Genre Shift

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Wait a minute, wasn't this supposed to be a harem comedy? And yes, that's the same little boy.

(a montage of people driving in cars)
Narrator: I am your permit, your license, your permission to drive. I am a privilege, and an obligation... Your obligation to drive skillfully, carefully, and legally.
(Someone suddenly gets into a car crash, with quick cuts to up-close shots of innocent bystanders reacting, before settling on a long shot of a traffic light in a fog of smoke.)

Josh Way: Suddenly, Fritz Lang's directing! ...(sigh) It's no time to get arty, movie.

The weird cousin of Executive Meddling, except it can be planned in advance by the writers.

Controversial or extremely different ideas are very hard to get past sponsors and audiences suspicious of anything new and unfamiliar. An easy if sneaky way around this is merely to present the beginning of the story as something familiar. However, once the main plot kicks in, your audience is hopefully loyal enough not to notice the quick shift in tone and pacing. If you did it well, in hindsight they might notice little hints you dropped about what was to come. As a side effect, the story will probably also undergo Mood Whiplash.

Genre Shifts are sometimes used in Sequel stories.

Genre Shifts sometimes occur at the ends of a series when the writers finally get around to soapboxing their opinions. Many fluffy, over-the-top comedies will suddenly find their last episode making an attempt at drama. On the other hand, some cutesy or romance-based stories can experience Genre Shift simply because they start running so long the writer figured if they have to derail the original plot, they might as well do it with something creative.

It is possible for this to work, as long as the creators know what they're doing, and it can pay off quite well at times. Usually, however, this requires planning it from the start, allowing the writers to set up the genre shift ahead of time so it doesn't feel like it comes out of nowhere. Because of their sudden onset, Genre Shifts motivated by Executive Meddling are likely doomed.

Even worse is if a genre shift is used as the solution to a plot point, which just feels tacky.

If this happens one time only in a series before reverting back to the main genre, it's an Out-of-Genre Experience. If it happens before the work is released to the public, it's a case of Mid-Development Genre Shift.

Not to be confused with Art Shift or Genre Turning Point. Compare with Tone Shift and Cerebus Syndrome.

