|Quotes • Headscratchers • Playing With • Useful Notes • Analysis • Image Links • Haiku • Laconic|
"Deconstruction" literally means "to take something apart." As one might expect, this is a very broad term, with a number of different definitions in literary criticism, theoretical physics, and even plain-old demolitions. Some of these are explained in more detail on the analysis tab.
When applied to tropes, or other aspects of fiction, deconstruction means to take apart a trope so as to better understand its meaning and relevance to us in Real Life. This often means pursuing a trope's inherent contradictions and the difference between how the trope appears in this one work and how it compares to other relevant tropes or ideas both in fiction and Real Life.
The simplest and most common method of applying Deconstruction to tropes in fiction among general audiences and fan bases, and the method most relevant to All The Tropes, takes the form of questioning "How would this trope play out with Real Life consequences applied to it?"
This doesn't mean magic and other fantastic or futuristic elements, or any other tropes must be removed or attacked for failing to match up with their own pretensions of self-consistent reality, of course. While sometimes perceived as an aggressive attack on the meaning or enjoyableness of a work or text, deconstruction is not properly about passing judgement (and in fact, the term "deconstruction" was picked over the German term "destruktion" to suggest careful attention to the detail within a text over violently emptying the work of all meaning). It means that all existing elements of a work are played without the Rule of Cool, Rule of Drama, Rule of Funny, and so on, to see what hidden assumptions the work uses to make its point. Sometimes you will hear this referred to as "played completely straight", and it can be thought of as taking a work more seriously on its own terms than even the work itself does, for the purpose of laying bare hidden meanings in the text.
For example, in Dungeons and Dragons, when a cleric reaches fifth level, he gains the ability to cast create food and water. Normally, the impact this would have on a society (especially a medieval or pseudo-medieval one) is completely ignored. A Deconstruction would explore how a society would react to that ability.
Note that while deconstructions often end up darker, edgier, sadder and more cynical than the normal version, with the deconstructive process often producing catharsis or seeming satirical by revealing the Fridge Horror inside a given instance of Trope, there is no reason they have to be. Deconstructions can exist anywhere on the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism. Expanding on the Dungeons and Dragons example above, a cynical deconstruction would involve the food-creating clerics either being enslaved for their powers or becoming the ruling class in a Dystopia, while an idealistic deconstruction would involve the alleviation of scarcities and hardships based on class. Either one is perfectly valid.
The reason fictive deconstructions often turn out as they do is that fiction by its definition virtually ignores anything that isn't specifically included, while hiding anything that is included but not spelled out. Thus, for instance, a work in which gender, or sexuality, poverty, race, or politics etc. should have been important but were never dealt with adequately is ripe for a deconstruction in which the fact that nobody talks about these topics indicates that something is amiss. Contrariwise, a work that attempts to pre-emptively avert being deconstructed in this way by stating, perhaps frequently, that certain topics aren't dealt with because they are specifically irrelevant to the story/setting (especially if there's no good reason they should be irrelevant), is ripe for an ironic deconstruction in which the supposed insignificance of these topics doesn't stop characters from regurgitating contemporary Real Life attitudes about them. The Deconstruction process thus often reveals things we weren't thinking about for a reason, perhaps revealing a trope or a staple of fiction as false/unrealistic/horrifying, which is why it tends to be depressing. (If a Deconstruction reveals a trope as beautiful truth it will probably be uplifting.)
Also note that Darker and Edgier, Rule of Drama and Cynicism Tropes do not turn works into Deconstructions. There are plenty of dark, edgy and dramatic tropes that are used without ever exploring the meaning behind them, or their realistic implications. While some of the most acclaimed works in their respective genres are deconstructions, and many deconstructions do utilize dark, cynical and dramatic tropes in the setting, it is the careful use and analysis of them that makes them acclaimed, not because they just have those tropes in them. See Not a Deconstruction.
Reconstruction is when the trope is then put back together, usually in a way that strengthens the trope. Think of it as Deconstruction taking apart your broken car engine, and Reconstruction puts it back together so it runs again. Deconstruction and reconstruction can become Cyclic Tropes. A set of conventions is established (the initial "construction" of the genre or ideas that are used in the story), this set of conventions is played straight until some author gets bored or frustrated with the implications the fantasy brings and decides to show us the unworkability of these conventions via a deconstruction of them. Atop the ruins, a more realistic narrative (i.e. one that accepts the criticisms of the earlier deconstruction) is then built via reconstruction, and in the future, this narrative gets deconstructed, etc. Cycles of deconstruction and reconstruction are basically how a genre or a trope evolves.
We have many subtropes; most examples of Deconstruction will fit in one of those.
See also Reality Ensues for when this happens temporarily, usually for humor rather then deconstruction, and Fridge Horror, which is what people often think of deconstruction: revealing how really terrifying and dark something is by thoroughly thinking about it.
Subtropes of Deconstruction
- Ascended Fridge Horror (or at least some varieties of it)
- Genre Deconstruction
- Deconstructed Trope
- Deconstructor Fleet
- Deconstruction Fic (When a Deconstruction takes place in a Fanfic)
- Deconstructive Parody
- Deconstruction Crossover
- Deconstruction Game
- Decon Recon Switch
- Indecisive Deconstruction
- Not a Deconstruction
- Reconstruction (the inverse of Deconstruction)
- Unbuilt Trope (for when the Trope was Deconstructed at the time it was made)
Please note: This page has been edited for clarity's sake. Please do not add any more examples. Add them to Genre Deconstruction or Deconstructed Trope or the appropriate subtrope. Where possible please move examples to these subtrope pages. This page is about Deconstruction as a method, and thus should be stripped down to meta-examples.
