From 1d4chan
TitleRemovedJinRoh.pngIn the Grimdarkness of the far future, a brief life burns brightly. This article or section is a work of Grimdark. Expect a copious amount of depression, existentialism, hopelessness with a sprinkle of edge. So what can we say but exclaim: I LOVE BIG BROTHER!
If your protagonist or antagonist isn't at least this edgy, then you're probably doing Grimdark wrong.
It's totally the opposite of this.
Inspector Gadget, reimagined with a grimdark feel.
Grimdark versions of the TMNT. Their mentor is a Skaven.
Grimdark means war, and always endless, brutal war.

"We are not men disguised as mere dogs, we are wolves disguised as men"

– Captain Muroto, Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade

"They say, 'Evil prevails when good men fail to act.' What they ought to say is, 'Evil prevails.'"

– Yuri Orlov, Lord of War

"Tᴀᴋᴇ ᴛʜᴇ ᴜɴɪᴠᴇʀsᴇ ᴀɴᴅ ɢʀɪɴᴅ ɪᴛ ᴅᴏᴡɴ ᴛᴏ ᴛʜᴇ ғɪɴᴇsᴛ ᴘᴏᴡᴅᴇʀ ᴀɴᴅ sɪᴇᴠᴇ ɪᴛ ᴛʜʀᴏᴜɢʜ ᴛʜᴇ ғɪɴᴇsᴛ sɪᴇᴠᴇ ᴀɴᴅ ᴛʜᴇɴ sʜᴏᴡ ᴍᴇ ᴏɴᴇ ᴀᴛᴏᴍ ᴏғ ᴊᴜsᴛɪᴄᴇ, ᴏɴᴇ ᴍᴏʟᴇᴄᴜʟᴇ ᴏғ ᴍᴇʀᴄʏ ᴀɴᴅ ʏᴇᴛ... Aɴᴅ ʏᴇᴛ ʏᴏᴜ ᴀᴄᴛ ᴀs ɪғ ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ ɪs sᴏᴍᴇ ɪᴅᴇᴀʟ ᴏʀᴅᴇʀ ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴡᴏʀʟᴅ, ᴀs ɪғ ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ ɪs sᴏᴍᴇ... Sᴏᴍᴇ ʀɪɢʜᴛɴᴇss ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴜɴɪᴠᴇʀsᴇ ʙʏ ᴡʜɪᴄʜ ɪᴛ ᴍɪɢʜᴛ ʙᴇ ᴊᴜᴅɢᴇᴅ."

– DEATH, Hogfather (while explaining that since humans believe that it does, the way we believe Santa or the "Hogfather" does, we make it so it does.)

"Spare us your empty platitudes! It matters not who lives and dies! Blood is shed, as it has always been! There is nothing else in this forsaken existence..."


Grimdark is an adjective derived from the tagline for Warhammer 40,000, which states that "In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war," and in some of the novels (at least a few of the Ciaphas Cain stories, for instance) it states straightforwardly, "in the grim dark future..." Whether this came after "grimdark" began to be popularly used as an adjective is not wholly clear (probably after). It is generally used to describe a dilapidated, dystopian "crapsack world" setting in which it would really suck to live, and it is the setting of Warhammer 40,000 itself. In fairness to the franchise and its defenders, 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 -- and when they DO appear in lore or fluff, they're usually to go from "0 problems" to "totally fucked", very quickly. 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, or something sinister or uncommonly threatening/intimidating in real-life. This often applies to fan-art and writefaggotry as well.

Depending on your own personal tolerances for grim darkness of course, it can be taken to the extreme, just like with all descriptive traits. There is a point in which it becomes more ridiculous than anything else, because everything is indefeasibly tragic all the time - the term for this being grimderp, which is explained further below.

This is an accusation often leveled 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 and run with it (including Warhammer 40K itself, due to being a much more obviously comedic setting in early editions), insisting that the detractors or even the creators who take it seriously are making a mistake. Some people embrace the grimdarkness and mix it up with some humor (like painting Necrons with bright colors to make them look like edible candy figurines), especially if they are Ork players. But the schism between taking Warhammer's grimdarkness seriously or not is mostly visible with races such as the Tau, who are noticeably less grimdark visually than most of the other races and are either loved or absolutely hated for it (when not hated for being overpowered as shit). Meanwhile, another sizable percentage 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 the fact that the Imperium being an effective government, civilians having normal happy lives on par with the Scandinavians, Commissars who never *BLAM* their troops was odd? Needless to say, grimdark is a rather polarizing subject whose discussion often leaves little room for a middle ground.

Speaking of, the polar opposite of grimdark is Noblebright, a deliberate inversion of grim and dark nature where honor, chivalry, 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 for even starting to look a little sad from these thoughts.

Although, it could be argued that 40K proper is actually Nobledark. Although the lore claims one man cannot make a difference and heroes are meaningless (Grim), we see the complete opposite of that actually happening in the lore. 40K fluff (40K, not just 30K) is crammed to bursting with heroes who made major differences. If anything, 40K seems to be about the difference one man can make rather than showing one man cannot make a difference. Even the events revolve around the Great Man idea of basically superheroes and supervillains moving the galaxy (and it's not just actual superhumans doing this). It is nonetheless a very dark setting, though.

Common grimdark themes[edit]

  1. For power (embracing the myth of "you are what you eat").
  2. For food value; sometimes this is concealed by callous authorities as some other kind of food; sometimes, it's just a biological, cultural or desperation thing.
  3. For the sheer fun of it.
  • Want chemotherapy or some other expensive treatment? Well, you have to eviscerate that old dropout student of yours in order to pay.
  • In fact even surgery without anesthesia is a luxury available only to wealthy or important ones, as are all other forms of medicine. 99% of people are expected to die when they fall sick or get injured. That is when they don't get executed FOR falling sick or getting injured.
  • Human experiments. Sometimes willingly, but most of the time not!
  • Zombie plagues.
  • Ritual cult sacrifices.
  • Massive amounts of blood, gore, guts, pain and hatred.
  • No personal opinion or choice. Only the illusion of it, in which you probably end up an unwilling slave. Or...something worse.
  • Anti-intellectualism.
    • ...and it's justified because even an instant of unprotected thinking risks mass destruction.
  • PTSD.
  • Nihilism.
  • Racism is actually right.
  • Gothic and emo aesthetics (with the help of tons of "decorative" skulls).
  • There are no "good guys". Everyone's a cynical jerk. If you aren't, those who are will exploit that.
  • Everyone is evil either because they’re just plain monsters or because they are trying to survive which makes everyone evil to everyone else.
  • The guys everyone refer to be "good" or "nice" are actually just the least evil bunch, and would still make your average high fantasy/sci-fi arch-villains look like saints in comparison.
  • The REAL good guys are either the ones (usually) mostly hated, and are going to get fucked over beyond human recognition usually without any logical reason or too few to make any difference.
  • Aforementioned "good guys" are only "good" because they do care about their allies and civilians, and generally try to make the place less shitty for those they care for. But they still wouldn't hesitate a second before doing pretty horrible things like terrorist actions against "The Man", killing a defenseless xeno child, etc...
  • The aforementioned defenseless xeno-child needed to be killed either because it was guaranteed to grow up to be a monster, would grow to compete for resources needed for survival, would be corrupted, was already a monster, or any number of reasonable justifications that would leave a modern man in frustrated tears trying to justify not killing it. Welcome to Warhammer 40,000.
  • Magic is inherently malevolent and actively seeks to corrupt and destroy those unfortunates 'gifted' with magical abilities. And everything around them at the time.
  • You either die a worthy death or you live long enough to see yourself becoming something that you've always hated.
  • Everyone will most likely die in the end. Especially the ones important to and including the main character.
  • Always polluted, never sunny.
  • No ice cream. No lollipops either.
  • Death or suicide will only make things much, much worse in Lovecraftian levels, as a hive of disgusting, incomprehensibly evil supernatural daemons are waiting patiently to eternally torment your un-life and roast your soul alive day and night forever and ever, again and again and again and again.
  • 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 probably suffer terrible consequences, because altruism is a dying philosophy. (And because your reasoning is flawed.)
  • Life sucks.
  • There's only war.
  • You're probably going to get eaten by Tyranid or anything equivalent.
  • no gf
  • Good luck and have fun.
  • Even using the wrong calendar is heresy.

