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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:


Please only add examples that don't fit into one of the subtropes.

Compare Genre Shift.

Examples of Tone Shift include:


  • 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.
  • Boy Meets World started out as a wholesome family sitcom about a kid living next door to his teacher. Since the show followed Cory as he aged, the next seasons focused on him and his friends entering puberty and figuring out adolescence, and season 6 shifted to a more adult tone dealing with parental death, premature birth, adoption, sexual harassment, and the realities of adult life after marriage. Unlike most examples, this was deliberate.
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