Anime and Manga
- Originally, Super Dimension Fortress Macross was meant to be a Deconstructive Parody of shows like Mobile Suit Gundam. While it veered off that course eventually and played a fair number of tropes completely straight (never mind inventing a few along the way), every major entry into the franchise has featured at least one major, often scathing, deconstructions of the science fiction, adventure and anime genres.
- Mobile Suit Gundam 00 had a few instances of Deconstructing tropes from previous Gundam series, including Gundam Seed Destiny, examples of which would be showing the corpse of Neil Dylandy to show everyone that he is indeed very dead, a very realistic portrayal of just how hopeless Rebellious Princess's Marina's situation is (her nation is now gone and her country never gotten better beforehand), and (arguably) Wang Liu Mei being a deconstruction of Lacus Clyne.
- The Movie unfortunately, destroys this by ending with a Happily Ever After and World Peace for everyone through Instrumentality, including the aliens who killed countless human soldiers. It preaches that war is the product of misunderstandings and everyone would get along as long as we didn't miscommunicate. No previous Gundam series ended that unrealistically optimistic.
- The crew of Naehl Argama in Gundam Unicorn might be seen as a deconstrucion of Bright Noa's Ra Cailum crew in Chars Counterattack.
- Mobile Suit Gundam: Mobile Suit Gundam 0080 War in The Pocket is a deconstruction of boys growing up playing soldier toys and being obsessed with war.
- The first generation of Gundam AGE presents itself as a deconstruction of a warrior Messiah.
- Now and Then Here and There is a deconstruction of the Trapped in Another World story. The "other world" is a barren wasteland filled with genuinely fucked-up people in power, child soldiering and exploitation, no magic to speak of (except for Lala-Ru's power), and almost devoid of water. Granted, protagonist Shu does defeat the Big Bad against all odds and return home by the end, but the last scene is barely hopeful or uplifting.
- Strange Dawn. The people of the other world are cute Super-Deformed creatures but they are still as flawed as us humans. One of the girls transported to this world is so bent on going home that she is willing to take questionable actions (like siding with the bad guys). The other girl wants to help the natives but is too weak hearted to be of any use. Things get so messed up that it takes a Deus Ex Machina to resolve everything.
- Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle starts out as a light-hearted True Companions / Gotta Catch Em All adventure story with some darkness around the edges and interesting sexual subtext. One-third of the way through, everything you thought you knew turns inside out and the most light-hearted elements become harbingers of the ugliest secrets. From there on out, the series proceeds to do everything it can to make your mind boggle, including introducing major unexpected Squick into what had once been CLAMP's most popular and innocent pairing.
- The "Perfect GT-R" arc of Wangan Midnight has a beautiful deconstruction of street racing. Jun Kitami, who at this point has been portrayed as a reckless, heartless daredevil tuner, says point-blank that there are no winners or losers and that Koichi did exactly the right thing in giving up this senseless hobby so he could return to his wife. Given that the whole manga is about street racing, plainly admitting a truth like this took guts. Even better, this happens in the very first arc after the Devil Z and Blackbird are introduced.
- Fate Stay Night, especially Unlimited Blade Works route, is a cold and cynical deconstruction of Martyr Without a Cause, Chronic Hero Syndrome, and other related "hero" tropes.
Archer: There is nothing at the end of saving people.
- Halo Legends is a deconstruction of the whole Halo series. In The Babysitter, it's showed that not all UNSC personnel are fond of the Spartans—some are actually jealous of them for their awesomeness, and they use it as an excuse to treat the Spartans as freaks, which has a bad effect on their cooperation. In the end, even a Super Soldier is a human being who can die just like that. The Duel reveals that not all the Covenant believe in the "Great Journey"; some are to afraid to admit to it, some rebel against it and others just use the religion as a means for their own selfish needs. Origins is a story about the Forerunners and their war against Flood. The Message: no matter how powerful your empire is, it will sooner or later fall, especially if you fight against an enemy you don't have a single clue about. The Stoic character is deconstructed in Prototype. In this episode, the other marines believes that the main character's stoic personality is evidence that he's emotionless and that he doesn't give a damn about his fellow men, but contrary to their belief, he has as many emotions as they have, the stoicism just a facade to hide the pain that came from seeing his entire company being wiped out and having his last recruit bleed to death in his arms.
- Is it really a Deconstruction if the other EU brings this up all the time? (and in some cases, like the Forerunners in-game).
- Toradora! deconstructs many of the character archetypes seen in typical Harem Anime. Taiga answers the question of what kind of experiences could give a person a childish tsundere personality in real life.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica brutally deconstructs many of the most beloved Magical Girl tropes. Namely: the mascot, the henshin item, and the "perks".
- Code Geass has Kururugi Suzaku as an effective deconstruction of Lawful Good characters such as Amuro Ray in Mobile Suit Gundam.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion. Boy howdy.
- Digimon Tamers and Narutaru are deconstructions of the Mons genre.
- Mai-HiME appeared as a deconstruction of magical girls before Madoka did it, however... that ending...
- Secret Plot and "Secret Plot Deep" initially/ostensibly comes off as another Hot for Teacher / Hot for Student H-manga series about hot teachers and the various boys they seduce, specifically Masaki then it sets in how much of a Crapsack World they live in:
- Revolutionary Girl Utena is widely regarded as the first deconstruction of the Magical Girl genre, at the same time it deconstructs various fairy tale archetypes including the prince, the princess, and the witch.
- Aki Sora deconstructs how most hentai/ecchi manga portray Brother-Sister Incest. Usually, it is portrayed as guilt free and sexy. This manga, while often making the second half true as long as the incest part doesn't bother you, really goes into detail on just how much the characters are wracked with guilt and fear of being discovered, playing it for as much drama and angst as possible.
