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"Edgy and angry, so zesty and tangy!

There's new demographics

When nobody asked for it!"

Retooling a show or theme for a different audience is an especially tricky process. Very successful shows are often structured around a specific appeal to demographics into a winning combo, with minor (un)intentional concessions to Periphery Demographics, creating happy side revenue. This is evident in anime fandom's terms like Shojo and Shonen being treated as quasi-genres. But actively retooling a show to a new specific audience tends to result in stuff not seen as good as the original, perhaps because it automatically invites comparisons. This can create bad situations like Recycled in Space, although there are occasional gems. In less cynical situations, this may happen just because writers tend to be out of their element in different kinds of stories.

Note that the Audience Shift is different from a Genre Shift, as the latter's changes usually keep the same kind of viewers.

Examples of Audience Shift include:

Anime and Manga

  • While the idea of Sasami from Tenchi Muyo! as a Magical Girl had been done both in parody and as a 'serious' story within the franchise, Sasami Magical Girls Club, a straight adaptation for young girls, is mostly ignored by the fandom.
  • Despite being an ostensibly Shonen production, Vision of Escaflowne tended to fall in the middle ground of fandom. Interestingly, its two print adaptions are more obviously marketed to a male audience and a female audience but are usually seen as inferior.
  • The OAVs of Magic Knight Rayearth are likewise made with a knowledge of the show's male fandom, to detrimental results.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha is an odd case, being a fanboy Dating Sim spin-off. It mutated into a Magical Girl show, of which (wholesome) versions are usually targeted to young girls. However, its philosophy and treatment of the main character was very different than shoujo usual plays, which ended up attracting the usual fans who wanted something different. This group is big enough that some countries that licensed it cut out the Fan Service and ended up marketing directly to this younger age group.
  • There are a few Shounen titles which have had Seinen releases in the future (generally in Manga). Some of these instances are Fist of the North Star, Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure, and Trigun.
  • The anime version of Rosario to Vampire is apparently designed for a male audience, moreso than the manga was. Not everyone was happy about this though.
  • GaoGaiGar was ostensibly a kid's show when it originally aired in 1997. The sequel OVA series, GaoGaiGar FINAL, tried banking on the Periphery Demographic with some Darker and Edgier content.
  • The Astro Fighter Sunred anime was based on a Seinen manga, yet with the removal of some sex jokes and a downplay of the violence to the cartoonish the result was a perfectly kid-friendly sentai parody that aired on a timeslot for children, without losing any of the underlying satire and adult-aimed situational comedy of the original.

Comic Books

  • Marvel and DC superhero comics have a long history of this originally they were meant for anyone but then the Comics Code happened so they changed to make them more kid-friendly. Eventually both sides got tired of obeying the comics code and began aiming the comics toward and older and older audiences. Now the comics are mostly targeted at teens and adults.
  • The Gargoyles continuation comic and its spin-off, Bad Guys, have a much more adult bent to them, with things like stabbing (with blood!), suicides, and even more complex characterization than the TV series had. Like the show, though...
  • 2000 AD was initially aimed at 8-12 year old boys, but like what happened with American comics, gradually started appealing to older tastes as its readers aged. In the late 90s, Tharg attempted to launch a new comic called Earthside 8 to bring in 2000 AD's original demographic, but the plan was scrapped.


  • The film of The Lovely Bones had an initially unintentional Audience Shift. It was made tame enough to be rated PG-13 so the scriptwriters' children could watch it, and in marketing tests it did much, much better with teenage girls than with adults. Paramount advertised it heavily on fan blogs for Twilight.
  • Toy Story, where Andy's age roughly mirrored the viewers'. Toy Story 3, released fifteen years after 1, is pretty much about the loss of childhood innocence and entering the adult world, and is very much written with the college audience as the first priority.
  • Star Wars arguably went from a sci-fi series with adults in mind to a version more suitable for children starting with Return of the Jedi, children having been a large Periphery Demographic of the series since its release.
  • Clash of the Titans went from being a film for families and young children with the original to being a movie for teenage boys and college students for the remake (as a way to emulate the success of violent action films such as 300).