Examples of Genre Shift include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Yu Yu Hakusho started out as a supernatural story, then a supernatural crime drama, then a supernatural martial arts story, and ended up a supernatural psychological thriller.
  • A strange example occurs in the last Steel Angel Kurumi OAV, a far-future prequel done in the format of a fairly serious drama instead of the show's usual bubblegum cuteness.
  • Naturally, Neon Genesis Evangelion also surprised many fans (and parents) at its increasingly dark tone as the show went on. To be specific, it starts as a Monster of the Week giant robot series and ends up as an extended philosophical and psychological treatise. It's so much of a genre shift that even the plot itself essentially fades away at the end, to the point where after the last two episodes, you're asking yourself "What the hell did I just watch?" It doesn't help that after so many years, people still can't tell you what was up with the last two episodes.
  • My-HiME starts out looking like a postmodern take on the Magical Girl genre, then turns into something disturbingly like Highlander.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima, as pictured. It looks like a harem comedy when it starts, but slowly starts throwing in more and more action sequences... until you hit the Tournament Arc, and suddenly realize that you're reading a Shounen action series with an unusual amount of Fan Service. By now, the harem antics are only occasional joke fodder, the story's mainly about Negi's quest to find his long-missing father, and the Power Levels are over... well, you know how it goes. Basically, it's become Dragonball Z meets Harry Potter meets Love Hina. The anime adaptation was cut short long before reaching the aforementioned Tournament Arc, but still managed to pull off a slightly different Genre Shift in the last few episodes.
  • The Buu saga of Dragon Ball is an example, as it starts about a boy dealing with high school and a double identity as a super hero, and soon moves to a battle against a powerful monster that could destroy the Earth.
  • Princess Tutu, in its first season, was about a magical ballerina princess/therapist restoring emotions to her love interest. The second season revealed it just wasn't like a fairytale, and it turned into a dark, epic struggle against the sadistic author trying to wreck his character's lives. In other words, a slightly different type of fairytale.
  • Similarly, Love Hina became prone to Road Trip arcs as the series lingered and most of the romantic misunderstandings had been resolved. These were apparently brief but enjoyed changes of pace for the author, as the later series Negima's framework allows them to be used more extensively.
  • Ah! My Goddess's long run is likewise affected by this. Keiichi and Belldandy's relationship is paradoxically so far along while also being stunted that most chapters are about their quirky slice-of-life adventures rather than a romantic manga.
    • The series, in manga more than other forms, also has a tendency to dip into being a magical action show as opposed to a romantic comedy. More recent manga story arcs have come to focus more on conflicts between the angels and the demons which tend to result in epic battles and intense situations wherein just a few chapters before, everyone was just fighting over what to watch on TV!
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha combines an initial genre subversion (a magical girl show pitched specifically at a male audience) with a genre shift halfway through the series.
    • And then it goes from Shonen-Magical Girl to Military Action-Magical Girl with strategy in StrikerS
      • The series has completely dropped the "Magical Girl" title in the latest manga. Magical Wars Lyrical Nanoha Force.
      • Even Vivid, which superficially appears to be a return to the cute magical girl fodder of the first series, is filled to the brim with fighting and martial arts related tropes, making it something of a genre "bait and switch" that at times comes off more as a Shonen fighting series than a magical girl series.
  • Parodied in Excel Saga, which changed to a new genre in nearly every episode (sci-fi, war drama, romantic comedy, horror, etc.), which it also parodied.
    • And then the 2 penultimate episodes were straightforward drama/suspense/action eps. So the shift... metalooped? Is that a word?
  • Soukou no Strain had a first episode much like a Shojo series, and though its marketing in the Bishoujo Series-focused Megami Magazine could predict that that would change, no one predicted its quick shift to angst and its new motto in Anyone Can Die.
  • Genre shift is pretty much the entire point behind Abenobashi Mahou Shoutengai.
  • Ouran High School Host Club went through most of the Anime as an over-the-top parody of Shojo drama, but in the last few episodes became more of a shojo drama with jokes added.
  • One may be excused for thinking that Guyver is a typical school-based shonen anime after the first few issues/episodes. But this changes pretty rapidly when the school is blown up by either Zoanoids or Guyver 2, depending on what medium you prefer and Sho is almost never seen in school again.
  • Rockman.EXE/Mega Man NT Warrior shifted from computer-based Mons to some kind of weird Sentai variant right around the third season, and completely gave up on its computer origins in the fourth, with the advent of Cross Fusion. Basically, it forced the human protagonists to merge with their partners and fight themselves, at which point the Mons were rarely seen again. This is one of the reasons the fourth season is disliked among the fanbase. Then, in the fifth season, it switched from computer Mons to normal Mons when an Alternate Universe setting made it impossible to Cross Fusion but forced Navis to be summoned into material space instead.
  • In the first few episodes (both in the Anime and Manga) of Bleach, a reluctant teen fights ghosts (Hollows) in a series of unconnected locations. However, once Ichigo travels to the Shinigami world, the series completely abandons ghostbusting in favor of high-power duels between progressively more powerful rivals. Additionally, the series replaces its largely simplistic good spirit/bad spirit dichotomy with increasingly complicated plots, intrigue, and a much larger cast.
    • The first movie, Memories of Nobody ended up being somewhat of a Wham Movie to those used to the dragging plot lines of the series, with a much different tone still.
  • The OVA Moldiver spends three episodes as a gender-bending superhero send-up before abruptly switching into a serious drama in the final two episodes.
  • Berserk, though it does show a number of demons at the beginning of the anime and a fight with demonic Blood Knight Nosferatu Zodd early on in the anime, goes from grim and gritty medieval fantasy into straight up horror in the final episodes when Griffith makes his Deal with the Devil and becomes Dark Messiah Femto, and the demons start coming en masse to rip apart the members of the Band of the Hawks who Griffith has marked out for sacrifice. Since both Guts and Casca are marked with the Godhand's Brand of Sacrifice as a result of Griffith's betrayal, both of them have to deal with the monsters from that point forward, and they soon become Guts' primary enemies.
    • Also before Guts' group meets Schierke, they find a man who was attacked by trolls while searching for a witch. Serpico Lampshades that this had more of a fairy tale atmosphere to it, and that its nice that they've gotten a break from fighting horrible monsters.
  • The Suzumiya Haruhi series (both the original light novels and the anime) begins as a comedy series that, while featuring a very eccentric protagonist in Genki Girl Haruhi, was still a fairly realistic Slice of Life comedy. Then the aliens, time travelers, and psychics start turning up, and we get the big reveal that Haruhi is God (or at least the next best thing), and her subconscious desires can warp reality, or even destroy the universe if she becomes bored enough. It actually remains a Slice of Life comedy for the most part, but it's slices of much weirder lives than we originally thought.
  • Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. It starts out as standard fairly light shonen fare, then takes an extremely abrupt left turn in Tokyo onto Mind Screw Way towards Drama Town.
    • CLAMP seems rather fond of doing this, actually. It's happening also to xxxHolic in a rather similar way.
      • That's not too surprising considering xxxHolic is Tsubasa's sister series. Lord help you if you read one and not the other.
  • Oh God, Narutaru. It initially shows signs of being a lighthearted, female version of A Boy and His X... only to suddenly change into a dark, depressing series with lots of horrible things.
  • D.Gray-man has evolved somewhat from being a Horror Gothic Shonen series to more of a... normal Shonen series. Oddly enough, if the Nightmare Fuel page is to be believed, the switch from horror-style Monster of the Week plots to a more complicated storyline has actually made it a lot more scary.
  • Katekyo Hitman Reborn had a major Genre Shift after 9 volumes of seemingly unrelated, silly fluff. It changes from a slapstick comedy to a Save the World Shonen series pretty much exactly from the point that Tsuna meets Rokudo Mukuro onwards. From that instance on, Tsuna becomes much more serious and less of a Butt Monkey - this seems to have pleased the fangirls.
  • School Days. It starts out as a typical romantic comedy, then slowly takes a turn for the worse, going into pretty much horror at the end.
  • Chobits is a comedy series with a touch of sci-fi for the first two-thirds or so. Then it becomes serious sci-fi with a touch of comedy for the remainder of the series.
    • As mentioned above CLAMP enjoys doing this with their series.
  • Onani Master Kurosawa is perhaps another poster child of this. It starts off as Death Note with fapping (yes, seriously) but then after a certain Wham! Episode the main character decides he'd rather be Holden Caulfield than Light Yagami.
  • Medaka Box underwent a Genre Shift not unlike that of Mahou Sensei Negima, except far more sudden. It was a quirky series talking about the adventures of a God Mode Sue and her harem, with just a bit of fighting here and there, for about 14 chapters. Then (probably as was planned from the beginning, considering swiftness of the change), the first character with superpowers to match said Sue appeared, and heralded a very swift change into a bloody, Darker and Edgier fighting series, with swiftly escalating power levels.
    • As the series nears it's end (if the villain is to be believed), this would indeed appear to have been the point, as it's now come full circle back to the original plotline, except much changed from all the fighting and genre savviness that arose from the first shift.
  • Full Metal Panic! - at least, the later novels. Directly Lampshaded by the author, who mentions that he's changing the series to have a darker, more depressing feel.
  • The plot of Rosario + Vampire has come along way from the Romantic Comedy/Monster of the Week story it once was, and while it remains an Unwanted Harem series, it is a very nonstandard one. Tsukune received a major Shonen Upgrade, complete with a troublesome alter-ego and some Body Horror. Even the romance has gotten deeper and less comedic. Overall, the current series is much Darker and Edgier, and leans more heavily on shonen action these days.
  • The Trigun anime started as a humorous, lighthearted western with sci-fi elements, with a bit of mystery sprinkled throughout (courtesy of Vash, the show's protagonist). That all changed with the episode "Diablo." Suddenly, Trigun became Darker and Edgier, the comedic moments were few and far between, and the show was much more plot oriented. In this case, the shift worked very well, since the second half fleshed out details that were only teased in the first half.
    • That's happened because the anime basically took all the lighthearted and comedic parts of the manga, and used them in the first part. The manga version was a dramedy from the beginning - it became increasingly darker towards the end, but not to the point of complete mood shift.
  • The Higurashi no Naku Koro ni When They Cry series starts off as a bloody horror show, much like a slasher flick, each arc unconnected from the others. The Second season, Higurashi Kai, turns it into a supernatural suspense with traces of an even an action series by the end, with the gorn of the first season all but gone, and focused now on conspiracies. Then there was Higurashi Rei, which goes from comedy to drama and then back to comedy.
    • The series was always a mystery from the get-go, but DEEN didn't translate that part well. The newest OVA, Higurashi Kira, seems to be comedy-fanservice. It makes sense since it's probably post-Kai and thus none of the murder and mystery are in play anymore, since the everlasting June finished.
  • Hellsing starts off as an action-horror story about a vampire hunting organization working for the British government who employ a vampire of their own, with a bit of mystery thrown in as they try to uncover a plot to artificially manufacture vampires. Once Millenium is properly introduced, it evolves into a war epic depicting a huge three-way battle over London, with much introspection and many characters having to rise to an enormous challenge.
  • Phantom Thief Pokémon 7 starts out as a quirky manga about a boy living a double life as a Phantom Thief. It quickly turns into a dark, violent, adventure to save his sister from the unusually menacing Team Galactic. In the end it seems to turn into the original story, but in trio form. However it ended before anything came out of that.
    • Pokémon Special changes genres each arc. They start as quirky adventures then turn more violent and team based.
  • Tenchi Universe is a lighthearted romantic action comedy. The second Tenchi Universe movie, Tenchi Forever, is a serious romantic drama with little action or comedy.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann started out as a Desert Punk mecha show with an extremely Hot-Blooded protagonist. Then roughly halfway through, it turned into a Space Opera, with the most epic battles ever created.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Although the shift happens very early and there is heavy Foreshadowing.
  • Shakugan no Shana shifts back and forth between action/supernetural and typical high school love story, though it stop shifting genre and generally gets worse in the recent light novel version.
  • Ranma ½ starts out as a somewhat grounded romantic comedy/action series with some semblance of an ongoing plot, but gradually turns into an increasingly wacky, episodic, sitcom-esque gag-fest punctuated by occasional "serious" story arcs.
  • Kinnikuman started off as a superhero parody, but eventually became more focusing on wrestling.
  • The second half of the 2nd OVA for Seto no Hanayome switches from comedy/action into straight horror, borrowing elements from The Ring, then suddenly switches back to comedy at the end.
  • The first half of Digimon Tamers is Coming of Age with Mons. The latter half is Cosmic Horror Story...with Mons.
  • Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? is not so much this as a Genre Mix, with regular moments of out-of-genre action. It's a Harem story about an average guy who happens to be a zombie and accidentally gets a Magical Girl's powers, complete with the Cute Dress. However, there is a ridiculous amount of blood, and at one point the protagonist defeats a multi-lived villain by chainsawing her to death over and over again until she's back down to one life, complete with jets of blood and agonized screams.
  • This happens in Monster, which switches very early on from an almost noir-like hospital drama to a horror story involving Neo-Nazis, espionage, and serial killers shortly after adult Johan shows up.
  • Chirin no Suzu starts off as a cute kid's movie about a baby lamb, but halfway through the film it turns into a dark tale of revenge.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • During the tail end of The Golden Age of Comic Books, many superhero characters were changed to civilian detectives, adventurers, horror hosts, etc, to accommodate the changing tastes of the reading public. Earlier, something similar happened to many non-superhero characters who went from pulp-style adventurers to pulp-style adventurers in tights.
    • A character known as Phantom Falcon stands out because he went through both - he began as a non-costumed air ace, turned into a superhero after being presumed dead and then turned into a civilian detective.
    • The Black Hood gets a odd one in the very last issue of his Golden Age run when a villain unmasks him and he dropped the costume to become a civilian detective. The 'civilian detective' direction continued for a few back-up stories in Pep Comics.
    • The Spectre went from being a dark supernatural hero to being a guardian angel for "Percival Popp, Super Cop!"
  • The initial Strangers in Paradise miniseries was a Slapstick Love Triangle comedy. When creator Terry Moore launched the ongoing series, he added a crime drama plot, and subsequent arcs alternated between this and the Will They or Won't They? love triangle story, which also took on a more serious tone. Then, about two-thirds of the way through, Moore wrapped up the criminal conspiracy plot and for the remainder of the series focused on the romance story which soon expanded into a Love Dodecahedron.
  • Savage started off as an Alternate History action series, with technology slightly more advanced than the present day. Around 2009 or 2010, it shifted to full-on Science Fiction, with teleporting tigers and the predecessors of the ABC Warriors appearing.
  • Cerebus the Aardvark, which went from adventure-parody to straight-adventure, to... well, no one's quite sure what the hell it ended up as.
  • This trope was probably the single biggest problem with Novas Aventuras de Mega Man, an infamous Brazilian comic that Capcom actually authorized because They Just Didn't Care, and that's saying quite a lot. The writers have actually admitted to changing the genre nearly every issue, because they wanted to see which sort of storylines the readers liked best. As such, one comic could be a flashback to a horrifying backstory about Roll's mind being taken from a young girl whom an evil scientist murdered for his mad robotics experiment, while another could be an anything goes, Large Ham comedy with No Fourth Wall. By the time it settled into the action-adventure style of plot, most readers had probably dropped it in frustration.
  • Millie the Model was a humor feature that became a romance-adventure in the mid-1960s, then shifted back to humor.
    • Likewise, fellow Marvel girl comic Patsy Walker went the romance-adventure route during the some time period. Amusingly, her books were cancelled aroung the time Millie's books shifted back.
    • Oddly enough, the character herself went through a genre shift when she became a superheroine and member of both The Defenders and The Avengers. She no longer had a series at this point but the contrast was jarring.
  • Neil Gaiman's The Sandman started out as a horror comic firmly entrenched in the DC Universe, and gradually became a character-driven fantasy epic with only occasional continuity nods to other DC characters.
  • Under Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir, New X-Men was essentially a teen drama WITH SUPERPOWERS! When Craig Kyle and Chris Yost took over, it rather abruptly (and with lots of Stuff Blowing Up) became a more standard superhero comic.


Fan Fiction[edit | hide]