- It also deconstructs the Harem Genre, especially the Unwanted Harem, by showing the emotional trauma of a Chew Toy male protagonist who finds himself the object of the perverted lust of several Cute and Psycho girls. Also, while most harem series avoid showing any sex scenes, this series shows exactly what sex between said character types would be like - often disturbing, and sometimes crosses over into rape.
- Watchmen deconstructs the entire superhero genre, but focuses somewhat more on people without actual super powers fighting as vigilantes anyway.
- A story from the comics series Animal Man (noted for its Post Modernism) deconstructs Looney Tunes and similar cartoons: in "The Coyote Gospel," a grotesquely anthropomorphic coyote is repeatedly and brutally killed by an Elmer Fudd-style hunter obsessed with his destruction, and continuously reforms/regenerates in a most disturbing manner. Finally, in a scene reminiscent of the classic "Duck Amuck" short, the malevolent animator paints his blood in as he dies for the last time.
- The Dark Knight Returns asked the question: "What sort of a man would dress up in a bat outfit and fight crime." The answer: "A man who isn't very pleasant or sane."
- Kick-Ass shows us what it would be like if a teenager without super powers ever became a superhero (like Spider-Man). The main character gets beaten to within an inch of his life in every encounter, and said life becomes even worse after he dons the mask; his only super power is that he has a metal plate in his head.
- and then the film based on the comic is a Reconstruction of that same superhero type.
- Mad Magazine often does this, such as contrasting a movie cowboy (Lance Sterling) with a real cowboy (John Smurd). Whereas the handsome Lance defeats the villain after a shootout and fist fight, getting a girl and a hero's celebration, the plain-looking John gets knocked out and beaten up, then kills the villain by taking him by surprise, only to be greeted with a fairly homely woman and lynched for murder.
- In this webcomic, it deconstructs the usage of cleavage revealing costumes of Wonder Woman and Power Girl.
- Word of God said that the Series Finale for the Tintin comics was the album Tin Tin at the Tibet. The next three albums (The Castafiore Emerald, Flight 714, and Tintin and the Picaros) are deconstructions of the Tin Tin series in general.
- The Asphalt Jungle (1950) deconstructs The Caper. In a normal heist movie, the thieves combine good luck with great skill, have no difficulty working together, and escape from the police to spend their stolen wealth without too much trouble. In the Asphalt Jungle, on the other hand, the thieves aren't quite skilled enough to avoid alerting the cops during the heist, have a run of bad luck starting even before they're done planning the heist, squeal on each other, and eventually every single participant is either dead or in prison, brought down by a combination of their own flaws and misfortunes. Plus, the police chief (normally a corrupt or unlikeable person in films where he appears at all) gives a nice speech about the importance of good law enforcement towards the end of the film.
- Mighty Joe Young (at least the 1998 version) deconstructs King Kong, which is rather ironic because it originally inspired King Kong. The ape isn't an island-dwelling monster, but an otherwise normal African gorilla with extreme giantism. The female lead has more in common with Dian Fossey then the screaming damsel in distress of Kong. And when Joe finally does go on his "rampage" it's because he's confronted with the poacher that killed his mother.
- Scanners sets up a fairly standard Hero's Journey, as Cameron Vale, blessed with Psychic Powers, is sent by wise old Dr. Paul Ruth to defeat Ruth's former pupil, Darryl Revok, who also has Psychic Powers. Vale befriends a White-Haired Pretty Girl, Kim Obrist, who can help him infiltrate Revok's organization. Not unsurprisingly, it is revealed that both Cameron and Darryl are the two sons of Paul. With us so far? And then Darryl points out what kind of father would abandon his sons like that, and weaponize one against the other, and, indeed, would test a potentially dangerous new drug on his pregnant wife, thus making Cameron and Darryl psychic in the first place. "That was Daddy." Also, the psychic stuff is disgusting and creepy: scanning is presented not as a graceful and mystical power, but as a painful and unpleasant "merging of two nervous systems". The process is as unpleasant for the the person being scanned (who suffer from headaches and nosebleeds at best, and can have their hearts stopped and heads exploded at worst) and the scanners themselves who suffer severe social and psychological side effects from hearing other peoples thoughts (the main character starts the movie homeless, and another scanner murdered his family when he was a child). Ruth's dream of a scanner utopia turn out to be Not So Different from Revok's scanner-supremacy idea, as observed by Vale. Meanwhile, Cam and Kim never fall in love, as would be expected, because they're too scared for their lives.
- The 1991 film The Dark Backward contains an animated sequence that deconstructs the Tom and Jerry cartoons: Tom's Captain Ersatz gleefully pursues Jerry's, hatchet in hand, and then cuts him in half with it (guts spill); then Spike's Captain Ersatz appears and blows the cat's brains out (literally) with a shotgun. The main character's mother laughs out loudly at this scene.
- A scene from The Mirror Has Two Faces shows Streisand's character deconstructing "Cinderella", saying that she drove the prince nuts with her obsessive cleaning.
- The 2008 movie JCVD is a deconstruction of Jean-Claude Van Damme himself, as an out-of-luck delusional actor as opposed to the real-life moderately successful actor. Read the synopsis here.
- The Milla Jovovich version of Joan of Arc plays out the way the true story went until she is captured by the English, at which point it deconstructs the entire mythology surrounding Joan of Arc. In prison, she meets (or better said, hallucinates) a character (played by Dustin Hoffman) whose only function seems to be to question her calling from God.
- Saturday Night Fever harshly deconstructs America's hedonistic take on life in The Seventies. Sure, there were beautiful clothes, music, and lots of dancing, but there was a dark side to the life led by people like Tony and his friends. For example, Tony, who turns to hedonism as a way to cope with his own life as a low-class Brooklyn guy with a really Dysfunctional Family, has no thought for the future (and the culture as a whole didn't either), and his friends are involved with drugs, drinking, and casual sex which does cause them huge problems.
