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Over time, works can change in tone. A formerly episodic comedic work can become a dark political satire with a strong plot arc. A dark work about a future dystopia can become a lighthearted adventure series.
This can be a deliberate shift in tone that was planned all along, it can be done deliberately because of a perceived advantage to the new tone (almost always financial), or it may be an unplanned and almost accidental shift over time.
This is especially true in episodic media, such as Live Action TV, Comic Books, and Web Comics, where their long-running status and, in the first two cases, changes in writing teams can cause marked changes in tone over time.
This also frequently appears when remaking or re-imagining older media for a modern audience.
Changes to tone are not always permanent, but in order to qualify they must be long-lasting. A single dark episode in an otherwise light and fluffy show is not a Tone Shift.
A Super-Trope to:
- Ascended Fridge Horror: An ambiguously and/or subtly disturbing aspect of a series becomes more established and/or overt.
- Bloodier and Gorier: A work contains a lot more graphic violence.
- Cerebus Syndrome: A light, comedic work becomes darker and more dramatic.
- Darker and Edgier: A series gets darker undertones over time or when a sequel/reboot/alternate continuity is noticeably darker (i.e. more violent, more sexual, more bleak themes) than its predecessor(s).
- Denser and Wackier: A work becomes more convoluted and zany.
- Hotter and Sexier: A work takes on a lot more sexual over- and undertones.
- Lighter and Softer: A work becomes lighter.
- Younger and Hipper: A work's characters are retooled to be younger.
Please only add examples that don't fit into one of the subtropes.
Compare Genre Shift.
- Full House started with some family-friendly undertones but otherwise a run-of-the-mill sitcom. Over time, it brought the family-friendly aspect more and more to the forefront until they were dropping Aesop anvils every episode. Complete with heavy Flanderization and a continual feed of new child actors.
- Roseanne started out as a very witty sitcom with elements of Kitchen Sink Drama with a good deal of Character Development, until behind the scenes drama derailed the entire show into A Denser and Wackier farce of its former self AND a heavy-handed Melodrama subject to Mood Whiplash. The last Season plays like one long Gainax Ending.