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, coined the term).
  • Warhammer Fantasy Battle, but less than you'd think. It's a lot closer to nobledark until the world was actually destroyed. Now, Age of Sigmar continues it and is slightly better, in so much that it is unlikely to be destroyed, though that may imply an even worse eternal stalemate.
  • Grimdark Songwriting
  • Dark Sun
  • Call of Cthulhu
  • CthulhuTech
  • Don't Rest Your Head
  • Playing mortals in Exalted
  • FATAL: FATAL jumps into the grimdark pool with both feet and goes so deep it winds up mired in the worst kind of edgy grimderp.
  • Kingdom Death. Makes 40k's setting seem pleasant and cheerful.
  • Midnight setting for D&D.
  • Paranoia (though used for parodying 1984).
  • Pokemon Tabletop Adventures (optionally).
  • Fragged Cyberpunk: A prequel to the more optimistic Fragged Empire. Fragged Cyberpunk focuses on the twilight years of humanity as Habsburgian levels of genetic erosion and degradation leave it only a few centuries of life, while the powers that be, that could cure it do not bother and instead focus their efforts on terraforming hospitable worlds for their new, engineered super species. All the while herding humans into cramped cities on dead planets that are effectively concentration/death camps for what remains of mankind.
  • Shadowrun. While not the worst in the grimdark department, Shadowrun definitely has its moments (the Renraku Archology Shutdown being a prime example); for instance the oppressive megacorporations reducing people to an identification number, with people not having one (for... reasons) don't exist legally.
  • SLA Industries. Imagine if the Emperor was not only still walking around, but was a callous businessman with a permanent skeleton face and no bling armor. Imagine a civilization that exists almost entirely to strip mine itself in the name of consumerism, with snuff television being the primary source of entertainment and anyone trying to do business not on SLA's pay roll being branded a "Soft Company" to be exterminated. Oh, and truly horrid aliens that were thought extinct centuries ago are now making a comeback AND occult fuckery of varying flavors is manifesting in increasing amounts in Mort City, SLA's capital.
  • Synthicide. "When robots are gods, killing humans is fair game." In the deep darkness of the far, post-mutagen virus future, Human life is worthless (Murder and theft against them and each other is entirely legal), murder of sentient bots (Who are given free-range to torment humans with impunity after being let go from service to the major faction that makes them), however is one of the greatest offenses, and one the PC's are bound to commit at some point in their careers. Also, everything has a black and white color pallete.
  • Unhallowed Metropolis, a game representing probably the outer limits of how Grimdark you can go without sliding into Grimderp.
  • World of Darkness, with special mention going to Wraith: The Oblivion, a game so bleak it's rumored to have actually caused fits of chronic depression in players.


