Genre Deconstruction

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search

A subtrope of Deconstruction; Genre Deconstruction occurs when the author of a work performs Deconstruction on a specific genre.

The genre is basically boiled down to a set of tropes, conventions and a typical premise. All of these features are then played straight; without shying away from any unpleasant consequences and/or causes of these features. Basically, the heart of the genre is laid bare, warts and all. It is not solely done to denote how unpleasant a genre or trope is, but to break away from the clichés and stock themes said genre or trope has acquired.

Whilst deconstructing a genre (and doing it well) will change a genre forever, please note that deconstruction of a genre is not a bad thing (Your Mileage May Vary on this of course, despite the given facts). Many famous works credited with revolutionizing their media and genres have been Genre Deconstructions. This is because deconstruction is one of the ways genres can change themselves; flaws are hunted down in the deconstruction and corrected in the following Reconstruction. Deconstruction can also add depth and enhance realism, which in turn assists audiences in suspending their disbelief.

Merely making a genre Darker and Edgier is not the same as deconstructing it. To deconstruct a genre, the essential elements of the genre must be clearly demonstrated and taken to their most logical conclusions, and this causality must be plausible. If the Trope Maker or Trope Codifier deconstructs itself (or at least seems to), then you've got an Unbuilt Trope.

Note: This page is for deconstructions of whole genres. For deconstructions of individual tropes, see Deconstructed Trope, and for a general explanation of the method of Deconstruction, see Deconstruction. For works that (arguably) deconstruct multiple genres and essentially go mad deconstructing as many things as they can, see Deconstructor Fleet. Some works may pull off a Decon Recon Switch.

Any example from Fanfic is to go in Deconstruction Fic.

Examples of Genre Deconstruction include:

Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Neon Genesis Evangelion deconstructs the Super Robot genre. The basic premise of the show, at first, seems absolutely formulaic; an Ordinary High School Student falls into the cockpit of a Humongous Mecha designed by his father. He is the last hope for humanity in a war against various alien lifeforms called "angels". However, it is quickly shown that using fourteen year old children as Child Soldiers in extremely traumatic battles against Lovecraftian horrors is, to put it bluntly, not very nice and certainly not the kind of idealistic "insert-positive-emotion-here conquers all obstacles" affair that previous Super Robot Genre shows portrayed it as. It also played with the following mecha tropes:
    • Changed the mecha from an unfeeling mechanoid with unlimited energy that is easily repaired to a biological entity that bleeds, feels pain, needs an extension cord for power, and may even have a personality.
    • Most Super Robot Genre shows have a teenage mecha pilot and a long-absent father who designed the mecha. So Evangelion shows how traumatizing it would be for a real teen to fight in a giant robot—and what kind of father would abandon his son to design the robot.
    • Half the cast is made up of what seem at first to be stereotypical anime characters. As the series progresses, however, they are revealed to be severely messed-up people with the same sort of problems that would be expected of real-life tsunderes, bottle fairies, and lovable sex maniacs.
    • Quite a few old super robot shows featured mysterious, alien villains with very lightly defined motivations; cue the relentless attacks of the Angels, alien (or not) assailants on whose motives, constituents or psychology we have a little idea of, simply malevolent MacGuffins to enable psychobabble the story to play with 'giant robot' tropes. They also happen to get progressively creepier, and more unexplainably eldritch as the show progresses. Most importantly, there is an emphasis on showing the fear and uncertainty that comes with fighting an enemy that is just plain undefinable, thus showing how it just takes a little to turn an idealistic, formulaic Super Robot anime into a depressing Cosmic Horror Story. Various factions within the series vie for the opportunity to take down the Angels in the way they deem most appropriate, with the winner, of course, being the one that causes the most collateral damage.
    • Tokyo 3 is all but destroyed by the end of the series, and its populace is either dead or evacuated—a sharp contrast to the likes of most examples of the City of Adventure.
    • In some ways, Eva resembles the early days of the Real Robot Genre. Shinji Ikari has quite a few similarities with Amuro Ray, the most iconic mecha protagonist in anime history. While Amuro's relationship with his father is not nearly as bad as Shinji's, Amuro's father does go insane while building the RX-78 and due to his injuries in the first episode. Amuro is just as "whiny" as Shinji, but is forced to accept responsibilities in the military hierarchy and grows to maturity through that. Even his reaction to his accidental killing of Lalah resembles Shinji's after killing Kaworu.
  • Later arcs notwithstanding, Rurouni Kenshin can be seen as a deconstruction of the Jidai Geki genre. Being a Samurai isn't just a thing of honor and swordfighting for either your master, your beliefs, or other causes, and it leaves huge mental and social scars on those who survive it.
  • The original Gundam series (parent of the Real Robot Genre) could count as a deconstruction of the Super Robot Genre too. To even begin to be able to pilot the Gundam, Amuro already had a strong background with electronics, and the Gundam's manual. His early battles shook him greatly, and Char kicked his ass easily in their early fights, despite being in the less advanced Zaku 2. Of course, in later Real Robot shows, the flavor of the Super Robot Genre would kick in...
    • And that Super Robot Genre flavor that kicked in the later episodes of the show is itself a bitter deconstruction of the "loser mechs", as Gundam Sousei would point out.
  • Now and Then Here and There deconstructs the old anime stock plot of Trapped in Another World. It starts the typical baisic premise of "Ordinary High School Student meets Mysterious Waif and gets whisked off to a world locked in a great crisis." It Got Worse from there. And then shows how relevant an Ordinary High School Student would be in such a situation (not at all), how traumatizing it would be for someone from a peaceful society like late twentieth/early twenty first century Japan to be suddenly trapped in the middle of a war zone (extremely) and how likely it would be for anyone from that world including the waif that brought him there in the first place to even lift a finger for a naive and clueless outsider, much less form True Companions or a harem around him (not very).
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX deconstructs the Gaming and Sports Anime And Manga genre, taking the absurdity of elevating a (dangerous) children's card game to an international spectator sport and the method of deciding the fate of the universe Up to Eleven and past, not to mention the realistic effects this would have on the psyche of a kid.
  • Hibiki no Mahou deconstructs the 'magic academy' setting. You can be a powerful mage, but using magic always comes with a price of some kind. It can be physical pain, such as healing someone at the cost of your own eyesight, or mental, such as losing your memories. The more you use magic, the more severe the sacrifice.
  • The first arc of The Twelve Kingdoms takes a look at the typical Trapped in Another World Changeling Fantasy, rolls its eyes, and then goes to show what would really happen if you tossed an insecure Ordinary High School Student into a hostile fantasy country with the expectation of saving and eventually ruling it: a complete nervous breakdown.
    • Actually, it's more than that. The series includes other characters who are or have been in similar situations, like another king (Shoryuu), two kirins or "sacred beasts" (Enki and Taiki), a peasant girl (Suzu) and, in the anime, two of Youko's classmates (Asano and Yuuka). All of them have huge problems with the premise and have to deal in different ways.
    • Premise: being kidnapped to a strange magical world as the chosen one is wonderful! Decon: no it's not. But per the above comment, that deconstruction isn't allowed to stand as a universal statement. Youko represents the normal reaction, especially when the benevolent kidnapper is himself waylaid and Youko herself subjected to abnormal stress. Yuuka is the one who wants to live the Changeling Fantasy and might have adapted well save for not being the chosen one at all. Suzu and Asano don't even get the illusion of being chosen, and deal poorly, though Suzu's pretty lucky. OTOH, Shouryuu and the two kirin really are Chosen Changelings, don't get waylaid on their way back, and do as well as the original trope would have it. (Taiki's later tragedy is independent.)
    • Premise: a bunch of arbitrary rules and gods. Decon: a bunch of the main characters eventually wonder about the rules, doubt the gods, and try to ask the gods for rules clarifications. Storming the Heavens isn't a practical option, so they don't.
    • Premise: fantasy monarchy is wonderful! Decon: except when it isn't. A filtering system gets rid of the worst cases, leaving the best ones as immortal enlightened despots, avoiding the succession problem. A kirin with contact with modern Japan snarks about possible democratic alternatives anyway.
  • The anime version of School Days is a Deconstruction of the harem anime, as well as h-game adaptations and other Slice of Life romance series. The lead, after finally dating the sweet girl he's been lusting after for ages, finds that dating her feels more like work and less fun, so he pursues and has sex with one of the other girls who wanted him. Shortly after, he decides to sleep around, with no regard for the consequences and no desire to devote to a serious relationship. When the girl he first began cheating with discovers she's almost sure to be pregnant and confronts him, he wants nothing more to do with her, and after everyone finds out not only did he knock her up, but refuses to take responsibility, the other girls refuse to have anything to do with him. In the meantime, he's broken up with the first girl, but only after cheating on her for a long time. Said girl sinks into insanity and denial, especially since she knew he was cheating all along. Desperate after finding all his girls left him, he gets back together with the first girl, and tells the pregnant girl to get an abortion after making out with the other girl in front of her. Said girl later comes to his apartment and brutally murders him, the first girl sees the body, brutally murders her, and then leaves in a boat, cradling the guy's severed head in her arms, with a creepy smile on her face.
    • Also showed what kind of girls would be in an Unwanted Harem. At best needy, at worst psychotic. Kotonoha and Sekai particularly deconstruct Shallow Love Interest: they both lose what's left of their personalities to chase after Makoto... but this is done deliberately to show the terrible consequences.
    • Also brings up the true implications of the Lovable Sex Maniac / Bromantic Foil. Makoto's best friend Taisuke is a spirited yet hopeless romantic, and his perverted antics and subsequent rejections are portrayed as zany comic relief for most of the show. But then after being turned down once again on the day of the school festival, he resorts to actually raping a girl via taking avantage of her when she's at her lowest point; this not only throws the victim through the Despair Event Horizon, but it shos the character archetype to be much less harmless than commonly assumed.
  • Patlabor may be the ultimate deconstruction of the Mecha-genre: It has no superheroes nor supervillains and the mechas are plain and simply tools; the majority of them are used at construction sites and storages. They're anything but cool and if there's something even uncooler, that would be being a member of the Patlabor unit.
  • Mai-HiME functions as a fairly solid deconstruction of the Magical Girl genre, too, with the first half of the series being almost entirely fluffy, silly character-building and harmless Monster of the Week fighting (to further the point: the heroines battle a monster that steals lingerie), until around the halfway point when it decides to Get Serious.
  • Arguably, School Rumble seems to have started out as a deconstruction of a shonen love comedy by replacing the ditzy female protagonist we so often see with a badass male delinquent. The first two chapters make it pretty obvious. Another good example of this is when Eri walks in on Harima in the nude; usually its the other way around.
  • Gantz, at least for most of the first couple dozen chapters, was a deconstruction of First-Person Shooter-style video games. It showed just how bizarre and frightening it would be for someone actually in it, including being teleported into an unknown area, and being forced to fight dangerous creatures with weapons you've just picked up and have no practice with.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena deconstructs the Shojo genre to the point of Mind Screw. The original hero became a Machiavellian and the newer heroes are just petty school children. Really. See also Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory.
  • Narutaru (Shadow Star) deconstructs the pet monster genre in a very disturbing and bloody way. To control their companions, the children have a psychic link with them which can take a heavy toll on both their body and mind, and some become very aware of the power they have and abuse it - even to the point of mass murder. The manga also looks at how the government and military might actually respond to Mons being involved in all manner of strange and violent circumstances, which leads to a lot of cover-ups and extreme measures.
  • Bokurano (written by the same person who made Narutaru) is a Humongous Mecha Deconstruction (of different focus than Eva, yet similar to it) that showcases only too well the destructive side-effects caused by giant robot battles, not to mention the immense psychological stress caused by having a bunch of kids (who all have their own personal tragedies on top of it) responsible for the continued existence of planet Earth. And then they throw in the fact that the Super Robot they must use is fueled by the pilot's Life Force, meaning they're all dead even if they win, and we start crossing into Diabolus Ex Machina territory.
    • Furthermore, the show deconstructs the "magical tournament/There Can Be Only One" type of anime as well: It's later revealed that the creatures the kids have been fighting are actually human pilots from parallel universes, specifically the battles are contests to determine which of the selected universes would be erased from existence. (Who is doing this and why has yet to be explained.) So the pilots have to choose between either winning the battles and dying or losing the battles and dooming their universes.
      • The author manages to one-up himself by explaining that even if the characters manages to make it through the requisite 14 battles and earn their universe's right to live (killing all of said characters in the process), It's not really over: the "system" that picks universes to fight might wrap around and choose the protagonists' again.
  • Berserk is essentially a deconstruction of the whole Shonen genre, starting with the fact that Berserk ain't even a shonen, but a Seinen. Another example would include protagonist Guts himself, who is the complete opposite of the usual shonen titular hero: he's a gruff, built, twenty-something year old, who is on the more serious level of anti-heroes, who, by all means, is one of the few manga characters who is actually physically capable of wielding a huge weapon. Fighting is also heavily deconstructed and played for laughs at times, since Guts doesn't take the time to analyze his enemies' attack: if Guts sees a window of opportunity, he'll just take it. Hell - he might not even wait for that. Also, Explaining Your Power to the Enemy and Calling Your Attacks has proven to be VERY FOOLISH for the mooks who do this. Oh, and talking is most definitely NOT a free action during battle.
    • The whole series is a Perspective Flip on The Messiah and The Antichrist, and shows us just exactly how the dynamic between the two would work, as well as showing that both are not what they initially appear to be.
  • Originally, Super Dimension Fortress Macross was meant to be a Deconstructive Parody of shows like Mobile Suit Gundam. While it veered off that course eventually and played a fair number of tropes completely straight (never mind inventing a few along the way), pretty much every major entry into the franchise has featured at least one major, often scathing, deconstructions of the science fiction, adventure and anime genres.
  • Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle starts out as a light-hearted True Companions Gotta Catch Em All adventure story with some darkness around the edges and interesting sexual subtext. One-third of the way through, everything you thought you knew turns inside out and the most light-hearted elements become harbingers of the ugliest secrets. From there on out, the series proceeds to do everything it can to make your mind boggle, including introducing major unexpected Squick into what had once been CLAMP's most popular and innocent pairing.
  • The "Perfect GT-R" arc of Wangan Midnight has a beautiful deconstruction of street racing. Jun Kitami, who at this point has been portrayed as a reckless, heartless daredevil tuner, says point-blank that there are no winners or losers and that Koichi did exactly the right thing in giving up this senseless hobby so he could return to his wife. Given that the whole manga is about street racing, plainly admitting a truth like this took guts. Even better, this happens in the very first arc after the Devil Z and Blackbird are introduced.
  • Emiya Shirou's life story is a quite literally an embodiment of a deconstruction of Martyr Without a Cause, Chronic Hero Syndrome, and other related "hero" tropes.

Archer: There is nothing at the end of saving people.