- The Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell does a combination of this and Demythtification in regards to the King Arthur legends.
- Arguably, Boris Strugatsky's The Powerless of This World is a deconstruction of much of his own and his late brother's earlier works. Perhaps most prominently, "the Sensei", who is a wise old mentor (a fairly typical character for many Strugatsky novels), turns out to have been not only a Trickster Mentor, but also the initiator of the Xanatos Gambit that dictated much of the plot and was aimed at forcing the main character to unlock his full abilities. It succeeded, but not before making said main character a nervous wreck, inducing quite a Bittersweet Ending and causing much remorse to the mentor himself. Additionally, the topic of the Progressors is briefly brought up; one of the characters muses that the Sensei might be acting as one on Earth, and that he had, despite some occasional successes, failed miserably.
- Hard to Be A God deconstructs medieval chivalry, fantasy settings, the supposed glamour of royalty and nobility, and well-intentioned meddling by developed countries (in this case, civilizations: an idealist Commies In Space benevolent space-faring nation ideologically similar to Star Trek's Federation). The European 'Middle Ages' overlapped with the last century/centuries of the 'Dark Ages' for a reason: a Crapsack World is a given there.
- With A Companion to Wolves, Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette do this to all bonded companion animal stories, especially Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern.
- A lot of John Tynes and/or Greg Stolze works features this. Unknown Armies, for instance, deconstructs the Urban Fantasy setting, the novel A Hunger Like Fire deconstructs the trope of the sensual vampire temptress and the RPGs Godlike and Wild Talents deconstructs superheroes stories set during World War 2 and the Cold War respectively.
- The Doctor Who Expanded Universe Eighth Doctor Adventures novel The Crooked World by Steve Lyons is a deconstruction of Looney Tunes-esque cartoons as the Doctor lands in a cartoon world and begins to influence its inhabitants' behaviors towards naturalism.
- And the Past Doctor Adventures novel The Indestructible Man by Simon Messingham is a deconstruction of all Gerry Anderson's work, asking why Jeff Tracy founded the Thunderbirds, what SHADO personnel would really be like (yes UFO was Darker and Edgier to begin with, but Messingham takes it further), and how the ordinary people of the Supermarionation world might feel about so much money being channeled into Awesome but Impractical vehicles. Most notably, the titular Indestructible Man is a Captain Ersatz Captain Scarlet who feels detached from humanity and wishes he was able to die.
- "A Troll Story" by Nicola Griffith, in which a Viking warrior faces off against a troll. He wins, all right, but the story abruptly takes a deconstructionist turn: he goes insane from the troll's final curse, which renders him able to understand that there's no essential moral difference between the troll's slaughter of Vikings and his own slaughter of innocents in the towns he's raided.
- Ring For Jeeves could be considered PG Wodehouse's deconstruction of his own stories. The usual romantic comedy character-relation tropes are there, but the world they live in is remarkably different. All of Wodehouse's stories take place in a Genteel Interbellum Setting, but Ring For Jeeves explores what would happen if time actually progressed. World War II has happened, Britain is in the throes of social upheaval which separates Jeeves and Bertie (Bertie is sent to a school that teaches the aristocracy how to fend for themselves), poverty and suicide and graphic death are acknowledged, and Jeeves even admits to having "dabbled in" World War I. The book's setting, Rowchester Abbey, is falling apart at the seams and the characters who inhabit it start to feel like a pocket of old-fashioned happiness in a darkening world. In case any doubters still exist about 3/4 through the book, there's Constable Wyvyrn's musings about just how much the world has changed.
- And then there's Greaves, This is Serious, by William Mingin, another Wodehouse deconstruction. Bertie begins to grow dissatisfied with his carefree life of idle frivolities, and begins questioning his butler Greaves to see if they ever do anything... productive. The answer is quite chilling.
- Goshawk Squadron by Derek Robinson attacks the popular view of World War One air combat which, rather than dueling "Knights of the Air", actually involved undertrained pilots diving out of the sun and machine-gunning their opponent in the back before he had a chance to defend himself.
- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court was a particularly brutal deconstruction of the King Arthur mythos, which a lot of Brits took offense to. (It was compared, at one point, to defecating on a national treasure.)
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald could be the earliest deconstruction of the American dream lifestyle. It shows the rich and happy as people who are empty on the inside and the fight between new rich and old rich lifestyles, particularly with the titular character Jay Gatsby.
- The Second Apocalypse series by R. Scott Bakker was an attempted deconstruction of what Bakker considers the crux of fantasy—a meaningful universe with metaphysical purpose. One of the premises of the series is "What if you had a fantasy world where Old Testament-style morality, with all of its arbitrary taboos and cruelties (like damnation), was as true in the same way that gravity is 9.8 meters per second squared?". Whether he successfully accomplishes this is heavily debated.
- A Tale of Two Cities. To many, the famous opening line ("It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...") seems cliche, but one needs to look at it in the context of the French Revolution. In the years following it, revisionists on both sides relied heavily on propaganda, romanticizing their own side as undeniably good, and demonizing the other side as undeniably bad. A Tale of Two Cities makes the assumption that each side was absolutely right and runs with it, and so both the aristocrats and the revolutionaries have, among their ranks, noble, honorable people fighting for what they believe is right, and sadists who just want some bloodshed.
- Agnes Nutter from Good Omens is a deconstruction of the Seer. On the one hand, we see that she is always right, but sometimes her predictions are oddly specific (don't buye Betamacks), too ahead of their time (jogging helps people to live longer), centered on her relatives in the future (she predicted for 11/22/1963 that a house in a small English city would break down, but doesn't mention the assassination of John F Kennedy on the same day - one of her relatives might be in this city at that day, but apparently, none of them wanted to go to Dallas), and she didn't bother to order her predictions or explain them in detail. On the other hand, she uses her power to successfully Write Back to the Future (and also to avoid people responsible for delivering said message to snoop), and since she can predict EVERYTHING, this includes knowing when Anathema will read a specific prophecy - so it always fits.
