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 Africa, 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.

BUT IT IS FUCKAWESOME EITHER WAY. Until Khornate Knights happen... Nah.

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. Just like in Real Life. WILL YOU SHUT UP ABOUT REAL LIFE?!!!
  • There's only war.
  • Getting 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)
  • Real Life (especially in dirt-poor third world countries where 1 billion people have to shit in the open air) Real Life, if there's no standards to compare it to, is by itself Neutral Boring. When compared to Heaven or My Little Pony, RL is certainly as grimdark as Lovecraft </s> Nope, what the first guy said was right. When compared to 1984 or 40k, RL has no daemons but the tyrannical dictators, corporations and assholes compensate for it by ruling over a bunch of starving Third-World poor, and it defenitely is grimdark, not to mention how the Internet has proven that humans are really selfish rage-ful assholesis kinda relaxing though still neutral boring. And that's enough to qualify for grimdark status *BLAM*
  • 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 (however it ends relatively upbeat, sort of)
  • Hellgate London
  • Most of David Bowie's songs about 1990.
  • The first two Hellraiser movies and also Event Horizon. The Original Evil Dead trilogy could also count but Army of Darkness is iffy
  • Cyberpunk 2020
  • Hellsing... just all of Hellsing...
  • Some parts from Doctor Who qualifies.
  • 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.
  • The My Little Pony franchise dips into it at times, no really, the original Twinkle Eye Ponies (ponies with jewels for eye) is that a wizard enslaved them and force them to mine jewels until the darkness of the mines blinded them, for the lulz no less.
    • Moreover, these ponies have their eyesight returned when the wizard's jewel-encrusted throne is violently smashed, causing some of the gems to go flying, ricochet around the cave and then into the eyes of the blinded ponies, granting then their distinctive appearance and sight. That's right, this universe's equivalent of corrective eye surgery is having gemstones fired into your eye sockets.
  • 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
  • Everything from H.P Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos
  • Path of Exile
  • Spec Ops: The Line
  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

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 being epically 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 its comical. With characters that get shit on 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 the happiest ending (Assuming it will end, it won't btw).
  • 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.
  • 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). 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.
  • 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.

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