  • Halo Legends is a deconstruction of the whole Halo series. In The Babysitter, it's showed that not all UNSC personnel are fond of the Spartans—some are actually jealous of them for their awesomeness, and they use it as an excuse to treat the Spartans as freaks, which has a bad effect on their cooperation. In the end, even a Super Soldier is a human being who can die just like that. The Duel reveals that not all the Covenant believe in the "Great Journey"; some are to afraid to admit to it, some rebel against it and others just use the religion as a means for their own selfish needs. Origins is a story about the Forerunners and their war against Flood. The Message: no matter how powerful your empire is, it will sooner or later fall, especially if you fight against an enemy you don't have a single clue about. The Stoic character is deconstructed in Prototype. In this episode, the other marines believes that the main character's stoic personality is evidence that he's literally emotionless and that he doesn't give a damn about his fellow men, but contrary to their belief, he has as many emotions as they have, the stoicism just a facade to hide the pain that came from seeing his entire company being wiped out and having his last recruit bleed to death in his arms.[1]
  • Toradora! deconstructs many of the character archetypes seen in typical Harem Anime. Most notably, Taiga basically answers the question of what kind of experiences could give a person a childish tsundere personality in real life: HUGE personal issues of the familiar kind, which also don't mesh well with the girl's own self-esteem problems.
  • Digimon Tamers deconstructs a number of things that were barely or not touched upon in the Digimon Adventure canon, such as the involvement of adults, how the government would react to programs emerging into the real world as monsters, how those programs came about in the first place, what a world governed only by the doctrine of "survival of the fittest" would be like (namely, harsh and unforgiving), how frustrating it is to be the Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain, and what would happen to a Tamer if their partner Digimon died. Later, the first arc of Digimon Savers could be seen as a deconstruction of part of the ending of Digimon Adventure 02, specifically the part where everyone in the world got a partner Digimon - it deals with the idea of those of dishonest intent using their Digimon for crimes, something Adventure 02 never even considered.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka deconstructs the Save Our Students genre, especially the belief that students and teachers are natural enemies.
  • Maria Holic is this to the Yuri Genre, alternating between cruelly subverting and playfully mocking tropes associated with it through the wacky hijinks of the Genre Blind schoolgirl Kanako Miyamae and her "ideal girl" Mariya Shidou... who's actually a Villainous Crossdresser.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica is, for the majority of the series, a pretty thorough deconstruction of the Magical Girl genre. The premise starts simple. Young Naive Everygirl Madoka and her Wide-Eyed Idealist friend Sayaka, are approached by Mentor Mascot Kyubey, and the relative Cool Big Sis Mami, where they are given the opportunity to become Magical Girls. In exchange, they are granted one wish, that can be anything they want, but they will have to fight demonic entities called witches for the rest of their lives. In addition, a Dark Magical Girl, Homura, is opposed to this, and is constantly trying to prevent the two from making a contract. Sounds reasonable enough. And then the show demonstrates exactly what happens to those young girls who are forced into fighting Eldritch Abominations with no chance at a normal life. Mami is ultimately an extremely lonely Stepford Smiler who is broken on the inside due to losing her parents, and being forced to fight with no real friends. When Madoka does become her friend, her subsequent joy leads to her death, and also reminds us that these encounters are far more dangerous when removed from the sweet and innocent flavor that permeates most Magical Girl shows. In addition, Sayaka decides to use a Selfless Wish to heal her crush, Kyousuke, much like any typical superhero. But as the other characters demonstrate, their is no such thing as a Selfless Wish, as they all have a selfish intention. In Sayaka's case, it was so that she could get together with Kyousuke, and when he doesn't return her affections, she breaks down. Finally, Kyubey shows exactly what kind of "mentor" would knowingly send girls off to their death, without giving the full details. Among these details is the fact that Magical girls will someday become the monsters that they fight, and that one reason they even fight them in the first place, is to stave off that end for as long as possible. At the end however, Madoka becomes a Magical Girl, and uses a Cosmic Retcon to make it so that Magical Girls will not become witches. Although Magical Girls will have to fight demons instead of witches, it is at least implied that the situation is better than before.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Superhero comics had a huge wave of Deconstruction in the '80s and '90s, caused chiefly by two examples:
    • Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns takes straightforward superhero action and makes it look absurd by having politics interfere. Batman's work becomes a tool for debates about "toughness on crime," while Superman's idealism makes him an easy dupe for the US government's plans for nuclear war. It also asked the question: "What sort of a man would dress up in a bat outfit and fight crime." The answer: "A man who isn't very pleasant or sane."
  • Watchmen deconstructs the entire Silver Age Superhero genre. The premise of the comic is exactly like any other Superhero comic; some people put on strange costumes in order to fight crime. However, it didn't start with an alien child coming to earth, but rather, with a bunch of off-duty cops wearing masks to counter mask-wearing criminals. Along the way, every trope associated with Superhero comics of the time is Deconstructed: Impossibly Cool Clothes turn out to be extremely fatally impractical, politicians get involved and deputize and weaponize superheroes, these superheroes end up changing the course of history, and the main cast of Superhero characters are all rather screwed up. Specifically...
    • Rorschach embodies morally absolutist vigilante Superhero characters like The Question. He is so morally absolutist that he will stop at nothing to enforce his view of justice and will commit heinous acts as a means to an end; ultimately it turns out he is a Nietzsche Wannabe with a Woobie-worthy past.
    • The Comedian is the Unbuilt Trope of the Nineties Anti-Hero. Big guns, wisecracks, big muscles, Badass mannerisms and... attempted rape, misogyny, murder of innocents and moral nihilism abound. All these are merely his emotional shields. He has a breakdown when he discovers Adrian Veidt's plot because it was so horrifying even to him and Crazy Enough to Work. The Comedian also deconstructs the idea of superheroes like Captain America (comics) who embody patriotic ideals and work for the government—he's a black-ops agent who does highly unethical things, and as noted, couldn't give a damn about any ideals.
    • Doctor Manhattan, a true superhuman with control over matter, the ability to teleport, see the future, see subatomic particles, and is so detached from the human condition that he is indifferent to human life, out and out saying "A dead body and a living body have the same number of particles, there's no difference".
    • Ozymandias, the "smartest man alive," and a Marvel-style (Reed Richards, Professor X, et al) supergenius taken to the trope's logical conclusions, becomes a superhuman athlete through sheer force of will, and a training program he designed himself, and is also the world's wealthiest selfmade businessman. He's driven by such ruthless consequentialism that certain actions of his can be morally debated.
    • Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre II, the most healthy individuals in the team, are driven not by moral ideals but by, respectively, fanboyism and a desire to follow in one's mother's footsteps.
    • And the rest of the superheroes are shown to have great flaws and the common prejudices of their time, many being racist, sexist, homophobic (and hypocritical homosexuals themselves) and equally riddled with issues and neuroses.
    • It also showed that there would be far less 'costumed criminals' since they would either be in jail, killed, or even found redemption. Many criminals would go into more profitable and yet less showy pursuits, like drug trafficking.
    • The idea of the Nebulous Evil Organisation was also targeted for deconstruction. Who has the resources to kill The Comedian, engineer Dr. Manhattan's exile, frame Rorschach for murder and engineer the destruction of several major cities than Ozymandias, the world's smartest man?
  • Moore's earlier work, Marvelman (Miracleman in the United States) deconstructs many aspects of the Captain Marvel mythos and superheroes in general. In one particularly memorable instance, it deconstructed superhero battles by showing just how bloody and devastating they would be in a more realistic setting.
  • Deconstruction in comics is even older than that, dating at least back to the Bronze Age. In The Seventies, DC came out with Green Lantern/Green Arrow, in which the title characters do superhero stuff while at the same time, arguing about the morality and political implications. As a result, the more lawful Green Lantern and the more chaotic Green Arrow butted heads many, MANY times.
  • Hell! You could even argue that it dates back to the Silver Age! When Stan Lee first pitched the idea of a superhero with real life problems his editor replied "Don't you know what a superhero is?"
  • While Kingdom Come was part of the mid-90's wave of Reconstructionist comics (made in response to the above-mentioned wave of deconstruction), its reconstruction of the Silver Age was accomplished by deconstructing the Dark Age, bringing it to its most extreme conclusion: the Nineties Anti Heroes, having killed all the villains, have become crazed Knights Templar and pretty much taken over the world.
  • The entire Marvel Comics Siege macro-crisis was a Deconstructor Fleet of the entire Marvel Comics universe, the Reed Richards Is Useless trope and the idea of the superhero in general. It first starts with Avengers Dissembled showing what happens when you entrust the world to a set few ultra powerful humans. It then goes into House of M, proving what happens if the super humans took over. Civil War addressed the stupidity of having the government let walking A-bombs blow themselves up in New York everyday while simultaneously showing how said government control plans would fail. This is shown in the deliberate Flanderization of Captain America and Iron Man showing how both sides are pretty stupid. This was also exposited in the what if story arc when both sides find a balance and thus achieve peace. Dark Reign then deconstructed the entire "Lone Cop saves the world and get promoted" genre by showing exactly what would happen if said psychopaths were really appointed to such positions of power. Thor, Reed Richards and Iron Man's tenures as God, Guardian and Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. in each of their individual story arcs show how each quest to "fix" the world leads to disaster. Then, the New Captain America saga had a deconstruction of the Sidekick. The idea of power and potential is again brought up in The Hood's recent story showing what happens if all the d-listers in the universe eventually got together and actually applied their powers, while the Current Mighty Avengers show how these super teams affect the political climate. The Illuminati is in itself a deconstruction of large hero collaborations (and how they lead to failure i.e. the Secret Invasion) and its counterpart "The Cabal" showed just how incapable a society of villains would be at functioning. All this is paralleled by the Annihilation series depicting exactly what kind of galaxy is filled with empires that invade and blow up planets on a daily basis and exactly how disillusioned it makes characters. Seeing Black Bolt turn to insanity was just further reconfirmation of what a world Cosmic Marvel is. The Nova Corps pretty much deconstructed all Space Cop tropes with its nigh-omnipotent run band of non sanctioned super soldiers and exactly how that would affect any political situation. The Decimation arcs in X-Men show exactly how humans would react to mutants if the odds were evened. And The Secret arcs show how exactly what being a real spy means and all the details it entails. And finally, Siege shows the reconstruction reveling that after all this Heroes are still heroes no matter what.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen starts out with slightly-darker takes on Victorian heroes, but the second volume shows them sinking really low under pressure (and the ugly sides of Victorian culture that they each represent). The third volume reconstructs them during its own deconstruction of 20th century heroes.
  • Another interesting example by Grant Morrison is Fantastic 1234. At first, it seems like a traditional deconstruction of superheroes by way of the Fantastic Four, highlighting their 'real' personalities via highlighting their worst aspects as they would be in real life; Ben Grimm is a self pitying misanthrope with a violent temper, Reed Richards is a emotionless autistic who seems to value his inventions more than his friends and family, Johnny Storm is a brooding Greaser whose tastes for fast cars and fast women can't fill the void inside of him, and Sue Storm is an insecure, passive-agressive neurotic who feels she is trapped in a loveless marriage and is severely tempted to run off with Namor, who is presented as a coldblooded sexfiend willing to do anything to make Sue his own. However, it ends up being a subversion of such a deconstruction; Reed Richards has realised that Dr. Doom has been using a reality altering device to 'deconstruct' the Four and bring out the worst possible aspects of the four's personalities in order to destroy them and gain ultimate revenge on Richards. Richards builds his own variant of the machine to 'reconstruct' the Four and save the day, the point clearly being that the standard portrayal of the Four are their real personalities. In fact, for his arrogance Doom ends up being the one who's deconstructed, and rather painfully at that, where it is revealed that he is a lonely, pathetic man-child with a ridiculous speech pattern who is not even remotely on Reed Richard's level of genius and whose vendetta against the four is petty and stupid. Also, he seems to be going bald. Ouch.
  • Marvel comics Marvels and its Evil Twin Ruins similarly focus on the impact of superheroes on an "average" person.
  • DC Comics' Jonah Hex: Sounds like old fashioned Cowboys and Indians hijinx on the wild frontier, right? Riiight.
  • The Valiant Comics flagship title, Harbinger, featured a groups of super powered teens on the run for their lives from an seemingly unbeatable business man who, at least at first, seems to be an Expy of Charles Xavier. While the man seemed to genuinely care for his subordinates, he never hesitated to mistreat them for the sake of what he felt was the greater good of humanity (which is to say, a better world that would be completely under his control). He was desperate the hunt down their protagonist because their team leader has the same powers as him - the near-unlimited telepathy and telekinesis and ability to activate superpowers in others. The hero, incidentally, wasn't exactly pure either - early issues in particular showing him using powers in selfish and potentially dangerous ways. It also does a good job showing the mental and emotional toil this kind of thing would have a group of teens, constantly moving from town to town, and being the only thing keeping this guy from becoming dictator of the world.
    • Most of Valiant's titles were Deconstructive in nature. For another example, Shadow Man. The classic comic book plot "Heroes travel to the future to fight evil" is deconstructed in the Unity Crisis Crossover, where Shadow Man learns he's going to die in 1999. Shadow Man's book takes this and runs with it, showing him growing gradually more reckless and angsty as 1999 grows closer. In 1995 he even tries to kill himself, thinking that this at least will let him choose his own destiny. Sadly, the line was discontinued before 1999, so we never learn how this story arc ends.
  • Astro City is a deconstruction and a reconstruction. Like Marvels, it focuses on the impact of superheroes on regular people, but also on the inner thoughts of heroes and villains.
  • Planetary, as an archeological survey of comic books, pulp fiction, and B-Movies, deconstructs any sci-fi trope it doesn't reconstruct or parody. The Hulk was captured by the army after his first rampage and took decades to starve to death in a silo. The Narmy B-Movie monsters are the result of horrifying Cold War experiments in American concentration camps. The Fantastic Four didn't just come back changed, they came back wrong. And Reed Richards isn't useless. He's the American Doctor Mengele.
  • Warren Ellis did a "thematic trilogy" for Avatar Press in which he deconstructs the superhero genre. (Yes, again.) The first part, Black Summer shows us what would happen if superheroes were too human. The second part, No Hero shows what would happen if they put themselves above human laws. The third part, Supergod shows would happen if superheroes weren't even remotely human.
  • Kick-Ass in regards to superheroes in their teens. Sure, the main character doesn't die but his life becomes even worse after donning the mask, his only super power is that he has a metal plate in his head, gets beaten to a bloody pulp after every battle and would actually be far more responsible if he quit vigilantism altogether.
  • After all these superhero deconstructions, one might expect a supervillain deconsstruction. Wanted (the comic book, not the movie) is about an Unlucky Everydude who gets invited to join a society of supervillains known as "The Fraternity." It's a world filled with eccentric, costumed renegades who spend their days doing just as they please, with nothing to fear from law enforcement - and what they please is decidedly unpleasant. Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds with a Dark and Troubled Past comes under fire as the Villain Protagonist goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against all the people who ever wronged him... including guys who made fun of him back in high school, and culminating in killing his own father. And looming over it all is the death's-head visage of Complete Monster Mister Rictus, who makes sure that we never forget the true face of Nightmare Fuel, or the consequences, both moral and aesthetic, of a life without concern for boundaries. In the end, it turns out that the only thing worse than This Loser Is You is This Loser Is Having Delusions Of Grandeur While Fucking You In The Ass.
  • A story from the comics series Animal Man (noted for its Post Modernism) deconstructs Looney Tunes and similar cartoons: in "The Coyote Gospel," a grotesquely anthropomorphic coyote is repeatedly and brutally killed by an Elmer Fudd-style hunter obsessed with his destruction, and continuously reforms/regenerates in a most disturbing manner. Finally, in a scene reminiscent of the classic "Duck Amuck" short, the malevolent animator paints his blood in as he dies for the last time.
  • While a few elements are questionable, The Unfunnies is still a clever commentary on how writers are corrupting the once-innocent world of comics by injecting their own perversions into it. The story begins with a stereotypical Hanna-Barbera cartoon world of talking animals, then introduces prostitution, child pornography, and violence. Then it's revealed that the world's creator is a child rapist and murderer who's on death row, and created the world so he can switch places with a character there, and thus live forever. The whole "man in prison creates cartoon world that turns out to be real" plot is also lifted directly from Cool World. The Unfunnies asks the questions, why is he in prison? Wouldn't the world he created be just as insane as he is?
  • Tintin: The Castafiore Emerald, Flight 714, and Tintin and the Picaros are deconstructions of the Adventure genre and of the Tintin series in general.
    • The Castafiore Emerald is a intentional Random Events Plot in which Tintin and Haddock stay at Marlinspike Hall. It is full of anticlimaxes, such as Haddock's attempted escape to Italy being foiled by an accident, the Roma community's plight is immediately solved by Haddock’s generosity, Haddock never has the chance to make An Aesop about tolerance because of various distractions, the emerald’s thief turned to be a magpie, and said emerald is lost again by Thomson & Thompson, found again by Snowy, and then dismissed as a mere McGuffin.
    • Flight 714 has Tintin and Haddock swept into a plot to blackmail a millionaire by a Contrived Coincidence. The recurring villains Rastapopoulus and Allan suffer intentional Villain Decay, ultimately coming off as ridiculous and stupid. And all of the characters would have died in an eruption without the bizarre, out-of-the-blue intervention of aliens. Only Snowy remembers how they were rescued, making the whole thing something of a Shaggy Dog Story.
    • Tintin and the Picaros: Tintin, formerly a classical Gentleman Adventurer, no longer enjoys adventure and refuses the call for several days, and now wears a pair of quite ungentlemanly bell bottoms instead of his iconic plus fours. Reality really hits the tale in the second to last panel of the album, in whichSan Theodoros is shown to be no better off than it was when the story started.

