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An author, developler, or a group of them start with a basic idea, and from there start building a new work intended to be released to the public, but sometimes these author(s) may see that their creation isn't working like they intended to, it's missing a little something in it. Maybe the creators are not very talented in the genre or media they used to start their work, maybe those just doesn't, or flat out can't, show the work the way they intended to, or maybe is just for a meddling executive getting involved.

Whatever the reason, they see that the bases they have chosen for their work just aren't working the way they want to, so it's time to change one or more of these bases before they release anything.

This can come in two flavors:

  • Genre shift: The work keeps its grounds on the same media, but changes its style to other of the many genres inside that media, like from Comedy to Drama in Theater, or a Platformer to Action Adventure in Video Games.
  • Media Shift: Unusual but not unheard of, this one generally occurs during the first moments of the work's creation, and regularly means that the author's goal for this work just wasn't expressed well in the media chosen. For example, the author could have started with his work in written media, but then (s)he sees that without visuals it feels incomplete and/or that a fitting BGM could do a much better job conveying the feelings the (s)he intends to show; or maybe started with some sort of visual media, but later thinks that using more reader's interpretation and less "this is how it was and looked like" is a better option for his intentions.

Don't confuse with Genre Shift, Cerebus Syndrome, Reverse Cerebus Syndrome and Cerebus Rollercoaster, which are changes during a work's run instead of before its release. Subtrope of What Could Have Been.

Examples of Mid-Development Genre Shift include:

Anime and Manga:

  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha was originally intended to be a straight Magical Girl series, but ended up somewhat closer to Humongous Mecha show with cute girls once it was released.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! was originally supposed to be a horror-genre manga, but after people wrote in saying they liked Monsters and Magic (the Duel Monsters game), the focus started to center around that.

Comic Books:

  • The Griff was written by Christopher Moore and Ian Corson. It started as another Moore novel, but when he realized the idea was too visually dependent for the written word he set it aside - until the opportunity to make a graphic novel arose.

Fan Works:


  • Cool World was originally intended to be a horror film, but Executive Meddling demanded a more family friendly plot and basically rewrote it.
  • Dr. Strangelove was originally meant to be a straight drama, much like the original novel, but Stanley Kubrick found the situations so ridiculous and over the top that he decided to play it for dark laughs.
  • Mulholland Drive was originally going to be a TV series.
  • Good Will Hunting was originally conceived of by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck as a thriller, before the Weinsteins encouraged them to instead emphasize the relationship between Will and his psychologist.
  • Seen in the Korean movie Windstruck (the loose prequel to My Sassy Girl), which veered from Rom Com to Fantasy to Tragedy and back again.
  • Zombieland was originally intended to be a TV series.
    • And now it will become one, due to Zombieland 2 being canceled by the studio.
  • Dear Diary - a Short Film - was a sitcom pilot that wasn't picked up. Won an Oscar for Best Short Subject.
  • Beetlejuice was originally supposed to be a horror movie, but was changed to a supernatural comedy.
  • Holiday Inn was originally to have been produced on Broadway as a plotless revue.
  • The Emperors New Groove was originally conceived as a dark musical film instead of a lighthearted comedy film with only one or two songs. And Yzma was originally going to have her own song.


  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was originally just going to be a straight series of articles covering a motorcycle race in Las Vegas, before becoming the weird, wacky, genre-defining whatever-it-is that it became.


  • Company was originally written by George Furth as a cycle of eleven short plays.

Video Games:

  • Halo was originally conceived as a Real Time Strategy game, but it made it to shelves as a First-Person Shooter, probably because its plot and factions coupled with its genre would have made it too similar to RTS heavyweight Starcraft. They eventually revisited the RTS idea, though.
  • A light variation with Sonic the Hedgehog, the initial concept was a more traditional platformer with puzzles and exploration akin to Super Mario Bros 2. The final product, while still a platformer, focused more dominantly on its now trademark speed. This evolution is even more prominant in its sequel.
  • According to Cracked, the NES version of Super Mario Bros. was going to be a shoot-em-up platformer, and Mario was going to carry guns, like the beam gun similar to those in Metroid and a rifle. Also, he was going to punch and kick enemies while empty-handed, ride on clouds (which were previously rockets in earlier development) and fire at enemies in cloud drive-bys that would soon become bonus coin stages. Also, the "jump button" was going to be "up" on the Control Pad, leaving the "A" button open for attacks.
  • Rareware has a habit of doing this:
    • Banjo-Kazooie was originally conceived as Dream, a 2D Super Nintendo RPG with human characters rather than a 3D Funny Animal platformer.
    • Golden Eye 1997 was originally to be an on-rails light-gun shooter like Lethal Enforcers or Virtua Cop.
    • Conkers Bad Fur Day was originally just another generic kiddie platformer before they retooled it into the rude, crude, offensively over-the-top game everyone knows and loves. This was after the tie-in Game Boy game, which really was as saccharine as Conker was intended to be, had been released as well.
    • Star Fox Adventures started off as a non-franchise title called Dinosaur Planet before Executive Meddling told them to retool it as a Star Fox game, complete with Shmup sections and a surprise final boss that were so very obviously tacked-on near the end of production.
  • Rayman Raving Rabbids was conceived as a Rayman 2-esque platformer with original creator Michel Ancel having full involvement, but Executive Meddling caused the switch to a minigame collection and Ancel being dropped from the project.
  • Metal Gear 1987 began development as a straightforward shoot-'em-up, cashing in on the popularity of Capcom's arcade game Commando, but the programmers were having too much trouble creating a similar game on the MSX2 since the hardware couldn't handle too many enemy soldiers and bullets on-screen at the same time. When Hideo Kojima was brought in into the project to salvage it, he decided to shift the game's focus to avoiding combat.
  • Shinobi began development as a game about shooting shurikens at enemies from a first-person view. The developers planned to include a shuriken-shaped paddle to control the player's aim. The concept didn't prove to be that interesting and Sega decided to revamp Shinobi as a side-scrolling action game, with the shuriken-throwing game idea used for the bonus stages instead.
  • Thief started life as an Authurian-legend swashbuckling game with minor emphasis on stealth. Once Looking Glass Studios realized just how GOOD they made stealthing (ie, enemies not able to see you in the dark and having to be aware of your footsteps), they made a game specifically tailored for the mechanic, instead.

Western Animation:

  • The Dreamstone was initially concieved as Darker and Edgier storybook with more action and mystical concepts. While some of these concepts make it into the finalized TV series (esspecially the pilot episode), the setup was reinvented into a more light hearted Road Runner vs. Coyote style cartoon.
  • Family Guy flip flops with this throughout its development. Its prototype short The Life of Larry was something of a faux sitcom and had already invented the cutaway setup and heavy pop culture humor. The second prototype, a What-A-Cartoon short Larry And Steve played more along the lines of a Tex Avery style kids cartoon, with the satirical humor being much more subtle. In it's intitial run Family Guy played something of a mix of both, utilizing the original cutaway and parody humor, but maintaining heavy use of light hearted slapstick. Following its UnCancellation however, the show slowly evolved into a shock value Sadist Show.
    • Adding to that the light Cerebus Syndrome in later episodes. The show doesn't seem to want to stop this habit.


  1. In order to be able to put music in it
  2. The game didn't work out
  3. So visual elements could be added
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