  • Armored Warfare. Terrorist/ultra-nationalist/anarchists with tanks, corporations that rule and enslave large portions of the world and the rest of the world might as well be a wasteland, as far as we know.
  • Barotrauma : Inspired by Space Station 13, centered on a submarine crew in the underground oceans of Europa. Crew members are expendable, you're always outgunned, the submarine is almost constantly under attack by massive sea creatures, and most missions are much more likely to end in disaster than success. Also, you explode as soon as you step outside the sub. The setting isn't much better, since contact with Earth has been lost, some dudes started worshipping a parasite (or clowns), and a recent spike in Jovian radiation threatens to kill everyone if they don't go into the untamed depths.
  • Battletech about half the time. On a good day, mercenaries fight proxy wars and follow the Geneva convention to keep damage and body counts low, ComStar keeps everyone in line, and "bombed back to the stone age" actually means "your spaceships blew up and you enjoy a comfortable 1990s era lifestyle." On bad days, the Crusader Clans storm in and break everything, the Word of Blake jihad starts nuking everyone they don't like, and all FTL communication breaks plunging the galaxy into a new dark age, erasing centuries of political and technological progress. On the day-to-day, most of humanity is under the control of various flavors of feudalists which routinely fight for each other for power and influence.
  • BioShock. A supposed utopian city based on hyper-capitalist freedom devolves into blood-soaked anarchy due to its founder's deep dedication to his personal ethics making him unable to stop his rival's schemes and a civil war caused by oppression, poverty, and the manipulations of a clever con man, all fueled a highly profitable and addictive substance called ADAM, which comes from a species of sea slugs. Said substance is most reliably cultivated by putting those sea slugs in little girls' bellies, and said little girls have to be guarded by what are called Big Daddies, whose creation makes turning humans into Space Marines look like a mundane medical procedure.
  • Bet On Soldier/Iron Storm: WW1 got extended by 80 years, leading to a world where war is everything (including a televised pastime), peace is considered a horrifically dissident ideal and there is a shadowy cabal behind the scenes plotting to make the war last forever. We're pretty sure the creators are Warhammer fans since one of the DLC bosses is an Inquisijanny stamping out heresies (read: you infected with the vampire curse).
  • Bloodborne or the love child of Dark Souls (gameplay) and Lovecraftian mythology (its main inspiration for setting and theme). Another masterpiece from FROM software and Hidetaka Miyazaki. TLDR, the game is a mix of eldritch horrors, omnipotent creatures which are fundamentally gods and Dark Souls, though this time there is no fire to link, only FEAR.
  • Cyberpunk 2077: Unchecked pollution and warfare have devastated much of the planet while megacorporations have acquired so much power that they've reduced their governments to toothless puppets. You're either a tiny cog in a corporate machine that can casually destroy you if you step out of line or they need a patsy, a disposable prole who has to be armed to the teeth to ensure they get home safely, a criminal living on the edge fighting tooth-and-nail for anything you get, or a nomad living on the move and alternating between fighting or avoiding everyone else. Corruption is rampant, justice is a joke, and the best you can hope for is to make life slightly better for a handful of people.
  • Dante "you hurt my feefees so I'll put you in hell" Alighieri's Inferno. Created as Dante's self-insert fic of sorts, the Divine Comedy is both his means of getting back at people he didn't like and letting his imagination go wild when it comes to divine punishment. Putting a long story short, God is a fucking Sadist. If you suffer from depression/PTSD so much that you commit suicide, God will mutate you into an immortal tree that still feels pain and is constantly torn apart by harpies forever. How merciful. Sinners who committed Gluttony are punished by being eaten/mutilated alive by Cerberus, who transforms your corpse into slowly regenerating shit mud, all while a costant snowy rain (or rainy snow) hits your head; after being whole again, thou art eaten while trying to flee in despair, and it starts anew.But that's not the worst punishment. How about being under constant fireball rain in a desert for loving a person of the same gender? And being annihilated by snakes, then rebuilt? Or you find funnier being stuck in the ice? For ever. Because some old dude called Minos decided so. There's a reason why it has influenced almost every single depiction of hell in fiction.
  • Dark Seed, Grimdark to the core! The first game is about the main character being fucked in the head. HR Giger's artwork helps too.
  • Dark Souls. The entire world is dying. Specifically, most of the population is undead, you die constantly, and you have to fight enemies larger and filthier than you are, including a naked *** with a spider vagina. Also, FAKE TITS. Stuck in an infinite loop where a hero constantly saves the world, and everything goes back to normal before hitting another grimdark cycle every thousand years. Compare with nobledark and check your mileage.
  • Darkest Dungeon. Your ancestor awakened some kind of God that is pretty much Cthulhu's brother and sent you a letter before killing himself, asking you to mop up the huge mess he created. Enjoy sending parties of 4 adventurers ranging from badass lepers to sickle-wielding jesters to their deaths in cultist-infested ruins, sewers filled with mutated cannibalistic pigmen, sea caverns serving as anthropomorphic sea creatures and forests corrupted by evil. And I'm not going to talk about the Darkest Dungeon itself. Also, have fun dealing with those bandits that are raiding the Hamlet for which you spent a fuckton of resources in upgrades.
  • Dead by Daylight: The Entity, an eternal and unkillable eldritch abomination from another dimension, traps people in its pocket realm to be hunted and killed over and over and over and over (and over) by its collection of serial killers, sociopaths, and monsters so that it can feed on their terror, agony, and hope. There is no escape and every death chips away a little more of a survivor's soul until they deteriorate into a wraith with no memory of its former life, doomed to wander the Entity's pocket dimension forever.
  • Dead Space. A group of humans discovered a device of unknown origin called a Marker and it turned them into undead alien monsters. In the sequel, it was revealed Markers were created by a long extinct alien species, and the Markers continue to infect other intelligent species, to the point the corpses of their entire civilizations have been turned into a bunch of giant undead moons capable of telepathically mindfucking people from across the galaxy.
  • Destiny: While the game itself is Noble Bright/Neutral, the lore is definitively Grim Dark. Entire civilisations were destroyed by the Darkness, Brainiac style. Humanity is reduced to one big city on Earth, literally under a the protection of a paracausal entity, the Traveller, that actively help you AND your enemies. Through experimentation that would make Fabius Bile proud, millions of humans were transform into robot to fight a secret and seemingly endless war against temporal machines. At one point, you and your kind, the Guardians, were hunted down to serve as batteries, and the carcasses of your companions, the Ghosts, which give you your "immortality", were used as currency. And I did not talk about the Hive and their gods.
  • Dishonored - Grimdark, and steampunk. Only in the "kill fucking everyone" ending though.
  • Doom. Demons from Hell have overrun Mars and Earth. You are the lone space marine capable of doing anything about it. Somewhat of a subversive case of grimdark: it's not you who is afraid of demons, it's the demons who are afraid of you. Commence with the Rip and Tear.
  • Drakengard and its related franchise: Nier. Basically, the "god" in this setting is a massive dick, so he infects humans with zombie AIDS out of boredom and watches them kill each other for the lulz. You play Caim, a mute zombie slaughter enthusiast who teams up with a blind pedophile priest, a baby-eating elf witch, and an ageless shota. The true ending for the game involves Caim and his dragon transporting the queen of the Lovecraftian Watchers to a greyscale version of Tokyo (yes, the Tokyo of our world) and engages it in a rhythm-based battle of song. After defeating it, the queen disintegrates into particles that start turning the entire population into salt statues, while Caim and his dragon get shot down by fighter jets.
    • Nier takes place 1462 years into the future. After countless grimdark conflicts involving child soldiers, human experiments and more resource shortages, a scientist decided to separate the rest of the survivors' souls (gestalt) from their bodies, hoping they could outlast a mind rape pandemic. But of course all these attempts are futile failures because Nier, our "hero" ended up killing the only thing that could save humankind, dooming them all to extinction.
      • Finally we have Nier: Automata, 8480 years later, where androids were created by the last human survivors. But the humans that escaped to the moon turn out to be long dead. When the rest of androids find out, they proceed to kill themselves in a batshit frenzy. To make this even more painful and tragic, the androids have the human concepts of pain and emotions programmed to them, making their death even more painful.
  • Elden Ring, aka Dark Souls 2: Electric Boogalooo. The titular metaphysical object responsible for the previous prosperity of the world has been shattered, the demigods are in an eternal stalemate, the closest things to gods are locked in an endless power struggle, the world is overrun with monsters and disease, and you are called upon to decide the fate of the Lands Between. A magnum opus of a collaboration between FROMsoft, Miyazaki, and George R.R. Martin of Game of Thrones fame. Like the other Soulsborne (would it be Soulsbornering now?) games, be prepared to die. A lot.
  • Dwarf Fortress
  • Factorio. You're a lone human, aliens want to kill you, everything you do makes smog, and your goal is to cover the world in industry, concrete, machines, and gun turrets. The world isn't dead when you arrive, but you're damn well going to kill it yourself or die trying.
  • Fear and Hunger.
  • Grim Dawn. A farming game about a never-ending struggle between humans and multiple otherworldly powers.
  • Hellgate London
  • I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream. Just the title itself should give you a clue as to how horrific the game is. (The video game is terrifying, especially with its endings, and the short story it is based on is even more horrifying). Humanity has been wiped out except for five people, who are trapped inside a complex controlled by a misanthropic, reality-warping supercomputer keeping them alive to torture them and has altered their minds and/or bodies in cruelly ironic ways.
  • LISA the RPG Trilogy.. An trilogy games focusing on the seemingly cursed Armstrong Family, starting with LISA the First and starring the titular girl living under an abusive piece of shit that is her father called Marty, there she is forbidden from ever stepping outside and is treated both as a punching bag and sex doll by her father, to cope she starts fleeing into hallucinations and the dark corners of her mind to deal with reality... Except Marty starts showing up there too, showing she has been so scarred she can't escape from him even in her dreams and in the end, she ends it all, thinking this would be the best solution to finally stopping everything. It does for her but also accidentally makes things worse given what happens in the sequel.
    • LISA the Painful. Continues the story of the Armstrongs by telling the tale of Brad, Lisa's older brother who managed to leave home but leaving his sister in the process, brutally depressed due to all the trauma of being abused(and implied to be not only physically but also sexually and as the sequel confirmed in one of the post credits ending, also forced to drink booze and do drugs before raping his sister via Marty forcing him, seriously fuck Marty) by his dad, seeing his sister abused and often being brutally attacked by the local bullies while the adults around him did nothing to help, he uses both alcohol as well as a new drug called Joy(which makes you feel nothing) to deal with the hallucinations and guilt. The world of Olathe he lives in is also fucked to hell and back, a few years ago, all women in the planet died or disappeared nowhere to be found, leaving humanity to slowly face extinction, as a result of the inevitable end of the human race, the world has fallen into a Fist of the North Star type apocalypse with gangs and warlords ruling over the dying world as well as people just letting go of all restraints and showing off their absolute true colors, something that makes the game funny for 90% of the time but is also a grim reminder that the reason everyone let themselves go is because there will be no tomorrow eventually, the land itself has been fucked to the point the night and day cycle, landscape and even time itself seemed to be fucked up, vegetation also barely grows too and with fewer animals around "Mystery Jerky"(Basically human flesh) is the main diet. The world goes even more to shit once the world finds out about the last woman on earth named Buddy, Brad's adopted daughter he raised in secrecy both to try and keep her safe and to try and own up to the guilt of leaving his sister behind, she flees and now Brad must rescue her alongside the party members he finds, starts like the typical RPG plot but starts to go to shit near the end of Area 1 and only gets worst from there....
      • LISA the Joyful Final entry of the series and follows Buddy that after having the whole world trying to capture her to use her as a babymaker as well as having be isolated and locked inside the house by Brad all the time(unintentionally mirroring Marty's actions) she finally lashes out against the world, deciding to kill the Warlords ruling Olathe reasoning that if she is the strongest, no one will be able to order her around anymore. Not as good as Painful given how short it was since it was supposed to be an extra of the original kickstarter instead of a full sequel but thankfully the new updated version does work to make the story better and give more depth to Buddy given that is more much polarizing than Brad.
  • Lobotomy Corp/Library of Ruina AKA Project Moon's setting. To summarize its setting, think of it as Shadowrun with less gun, more melee combat, and subtle rants on corporate dystopias. Also has a bit of philosophies and studies on human behavior, personalities and emotions. Read more on their lore wiki.
  • Madness Combat. No regret, no remorse, no reason, only madness.
  • Mass Effect. While its universe is hardly grimdark overall, the Reapers and what happens to "harvested" individuals are some of the sickest forms of grimdark possible. During the Reaper War, trillions of people across the galaxy were vaporized, crushed, dissolved slowly and/or violently converted into cyber zombies or brainwashed slaves. And that's just the latest Reaper War. The Reapers have committed so much galactic genocide that they've turned it into a regularly scheduled event and made the entire galaxy their farm/laboratory.
    • There is also the genophage, a bioweapon deployed against the Krogan race to halt the Krogan Rebellions. This bioweapon was basically a massive, permanent genetic Fetus Deletus that dramatically lowered Krogan birthrates and caused a lot of stillbirths (literal "piles of children that never lived" - actual in-game quote). If that wasn't bad enough, they live on a death-world and have a warlike culture, so this puts them at risk of extinction. And if THAT wasn't bad enough, they've still been suffering under the Genophage over a thousand years after the Krogan Rebellions ended, and every prior attempt to overcome the Genophage was unsuccessful or sabotaged.
  • Path of Exile. The game's setting is basically a documentary on the corruption of Roman Empire.
  • Portal once you get past the memes.
  • Postal. Not the sequels, which play the violence for laughs and topical humor, or the crap Uwe Boll movie, just the first game and its remake (Postal Redux). Once you get past all the shock and outrage of being a forefather of the "Ban Violent Video Games" movement, you'll realize that this game is genuinely fucked up with its imagery and the protagonist is a mentally unwell individual.
  • The Prototype games. New York City is infected with a virus created by a generically-unethical corporation called GenTek that mutates people into mutant zombies and/or fucking huge deformed beasts. A secret division called Blackwatch is sent to brutally contain the virus, except it turns out they originally created the virus as a way to purge minorities. This may sound like Resident Evil but the resemblance ends here because you play as Alex Mercer (Prototype 1) and James Heller (Prototype 2), both of them infected by a strain of the virus and became superhumans who can shapeshift and gain someone's memories by consuming them (read violently absorbing them into their bodies) and can grow weapons like claws or a blade arm.
  • Space Station 13 : Space paranoia simulator set in a dystopian future where capitalism and unforgiving bureaucracy rules the universe, your life is expandable, and the media is controlled; your only choice is working until you die, or getting killed by either rival corporate operatives, space wizards, cultists, deathsquads or spies posing as your co-workers.
  • Total War: Attila. Unlike the previous Total War titles, which were about your faction's rise to power from small backwater city/tribe/country into a mighty empire able to boss around its neighbors into doing your bidding, this one is about the decline of your faction as you desperately try to survive the onslaught of the Huns, who's sole purpose in the game is to worship Tengri by burning, pillaging, and raping their way through the known world. Particularly if you are the Romans. Winning is defined by being the last guy standing who gets to clean up the rubble and dead bodies, trying to rebuild their world after Attila destroyed it. Seriously, even the music sounds depressing and foreboding as fuck.
  • XCOM (The remake and the original, as a parody of the G.I. Joe Badass stereotype, you're on the back foot from the word go, 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!)