  • Gaijin started as a darkly comic Self-Insert Fic in which the SI character was essentially Murphy's Law incarnate (despite being more powerful than he had any right to be). Then he started disguising himself as Spider-Man. Then more analogues of Marvel characters started appearing, the most recent as of this writing being the Fantastic Four and "Tako-sama" (Doctor Octopus)...
  • My Immortal starts off as a fairly generic, albeit a little over-the-top, Harry Potter badfic with a typical Mary Sue protagonist and the usual focus on relationships, clothing and teen popular culture. Then it gradually turns into a surrealistic mish-mash of fanfic clichés and confused plot points involving such things as Time Travel—sort of like a badfic version of Lost.
  • Undocumented Features started off as a joke, a corny self-insert fic in which college students launch part of their dormitory into space to fight anime villains. It quickly went Grimdark with the "Exile" plot, stabilized into an odd mash-up of science-fiction adventure, has intermittently gone Song Fic, and has dipped into romantic fantasy with the "Symphony of the Sword" plot.
  • The Spanish-language Suzumiya Haruhi fic called, unoriginally El ... de Haruhi Suzumiya starts out as your ordinary OC-with-new-powers-joins-the-SOS-Brigade fare, albeit with the twist that the OC's powers are rarely used. Then, the characters all graduate and join the military IN SPACE! At that point, the genre shifts to war story and then to Space Opera, with the characters fighting insectoid aliens who destroy one of Earth's cities. Might I add that the OC from earlier reappears with a bionic arm, and that their faster-than-light spacecraft is so luxurious it has a miniature shopping mall inside? The author expects his reviewers to understand what's going on, but he still has not provided a convincing explanation for the sudden shift in tone.
  • The Code Geass fanfic Code Geass: Infinity starts out as a regular Fix Fic AU, where Shirley doesn't die and she helps Lelouch in the Black Knights; but then, when the fic starts to deal with the origins of Geass, the genre shifts to a Final Fantasy-esque plot, where in the end Lelouch must battle an One-Winged Angel Eldritch Abomination to save the world. The fic itself is not bad but if it were as complex as Code Geass Lelouch of Britannia, it could easily be the Shinji and Warhammer 40 K of the fandom.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Australia goes from screwball comedy to western to war movie.
  • Audition does this. The film starts out like a romance film, with a middle-aged widower holding a mock audition to find his perfect mate. Things go along this vein for quite a while, until brief scenes start popping up showing the man's "soul mate" alone and acting very creepy. The horror doesn't really start to kick in until after the halfway mark.
  • Wild Things starts out as a formulaic Wrongly Accused plot, complete with Bill Murray as a sleazy lawyer trying The Perry Mason Method... until the one hour mark. That's when it's revealed that the defendant was working with his accusers for a damages settlement, but they all have their own plans, which quickly create a Jigsaw Puzzle Plot.
  • Legally Blonde should end about 2/3 through, as technically Elle has accomplished her revised goal (instead of chasing Warner, she has become a serious person). Instead, she gets applied to a legal case. It's still a fun movie, and the musical revises this by making Emmitt a legitimate romantic lead that you want Elle to be with at the end.
    • In all fairness, there's also a strong moral about not conforming to the expectations of others (as the musical puts it: "Back to the game | Back to the trial | But I'm going back in my style!")
  • The original Alien was a haunted house movie in space. Aliens is straight out sci-fi action... and it works perfectly.
    • And then Alien³ shows a return to the haunted house style of the first film. And then another shift with Alien: Resurrection, which is actionized like Aliens.
  • Similarly Pitch Black was mostly horror with the protagonists trapped on a dark planet inhabited by monsters. The sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick is sci-fi action.
  • The Oscar-winning film La Vita è bella (In English, Life Is Beautiful) begins as a very charming, but rather generic romantic comedy, except that it happens to be set in Mussolini's Italy, and the characters are Jewish. Now, flash forward three years. The male and female leads are now married, have a son, and the Holocaust is about to start. Amazingly, it remains a comedy, only with an entirely different premise: the father starts telling his three-year-old son wild stories to protect him from the truth of what is happening.
  • One of the classic examples is, of course, From Dusk till Dawn, which begins as a dark crime drama about crooks on the lam kidnapping a dysfunctional family, but abruptly turns into a slapstick action movie with vampires over the course of a striptease.
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is set in The Fifties and based on science fiction of that era. All three previous films were more heavily based on adventure serials of the pre-war period.
  • The movie Miracle Mile starts out as an indie romantic comedy. It sure doesn't end that way.
  • The 2007 film Sunshine starts out as a hard sci-fi film about a mission to reignite the dying sun. Then, at almost exactly the three-quarters mark, it suddenly becomes a horror film in space.
  • Event Horizon also goes from near-future hard science fiction to Gothic horror that just happens to take place on a spaceship.
  • Hot Fuzz spends the first half humorously deconstructing Nineties action film clichés, and spends the second half playing every single one of those clichés straight.
  • The Lost Boys begins as a bleak, played-straight vampire horror film and then takes on a humorous tone in the third act, with the teenage heroes spouting such lines as "Whoa, death by stereo!"
  • A pronounced Genre Shift occurs between the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer film, a parody of vampire horror flicks, and the subsequent TV series which, though it had its share of witty banter, was from the start a much darker and more dramatic effort with strong tragic elements. Joss Whedon's original movie pitch was in fact more in keeping with the tone of the series, but ended up a comedy thanks to Executive Meddling. In contrast, both the WB and the UPN networks allowed Whedon the creative freedom to realize his intended dramatic treatment. Note that while the movie is not was Whedeon originally intended, the movie was still quite good, and is one of the few cases where the Executive Meddling didn't hurt the movie, and some fans think it actually helped.
  • Hollow Man. Another sci-fi-into-thriller shift.
  • Click started as a Fantastic Comedy, then very suddenly and very early turned into drama. Guess what part the ads were sampled from.
  • This happens to the Evil Dead trilogy. The first film, The Evil Dead, is a more-or-less straightforward horror film. Evil Dead 2 is a strange hybrid of gory, serious horror, and slapstick comedy. Army of Darkness drops almost all the horror and works instead as an action-comedy and managed to become the most popular film in the series.
  • Adaptation, starring Nicholas Cage, starts as an amusing dramedy about a scriptwriter suffering from a writer's block, but slowly turns darker and darker, with elements of a thriller, until in the climax the protagonist's comical twin dies. It still tries to end things on a high note, though.
    • The really key shift is when Charlie asks Donald for help on his screenplay; due to the highly self-referential nature of the movie, it's implied that everything after that, all the drugs/guns/sex, is being written by or on the advice of Donald. The thing to remember is that Donald's the only character in the movie who isn't a real person.
  • Pretty much every Scooby Doo movie starts with Mystery Inc solving a mystery, and ends with Mystery Inc fighting an army of the undead/ cat monsters/ ancient samuri ghost/ ancient witch ghost.
    • Not every Scooby Doo movie, but, you have some merit to that, in Zombie Island, which could also count as a Deconstruction, in a way, starts off with the Gang getting together to solve a few mysteries, matching the typical comedic feel of the original show, but, in the middle, it becomes a supernatural horror mystery movie with very little comedy that gives you some very brief clues as to what's going on at Moon Scar island, in a way that arguably, believably worked.
  • The first two-thirds of Death Becomes Her are a very dark supernatural satire based around the rivalry between Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn's characters. Then in the last act it not only shifts into an action film but switches protagonists; Bruce Willis's until then secondary character becomes the point of view character for most of the rest of the movie, until the very end which returns to Streep and Hawn.
  • The first half of the movie Flightplan plays out as an interesting psychological thriller, where we begin to believe the main character actually imagined her daughter and was completely crazy from grief. But then it turns out her daughter actually WAS kidnapped, and every single one of her crazy and far fetched ridiculous theories were right, and terrorists actually DID kill her husband and kidnapped the daughter to get her to look crazy. It ends up as just another generic action flick with guns, explosions, and cheesy one liners.
  • In-story example: in Addams Family Values, Wednesday, in Crowning Moment of Awesome, transforms a cheesy Pocahontas musical into an Nightmare Fuel action play.
  • Million Dollar Baby begins as a scrappy underdog sports movie and turns into a thoughtful but depressing drama about spinal cord injury and euthanasia.
  • Dream House begins as a suspense/horror movie about a man who moved into a house with his family and finds out that a murder had taken place at the home. After he learns that he was really the sole survivor of the massacre at the house, it becomes a movie about his grief.
  • The Forgotten begins as a typical drama about a woman who is told by every person in her life (including her husband) that her recently-dead son never existed and gradually becomes a sci-fi about abductions and alien experiments with the human mind.
  • This is one of Alfred Hitchcock's favorite tropes, and one that's unfortunately a bit spoiled by how famous his movies have become:
    • Psycho in its first third, is a heist film, with Marion scheming to embezzle $40,000. Then Marion checks into the Bates hotel under an assumed name and it becomes a psycho slasher film.
    • The Birds starts off as either a quirky romance between two awkwardly charming leads, or perhaps a psychological thriller featuring a paranoid Stalker with a Crush. It's only as the A-plot's gradually eclipsed by the inexplicable bird attacks that the movie's true nature as apocalyptic horror starts to become apparent.
  • Like the above Birds example, Birdemic goes from a very poorly...everything romance to a very poorly...everything apocalyptic horror with Anvilicious eco-tracts, only this time so abruptly you can practically hear the gears shifting.
  • Due to its episodic nature, and a rotating set of writers and directors, the Star Trek movies tend to shift dramatically from one genre to another with each film. The first movie was intended as a slow, philosophical 2001-style epic, but critics and audiences simply found it boring, and completely at odds with the feel of the television series. The franchise was dramatically reworked as more of a naval adventure in space, and the next film, The Wrath of Khan, was a huge success. The third, fifth, seventh and ninth movies aimed more for mysticism and a quasi-fantasy feel (and, perhaps not coincidentally, the odd-numbered Trek movies were all considered to be cursed by inferiority before the latest movie came out), the fourth one broke the pattern as a Fish Out of Temporal Water comedy, the sixth movie features a Tom Clancy-style political adventure paralleling the end of the Cold War, and the eighth movie involves Body Horror and the crew caught in a Survival Horror situation. The most recent movie combines a Cosmic Retcon with another shift in tone, unfolding as a more lighthearted, fast paced action-adventure story than the previous movies.
    • The last movie also has a subtle shift. The first part of it is basically about the beginnings of Kirk and Co., so while we expect trouble, it feel like a typical Negative Space Wedgie plot. Then Vulcan is blown up, and everything becomes a horror story
  • Hancock starts off as a lighthearted comedy about a Jerkass Superhero and the ad executive who tries to reform him. Then halfway through the movie it turns into some weird mythological romantic tragedy something-or-other...
  • Devils On The Doorstep changes over the course of its running time from a black comedy to an even blacker drama by the end.
  • The entire Batman franchise tends to go through this (usually depending on the director, and not just the movies either.)
  • The third and final Infernal Affairs film made a Genre Shift from twisty but rational gangster film to all-out Mind Screw Psychological Horror, baffling many fans.
  • Them starts out as a detective story, investigating a couple of mysterious disappearances in the American Southwest. Then the heroes are attacked by giant irradiated ants.
  • The Godzilla series has done this numerous times. Gojira and Godzilla Raids Again were dark, metaphorical and frightening dramas propelled by the human characters. The third movie, King Kong vs. Godzilla, drops this completely in favor of a lighthearted Fantasy Kitchen Sink. Mothra vs. Godzilla went back to being slightly dark, but the next film Ghidorah continued the lighthearted formula. This style continued until Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, which was marginally darker than the previous film. Then there was Terror of Mechagodzilla, which has a tone nearly as dark as the original in that the human sidestory ends in tragedy. It got even darker and returned to the first two movies' feel with Godzilla 1985, then slowly evolved into a mildly serious Fantasy Kitchen Sink with sci-fi elements. The movies since Godzilla 2000 have been primarily action-based.
  • French movie He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not plays like a romantic lighthearted movie about an affair between a married man and a woman until the second half. Then, things get much darker.
  • Jaws starts off like a drama horror film that slowly builds suspense and makes some statements on society using the various townspeople. Then, a few minutes after the halfway-mark, it launches into an epic Moby Dick-style battle at sea with the shark and just the three main characters.
  • The Break Up starts as a semi-romantic comedy about a couple in the last parts of their marriage. About halfway through you realize it turned into an uncomfortably sad and bitter look at the central couple's role in the divorce, and the divisive effects it has on the couple's friends and acquaintances.
  • Funny People starts out as a dramedy with both dark and normal kinds of humor, until the plot involving George's illness is resolved. It soon switches the plot and the mood shifts to more of a romantic-drama with little to no comedy. It shifts back to it's normal mood when that plot gets resolved, with 15 minutes of the film remaining, with the changes made in the shift kept.
  • Chungking Express starts as an urban thriller, and one third of the way through, becomes a romantic comedy.
  • Kill Bill Volume 1 is a kung fu action thriller that's given an excuse plot and little consideration as to character or story development. Kill Bill Volume 2 is a character-driven, plot-heavy ode to the Western. Both Volumes were originally intended as one four-hour movie.
  • In a bizarre example of this trope happening in a trailer an up and coming Jack Black film initially appears to be a Judd Apatow style slacker in love romantic comedy set in New York, then suddenly shifts gear into science fiction territory with a trip into the Bermuda Triangle, then finally reveals itself to be a modern reimagining of Gulliver's Travels. See it for yourself here.
  • The tone of the movie The Dirty Dozen changes dramatically once the team actually starts their mission. The first act could almost be considered a comedy. The second... not so much.
  • The Prestige begins as a romantic tale of a professional rivalry between magicians, and ends very much as Science Fiction.
  • Cube 2: Hypercube to the original Cube. The first movie was at least somewhat grounded in reality, with the cube structure obviously futuristic, but still employing normal and believable machinery. The second replaces this with some sort of physically impossible mega-structure consisting of millions of rooms that freely employs Time Travel, intersecting parallel universes, and many more "hardcore sci-fi" contraptions. Cube Zero goes back to the conventions of the first, but partly changes the character point-of-view instead.
  • Lord of War starts out as a politically-minded dark comedy, but slowly turns into a straight (and very depressing) drama as it goes on. Which makes for a really cool metashift as the audience realizes the real cost of the glitz and glamor of gun-running along with Nick Cage's character.
  • The infamous Tom and Jerry movie actually goes from a zany slapstick cartoon to a generic 90's cartoon film (with a generic plot to boot) within the first few minutes!
  • The French "thriller" Cache starts off as a thriller, with a couple being video taped by a mysterious stranger. Halfway through the film, the video tapes become sorta irrelevant and the movie then becomes about racial tensions between the French and Algerians. In the end, we never find out who was making the tapes at all.
  • The John Woo movie Bullet In The Head starts as your typical Heroic Bloodshed movie involving three triad gangsters looking to make a big score. But then they go to Vietnam, where The War is in full swing, and the movie becomes a psychological war drama akin to Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter that tears apart the bond between Blood Brothers which in Woo's other movies was all but unbreakable, before going into something combining the two for the finale as one of the surviving protagonists goes after the other in revenge for killing the other one. The movie is by far Woo's grimmest and most emotionally devastating movie.
  • Angel Heart begins as something of a gritty period piece about a normal guy in the late 40's or early 50's trying to make a living before turning into a Film Noir story along the lines of The Maltese Falcon, then goes into slasher territory with a mystery twist and for a while goes back and forth between those three along with some eventual Surreal Horror before the final act goes into psycological terror and the supernatural.
  • The Terminator series does this. The first flick is a Slasher Movie with a sci-fi bent. The second and third are more action/sci-fi movies that aren't quite as dark. The fourth one is a futuristic war movie.
  • Predator begins as a typical war movie, a rescue mission in the jungle. Soon the commandos find the titular alien hunter, are slaughtered and the film becomes a one-vs-one fight to the death with Sci-Fi elements.