  • Harry Potter started out as a kids' series, but slowly mutated into more of a young-adult series as the primary fanbase grew older. J. K. Rowling supposedly wrote the later books to acknowledge this, introducing themes when she thought the audience would be ready - thus dating (the Yule Ball) and the death of a schoolmate in Book 4, etcetera.


  • Happens regularly to teen oriented pop bands (Duran Duran, The Backstreet Boys, and Bon Jovi being three obvious examples) who choose to grow up with their original fans, moving on to a softer, more mature sound, rather than trying to win over a new generation of teens.
    • Linkin Park claims that their shift in sound is as well. Moving from powerful guitars, angsting and screaming to a softer yet still hard sound with more of political angsting rather than a personal angsting.

Professional Wrestling

  • The Three Month Rule aside, the WWE has undergone two major retools to shift their audience appeal. Throughout the 80s, they had been geared heavily toward a family friendly product, headlined by Hulk Hogan and other colorful characters. Around 1993, with his top stars having been on top of the card for the better part of a decade, Vince McMahon shifted into the "New Generation" era, putting a bit more athleticism into the ring and gradually moving away from cards filled with one-sided squash matches. The idea was that the New Generation would attract a new generation of fans to the sport, headlined by Bret Hart, Diesel, Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, and The Undertaker.
    • Spurred on by the more athletic product being delivered by WCW at the time, the New Generation Era morphed into The Attitude Era around 1998. No longer making any pretense of being child friendly, the Attitude Era was aimed squarely at the rich in disposable income 18-to-25 demographic, with a heavy emphasis on in-ring violence, sex appeal, and more adult storylines. After WCW collapsed and WWE was left standing on top of the heap, the need for the Attitude Era had passed. The avid teen viewership was starting to grow up and move on and, thanks largely to its edgy product, younger viewers had been discouraged from watching. Starting in late 2002, the second major retool began with the rise of stars like John Cena and Randy Orton, largely discouraging blatant swearing and over-the-top hardcore violence on the weekly shows and toning down the amount of female Fan Service. The result is a much more family-friendly, if not as revolutionary product, albeit one that acknowledges a more "educated" wrestling audience by not insulting their intelligence.

Video Games

  • The mean age of the Runescape players has gotten older. Jagex has acknowledged that and many things can be seen as a result such as more sophisticated storylines and eventually, making profanity filter optional.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog is now aiming for a younger audience of children 6-10, despite this direction failing.

Web Original

  • Neopets was originally designed for college students, but over time its primary demographic has shifted younger and younger until now, it's mainly aimed at little kids. This can lead to What Do You Mean It's for Kids? when they stumble upon some of the remnants of its early days.
  • Facebook was originally just for college students, but then it opened up to high school students as well, and eventually to everyone. This is part of the reason for its many layout changes over the years (for example, the decision to make it less oriented around school and work networks came not long after opening the site to everyone).

Western Animation

Real Life

  • Toonami, originally aired during the daytime with programs aimed at kids and pre-teens. When it was Un-Canceled, it received a new placement after the watershed on [[[adult swim]]]. It's still aimed at the exact same group of people, who have simply aged since watching Toonami as kids, meaning the block simply grew with its audience. In this day and age, Western action-oriented cartoons aired during kid-friendly hours get dropped like a bad habit especially on Cartoon Network (case in point, DC Nation) and less of them are being made than in the 1990s-early 2000s. As for the anime side of things, it can feel as if almost every potentially suitable show for Cartoon Network, outside of Pokémon and certain Merchandise-Driven shows, has content that would have been easier to air back when Toonami was first airing than it is now, due to Values Dissonance between what's acceptable for American kids and Japanese kids. As for why Toonami now only airs after dark, it was probably deemed easier for the block to be aired at a later time than to argue with angry parents and Cartoon Network's Standards & Practices department.
  • While Disney XD aired programs aimed to boys ages 6-14, Disney XD also airs programs aimed to girls, such as Kim Possible, especially Star vs. the Forces of Evil.
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