Animation and Comics[edit]

  • Adventure Time's backstory.
  • The first two seasons of Animals of Farthing Wood, a animated series for kids infamous for having graphic depictions of violence and a death rate of major characters on par with Game of Thrones. Notable deaths in the series include but are not limited to: the pheasants, a couple who die at a farm in an extremely cruel manner; three baby mice who are all killed onscreen by a shrike, a bird infamous for impaling its prey; and the hedgehogs. While trying to cross a road, have to fight not to curl up into a ball... but eventually, the husband goes crazy, unable to stop himself from curling up, and his wife elects to stay with him, leading to both their deaths when a lorry runs them over.
  • Akame ga Kill: The world is run by a corrupt fascist empire, crime is rampant, nobles torture, rape, and eat commoners for fun, and the heroes are a ragtag team of assassins and terrorists who frequently get fucked over and/or die horribly as they try to bring the empire down.
  • Armored Trooper Votoms, an old-school mech anime. Mankind has been at war for so long that even the computers created to direct strategy don't know what the goal is. War isn't glorious either, most of the first arc is about a squad that goes rogue and raids their own side's armory to find some loot. While the mech designs aren't pretty or fancy, they are more industrial and utilitarian than many contemporaries, being repurposed exo-suits. The main character is a Perpetual done right, through a mix of natural regeneration abilities, skills and nigh supernatural luck; unlike, you know, Vulkan, who was just handed something that should have probably belong to all Primarchs just so that he could make some people jealous.
  • Attack on Titan. You cannot win, ever. And if you do, you've probably lost all your friends, who've been eaten by giant freaky Mutants, who don't even need food. Yeeeah.
  • Ava's Demon. A planet is destroyed by Silent Scavengers, which are Tyranids and Necrons mixed together, then the main character ends up impaled when they crash land, her soul going to turn into space dust until she agrees to help the demon who's been possessing her since she was born to get revenge on TITAN, who can at best be described as the God-Emperor if he were every negative stereotype about the Imperium taken to the extreme and then some.
  • Blame!
  • Berserk
  • Devilman. Especially CRYBABY
  • Digimon Tamers. (Digimon as a franchise is noted to be surprisingly dark and adult for a kids anime in the 'Mon' genre, but Digimon Tamers is exceptionally depressing even by the series standard. Children attempting suicide, child abuse, attempted murder on a child, multiple on-screen deaths of major characters, torture, psychological mind rape on a young girl, PTSD on said young girl, eldritch abominations, horror and psychological horror. You think Tamers would have a happy ending? Lolnope, Tamers has a bittersweet ending in which the main kids lose their Digimon partners for ever. This is what happens when you allow a guy notorious in psychological horror anime to do a kids show. There is a reason why Tamers is considered the Neon Genesis Evangelion for kids.) Unsurprisingly, the writer has written Cthulhu Mythos short stories.
    • Digimon Adventure Tri (aimed towards adult fans of the series) takes Tamers up a notch in just plain creepiness. Deaths, assisted suicide, infanticide of Digimon babies, psychological damage, grief-induced madness, corruption, attempted genocide, racial supremacy, racism, immense property damage with collateral damage and attempted rape from the series' former mentor and teacher becoming a creepy sexual predator molesting one of the main characters and choking another one to near death (Both female by the way). Digimon doesn't fuck around.
  • Dorohedoro. The entire setting is a massive slum, with horrible pollution, mass poverty, and human body parts polluting the waterways. Your options for living are being a normal human, living in poverty and treated like toys, lab rats, and livestock by the various magic users. Or being a magic user, and either be lynched by the terrified normies or captured by other magic users and boiled down to make drugs. And if you're a magic user, regardless of how good you are when you die you're guaranteed to be sent to hell to be tortured by devils for all eternity (unless you become a devil yourself). Or being a devil, and worry about being screwed over by your boss for shits and giggles or eaten by Store, who is implied to be an angel and treats devils the same way devils treat mortals. Or being said boss, and dick around with people for all eternity because you're absolutely bored with existence, can't die, and are horribly lonely since you can't form a meaningful bond with anyone else.
  • Dragon Ball Z: History of Trunks. Could just be expanded to Trunks' timeline in general. Dragon Ball has always been known as a sort of noble bright anime, but this, damn. Everyone is either dead, dying, or living in fear of two walking machines of pure evil. And then when Trunks does actually take care of his enemies, another more powerful one shows up and just sends everything back to the way it was. Even the parody of this movie is oddly depressing.
  • Most good 'Real Robot' anime/video games. Further discussion will result in skub.
  • Elfen Lied. Where the next step of the evolution of mankind is a group of schizophrenic homicidal mutant girls with invisible tentacle hands and a hair-trigger temper who will either kill you in the worst way possible or infect you with their gene to increase their numbers.
  • Emergence aka Metamorphosis. 177013. So retardedly bad people, fan-fic'd a happier end and even threatened the artist to make it all a movie set in the end.
  • Everything is Fine. A horror webtoon about a seemingly perfect society where everyone wears giant cat masks with cutesy expressions, have to pretend that everything is fine at all times and be perfectly moral, upstanding citizens... or watch their kids commit suicide in real-time. In other words, it's a horrific dystopia taking the image of a perfect suburb where you are made to ignore everything that is going wrong, or those you love most kill themselves horribly, then you get kicked to the curb as a broken shell of a human being, forgotten and ignored.
  • Full Metal Alchemist: At first glance, the world has a nice noblebright candy-coating, but morphs into 1984 the more you watch/read. The world starts out all fine and dandy (despite being a fascist military dictatorship (the head of state is literally called the Führer)), and then it morphs into a world where the main country (Amestris) is at constant war with almost all its neighbors, commits genocides left and right, and murders anyone who finds out the dark truth.
  • 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).
  • Goblin Slayer. Pretty much Berserk if it was set in a Dungeons and Dragons world.
  • Grave of the Fireflies. The plot of film is "A pair WW2 of orphans from a high ranking officer in the brutal Japanese military freeloads off on his aunt's goodwill then refuses to sell his mother's clothes and piano and sets off on his own without a plan, only for him and his sister to starve to death." The movie is taken by 99% of the viewers overseas as showing how innocent the Japanese were, but the Japanese see it as an allegory about the leaders of Japan (the older brother) disregarding the suffering of their own people (his little sister), telling them childish propaganda that they are doing really well in war, and then obliging the childish tantrums of the populace enabled by such propaganda. This is an allegory of Japan, when shit hit the fan, told people to press on and declared everyone must sacrifice their life for the one true living god that is Emperor Hirohito.
    • Even in this period millions of people did what work they could find to feed themselves despite the war time inflation brought on by the wars they started, yet the protagonist would not "deign" menial labor because he was the son of a rich, high ranking Naval officer. Starvation was NOT rampant in Japan, but the protagonist (Japan)'s arrogant laziness and subsequent death was an allegory of making his bed and sleeping in it. Note how while it wasn’t easy, they WEREN'T starving when they were under their “evil” aunt's care.
      • For instance, the day the battleship Yamato sank in 1945, it was scheduled to serve the men aboard canned beef, canned red bean rice, and sweet bean porridge for dessert.
    • This movie was based on a book by Akiyuki Nosaka who lived through WW2 as a boy. He admittedly regretted killing his toddler of a little sister by hungrily stealing food from her and dashing her head against the ground and giving her concussions when she would cry about it. The novel was to be his penance of sorts.
      • This is still absolutely nothing compared to what the Japanese were doing to other colonies though, it was rather 2 million Vietnamese that were butchered to rob and feed Japanese, just between October of 1944 to August of 1945 alone. Not counting all the families traumatized or permanently crippled via malnutrition. Thankfully the war ended with an Allied victory that put a quick end to this, Japan surrendered because of USSR's August push through Manchuria and was poised to land on Japan proper (Japan did not surrender because of American nukes which they themselves were busy making unlike the Nazis who didn't bother. Japanese high command got casualty reports like that everyday at the end of the war, they were only afraid of being split in two like Germany did in May. Japan also sent only foreign slaves to clean up the radiation and killed them afterwards to hide their war crimes.) In Korea people were dying from intestinal bleeding from eating boiled tree barks too rough for the human body as a regular prolonged diet because anyone who touched the crops were beaten or executed, because food was robbed and taken to Japan. In Korea particular, due to proximity, the nation’s hills were rendered barren dirt hills for all the trees were cut down to make desperate turpentine oil that was going to be a makeshift fuel source for ships and planes, sent to Japan once the Southeast Asian territories and their oil fields were liberated by Allies. The dead cannot speak and the living can whine louder about the troubles they faced, that's why so many killings happened at the end of the war to hide war crimes.
      • Director Takahata Isao himself said this is NOT an anti-war anime, but an allegory of idealists bringing people death. Also note he is a rare kind in modern Japan who accuses the Japanese government for all the sins of WW2, and used to fight the riot police who were quelling anti-imperialists like him. Note that Japan is a place where saying Japan was at fault can get one shot dead. Mayor Motoshima of Nagasaki in 1990 got shot in the heart for accusing his government of starting the wars that got his city nuked. Mayor Itoh got shot in the heart for saying the same in 2007. There's just no way ordinary criminals could get their hands on a gun in a country with really tight gun control laws, unless...
  • Hellsing... just all of Hellsing... Though it can easily slide into grimderp. (A little girl seeing her mother killed while hiding in a closet? Yeah, that's intense. In a moment of desperation, shove a rod into the guy's eyeball, only for him to not be mortally wounded? That's pretty unfortunate. Said guy deciding to fuck the corpse as his smashed eyeball hangs from the socket? That's just silly.)
    • Drifters, by the same author. The protagonists are a bunch of kill-happy murderhoboes drawn from various psychos from all throughout history into a generic fantasy world who have decided to save the world by conquering it, one country at a time. One of the major powers of the setting turns out to have been founded by Adolph friggin' Hitler. Even Joan of Arc, who IRL was noted for being a pacifist, is warped into a bloodthirsty psycho. The BBEG, who wants to kill all humans (and is noted to be a step up from his subordinates, who want to kill everything) is all but outright stated to be Jesus.
  • Hunter x Hunter. What if 40k was a Shonen manga?
  • The Kerberos trilogy, but special mentions to Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade. A series of films that basically gave birth to Killzone singlehandedly (Seriously, look at the comparisons between the Helghast and the film's Protect Gear, it is blatant). Set in an alternate-history where Japan was occupied by Germany rather than America at the end of WW2. In Jin-Roh, the nation is constantly in social turmoil with left-wing communist terrorist guerillas using children as bomb couriers against two police force of Japan: the normal-looking police force (Backed by the Japanese KGB/CIA hybrid) and the ORIGINAL Helghasts called the Kerberos Panzer Cops. Jin-Roh is a political thriller film that largely talks about the problems of the "Good guy, bad guy" dichotomy and how juvenile it is for stories to portray these things in real life. All of the films have a downer ending, so if you are looking for a happy ending, you're gonna get dissapointed. Despite what some people may argue, the Kerberos trilogy is a condemnation of all extremist ideas and actions. Its a Mamoru Oshii film of Ghost in the Shell fame, what do you fucking expect.
  • The Incredible Hulk. Most Marvel heroes have a network of friends they can rely on, Hulk does not. Most Marvel heroes can say they are not reguarly hunted down by the military, Hulk does not. Most Marvel heroes are accepted enough in polite society that they can buy supplies and keep down a job, Hulk does not. Most Marvel heroes have the bliss of not knowing what it's like to have their father murder their mother in front of them as a child and angrily demand to lie in court what happened, Hulk does not. Did we mention he was slapped by his dad as a newborn? Most Marvel heroes are unaware how painful it is to have their head torn off and have their body explode, Hulk does not. Most Marvel heroes are unaware of what it's like to lose three (two, Betty eventually came back as Red She Hulk) love interests by violent deaths, Hulk does not. Most Marvel heroes that die were mourned by the public, not for Hulk. Most Marvel heroes are not pawns of Satan forced to be pushed back into life thus unable to rest in peace, Hulk does not. No wonder Hulk wants to be left alone since '62.
  • Magical Girl Site. So grimdark it makes Meguca look Noblebright. So much fucking dread, suicide, blood, and sexual assault.
  • Made in Abyss. A death world disguised as a cute loli adventure featuring on-screen death and mutilation, child labor, and philosophical exploration of just how far humanity can go before completely losing it.
  • Muv-Luv Often compared to 40k in how bleak and brutal the series is.
  • Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. A manga/anime film made by Hayao Miyazaki, yes you heard us right. The man who was the main founder of Studio Ghibli and gave us childhood gems such as Totoro, Spirited Away and Ponyo, gave us a Science-Fantasy Epic of the brutality of war. Nausicaa, especially the manga, does not shy away from human slavery, biological WMDS, genocides, nuclear holocaust, a gratuitous amount of inferred and overt infanticides, inquisitorial purging and the likes.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion (Especially End).
  • Now and Then, Here and There. The setting takes place in an alternate world, 10 billion years into the future where the sun is about to go into a red giant and whatever scraps of humanity are fighting each other for the last remaining sources of water. Expect a lot of child soldiers, child abuse, child torture, child rape and ethnic cleansing to a scarily realistic degree. This is a post-post-apocalyptic world that is designed to break the viewers. It is an anime darker than 40k despite the 'happy' ending due the sheer levels of nihilism and unforgiving horrors of human depravity.
  • Re:Zero
  • The Promised Neverland. An anime/manga about a bunch of cute children raised in a nice orphanage, that is really a farm set up by demons who raise the children as food. A handful girls get to survive until adulthood by getting selected to act as mothers to children, but they are still prisoners who can't leave the farm. If they are unlucky they will have to watch over their own children until the day they are killed.
    • The world outside the farms is even worse. A thousand years ago the world was divided between humans and demons. Demons used to hunt humans until the two sides made a truce where the world was divided in two halves to keep peace and humans were handed over to the demons to farm as food and the wealthy family of humans who made the deal are out to kill the escaped children to uphold it. Demons actually need to eat humans or they degenerate into mindless animals that attack everything in sight, except of the demon nobility thanks to them consuming blood that removed the need. And they still insist on hoarding the best quality human meat for themselves while leaving the commoners to feed on meat from humans raised on factory farms where the humans are force fed until they die.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Being Meguca is suffering.
  • Uzumaki. Basically a Lovecraftian horror manga where a seaside town gets raped by spirals. Not as weird as it sounds. Or maybe it is as weird as it sounds but not as bad. Also has enough body horror to put most Chaos Spawn to shame.
    • Come to think of it, pretty much anything by Junji Ito. Except Junji Ito's Cat Diary: Yon & Mu.