- Count and Countess is perhaps a deconstruction of the vampire romance genre—specifically, why it would just plain suck to fall in love with someone predisposed to bloodlust.
Live Action TV
- Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon ended up deconstructing its own source material in increasingly surprising ways as it diverged from the original story, until, by the end, Sailor Moon herself has become the Omnicidal Maniac villain; the senshi's power source, the Silver Crystal, turns out to have really been an Artifact of Doom; and erstwhile villain Queen Beryl is revealed to have actually been trying to save the world (albeit only so she could rule it). The deconstruction arises here as a result of the audience's own genre expectations about the senshi's Power of Friendship and the motivation of the Card Carrying Villains, and how naive and dangerous it'd actually be for the heroines to make such assumptions.
- Star Trek experienced a successful Deconstruction with Deep Space Nine, a mildly successful Reconstruction with Voyager, a failed Deconstruction with Enterprise, and a very successful Reconstruction with the 2009 film.
- The Ten Commandments miniseries shows the many hard choices that Moses had to make in following God: abandoning his family, alienating his adoptive mother, causing his blood brother to do a Face Heel Turn, killing his most loyal comrade to enforce God's authority.
- In a very unique example, as the vast majority of deconstructions are very cynical in nature, The West Wing (a highly idealistic show) could be seen as a deconstruction of the popular conventions of what constitutes political immorality: the Press Secretary spins information not to cover up the government's guilt, but to protect the jobs of heads of state and militaries from the influence of political whims; politicians make unsavory deals with amoral lobbyists and scheming congressmen not for personal gain, but to rescue legislation that would help out thousands of people; the President's speeches and public appearances are carefully scripted not to make him look good, but to prevent confusion and possible panic from people who don't have Masters' in public policy; etc, etc.
- While it's easy to mistake it for another run-of-the-mill teen melodrama, Glee could very well be called "Deconstruction: The Show." A lot of the criticism of the show arises from people thinking the tropes are being played straight.
- For example, musicals themselves are deconstructed. Most of the musical numbers in the show take place either as a stage performance or in somebody's imagination. When characters actually do decide to randomly burst into song? It never goes too well.
- The B plot of Community episode English as a Second Language is a deconstruction of Good Will Hunting'. Abed pulls a paraphrasing of Ben Affleck's "the best part of my day" speech from on Troy, to try to get him to 'use his gift' and become a plumber. The next day, Abed turns to find that Troy is no longer sitting next to him in class... but not because he's inspired and has dropped out, but because Troy has switched seats because he's offended that his best friend would actually think the prospect of him just leaving without a word would be the best part of his day. Turns out, that would actually be a really horrible and offensive thing to say to a friend, no matter how gifted.
- Ultraman Nexus is a deconstruction of the usual Kaiju and Ultraman shows. It shows what will happen if giant alien and monsters actually appear in real life and no, it isn't pleasant. This is why Nexus is considered Darker and Edgier than most Tokusatsu.
- Since its reboot in 2005, Doctor Who has been gradually deconstructing itself. The Doctor is, as always, an eccentric man with a saviour complex whose mystique both entices and frightens people, and these traits have increasingly tended towards tragedy for him. It started with realistic problems finding their way into the story, like a companion's family assuming her dead and the emotional fallout that resulted, and got worse. Russell T. Davies made a huge jab at the Doctor's character in "Midnight", when all of the Doctor's normal methods of controlling a situation backfire entirely, and he is almost killed because of it. Soon after, in "Journey's End", he is shown his "true colours" when his companions are prepared to destroy themselves and the Earth if need be to stop the Daleks' plan. Since Steven Moffat took over the show, things have only gotten bleaker at an increasing rate, and by the end of series 6, the Doctor has practically lost all faith in himself and is basically a Death Seeker. The last episode of Series 6, however, suggests that a process of Reconstruction might be underway.
- Kamen Rider Ryuki, add some aspect of Mon to Kamen Rider. But the monsters have no loyalty to their masters and will eat them, should the contact card is destroyed. The same thing would occur if the monsters aren't well-fed, meaning you must continue fighting to feed your mons, even if you want to quit - and more mons you have, it's just harder to feed them all. Oh, there's another way to get around this, the mons also eat humans. At least one rider is more than happy to lets his mon eat random people, it help cover his murder anyway.
- A Streetcar Named Desire did not deconstruct any genre in particular, but it did deconstruct gender roles, physical relationships, and the American system of social classes in a rather harsh way.
- Euripides' Trojan Women and Hecuba portrayed The Trojan War as a human tragedy rather than a sweeping epic tale of martial valor in the Homeric tradition. In general, his tragedies are regarded as more "modern" than those of his predecessors because of their morally ambiguous protagonists, pervasive sense of anxiety and despair, religious skepticism and overall portrayal of mythological subjects and characters as real people.
- M. Butterfly is a no-holds-barred deconstruction of the "Oriental woman submissive to her white man" trope that Madame Butterfly codified, with a male Chinese spy disguised as a woman deliberately invoking this trope to get a French diplomat to fall in love with him and pointing out that Asian women are generally no more modest or demure than other women in real life.
- The Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen became famous (and controversal) for not bending over to the standards of drama back then. Instead, he made people take a good hard look at them and asked, "Is this what you really want?" One major example is A Dolls House. The main character, Nora, is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl who thinks that her husband will take care of everything in life. However, she realizes that what was between the two wasn't real love. The ending shows her setting out to find who she really is, with "the door slam that has reverberated around the world".
