The series lives and breathes this trope. Compared to many other works from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this show is incredibly persistent in how realistically unforgivingly it portrays a number of serious subject matters. These are the most defining examples:
- Instant Costume Change. Along with the Daredevil suit being full on armor that would be difficult to hide under regular clothes Matt also understandably doesnt carry it around on him as The Defenders shows how impractical and risky it would be carry it around. As a result numerous times he is shown going home to put the suit on or take it off. That said, it isn't until season 3 episode 11 that we see him do a costume change on-screen.
- It's established that the cleanup from the Chitauri invasion was what allowed Wilson Fisk to gain a stronghold in Hell's Kitchen.
- While Matt Murdock has the advantage of his enhanced senses in addition to his martial arts training, he utterly averts the Made of Iron Trope and constantly needs to come crawling to Claire Temple to patch him up after several brutal fights. His injuries also take time to heal and have hindered him on multiple occasions. His injuries from Nobu are proof of this.
- When Foggy Nelson finds out the truth about Matt, he is naturally pissed off that he was lied to and bitterly questions every facet of their relationship, almost leading to the end of their friendship. Even after they reconcile, he admits that they can never return to the kind of friendship they had before. And then it falls apart harder because, well...
- In fact, the strain Matt's late-night shenanigans have on his day-to-day life are a prominent subject matter of the show. He often shows up to work late, covered in cuts and bruises, unable to justify to them to his the initially ignorant Foggy and Karen without a very convincing cover story. This reaches its peak halfway through season two at the start of the Frank Castle trial, the most important court case in his entire career, where Matt shows up late when he was supposed to be giving the defense's opening statement.
- Matt's relationships with people who find out about his secret identity tend to end poorly, notably Claire and Foggy. Claire lost her first apartment, and eventually her job, after Matt drags her into his affairs. Foggy's relationship becomes so strained that they eventually decide mutually that they can't function as a legal team with Matt doing his vigilante gig every night, both pragmatically for their work and because Foggy can't stand to worry about Matt as a friend.
- Leland Owlsley keeps a taser on him. However, its effectiveness varies from person to person. When he uses it on Matt in "Stick," Matt is knocked to the ground. It fails to protect him when Fisk kills him, as Fisk is much heavier than Matt and also because the armor in Fisk's suit keeps the prongs from making contact with his skin.
- Wilson Fisk is shown to have been secretly hiding the fact that he knows Japanese and Chinese from Wesley, as shown when Madame Gao meets him at his apartment. While Fisk understands those languages very well, his own vocabulary is somewhat limited and his diction is not perfect, even with his stutter.
- Bribing people into silence doesn't always work. For instance, Fisk's attempt to have Karen bribed into silence over Union Allied backfires by instead further motivating her to bring him down.
- The main hook for the season is that even though Matt brought down Wilson Fisk, his high profile actions have now inspired a violent copycat vigilante. Furthermore, removing one player from the Hell's Kitchen organized crime circuit merely paved the way for new gangs like the Dogs of Hell and Kitchen Irish to move in.
- In season 2, after arranging the demise of Dutton, the prison kingpin, Wilson Fisk has a large cell to himself and gets rare steak delivered to him... but he's still eating it off a tray while sitting on his uncomfortable-looking prison cot in an orange jumpsuit. Having the guards on puppet strings gets you a lot of perks, but it doesn't make your cell the Ritz.
- Speaking of Fisk's incarceration, there's the reveal that Fisk indeed lost almost all his assets when he was arrested. Many of his bank accounts were frozen and funds seized by the government. He's able to secure enough funds in offshore banks to protect his girlfriend Vanessa. At home, though, Fisk manages to burn through a good portion of his own emergency funds just to get Stewart Finney and two other inmates to become his skeletal crew, and his criminal attorney has to warn him that he'll soon be forced to dip into Vanessa's funds.
- In "Stick", Stick promises not to kill anyone. But then he does it anyway. Matt foils his attempt, and while he's distracted fighting off the guards, the target escapes. When he meets Matt back at his apartment, he's killed the target anyway, while Matt wasn't there to stop him.
- Despite the enormous boost to publicity they get for bringing down Wilson Fisk, Nelson & Murdock is struggling at the start of the second season, as all their clients are working class residents of Hell's Kitchen who can't afford to pay them with anything more than peach cobbler pie. To make it worse, they never recover; between the crushing blow they take from losing the Frank Castle trial, to Matt's vigilante activities putting a strain on his personal and professional relationship with Foggy, they decide to go their separate ways.
- The "Black Sky" storyline showed a logical consequence of having powered individuals in a world riddled with criminals: they will be enslaved to use as weapons.
- While his blindness doesn't slow Matt down in the least when it comes to crime fighting, he is still unable to perform simple actions such as reading text on paper or viewing things on screens.
- The Punisher, despite only killing truly despicable criminals, is tried and convicted as a criminal himself.
- The public's reaction to The Punisher is also a perfect example. Half are horrified and disgusted at the brutality of his actions and some even think of him as a monster, while the other half are glad he's permanently ridding them of the criminals that prey on them, with some of them even calling him a hero.
- The medical examiner testifies to covering up evidence in the deaths of Frank Castle's family. But then he mentions that he's saying this because Elektra threatened him. His testimony is thus declared tainted because it was made under duress.
- The Punisher spends most of season 2 with his face bruised from his fights with the mobs and Daredevil early in the season.
- The Kitchen Irish shows exactly how easy it is for the mob to find an unmasked vigilante when they stop playing: just threaten every potential source at gunpoint for a lead and start a manhunt. Even Frank's preparation still wasn't enough and Matt had to help him walk away.