  • 1984
  • All Quiet on the Western Front Of all the wars humanity's ever fought, World War I was one of the most grimdark. The writer, who himself served in the war, thought that the war destroyed his whole generation whether or not they survived the trenches. The book follows a group of German boys who eagerly enlist as soon as they turn eighteen, only to be met with the worst kinds of horrors World War I could bring. Even if they survive the battles, they are broken by the horrors of industrialized trench warfare. By the end of the novel they are all dead and the field report simply states "all quiet on the western front".
  • Cormac McCarthy is an American writer whose most famous works are considered some of the darkest novels ever written, due to the near casual way violence is depicted and the rather bleak outlook it takes on humanity's place in the world. Notables include:
    • Blood Meridian a book following the exploits of the Glanton Gang, a real-life group of scalpers in the 19th Century. Kids die left and right, lawlessness runs rampant, sickfuckery abounds, it's... brutal.
    • No Country for Old Men, also adapted as a film, covers the rising violence of the drug war on the US-Mexico border. Or simply suggests things have always been that bad and there's no way for good men to stop it.
    • The Road, along with the film, can be summarized as follows - the biosphere is dead with no hope of reviving it. A man and his son now traverse the dying, bleak landscape along a road, without any remnant of human civilization left, only able to depend on each other. Seriously, this setting is bleak in ways Warhammer 40k can only have nightmares about.
  • Clive Barker in general. His works include The Hellbound Heart (which was turned into the Hellraiser movie franchise), Rawhead Rex where an ancient god of male sex eats kids, the Midnight Meat Train where an ancient cult feeds people to an underground society of monsters so New York isn't destroyed, and... let's just say there's a reason he's basically a BDSM enthusiast given way too much handle.
  • Everything from H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos, though this can vary when you add in later Mythos writers like August Derleth. To explain: 95% of everything Lovecraft ever wrote is grimdark as shit. His is an amoral, uncaring, and inhumanly vast cosmos infested with hyper-advanced aliens, unspeakable extradimensional horrors, mad gods who control the threads of reality, and all kinds of eldritch monsters, all of whom see humanity as nothing more than primitive apes to be experimented on, played with, eaten, or exterminated. Even when his protagonists "win", they usually wind up dying, going insane, or going insane and then dying. Should they somehow escape unscathed, they still tend to be left with the knowledge that all they've managed to do is temporarily delay the plans of whatever horrible entity they crossed paths with. These stories were strongly influenced by Lovecraft's personality and worldview; he was an introverted, pessimistic atheist/racist/traditionalist who believed that humanity was a tiny, impermanent speck in a vast and uncaring universe. Mythos writers who don't share his worldview, like Derleth, have tried to impose a more conventional "good vs. evil" structure on Lovecraft's universe, which has the knock-on effect of making things less grimdark. Others have cranked the grimdark knob to 11 and ripped it off, either in reaction to the former or because it's how they like to write. Which of these, if either, is the correct approach remains a matter of debate among Lovecraft fans.
  • Mistborn: A trilogy of books by Brandon Sanderson (at least the First Era). The stories themselves rarely meet the criteria of grimdark, but hoooo boy the background setting and villains sure do. About a thousand years ago, a hero rose up to stop a mysterious enemy… and failed. Now, volcanoes spew ash down on the land, choking all but the most hardy plants. The brightest color is yellow, and flowers are an alien idea. Modern fauna include ectoplasmic monsters composed of the skeletons of other creatures and… that’s mostly it. The rest is dead. 95% of the population are slaves, and it’s a revolutionary idea to consider that they may be able to think. The nobility rule mostly because the immortal Lord Ruler gave their ancestors powers, and some of them still have some today (the titular Mistborn). The only way to trigger these powers is through trauma, and so even among the good portion of the population, all children are nearly beaten to death to see if they have these powers. Usually, they don’t. The villains also deserve a dishonorable mention, as the average one is a pedophiliac, slave owning rapist. Even the “good guys”, are only good by comparison. Variously, they are rebels who know full well there is no hope, a thief who could and would kill anything that contradicts him, and an optimistic young man who is eventually forged into a warmongering emperor. Oh, and the only way to “save the day” involves killing a minimum 1/16th of the planetary population.
  • Grimm's Fairy Tales ("Hansel and Gretel", for example).
  • The first two Hyperion books.
  • Metro. Both the books and games, but mostly in the books, where the last known humans are hiding in underground subway tunnels, and when not trying to finish each other off are fighting endless hordes of mutants and other, much worse things. Also, if you're one of the stalkers, the few brave ones that head to the surface to loot anything they can find, you risk being eaten by flying daemons. Hell, it even has the same "abandon all hope" vibe in the intro, just like 40k. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Note as the books go on the grimdarkness does tone down by showing the areas outside of the city to be in much better living conditions and other metros.(though not all the books are written by the same author).
  • Noir in general, from Raymond Chandler's novels to games like This is the Police.
  • Post Apocalyptic stuff in general tends to default to Grimdark.
  • World Devastators in Star Wars. Seriously, if you read about them without knowing that they are from Star Wars, you could easily mistake them for something from 40k. And we're not talking about Star Wars Legacy and the genocide of the Mon Calamari.
  • SCP Foundation universe as a whole is borderline grimdark, as many aspects of the Foundation are mixed between absurd comedy, derp, and pure grimdark. At its very worst, the SCP Foundation has things that make the Daemonculaba look nice by comparison. Above all: Secure. Contain. Protect.
  • Shakespeare's tragedies, especially Macbeth and Hamlet.
  • Shin Sekai Yori also known as From the New World is a novel by Yusuke Nishi (also has an anime adaptation). Basically it's a dystopian story with people using magic to run their society instead of machines in a world that has deliberately regressed to the medieval level. Every child who doesn't manifest magical abilities by a certain age is killed, and all existing non-magical humans have been genetically engineered into a slave-race of mole-people so long ago they've forgotten their origins. The magical people are instead engineered to commit unwilling suicide should they use their powers to harm another human (mole people are fair game, though), and those of them who are too strong and can't manage to control themselves become Lovecraftian abominations.
  • The Slenderman Mythos (HE ALWAYS WATCHES).
  • A Song of Ice and Fire AKA Game of Thrones: Good guys screw up monumentally or never win, the only people who get ahead are amorally manipulative assholes and everyone is going to be massacred and enslaved by the evil ice elf necromancers in the end. And if they somehow survive, then another war for the Iron Throne will happen after the winner gets their revenge-boner satisfied and later, their kids would need to clean up the wankstains.
  • Most of Stephen King's works. As the joke goes, some people say that Stephen King's works are so fucked up they should come with a content warning. The reply is that they do have a content warning, they have the words "written by Stephen King" on the front.
  • Peter Watts. Brutal neuropunk sci-fi horror, as bleak as H. P. Lovecraft but with a list of scientific citations at the end to let you know just how realistic it really is. Hits you with a world-ending catastrophe and then manages to make it a thousand times worse -- an alien invasion DURING a hard-takeoff singularity, for example. Sociopathy and post-human augments abound. Also, the books are free!
  • The majority of the Tragedy genre of stories.
  • The Witcher. Racism, genocides, dozens of monsters that want to eat your face whenever you enter a random forest. Or cave. Or ruins. The video game adaptation even features a medieval Hitler running the Witch Hunters, a fanatical order of racist scumbags dedicated to wiping out both mages and non-humans in the name of the Eternal Fire. Meanwhile, the neighboring empire starts a series of wars against northern kingdoms (where the series takes place), in which both sides descend into scorched earth warfare, all the while backstabbing their allies and generally being a colossal wall of dicks to the point that close to 70% of civilian population in war-zones died from raiding, famine and occasional outbreaks of extradimensional plagues. To add insult to injury, the whole world is doomed due to the (slowly) encroaching Ice Age, and the only person that could save it took two glances at this shitshow and decided to fuck off to a parallel universe and let them all die, because it would be a mercy. (To be fair, though, she comes back, if only to save her adoptive mother and father from said Ice Age, as she still maintains her 'fuck the rest of humanity' attitude.
  • World War Z (the book). After zombies overran most of the world, many people had it so bad that they simply lost the will to live. Fighting in the Paris Catacombs with weaker weapons that wouldn't cause a cave-in due to hazardous gasses everywhere. Russian soldiers rioting over unfair treatment and enforced secrecy ordered under pain of death to kill one in ten of their own squadmates - with rocks - to teach them the price of freedom and democracy. Which they then happily traded away. The survival of the human race hinged on governments following a plan including elements of eugenics and leaving settlements of people behind as zombie bait. People resorted to cannibalism to survive in Canada. North Korea entirely vanished without a trace. Pakistan and Iran nuked each other. After the war officially ended, there are still loose zombies wandering around, Russia has started a breeding program to deal with severe underpopulation, several species are extinct, and diseases thought to be wiped out are coming back en masse.
  • Anything from the Xeelee Sequence.

