Deconstructor Fleet

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"The most original authors are not so because they advance what is new, but because they put what they have to say as if it had never been said before."

Some stories and series seem to go out of their way to Subvert as many tropes and Deconstruct as many genres as possible, or at the very least take them home and cuddle them and call them 'George'. A Deconstructor Fleet doesn't just use one topic for parody or Deconstruction. It sinks its meathooks into any trope it can find and folds and spindles it to shreds. When done well, the overall effect is to create something visibly original. Done badly, it may be seen as a generic Hate Fic, resulting in a small but loyal fanbase loving it and everyone else hating it. Even people not familiar with trope wikis will notice how this show is different from others. Many such shows become Trope Maker in their own right. Do not confuse this with Deconstruction, which doesn't invent something new, but criticizes the old. In both cases, however, the ultimate goal of the writers should be to examine a genre or a set of tropes from a new perspective without losing their value as entertainment - not to make the viewer/reader/player feel bad for enjoying straightforward genre fiction. Please remember it's not enough to say that something is an example, it is important to say why it's an example.

The name is a pun on the Vogon Constructor Fleet from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Especially appropriate because the Vogon Constructor Fleet doesn't construct anything - its job is to facilitate hyperspace express routes by blowing up planets that happen to be in the way.

See also Genre Busting and Post Modernism. Compare Better Than a Bare Bulb.

Deconstruction Fic is a specific sub-trope for examples of Fanfic with a Deconstruction theme or plot. Fanfic examples go there.