  • Western, Soldier Blue spends most of its time being a boy meets girl comedy. Until just before the end when it becomes a horrific, searing indictment on the US army's treatment of the indian population, detailing an infamous massacre, including the dismemberment of children and rape of women, as the main characters look on in horror, unable to stop it.
  • Titanic is an Edwardian Era romance drama until almost exactly halfway through, at which point the ship hits an iceberg and it becomes a full-on Disaster Movie with a romantic subplot.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Happens fairly early on in The Lord of the Rings. The first chapter, and parts of the second, are very comical and whimsical, except for Gandalf's confrontation with Bilbo, whereas the rest is much more dark and grim. This has a lot to do with Tolkien trying to write a sequel to The Hobbit by Editorial Mandate, but giving that up pretty early in favor of something connected to The Silmarillion (which said Editor rejected).
    • Even then, after the Fellowship splits, each character's story is, in many ways, a different genre, ranging from modern stories concerning war and morality to epic tales in a more medieval vein. These changes were more intentional than the shift out of a children's story, as Tolkien toyed a lot with the difference between medieval and modern works.
  • The Hedge Knight, the prequel for A Song of Ice and Fire, reads first as an romantic tale about an up-and-coming knight, but anyone familiar with the author knows it'll turn into tragedy.
  • Michael Chabon's Summerland starts out as a Coming of Age Story with some Magic Realism, about a boy lives in a quirky island town and plays for his local baseball team. Then the baseball-playing fairies show up and the Save the World plot begins, and the book becomes full-on High Fantasy.
  • In Jeff Lindsay's Dexter series, about a serial killer who only kills bad guys (on which the TV show of the same name was based), the first two books (Darkly Dreaming Dexter and Dearly Devoted Dexter) are mainstream crime thrillers aside from the unusual protagonist, but the third (Dexter in the Dark) takes a sharp left turn into dark fantasy territory, pitting Dexter against supernatural forces, ancient conspiracies, and Cosmic Horror.
  • Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey by Chuck Palahniuk is a fictional oral biography of... well, that's just it. He's an interesting character, but what we're supposed to think is significant about Buster Casey changes rapidly. There's a brief mention early on of a rabies epidemic, but by the end it's revealed that he is his own adopted father, and biological father, and grandfather, and great-grandfather, and the villain, via car accident induced time travel.
    • In addition, it's not until an offhand remark by a character about a third of the way into the book about ports in the back of peoples head that you realize it's a sci-fi story set in the future.
  • The Discworld series started off as fairly straightforward parodies of Heroic Fantasy. Later novels have been much more heavily focused on social satire, with heavy emphasis on philosophy and topics such as morality, class warfare, religion, theoretical physics, and modern city life. It works because they're still bloody hilarious.
  • The Harry Potter books started off as a slightly tongue-in-cheek Urban Fantasy and gradually became an epic High Fantasy in which Anyone Can Die. J. K. Rowling planned from the start that the series would become Darker and Edgier as Harry (and his readers) grew up.
  • In How Not to Write A Novel, they have a section ("One Ring to Rule them All" said the Old Cowpoke) on genre shifts handled poorly. Opens with a woman writing in a diary hinting at a romance novel (an obvious Affectionate Parody of Bridget Jones' Diary), ends with an entry of OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD HE'S NOT HUMAN.
  • P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath series starts out in Low Fantasy territory in the first book, God Stalk; while there's foreshadowing there, the wider High Fantasy plot doesn't really emerge until the second book, Dark of the Moon. The shift alienated some readers, who wanted more of the same style of book as the first.
  • Orson Scott Card's Treasure Box turns out to be one of his "tales of dread," but you don't realize it's in that genre until well into the story, about the same time the main character does.
    • Also, in his Ender Saga, the first novel (and the most famous one) Ender's Game is about a young boy who is taught to be a soldier in order to command humanity's fleet against the "buggers". The sequel Speaker for the Dead is focused on Ender (who is now in his 30s) 3000 years later (he survives due to frequent relativistic travel), helping a dysfunctional family and studying a new alien race. The third and fourth novels (which was originally one novel split for publishing reasons), Xenocide and Children of the Mind, continue the story of the second novel (after a 30-year Time Skip) with Ender slowly moving out of focus as the protagonist. Additionally, they add tons of metaphysics into the mix, to the point where FTL travel becomes reality because a powerful AI can imagine it. The difference between the first and the second novels is justified because Card had always wanted to write Speaker for the Dead but couldn't find a compelling protagonist. Then, a friend suggested that he use Ender from a novella he wrote once. Thus, Ender's Game was expanded into a full-fledged novel with a chapter added to transition into Speaker for the Dead in order to avoid starting Speaker with a lengthy introduction of the character.
  • Ranger's Apprentice begins in classic fantasy style - a young orphaned hero has to fight against an evil sorcerer controlling an army of monsters. However, in later books there's not a shred of the fantastic to be seen; indeed, one story deals with an old man using primitive science to fake magic.
  • Nikolai Gogol's classic short story "The Overcoat" is set in nineteenth-century Russia and appears to have no elements of the supernatural at all. Then, in the last few pages, the main character dies and comes back as a zombie.
  • The Saga of the Noble Dead starts off looking like a very standard "vampire hunter" story that happens to have a High Fantasy setting rather than the more common modern one. From the end of the second book on, it becomes obvious that this is, in fact, a High Fantasy epic that happens to heavily involve vampires.
  • The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To turns from a coming-of-age tale to a frenzied escape from The Man (literally) about two-thirds through.
  • The Bartimaeus Trilogy undergoes one, together with some major Character Development somewhere during the second book, and, most noticeably, between the second and third. It starts out as your typical fantasy story about a preteen boy and his quirky sidekick demon defeating the bad guy and saving a whole lot of useless adults in the process. In the later books the saved government is exposed to be oppressive and totalitarian, the glorified idols of the protagonist's youth are viciously unmasked. By the end of the series the books describe a dying empire, clinging desperately to it's former glory. The most interesting part is probably that the kid from the first book turns into one of the oppressors and the reader ends up rooting for La Résistance, that is originally introduced very briefly as nothing more than a bunch of deranged terrorists.
  • Out of the Dark By David Weber is expanded from a short story he wrote. The genre shift doesn't take place near the end, resulting in a cry of Twist Ending or Deus Ex Machina. The original short story shifts about halfway thru, the issue is though the novel's expansion of the story is entirely before the events, resulting in 90% in the first genre of hard scifi alien invasion. The last 10% however involves Dracula
  • A story Distant Rainbow by Brothers Strugatski starts as a funny story about peculiar scientific experiments and shifts into a story about an apocalypse halfway through, as their experiement has Gone Horribly Wrong.
  • Anne Frank's diary does not begin with her family hiding in the attic. It begins with a girl receiving a blank diary for her thirteenth birthday, having a party, attending school, describing her friends...
  • Vladimir Vasilyev's novel The Black Relay Race, while not a direct sequel to his Death or Glory novel, takes place in the same 'verse. However, unlike DoG, which involves a human colony discovering that there's more to humans than meets the eye, while alien races are hunting them, The Black Relay Race is a horror novel, taking place on a space yacht transporting strange cargo with the crew disappearing one-by-one. Then follow the novels The Legacy of Giants and No One but Us, with an additional genre shift, although much more like the first novel than the second. These are pure war novels, inspired by David Brin's Startide Rising.
  • Dale Brown books: The Tin Man was the first one to be almost entirely focused on the dirtside perspective, unlike previous titles that were almost solely the flyboys' game. More infantry-centric content started creeping in after that.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Lincoln Heights started out as a police drama about a man who decided to move his family to the neighborhood he polices. It then becomes the African American version of The OC. The second version was arguably much more interesting since there are plenty of cop shows on television, but almost no dramas starting Black families.
  • Lost was initially presented as just a drama about people stranded on a desert island, but increasingly seems to have become a sci-fi/fantasy show in disguise.
    • The show was meant to be revealed as a sci-fi show at the start... but the network decided not to let the producers make it "too sci-fi" at the start, so they cut references to how time works on the island among other things.
      • When all's said and done, the show went from being being more subtle SF/F to full-blown science fiction in Season 3 when Desmond started time-travelling, and cemented that change in Season 4 with an episode written with the specific purpose of smacking the viewers around the head with the message "LOST IS SCIENCE FICTION."
    • And then season six ditches the science fiction in favor of becoming a fantasy show.
    • The shift from science fiction to fantasy is definitely the most clear cut example of genre shift in the show. The dramatic shift from (occasionally bonkers) sci-fi to straight up A Wizard Did It fantasy left a sour taste in the mouth of many longtime fans, to the point that season 6 more than any other season has been fanonically disregarded by many. Lost never really shifted into sci-fi to the same jarring degree, it was really grounded in it from the beginning, albeit far more subtly and with a greater emphasis on mystery than anything else.
  • MASH famously began drifting away from being a Black Comedy after the departure of Colonel Blake and Trapper John, and by the time Radar left in the 8th season, it had lost most of its dark humorous edge and has rebranded itself a "Dramedy."
  • Passions started out as a typical soap opera and quickly mutated into a supernatural weird-fest. Ditto for Dark Shadows and General Hospital's Spin-Off Port Charles.
  • The early episodes of Lonelygirl15 were in the style of a realistic video blog. Over time, it turned into a sort of soap opera/drama/thriller hybrid with evil cults, conspiracies, guns and laser beams. For an example of just how different the show has become, compare classic episode "Proving Science Wrong!"[1] to one of the early season 2 episodes, "Home Invasion."[2]
  • House was pitched to Fox as a show somewhat along the lines of Diagnosis: Murder, where the doctors use their medical skills to solve crimes. It quickly moved away from this and became a drama centered on the fact that "everybody lies," from the patients to House himself.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is a slightly odd example since, in hindsight, the static setting seems an obvious way to do more arc-based storylines and use lots of recurring characters but, in the beginning, it was just normal Star Trek with a gimmick -- the only important difference was that the alien of the week from the Planet of Hats came to them instead of the other way 'round thanks to the wormhole discovered in the first episode. The first season is almost indistinguishable from other Treks, and only when the characters are established do the writers start doing different things.
  • For much of its long life, The Bill was a Police Procedural, but when a new executive producer took over in 2002 it rapidly shifted into a Crime-Time Soap, alienating many long-term fans.
  • Baywatch Nights. Goes from action to sci-fi in season two.
  • Look Around You is one of the biggest users of this trope—the first and second seasons are, to all intents and purposes, different shows. The first series is a series of 10 minute spoofs of educational videos from the 1970s, while the second is a 30 minute studio-comedy parody of shows such as Tomorrows World. Apart from a couple of shared Running Gags and a brief mention of shared minor characters, the two series are connected only by having the same writers.
  • As lampshaded by the announcer, following the move from TechTV to G4, the video game review show X-Play became less about reviewing games and more about employing successive "lame vaudeville gags." At one point, the show was able to provide thorough reviews of at least five games in one single airing, but thanks to the space the gags took up, they were barely able to get through three. They have become less frequent recently, and X-Play now only has one or two sketches a week.
    • Really it can be argued that the opposite then happened. It used to be a sketch comedy/video game review show, but now it's just about the reviews (and even then, there's only about two an episode) and video game news (that are significantly less comical) as it's the only thing on G4 still about video games, and X-Play has simply become a 22-minute distillation what G4 was 24 hours a day not even a few years before.
  • Red Dwarf has had a number of shifts throughout its run. The show was was pitched as, and started out as, a Slice of Life situation comedy with a spaceship as the setting, that morphed into a more action-oriented Sci-Fi Comedy in its third series, eventually morphing into more of an Action Comedy by its sixth Series, then more of a Sci-fi Dramedy in Series 7, and then, of all things, a Prison Comedy in Series 8. The shifts in tone were relatively subtle, but if it weren't for the consistent characters, episodes from different series would appear to be from completely different progams.
  • The Practice started as a gritty legal show focused on a firm that struggled to make the rent and convince clients to pay for traffic court. By the time the show was over, the firm was representing increasingly bizarre clients, getting cases related to current events, winning impossible cases, and having endless episodes about the lawyers' personal lives. Boston Legal completed the transition and added comedic elements. The universe therefore shifted from legal procedural/drama, to a soap opera/drama, and then finally to a soap opera/dramedy. Watching an early episode of the first show and a late episode of the second show is highly jarring.
  • Single episode example from Torchwood; "Countrycide" contained no elements of the supernatural or aliens.
  • Likewise, the Supernatural episodes "The Benders" and "Family Remains."
  • Doctor Who, the parent show of Torchwood, can and frequently does change genres from one story to the next. A show whose premise is that the main character travels throughout time and space lends itself to this.
    • All the way back in the 1960s, when the show first aired, it was meant to be an Edutainment show with a heavy focus on history and science. Now its a sci-fi fantasy horror dramedy where Agatha Christie fought off murderous alien wasps and Winston Churchill sent spitfires into space to fight alien crafts. So, yeah, the genre changed somewhere there.
    • Series 6 turned into a Sci Fi Soap Opera at times.
  • Battlestar Galactica to Caprica. The former is a Space Opera that also happens to be a Darker and Grittier Continuity Reboot of a 70s action adventure show. The latter is a Cyberpunk story set in a setting similar to (though not actually) Twenty Minutes in The Future blended with a Family Drama.
  • Jonas's first season was your average sitcom, featuring the Jonas Brothers in the title role of course. Its second season, Jonas L.A., has a stronger plot and is a borderline soap-opera, complete with "Previously On..." and "On the Next..." segments.
  • The first season of Prison Break revolves around an honest-to-god prison break with a cast composed almost entirely of stock characters ripped from classic prison movies, and the second season continues it with the escaped inmates on the run from the FBI. By the end of the second season, the escapees have all successfully evaded the law (the few that survived, at least...) but the writers manage to justify the title by having the main characters all rounded up for random reasons and sent to a new, even worse prison in Panama. Then the final season rolls around, and the whole series morphs into some weird cross between MacGyver and The Bourne Series about the main cast trying to take down some evil shadow corporation using zany schemes whipped together with loot from the Dollar Store.
  • Community most episode are comedic joke a minute following the study group and their antics on the Greendale campus. However there are some switchups. "Mixology Certification" keeps this up for the first five minutes, but as soon as things switch to the bar, things become more somber. The end of the episode isn't comedic, but poignant. Consuming alcohol doesn't make the characters do anything funny, but makes things sad (it's the "Lifetime original movie of beverages" as Troy puts it).
    • Community is renowned for managing all sorts of single-episode genre shifts perfectly. It's been an action movie ("Modern Warfare"), a Rankin-Bass style Christmas Special ("Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas"), a spaghetti Western ("For a Few Paintballs More"), a single-camera documentary show ("Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking"), and even a zombie movie ("Epidemiology"). The reason it can pull all of this off is because while each episode is great example of the genre it's shifted to, it's also a great episode of Community at the same time.
  • Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis were mostly similar in setup. Yes, the Atlantis team was initially cut off from Earth, but subsequent seasons eliminated this problem. Stargate Universe goes with the "cut off from Earth" part and sticks with it, although the crew of the Destiny is capable of communicating with Earth. Also, unlike SG-1 and Atlantis, Universe takes a page out of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica series and focuses more on individuals struggling to survive to the point where even the musical score is completely different from the "typical" Stargate music. There is an overall story arc, and the show sticks with it much more strongly than the other two shows. Unfortunately, it was Too Good to Last, being cancelled after a cliffhanger.
  • Smallville started out as a typical sci-fi teen drama that mainly consist of villain-of-the-week episodes that gradually became more like a superhero show as the series explored more of the Superman and DC Comics mythology