Films and TV[edit]

  • Alien (as in the biomechanical, parasitic, acid-blooded brainchild of Ridley Scott and the late H.R. Giger). Bonus points when you realize it's pretty much an allegory of the human fear of unwanted pregnancy, with sexual role reversal thrown in.
  • The aftermath of Avengers: Infinity War. After the battledust settles, no one really wins at the end of the movie. Even the villain, who got what he wanted, was badly injured and the victory was very costly.
  • Children of Men: A future where humans are no longer fertile and going extinct, and then someone finds a pregnant woman and nearly everyone in the world fights over her.
  • Come and See A World War II movie which instead of focusing on big battles focuses on Nazi death squads in the Byelorussian SSR. Do we even need to say more?
  • Eastenders, Especially at Christmas.
  • End of War
  • Event Horizon: Humans accidentally punch a hole into hell while inventing FTL travel and immediately get mindfucked into committing an orgy of torturerapemurder. 40K fans have embraced it as an unofficial prequel to the series because you don't need to change a damn thing about it to make it fit into the grimdarkness of the far future.
  • The first two Hellraiser movies
  • The Day After, and its much worse British counterpart, Threads.
  • Lord Of War. The worst is that it's based on real events.
  • The Matrix: Machines become sentient and because of this humans fear and fight them; just to be defeat and put into a virtual reality while used as batteries.
  • Power Rangers RPM plays with this trope, being what is effectively Terminator meets Mad Max "for kids". It is still Power Rangers, and does still have its fair share of comic relief, but this is also the season where a young girl is brainwashed into becoming a child soldier for Skynet and HAL 9000's demented love child, while also having her humanity stripped away and replaced with cold metal. That's not even starting to mention the fact that most of the planet is wiped out, with billions dying over the course of what seems like a few weeks.
  • Requiem for a Dream
  • Romero's "Dead" series, especially the later entries. Night is grim for the heroes, even if the overall story ends somewhat happily with the zombies taken care of. On the other hand, Dawn and Day are much darker, with zombies overrunning society, and though both end on positive notes, the journey there is a grim fight for survival. Most of the heroes die in Dawn (all of them if you count the depressing alternate cut), and in Day most of the characters, even the heroes, are hateful, unhinged, and/or just plain crazy.
  • 'Saw: I just wanna play a game.
  • Shisha no Teikoku, the Empire of Corpses. Steampunk, Grimdark, Zombies, Cross-References and Conspiracies everywhere. It has even become possible to resurrect the dead, giving them their soul and intelligence back, but only 2 characters profit from it in the end, while everyone else stays a slave.
  • Soylent Green: Inspiration for 40K’s Soylens Viridiens. Humanity's running out of food due to overpopulation and catastrophic environmental collapse and someone decides to solve the problem by mulching the poor into corpse-starch. And it gets even darker when it is revealed that this is only delaying the inevitable extinction of humanity as the environmental collapse is irreversible.
  • Tetsuo: The Iron Man A cult Japanese horror film about an ordinary man who accidently kills and becomes possessed by a man with a fetish for sticking pieces of metal into his body and slowly and painfully transforms into a horrifying scrap metal monster, ending with the two of them decide to turn the entire world into metal.