Some of the dramatic vehicles that make up the Deconstructor Fleet

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • The Authority, of superteams in general and the JLA in particular.
  • Planetary (also of the Wildstorm universe) went even further with the "Ironic Darkly Humorous Tongue-In-Cheek Deconstructive Parody of Superheroes" tone of The Authority by taking the same approach with other genres, including Hong-Kong action films, Japanese Giant Monster films, and 1930s pulp adventure.
  • The Boys is a deconstruction of the "Bullpen" mythos that surrounds the superhero comic book industry.
  • Captain Atom is a deconstruction of secret identities, origin stories, retcons, rogues' galleries, Steven Ulysses Perhero, even, arguably, The Good Captain, plus who knows how many other Superhero Tropes.
  • Cerebus gave us the trope name for a reason.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen deconstructs the entirety of fiction and its relation to reality.
  • Miracleman was one of the earliest Deconstructions of the superhero genre, showing the Fascist undertones of the genre, explored the abuse of power, and showed a particularly Gory and destructive superhero battle that was legitimately shocking at the time. Yet it still manages to explore Captain Marvel mythos in a very witty and Tongue-In-Cheek manner.
  • Powers is a major one for at least half the superhero tropes. Taking place through the eyes of two non-powered cops, everything from investigating superhero crimes to tabloid obsession with superheroes to Beware the Superman to what a relationship between a super powered gangster and a mob boss would really be like to how fickle the public can be on things like the Super Registration Act to the stress of keeping a secret identity to immortality are put down on the page without any glamor or glorification.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, at least in the original Eastman and Laird run
  • Watchmen is a deconstruction of the comics that preceded it. It was the comic book that brought in the Dark Age of Comics. You have this to blame for all the Darker and Edgier antiheroes to come out of the 80s and 90s.
  • Star Wars Legacy takes the Star Wars Expanded Universe, cuts it up into little tiny pieces, shuffles them, and glues it back together into a dark twisted reflection of it's former self that's hardly recognisable, and yet somehow still manages to capture everything that made the original movies great.
  • See: Grant Morrison's entire oeuvre.
    • Animal Man and Doom Patrol both deconstruct massive numbers of superhero tropes, the superhero genre in general, as well as other tropes and genres that don't necessarily fall under superhero comics' purview. Animal Man gets all metafictional with its deconstruction, while Doom Patrol turns more toward Dada (though it doesn't necessarily qualify as Dada Comics, at least not as currently described.)
    • Having thoroughly deconstructed superheroes (though he certainly wasn't done; see basically everything he's done for DC Comics in the last decade or so), Morrison wrote SeroesThe Invisibles to deconstruct, well, everything else.
      • Also superheroes again. The titular heroes are set up more like a terrorist cell than a superhero team, but they're also, well, a team made up of a bunch of weirdos and superpowered people.
    • Literally, everything. There's probably more deconstruction happening in a couple given pages of The Invisibles than in most entire comic book series. It touches on action movie tropes, science fiction tropes, it blends together references to a plethora of literature and film, and a single trade volume alone features stories about voodoo, Aztec mythology, and an entire issue about the life of a throwaway henchman who gets shot in the first trade. By the end of the series it even gets around to deconstructing itself (at least, that's probably what it gets around to).
  • Tron: Ghost in the Machine (follow up to Alternate Continuity Tron 2.0) dishes out some brutal deconstruction with a side order of Mind Screw. The comic opens with Jet Bradley going from a promising game designer to hunkering down in his Honorary Uncle's darkened arcade, virulently technophobic with a nasty case of PTSD from all the digital lives he had to take in the course of the game.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Airplane!- Good luck ever taking a Disaster Movie seriously again. The ironic thing is that the film itself is a remake of an obscure, existing disaster film, which was played completely straight and was rewritten to make it a comedy.