Music[edit | hide]

  • Many rockers have found success by shifting to country after losing touch with the rock audience. Examples: Jerry Lee Lewis, Conway Twitty, Kenny Rogers, and, to some extent, Elvis Presley.
    • Cerys Matthews' first solo album after leaving Catatonia was a country album, Cockahoop!.
    • There's also the aptly titled "Country Song" by Seether (though still much closer to rock overall).
  • k.d. lang shifted genres from country to pop ballads beginning with Ingenue. While she has done quite well as a balladeer, it's hard to say, given her vegetarianism and sexual orientation, whether she jumped out of country or was pushed.
  • Apoptygma Berzerk was an EBM band that many considered on par with VNV Nation and Covenant, and in fact was one of the two bands (along with VNV) to initially be considered in the sub-genre of "Futurepop." Now they make indy-sounding electro-rock, similar to the Killers or Shiny Toy Guns.
  • They Might Be Giants. Shifted from catchy lyrical pop to kid-friendly tunes and finally to the punky "I'm Impressed" in The Else.
  • Jesse McCartney started out singing chaste love songs aimed at tweens, then kept the style for the second album, but with slightly more sexual lyrics to match his aging audience. Then REALLY did this trope for his latest stuff. Switching to a more techno/hip hop style with much more sexual lyrics. One single is basicly 3 minutes of him telling any female listeners to shake their ass.
  • The Cult started out as a heavily-produced, effect-laden musical experience that inspired modern Goth rock for their first two albums. On their third album, Electric, however, they had finished recording the entire thing when they realized that they didn't really like the way it sounded, so they found a new producer with whom they re-recorded the entire album as a straight-up hard rocker that sounded quite a bit like AC/DC and other heavy rock bands of the time. The resulting schism in their fanbase makes them seem like they became an entirely new band.
  • Miyavi has gone through several genre shifts, starting with a kind of Marilyn Manson-esque kind of rock, moving to acoustic pop and rock, then into a fusion of hip-hop and punk, and now has his own blend of rock the showcases his percussive guitar technique.
  • Basic Element was a Eurodance group in The Nineties, then shifted to Italo-Electroclash during The Oughts.
  • Happens occasionally in Hip Hop. If a rapper is also a decent singer, there's a very high chance (that increases as they get older) that they'll abandon rapping completely in favor of singing. This isn't necessarily a bad move; the quality is still high and they're likely to appeal to a wider audience (especially if their career was beginning to stale), but fans of their older material might feel left out in the cold. See: Queen Latifah, Kid Rock, Lauryn Hill, Cee-Lo, Andre3000, etc.
    • The Black Eyed Peas. 'Nuff said. Those of you who only knew of them post-Elephunk, listen to "BEP Empire" and be utterly amazed.
  • OFWGKTA is still mostly known for their rap music but one of their artists, Frank Ocean, did release an R&B album that contrasted the hardcore hip-hop of the other rappers.
  • Mod punk Paul Weller, after he broke up The Jam and turned to Motown soul with the Style Council. To a lot of The Jam fans, it was more like Genre Adultery at first.
  • Taylor Swift switched from country to contemporary pop/rock.
  • With her third (and possibly final) album, Love Ain't Here No More, Angelina (Camarillo) mostly abandoned freestyle in favor of contemporary R&B dance-pop (complete with Auto-Tune on some songs).
  • Charlie Simpson went from being a member of the clean-cut British boy band Busted to the lead singer of the post-hardcore band Fightstar to a folk rock solo artist.
  • Darius Rucker had huge success in the 1990s with guitar-pop band Hootie and the Blowfish, briefly flirted with R&B in the early '00s, and became a country music artist in 2008.
  • One of King Crimson's defining traits, with their biggest shift occurring in the early 1980s when Robert Fripp abandoned the prog based sounds of the previous lineups in order to dabble with minimalistic New Wave and World Beat music.
  • John Frusciante of Red Hot Chili Peppers fame had an interesting version of this where he released six albums of six different genres...all in six months.
  • Marc van Linden went from epic trance to minimal tech-house, now he appears to be doing nu-skool Euro-house.
  • Linkin Park. Not only did the band change genres, but changed their logo as well. The shift of genre has gotten to the point where fans describe nu metal Linkin Park as "old" whereas the alternative rock style from Minutes to Midnight and onwards is "new".
  • David Bowie built an entire career on this trope, switching between psychedelic folk-rock, glam rock, Philly soul, and Krautrock within an entire decade alone. This resulted in a New Sound Album every time he stepped into a recording studio.
  • Bill Callahan started out doing avant-garde lo-fi rock for his first few albums as Smog, switched to baroque pop for an album, then folk for a while, and has settled now on alt-country.
  • Kerli started out doing alt-rock, but now does electro dance pop; compare Love is Dead(2008) and Army of Love(2010).
  • Exile started out as a pop-rock band, having a big hit with "Kiss You All Over" but absolutely nothing else. A few membership changes later, they successfully reinvented themselves as a country-rock band which scored ten #1 hits.
  • Rozalla (Miller), best known for the Eurodance hit "Everybody's Free (To Feel Good)" back in 1993, now does easy listening soul jazz.
  • The Doobie Brothers, after original frontman Tom Johnston left the band due to severe illness, and replaced by the more soulful Michael McDonald.
  • Behemoth went from Black Metal to Blackened Death Metal, and then Death Metal.
  • It may be hard to believe, given songs like "I Kissed a Girl" and revealing photo shoots, but Katy Perry started out as a contemporary Christian singer.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • Chester Gould's strange twist of Dick Tracy from crime drama (albeit with futuristic technology) to SCI-FI, one of the most obvious genre shifts of all time. This is so (in)famous, it could almost be the trope namer.
  • During the Great Depression, a good number of comic strips shifted from domestic comedy to comedic adventure.
  • Blondie started out just before the Great Depression with the couple being fabulously rich. When the stock market collapsed, Dagwood lost his fortune overnight, shifting the strip from flapper comedy to everyday struggles.