" Why don't people band together to fix things? Because GRIMDARK. Why hasn't an external system supplanted the current, barely functioning one? Because GRIMDARK. How does such a woefully inefficient system manage the logistical nightmare of endless total war? Because I murdered a baby seal, that's why! You should feel bad."

– Terrible Writing Advice (The GRIMDARK Episode)

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 generally reliant on at least one party involved suddenly abandoning all sense of reason and logic, or else caused by a lack of forethought on the implications of how the element interacts with the world. Many long-runner grimdark works will become this sooner or later, as either the setting or the cast's morality (rather a usually extreme lack thereof) will induce complete and utter apathy in the audience and cause them to give up out of sheer pointlessness. Most "dark" anime/manga tend to be more or less grimderp, as attempts to attract mature audiences ends in violence, blood, and sex without consequence (at BEST, mind you. At worst...), all in gratuitous quantities.

To be clear, grimderp is not just that something is "dark" or that a character behaves stupidly. Human beings make dumb, short-sighted, irrational, and morally objectionable decisions all the time, just crack open about any book on human history. Grimderp is when a character breaks character to do something they would normally never do or engage in behavior that is logistically impossible ("there are as many elves as the plot demands"), simply "because it's dark". To put it in another way, it is basically the author(s) writing dark things for the sake of edginess. The end product often comes out as painfully juvenile and sounding like something out of a 13-year-old fanfic that thinks adding barbwire coated in feces to everything makes something 'deep'.

That is not to say it is impossible to make an absurdly dark fiction without straying off course into grimderp territory. The post-apocalyptic short story, I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison avoids the grimderp label due to the historical context the story was written in as well as the philosophical debate on the idea of cruelty as presented through AM. Is AM a spiteful, cruel monster or a product of man's penchant for violence and warfare trapped in its own database prison? Another example that avoids this title would be Stephen Baxter's Xeelee Sequence, whose entire ethos is a critique and ruthless deconstruction on the entire Humanity Fuck Yeah and Cosmic Horror tropes whilst still crafting an unbelievably depressing multiverse. So yes, it is possible to write pure concentrated grimdark, but it should be done with a level of delicacy and self-awareness for it to be seen as legible.

On that note, 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, because Sturgeon's Law is a thing. On the flip side, however, certain examples have reached the apotheosis of Grimderp and become gut-bustingly hilarious.


