci-fi series, had its share of dark episodes and dark moments. But even by those accounts, the end of Series 9 was dark; "Face The Raven" ends with the companion apparently getting Killed Off for Real, "Heaven Sent" is essentially a 60-minute examination of grief while the Doctor is tortured for billions of years at least, while "Hell Bent" demonstrates the consequences of the previous two episodes and the effect they have on the Doctor.
    • Series 8's penultimate episode, "Dark Water", deserves mention too. It examines grief, death and featured the implication that the dead were conscious. The last part was thankfully shown to be a hoax but it did cause complaints from some parents (and you can't blame them).
    • Among "classic" Doctor Who, "The Ark in Space" and "Genesis of the Daleks" were both unusually dark stories, incorporating themes of Body Horror, Blue-and-Orange Morality, Dark Messiah symbolism and fascism.
  • Gilligan's Island: Many of the episodes didn't include any kind of threat at all (except perhaps the threat of never getting off the island). Then came "The Hunter", with big-game hunter Jonathan Kinkaid arriving on the island and taking advantage of the castaways' predicament to stalk Gilligan all over the island in an attempt to get over his boredom by hunting a human.
  • A couple of Glee episodes do this, like "On My Way", which opens with attempted suicide and closes with a violent car crash, and "Shooting Star", with the second half being practically silent as the school faces a shooting. What's even especially jarring about them is the fact that they were set up to be more like Breather Episodes between story-heavy episodes: "On My Way" to have a singing competition and then the Official Couple's wedding to wrap up the first half of the season, "Shooting Star" to be the return from season break focusing on The Ditz' wild song themes.
  • Happy Days:
    • "A Star is Bored" reveals that Fonzie was suicidal at one point in his childhood.
    • "Fonzie's Baptism" focuses on Fonzie nearly dying. He becomes uber-safety-conscious, but then people find this persona boring, so he overcompensates by being very reckless but still insecure and worried about his own mortality.
  • Laverne & Shirley:
    • In "Why Did the Fireman?", Laverne dates the titular fireman but he dies in a fire. Laverne is in denial and stays up all night, and even when she's no longer tired or in denial, she's sad. The episode ends with her sad, and this is a slapstick comedy generally.
    • Downplayed for "The Slow Child". While it isn't sad per se, there are slightly heavier themes than the majority of the show, like ableism and letting kids grow up. There also aren't that many jokes, despite this series being largely a comedy.
  • Mister Rogers' Neighborhood: One episode involves Mr. Rogers finding a dead fish in his tank and burying it while monologuing about a dog he had as a child dying. The episode opens with Mr. Rogers advising children to watch with an adult in order to discuss the episode's themes.
    • Another episode had Mr. Rogers talking about death and violence in the wake of the murder of John Lennon and the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan.
  • The two-parter "The Perils of Punky" in Punky Brewster, in which the gang goes in vacation in a lake and Punky tells her friends a ghost story about an evil spirit haunting the lake. Which includes all her friends being killed and their image used to taunt Punky, à la The Thing (1982). In a children's show.
  • Doctor Who's Lighter and Softer spin off The Sarah Jane Adventures has examples as well. There are episodes dealing with losing a child (The Lost Boy, Day of the Clown, The Gift), homelessness (The Curse of Clyde Langer) and the possibility of contracting a terminal illness (Goodbye Sarah Jane Smith).
  • Sesame Street: While mostly a light show, it had a few dark episodes, mostly dealing with "issues":
    • One episode, which has become famous, is the one where Mr Hooper, the owner of the deli/convenience store, dies. The main plot focuses on Big Bird learning about the death, and at one point, the usually level-headed Maria cries.
    • Another death-related episode is the one where Elmo's uncle Jack dies. The main plot focuses on Elmo's parents Louie and Mae, Jack's widow (Aunt Jill) and Jack and Jill's daughter Jessie, who's about Elmo's age. One thing that sticks out is that all the songs are about grief.
    • One episode has Maria having to go to hospital due to a vaguely defined, extreme stomach pain. Granted, it's only for the night (and a bit of the morning) and it's not as dark as some other dark Sesame Street episodes, but one thing that makes it darker than a normal Sick Episode is the whole hospital aspect, plus the fact that Maria's symptoms came out of nowhere, during a game of charades.
    • One episode focuses on a hurricane destroying Big Bird's nest. Big Bird is a child and the nest is his home. What really drives it home is the fact that Big Bird keeps repeating this line.
      Big Bird: "My nest, my home."
    • Downplayed for "Elmo Saves Christmas". It's a happy story in general, but it does show the distopian future that would happen if it was Christmas every day: the carolers would have lost their voices, everyone would be bored of Christmas, the economy would suffer, and Big Bird would cry from missing Snuffy.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • In "Duet", it's revealed that an alien felt so guilty about something he didn't even do that he tried to get himself executed. And just when it seems like things are improving, he's murdered, then the episode just ends.
    • In "Crossfire", Odo has a crush on Kira, who's dating another guy. This makes him so sad, that he messes up his quarters, which is quite Out of Character for Odo.
    • In "Life Support", Kira's boyfriend becomes severely injured and the only way to cure him is to either put him in stasis or give him this very risky drug. He opts for the drug because he has to aid in negotiations, but then his condition worsens and his brain needs to be replaced with cybernetics but Kira believes that Cybernetics Eat Your Soul, so she lets him die and it ends with her giving a sad speech.
    • "The Visitor" features Sisko getting stuck in an Year Outside, Hour Inside dimension and only briefly popping back out at ever-increasing intervals over the decades. The main focus of the episode is on his son Jake, who's unable to get past his grief over his father's fate. Over the years, he builds a career, makes friends, and even gets married, but slowly throws it all away in desperate attempts to save his father. By the end, he's a withered old man living alone, and in order to push the Reset Button he commits suicide in front of Sisko, the latter brought to tears seeing his son completely throw away his own life.
    • The aptly-named episode "Hard Time" has Chief O'Brien falsely convicted and implanted with memories of twenty years in prison. When he comes back, he is aggressive and destructive (in one instance violent) and hallucinates but doesn't want to see The Shrink. Near the climax, he tries to commit suicide. Even the ending is a Bittersweet Ending as it claims that he will recover, but it will take a month.
    • In "Ties of Blood and Water", a Cardassian friend of Kira's who's almost a father-figure slowly dies of a disease and the episode ends on his funeral.
    • Downplayed for the first episode, which has a dark subplot, namely the one about Sisko accepting his wife's death.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • "The Bonding" focuses on a boy's mother dying in an accident and the boy blaming Worf, who led the away mission the mother was on.
    • In "The Child", Deanna Troi's "son" sacrifices himself to save the ship, leaving Troi crying.
    • In "The Loss", Troi loses her powers and angsts over it, complaining of feeling "empty" and not being useful.
    • In "The Offspring", Data makes another android, who he calls his "daughter", but she breaks beyond repair.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • "Year of Hell" focuses on the ship being severely beaten up so that most of its technology doesn't work over the course of the year. Time travel caused that year to never have happened, but it was still a dark episode.
    • In "Mortal Coil", Neelix dies but is brought Back from the Dead, however, he gets psychological problems because he didn't go to the afterlife.
    • "Real Life" focuses on the Doctor getting a holographic family but B'Elanna reprogramming them because she thinks they're too "nice". However, her reprogramming results in the Doctor's "daughter" dying.
    • In "Imperfection", Seven of Nine has a malfunction that they have great difficulty saving. They eventually do save Seven, but the episode still has a serious feel.
    • "Extreme Risk" focuses on B'Elanna doing self-harm because of the Maquis (a group she used to be a part of) being terminated.
    • In "Lineage", B'Elanna is pregnant and wants to alter the fetus's DNA to avoid the future daughter being teased like she was as a child for the ridges on her forehead.
  • The final episode of That Mitchell and Webb Look featured a sketch about Sherlock Holmes losing his mind due to dementia.
  • While "The Worst Couple" of Victorious does have it's share of jokes, it's focus on how unhealthy Beck and Jade's relationship is isn't something one would expect from a Kid Com. Especially since their fighting had often been Played for Laughs. The episode ends with the two breaking up in a scene that's meant to be seen as sad. Compare this to the previous episode where Beck and Jade broke up, which ended with the two getting back together.