Tabletop RPG[edit | hide]

  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Adventure S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks starts off as a standard "clean out the monster filled dungeon" scenario. After the PCs enter, they discover that the dungeon is actually part of a derelict spacecraft and they're fighting alien monsters armed with high tech weapons.
    • The 1st Edition Dungeon Master's Guide had advice for sending a party of PCs (whose players were playing a fantasy RPG) to The Wild West, an After the End setting or adventuring on a derelict starship. Each possibility used one of TSR's other games as the basis for the new setting (Boot Hill, Gamma World' and Metamorphosis Alpha, respectively.
  • Lesser Shades Of Evil -- the book quite literally begins with a disclaimer telling would-be PCs not to read any further, which is setting them up to make blessed champions of the gods in a high fantasy setting, then face all of the following in the very first session: that was all centuries ago, their powers are all genetic engineering and nanomachines, the intervening time has moved the setting After the End... and even the idyllic fintasy setting was after a separate, earlier, end. Also, their main superpower is creating multiple bodies for themselves. After this exposition-heavy first session (which fast-forwards the PCs through their actions over these hundreds of years), one assumes the players are meant to go home and contemplate why any of that was kept secret if it were just going to be revealed as soon as they made their characters, anyway.


Theater[edit | hide]

  • Something similar to this - the couching of ideas or stories that may be disturbing and/or controversial within a more conventional, non-threatening story - has happened throughout the history of art and literature.
  • Older Than Steam: William Shakespeare did it.
    • Romeo and Juliet goes from sweet and funny romantic comedy to an Anyone Can Die Tragedy with lightning speed.
    • Witness Hamlet turning the standard bloodthirsty revenge plot into a more philosophical meditation on the human condition. Indeed, a lost play by the same title (c. 1589-1594), which if written by Shakespeare would have been one of his earliest works, was apparently a far more straightforward revenge tragedy (and according to one source, not a particularly good one either).
    • The Winters Tale plays this the straightest: for the first half it's a tragedy similar to Othello with a king falsely accusing his wife of infidelity, ending with the queen and their young son dying and their newborn daughter being abandoned to die in the wilderness. Fast-forward sixteen years and it's a pastoral comedy, complete with an archetypal Clown and the people-in-disguise hijinks reminiscent of As You Like It and Twelfth Night. For added fun, there's some Greek mythology mixed in throughout, with a Chorus of narrators, a trip to an oracle, and a statue of the queen coming to life.


Toys[edit | hide]


