Grimdark

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It's totally the opposite of this.
Inspector Gadget, reimagined with a grimdark feel.
Grimdark Original versions, of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, before the show.
Grimdark is an adjective derived from the tagline for Warhammer 40k, which states that "In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war." It is generally used to describe a dilapidated, poverty-ridden setting which it would really suck to live in, as say Somalia, North Korea, or the setting of Warhammer 40k itself (in fairness, this is because the published material primarily focuses on war and cults and other horrible things; there are supposed to be many pleasant and peaceful worlds and sectors in the Imperium, but they are mostly ignored as they are boring from a game perspective -- and when they do appear in lore or stories, they're about to go from 0 to fucked very, very soon. Unless, of course, we're talking about planets in the Macragge system. Goddamned Ultramarines). It can also be used to describe artwork that has a grimdark feel, even if the setting itself would not normally be considered grim or dark.

Being grimdark can be taken to extremes; depending on your own personal tolerances for grim darkness, there is a point at which it becomes more ridiculous than anything else because everything is indefeasibly tragic all the time. This is an accusation often levelled at Warhammer itself, and leads some to rail against "Grimdark" as a whole, decrying the concept as ridiculous attempts at edginess (typically by teenagers), and using the expression to refer solely to such over-the-top settings in a strictly pejorative manner. Others actually embrace this ridiculousness (recall especially that Warhammer 40K was, in early editions, a much more obviously comedic setting) and run with it, insisting that the detractors who take it seriously (or the creators who take it seriously) are making a mistake. This schism is mostly visible with races such as the Tau in Warhammer, who are noticeably less grimdark than most of the other races and are either loved or absolutely hated for it; when grimdark is involved, there isn't a lot of room for middle ground. Meanwhile, another sizable percentage instead postulate that Grimdarkness lends greater moral and ethical complexity to a setting (based on the fallacy that darkness always equals depth). Such people usually cite the works of Dan Abnett and many other Warhammer 40K writers to lend credence to such suppositions (these people are clearly ignoring that fact that most writers tone the grimdark WAY down, what, you didn't think that fact that the Imperium being an effective government, civilians having normal happy lives on par with the US, Commissars who never *BLAM* their troops was odd?). Needless to say, grimdark is a rather polarizing subject.

The polar opposite of grimdark is Noblebright, a deliberate inversion of grim and dark nature where honour, happiness, and high adventure rule the day, as opposed to dying in a ditch from a supernatural plague as you run out of potable water and can no longer wait for the logistics department to process your dead comrades into something slightly more palatable before you start eating them. Oh, and being *BLAM*ed by a Commissar


Common grimdark themes include:

  • Massive, imperialist, overbearing, bureaucratic, dystopian dictatorships; e.g. Nazi Germany clones, USSR clones and anything communistic really, or straight out examples of "Big Brother is watching you".
  • Constant, never ever-ending warfare. Just like in real life.
  • Horrifyingly large death tolls are perfectly normal. Just like in real life.
  • Everyone is racist towards non-humans/elves/Mutants/fungus/lizards/robots/aliens/blacks/Jews/non-Jews/each other. Just like in real life.
  • The vast majority are poor people who literally live in shit, dung, crime, and a plethora of all kinds of filthy diseases, except for a few greedy upper 1% who own 99.9% of everything. Just like in real life.
  • Want cancer treatment? Well you have to make drugs with old dropout student of yours in order to pay. Just like in real life.
  • You, a poor bastard, are being farmed for shoots and giggles by said few greedy upper 1%. Just like in real life.
  • There ain't any poverty in fact; the poor had been tortured to extinction aeons ago. As a result, you have to survive the sentient 4D concentration camp and hordes of African shadow zombies.
  • Chronic backstabbing. Just like in real life relationships.
  • Child Soldiers. Just like in real life.
  • Police brutality. Just like in real life.
  • Spanish Inquisition clones.
  • Torture. Just like in real life.
  • Surgery without Anaesthesia.
  • Zombie plagues. Just like in Haiti.
  • Cybernetics and cyborgs; the less human, the better.
  • Sanity checks.
  • Criminally insane delusional psychotics tortured in filthy mental asylums (in case of no SAN checks).
  • Disgusting, horrifying, tentacled eldritch abominations (often the cause of aforementioned criminal insanity).
  • Rape. Just like in real life. (And often by said disgusting, horrifying, tentacled eldritch abominations)
  • Massive amounts of blood, gore, guts, pain and hatred. Just like in real life.
  • Anti-intellectualism. Just like in real life.
  • Nihilism. Just like in real life.
  • Religion.Just like in real life.
  • Atheism bigotry.Just like in real life
  • Gothic/Emo aesthetics. The easiest way to do this is to have tons of decorative skulls.
  • There are no "good guys"; everyone's a jerk, including you. Especially you. Just like in real life. The guys everyone refer to be "good" or "nice" are actually just the least evil bunch, and would still make your average high fantasy/sky-fi archvilains look like saints in comparison.
  • Everyone will most likely die in the end. Just like in real life. Especially the ones important to and including the main character.
  • Always polluted, never sunny. Just like in Tianjin, China.
  • No ice cream. Unless it's AIDS-flavoured.
  • *BLAM*.
  • Death or suicide will only make things much, much worse in Lovecraftian levels as a hive of disgusting, incomprehensibly evil supernatural daemons are waiting there to eternally torment your un-life and roast your soul alive day and night forever and ever, again and again and again and again, especially if you are intelligent.
  • Tremendous potential for offensive/dark comedy/lulz. Just like in real life.
  • And if you ever, EVER try to change this shitty world or try to help one person just a little, you will be the first to be tortured by the Evil Supernatural Abominations' Latest Horror Devices.
  • Life sucks.
  • There's only war.
  • You're probably going to get eaten by Tyranids.