  • Blazing Saddles is not only a parody of the Western movie, but a satire on racism and whitewashing.
  • The Cabin in the Woods. You will never be able to watch a straight horror movie the way you did before, especially not with the You Bastard note that it ends on.
  • Funny Games: A Torture Porn/Slasher Movie film with No Fourth Wall, and Dangerously Genre Savvy killers who know they're in a A Torture Porn/Slasher Movie film and break the fourth wall to attack the fandom of Torture Porn/Slasher Movie films, showing how the suffering of their victims is the audience's fault, because Torture Porn/Slasher Movie films are entertainment to them. They also change the outcome of the plot by using a remote control to rewind to seconds before the victims successfully fight back, and hung a lampshade on this by saying "you shouldn't have done that, you're not allowed to break the rules" meaning that the victims can never win a horror movie because that's "the rules" of the genre.. Long story short, if you enjoyed it, then you didn't understand it.
  • Galaxy Quest The entire plot can be summed up in the question "what if the cast of a Star Trek like show got mistaken for the characters they played by an alien race with no concept of lies or fiction and was drafted into leading said race to victory in a war against evil genocidal aliens?
  • Hot Fuzz is this for Buddy Cop movies, and shows the mountains of paperwork the characters would have to go through by the end of the film.
  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a Black Comedy which averts, subverts, inverts, defies, parodies, and eventually deconstructs more tropes than it plays straight—and it does it marvelously.
  • Last Action Hero attempts to deconstruct action movies and the characters found within. It falls short, but the effort is there.
  • Natural Born Killers brutally deconstructs the relationship between violence, the media and sensationalism, the audience's narrative expectations, and a handful of media formats, such as the wacky sitcom style used for Mallory's background, complete with a Laugh Track while her father molests her and various people are messily murdered.
  • Pleasantville deconstructs 50s idealism and portrayal in media.
  • Woody Allen's The Purple Rose Of Cairo, Deconstructing Harry, Mighty Aphrodite (complete with Greek chorus.)
  • Scream works entirely by having genre-savvy characters pointing out what ought to happen next, and how to avoid it.
  • Shrek is about an ogre who becomes a reluctant Knight in Shining Armor. The structure is that of a typical save-the-princess fairy tale, but with comedy and dramatic reversal added.
  • The entire Spaghetti Western subgenre is one massive Deconstructor Fleet of its supergenre, The Western. The protagonists often shot first - and last - and were only the "good guys" insofar as they were less sadistic than the villains. See also the following entry.
    • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly deconstructs not only the morality of Westerns, but the dramatic structure they're built on, stripping it down to the bare minimum.
  • Unforgiven is also a massive deconstruction of the Western genre; Clint Eastwood's deconstruction of his own work, in fact.
    • Eastwood spent most of his career, post-Rawhide, deconstructing the Western; and even Rawhide itself was atypical for the Western genre, with its emphasis on cowboys actually working as agricultural labourers rather than freelance troubleshooters. His films of the 1960s replaced the good guys of the John Wayne era with stylish killers, motivated by greed, whilst his films of the 1970s and 1980s replaced the stylish killers with reluctant, tired men, sick of death and killing. Unforgiven took this to its logical conclusion, replacing morality and amorality with people doing things. English Bob, the supposedly ace killer, turns out to be a drunken fraud; Munny, the Eastwood character, has killed everything that walks and crawls, but hates it and eventually finds more success as a retailer of dry goods. "Little" Bill (Gene Hackman) is the town sheriff that preserves order by restricting freedoms (gun control) and basically terrorizing the local populace.