    Music 
  • During Madness's peak period of success, their only single not to reach the Top Ten was "Cardiac Arrest", a musically bouncy but very grim song about a stressed-out commuter dying of a heart attack on a bus.
  • Songdrops mainly has lighthearted songs, usually comedic, but:
    • "Now You're Gone" is a slow song about a man trying not to cry after his friend is inexplicably "gone".
    • "You are Not Alone" has lyrics like "If you're feeling hopeless, like your heart's turning to stone, deep inside I know this, you are not alone".
    • Downplayed for "Keep Your Hands Away from Your Face", which is just a standard Disease-Prevention Aesop song, but it was written in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Video Games 
  • The classic Mega Man games were pretty lighthearted in general, but there are exceptions, such as Mega Man 10 (in which a virus causes robots to go out of control, and only Dr. Wily is capable of developing a cure), and Super Adventure Rockman (in which technology as a whole in endangered by an ancient alien supercomputer, and explicit scenes of death and destruction are featured).
  • The Sesame Street licensed games are a lot like the main show: mostly light-hearted, but with a few heavy games, mostly focusing on real-world issues:
    • "Comfy Cosy Nest" is about imagining a nest as a coping mechanism.
    • In "Picnic Play Date", the characters are wearing masks because of Covid-19.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • The Sonic Adventure series goes beyond Sonic games prior to it in intensity as the games adopt a more cinematic feel. The first ends with the large-scale destruction of a modern city by a creature reacting to atrocities committed by an ancient civilization led by a tyrannical, abusive father. The second surpasses that by dealing with use of "weapons of mass destruction" (and yes, they are actually called that in the game) to threaten whole countries, a military conspiracy involving the deaths of numerous innocents in a space colony, and threats to the survival of the world from anguished people with a vendetta against it. A case can be made for this game's 'Final Story' being the grimmest part of any game in the Sonic series. Gerald Robotnik's diary detailing his reaction to the loss of his granddaughter Maria is pure horror, containing such lovely lines as "I lost everything, I had nothing more to live for, I WENT INSANE!" (this part is helped by the fact that Gerald's voice actor was actually really good).
    • Shadow the Hedgehog takes place during an alien invasion with Sonic's rival Shadow suffering from amnesia and caught in the middle of a four way conflict between Sonic, Eggman, the military, and the aliens. The game expands upon the space colony incident from Sonic Adventure 2 and Shadow can choose to be Good, Evil, or Neutral with branching endings and a Karma Meter based on the missions you choose to complete. Although it really isn't that much darker than Adventure 2, it became a memetic symbol ("OW THE EDGE") of this trope thanks the dubious decision to turn the game into a Third-Person Shooter hybrid and Shadow uttering mild swear words like "damn" and "hell" when he gets hit.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) attempts to toss Sonic into a hyper-realistic world, where he protects a princess who is the container of Iblis, one half of Solaris, a time god from Eggman. Along the way, he, Shadow, and Silver deal with a conspiracy where it is revealed in the final storyline Sonic dies to upset Elise to release Iblis ancient monster from her body, allowing that and the other villain, Mephiles, to merge to form Solaris, slaughtering the space-time continuum in the process. And then Elise kisses Sonic, reviving him with the power of the Chaos Emeralds, and restoring the space-time continuum from the damage dealt by Solaris, in the process.