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Battletoads starts out as a 2.5D beat 'em up, and then changes so dramatically that it's almost like a collection of minigames rather than a cohesive whole. It changes nearly every stage, with only hints of the first few beat 'em up levels surfacing every so often
  • Max Payne likes to tease the player with hints and suggestions of genre shift. For example, the first portion of the game seems to be a shooter set in a "normal" world with normal enemies, specifically a mafia group that the titular Payne had infiltrated, but then was exposed after being framed for murdering his partner. Following the connections up the hierarchy leads to a Hellfire Club-like nightclub called Ragnarok, where multiple references to The End of the World are brought up, and it seems the mafia heavy who uses it as a front is worshiping demons and practicing dark magic. However, it turns out that he's just a little insane and full of crap, even if he was killing people in his demented worship—no dark magic, just lots of creepy atmosphere, and then it goes back to what it was. Well, with a few bizarre dream sequences that seem to have installed a door in the Fourth Wall.
    • And then there's the elements of espionage/technothriller stuff that starts early on in Part 3, with Max battling heavily-armed mercenaries and infiltrating a military bunker in order to get to the bottom of Valkyr, along with a brief detour back to the usual crime-noir in Chapter 4, where Max confronts B.B., the backstabbing bastard who actually murdered his partner and set him up to take the fall for it. Then after that, we go into espionage mode again, this time with what seems like some kind of Ancient Conspiracy but which is actually, according to Max Payne 2, a very old criminal syndicate culminating in a final confrontation at the top of Aesir Plaza.
  • Drakengard starts off as Heroic Fantasy, but slowly and surely turns into a Hack and Slash version of Survival Horror, the horror aspect being the emphasis here. When things start to really get weird, they hang a lampshade on it when one of the mission descriptions is "Time and space fall apart, and the fantasy begins."
  • The Monster Rancher series started life as a Nintendo Hard Mons series that blended elements of a management simulation with action-based RPG combat. Monster Rancher EVO, however, threw it all out the window and was an ordinary RPG with weird, half-and-half combat (half "classic Monster Rancher" style and half standard RPG) and a stats system based on playing a rhythm mini-game. No, really. It also added towns, missions, almost completely axed tournaments, and it had a bizarre circus theme.
  • Halo: Combat Evolved: Two words: The Flood.
    • To further explain this, the game starts off as a fun little shooter where you fight aliens with multi-coloured blood and where marines shout at the fallen enemies. Then you get to "343 Guilty Spark" in which you wander through a creepy as hell fortress with no enemies, discover what happened to the squad before you then fight through a Flood infested forest. The Flood are like the Left 4 Dead infected, but they can fire weapons AND ROCKET LAUNCHERS. And they can sprint, too. The level afterwords isn't much fun to play either.
    • And the Trigens in Far Cry.
    • And the cannibal mutants in Uncharted: Drake's Fortune.
      • Seems to be toyed with in Uncharted 2 when you bump into what seems like a yeti-type monster while in the mountains. However, later on it turns out to be a bunch of apparently bullet resistant natives in suits. Which you then discover are actually mythical ape-like Guardians of Shangri-la, so everything is okay again.
  • Half Life started as a deconstruction of I Just Want to Be Badass, and is currently one of its most shining examples.
  • The Half-Life 2 Game Mod Day-Hard, usually a straightforward parody FPS, has a part where you need to enter a Hell Hotel sans weapons for a Fetch Quest. What follows is Silent Hill-esque Surreal Horror. It doesn't last too long, but it's very out-of-place nonetheless.
  • In Medal of Honor: Airborne, after 5 missions of largely realistic gameplay based on actual historic World War II campaigns, the final mission throws bulletproof, heavy-machinegun-wielding Nazi Super Soldiers at you, and takes place in, as Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw put it, "a giant concrete tower that can only be described as a Doom Fortress."
    • Those "doom fortresses" are actually real. 8 were built, they were ridiculously sized, and they had more refuge in intimidation than use. I mean, come on, they're towers built to repel air attacks that are also made of concrete. Still true to this trope, however, the Allies never actually attempted an attack on one of them.
  • Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath starts out as the Oddworld equivalent of a western. Mysterious Bounty Hunter? Check. Gun toting outlaws? Check. Hick Towns populated by chicken men? ...Um, Check. But then in the final third of the game, after stumbling into an ambush set up by the Big Bad, and getting hit with a Tomato Surprise, the game shifts to a more traditional Oddworld setting as you help the native Grubbs overcome the Big Bad. This change completely overhauls the game. Stranger's costume changes, the concept of Moolah (and therefore the concept of enemy bounties) is removed (enemies are turned into ammo instead. Don't ask), the soundtrack changes from spaghetti western music to epic orchestrated pieces, the enemies change from gruff outlaws to military Mooks, new gameplay mechanics are added, and the scenery colors shift from browns and reds to blues and greys.
  • The Chzo Mythos goes from fairly conventional (but good) horror, to SPACE horror, to Cosmic Horror.
  • Similarily, EarthBound starts off as pure humour, then goes to sci-fi at the Cave of the Past, then shifts to Cosmic Horror at the end of said cave.
  • In terms of in-game Genre Shift, Spore goes from the hunt/gather adventure-game-esque "Cell" and "Creature" stages, to real-time strategy for "Tribal" and "Civilization," to a Wide Open Sandbox for "Space."
  • Okami gets a bit of a shift towards the end, from a feudal Japan mythical fantasy to a feudal Japan Sci-Fi fantasy.
    • To Elaborate: Near the end, you see Kaguya, a woman born from a Bamboo shoot in the myth, have a rocket that looks like a bamboo shoot, and in the last part of the game, the eponymous Ark of Yamato turns out to be a fucking spaceship, also implying that these monsters you've been facing... They're aliens...
  • The Ace Attorney series wavers back and forth on how fantastical its court drama is. In the first game spirit channeling is simply a way to talk to Mia Fey after her murder. The magatama shows up in the second game, upping the fantasy factor, and by the third game the entire final case revolves around the angry spirit of Dahlia Hawthorne and her attempt to murder Maya Fey. However, Apollo Justice trades the spiritual for a scientific (if slightly implausible) explanation for the Perceive ability and in Investigations the closest we get to unrealism is the holodeck-esque Little Thief.
  • Final Fantasy VI shifts from a linear world to an openended one - the game begins in the World of Light, a bright, happy world with a linear plot and virtually no subquests. The second part of the game, the World of Ruin, is a dark, dreary place and is entirely open for exploration, the player free to recruit allies and do subquests in any order before heading to the final dungeon.
    • The Final Fantasy series has toyed with adding in modern and even Sci Fi elements from time to time, starting with an entire race of moon people and a giant robot in Final Fantasy IV (or even earlier than that, with Warmech from the very first game.) and hitting full force by Final Fantasy VII, which went from straight up fantasy with the occasional Sci Fi element to Urban Fantasy.
    • Final Fantasy IV: The After Years goes with episodic series with all of them being emotionally challenging stories filled with character developments. After you reach the Moon, however, the game shifts right into a linear and almost plotless dungeon crawler with Boss Rush.
  • The game system in the Metal Gear Solid series remains mostly unaltered, but the story and style subtly shift between games.
  • KOEI's Dynasty Warriors was a 1997 PS1 Fighting Game using characters from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms storyline; starting with 2 for the PS2 it morphed into a Hack and Slash that over time became possibly more popular than the turn-based strategy game (one of Koei's flagship series), and in turn spawned its own Genre Shift, the Empires standalone games (for Dynasty Warriors 4 through 6, plus Samurai Warriors 2: Empires) that uses Turn-Based Strategy between the battles, where the dynamic focused less on enemy commander defeat and more on controlling bases, which would end up getting worked into Dynasty Warriors 6.
    • Dynasty Warriors 4 had a so-called Duel mode (certain officers could issue challenges which if accepted would turn into 45-second duels inside an enclosed square that however used the same controls and camera as normal gameplay), while Warriors Orochi 2 has a versus mode that harkens back to the original Dynasty Warriors game in being viewed sideways.
  • The original Higurashi no Naku Koro ni game started out in the style of a basic Dating Sim, but shifted gradually into the horror and Gorn over the course of the arc. Later on, starting around Tsumihoroboshi-hen but becoming most evident in Matsuribayashi-hen, though, the series slowly shifted into being less about horror and more about The Power of Friendship to Screw Destiny.
    • The first arc of the sequel series, Umineko no Naku Koro ni, is a definite horror story once the murders start. However, while the later arcs have more Gorn, the simple fact that there's a Big Bad to be confronted and argued with shifts it over much more to a "mystery" feel.
      • There has also been a running joke in the fandom that, given the focus Umineko places into the various relationships between the characters (George and Shannon, Jessica and Kanon, and ESPECIALLY Beatrice and Battler), the series' true genre is in fact romance. Which might actually be true, if Ep6 is to be believed.
  • The first Dune game was an Adventure Game. Dune II established the Real Time Strategy genre.
    • The first game did have some strategy elements. In fact, you had to set up consistent spice production using the Fremen tribes you find and befriend (which takes some doing), while training other Fremen tribes to fight and arming them in order to defeat the Harkonnen. The game is clearly based more on David Lynch's film than the book, even though Duncan Idaho looks like a Centauri, for some reason.
  • Perfect Dark is a first-person shooter through and through. But while it starts off as a spy thriller similar to GoldenEye (to which Perfect Dark is a Spiritual Successor), the story becomes increasingly sci-fi to where the final level takes place on an alien planet that's at war with another race.
  • Resident Evil began as an atmospheric horror series, the fifth numerical installment, which took place largely in broad daylight, substituted fast, intelligent opponents for the slow, plodding (but frightening) zombies of the original trilogy and supplied the player with ample ammunition and explosives to deal with them. The fourth game has similar gameplay to the fifth, but still had a horror tone to it.
  • Magical Starsign does this, in much the same way EarthBound does.
  • The game Psychonauts. During the first parts of the game, the game is very quirky, and quite a few jokes are made, and the focus is mostly on an escape from home, but then, it develops into a fight against a conspiracy involving stealing brains of fellow Psychonauts, from that point on, the game's humour becomes a little darker, the minds more and more creepy, and it shifts towards a psychological thriller - with the final level being a rather infamous example of Nightmare Fuel (And Scrappy Level).
    • Though to be fair, the game is pretty dark at the start when you look into their mental vaults, or after you complete the game.
      • Suffice to say the game is fairly darkly humorous throughout, but the darkness is a little more insidious during the first portion of the game, when it's bright and sunny outside and the game isn't rubbing it in your face that you're dealing with a bunch of crazy people (you are, in fact, dealing with a bunch of crazy people. But it's not as obvious as later).
  • The original Star Control is an action/strategy sci-fi game with very little plot. The sequel is a plot-heavy action/adventure game, and much better for it. The creators have said that this was quite deliberate; they weren't too excited by the idea of a sequel that was just more of the same.
    • The third game tried to mix it with RTS vaguely resembling Alien Legacy or Reunion - and, ironically, the adventure part was "more of the same". Oh, and melee was arcade-ified with fake 3D sprites... This didn't go well.