Literature[edit | hide]


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer blends genres with considerable aplomb, lampshades and plays with all the tropes it can get its grubby little hands on, and put a modernized twist on various stories and myths.
  • The Colbert Report is all about deconstructing and satirizing the Strawman Political (mostly right-wing, but he's not averse to throwing darts at the Left), and many other Politics Tropes fall as well.
  • Doctor Who has, at various times both deconstructed tropes at wild abandon and later, as a side-effect of Running the Asylum, deconstructed itself and its Fandom. The banally-entitled late '70s story "The Robots of Death" explored the real effects of living in a society with robots as a work force. Wouldn't, for example, Uncanny Valley rear its head? A few years later, writer (later briefly script editor) Douglas Adams had "The Pirate Planet", which explicitly gave the villain some actually specific purpose for his villainy rather than putting it down to some vague "powerlust" or the like. In "The Horns of Nimon", the Doctor's formerly Genre Blind companion notes though word play that the head guys have a "power complex".
    • The new series episode "Midnight" is especially notable. The entire purpose of the episode, except to scare people half to death, is a deconstruction of how people would really react to a weirdo genius knows-too-much alien stranger in a crisis. It... doesn't go well, shall we say.
    • "The Waters Of Mars" essentially deconstructs the Doctor himself and the mythology that the series has built around him. It involves the Doctor holding back death, defying the laws of time and space to save innocent lives and rewrite the history books and generally acting up to titles like the 'Lonely God' that the series has often thrown around about him, doing things similar to what he's done before and which would under other circumstances be presented as a Crowning Moment of Awesome... except here, the people who would normally amazed, dazzled and charmed by him are freaked out by what he's done and who he is, and his very actions are presented as wrong and indicative of his growing arrogance, indifference and alarming tendencies towards A God Am I Syndrome.
  • Farscape and Firefly did pretty well to deconstruct the Space Opera, contributing to the drastic (and fairly sudden) shift in tone of Space Operas that happened around 2002-3. The shift was so sudden that Star Trek: Enterprise dramatically shifted mid-series, the third and fourth seasons having a considerably darker, serious, and what would later be recognized as more modern tone.
  • MythBusters is dedicated not only to busting myths and urban legends, but deconstructing tropes.
  • Seinfeld, with its observational humor, intersecting plot-lines, non sympathetic protagonists, and the famous Real Time Chinese Restaurant episode kicked off a revolution. Every Sitcom that came afterwards owes something to it (to the point that the original now sadly seems cliche).
  • Supernatural has occasional bouts of ruthless deconstructionism.
  • The Wire savagely deconstructs Police Procedurals. It's hard to go back to them afterwards.
    • It goes beyond that, after deconstructing police procedurals it goes on to deconstruct your perceptions of most of societies important institutions.
  • Stargate SG-1 had frequent moments of brutal trope deconstruction. See fan-favorite "Window of Opportunity" for how it deconstructs and lampshades the Groundhog Day Loop.
  • 24 showed how saving the world is made complicated by politics and personal issues. It also showed just how much something like breaking the laws constantly and fighting terrorists take effect on the people who do it, and how torture just doesn't work when the people being tortured are so devoted to their cause, and how the action disturbs anyone who does it. Of course, so many people see it as the opposite, as glorifying it all when it's plainly inverse.
  • Married... with Children, originally to be called 'Not the Cosbys' took on many tropes of family-based sitcoms and turned them on their heads.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Alan Wake is arguably the House of Leaves of video games. It takes as many Meta Tropes as it can, such as Through the Eyes of Madness, All Just a Dream, Dead All Along, and Transfictionality and takes them apart with every plot twist, so that the player is left guessing which is true until the very end of the game, and probably beyond.
  • The Bard's Tale
  • BioShock (series) Using Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged as a jumping off point, explores philosophy while deconstructing First Person Shooters, and the tropes common to early 20th Century fiction
    • The Antagonists of Andrew Ryan and Sofia Lamb deconstruct the idea of the Ubermensch, showing how such a person would be at best, a Well-Intentioned Extremist, at worst hypocritical and dogmatic. Ryan is also a composite of John Galt (the Hero of Atlas Shrugged), the Industrial Plutocrats of the time, and Ayn Rand herself. whereas Frank Fontaine, the real Big Bad of the first game combines the typical Randian villain, with the embodiment of the criticisms of Objectivism
    • ADAM is a deconstruction of both superpowers and Mundane Utility: the frivolous uses of the substance for plastic surgery, sports, and other mundane purposes left people hopelessly addicted, repulsively disfigured by genetic disorders, and irrevocably insane- thus creating the Splicers that function as the main enemies of the game. The only characters in the game who haven't ended up this way are people who didn't splice (Ryan, Lamb, and Tenembaum), spliced in moderation (Sinclair, Poole, Langford and Fontaine- prior to the final boss battle), or possessed a natural immunity (The Big Sisters, Eleanor, and apparently the protagonists.)
      • Or they died.
    • The twist of the first game deconstructs Mission Control, showing how FPS = But Thou Must! in most cases.
  • Cannon Fodder, which takes the Military and Warfare Tropes page and systematically tears it to pieces.
  • Dragon Age: Origins is a gleeful deconstruction of just about every trope listed on the Standard Fantasy Setting page.
  • Final Fantasy, starting from roughly VI on, has been subtly doing this, poking holes in the concepts of The Chosen One, the characters' dependency on Green Rocks or phlebotinum to solve their problems, cheerful heroes, sullen heroes, Heroic Sacrifices, and so on, all while diving deeply into Genre Busting waters. Final Fantasy VII is perhaps the most extreme example.