- The well-known Aesop "Be Careful What You Wish For" operates in this way. Person X makes wish Y. Wish Y is granted to person X. Wish Y then manages to have sufficiently negative unintended consequences on person X's life that wish Y now looks like a ridiculous thing to wish for. Thus, Wish Y is deconstructed.
- For one of Gamespot's April Fool's Day jokes, they have announced that Capcom has recently announced a new game called Mega Man Deconstructed. See 7:43 of this video.
- Most of the villainism of No More Heroes's Villain Protagonist comes from what would happen if a stereotypical videogame/anime geek retained their combat ability in the real world and lived life like they play games.
- A lighter example of Deconstruction would belong to SWAT 4, an FPS whose objective is not shooting bad guys. Just plain shooting bad guys like in another FPS, in SWAT 4, does not net you a point. This game expects you to be a police officer, not an FPS character. To earn points (which are needed to advance in harder difficulties), you must deal with the bad guys with non-lethal methods, and arresting them.
- Pokémon Black and White deconstructs not just many of the implications of a Crap Saccharine World in the series that are hinted at through the Pokédex entries, but also deconstructs the idea that everyone in the world of Pokémon thinks that it's a good idea to send kids and teenagers out into the wild to capture pokemon, with Bianca's father feeling immensely concerned for her. Another part of it is the idea that no one bats an eyelash at Pokémon battles or no one thinks it's too violent with Team Plasma and N. It also provides a fairly brutal deconstruction of the concept of Moral Guardians in the form of Team Plasma's claims to be concerned for the welfare of Pokémon.
- Phantom Brave viciously deconstructs All of the Other Reindeer. The power of a Chroma (which is what Marona is) is, for all intents and purposes, necromancy, and as such it is widely regarded as a dark, unholy power, and people react accordingly to her. This isn't simply general disdain or mocking of her, this is real, genuine fear and hatred. Listen to that woman who scolds her son for wanting to be friends with Marona in the opening chapter. You can feel the pure, unbridled barely contained rage she has at the mere mention of her name.
- Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories deals with a Canon Relationship Sue, while 358/2 Days deconstructs the Copy Cat Sue. The characters involved are canonically clones of some sort and are considered abominations in-universe. Their Sueish traits are actually plot-relevant and tend to be the reason the villains can make use of them, with the latter even dying as a result of it.
- The Fable series does this to fantasy and magic. While the first game was more of an affectionate parody of medieval fantasy, the sequel takes this to its logical conclusion: with no real threat facing Albion, the Guild of Heroes became egocentric power bullies, and with the advent of the firearm, the Muggle commonfolk struck back and wiped out the Guild. When the Fable 2 hero comes around, it's only natural that the public would view someone as powerful as you to be worthy of becoming king/queen.
- The MOTHER trilogy is a relatively early deconstruction of the conventions of the Eastern RPG genre, from the outside perspective of one who's a professional writer as opposed to a game designer.
- Grand Theft Auto IV is one of its own series. Rather than show a glamorized portrayal of criminal life like the previous games did, it portrays it realistically, with most of the characters being poor, sociopathic, psychotic, greedy, or otherwise unlikable. Even Niko himself is a hypocrite.
- The Demon Path in Soul Nomad and The World Eaters could be seen as a deconstruction of Stupid Evil choices in video games (where the game's Karma Meter consists of "Help this woman find her lost puppy, or kill her and eat her family,") taken to its ultimate conclusion. Once the protagonist gets the power of an Omnicidal Maniac god of death, he/she decides to go on a world-wide killing spree for no reason other than it sounds like fun. What follows is a massacre of the entire cast of the game, anyone who isn't lucky enough to be killed immediately being either horribly broken or driven insane and then killed. By the end of the game, the protagonist and the god of death are the only living things left on the planet, at which point the protagonist turns on the god of death and eats him, gaining his powers fully, before turning his/her newfound powers on the gods themselves and finally erasing all of existence, along with him/herself.
- In The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim, the "save the world from the world-eating Big Bad dragon Alduin" quest is deconstructed in a conversation with Paarthunax, leader of the Greybeards and a good dragon, possibly the only one in existence. He asks if it isn't foolish to stop the apocalypse if it's being done by someone whose job it is to do exactly that and thereby bring about the next world. Arngeir also poses these questions, but less in-depth. The story is, however, reconstructed later.
- Red Alert 3 Paradox is a Game Mod building a world around the scarce information of its source material, Command and Conquer Command and Conquer Red Alert 3 and plays out realistically what would happen if three major super powers go to all-out war, a US President is killed or what consequences it has when physics-defying technology is used large-scale and regularly. It's not nearly as idealistic as the original.
- The Pixel Art Comic Kid Radd, while largely light in tone, presents a "video game characters living in videoland" scenario where it's a very real problem that many inhabitants are innately armed and know nothing but killing. They know why they were created, and they don't like it. The player character Radd goes from slacker to Determinator because he always had the latter's mindset, but started his days in a game under the player's control, so he had to learn initiative completely from the ground up. Upon being freed, Radd needed instructions to walk independently.
- Eight Bit Theater is a deconstruction of Japanese RPGs, specifically Final Fantasy. 8-bit theater portrays a JRPG world if the chosen heroes were actually just as evil, if not worse, than the evil they fight.
- It's Walky could arguably be seen as a deconstruction of the goofy 1980s cartoons creator David Willis is a fan of (mostly G.I. Joe and Transformers). Sure it features a unique special forces group, SEMME (who were initially based on GI Joe) with an eccentric line up of operatives, who routinely foil the insane schemes of a Harmless Villain, but the eccentric operatives are soon revealed to be a bunch of dysfunctional screw-ups, and the Villain is in fact a Not-So-Harmless Villain.
- My Name Is Might Have Been deconstructs Rock Band. Yeah, the video game.
