Decon Recon Switch

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Simply put, a Subversion of Deconstruction.

Some works deconstruct a Trope, whereas others reconstruct them. Some do both at the same time. This trope applies to works in which a trope or genre is deconstructed, but later reconstructed. This can take place over a short period of time, where there is an immediate Reconstruction of a deconstructed trope, or it can be long and drawn out, where a trope is initially deconstructed, and then reconstructed later on.

This trope can be an author's way of adding new complexity to the genre he/she is working in. For example, take the Princess Classic. A work employing this trope would take a Princess Classic, say, "guys, it wouldn't really work this way, but here's how it would work out." Using the examples from the Deconstruction and Reconstruction pages, in a work applying this trope to the Princess Classic, the Princess' monarchy might initially find itself in dire straits, with an oppressive Prince Charming, but by the end of the story a constitutional monarchy has been put into place.

A Trapped in TV Land plot might start with characters engaged in Conversational Troping about the silly things that happen in the Show Within a Show, only to do the exact same things when they find themselves a part of the show's world.

Lightly based on Hegelian dialectic- the thesis (the trope), the antithesis (the Deconstruction), and the synthesis (Reconstruction and a changed trope.)

May be paired with Cerebus Rollercoaster.

You should probably expect a lot of SPOILERS the page below, since they often detail the swerves a work makes over its run.

Examples of Decon Recon Switch include:


  • Those Kotex commercials that pose the question "why are tampon ads so obnoxious?" detail all the tricks tampon ads use then immediately cut to scenes of exactly what they just said. Yes, it is a parody, but it still makes use of all the old tropes while at the same time making itself seem cooler than the other brands who are also using the same old tropes. Everyone is still wearing white pants and the liquid in the demonstration will never be any color but blue.

Anime & Manga

  • Gainax seems to do this. They started with Gunbuster, went to Neon Genesis Evangelion, then went to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
    • Gurren Lagann does this itself, with the first eight episodes playing out like an Affectionate Parody of a lot of the Super Robot genre tropes. It doesn't take itself too seriously until Kamina dies, when it deals with the emotional side of the show in a more serious way, while simultaneously celebrating the tropes it mocked in the first place.
      • Gurren Lagann has an added layer of complexity to this: the first arc is based on 80s Super Robot anime, when the genre was very much played straight. The second arc is based on the 90s, when it became popular to deconstruct the Super Robot genre and Real Robot shows were in fashion. The final arc is based on 00s mecha anime, when Super Robot shows got a resurgence in popularity.
  • Dai-Guard is another Humongous Mecha example; it starts out as a Deconstruction of the genre heavy on the Reality Ensues, but then builds back everything it tears down better than ever.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Uses that Hegelian dialectic above to explain alchemy (it's mentioned that alchemy has three parts when referring to Scar's tattoo (which stops at the 2nd stage): identification, deconstruction, reconstruction). It does this to the plot too, indentifying the basic idea of Equivalent Exchange (to which it's Trope Namer), deconstructing it (The Gate cheated, taking all of Alphonse and taking an arm and a leg from Edward, to give a false revival), and reconstructing it (the real exchange is something different, and comes both from Edward's choice, and Winry's comment to Edward at the end). Both have Equivalent Exchange disputed in rapid succession with providing a better solution, in addition to the gradual deconstruction and reconstruction process provided by the story.
  • 20th Century Boys goes nuts on every nuance it can find in the Saving the World plot. The Badass is brought down to the same level as the Action Survivor cast. The Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever is torn apart so brutally it's commented on in-universe. The only reason the Big Bad exists is because he's a Psychopathic Manchild Complete Monster who actually believes in this crap, and he is much more Genre Savvy than the typical comic book villain who grabs the Idiot Ball at the perfect time. At the same time, it is a Reconstruction in that, no matter how many tropes it subverts, the characters are still Saving the World.
  • Martian Successor Nadesico does the same thing with its Affectionate Parody of Real Robot shows.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima briefly deconstructs the concept of "side characters", showing the kinds of inferiority complexes that can result from people realizing their status. It later reconstructs it by pointing out that even if a person isn't in the limelight all the time, their actions can still have a profound effect on the "main characters".
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Specifically, this series deconstructs the "Power of the Heart" often used in Magical Girl anime. The show does this by drawing attention to the fact that the power of what characters wish for (the desires of their heart) are never as pure and noble as many shows often assume they would be (these are young girls after all). Tragedy ensues because of their often selfish and unclear desires. The ending, however, reconstructs the power of heart completely in that a wish made for all the right reasons essentially becomes the most powerful force to ever exist. Defying the laws of reality and recreating the world without the hopeless situation it had turned into. Although to be fair, it's not the most powerful wish known to Magical Girls BECAUSE it's selfless, and the price of the wish is so high that it's not unreasonable to say it isn't a complete reconstruction.
  • Tiger and Bunny first appears to be a Superhero Deconstruction where superhero work has been incredibly commercialized, heroes are in it for the fame and money, the interests of corporate sponsors rule, and ideals of saving people for its own sake has all but disappeared... Until it's clear that, for all the glitz, most of the superheroes are still good-hearted, effective individuals doing what they do because it's right rather than because they get paid for it.
  • Macross Frontier deconstructed Idol Singer by showing how they are mostly "Fabricated pop idols" with no substance beyond that, and how they can be discarded at any moment. But then, Sheryl refuses to be discarded and manages to regain her status - and ultimately assists in punishing the agent who tried to discard her, thus truly becoming an Idol Singer.
  • Berserk: Maybe the story's dark, but Berserk still reconstructs certain elements. For example, love, trust and determination are all needed for survival; having a goal is the only way to get through the hard times. (Still, be careful not to cling too hard).