Film[edit | hide]

  • Though it portrays Jesus in a favorable light, Monty Python's Life of Brian is a pretty harsh deconstruction of society's romanticized view of life in the time of Christ, and of biblical stories in general. As it points out, the Romans weren't just cruel oppressors with 0% Approval Rating—they did more to improve the Judean people's lives than anyone before them. Conversely, "God's chosen people" had criminal justice that could be just as brutal and unfair as the Romans', and they were never a noble La Résistance—they spent more time getting involved in petty squabbling amongst themselves than they did resisting the Romans. And in any case, having a cult of devoted followers who expect you to solve all of their problems isn't nearly as cool as you would think. And getting betrayed by your friends and "sacrificing" yourself on the cross? It's only inspiring when it's not happening to you!
  • Jidai Geki films underwent an increasingly cynical Deconstructionist phase during the 1960s that arguably led to the genre going out of vogue for a good deal of the 1970s:
    • Yojimbo
    • Sanjuro
    • Samurai Assassin
    • The Sword of Doom
    • Hari-kiri
  • Similarly, Westerns in the 1960s went through a deconstructionist phase:
    • A Fistful of Dollars—a remake of Yojimbo, although Yojimbo was an adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest
    • For a Few Dollars More
    • According to Word of God, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was intended as a swipe at classic Western movies. Its violence was, for the time, gratuitous; and while stylish, was uncomplicatedly so—an attempt by Leone to remind the viewer of what kind of men really were in the Wild West. The torture sequence is legitimately brutal, and accompanied by Soundtrack Dissonance. As for the character of Blondie (The Good), he's both significantly more fleshed out (and, as a result, less invincible) than he was in the previous two Dollars movies, showing tenderness, affection and pain; and yet the title 'The Good' draws attention to what a bastard he is (performing the kind of actions that were fairly standard in Westerns at the time). The two times his title pops up on screen, it's after he's been a particularly Magnificent Bastard (delivering a Bond One-Liner to someone he's abandoning in the desert, and pretending to hang someone for his own personal amusement). Of course, it's considered the archetypical Western nowadays, probably because it's just so good.
    • Hang 'Em High
    • The Wild Bunch -- John Wayne is said to have complained that this film "killed the Western".
      • Even though it kinda started with The Searchers, in which Wayne's hero is unabashedly racist towards Native Americans - even toward his own adopted nephew, who is one-eighth Cherokee.
        • He's still the hero in that movie, however, while his Comanche counterpart dies shamefully. And he's really no more racist than many of the other characters. What really makes him frightening is that he's both racist and insane.
    • High Plains Drifter
    • El Topo
    • Django
    • Worthwhile deconstructions later on include Robert Altman's McCabe and Mrs. Miller and Jim Jarmusch's Deadman.
    • Rustlers Rhapsody is a parody and deconstruction of the singing cowboy westerns such as those with Roy Rogers.
    • Unforgiven is a particularly sharp deconstruction westerns and even the spaghetti westerns that Clint Eastwood himself starred in. The main character shows how an ace gunfighter might have lived out his later years. His character progression also goes in reverse, unraveling into his former state to undo the character development he's acquired. Many standard conventions of westerns are subverted, including the quickdraw contest, the hooker with the heart of gold, and the triumphant ride into the sunset. The scenes with the dime novel author dedicated to exposing the falsehoods of the wild west mythos.
  • The Truman Show is a deconstruction of Reality TV. Oddly enough, before (1998) the huge proliferation of Reality TV in the 2000s took place, although they had certainly existed for some time by then.
  • Law Abiding Citizen is basically a movie about a Super Villain, including his Evil Plan failing because of what, in most comics, would be an entirely mundane detail, probably not even mentioned.
  • Funny Games is intended as a Post Modernist deconstruction of Gorn and horror films by presenting it in the most bare-bones and disturbing way possible. The whole film forces the viewer to examine why they are watching the film and being entertained by it. A number of scenes play with audience expectations, flatly telling the audience what they want to see and either giving it to them or denying it to them based on the whim of the author. One particularly taunting scene features the female victim managing to gun down one of the attackers, only for this triumphantly cathartic moment to be snatched away as the other attacker rewinds the film and undoes it.
  • The Guns of Navarone deconstructs the "crack military team sent behind enemy lines" genre, what with the characters questioning the morality of the means they use to complete the mission or even the mission's relevance.
    • Mallory is perfectly aware that the steps he takes to complete the mission are often immoral.
    • Miller's deadpan snarking is his only defense to the madness of war.
    • "Butcher" Brown has post-traumatic stress and is unable to kill enemy soldiers, putting the entire team at risk.
  • The Element of Crime deconstructs Film Noir (a genre already quite dark and cynical) by pushing some of the tropes to their limits, and by turning the others on their head (thus, the Private Eye Monologue becomes a dialogue between the detective and his therapist, and the Deliberately Monochrome is achieved by lighting all the sets with only street lamps), and yet still manages to be a Homage rather than a Parody.
    • Night Moves (1975) is another noir deconstruction. Gene Hackman plays Harry Moseby, a pro football player-turned-private investigator. He asks a lot of questions, but rarely gets straight or complete answers. He sees a lot of things, but they're usually obscured by distance or obstacles (such as windows or screen doors) or seen only on an incomplete filmstrip. He both literally and figuratively spins in circles during the movie, and ends (as does the audience) knowing who the bad guys were but not why any of it happened. On another level the film is a deconstruction of the entire idea of American masculinity in the post-Watergate, post-Vietnam era; Harry's glory days are behind him, and he does what he does not because he's any good at it, or because he particularly enjoys it, but because he simply doesn't know what else to do.
  • M. Night Shyamalan presented a deconstruction of Superhero stories with Unbreakable. The main character has no idea about the nature of his powers or about how he should use them.
  • To a certain extent, the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale deconstructs earlier Bond films, and Martini-style Spy Fiction in general, through features such as a conversation mocking the Double Entendre names of previous Bond girls, LeChiffre's comment about preferring simpler methods of torture to the Death Traps endemic to the series, having Bond respond "Do I look like I give a damn?" when asked how he wants his martini, and generally treating his profession as an assassin more literally. At least some of these features were present in the original novels, making the film something of a Reconstruction as well.
    • His Cowboy Cop attitude is scrutinized more ruthlessly and his interactions with his allies sometimes prove fatal for them.
    • Bond movies have always had a tension in the character of Bond, between "flashy guy with clever lines, cool toys, and beautiful women", and "he's an assassin." Casino Royale and its sequel, Quantum of Solace, push the dial almost all the way towards the "assassin" element, but it was present in most of the earlier Bond films (particularly the Timothy Dalton films).
  • Battles Without Honor and Humanity (Jingi Naki Tatakai) is a deconstruction of the Yakuza films popular in Japan around the same time, which tended to portray the Yakuza as a chivalrous, honorable organization of Blood Brothers. In the film, besides the main character, they're money-grubbing, backstabbing, treacherous, and vicious. Every vow of brotherhood or loyalty has been violated and the time-honored traditions of the Yakuza seem ludicrous, outmoded, or just plain crazy. The name of the film demonstrates this -- "Jingi" is the term for the Yakuza code of honor.
  • The Wrestler is a deconstruction of sports movies in which the fallen and ailing sporting hero's Redemption Quest is to triumph against physical adversity and win a big bout against an old rival, which thus asolves his current problems and allows him to move on with their lives with renewed success and appreciation from the fans. Here, what would be the subject of such a quest in such movies—a big reunion bout with his main rival in the past—in fact isn't; Randy's real Redemption Quest is to build a new life for himself outside of the ring by fixing things with his estranged daughter and find love with Cassidy, the stripper with whom he has fallen in love. He ultimately fails at both, and the fact that he enters the big bout is in fact a symbol of his failure in this; although he wins the bout, it's strongly implied that his heart problems means that the effort killed him in the process. In addition, his victory was inevitable, as all wrestling duels are shown to be scripted, and Randy is a still-beloved All-American Face who just can't lose.
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind deconstructs Romance movies by having nearly the entire movie take place after the honeymoon period of a new relationship when things start to fall apart. In fact, the thesis of the movie is effectively "romance can be so horrible that you will want to have your memory erased but when you add it all up, they're probably worth the angst".
  • Park Chan-Wook's "Vengeance" trilogy, which includes Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance is very much a deconstruction of the revenge film. This is most true in the first film, in which all the violence committed only leads to further despair.
  • Pleasantville deconstructs the stereotypical 1950s Leave It to Beaver style sitcom, and with it the whole phenomenon of 1950s nostalgia; it starts off as a typically wholesome, innocent and carefree place (especially when contrasted to the 1990s, a lengthy opening montage reeling out all the social problems seemingly endemic since the 1950s), but the introduction of colour into the black-and-white environment gradually peels things back to reveal the stifling and repressed attitudes towards race, gender and sexuality seething under the surface, and the social problems of the decade that such nostalgia frequently overlooks.
    • The movement to stop the spread of color in Pleasantville is analogous to Mc Carthyism.
      • The movie is a double deconstruction as the 90's free spirit girl is shown to be just as one dimensional, in that she never really cares for anything, and only when she does can she be part of a fully realised world.
  • Both The Long Goodbye and The Big Lebowski are deconstructions of film noir, specifically Raymond Chandler/Philip Marlowe stories, although Lebowski is also played for laughs. In both films, the protagonist is more or less a loser who lives by himself and comes to the wrong conclusion at the end of the case, but it's not a big deal since it never really mattered in the first place.
  • The film Shin Kamen Rider Prologue is arguably one for the Kamen Rider series, showing a much more realistic and gruesome look at the themes of forced genetic engineering, Phlebotinum Rebellion, and giant bug people that were present through the franchise's Showa era.
  • Whereas Unforgiven was Clint Eastwood's deconstruction of westerns, Gran Torino, which came out about a decade and a half later, is his deconstruction of his other big genre, the urban vigilante film.
  • Gamer is a particularly nasty deconstruction of First Person Shooters and social simulators like The Sims, with actual people being controlled by players as avatars for the games.
    • The "Society" game is a very sickening take on Rule 34 and Second Life due to the above reason.
  • The Final, a 2010 indie horror film, kills two birds with one stone by deconstructing both the "nerds get revenge on the bullies" plot and the "psycho classmate" plot. The outcasts don't want the simple comical revenge that so many such teen movie protagonists desire—they actually want the bullies to suffer (through torture) the way they've been made to suffer throughout their school years. The "psycho classmates" are not simple outcasts with your average Freudian Excuse—it's implied they were generally good people whose crappy home lives, coupled with years of abuse from the bullies, turned them into the dark characters they are in the film. Indeed, they try to make sure that Kurtis, a friend who was nice to them, doesn't go their "party," and they don't torture people who didn't actively abuse them. The film then takes another deconstruction of the bullies themselves—Bridget, the Alpha Bitch's best friend, tries to reach out to one of the outcasts, and gets offered a chance to save herself if she tortures one of her classmates. The stereotypical Libby would've gladly taken up the offer, but she refuses and is punished for it. The film cleverly shows that neither the bullies nor the outcasts are all that good.
  • Rebel Without a Cause deconstructs Teens Are Monsters films so prevalent in the 50's.
  • "Stahlnetz" ("Steel Net") , a German series of Made for TV crime movies, deconstructs Police Procedural. The officers. are people with their own problems and shortcomings, far from being neatly divided into squeaky clean and corrupt bastards. The criminals are also realistic, many being bullied, pushed or outright coerced into crime while still being definitely bad people, whereas other are Complete Monsters, despite looking like ordinary people on the outside. Victims also come with their share of problems, some being an Asshole Victim, others being punished for being nice. The police solves cases through hard work, including setbacks, rather than beating half the underworld. And despite each film finishing with the crime resolve and criminals caught, the realistic portrayal of both the criminals and victims means most films have a Bittersweet Ending, if not a Downer. (Ironically the only story with (relatively) Happy Ending is also the most brutal of all).
  • Heathers is a rather bitter deconstruction of the popular John Hughes style teen movies at the time. The bad boy the heroine lusts after is actually a disturbed psycho who lures the heroine into his scheme to murder the popular kids and he even tries to blow up the school and pass it off as a group suicide. She isn't happy to be part of the popular kids and it's actually that which makes her want to murder them. Also the Girl Posse aren't the cookie cutter bad guys with one of them being bulimic and sick of being a butt monkey while another genuinely contemplates suicide.
  • The Asphalt Jungle (1950) deconstructs The Caper. In a normal heist movie, the thieves combine good luck with great skill, have no difficulty working together, and escape from the police to spend their stolen wealth without too much trouble. In the Asphalt Jungle, on the other hand, the thieves aren't quite skilled enough to avoid alerting the cops during the heist, have a run of bad luck starting even before they're done planning the heist, squeal on each other, and eventually every single participant is either dead or in prison, brought down by a combination of their own flaws and misfortunes. Plus, the police chief (normally a corrupt or unlikeable person in films where he appears at all) gives a nice speech about the importance of good law enforcement towards the end of the film.
  • Mighty Joe Young (at least the 1998 version) deconstructs King Kong. The ape isn't an island-dwelling monster, but an otherwise normal African gorilla with extreme giantism. The female lead has more in common with Dian Fossey then the screaming damsel in distress of Kong. And when Joe finally does go on his "rampage" it's because he's confronted with the poacher that killed his mother.
  • Scanners sets up a fairly standard Hero's Journey, as Cameron Vale, blessed with Psychic Powers, is sent by wise old Dr. Paul Ruth to defeat Ruth's former pupil, Darryl Revok, who also has Psychic Powers. Vale befriends a White-Haired Pretty Girl, Kim Obrist, who can help him infiltrate Revok's organization. Not unsurprisingly, it is revealed that both Cameron and Darryl are the two sons of Paul. With us so far? And then Darryl points out what kind of father would abandon his sons like that, and weaponize one against the other, and, indeed, would test a potentially dangerous new drug on his pregnant wife, thus making Cameron and Darryl psychic in the first place. "That was Daddy." Also, the psychic stuff is disgusting and creepy: scanning is presented not as a graceful and mystical power, but as a painful and unpleasant "merging of two nervous systems". The process is as unpleasant for the the person being scanned (who suffer from headaches and nosebleeds at best, and can have their hearts stopped and heads exploded at worst) and the scanners themselves who suffer severe social and psychological side effects from hearing other peoples thoughts (the main character starts the movie homeless, and another scanner murdered his family when he was a child). Ruth's dream of a scanner utopia turn out to be Not So Different from Revok's scanner-supremacy idea, as observed by Vale. Meanwhile, Cam and Kim never fall in love, as would be expected, because they're too scared for their lives.
  • The 1991 film The Dark Backward contains an animated sequence that deconstructs the Tom and Jerry cartoons: Tom's Captain Ersatz gleefully pursues Jerry's, hatchet in hand, and then cuts him in half with it (guts spill); then Spike's Captain Ersatz appears and blows the cat's brains out (literally) with a shotgun. The main character's mother laughs out loudly at this scene.
  • The 2008 movie JCVD is a deconstruction of Jean-Claude Van Damme himself, as an out-of-luck delusional actor as opposed to the real-life moderately successful actor. Read the synopsis here.
  • One could argue that the first live action Scooby Doo movie deconstructed the gang's main quirks. In the cartoon, Daphne often became the Designated Victim, but took it in stride, even cracking a quip about it occasionally. In the movie, however, she openly despises the fact that she's "always the damsel in distress", and this combined with the fact that she blames it on the "incompetence" of the others makes her the most bitter and reluctant to get the gang back together. Velma was always the smart girl, but the movie portrays her as an under-appreciated Insufferable Genius. Fred was the de facto leader of Mystery Inc, and as such was often the voice of reason. The movie shows him as a literal Only Sane Man who struggles to keep the conflicting personalities of the team from getting out of hand. Surprisingly, Shaggy and Scooby are actually almost identical to their cartoon incarnations but in the second movie, they become deconstructed as well; Their cowardly and clumsy behaviour causes the team to see them as a burden, and when they found it out, they try their hardest to improve themselves. Of course, it ends up bad and when the team is exiled from their hometown, Shaggy's self-esteem is at rockbottom.
  • The Milla Jovovich version of Joan of Arc plays out the way the true story went until she is captured by the English, at which point it deconstructs the entire mythology surrounding Joan of Arc.
  • Saturday Night Fever harshly deconstruct America's hedonistic take on life in The Seventies. Sure, there were beautiful clothes, music, and lots of dancing, but there was a dark side to the life led by such people Tony and his friends. For example, Tony, who turns to hedonism as a way to cope with his own life as a low-class Brooklyn guy with a really Dysfunctional Family, has no thought for the future (and the culture as a whole didn't either), and his friends are involved with drugs, drinking, and casual sex which does cause them huge problems.