- VG Cats deconstructs the cartoon violence of Tom and Jerry in this strip.
- Misfile deconstructs every Gender Bender trope.
- Goblins: Life Through Their Eyes takes a good hard look at the Unfortunate Implications of labeling whole races Always Chaotic Evil. It portrays the titular goblins not as monsters but as people who live and love. It shows us that what Player Characters see as just an XP haul isn't so fun when you're the one they're killing to level up.
- Quentin Quinn Space Ranger, an offshoot of Tales of the Questor, is Deconstructing Star Trek right now. So far the design of the starship Enterprise, the habit of using force field airlocks without wearing space suits and the Proud Warrior Race Guy have already been hit. Hard. Up next is engineering.
- The entire premise behind Darths and Droids is that the Star Wars universe is the result of a group of Tabletop Gamers (including a 7 year old girl) making it up as they go along. It lends a whole new perspective to the storyline of the prequel trilogy. The entire mess on Naboo was the result of the Player Characters epically ruining a delicate, carefully constructed plan by going Off the Rails, and engaging in all the sins of The Real Man, The Munchkin, and The Loonie. Palpatine is actually a good guy overthrowing a corrupt regime, and trying to bring a semblance of stability to the republic. Darth Maul was just a Chaotic Neutral Hired Gun who was only trying to work with the player characters, before they attacked him. To top it all off, some of the most bizarre and unrealistic plot points, such as Naboo being governed by a 14 year old Queen, exist because Jar Jar Binks is being played by a little girl.
- In the Chapter 26 of the Spanish webcomic 5 Elementos, the author show the effects of a civil war in a world habited by lots and lots of people with superpowers.
- MS Paint Adventures is Andrew Hussie's deconstructive love letter to a multitude of series, genres, concepts and tropes, including deconstruction itself.
- This website deconstructs the Cthulhu Mythos, specifically the Necronomicon. In essence it asks "what if it was a real book?" and builds from there, by looking for parallels between Judeo-Christian tradition and the Cthuhlu Mythos (The Old Ones = The Giants from Genesis), it creates the content of the book, it then asks "what kind of person would write about such things in 730 AD?" Thus Abdul Alhazred is what the Koran calls a "Sabian" and what Western biblical scholars call a "Gnostic"—a person with religious views related to, but radically different from, mainstream Christianity, Islam and Judaism. It then builds a comprehensive history of how it got from the Middle East and into the hands of Western Occultists, and finally makes the assumption that while yes, Lovecraft wrote about it, he got only the name and the the author correct, having never read the book itself.
- Stardestroyer.net, as mentioned above in Fanfic, deconstructs the seemingly Utopian Star Trek universe, pointing out holes.
- Sailor Nothing loves showing just how jarringly, horrifically, nightmarishly different the characters' lives are from Magical Girl anime. Several of them even watch an exaggerated, stereotypical version of such shows; the main character actually watches it to escape her life.
- Mario: Game Over. A remarkable deconstruction of Super Mario Bros.
- Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles takes many first person shooter tropes and twists them. Everything from capture the flag, to why there are two bases in the middle of a box canyon with no strategic value, and Respawn. Interestingly, the new series called Reconstruction is a deconstruction of the parodic nature of The Blood Gulch Chronicles. Caboose is tied up in the brig due to his self destructive tendencies. Grif and Simmons face the firing squad after selling all the ammo to the Blue team. The reason that all the red and blue conflicts were pointless squabbling over an equally pointless flag and base is revealed to be a conspiracy by command. However, since that is a deconstruction of a deconstruction, arguably that makes it a Reconstruction as all the video game tropes are being put back together.
- The SCP Foundation Wiki, although beginning as a creepypasta site, has largely evolved into a deconstruction on the "Modern-Day Fantasy" genre, depicting a shadowy organization entirely devoted to capturing and imprisoning all of those magicians, psychics, and mystic artifacts that populate said settings, to maintain the status quo.
- Furry Fandom works frequently portray a world as furry. I Wish I Was Furry! (NSFW!) shows what would happen if we woke up one day and the world actually was furry. The main character is even a human furry fan, like is typical for transformation stories. And a plushophile. (It's exactly what it sounds like.) A furryized world, as it happens, is dark and brutal.
- Sonny Gets Mad Scienced is the "humourous" type of deconstruction. It revolves around two central ideas; telling a Mad Scientist story from the perspective of one of the nameless subjects experimented on, and being Genre Savvy doesn't always help.
- The YouTube video Percy is a deconstruction of infomercials.
- This video from The Onion sends up the idea of video games becoming progressively more realistic by taking it to a logically deconstructive extreme with an "ultra realistic Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3". It mostly involves sitting around and waiting, when you're not going on pointless, tedious missions, suffering from homesickness or getting randomly killed.
- For the superhero scene, there's Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. A detailed description of the webseries can be found in its wmg page.
- This video is a deconstruction of Pokémon. Yes, Pokémon. It is mostly played for laughs but there is a point about half-way through where Pikachu is bleeding as he's strangled by a Bulbasaur ... And oh my God it is disturbing. If you've ever been mildly bothered by the cockfighting similarities, you will be really distressed by this video.
- Then again you could see the same thing Pokémon Special, where an Arbok get its head cut! That's right stuff like that happens in the manga.
- There can be a very good case made for The Venture Brothers being a deconstruction of Jonny Quest and Doc Savage-style stories. Some say spoof, some say deconstruction, some say both.
- Looney Tunes director Chuck Jones often used deconstruction on his cartoons. The best known example is Duck Amuck: First the scenery changes, forcing Daffy to adapt. Then Daffy himself is erased and redrawn. Then the soundtrack fails, then the film frame, and so on until Daffy is psychologically picked clean. Another example is What's Opera Doc, which takes the base elements of a typical Bugs Bunny cartoon and reassembles them as a Wagnerian opera. (Conversely, you could also say that it takes the base elements of Wagnerian opera and reassembles them as a Bugs Bunny cartoon.)