- Just like how there's collateral damage in an actual war, there's collateral damage in Frank's crusade. Namely, there's an escalation in violence from the gangs as they start warring against each other thinking one side hired him. In fact, Wilson Fisk even arranges his escape from prison because he will kill the competition while Fisk's power grows in prison.
- Because of the people he's killed, Frank Castle is placed under very heavy police guard while in the hospital. It's not to protect others from him. It's to protect Frank from the gangs he was targeting (an ESU team on his floor, visitors' bags get searched twice to make sure no one's smuggling in a weapon, etc.)
- Putting Wilson Fisk in prison isn't enough to stop him. In fact he's even more dangerous and powerful in prison since he uses his connections to organize a new gang, buy off most of the guards, manipulate Frank Castle into throwing his own trial (inadvertently ruining Nelson & Murdock's case) and killing a rival inmate, and pretty much takes over the place. Even when Matt threatens to separate him from Vanessa, this only makes him angrier and he promises to come after Matt and Foggy once he's released.
- From ".380":
- When Matt rescues Claire by diving out a window after her, they crash through Soft Glass window. Except, it isn't so soft, and they are both injured in the fall, and can barely even move for several minutes afterwards.
- Turns out, attacking someone by scaling a building and climbing in a window in full-view of them is a really bad idea, especially if you have no ranged weaponry, as one hapless ninja discovers.
- Treating multiple patients at a hospital without giving them any sort of admission form is quite stupid, as it leaves the hospital liable and allows for a relatively easy cover-up if any of them die, as there is no paperwork.
- Also, it's hard to get an employee to help you with such a cover-up, especially if you have screwed her over enough times in the recent past that she doesn't have much to lose if she refuses.
- "Dogs To A Gunfight" highlights just how fragile Matts senses actually are, in a show that beyond his struggles shortly after being blinded had mostly avoided the nastier side of Matts superpowers. The hearing loss scene not only shows how much a concussion can mess with Matts processing abilities, but also draws the audience into how terrifying this experience is for him, pulling the audience further into his head than the show ever had before.
- Later, when Matt tracks down Franks hideout by following the scent of the dogs blood, he loses the trail and has to pick up the sound of the radio to make it the rest of the way. Hypersenses are useful but not infallible, and are often a weakness.
- Despite Fisk having corrupt cops on his payroll, he and his cronies still have to exercise caution because they can never assume that non-corrupt cops won't pick up on their activities. When Leland suggests killing Healy instead of putting him through the rigors of a trial, Wesley shuts him down by pointing out that they can't be dropping more bodies willy-nilly lest the cops have a trail to lead back to Fisk. And here, Fisk has to find an indirect way to get rid of Dutton that can't be linked to him.
- Fisk had money in accounts that can't be seized by the government which he uses to rebuild his empire. However he almost dries up in a matter of months just trying to hire Stewart Finney and the Valdez brothers, because of how expensive taking over the contraband when you start alone is.
- Fisk's release from prison is not greeted warmly by the public, who denounce him as a cop killer and hold protests at him getting out. It takes spin, and a False Flag Operation that involves having Benjamin Poindexter go on a killing spree while posing as Daredevil, to win back the crowd.
- Fisk ultimately gets out by arranging to become an informant for the FBI. This is after Vanessa learns the hard way that the FBI will find ways to get what they want, as they have her charged as an accessory to Fisk's crimes as leverage to pressure him.
- Matt's heightened senses are failing him by the start of the season as a consequence of Midland Circle. Among other things, he's temporarily lost the hearing in his right ear.
- Fisk has trouble re-acquiring the "Rabbit in a Snowstorm" painting in time for Vanessa's return because the new owner refuses to sell for sentimental reasons no matter how much money he throws at her. Dex later acquires it by killing the owner.
- Blake Tower makes clear that any plea deal for Ray Nadeem will include some jail time, since despite Ray's valid defense that he was intimidated by Fisk's associates, he did stand idly by as Dex's getaway driver while Dex attacked the church and killed Father Lantom.
- If there's an underlying theme to the season, it's that while seemingly convenient and final, killing doesn't solve everything and without proper thought, can actually make things harder. Dex killing the surrendering Albanians gets him suspended (though it should be noted that Fisk played a part in his suspension, since he has FBI officials in his pocket), Dex killing Father Lantom in the midst of going after Karen only serves to enrage Matt, and Dex killing Esther Falb serves to immediately lessen the trust that Fisk has in him. Finally, Fisk choosing to have Julie killed just to guarantee the hold he had on Dex (that he already obtained) just makes it incredibly easy for Matt to antagonize Dex into turning on Fisk after he tortures this information out of Felix Manning, and allows Matt to essentially walk through the front door of the Presidential in the wake of Dex's rampage. What does Fisk in for good, is that Vanessa chooses to have Ray Nadeem killed rather than discredited like Fisk wanted to, which allows his video testimony to become admissible in court due to a loophole and thus the catalyst to throwing Fisk back in prison safely and taking out every corrupt FBI officer.
- Having a personal Psycho for Hire does not work out very well in the long run. Fisk manipulates Dex into becoming his assassin and killing people dressed as Daredevil by acting as his North Star, but it becomes rapidly clear that Dex is too unstable. In an effort to gain back Fisks approval after failing his hit on Karen, he murders Esther Falb to get Rabbit in a Snowstorm back (despite Fisk having decided to abandon his pursuit of the painting after hearing her story of losing it to the Nazis in the Holocaust), and introduces himself to Vanessa as the new James Wesley, which he absolutely is not because Wesley was a much quieter pragmatist and because Fisk regarded Wesley as his best friend whereas Dex is just an assassin. The breaking point is when, as mentioned above, Matt passes on to Dex the information about how Fisk had Julie murdered to further his grip on him, causing him to go full Bullseye and rampage through the Presidential in order to kill Fisk and Vanessa, allowing Matt to come in and send Fisk back to prison.