  • Kingdom Come deconstructs the Dark Age and at the same time reconstructs the Silver Age. In the ending, though, both the Silver Age and Dark Age heroes realize they're fatally flawed in their world views, take off their masks, and rejoin normal human society.
  • Fantastic 1234 by Grant Morrison appears to be deconstructing the Fantastic Four by showing them to be the maladjusted, dysfunctional people they would be in real life. Then, it's revealed that this is all a ploy by Doctor Doom to destroy them by a form of superscience mind control, and their normal personalities are who they would be in real life—and it ends up reconstructing the Four and deconstructing Doctor Doom himself, revealing him to be little more than a petty, self-obsessed, self-deluding and unbearably pompous monomaniac who isn't nearly on Reed Richards' level of intelligence and, through devoting his time to a pointless feud driven only because he can't accept his own failings, has pretty much wasted his entire life. And he also appears to be going bald.
  • Grant Morrison's New X-Men was a solid deconstruction of the X-Men mythos, detailing some of the harsher aspects of how an oppressed minority of superhumans might operate in the real world, and introducing a slew of adult themes like genocide, drug abuse, marital infidelity, and the confusion of adolescence. Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men, a direct sequel to New X-Men, continued many of the themes and plot arcs started by the former series, but it also featured the team reinstating their classic spandex costumes and reforming into a good old-fashioned superhero team, showing the world that there's still a place for bold superheroics amidst the chaos and ambiguity of modern life.
  • The first few issues of Kick-Ass deconstruct the notion of the Badass Normal, by showing just what would happen if a kid were to dress up in a silly costume and go around looking for crime to fight. Then it picks it up again by having Dave help bring down a crime syndicate and officially do something special with his life.