    • Even before that, a common interpretation of Final Fantasy V is that it was meant as a long, but loving, series of jabs and comedic deconstructions at common themes, characters, and plot points in the first four games. The GBA port only amplifies this.
  • Metal Gear Solid as a whole is known for this. The first one deconstructs the original Metal Gear games as well as the Die Hard on an X formula, Sons of Liberty practically deconstructs the entire concept of video gaming itself (See here for more details), and Snake Eater does it for spy thrillers and Bond movies. Hell, the intro music, Snake Eater, sounds like it came straight out of a Bond film.
  • No More Heroes rips into To Be a Master and Gotta Kill Em All plots, showing just what kind of sick, twisted world an equally sick protagonist would actually want to participate in.
  • Planescape: Torment takes aspects of the second edition D&D world and drags them out to their logical extremes. The characters and plot are deliberate aversions of cliches found in most typical fantasy games.
    • "Cliches found in most typical fantasy games" are mostly irrelevant in this case, since for Planescape this is almost normal. AD&D-2 PS sourcebooks has crazier stuff.
  • Kreia is a one-woman deconstructor fleet, mercilessly breaking down each and every one of your preconceptions of the Star Wars universe. Uniquely for a series normally painted in Black and White Morality, Kreia disapproves of your more altruistic actions for reasons other than Stupid Evil; she will point out that raising others above their station cheapens their successes and causes jealousy in others.
  • Shin Megami Tensei - Long before Narutaru did, they had already deconstructed the sheer horror of a world populated by Mons.
  • Arguably the biggest appeal of games in the Tales (series) is the fact that they glue as many cliches together in the first few hours and then deconstruct them so much that on many occasions sections of the fanbase think that the Big Bad is the real hero. Some specific examples:
    • Tales of Phantasia started the trend. While tame now, back in the day the revelation that the main villain was after a completely understandable, totally reasonable goal—which unfortunately could only be achieved through rather amoral means—was a huge twist.
    • Tales of Symphonia grew famous for being a Deconstructor Fleet; it savagely tears into the concept of The Chosen One as well as the Idiot Hero; Fantastic Racism, while not necessarily "deconstructed", receives a lot of examination. The concept of a Determinator also gets deconstructed, as it's the Big Bad's primary flaw. A lot of effort is put into examining sacrifices and what it means for a person to be a sacrifice.
    • Tales of the Abyss so totally shatters the notion of prophecy, and the implications future-telling could have on people, both on a societal and individual level. It examines a lot of Cloning tropes as well.
    • Tales of Vesperia takes aim at Protagonist-Centered Morality, especially through the concepts of the Anti-Hero and Vigilante Man. Is a hero who makes decisions without considering the opinions of those whose lives he changes—whether it be ten people or ten million—really a hero?
  • Several Flash games such as Achievement Unlocked and This Is The Only Level.
  • The premise and plot of Penumbra and Amnesia the Dark Descent sound like complete Cliche Storms of various horror story tropes, but they actually make mincemeat of them by toying with the player on every occasion and subverting the hell out of every horror trope known to man.
  • Thief cheerfully tears apart every stereotypical "thieves' guild"-related trope remembered from Dungeons & Dragons and also likes to play around with the various factions and creatures inhabiting its Low Fantasy setting.
  • Would you believe if someone tell you that (some installments of) Touhou is a Deconstructor Fleet? Let us observe...
    • Imperishable Night: Deconstructs Immortality and associated tropes. The immortals have (literally) very alien mindset and can only keep their sanity intact by ripping each others to fine shreds every night.
    • Phantasmagoria of Flower View (sic): Touhou deconstructs itself. Eiki explicitly tell the other characters that they are so going to Hell if they don't change their atrocious behavior. Eiki is a Judge of The Dead.
    • Unidentified Fantastic Object deconstructs itself yet again-- Humans Are the Real Monsters and the playable characters are Knight Templar.
    • By applying some Fridge Horror to Mystic Square, one way to interpret the plot is to think of it as; "What if Alice actually went to hell?".
  • Yggdra Union pretends to be nice, cutesy, and safely within the range of standard medieval fantasy plots for a little while. Then it rips its mask off and awesomefaces whilst tearing many common plot devices—along with the tried-and-true methods of the Turn-Based Strategy genre—into tiny little bits as it goes. It's been four years since the franchise was launched, and we're still not a hundred percent sure about who the main character is supposed to be.
  • Fire Emblem Tellius does this to Fire Emblem. Setting and Backstory aside, the 9th game (Path of Radiance) pretty much starts off as a Cliché Storm for Fire Emblem games. However, it starts to play with the tropes before the game's over. Radiant Dawn starts off as a deconstruction of the events of Path of Radiance, showing that Begnion is Not So Different in treating their newly acquired country well; and that even Crimea, whose victory in the Mad King War went like a fairy tale for them, was again Not So Different. The country was united during the Mad King War against a common energy, yet when that was over, things went back to normal with nobles and senators squabbling for power, beginning to doubt whether or not their new queen was truly fit to rule. After all, she was unknown to the general public until the Mad King's War.


Web Comics[edit | hide]


Web Original[edit | hide]

Anon1: Eh, if a setting's too grim, we let love bloom there. If a setting's too happy, we drop it in the Balkans.
Anon2: Ah, so equal-opportunity subversion. If there is something we can fuck around with, then we are contractually obliged to fuck around with it.

Western Animation[edit | hide]


Real Life[edit | hide]

...and all of the examples from Trapped in TV Land.
  1. Not that Kenshin WAS one, mind you