  • The first three Warcraft games were all RTS games where you could build and command entire armies In fact, Warcraft more or less refined the RTS format. World of Warcraft, however, is a MMORPG where you command ONE character. But the first three games provide most of the backstory, and there's even places in the World of Warcraft where you can site where specific events in the previous games happened. For example, the throneroom above Undercity was directly based on a cinematic from Warcraft III where Arthas betrayed his people and murdered his father.
    • The shift from RTS to RPG started in Warcraft III. Although it is definitely an RTS, you can recruit heroes that level up, learn new abilities, and carry items and equipment. The maps also contained many mooks that could be slain to level up heroes and earn treasure. The Frozen Throne pushed the concept further up to the point where the Orc campaign was a proof-of-concept prototype of World of Warcraft: The campaign follows a single hero who traveling along Kalimdor, meeting quest givers and completing quests in instances.
  • Thunder Force is an arena shooter. Thunder Force II is part arena, part sidescroller. Every TF game past II is a sidescroller.
  • The independent game Suguri is a side-scrolling shoot-em-up, while its sequel, Acceleration of Suguri, is a one-on-one arena shooter.
  • Eversion does this intentionally, as the game is based on having things not exactly as they appear...
  • The cute and sweet dating sim series Angelique did this a few times for spin-off titles, but the best example is the RPG "Tenkuu no Requiem" which flirts with getting Darker and Edgier by bringing in a group of villians who aren't afraid to kick some dogs. (Quite literally in the accompanying Radio Drama.) This was a temporary shift though as following games returned to the series main genre.
  • Each game in the Bit.Trip series is based on different gameplay mechanics.
    • BEAT is a paddle game similar to Pong.
    • CORE is a double-axis shooter.
    • VOID is a free-roaming collection game.
    • RUNNER is a Platform Game.
    • FATE is a Bullet Hell shooter.
    • FLUX returns to BEAT's gameplay design, while applying some gameplay mechanics and concepts from the other games.
  • Police Quest: SWAT started as a first-person Interactive Movie, then changed to isometric overhead RTS, then to a Rainbow Six-style Tactical Shooter.
  • Iji has a decidedly Survival/Horror twinge to it, especially in the very first level, but that is very quickly dispelled, and it very rapidly progresses into an epic Sci-Fi battle to secure the safety of the planet, with increasing levels of epic warfare depending on how you progress.
  • Boiling Point: Road to Hell most of the game is set in a Troperiffic Wide Open Sandbox Banana Republic. You deal with the drug lords, the rebels, the army and the CIA. The final act: Stop the Big Bad in his volcano lair from using his giant mind control device.
  • The (Do)DonPachi features this not exactly in its gameplay,[1] but in its characters and plot. The series started off as two shooters with mainly mechanical graphics for the player and enemies, much like other shmups of their time; the only characters you see are the player character (in DoDonPachi's true ending), the Colonel, and Hibachi. In DoDonPachi dai ou jou, the "mecha-loli" element starts to creep in: the player character is accompanied by one of several different Element Dolls, who make prominent apperances on the covers of the PS2 and Xbox 360 ports. By DoDonPachi Daifukkatsu, the mecha-loli trend is in full force; the Element Daughters (successors to the Dolls) appear as bosses and you'd be hard-pressed to find official Daifukkatsu art that is devoid of the Daughters, let alone features the player ships.
  • The very first Ultima game begins as a more-or-less typical fantasy RPG and then gets to the point where you have to use a time machine and go into outer space to defeat twenty spaceships to gain the title of "Space Ace." All this in 1980, mind you.
  • Rainbow Six switched from a plan-based multi-team Tactical Shooter to a more straightforward single-team semi-tactical shooter starting with the console versions of 3.
  • The first two installments of Need for Speed had fairly realistically-handling cars, then it shifted to arcade-style handling starting with Hot Pursuit, then to Wide Open Sandbox racing from Underground to Undercover. Only with Shift did it return to its simulation roots.
  • Wonder Boy went from Super Mario Bros.-style platformer to linear Action RPG to Shoot'Em Up to Metroidvania in the span of four games.
  • The original Ikari Warriors was a Rambo-inspired run 'n gun shoot-'em-up essentially developed to be SNK's answer to Capcom's Commando. The sequel, Victory Road, retained the same game system from the first game, but was now set in outer space and featured alien enemies and high-tech power-ups. The third and final game in the series, Ikari III: The Rescue, returned to the military theme of the first game, but was now an overhead beat-'em-up instead of a shoot-'em-up.
  • There was a minor trend among game developers to turn established belt-scrolling franchises into competitive fighting games as a result of the "fighting game boom" of the 90s.
    • All three versions of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Tournament Fighters by Konami, which were all preceded by various Turtles beat-'em-ups such as the original arcade game and Turtles in Time, as well as the console-exclusive Manhattan Project and Hyperstone Heist (although to be fair, the first NES game and all three Game Boy games were platformers).
    • Double Dragon V: The Shadow Falls, a Tradewest-developed game based on the Double Dragon animated series, and the Technos-developed Neo-Geo game simply titled Double Dragon, which was based on the movie.
    • Golden Axe: The Duel, the third Golden Axe arcade game (later ported to the Sega Saturn).
    • Final Fight: Revenge for the arcade and Saturn, which is ironic since the original Final Fight began development as a beat-'em-up spin-off of Street Fighter titled Street Fighter '89.
  • The original Saturday Night Slam Masters, along with its upgraded edition Muscle Bomber Duo, played pretty much as one would expect from an arcade-style Wrestling Game. The sequel, Ring of Destruction: Slam Masters II, plays like a wrestling-themed version of Street Fighter II (i.e. multiple punch and kick buttons, command-based special moves, 2D playing field, victory by KO, round-based matches).
  • Mortal Kombat started out as a tribute to martial arts cinema. Apart from the Multi-Armed and Dangerous monster dude Goro, pretty much nothing out of the game was too out of the ordinary for those who've seen martial arts movies, and its main claim to fame was being the first major "bloody" fighting game. Then Mortal Kombat II came around, and the main plot of the series—a dimension-wide conflict for people's souls—took center stage. Then Mortal Kombat 3 turned things in a post-apocalyptic direction, with some sci-fi elements added in the form of the Lin Kuei cyborg ninja program. And so on and so forth.
  • The original Mario vs. Donkey Kong for the Game Boy Advance was a puzzle platformer modeled after Donkey Kong 94, but the sequels from Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2 and onward were Lemmings-style puzzle game that utilize the touch screen and stylus.
  • Fahrenheit (2005 video game)'s story is an extreme example of this; the story starts out as an occult murder mystery, but, somehow, it suddenly turns into a philosophical sci-fi action flick a la The Matrix near the end.
  • Persona4 is an extensive RPG with dating sim elements and Mons based on demons. The sequel The Ultimate in Mayonaka Arena is a fighting game by Arc System Works
    • This has happened a lot with the Shin Megami Tensei series. The main series tends towards dark, post-apocalyptic stories, the first two games and Strange Journey having heavy sci-fi elements (you use some kind of technological device to summon your demons,) while Nocturne does away with all the sci-fi elements. Meanwhile, the Persona series ditches the post-apocalyptic elements and introduces high-school life and Jungian psychology into the mix, with the demons becoming aspects of a person's psyche, and the enemy demons doing the same, turning into Shadows starting with Persona 2. By Persona 3, Slice of Life and Dating Sim elements are introduced, while Persona 4 turns into a more light-hearted Scooby Doo-style murder mystery with MegaTen trappings. Meanwhile again, the Raidou Kuzunoha games are Alternate History with more action elements and also more light-hearted, while Devil Survivor acts very much like a Deconstruction of the Mons genre in general. And that's only counting a few of the games in the franchise.
  • Super Mario Galaxy starts off like most typical Mario games, where the title plumber had to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser (in this game, Bowser kidnaps Peach and carries her off into space), but about halfway through the game, the plot unexpectly shift to a sad story about the loss of a different princess' family, but then cuts back to Mario still trying to save Peach from Bowser.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • El Goonish Shive's change from comedy to dramedy was apparently planned from the very beginning.
  • Ditto Unicorn Jelly, which goes from a quirky almost-but-not-quite Fantasy series (the main character is a witch with apparently no magic) to science fiction spanning hundreds of thousands of years and multiple universes. A Powers Of 10 map on the site really hits it home, going from the main character's home out out into the multiverse.
  • CRFH is looking like it might be doing this. The strip started out as the standard light college campus humor, but little hints and bits have added up so that it looks like it might have always been intended to end up with an apocalyptic ending. If the author has stated for sure one way or another, I haven't heard.
  • Wapsi Square started out as a lightweight and slightly surreal urban Sitcom, but gradually began adding elements of Science Fiction and/or Fantasy with the introduction of characters who might be gods, immortals or aliens, the concept of humans possessing (or being possessed by) inner demons, and a 12,000 year old mystery. In spite of all this, the sitcom elements are still present, and often just as strong as ever.
  • Penny and Aggie began as a relatively light-hearted, family-friendly Betty and Veronica comic with brief story arcs and a long stretch of unconnected gag-a-day strips. Word of God says this was because the creators tried to pitch it as a syndicated newspaper comic. When the syndicates failed to show interest, the creators took advantage of the Webcomic medium's greater flexibility by increasing the drama-to-comedy ratio and by introducing more experimental storytelling techniques ("Second Looks," "20 2020 Pennies"), mature themes ("Behind Closed Doors," "Awakening"), and arcs running several months ("Dinner for Six," "The Popsicle War," and "Missing Person," the first chapter of which was a Police Procedural, and the final chapter a Psychological Thriller).
  • Sluggy Freelance, while quite often is still the Science Fiction/Fantasy/Slice of Life comedy it started out as, has made increasing use of darker, more dramatic storylines as it's continued.
  • FOG Club began life as a romcom about four college anime fans, before - with little to no explanation - having the cast sucked through a portal into an alternate dimension based on Trigun, where they fought an evil scientist called Falco Amadeus and an android duplicate of the main character.
  • Achewood shifts back and forth between domestic, observational strips that find humor in the mundane, and surreal fantasy arcs involving Mexican Magical Realism, three-hundred-man outdoor brawls, and Heaven burning down.
  • Numerous webcomics have experienced Cerebus Syndrome, which is somewhat similar to, but not the same as, Genre Shift.
  • Questionable Content started out about a post-college Indie rocker, his friends, and his weird little Robot Buddy. Then Faye got her tragic backstory, Pintsize got increasingly destructive and psychotic, Raven got kinda skanky, etc, until you can barely recognize the characters from the early strips.
  • YU+ME: dream starts out as a romantic story between two girls at a Catholic school, dealing with the various issues that comes with, with some family drama—an average young adult romance story. Then after a hefty Wham! Episode it turns into a slightly-psychological adventure-based story on an epic scale.
  • Within this xkcd strip.
  • Bob and George was originally intended to be a superhero comedy webcomic about the titular brothers. It changed into a sprite comic after the author realized he couldn't draw.
  • Kid Radd started out as a general parody of video games. Then Cerberus syndrome sets in.
  • Homestuck started out as a simple Spiritual Successor to Problem Sleuth, but in time became a riff on epic stories and creation mythos, which made the series much more popular. Later, When the trolls were introduced, the entire comic shifted to have Romantic Comedy elements and took a turn for the darker.
  • Since-ended Keenspot comic Cool Cat Studio started out as a mundane office comedy without any hint of unusual goings-on. And then one of the characters got Abducted By Aliens. The sudden genre and tonal shift caused many readers to cry foul.


Web Original[edit | hide]


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  1. the later games play differently from earlier games, but in ways nobody cares about