  • The Dark Knight Saga does this for Batman. Batman now operates using modern-day technology in more realistic cities and has to adjust his gear and techniques as such, but ultimately still turns out to be his usual awesome crime fighting self.
  • Adaptation deconstructs movie cliches in the first half, then reconstructs them in the 2nd.
  • Tim Burton's 1988 hit film Beetlejuice at first appeared to deconstruct the monster movie by showing that the "monsters" could be pretty decent folk, the corollary of course being that Humans Are the Real Monsters. But the movie ultimately affirms that not only are humans redeemable if they're just scared straight, but supernatural creatures can still be complete assholes.
  • Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon deconstructs the slasher genre for most of the first hour of the movie, then reconstructs it in the end.
  • Enchanted does this to princess and Disney fairytale tropes.
  • The Princess and the Frog arguably also has elements of this for Disney movies, though in a different way than the above. While Disney Princesses have a reputation for waiting around for whatever they want, Tiana is a borderline workaholic; Naveen, meanwhile, is a spoiled lothario, and their attempt at forcing True Love's Kiss only makes everything worse. By the end, however, they're in love, get married and everything works out like in your average Disney fairy tale.
  • Hero At Large, like Kick-Ass, did this to superheroes.
  • Hot Fuzz: The first half of the movie points out that most cop movie cliches are unrealistic and silly. The second half of the movie plays every single one of those cliches straight.
  • The Incredibles deconstructs the superhero genre (and is currently listed under Indecisive Deconstruction) for the first half of the movie, with massive public backlash against superheroes, the heroes pretending to be normal and hating it, etc. Then the second half of the movie throws this all out and it's a race to stop the supervillain, showing that when there is a psycho maniac out there willing to kill hundreds, ya, you kinda need the superheroes.
  • Kick Ass, at least in film version, used this trope. The first half of the movie was spent hammering in the message that being a superhero in the real world is equivalent to buying a one way ticket to getting your ass kicked. However, the second half the movie with the showdown with the Big Bad takes on a much lighter tone, showing that hey, maybe you'll get your ass kicked, but at least you'll be pretty damn awesome while trying to do justice. And, by the end of the movie, more competent people have been inspired by Kick-Ass' feats of Badassery.
    • Some have described the film as a reconstruction of the comic.
  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang did this to the mystery genre.
  • Unforgiven did this to the western genre.
  • Snow White: A Tale of Terror deconstructs the original fairytale by making the new stepmother start out as quite warm and friendly to the young girl. But the girl resents her new stepmother for taking her father's attention and she grows up into a rather bratty teenager, still shying away from any attempt at making friends the stepmother makes. After the stepmother suffers a miscarriage, though, she then gets pushed over the edge and the fairytale plays out normally.
  • A Russian film If This Happens To You starts as a deconstruction of Kid Hero subgenre of Occupiers Out of Our Country!. Three children are transported in time towards World War 2, and despite best efforts, do not seem to accomplish anything against the German occupation forces. But later on, they do manage to liberate a couple of prisoners, and assist the Soviet counterattack.
  • Hancock starts out as a deconstruction, "what if Superman were a relatively normal homeless guy?" Then the Executive Meddling kicks in, and he spontaneously develops all the characteristics of the hero in a normal superhero movie: an origin story, a super-powered love interest, a cool costume, and a climactic life or death battle of good vs. evil.
  • GoldenEye, the first James Bond movie to be made after The Cold War, does a lot in deconstructing Bond, with many characters going on about how much the world has changed and how he doesn't fit so well into it anymore. Then, we're back to nifty gadgets, Bond One Liners and a car chase with a tank.


  • Rene Descartes begins his Discourse on the Method by proving, via a priori logic, that it is impossible to be absolutely certain that anything exists or is true. He then takes a single principle, the fact that he himself must exist in some form if he is capable of recognizing it, and then uses this to build up the argument that everything else in the world also exists. (Parts of his argument for the latter conclusion, such as the existence of God being a necessary consequence of being able to imagine God, are now often considered to be flawed, but it's a remarkable feat regardless.)
    • If this sounds familiar, his argument is usually summed up "I think therefore I am".
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Glory Road takes the Fifties-era pulp adventure novel, breaks it down by pointing out all the absurdities inherent to the formula, and then rebuilds it as a Science Fiction adventure with precisely the same trappings, save that the magic is super-science, the Damsel in Distress is an Action Girl who happens to be the Empress of Fifty Universes, and The Hero is a ne'er-do-well who just happens to have had his life manipulated behind the scenes to turn him into precisely the kind of person needed to save the day. And then once he gets the Standard Hero Reward, he discovers that it's not all it's cracked up to be.
  • Half of the works of Diana Wynne Jones come under this trope. One example is The Merlin Conspiracy, which shows a child from our world travel to a fantasy world. He's a horrible spoiled arsehole, who thinks the people of the other world are less important, but he's also really well developed, so we get to see how he justifies it, and how he's genuinely trying to be a better, less selfish person. The magical world is so well-detailed that it feels just as realistic as the world we know, and, despite involving children as the main characters, when Adults Are Useless, it's justified by the plot.