  • Scream, of course, was a deconstruction of the slasher horror film genre, with almost all of its characters being Genre Savvy and talking about what would happen next if this were a slasher film. This was done so successfully that "deconstructing the slasher genre" became a genre of its own.
  • Before School Days, The Beguiled (starring Clint Eastwood) showed why taking advantage of a bunch of ready and willing teenage girls is a bad idea.
  • The 2003 adaption of Daredevil deconstructs a lot of elements found in Comic books adaptions. Due to his vigilante lifestyle, Matt is in extreme pain from fighting, nurses multiple broken bones and nasty scars on his body, munches down painkillers regularly, he is frequently absent from work, he refuses to handle guilty or dishonest clients at his law firm, his super senses make it impossible for him to sleep out of a sensory depravation tank and he is dealing with a wreck of a personal life. Which is to say nothing of the fact that the poor guy is so miserable and downbeaten by life he can barely muster the energy to keep going.
  • Troy deconstructed the Trojan War.
  • Seven Samurai deconstructed the samurai mythos. Samurai aren't allowed to change occupations so they sell their services or (like the bandits) resort to crime.
  • Snow White a Tale of Terror deconstructs the original fairytale characters and especially the Disney film. Claudia starts out as a loving woman who wants to bond with her new stepdaughter, but Lilli shies away from her and that ends up leading to Claudia's Face Heel Turn. Also, the miners aren't cheerful dwarves, but outcasts from the kingdom.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Gustave Flaubert deconstructed his early romantic works with Madame Bovary.
  • Interview with the Vampire deconstructs the perceived glamour of the vampire mythos by showing the crushing tedium of living an unending existence and the idea that all vampires are killers. Louis must have taken centuries to fully embrace his killing nature.
  • Galaxies by Barry N. Malzberg is written both in praise and condemnation of the possibilities and limits of science-fiction. In fact, the book presents itself at the opening as a set of notes for a novel that can't be written because of those limits. Throughout, the Narrator talks about how background can be integrated, scenes set, and how the right ending is among the most important elements while at the same time, paradoxically enough, actually "telling" the story.
  • George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire is generally seen as being a deconstruction on romanticized, medievalesque societies in fantasy. Martin himself made a comment along the lines of "If a real-life stable-boy talked back to the Princess, he was likely to lose a tongue in the process." He's also fond of developing characters that fit many of the archetypes, then showing how difficult it would really be for them under more realistic circumstances. Eddard Stark is a premier example of the "noble lord" type of character, being honorable, just, and sympathetic, a good father and skilled leader in battle, but his positive qualities spell disaster for himself and his family.
  • The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie deconstructs heroic fantasy and a few of its common character archetypes, such as the "Wise Old Mentor", the Arthurian Aragorn-like figure, and the quest to save the world. As it turns out, the "Wise Old Mentor", is a ruthless, egomaniacal asshole, the arthurian figure is an arrogant prick who grows a sense of compassion and nobility only to be put in his place. The "Epic Conflict" is nothing more than a feud between Bayaz and his rival from when they were apprentice wizards that has gone on for centuries. According to the author, Logen Ninefingers is supposed to be a deconstruction of violent characters with Dark And Troubled Pasts, as well as the glamorization of killing, the idea that people would overlook a killer's unsavoryness just because they showed a soft side, and the idea that a man can be vicious killer and still be a good person.
  • Throughout Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain mocks Romanticism, an English writing style that was still popular in the U.S., even though its popularity had faded in England by then. Adventure books were a popular subject for Romanticism, for which Tom Sawyer was often used to parody. Twain mainly deconstructs Romanticism as a means to Reconstruct into Realism, which had developed in the U.S. during the mid nineteenth century.
    • One example is during the long-winded ending, when Huck and Tom are trying to rescue Jim, and Tom insists on following a bunch of pointless activities from various Romantic stories, such as making Jim write on a coat of arms and water a plant with his tears, and putting rats where Jim is held for Jim to play music for, all of which serves only to make a simple task much more difficult. Tom's attempts to make their task more exciting, like in a Romantic book, goes awry, as Tom is shot as Huck, Tom, and Jim escape, and they are all caught, anyway. (Of course, the fact that Tom knew this whole time that Jim was already legally free served to make his whole act even more pointless).
    • Another example involving Tom is when he mistakes a Sunday school picnic for Arab and Spaniard armies, which leads to the picnic being ruined. Both this and the previous example seem to show how Romantic books affected its young readers, by making them act irrationally and cause problems.
  • Blood Meridian completely deconstructs many of the tropes associated with the Old West, showing what a sick, depraved, and violent place it truly is. It tells the story of a fourteen-year-old boy whom we know only as "the Kid" and his journey across the American frontier. Along the way, he joins up with a group of scalp hunters led by a man known only amongst the men as "the Judge." Within this group, we are borne witness to the grotesque, fucked-up world that was the American Old West. In addition to deconstructing our notions of the American Frontier, Cormac McCarthy also deconstructs many views on morality, showing that while the scalp hunters are evil, so were many of the Indians whom they sought after. So, in the end, no one is truly moral in this world.
  • Superpowers by David J. Schwartz completely tears up the super-hero genre. There are no super-villains or over-arching plots to destroy the world, but it's okay, because by the end of the book, the group has been inadvertently responsible for several woundings and deaths, Charlie, the group's mind reader goes partially insane from all the dread immediately after 9/11, goes into a mental asylum for a year, and is presumably kidnapped by the government immediately after, Jack, the group's speedster dies from old age as a result of accelerated aging related to his super speed Mary Beth, who has super strength accidentally kills an innocent islamic man, and willingly goes to jail for it, Caroline, the group's flier experiences her mother dying in 9/11 and goes into exile with Harriet (the team's invisible woman) and her father.
  • The novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes deconstructs the Knight in Shining Armor by showing how much trouble the chivalric code can cause in the real world, and the dark, unspoken assumptions behind knight's tales (i.e, true gentlemen do not need to work).
    • A huge amount of Don Quixote is also a reconstruction of the Chivalric Romance (bear in mind that the Don quotes whole excerpts from Amadis of Gaul and Orlando Furioso in places), after the genre was already old-fashioned, and half of the joke is a Take That against the contemporary Moral Guardians who believed that such tales were inappropriate and corrupting for proper young ladies... which is why the book is about how chivalric romances lead to the corruption of a fifty-year-old man. After everyone else had stopped caring. Don Quixote proceeded to spur a revival of the genre (part 2 was partially Cervantes' rebuttal to an insulting Fanfic) and became a tragic romantic figure for the remainder of Western history.
    • Orlando Furioso was, itself, a deconstruction of the Knight in Shining Armour's obsessive love for his lady. After Orlando finds out that Angelica has no interest in him and doesn't hold up to his impossibly high standards (i.e. she had premarital sex with a shepherd, and eventually gets married to a likable Arab guy), he basically turns into The Incredible Hulk and runs around killing innocent people.
  • The novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens is a rare case of a writer deconstructing all of his previous work. All the normal tropes of Dickens novels (the Changeling Fantasy, saintly dying women, mysterious benefactors, long-lost relatives, etc.) happen like clockwork. Then these tropes are revealed to be a malevolent lie created to manipulate the hero—who has been so morally ruined that he's more like an Anti-Hero.
    • While we're on the topic of Dickens, There's also A Christmas Carol. During Victorian times it was common to idealize "self made men" (capitalists) in the context of Social Darwinism. Dickens gave the world Ebenezer Scrooge, a "self made man" who got where he was through a combination of ruthlessness and greed, and whose wealth comes at the expense of his friends, family, and ultimately his own happiness, and is thus bitter, miserable, and on the verge of dying alone and unmissed. However the book also turns around and delves into Reconstruction by having the three spirits teach him the error of his ways, and thus he reforms and embraces what truly matters. Off course all this was unheard of at the time, which is why it's regarded as such a classic. Unfortunately its impact has been blunted by overexposure.
  • Soon I Will Be Invincible is a Superhero novel, revolving around Doctor Impossible breaking out of jail to try and take over the world (again)... all the while wondering if he's done the smartest things he could do with his life and vast intellect. Most of the other characters are Captain Ersatzes of other popular comic book archetype characters, with realistic human flaws added.
    • Interestingly, the deconstruction for the most part comes only through the narration of the main characters, and the things that would happen off screen in comic books. When the characters actually speak, they still seem to speak in a classic way, spewing puns and unnecessarily narrating what they are doing out loud to basically no-one.
  • Foucault's Pendulum deconstructs its genre by examining the motives people have for believing in conspiracy theories. These include the exertion of control through secrecy, a frustrated creative instinct, and the pathological desire to see every event as a symbol of something deeper instead of as itself. Ultimately, people who devote their lives to these theories are portrayed as fools who are too wrapped up in their own fantasies to realize that it is all utter nonsense.
  • The Iron Dream, an Alternate History Mockumentary essay about Adolf Hitler's career as a pulp Sci Fi illustrator turned author, is a deconstruction of the Heroic Fantasy genre and the Apocalypse fantasy, intended to show the creepy fascist aspects at its core. Look at some of the older Heroic Fantasy books, like the Lensmen Saga, where the protagonists gleefully commit genocide on a troublesome race of aliens, or the Conan books, where the titular character is described as "A beautiful Aryan warrior in a land over run by brown skin hoards" or the Gor serries, which is basically about how great it is to rape and dominate women. Add all this to the fact that Heroic Fantasy grew out of Victorian adventure (and all the white man's burden inherent within) and you'll understand where this book is coming from.
  • Banewreaker by Jacqueline Carey and its sequel Godslayer deconstruct Heroic Fantasy in the most painful manner possible. It's hard to think of a fantasy trope not used, up to and including a more benign version of I Have You Now, My Pretty, but Exclusively Evil is subverted, Sympathetic POV is averted, and the Designated Villains are made to be ultimately on the side of what's right despite committing horrible deeds out of necessity. It's enough to make your jaw drop, almost qualifying as Detournement.
  • A Princess Worth Dying For by Sergei Lukyanenko presents a fairly standard Space Opera world with a few innovative technologies thrown in. The sequel, Planet that Doesn't Exist" proceeds to deconstruct the entire setting, revealing that it was actually a result of a Gambit Roulette orchestrated by time-traveling humans from the future, who wanted to create thousands of planets worth of allies in a fight against an alien race that kept humanity from expanding out into space.
  • Since, as of this writing, all the examples on this page are positively presented, a reminder should be given that Tropes Are Not Good. For instance, there's Out of this World by Lawrence Watt-Evans, which deconstructs both High Fantasy and Space Opera. Our hero is an ordinary schlub, so everything -- everything—he tries fails miserably as the narration remarks that such things only work in fiction. Deus Angst Machina rears its ugly head when the villains rape and murder his wife and daughter.
  • Lord of the Flies deconstructs the Kids Wilderness Epic, subverting Mighty Whitey and Noble Savage.
  • Snow Crash is an Indecisive Deconstruction of the Cyberpunk genre. Stephenson exaggerates the genre's usual tropes and takes them to their logical conclusion—most notably Hiro Protagonist's outlandish array of skills and the fact that the Metaverse looks more like Second Life than any serious cyberpunk VR. The critiques inherent in Snow Crash flew over the heads of a lot of readers, but they informed many later works in the genre including Gibson's Bridge Trilogy.
    • Stephenson's next novel The Diamond Age further deconstructs cyberpunk: it first introduces Bud, a typical Badass Longcoat cyberpunk protagonist...and then shows him to be an idiotic thug who is executed in the first chapter.
  • At around the same time as Snow Crash was written, two of Cyberpunk's early proponents, William Gibson (author of, among others, the prototypical Cyberpunk book Neuromancer) and Bruce Sterling (author of the Cyberpunk anthology Mirrorshades), got together to write The Difference Engine, which was meant to deconstruct Cyberpunk by taking all the Cyberpunk storylines and themes and putting them in a Victorian Context, the point being that the themes commonly associated with Cyberpunk where nothing new, or even anything entirely fictional. Instead they ended up giving birth to a new genre.
    • William Gibson himself said in the introduction to The Difference Engine that the idea came from when he finally got around to actually buying a computer for himself. Before then he thought computers were these mysterious magic boxes. When got it, he called into tech support that it was making "funny noises", only to be told it was just the disk drive. He went on to say how shocked he was that this "little box [was] actually run by such a primitive Victorian technology as a motor spinning a disk".
  • Bret Easton Ellis's novel The Rules of Attraction could arguably be described as a deconstruction of Wacky Fratboy Hijinx-style books and films, using the female character Lauren to show the casual sexism and objectification of women commonplace in the genre, the character of Paul to similarly show how homosexuality is so feared by the genre's archetypal characters, the results of massive consumption of alcohol & drugs, the indifference of most of the characters to the feelings of others, and the ennui and boredom which leads to the inevitable Wild Teen Party.
  • Balzac's Illusions Perdues is a particularly depressing deconstruction of the Bildungsroman.
  • Incognita is a deconstruction of the courtly romances of the early 18th century, as it exposes just how shallow and stupid all the characters would have to be and how reliant the plot is on Contrived Coincidence.
  • Coraline arguably deconstructs the Down the Rabbit Hole genre (subgenre of Magical Land) by showing just how dangerous a trip to a Magical Land can be, but most important by noting that whatever summoned you there can be bad, not good—and that the whole Magical Land may be an evil trap, as opposed to standard setting where evil is just a part which you should vanquish in order to either return home or live Happily Ever After in said land. Also deconstructs the Changeling Fantasy trope by showing that such claims may be lies.
  • Brandon Sanderson has said that he intended the background of the Mistborn trilogy as a deconstruction of High Fantasy, in which The Hero fails his quest, and a thousand years later, the immortal Dark Lord rules the crumbling, devastated world as a god. After the first book, it also becomes a deconstruction of what happens after the unlikely heroes defeat the Dark Lord, and the difficulty of introducing freedom and establishing peace.
    • As part of that, Sanderson also has a disturbing deconstruction of the use of prophecy in fantasy, which is almost always represented as being either good, or at least neutral. One of the characters fulfills an ancient prophecy, only to find out that the prophecy was a lie propagated by a nihilistic god of destruction to enable its release.
  • The Acts of Caine books deconstruct Role Playing Games featuring Player Characters in a larger world (including Tabletop Games and MMORPGs). Pays particular attention to the relentlessly influential (and often devastating) effects such characters tend to have on the world they're visiting. The trappings of a High Fantasy are there, but it's one hell of a Crapsack World.
  • Sleeping Helena is a deconstruction of Sleeping Beauty. She is granted the gifts of music and dance and grace and beauty and so on and so forth, but these instead turn into obligations rather than gifts, each gift requiring her attention a bit each day. She also becomes a monster, torturing animals and willing to hurt and manipulate other people. "Why did no one think to grant her kindness?"
    • In addition, the curse of death was deconstructed as well, since the gift was not actually intended to kill her.
  • Done with the trip-to-fairyland thing in Catherynne M Valente's book The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. To be specific, she deconstructs what happens to the Pevensie children. In the Narnia books, the Pevensies go to a wonderful, amazing magical land, grow up, presumably have romantic interests, and are kings and queens. When they return to their own world and are basically reset to the ages they were when they discovered Narnia, they are totally fine with it and show no signs of angst or even anger. Not so with the Marquess, the villain of the piece. Near the end it is revealed she is also from September's world, only she Stumbled instead of being Ravished and so was doomed to return to her own world exactly like the Pevensies. She didn't know this, so she grew up, became Queen, had a husband and a leopard--and then, without warning, found herself a child again, back on a boring potato farm. She was pissed, needless to say, and finagled herself a return to Fairyland, where she proceeds to take revenge on the whole damn world by becoming a terrifying tyrant
  • The Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell arguably does this in regards to the King Arthur mythos.
  • Arguably, Boris Strugatsky's The Powerless Ones of This World is a deconstruction of much of his own and his late brother's earlier works. Perhaps most prominently, "the Sensei", who is a wise old mentor (a fairly typical character for many Strugatsky novels), turns out to have been not only a Trickster Mentor, but also the initiator of The Plan that dictated much of the plot and was aimed at forcing the main character to unlock his full abilities. It succeeded, but not before making said main character a nervous wreck, inducing quite a Bittersweet Ending and causing much remorse to the mentor himself. Additionally, the topic of the Progressors is briefly brought up; one of the characters muses that the Sensei might be acting as one on Earth, and that he had, despite some occasional successes, failed miserably.
    • Hard to Play God deconstructs medieval chivalry, fantasy settings, the supposed glamour of royalty and nobility, and well-intentioned meddling by developed countries (in this case, civilizations: an idealist Commies In Space benevolent space-faring nation ideologically similar to Star Trek's Federation). The Middle Ages are also known as the Dark Ages for a reason: a Crapsack World is pretty much a given there.