Stuff considered Grimdark[edit]

A world where the only way to beat grimdark is by introducing something even grimmer and darker
  • Warhammer 40,000 (Naturally)
  • Dwarf Fortress
  • End of War
  • 1984
  • Paranoia (though used for parodying 1984)
  • Many stories in the Tragedy genre
  • RIFTS
  • Blame!
  • Berserk
  • Eastenders (especially at Christmas)
  • Grimdark Songwriting
  • Don't Rest Your Head
  • SLA Industries
  • Pokemon Tabletop Adventures (though optional)
  • World of Darkness
  • CthulhuTech (just about anything based on Lovecraft, such as Call of Cthulhu, will be grimdark)
  • Exalted (If playing mortals).
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion. Especially the movie.
  • Monopoly
  • FATAL
  • Rebecca Black
  • The Medieval Dark Ages where Warhammer 40000 was originally based on. If you disregard China that is.
  • The Witcher (racism, genocides, dozens of monsters that want to eat Your face whenever You enter the random forest. Or cave. Or ruins.)
  • Dark Souls (most of the population are undead, you die constantly, and you have to fight enemies larger and filthier than you are, including a naked bitch with a spider vagina. Also, FAKE TITS.)
  • Gears of War
  • Hellgate London
  • Most of David Bowie's songs about 1990.
  • The first two Hellraiser movies and also Event Horizon.
  • Cyberpunk 2020
  • Hellsing... just all of Hellsing...
  • Bioshock (Definitely Bioshock Infinite, though it comes hidden behind a smiling face of barbershop singing and the Fourth of July)
  • Anything from the Xeelee Sequence
    • The Coalition of Man Interim Coalition of Governance for example, is such a grim-ridden shit-hole that they make the Imperium of Man look like pussies filled with sun-shine and rainbows in comparison, infact they are so Grimdark that they would make even the Adeptus Custodes shit themselves in collateral fear.
  • North Korea which is essentially "Real Life 1984"
  • The Goon comic series by Eric Powell (because circus hillbillies, werewolves with midget hand phobias, and the Zombie Priest are the least of it all).
  • Children of Man
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Good guys never win or screw up monumentally, and everyone is going to be massacred and enslaved by the evil elvish necromancers at the end.
  • Dishonored - Grimdark, and steampunk. Only in the "Kill fucking everyone" ending though.
  • XCom (The remake, and the original, as a parody of the G.I. Joe Badass stereo type, you're struggling with funding and even your gods in human form, some of whom make certain chapters of Astartes weep, can get fucked over by Sectoids!)
  • Madoka Magica
  • Adventure Time's backstory.
  • Everything from H.P Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos
  • Path of Exile
  • Spec Ops: The Line
  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  • Funeral Doom Metal

Grimderp[edit]

Grimderp is what happens when a writer takes Grimdark so far that it goes DERP. The writer puts something in that makes the setting more Grimdark but it's reliant on a party/parties being epicly stupid or caused by a lack of forethought on the implications of how the element interacts with the world. See: Frank Millar's later works (Assbar, Sin City was the shit!)

  • Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons - A fanfiction about magical ponies so grim, dark, and derp that it would almost be comical if it wasn't so fucking horrifying. With characters that get shit on (both figuratively and literally) more than the Lamenters, and with a world so bleak (and missing the point of BOTH Fallout's and MLP core themes) that an heroing seems like WOULD ACTUALLY BE the happiest ending (Assuming it will end, it probably never will as long as there's enough cybernetics to keep rebuilding the constantly-dying protagonist).
  • Speaking of Fanfics, 90% of all GrimDark fics are Grimderp since writers are under the impression that just making things Dark makes it good writing. There are exceptions, but they are rare. On the flip side, however, certain examples have reached the apotheosis of grimderp and become gut-bustingly hilarious.
  • Jeff Loeb's Run on Ultimate Marvel: Random deaths (most well known being Wasp getting eaten by the Blob) for little to no reason (Dr Strange is killed the one page he shows up and is forgotten), lore rape worst than anything Ward ever did (the Heroic Pyro now an evil rapist, Thor going form New Age Hippy to Viking. . . ok that last one is kinda cool). Overall it was so bad it ruined the rest of the Ultimate Marvel (minus Spider-Man).
  • Warhammer 40,000 gets called-out as this by some. Certainly it's a valid criticism of certain parts, but you could argue about what is and is not grimderp in 40K for weeks without conclusion.
  • Many long runner Grimdark works will become Grimderp sooner or later, due to people getting bored as they feel nothing ever goes anywhere and stop rooting for the character since there's no point. See the above two-million-word-long pony fanfiction.
  • Akame Ga Kiru, also known to non-weeaboos as "that Kill la Kill anime thing that keeps popping up on Netflix". Come to think of it, a shit-ton of animu falls into this category.

See also[edit]

External Links[edit]