Video Games

  • Pokémon Black and White did this to the Pokemon series as a whole and was created with this in mind to keep it fresh and interesting.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword did this to Zelda similarly to Black and White. The game was designed around overhauling its basic gameplay breaking out of the classic Zelda structure of Overworld-Dungeon-Overworld-Dungeon into a more Metroidesque experience, while still honoring and improving series traditions and conventions. The massive amount of references to previous entries and the meta jokes help.
  • Fire Emblem: Geneology of the Holy War establishes the tropes it will be using in the first half of the game, then deconstructs them in a Wham! Episode at the mid-way point. However, in the second half of the game, the same tropes are played, and the reconstruction becomes reliant on what was accomplished before the deconstruction occurred, allowing the deconstruction to be overcome. The Recon Recon Switch is, in fact, a gameplay mechanic.
  • Persona 4, which considers the serious psychoses various archetypal characters would have using shadow archetypes, only for said characters to turn around and embrace and try to overcome their issues.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV is a deconstruction of the games. The main character is a European immigrant who comes to America and sees the dark side of living the dream, thus being forced into criminal life to survive. The graphics and game play are more realistic than its prequels. The expansion packs reconstruct this by making the main characters from Liberty City, bringing back features from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, reminding us why we played these games in the first place, and keeping the game realistic.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Scooby Doo Mystery Inc does this to the Scooby-Doo franchise as a whole, examining what make a bunch of kids go out and meddle with supernatural mysteries and how it could reasonably work, as well as showing just disturbing and dangerous such an activity would truly get.
    • To a degree, it also does this to the Non-Human Sidekick trope as well, as evidenced by how Shaggy and Velma's relationship is affected by the presence of someone not human, but about as intelligent and with similarly strong feelings.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the "forgiveness" Aesop present in many other works undergoes this process. In "The Southern Raiders," there's no way in hell that Katara's going to forgive the man who killed her mother in cold blood, especially when he's not even repenting, but she will forgive Zuko, who has thoroughly reformed himself.
    • A similar process, but taken several steps further, occurs in the finale, this time with Thou Shalt Not Kill.
  • The South Park episode "My Future Self And Me" both deconstructs and reconstructs Drugs Are Bad. It deconstructs it by having the parents go to absurd and dishonest lengths to scare their kids off drugs, but ends with a very heartfelt and sincere reason why kids shouldn't take drugs.
    • In the episode "Cartman Finds Love", they parody Token Minority Couple when a new black girl is introduced and Cartman manipulates the only black kid in school into dating her. Though they broke up briefly because they both thought the other only liked them because they were black. But in the end they get back together, aware that people will assume they're dating because they're expected to.
  • The Venture Brothers was originally about deconstructing the boy adventurer genre (specifically, Jonny Quest) to pieces. Later seasons seem to be reconstructing the same tropes it deconstructed in earlier episodes.

Stage Magic

  • Penn & Teller applied this to the classic magician trick of sawing a woman in half. They did the regular trick and then explained how it worked, revealing how the woman was actually inside the hollow table, not in the block. However, while they were explaining, they use misdirection to replace the woman with a mannequin, which they "accidentally" saw in half, complete with fake blood and gore. The sudden unexpected twist makes for a very strong impact.
    • Other magicians will do this as well. One had a routine where he'd do the classic "disappearing woman appearing somewhere" else trick, then had the staging turned around so the audience was seeing the trick from the back. They'd witness the assistant using hidden doors to sneak out of one box and cross to the other. The Reveal, of course, was at the end of the trick the assistant did not appear out of the second box but another assistant did, while the one the audience "saw" moving was suddenly spotlighted behind the audience (not having had enough time to get from the box to the audience if she'd really been the one they'd seen sneaking between boxes).
    • This is pretty typical for 'explanatory' magic acts - the magician explains how the basic trick works, then repeats the trick in such a way that the explanation just given is absolutely useless.