  • With A Companion to Wolves, Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette do this to all bonded companion animal stories, especially Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern.
  • A lot of John Tynes and/or Greg Stolze works features this. Unknown Armies, for instance, deconstructs the Urban Fantasy setting, the novel A Hunger Like Fire deconstructs the trope of the sensual vampire temptress and the RPGs Godlike and Wild Talents deconstructs superheroes stories set during World War 2 and the Cold War respectively.
  • The Doctor Who Expanded Universe novel The Crooked World by Steve Lyons is a deconstruction of Looney Tunes-esque cartoons as the Doctor lands in a cartoon world and begins to influence its inhabitants' behaviors towards naturalism.
  • "A Troll Story" by Nicola Griffith, in which a Viking warrior faces off against a troll. He wins, all right, but the story abruptly takes a deconstructionist turn: he goes insane from the troll's final curse, which renders him able to understand that there's no essential moral difference between the troll's slaughter of Vikings and his own slaughter of innocents in the towns he's raided.
  • Ring For Jeeves could be considered PG Wodehouse's deconstruction of his own stories. The usual romantic comedy character-relation tropes are there, but the world they live in is remarkably different. All of Wodehouse's stories take place in a world of eternal Genteel Interbellum Setting, but Ring For Jeeves explores what would happen if time actually progressed. World War II has happened, Britain is in the throes of social upheaval which separates Jeeves and Bertie (Bertie is sent to a school that teaches the aristocracy how to fend for themselves), poverty and suicide and graphic death are acknowledged, and Jeeves even admits to having "dabbled in" World War I. The book's setting, Rowchester Abbey, is falling apart at the seams and the characters who inhabit it start to feel like a pocket of old-fashioned happiness in a darkening world. In case any doubters still exist about 3/4 through the book, there's Constable Wyvyrn's musings about just how much the world has changed.
  • Goshawk Squadron by Derek Robinson attacks the popular view of World War One air combat which, rather than dueling "Knights of the Air", actually involved undertrained pilots diving out of the sun and machine-gunning their opponent in the back before he had a chance to defend himself.
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court was a deconstruction of the King Arthur mythos, which a lot of Brits took offense to. (It was compared, at one point, to defecating on a national treasure.)
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald could be the earliest deconstruction of the American dream lifestyle. It shows the rich and happy as people who are empty on the inside and the fight between new rich and old rich lifestyles, particularly with the titular character Jay Gatsby.
  • The Second Apocalypse series by R. Scott Bakker was an attempted deconstruction of what Bakker considers the crux of fantasy—a meaningful universe with metaphysical purpose. One of the premises of the series is "What if you had a fantasy world where Old Testament-style morality, with all of its arbitrary taboos and cruelties (like damnation), was as true in the same way that gravity is 9.8 meters per second squared?". Whether he successfully accomplishes this is heavily debated.
  • A Tale of Two Cities. To many, the famous opening line ("It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...") seems cliche, but one needs to look at it in the context of the French Revolution. In the years following it, revisionists on both sides relied heavily on propaganda, romantising their own side as undeniably good, and demonising the other side as undeniably bad. A Tale of Two Cities makes the assumption that both side was absolutly right and runs with it, and so both the aristocrats and the revolutionaries have, among their ranks, noble, honorable people fighting for what they belive is right, and total sadists who just want some bloodshed.
  • The Death and the Compass, by Jorge Luis Borges, is a short story that deconstructs the tropes of Mystery Fiction and Detective Drama: In the first lines, the Great Detective Eric Lonroth is implied to have a Rogues Gallery and an Arch Enemy in Diabolical Mastermind Red Scharlach. Then there is a murder. Inspector Lestrade Treviranus was Stating the Simple Solution that a thief must have killed him. Lonroth lapmshades that this "solution" heavily implies a Random Events Plot and prefers to study the victim’s books, he was a rabbi expert at Judaism investigating the name of God, and there is a piece of paper that states that: "the first letter of the name has been articulated". Deeming those as an Magical Incantation, Treviranus, a Christian policeman, doesn’t want to investigate those superstitions and give the books to Lonroth. Later, an Intrepid Reporter misinterprets Lonroth’s declarations and publishes that Lonroth wants to find the letters of God to find the name of the murderer. One month after the murder, there is another murder with a note, "The Second letter of the name has been articulated". Treviranus discovers that the victim was a crook who worked for Red Scharlach and states that HeHasOutlivedHisUsefulness, Lonroth suspects Never One Murder. The second month after the first crime, Treviranus gets a call that offers to explain the strange murders, but it’s Disconnected by Death. When he and Lonroth investigate, it seems that a third man had been kidnapped and maybe murdered, because there is a third note that says "The third letter of the name has been articulated". Treviranos suspects a Scooby-Doo Hoax, but Lonroth knows someone is playing Criminal Mind Games. The papers claims that Police Are Useless and that there is a Jewish Ancient Conspiracy. One day before the third month after the first murder, Treviranus gets a map that seems to Connect the Deaths. Exasperated, sends it to Lonroth. Lonroth realizes that there must be a fourth murder and goes to prevent it. He’s Genre Savvy enough to know that once the mystery is solved, the rest is purely routine… except it’s not. He is surprised and overpowered by the Big Bad Red Scharlach, who gives The Summation: Inspector Lestrade Treviranus was right all along, the first murder was a robbery gone bad, but when Scharlach read the article with the Linked-List Clue Methodology, he was Dangerously Genre Savvy enough to make an Evil Plan that relied in two BatmanGambits: Lonroth’s Complexity Addiction (and Unfortunate Implications!) to explain a crime with the most complicated solution (an Ancient Conspiracy involving a Magical Incantation) and his I Work Alone philosophy that he will not ask Treviranus for help. Lonroth only can praise Scarlach Evil Plan, but that it could have been more simpler. Red Scarlach promises this plan for the next time he kill Lonroth, and then he simply shoots him. Both of them were incredibly sad, because they both felt that this was the end of their adventures.
  • When You Reach Me provides an interesting deconstruction of the Time Travel ideas, mostly from being told not as a person who is doing the time traveling. The time traveler himself is seen as generally crazy to everyone, and the only way he can have someone believe he's from the future is by sending notes carried in his mouth, because he can't bring anything to the past.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • My So-Called Life is essentially a deconstruction of teen comedies, although the creators never declared it as such. Tropes like Playing Cyrano and A Simple Plan are played seriously, showing how unpleasant they would be in real life. And the parents, instead of being cartoonishly clueless, are clueless in a more realistic, and more painful, way.
  • Good luck watching another crime drama, even a relatively realistic one, after watching The Wire's deconstruction of the genre.
  • The Gruen Transfer analyzes and deconstructs advertising.
  • Though telenovelas are rarely prone to deconstruct the genre, a Colombian one named "La mujer en el espejo" ("Woman in the mirror") deconstructed the hell out of the archetypal plot of "Former Pollyanna is betrayed by her love interest and gets into a Roaring Rampage of Revenge via Unnecessary Makeover becoming fashionable and ruthless". According to this one, the only real way one no one could recognize you is having a Deal with the Devil to literally transform into another woman. Pity that you now are So Beautiful It's a Curse; your family obviously doesn't recognize you (which is very inconvenient when you're trying to advise and protect them from the villains), mirrors show your real appearance, who becomes your detached conscience and berates all your bad decisions, including the aforementioned deal; and your love interest liked you much better the way you were.
  • Firefly's primary raison d'etre is to deconstruct the Space Opera genre. For example, the series opens with an epic battle in which The Empire The Alliance soundly defeats the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits Independent Worlds; The Captain's epic romance never even gets off the ground due to the personality clashes between him and his love interest, and the Raygun Gothic setting is rendered completely moot by the fact that the protagonists are too broke to afford any of the cool technology, and most of that stuff is unreliable anyway.
    • And our heroes survive in this world by stealing, running away and generally being combat pragmatists. One of the early defining moments of the series was when they're about to let a captured enemy go and he gives them a "The Last Thing You Ever See" speech. So they kick him into a jet intake.
      • It also deconstructs the Action Girl, Waif Fu, and Super Soldier concepts with River, showing just how utterly and completely insane, emotionally-damaged, and traumatized a girl with those capabilities would be.
  • Malcolm in the Middle could be said to be a deconstruction of all the classic family Sitcom tropes. Instead of being cute and innocent, the kids are evil little troublemakers. Instead of being a stern authority figure the father is a spineless coward. Instead of being a kind loving Matriarch, the mother is strict, arbitrary, unreasonable, and has a volcanic temper. Instead of living in a nice, pristine, two-story suburban house, they live in a small, trashed-out home. (though it does look nice when it's clean) The parents have actual financial trouble, struggling to take care of three to four children while the dad works a dinky office job and the mom, instead of staying at home like most sitcom moms, works in a grocery store. Oh, and of course the lack of a Laugh Track.
  • A dark deconstruction of a typical Dom Com can be found in Titus in which it shows how a dysfunctional family can be messed up in the real world. It also plays around with several other tropes. For example; Titus' and friends' antics lead to bad publicity for their garage, leading to their biggest client demanding his money back, leading to the garage in financial trouble, leading to him drinking to drive Erin away, and so on. In most sitcoms, the guys would just make idiots of themselves publicly, learn A Lesson, then it would be forgotten by the next episode.
  • The new Battlestar Galactica massively deconstructed the old one, by showing how it "really" would look like if the last people were fleeing from a genocide. By proxy, the show also deconstructed "light" sci-fi like Star Wars.
    • Arguments have been made that the show is much less of a deconstruction, than it is simply a Darker and Edgier re-imagining; since it fails to address many of the problems of the original. This may be reinforced by the fact that the Cylons have been changed from an irreconcilable alien other, to an Anvilicious screed about mankind being destroyed by their own sins; interspersed with plenty of Fan Service and Fetish Fuel (two words: "dungeon ship"). Further reinforced by the fact that most of the major characters devote epic amounts of time to their personal dysfunctionalities; and seem to be only tangentially concerned with the fact that their entire race has been almost completely wiped out.
    • It also does away with the Snap Back that fans of Star Trek are familiar with. In Trek, the ship could get shot up with no ill effects next episode. With Galactica, especially following the Battle of New Caprica, you see what effect an epic space battle would have on a ship with no access to a station for repairs.
    • The show also deconstructs the Ace pilot with a heart of gold—Starbuck, and how messed up such a person would really be.
    • It could also be argued that BSG deconstructs Star Trek Voyager, given Ronald D. Moore's criticism of that series in his famous interview.
  • Bodies is basically a deconstruction of hospital dramas.
  • The Sopranos takes Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster! and all its consequences and plays them for drama.
  • Many people believe that Glee is a Deconstruction of traditional musicals. Unlike other musicals, in Glee most of the musical numbers take place either during a performance or in the character's imaginations, and sometimes both. When a character does try singing their feelings in real life to help their problems, it doesn't work out so well. Other people see Glee as a Deconstruction of High School Musical. Whereas High School Musical, being a Disney Channel program for young children, doesn't show many real life high school problems, Glee deals with teen sex, teen pregnancy, homosexuality, homophobia, and drug use. This, however, is unintentional, as the creator of the show, Ryan Murphy, has stated that he's never seen High School Musical.
  • Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon ends up deconstructing its own source material in increasingly surprising ways as it diverges from the original story, until, by the end, Sailor Moon herself has become the Omnicidal Maniac villain; the senshi's power source, the Silver Crystal, turns out to have really been an Artifact of Doom; and erstwhile villain Queen Beryl is revealed to have actually been trying to save the world, albeit only so she could rule it. The deconstruction arises here as a result of the audience's own genre expectations about the senshi's Power of Friendship and the motivation of the Card Carrying Villains, and how naive and dangerous it'd actually be for the heroines to make such assumptions.
  • Star Trek experienced a successful Deconstruction with Deep Space Nine, a successful Reconstruction with Voyager, a Deconstruction with Enterprise, and Reconstruction with the 2009 film.
  • The Ten Commandments miniseries shows the many hard choices (abandoning his family, alienating his adoptive mother, causing his blood brother to do a Face Heel Turn, killing his most loyal comrade to enforce God's authority)) Moses had to make in following God.
  • In a very unique example, as the vast majority of deconstructions are very cynical in nature, The West Wing (a highly idealistic show) could be seen as a deconstruction of the popular conventions of what constitutes political immorality: the Press Secretary spins information not to cover up the government's guilt, but to protect the jobs of heads of state and militaries from the influence of political whims; politicians make unsavory deals with amoral lobbyists and scheming congressmen not for personal gain, but to rescue legislation that would help out thousands of people; the President's speeches and public appearances are carefully scripted not to make him look good, but to prevent confusion and possible panic from people who don't have Masters' in public policy; etc, etc.
  • The B plot of Community episode English as a Second Language is a deconstruction of Good Will Hunting'. Abed pulls a paraphrasing of Ben Affleck's "the best part of my day" speech from on Troy, to try to get him to 'use his gift' and become a plumber. The next day, Abed turns to find that Troy is no longer sitting next to him in class... but not because he's inspired and has dropped out, but because Troy has switched seats because he's offended that his best friend would actually think the prospect of him just leaving without a word would be the best part of his day. Turns out, that would actually be a really horrible and offensive thing to say to a friend, no matter how gifted.
  • 24 deconstructed the entire spy thriller genre - even its first season is a far cry from the "torture is everything" mantra in the later seasons. A government agent, who wants nothing more than to spend some downtime reconciling with his wife, gets press-ganged into investigating a potential assassination plot. All of Jack Bauer's co-workers are either revealed as moles or are heavily set up to be one. Jack is willing to defend Los Angeles, no matter how difficult the people (friend and foe alike) around him make it. Everyone that Jack works with either gets killed as a result of his leadership, or hate his guts because he sold them out prior to the events of the series. Jack goes through the entire season looking increasingly haggard and tired, and nods off in the morning while trying to find his family. Jack's wife goes through a Humiliation Conga (including getting kidnapped, being raped, having to flee a safehouse with her daughter and ending up with amnesia) that all amounts to nothing when she gets gutshot by her husband's co-worker and dies without revealing to Jack that she was pregnant. The best thing Jack achieves throughout the series are hollow victories - he's never any better off; even at the end of the series, he has to flee the U.S. after being branded a fugitive.
  • You could say Law and Order deconstructs both cop shows and courtroom dramas. It doesn't end when the suspect is caught. It's just the beginning of a long litigation process and there's no guarantee the suspect will be found guilty or even that the right person is prosecuted.
  • Though on the surface it looks like business as usual, Power Rangers RPM deconstructs much of its franchise. We see exactly the kind of threat the villain can present (99% of the world has been nuked), the Plucky Comic Relief is not an Instant Expert upon becoming a Ranger (and is just competent enough to avoid being The Load), the Teen Genius designing all the gear got her skills from being in a secret think tank for most of her life and has No Social Skills as a result, and there is immense pressure to keep the Mid Season Upgrades coming lest the villain get ahead. Things that don't get deconstructed tend to be lampshaded and made fun of; gratuitous Stuff Blowing Up was questioned once, and the aforementioned Teen Genius regularly gets offended when the Ranger suits are referred to as "spandex".
  • Naeturvaktin is a fairly standard Work Com Cringe Comedy centring around Georg, a Control Freak Pointy-Haired Boss with awful politics. The sequel Dagvaktin is about just how awful and non-wacky it would be to have to work with someone like that in real life, and how genuinely messed-up they would have to be to become that kind of person in the first place. Several episodes of Dagvaktin are straight-up drama with no jokes at all, dealing realistically with the spiral of bullying, abuse, child abuse and murder which Georg ends up perpetrating.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Exalted deconstructs a lot of typical fantasy tropes. You are not the beloved chosen of an omnipotent sky-father god, you are an autonomous hunter-killer weapon built to kill the creators of the world and left to run amok. You are not in charge because it is your divine right to rule or because good always prevails, but because you're the most badass autonomous hunter-killer weapon around and you killed/dominated/enslaved/subverted all the competition. You win not because you're morally right, or because you believe with all your heart, you win because you have power, you use it intelligently and you're awesome: you can always define yourself as morally right afterwards, when you gain your own personal Omniscient Morality License and propaganda machine set up.
  • Unknown Armies is this for Urban Fantasy, by pointing out the various issues with human nature that would come up if the supernatural really existed in the modern day world. Violence, insanity, tragedy and anti-social behaviour is common in the occult underground.