    Web Animation 
  • Barbie Vlog is a normally light-hearted fictional vlog starring Barbie characters. Most episodes feature funny things or fashion things. Then you have ones like "Feeling blue? You're not alone", where Barbie mentions waking up feeling sad and she has a family-friendly discussion on how to deal with sadness, that at times seems like depression.
  • Civil Protection can best be described as a Buddy Cop Show set in the Half-Life universe. "The Tunnel" starts off like a typical episode, but soon devolves into a genuinely creepy tale of a mysterious tunnel with elements of Lovecraftian horror.
  • Jaiden Animations is a normally-humorous series of web animations about the life of a woman named Jaiden. One of them, however, namely the video entitled "Why I Don't Have a Face Reveal", tells a long story about how in the past, Jaiden has suffered problems such as low self-esteem and not wanting food (which was implied, and later revealed, to be anorexia) that led to her being all lethargic. It also makes her video about being awkward Harsher in Hindsight.
  • TheOdd1sOut: Downplayed for "Our Hamsters", which is mainly comedic tales about hamsters James has owned in the past, but it does talk a lot about how the hamsters are now dead.

    Web Comics 
  • The anthology Paradox Space has "Damara," which ignores one-off gags and Continuity Nods in favor of a story about sexual assault and a child's death.
  • The Petri Dish: Usually, everything is portrayed comically, even things like lawsuits and the Covid-19 coronavirus, however, one strip is about Bob having Seasonal Affected Disorder and it's played almost completely seriously.

    Web Original 
  • Asexuality Archive is normally just educational and slightly jokey, with the occasional anecdote from the author's life, but one of said anecdotes is about how he has an eating disorder called A.R.F.I.D., which basically means having an aversion to a lot of foods. While it's not as bad for him as, say, anorexia, eating disorders are quite a heavy subject for a site like that.
  • Candle Cove was always a... strange show with lot of dark elements and unusual events. But even fans of the show don't know what to make of that episode where everyone is randomly crying and screaming.

    Web Videos 
  • Kid Time Storytime usually maintains a lighthearted tone even when reading dark books. However, there have been a few videos where things have gotten serious:
    • The video for the reading of I Will Always Love You, a book about death, features no appearances of the toys/puppets at all.
    • Downplayed for the "Washa Washa Washa" song and the readings for A Little Spot of Anxiety and Germs Make Me Sick, which do maintain the usual light mood, but they also allude to Covid-19.
    • The video for The Jester Has Lost His Jingle ends with Eileen/Storyteller doing a speech on how the author died of cancer, but was still hopeful until the end of his life.
    • In the video about A Little Spot of Courage, Doug is sad and nervous, but this time it's not just his sensitive, Lovable Coward persona. This time, it's because he read on the news about protesters doing "bad things" because "a man did something bad to another man", which is implied to be related to George Floyd.
  • New Father Chronicles is usually a comedic series about a man named La Guardia Cross having joke interviews with his two young daughters Amalah and Nayely. The video "My Wife is Not Here", though, explains that the reason La Guardia's wife, Leah, isn't present is because she's away getting therapy for severe depression that she's had for years and he's not sure whether it will be lifelong or not. Notably, there are no jokes in the video at all, as he expressly says at the beginning of it.
  • PhantomStrider: Conversed in the video "Top 10 Darkest Kids Show Episodes".
  • Philosophy Tube's videos generally cover even dark topics with an air of humor and relative optimism, even stuff like climate change or Brexit... and then there's "Suic!de and Ment@l He@lth", an episode almost completely devoid of jokes that, as the title suggests, discusses suicide and mental health... and later in the video, specifically Olly's. It's incredibly emotional and dark, but that doesn't stop it from being counted by many as the most impactful and well-made Philosophy Tube video.

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