- Family Guy does a particularly nasty deconstruction of Looney Tunes and its Amusing Injuries, wherein Elmer Fudd is out "hunting wabbits", shoots Bugs Bunny four times in the stomach, snaps his neck amidst cries of pain, and then drags him off leaving behind a trail of blood. In another episode where Peter and friends became The A-Team, the show's "amusing injuries" are discussed as actually life-threatening.
- The famous Simpsons episode "Homer's Enemy" is a deconstruction of the general weirdness and insanity of its setting, based around the premise of What if a real-life, normal person had to enter Homer's universe and deal with him? Frank Grimes, a relatively humorless but hard-working man who is still forced to live cheaply despite working almost his entire life, encounters Homer on the job at the nuclear power plant. You can imagine what happens next—the result is funny, but also disturbing and very dark upon further reflection (one of the darkest Simpsons episodes ever made).
- At one point, Homer is about to drink a beaker of sulfuric acid when Grimes stops him. Grimes reacts exactly as we would expect a normal person to react—he's visibly freaked out, and when Homer blows off the danger with laughter, he shouts, " Stop laughing, you imbecile! Do you realize how close you just came to killing yourself?!" A series of such incidents ultimately drives Frank Grimes into insanity and death.
- The Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy episode "1+ 1=Ed" is a deconstruction of how cartoons work, similar to Duck Amuck.
- Iron Man: Armored Adventures offers an interesting take on the teenage superhero genre in the fact the hero really couldn't care any less about school or fitting in, claiming it's a waste of time and instead stating that his work as a hero is more important. He then proceeds to cheat on his tests and homework in order to pass, since him being a hero gives him the latitude to do so, and high school is meaningless and doesn't matter once you graduate.
- "Epilogue" of Justice League Unlimited can be taken as a deconstruction of the superhero genre, by having a woman deliberately make Terry McGinnis a superhero by killing his parents and replacing his dad's DNA with the DNA of Bruce Wayne, all in response to Batman growing older. It fits both invoked and deconstructed, because it shows the horrible consequences of making a superhero, as well as the kind of monster you would have to be to do it (killing innocent people to do something that might achieve a goal).
- Speaking of the DCAU, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker gives the Joker an opportunity to deconstruct Batman in a flashback where he tortures Robin until he learns all of Batman's secrets:
"I must admit, it's sadly anti-climatic. Behind all the sturm and batarangs, you're just a little boy in a playsuit, crying for Mommy and Daddy! It'd be funny if it weren't so pathetic."
- Moral Orel deconstructs The Moral Substitute but presenting a culture where all media are Christian fundamentalist propaganda, and showing just how messed up and disturbing said culture would be.
- The episode of The Powerpuff Girls about them moving to "Citysville" deals with what would happen if their brand of heroics was applied to a real life city.
- South Park, as well as deconstructing everything else on the planet, has a fine line in deconstructing itself. In "Kenny Dies", the Running Gag character they had killed over seventy times already gets a terminal disease and slowly expires while Stan and Kyle react with utterly realistic grief and despair.
- That is further deconstructed in the "Mysterion Trilogy" with Negative Continuity.
- The episode, "You're Getting Old," deals with the consequences of having Randy being over-(re)active combined with the Reset Button. The result is Stan's parents divorcing and Randy moving away from South Park... Until the following episode.
- On a deeper level, Stan starts deconstructing all things around him, finding that everything is ultimately meaningless, or "just crap", as the episode portrays it.
- The Jimmy Neutron movie deconstructs the "no parents would be great" trope by having difficulties pop up the very next day. A girl gets injured, everyone gets chronically lonely, and people get sick from eating nothing but bad food.
- "It's Oppo", a student film made by Cal Arts student Tyler Chen, brutally deconstructs Nick Jr., as well as preschool television programs and morally unscrupulous media companies in general. Watch it [NSFW]: 
- In Undergrads, college dorm life is deconstructed to counter its inspiration Animal House; Rocko's Fratboy behavior is looked down on heavily by his frat brothers, who view him as a source of grief. Nitz' everyman status really puts only a grade above Gimpy, the resident Hikikomori of the four of them.
- Transformers Animated is a deconstruction of the whole Autobot-Decepticon War. Things ain't so black and white as before, in fact the Autobots' leadership is flawed and somewhat corrupt, with one higly racist, incompetent, cowardly jerkass general on it, who only is amongst the High Command because he blames his mistakes on Optimus Prime, whose status as The Messiah makes him somewhat of a push-over, and its leader is ready to commit dirty tricks to defeat the Decepticons. The Decepticons however, are as much the monsters they were in G1, and though this time Megatron's pragmatic enough to blast Starscream's ass any time he tries to overthrow him. Starscream only survives thanks to the Allspark piece on his head. Without it he would have died right from the start. Then comes the season three...
- "Hey Good Lookin'" by Ralph Bakshi (who else) is one big Deconstruction and Take That against anyone who believes that the 1950s were really just like Grease or Happy Days. The main character is ostensibly as cool as The Fonz but actually a Dirty Coward who can't back up his bragging, the Plucky Comic Relief is actually a racist sociopath, their gang aren't really True Companions despite looking like one, the supposed Big Bad never explictly does anything really bad and the ending's Broken Aesop is intentional about the "Romance" between the main character and Rozzie.
- The My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "Lesson Zero" deconstructs the Once an Episode lesson-learning nature of the show. Twilight Sparkle realises that she hasn't learned a lesson this week, and she only has a day left to write her weekly "friendship report" to Princess Celestia. After futile attempts to find some problem to solve, she ends up cracking under pressure and creating a Conflict Ball she can resolve.