Theater[edit | hide]

  • Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods spends its first act as simply a retelling of the stories of "Jack and the Beanstalk", "Little Red Riding Hood", "Rapunzel", and "Cinderella", all tied together with the story of a baker and his wife who are cursed with infertility unless they can procure certain items from all four. In the end it looks like everyone's gotten what they want and is happy, but suddenly the narrator announces "To be continued!" Act two begins with the idea that the giant was just minding his own business when Jack came up the beanstalk and killed him, and just builds from there into an incredibly brutal Anyone Can Die deconstruction of fairy tales.
  • Hamlet has been read as a massive deconstruction of Elizabethan revenge dramas (although most of them end in tears for everyone). Measure for Measure might do the same for comedies. The whole thing is a source of much debate.
    • Romeo and Juliet can be read as a deconstruction of the idea that "Love At First Sight" can exist, since Romeo and Juliet's attraction is implied to be purely superficial, more to do with lust than love, and brings nothing but tragedy to everyone around them (and, of course, themselves). Again, it's debatable.
  • The Yeomen of the Guard plays much like any of Gilbert and Sullivan's other operas, except the Deus Ex Machina never shows up, so everybody gets married to the wrong person.
  • M. Butterfly is a deconstruction of the Western fantasy of getting with an Asian chick in general, and Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly in particular.
  • A Streetcar Named Desire did not deconstruct any genre in particular, but it did deconstruct gender roles, physical relationships, and the American system of social classes in a rather harsh way.
  • Older Than Feudalism: Euripides' Trojan Women and Hecuba portrayed The Trojan War as a human tragedy rather than a sweeping epic tale of martial valor in the Homeric tradition. In general, his tragedies are regarded as more "modern" than those of his predecessors because of their morally ambiguous protagonists, pervasive sense of anxiety and despair, religious skepticism and overall portrayal of mythologycal subjects and characters as real people.
  • The musical Urinetown has the downtrodden people fighting to overthrow the oppressive system that heavily taxes and regulates their bathroom usage during a worldwide massive drought. They succeed, but they are so caught up in the "freedom" that they don't control themselves at all and end up effectively squandering all the remaining water.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Chrono Cross deconstructs time travel by going into detail about what happens to the people who live in erased timelines, as a result of the actions of the characters from Chrono Trigger and Serge's death or rather, survival. The alternate timeline is the one in which he lives, Home.
  • While the first two Metal Gear games played everything fairly straight, the Metal Gear Solid series is intended as a deconstruction of action movies (and, to a lesser extent, video games), twisting tropes common to them around in extremely horrible ways to establish how damaged everything and everyone would have to be for an action movie scenario to work in the real world. By the second game it's way out into the nastiest parts of the Deconstructor Fleet territory, shamelessly attacking fandom, the video game industry, the expectations of fans and even its own prequel and characters. Some would argue it goes a bit too far, to the point where it feels very painful to play a game which clearly hates you so much.

Snake, in the ending where Meryl dies: I'm a loser. I'm not the hero you thought I was! I'm nothing!

  • It is quite plausible to read Half Life as a deconstruction of the archetypal First-Person Shooter Doom. The basic premise is essentially the same; an experiment into teleportation technology goes horribly wrong and creates a dimensional rift through which monstrosities invade our world. Additionally, there is very little plot exposition (just like the original Doom!). But whereas Doom played this incident as a wonderful way to demonstrate one's masculine virility by filling demons full of lead, Half Life shows you exactly how frightening this kind of situation would be in the real world. You must scramble to stay alive, think and not act like a stereotypical Space Marine in order to remain breathing. Additionally, while Doom had almost no plot exposition whatsoever, Half Life frustrates the player with its lack of explicit exposition, demonstrating just how terrifying it would be to be stuck in a life-threatening situation with absolutely no information about it.
  • BioShock (series) deconstructs the more cerebral, RPG Elements-gifted and Emergent Gameplay style of First-Person Shooter games (such as Deus Ex and System Shock) by showing you exactly how much choice you actually have. None. During the entire game you are essentially on the leash of Mission Control and the But Thou Must! demands it makes of you, and all the choices you can make (ammo types, plasmid loadout, etc) are (with one specific exemption) basically meaningless in terms of the game's plot. In addition, several other tropes unrelated to the genre are deconstructed as well, most famously the concept of "Galt's Gulch" from Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged.
    • Word of God is that they weren't trying to deconstruct Objectivism per se, more that they where trying to deconstruct the idea of Utopian fiction (showing that human nature always gets in the way of any so-called "perfect society") as well as the idea of the Ubermensch with the antagonists Andrew Ryan and Sofia Lamb (who runs a collectivist society in Bioshock 2).
  • Portal starts with a fairly common paper-thin puzzle game plot—make it through all nineteen Test Chambers of the Enrichment Center, and There Will Be Cake. However, as the danger level climbs, the explanations you're given for why you're facing such dangers go from slightly unusual to downright insane—then stop altogether. The entire set looks like you're a subject in a deranged Skinner Box experiment. And you start seeing evidence that previous test subjects have suffered nervous breakdowns, been driven to madness, or tried to break out of the test chambers. And then comes The Reveal at the end of Test Chamber 19. You've got an Excuse Plot played for horror. And for laughs.
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2 has all of the standard RPG conventions; you recruit party members who follow you forevermore, an Obi-Wan equivalent who explains everything, and you gain XP, levels and new abilities through combat. And then several important characters call you out on all of this, saying, "Have you ever stopped to think about how you get stronger by killing everything? Don't you wonder why these people follow you without question? Has it occurred to you that your Obi-Wan only knows so much about both us and the villains because she's worked for both?" It turns out that these standard RPG conventions aren't Gameplay and Story Segregation at all, but rather, things that actually happen in the plot, caused by the plot's Awful Truth. The standard aspects of the genre we as the player take for granted are seen by the people involved not because they can see through the fourth wall, but because any sane person would look at this behavior and realize that it's not the way reality should work, even the reality of Star Wars. Light or darksided, it says something about the Exile that s/he doesn't even notice it.
    • Not to mention the way it subverts the Karma Meter, by making what seems like the right thing to do end up being exactly the wrong thing to do, as is often the case in real life. For example giving to a beggar could lead to a worse outcome than if you had left him alone, as it makes him a target for armed robbery, and thus getting him killed.
    • This includes deconstructing the idea of the RPG party and battle system, and at one point a companion tells you it frightens her how she follows you unthinkingly into battle, shoots when you say to shoot, kills when you say to kill etc. As in the above XP Point example, this is framed as a disturbing and unique characteristic of the main character, and treated as a plot point.
    • It also deconstructs the Jedi and the Sith—Force users in general can often be compared to deities, able to accomplish great feats that a mere mortal would declare impossible. A recurring theme in the game is that there are often times where a Muggle can do things that a Jedi would never be able to do.
    • Finally, it deconstructs Lucas's presentation of the Force, in that the Big Bad, having sampled from both the Jedi and Sith wells, ultimately rejects both because they're completely opposed yet they both work. Obviously the Force is far greater than they realized and the Big Bad is hoping to destroy the Force itself using the PC, freeing life from its influence.
  • This article from Cracked.com proposes an ultra-realistic war game. That is, you spend two hours pushing across a map to destroy a nuke silo only to find out later it was an orphanage, complete with celebrities decrying the attack. Public Support rises and falls depending on entirely arbitrary factors, mission objectives change frequently and without warning, the cool superweapons kill 100 of your soldiers because the contractors cut corners, etc.
  • Even though Half Minute Hero role-playing-game parts mostly ridicule many cliches found in role-playing games, it deconstructs RPG game concept as a whole. Makes you wonder why almost all other role-playing games include hours of Forced Level Grinding and other tedious activities.
  • The Shin Megami Tensei franchise often plays around with tropes and expectations, but one of the main thrusts of the recent Devil Survivor title is an unrelentingly vicious deconstruction of "Mons" games in the vein of Pokémon. During the course of the game, many people obtain small handheld devices that allow them to summon various kinds of demons which essentially work like the Mons do in other games. Needless to say, it doesn't take very long before many start using them for power, or "justice", or the like, resulting in chaos and death on the streets of a locked-down Tokyo.
  • Haunting Ground could be considered as a deconstruction of the more typical Survival Horror games where the main character is given all sorts of weapons and ammunition to cut down a near endless stream of monsters. The most Fiona can do herself is kick the enemy, and she relies on her pet dog to keep the enemy at bay as long as she can. The game also has a feature where the main character panics and gets harder to control the more she's hurt, like most real people would do if they were being chased around by psychopaths.
    • Haunting Ground uses very similar gameplay—and was originally intended as a sequel—to the Clock Tower series, the first part of which was published for SNES in 1995, before survival horror had established itself as the genre it is today. Perhaps a better example of a survival horror deconstruction would be the original Siren, which takes what at first glance seems to be a fairly typical zombie scenario, but instead of handing you lots and lots of guns and a character with a visible health bar, you get a cast of very average people who are clumsy in combat, have a very limited access to weapons (and no access to healing items whatsoever), and die very easily. Instead of fighting everything with wild abandon, you need to be stealthy and avoid close encounters, much like the average joe would have to do in such a situation. The sequels have been gradually slipping into a more conventional, combat-oriented style of gameplay.
  • The Expanded Universe of EVE Online tends to do this to MMORPGs. It thoroughly explores the consequences of law-unto-themselves immortal demigods waging perpetual war both between themselves and with the other, less gifted denizens of the universe. The mere existence of the player capsuleers ups the average daily death rate in New Eden by many thousands, and contributes in large part to the Crapsack World New Eden now is.
  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni is a deconstruction of literally the whole Murder Mystery genre. Despite that, it's supposed to be Fair Play Whodunnit, though one could argue about the amount of fair.
    • The OPENING SEQUENCE of the second game states quite clearly "No Dine, no Knox, no Fair. In other words it is not mystery. But it happens, all it happens, let it happens." The author actually goes out of the way to inform us that he's not following Van Dine or Knox's rules of "fair" detective fiction and that... well, it's not a mystery that can be solved by us.
    • At the end of the series, the answer becomes clear: the mysteries that Meta-Beatrice purposely set up (the first four arcs) are quite solvable, and for the most part follow Fair Play. The reason that the author said that he didn't want to give a straight answer is because we are never told what really happened on Rokkenjima. Most people thought that the whole 'not giving a straight answer' referred to the games themselves, which are just stories within the story, but it referred to the real events on the island. Confused yet?
    • Umineko also has a brilliant deconstruction of the Tsundere Moe in the third arc.
  • Mega Man X is a deconstruction of the Sentient Robot Heroes genre, if not the franchise. Unlike it's lighter predecessor, there is a major war going on between mavericks and maverick hunters, and many people, reploids and human (who are mainly off-screen) alike die. X4 is probably the biggest deconstruction of the franchise, if not X5. Zero, the main character's friend is speculated to be created by Wily and was made to destroy X. Also, he kills the brother of his love interest, who in turn, tries to avenge him, only to die as well, the war between the Maverick Hunters and Repliforce could have been avoided, and, as it turns out, Zero is the cause of the Maverick Virus and Sigma's Start of Darkness.
    • The fact that Zero is the cause of both the Maverick and Elf Wars can be seen as a deconstruction of Joker Immunity and Thou Shall Not Kill. If Dr. Wily was executed when he was arrested in Mega Man 6, Zero would never exist and so much death and destruction could've been avoided. But he wasn't, and some of his leftover projects came back and screwed things up for everybody.
  • Planescape: Torment is a deconstruction of RPGs. Characters in the gameworld comment on how adventurers are unwelcome in Sigil and how bad the main character looks and smells. It features a dungeon that deconstructs and ridicules the concept of dungeon hacking, the side-quests are... unusual to say the least. (Tired of these "Romeo and Juliet" quests that have you uniting annoying lovers? Planescape: Torment has a quest where you have to destroy a relationship.) Protagonist Without a Past is heavily subverted because NPCs remember your character while you don't (because he has several past lives' worth of amnesia). Experience is gained by remembering and regaining skills you already had, but forgot. The main quest is mainly about people you gave quests in the past, rats are powerful enemies, there are none of the typical D&D races, and an ANGEL is one of the antagonists! Oh, and there are only two swords in the whole game. (Your character can only use one.)
  • Tales of the Abyss takes a deconstructor chainsaw to every fantasy story revolving around destiny, screwing it and everything else that falls into the "Chosen One Fantasy" genre. Turns out that everyone in the world is assigned some role by a prophecy, but the "Chosen One" is actually a clone of the real one. This event threw the entire world's fate off-course, starting out with subtle alterations (like the Chosen One not dying like he was supposed to) and eventually winding up with most of the known world sunk beneath a poisonous miasma and a good portion of the world's population killed off and replicated. Even though the Big Bad says that "deviations are as nothing" in the eyes of this prophecy, we know better. Heck, towards the end of the game, the party actually winds up intentionally fulfilling part of the prophecy because they realise that there's no other way to save the world, but not long after the whole planet goes to hell. Basically, don't mess with fate.
  • The Visual Novel CROSS†CHANNEL can be seen as a deconstruction of the numerous charecter archetypes found in anime in general and eroge games in paticular. Sure we have a cast full of tsunderes, cloud cookoolanders, emotionless girls, genki girls and what not. But where to do they all go to school? A special school for young people that cannot function in soceity.
  • SWAT 4, an FPS which discourages killing enemies. However you are given a number of non-lethal equipment loadout to deal with the bad guys.
  • Fallout: New Vegas features Caesar's Legion as one of the two main powers in the Mojave Wasteland. As the name suggests, they are essentially the Romans placed into a post-apocalyptic setting. As the progenitor of modern Western civilization, the glory of Rome is often seen through an intense Nostalgia Filter. You get to see some of Roman culture up close in this game, and it is ugly. There are probably no more complete monsters in the Legion than most other factions, but the slavery, misogyny, and sheer brutality of the Caesar's Legion makes it the black to the NCR's grey.
  • No More Heroes, especially the second game, seems to be a deconstruction of the ultra-violent type of game. Travis' rant toward the end of the sequel is basically summed up as "Even if the person is fictional, it's still a death, and you're kind of a bastard for forcing the killings to happen." It was even seemingly aimed at both Sylvia, and the player.
    • Meanwhile, most of the villainism of the series' Villain Protagonist, especially in the first game, comes from what would happen if a stereotypical videogame/anime geek retained their combat ability in the real world and lived life like they play games.
  • For one of Gamespot's April Fool's Day jokes, they have announced that Capcom has recently announced a new game called Mega Man Deconstructed. See 7:43 of this video.
  • Baldur's Gate deconstructs the well known idea that most of the world's problems tend to occur just as The Hero arrives on the scene. Due to CHARNAME's status as a Bhaalspawn, he/she is a literal Doom Magnet, so the fact that you seem to stumble upon a lot of trouble isn't coincidence, you are literally causing it through your own existence. Furthermore you are not the only Bhaalspawn out there causing chaos through existance. It doesn't help things that your father is the God of Murder.
  • A lighter example of Deconstruction would belong to SWAT 4, an FPS which objective is not shooting bad guys. Just plain shooting bad guys like in another FPS, in SWAT 4, does not net you a point. This game expects you to be a police officer, not an FPS character. To earn points (which needed to advance in harder difficulties), you must deal with the bad guys with non-lethal methods, and arresting them.
  • Pokémon Black and White deconstructs not just many of the implications of a Crap Saccharine World in the series that are hinted at through the Pokédex entries, but also decontructs the idea that everyone in the world of Pokémon thinks that it's a good idea to send kids and teenagers out into the wild to capture Pokémon, with Bianca's father feeling immensly concerned for her. Another part of it is the idea that no one bats an eyelash at Pokémon battles or no one thinks it's too violent with Team Plasma and N. Speaking of Team Plasma, the games also viciously deconstruct the concept of Moral Guardians and the validity of their intentions, as in essence that is what Team Plasma are.
  • Phantom Brave viciously deconstructs All of the Other Reindeer. The power of a Chroma (which is what Marona is) is, for all intents and purposes, necromancy, and as such it is widely regarded as a dark, unholy power, and people react accordingly to her. This isn't simply general disdain or mocking of her, this is real, genuine fear and hatred. Hell, listen to that woman who scolds her son for wanting to be friends with Marona in the opening chapter. You can literally feel the pure, unbridled barely contained rage she has at the mere mention of her name.
  • Air Pressure deconstructs the "do everything you can to build/improve your relationship with a cute girl" Romance Game plot. The protagonist actually starts out disillusioned about how much he depends on his girlfriend Leigh and wondering if he should break up with her, and having him ignore his doubts in favor of appeasing Leigh results in a deliberately Esoteric Happy Ending where it's all but outright stated that Leigh is actually a metaphor for drug addiction or abusive relationships in general and that the protagonist's decision that he can't live without her is not in any way romantic or healthy. Not only that, but the game's happiest ending is actually the one in which the protagonist breaks up with Leigh and feels genuinely happy about being independent from her.
  • The Mother trilogy, especially Mother 3 acts as a deconstruction of the Eastern RPG genre.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV deconstructs its own series. Rather than glamourizing crime and criminals like its predecessors, most characters you meet in the game are broke, greedy and psychopathic and the toll it takes on people. In addition, the end of the game where your cousin or your love interest is murdered, you get revenge but it feels hollow, and you spend the rest of the game alone and driving around.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • DM of the Rings deconstructs Tabletop Games, especially of the fantasy variety. The Lord of the Rings was basically the Trope Codifier for Fantasy Literature, with an epic plot and massive, meticulously crafted backstory. For decades now Roleplaying Games have often been based on fantasy stories and set in fantasy worlds... but you know, the actual progression of a roleplaying game doesn't look a thing like a fantasy novel, certainly not a good one. DM of the Rings takes several familiar player archetypes and transplants them into LOTR, and it's a disaster. The GM needs to use Railroading on the players every step of the way. Left to their own devices, they would have killed the elves of Lorien for the loot. They also complain endlessly about the boredom of the story (there's nothing to fight but orcs over and over again and Eldritch Abominations like the balrog, which their characters don't have the slightest chance against) and the way all the battles and side missions are entirely irrelevant to the main plot.
  • Megatokyo is described by its author as a subtle deconstruction of the Dating Sims he enjoys, with a mix of Lampshade Hanging, playing it dead straight and showing the darker side of each trope, especially Unlucky Everydude, Robot Girl, and Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends. At least one of the characters might well be aware of this...
  • A more blatant deconstruction of the Dating Sim genre is Experimental Comic Kotone from Tsunami Channel, to the point that the main character is intentionally left anonymous, and the universe just won't let anyone to know his real identity.
    • The side story Magical Girl Mina can be considered a deconstruction (or possibly reconstruction) of the magical girl genre. Mina is far from stereotypical proto-MG and does not adhere to any of the expected cliches, tropes and quirks (despite Tsunami being explicitly instructed to scout those traits) but is smart and fit and very inquisitive about how magic works and can be used. On the other hand Mina never reacts to the weirdness "normally" (such as fleeing or avoiding the situation) but accepts it with cautious curiosity.
  • Alien Dice is a deconstruction of Mons and especially Pokémon. The eponymous Alien Dice is a Deadly Game of Gotta Catch Em All. Here, any species, Humanoid or animal-like can be turned into a mon and get captured when defeated by players. Also, the "mons", despite their Healing Factor do suffer badly in battle.
  • Ow, My Sanity is this to the Magical Girlfriend genre, specifically, Ah! My Goddess... which it does in the best way possible with the addition of Lovecraftian Horror and said girlfriend (or girlfriends) being a Humanoid Abomination/Eldritch Abomination.
  • Erfworld is a world where Tabletop Strategy rules are literally true, such as citizens popping in fully grown and a defeated team being frozen in time until someone comes to try and kill them. The more the rules become clear, the creepier everything starts to become.
    • It also deconstructs the typical Strategist with Parson's reaction to the aftermath of the Battle For Gobwin Knob. Instead of being proud and/or relieved that he won the battle against impossible odds, he is horrified by the death and destruction he has caused, so much that he steps down as Chief Warlord in favor of Ansom.
  • The Pixel Art Comic Kid Radd, while largely light in tone, presents a "video game characters living in videoland" scenario where it's a very real problem that many inhabitants are innately armed and know nothing but killing. They know why they were created, and they don't like it. The player character Radd goes from slacker to Determinator because he always had the latter's mindset, but started his days in a game under the player's control, so he had to learn initiative completely from the ground up. Upon being freed, Radd needed instructions to walk independently.
  • It's Walky could arguably be seen as a deconstruction of the goofy 1980s cartoons creator David Willis is a fan of (mostly G.I. Joe and Transformers). Sure it features a unique special forces group, SEMME (who were initially based on GI Joe) with an eccentric line up of operatives, who routinely foil the insane schemes of a Harmless Villain, but the eccentric operatives are soon revealed to be a bunch of dysfunctional screw-ups, and the Villain is in fact a Not-So-Harmless Villain.
  • My Name Is Might Have Been deconstructs Rock Band. Yeah, the video game.
  • VG Cats deconstructs the cartoon violence of Tom and Jerry in this strip.
  • Goblins: Life Through Their Eyes takes a good hard look at the Unfortunate Implications of labeling whole races Exclusively Evil. It portrays the titular goblins not as monsters but as people who live and love. It shows us that what Player Characters see as just an XP haul isn't so fun when you're the one they're killing to level up.
  • Quentin Quinn Space Ranger, an offshoot of Tales of the Questor, is Deconstructing Star Trek right now. So far the design of the starship Enterprise, the habit of using forcefield airlocks without wearing space suits and the Proud Warrior Race Guy have already been hit. Hard. Up next is engineering.
  • The entire premise behind Darths and Droids is that the Star Wars universe is the result of a group of Tabletop Gamers (including a 7 year old girl) making it up as they go along. It lends a whole new perspective to the storyline of the prequel trilogy. The entire mess on Naboo was the result of the Player Characters epically ruining a delicate, carefully constructed plan by going Off the Rails, and engaging in all the sins of The Real Man, The Munchkin, and The Loonie. Palpatine is actually a good guy overthrowing a corrupt regime, and trying to bring a semblance of stability to the republic. Darth Maul was just a Chaotic Neutral Hired Gun who was only trying to work with the player characters, before they attacked him. To top it all off, some the most bizarre and unrealistic plot points, such as Naboo being governed by a 14 year old Queen exist because Jar Jar Binks is being played by a little girl.
  • In the Chapter 26 of the Spanish webcomic 5 Elementos, the author show the effects of a civil war in a world habited by lots and lots of people with superpowers.
  • MS Paint Adventures is Andrew Hussie's deconstructive love letter to a multitude of series, genres and tropes, including itself. Homestuck in particular seems to be principally founded as a deconstruction of the standard "kids go on an adventure in another world" plot prevalent in pretty much every medium ever, with parts of it deconstructing, among many other things, various Time Travel Tropes with a heavy emphasis on You Can't Fight Fate - the constant stresses of trying to keep in time with the Stable Time Loops, on pain of piles of his own corpse piling up, quickly gets to the normally-unflappable Dave -, and of the standard Mary Sue tropes - how Vriska tries to present herself, in contrast to her true nature. Also, sometimes Hussie himself seems to be aiming to deconstruct the audience-creator relationship.
  • Misfile can be considered a broad deconstruction of the Gender Bender Transformation Comic, showing how much it would actually suck if you were transformed into the opposite gender and didn't have those kind of tendencies to start with (the part frequently ignored by TG comic fans who wish something like that could happen to them.) Ash is depicted like a real transgendered teen would be (literally a boy trapped in a girl's body), with a realistic level of distress to not only the biological and social changes, but to also having the entire foundation of your world and personal identity ripped out from underneath you.
  • One could say Sluggy Freelance is something of a deconstruction of what it's like to live in a Fantasy Kitchen Sink. Eventually, the amount of supernatural villains you piss off (and the infamy among the inhabitants of said Fantasy Kitchen Sink that you gain through your deeds) will reach such a critical mass that your entire life will be swallowed up in a never-ending, breakneck onslaught of attacks and reactions to your attempts to defend yourself from said attacks from grudge-holding demons, psychopaths, monsters, conspiracies, Eldritch Abominations, Artifacts of Doom, evil Mega Corps, etc, etc. Being a fairly early webcomic, this has been subjected to a measure of Seinfeld Is Unfunny.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog is a deconstruction of the classic Superhero vs. Super Villain conflict, as follows:
    • The villain is the protagonist, a shy, nerdy guy who wants to Take Over the World because he sees it for the Crapsack World that it is and wants to improve things... on his own terms. He also wants to get a date with the girl at the laundromat, whom he's too shy to talk to.
    • The hero is the antagonist, a Smug Super, Jerk Jock womanizer who believes that, because he is superpowerful, he's better than everyone else and is only too happy to display it. He further believes that only people who are like him can be heroic, and anyone who's nerdy or unpopular is a potential supervillain. It's strongly implied that this behavior is what drives people like the villain to become evil in the first place.
    • The Love Interest is a genuinely good person whom the villain wishes to impress with his evil deeds, failing to realize that she's very unlikely to actually respect that. She gets caught in the crossfire between the two, ends up ignored as they fight their climactic battle over her, and dies tragically as a result.
    • The Nigh Invulnerable super hero is only brave because he's never had to experience pain in his life. When he does, he has a Heroic BSOD over it.
    • The villain finds that his victory: the hero defeated, entry into the Evil League of Evil secured by his Love Interest's murder, comes at the price of his humanity.
  • This website deconstructs the Cthulhu Mythos, specifically the Necronomicon. In essense it asks "what if it was a real book?" and builds from there, by looking for paralels between Judeo-Christian tradition and the Cthulhu Mythos (The Old Ones = The Giants from Genesis), it creates the content of the book, it then asks "what kind of person would write about such things in 730 AD?", thus Abdul Alhazred is what the Koran calls a "Sabian" and what western biblical scholars call a "Gnostic" a person with religous veiws related too, but radically different from mainstream Christianity, Islam and Judaism. It then builds a comprehesive history of how it got from the middle east and into the hands of western Occultists, and finally makes the assumption that while, yes Lovecraft wrote about it, he got only the name and the the author correct, having never read the book itself.
  • Stardestroyer.net, as mentioned above in Fanfic, deconstructs the seemingly utopian Star Trek universe, pointing out holes.
  • Sailor Nothing loves showing just how jarringly, horrifically, nightmarishly different the characters' lives are from Magical Girl anime. Several of them even watch an exaggerated, stereotypical version of such shows; the main character actually watches it to escape her life.
  • Who could forget this remarkable deconstruction of Super Mario Bros.?
  • Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles takes many first person shooter tropes and twists them. Everything from capture the flag, to why there are two bases in the middle of a box canyon with no strategic value, and Respawn. Interestingly, the new series called Reconstruction is a deconstruction of the parodic nature of The Blood Gulch Chronicles. Caboose is tied up in the brig due to his self destructive tendencies. Grif and Simmons face the firing squad after selling all the ammo to the Blue team. The reason that all the red and blue conflicts were pointless squabbling over an equally pointless flag and base is revealed to be a conspiracy by command. However, since that is a deconstruction of a deconstruction, arguably that makes it a Reconstruction as all the video game tropes are being put back together.
  • The SCP Foundation Wiki, although beginning as a creepypasta site, has largely evolved into a deconstruction on the "Modern-Day Fantasy" genre, depicting a shadowy organization entirely devoted to capturing and imprisoning all of those magicians, psychics, and mystic artifacts that populate said settings, to maintain the status quo.
  • Furry Fandom works frequently portray an entire world as furry. I Wish I Was Furry! shows what would happen if we woke up one day and the world actually was furry. The main character is even a human furry fan, like is typical for transformation stories. And a plushophile. (It's exactly what it sounds like.) A furryized world, as it happens, is dark and brutal.
  • Sonny Gets Mad Scienced is the "humourous" type of deconstruction. It revolves around two central ideas; telling a Mad Scientist story from the perspective of one of the nameless subjects experimented on, and being Genre Savvy doesn't always help.
  • This video from The Onion sends up the idea of video games becoming progressively more realistic by taking it to a logically deconstructive extreme with a "ultra realistic Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3". It mostly involves sitting around and waiting.
  • The Whateley Universe is a deceonstruction of the classic superhero/supervillain tropes, with mutants who have to obey real physical laws, some supervillains like Dr. Diabolik who are pretty far from the classic villain, and even some supers who are far from the classic hero.
  • This video is a deconstruction of Pokémon. Yes, Pokémon. It is mostly played for laughs but there is a point about half-way through where Pikachu is bleeding as he's strangled by a Bulbasaur and it's played straight.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • There can be a very good case made for The Venture Brothers being a deconstruction of Jonny Quest and Doc Savage-style stories. Some say spoof, some say deconstruction, some say both.
  • Looney Tunes director Chuck Jones often used deconstruction on his cartoons. The best known example is Duck Amuck: First the scenery changes, forcing Daffy to adapt. Then Daffy himself is erased and redrawn. Then the soundtrack fails, then the film frame, and so on until Daffy is psychologically picked clean. Another example is What's Opera Doc, which takes the base elements of a typical Bugs Bunny cartoon and reassembles them as a Wagnerian opera. (Conversely, you could also say that it takes the base elements of Wagnerian opera and reassembles them as a Bugs Bunny cartoon.)
  • Family Guy does a particularly nasty deconstruction of Looney Tunes and its Amusing Injuries, wherein Elmer Fudd is out "hunting wabbits", shoots Bugs Bunny four times in the stomach, snaps his neck amidst cries of pain, and then drags him off leaving behind a trail of blood. In another episode where Peter and friends became The A-Team, the show's "amusing injuries" are discussed as actually life-threatening.
  • The famous Simpsons episode "Homer's Enemy" is a deconstruction of the general weirdness and insanity of its setting, based around the premise of What if a real-life, normal person had to enter Homer's universe and deal with him? Frank Grimes, a relatively humorless but hard-working man who is still forced to live cheaply despite working almost his entire life, encounters Homer on the job at the nuclear power. You can imagine what happens next - the result is funny, but also disturbing and very dark upon further reflection (one of the darkest Simpsons episodes ever made).
    • At one point, Homer is about to drink a beaker of sulfuric acid when Grimes stops him. Grimes reacts exactly as we would expect a normal person to react—he's visibly freaked out, and when Homer blows off the danger with laughter, he shouts, " Stop laughing, you imbecile! Do you realize how close you just came to killing yourself?!" A series of such incidents ultimately drives Frank Grimes into insanity and death.
      • The episode eventually winds up in Crosses the Line Twice territory when, at Frank's funeral, the "mourners" do not cry but rather laugh when Homer dozes off and mumbles some idiotic gibberish. Even the minister.
  • The Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy episode "1+ 1=Ed" is a deconstruction of how cartoons work, similar to Duck Amuck.
  • Iron Man: Armored Adventures offers an interesting take on the teenage superhero genre in the fact the hero really couldn't care any less about school or fitting in, claiming it's a waste of time and instead stating that his work as a hero is more important. He then proceeds to cheat on his tests and homework in order to pass, since him being a hero gives him the latitude to do so, and high school is meaningless and doesn't matter once you graduate, especially since he's already a)rich, and b)a genius inventor.
  • "Epilogue" of Justice League Unlimited can be taken as a deconstruction of the superhero genre by having a Amanda Waller deliberately try to engineer another Batman in response to the original Batman growing older. It fits both invoked and deconstructed, because it shows the horrible consequences of making a superhero, as well as the kind of monster you would have to be to do it (killing innocent people to do something that might achieve a goal).
    • It also deconstructs the classic Batman origin: Waller plans to kill Terry's parents when he's a boy, but when the assassin she hires (Andrea Beaumont, the Phantasm) refuses to go through with it, Waller realizes that whatever her goals, it wasn't worth it, and she's pleased that Terry has become a much more sane and stable superhero because he had a chance for a normal childhood.
  • Moral Orel deconstructs The Moral Substitute but presenting a culture where ALL MEDIA are Christian fundamentalist propaganda, and showing just how messed up and disturbing said culture would be.
  • The episode of The Powerpuff Girls about them moving to "Citysville" deals with what would happen if their brand of heroics was applied to a real life city.
  • South Park, as well as deconstructing everything else on the planet, has a fine line in deconstructing itself. In "Kenny Dies", the Running Gag character they had killed over seventy times already gets a terminal disease and slowly expires while Stan and Kyle react with utterly realistic grief and despair.
  • The Jimmy Neutron movie deconstructs the "no parents would be great" trope by having difficulties pop up the very next day. A girl gets injured, everyone gets chronically lonely, and people get sick from eating nothing but bad food.
  • "It's Oppo", a student film made by Cal Arts student Tyler Chen, deconstructs Nick Jr., as well as preschool television programs and morally unscrupulous media companies in general. Watch it [NSFW]: [1]
  • In Undergrads, college dorm life is deconstructed to counter its inspiration Animal House; Rocko's Fratboy behavior is looked down on heavily by his frat brothers, who view him as a source of grief. Nitz' everyman status really puts only a grade above Gimpy, the resident Hikikomori of the 4 of them.
  • Transformers Animated is a deconstruction of the whole Autobot-Decepticon War. Things ain't so black and white as before, in fact the Autobots' leadership is flawed and somewhat corrupt, with one higly racist, incompetent, cowardly jerkass general on it, who only is amongst the High Command because he blames his mistakes on Optimus Prime, whose status as The Messiah makes him somewhat of a push-over, and its leader is ready to commit dirty tricks to defeat the Decepticons. The Decepticons however, are as much the monsters they were in G1, and though this time Megatron's pragmatic enough to blast Starscream's ass any time he tries to overthrow him. Starscream only survives thanks to the Allspark piece on his head. Without it he would have died right from the start. Then comes the season three...
  • "Hey Good Lookin'" by Ralph Bakshi (who else) is one big Deconstruction and Take That against anyone who believes that the 1950s were really just like Grease or Happy Days. The main character is ostensibly as cool as The Fonz but actually a Dirty Coward who can't back up his bragging, the Plucky Comic Relief is actually a racist sociopath, their gang aren't really True Companions despite looking like it, the supposed Big Bad never explictly does anything really bad and the ending's Broken Aesop is intentional about the "Romance" between the main character and Rozzie.
  • In the normal episodes of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, the show ends with Twilight Sparkle sending a message to her mentor Princess Celestia about what she learned about friendship that day, satisfying the Edutainment quota for the week. The episode "Lesson Zero" specifically begs the Aesop-breaking question: "What happens if there was no friendship message to write about?" Thus begat one of the most bizarre, Nightmare Fuel-loaded episodes of the series when our normally calm and collected (and slightly OCD) Twilight races to find, and eventually create, a friendship problem to report about. Ultimately, an Aesop about missing the Aesop is arrived at, and introducing a running change where any of Twilight's friends can provide the Aesop, likely as a way to avoiding having to shoehorn in Twilight into every episode.
    • Applejack handled the same situation in a much more straightforward manner.


Other[edit | hide]

  • Reductio Ad Absurdum is one of the major logical fallacies; a style of argument that does this to its opposition. It takes the opponent's argument and logically follows it through to an absurd or indefensible conclusion.
  • The well-known Aesop "Be Careful What You Wish For" operates in this way. Person X makes wish Y. Wish Y is granted to person X. Wish Y then manages to have sufficiently negative unintended consequences on person X's life that wish Y now looks like a ridiculous thing to wish for. Thus, Wish Y is deconstructed.

Notes

  1. These themes are all present in the canon of the games, to a lesser extent, and the other supplemental material, to a greater extent.