  • FATAL.
  • Carl Sargent's total rape of the Greyhawk setting in From The Ashes. This is a unique case in that the grimdark was actually fairly well-done; it's that he had to fuck over the game's oldest and most-beloved setting by retconning out (ex.: The Horned Society) or altering to the point of demonization (ex.: Celene, the southern duchies) anything that disagreed with the new über-grimdark direction he wanted it to take that made it grimderp.
  • LifeWeb: A complex SS13 spinoff taking place in a cave fortress of a neo-medieval world in the far future, combat is more lethal, and it claims to explore subjects like murder, corruption, rape(with no regard for age), torture, cultism and general human suffering. In reality, the themes it "explores" just means "it's in the game and you can do it" and it's a farce on every level possible.
  • Warhammer 40,000 gets called out as this by some. Certainly it's a valid criticism of certain parts, but as we said earlier, you could argue about what is and is not grimderp in 40k for weeks without conclusion. For example, the Imperium is excessively self-destructive and tyrannical to its own people, but in the hands of a good writer, it's meant to underline how corrupt and desperate the Imperium has become without the Emperor's guidance, and how even those who are neither incompetent nor malicious still have to make brutally difficult choices. In the hands of a lesser writer, it's unnecessary evil purely for the sake of evil. We should call our next book "Darkness of Darkest Dark!"
    • Historically, the Grail myths drift, not from Christian sources, but Celtic ones (and beyond the Celts, older civilizations), and a typical feature of these myths happens to be the healing of a King through forces of restauration and regeneration (i.e. to put one in touch with his sources, with his roots), and the King was typically seen in agrarian societies as the King of a land, avatara of a Sky-Father, and the Queen as the Earth Goddess. The Geokinesis psychic discipline has a power called Earth Blood who would do just that; if only someone let Librarians enter the Imperial Palace to do some Perceval style healing.
    • Khornate Knights.
    • The Grey Knights' (who seem to get this a lot, really) equipment and how it is made. Specifically, every bolt shell that the Grey Knights use is consecrated by the blood sacrifice of a righteous man or woman in a borderline Khornate ritual (and it has to be a good person, not just anyone. How the Imperium determines if someone is sufficiently "good" or not remains an open question). Those Aegis armors? Made from thousands of psykers (including children) burned alive in a furnace to channel their power to the armor. Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of people have to die to make one Grey Knight combat-effective. This has caused a lot of skub as to whether it is grimderp or not, as it raises the question of where the Grey Knights find enough good people to consecrate all of the bolter rounds they go through every battle (especially in the 42nd millennium, considering the monstrous spike in Chaos activity post-Rift).
    • Gellar Fields being powered by the dreams of a comatose psyker being used as a battery (which also burns out and has to be replaced regularly). While very dark, it crosses the line into grimderp when one realizes 1) that Gellar Fields were said to be invented long before psykers began appearing among humanity, and 2) psykers are apparently rare enough in the Imperium that the Imperium has an entire institution dedicated to rounding up psykers and bringing them back to Terra to make use of them, like making Astropaths or feeding the Astronomican and the Golden Throne. And according to recent editions the Black Ships are just barely meeting the quota to keep the Golden Throne going, so it's not like there are a lot of spare psykers around to be made into Gellar Field batteries.
    • Originally, the Black Templars were treated as refusing to suffer the witch no matter who they were, to the point of refusing to ally with any Imperial institution that made use of them. This got retconned to only hate enemy psykers in 6th edition after it was pointed out it would be really hard for the Black Templars to do anything if they refused to tolerate Astropaths or Navigators, and thus have no Warp travel or faster-than-light communication.
    • Agri-Worlds. Seemingly in response to the common fandom sentiment that most worlds in the Imperium are actually quite decent places to live, just so long as you don't get invaded by Orks, Chris Wraight in Lords of Silence outlines a typical Agri-World, describing a horrific hellscape wracked by permanent Dust Bowl conditions and so much pesticides that the sky turns orange and it is not safe to walk around outside without a biohazard suit, and goes on to say that all Agri-Worlds are like this. This has caused a lot of skub within the community. Some say that this practice is perfectly acceptable grimdark, and that unsustainable farming practices aren't exactly unusual in human history (look at slash-and-burn farming practices in Brazil, or aquifer use in the United States). However, what people find issue with is the claim that all agri-worlds are invariably like this, when the fact that conditions on various planets in the Imperium vary massively from world to world as needed for the plot and there is almost no standardization has always been considered one of the big selling points of the setting (not to mention contradicting descriptions of Agri-Worlds in Ciaphas Cain and the Last Chancers). The other aspect that people tend to find unbelievable is that the Imperium is claimed to not even use crop rotation in their Agri-Worlds, simply farming the same crop over and over again until the soil gives out and the planet becomes a Death World. The Imperium may have lost a lot of its ancient knowledge, but crop rotation as a practice goes back to the freaking Stone Age. Its absurd to see knowledge that basic being lost in the horrors of Old Night, or not been rediscovered in the time after. This also means the Imperium would literally have run out of planets thousands of years ago if this was true.
    • The nature of how Imperial ships work has caused a great deal of skub. Namely the fact that the weapons of Imperial ships are loaded by hundreds of chem-bulked, rabid slaves dragging them into place while being whipped, the exertion being so great that many die frothing at the mouth by the effort or have their hands crushed by chains. They do this completely by hand, hauling the munitions across the ship with chains. This despite the fact that hydraulic power systems have existed since the 18th century. They don't even use inclined planes or levers, something which humanity has been using to haul large objects where they want them to go since the days of Stonehenge, the Pyramids, and Easter Island. Or they could literally just use a Chimera or a team of grox to do the job, you know, the reason why humanity built large vehicles and domesticated large animals? Meanwhile the Adeptus Mechanicus is using autoloaders, and is deliberately go keeping the technology from the rest of the Imperium so they will have an advantage in case another civil war ever breaks out. Some say this is perfectly acceptable grimdark, others say that this is just too ridiculously inefficient to take seriously, even for the Imperium.
    • The Marneus Calgar comic has caused a shitstorm with the recent revelations that the average life expectancy of the BEST place in the Imperium is in the mid-thirties, which is fucking STUPID. Because that means that the life expectancy of other non-Ultramar worlds are drastically shorter, which makes the machinations on how the Imperium is run, fucking unsustainable. If child mortality rates are that high, then entire worlds would have quite literally run out of humans especially in warzones, while entire sectors' worth of economies would collapse or stagnate as more kids die before they grow up and be a productive member of society. This creates a drain in resources and long-term stability; it was already considered unsustainable during MEDIEVAL times, so you could just extrapolate this to a million worlds and the Imperium should collapse under its own inertia and weight by this point. I don't care how 'disposable' human life is, it is still a resource and the Emprah fucking hates wasting resources. We get that the comic writer is trying to shoehorn even more feudalist themes in the comics, but the problem is, this is not Krieg we're talking about, but fucking Ultramar. So either the author does not know what sense of scale is, or that he does not understand the works of Guilliman because Grandpa Smurf WOULD. NOT. let this shit fly under the radar. The author has confirmed, however, that it was added to make Ultramar feel more grimdark. To give you some context, Somalia in the mid 1960s has a higher life expectancy than this. This is not grimdark, this is just fucking stupid that breaks the suspension of disbelief. It is one of the few things that both 4Chan and Reddit concurrently agree upon as fluff breaking.
    • To be honest, the whole idea of humans being the "teeming multitudes" faction winning battles by sheer weight of numbers and which breed quickly and are easily replaced is kind of silly if you know anything about human reproduction. Among species on Earth, humans are notable for being one of the slowest reproducing species out there. It takes nine months for a human to gestate to maturity in the womb, more than any other animal aside from elephants and whales, and even after birth humans take longer to reach maturity even compared to our close relatives the Neanderthals and Homo erectus. Additionally, it takes a huge amount of parental care to care for a child and raise them to functional adulthood, more than any other animal. On top of this, pregnancy is incredibly crippling for human females, and women have a one in three chance of dying in childbirth if giving birth without any external aid or midwives (as would be the case for a citizen of the underhives), something almost no other species has to deal with. The way our species generally works is we breed incredibly slowly but live an incredibly long time and invest a lot of resources to make sure those few that are born survive to adulthood, which basically makes us the elves of the animal kingdom. Barring some major technological breakthrough like artificial wombs or genetic engineering to reduce the crippling side effects of human pregnancy or long adolescence, humans are unlikely to be able to outbreed anything. And while some factions in the Imperium do have access to artificial wombs (like the Mechanicus), most of humanity in 40k are shown to still reproducing the old fashioned way. Even if humanity starts out with a huge population it can throw at any problem, that population is going to be depleted pretty fast because humanity can't replace their losses. Even if they are the greatest resource the Imperium has, they're still trying to fight a war of attrition against foes including ones who can't even be properly killed and two races who can easily outbreed humanity; one reproduces by fighting and the other are a rapidly reproducing horde of space locusts who go from conception to combat-ready within a Terran week. However, fans tend to ignore this because of the whole “to be a man in such times is to be one amongst untold billions” thing that is part of the general lack of regard for human life that makes 40k 40k, so people give it a pass.
    • Some 40k sources claim that millions if not billions of guardsmen are killed EVERY SECOND. Even with the scale of the Imperium taken into the account, having many times the current population of the Earth die every minute would be ridiculous for the whole of Imperium, let alone just the Imperial Guard. As with many things GW the scale is entire way too small to believably make difference or blown well out of proportions.
    • Watch Captain Artemis saying better to let the galaxy burn and allow the Imperium to fall to Chaos than allow the xenos to live, right before fucking up an eldar ritual that would have awakened Ynnead early and fucked over Slaanesh, indirectly causing all of the ruckus of 8th Edition. Granted, while this does come from the Deathwatch, who tend to be rabidly anti-xenos even by the Imperium's standards, this is for Chaos, the Archenemy, the Big Bad Evil Guy of the Warhammer 40k setting, the one faction that even the notoriously xenophobic Imperium will begrudgingly admit is a bigger threat than the xenos and will team up with them to fight against it. A loyalist saying they prefer Chaos over anything, even as the lesser of two evils, should be grounds for an insta-BLAMing and a red flag for Chaos corruption. And no, Watch Captain Artemis was not BLAM-ed for this, nor is this treated as the beginnings of his corruption and a slow fall to Chaos. And so a loyalist Space Marine managed to single-handedly save Slaanesh. Seriously, Chaos champions have been elevated to Daemon Princehood for less.
    • The whole thing reached the lowest point by 3rd edition, considered the Darker and Edgier version of 40k, this is when some of the silliest things mentioned in this wiki were added or accentuated, after that 40k required more than 5 EDITIONS of fluff update, novels, characters and additional background to finally come back from "we no longer care" to an actual war with stakes and actual chances for all sides involved.
    • On Catachan, half the population doesn't survive infancy. Of the ones that do, half don't survive past 10 years. Its not even a guarantee that people past ten years of age survive into adulthood. Between the amount of kids EACH WOMAN would be required to have just to SUSTAIN the population, the amount of care that would be required for the pregnant women and her kids, along with (at absolute best) a precarious battle against nature itself, the Catachan population would be completely unsustainable. It's an honest to God-Emperor miracle that the planet even managed to accumulate a population of 12 million people, and even more miraculous that the Space Rambos were the byproduct.
    • The Emperor forcibly teleports Angron away from his final stand with his gladiator comrades, leaving them to die and telling Angron to get over himself. He also does absolutely nothing to ease Angron's suffering or convince him of the necessity of the Great Crusade. When asked by Angron why He would do something like this in spite of the wealth of other options, the only excuse Big E gives is that He's the Emperor and has more important shit to do on a much wider scale. Between there being no narrative or in-character precedent for Big E doing this and a laundry list of explanations as to what He could've done differently, this part of Angron's backstory and The Emperor's role in it can only be summed up as ADB yet again being guilty of shit writing and overly relying on daddy issues as a plot device.
    • The story of the Brazen Drakes and their fall to Chaos will make you facepalm yourself with a Lightning Chainfist. During the opening of the Great Rift and the Psychic Awakening, members of the chapter began exhibiting psychic powers. Rather than legally making them Librarians, Chapter Master Corian felt the need to hide this from the Imperium to maintain their image and execute any battle brother suddenly displaying psychic abilities. Considering he was a latent psyker himself, the impulse to do this makes even less sense and is quite hypocritical. The mental strain of murdering one's own battle brothers, along with misplaced fears at how the Imperium would react to his chapter's growing psychic potential, eventually caused them to turn traitor. To sum it up, the Brazen Drakes turned traitor due to the trauma and bitterness that came with murdering their own battle brothers for something that never needed to be hidden and could be legally resolved quite easily. Make sense? No? Good, because it gets WORSE. Primaris Greyshield reinforcements were with a Torchbearer fleet and on their way to the Brazen Drakes homeworld. It was devastated by war, and half the chapter had fallen to Chaos. Upon seeing this, the Custodes judged the Primaris Marine reinforcements as tainted. Not once did it dawn on said Custodians that the Primaris being tainted would be completely fucking impossible due to them being created TEN MILLENNIA ago and had no relation to their chapter aside from color scheme and parent legion. They were ordered to disarm and submit to examination, but the Primaris had the bright idea of disobeying the living embodiment of the Emperor's authority (whether it was justified or not, you DO NOT say no to the Custodes) and fighting them. Ironically, had the Primaris complied they likely would've been cleared later on and allowed to fight again. The resulting conflict tore apart the fleet, and engulfed 3 systems. The entire war was a colossal waste thanks to everyone responsible being fuckstupid for no reason, and was the derpiest way of proving the Primaris weren't these super duper incorruptible warriors as the fanbase had feared/speculated on.
  • Drowtales: The whole series is Grimderp on steroids, but there are a few particularly nauseating examples: nothing like the protagonist Mary Sue of innocence and purity blowing up the light elf MILF slave called Maya in an argument with a rival, an argument in which she feels morally justified right after buying a fighting slave which was doomed to die in underground Arenas even most Drow find disgusting, ran by a complete monster of a drow, regularly visited to watch slaves die, that's right, by the protagonist Ariel. Maya dies crying in her native tongue about "what she did to deserve this", crying she'll never see sunlight again. Protagonist feels a bit bad about a few days, and only that when she sees a few naked light elf slaves for sale, reminiscing Maya's face. Years pass and she thinks all the slavery and needless murder isn't so cool... just before visiting a surface colony who was taken from humans. She and her lesbian lover have an orgy on the settlement they just conquered by massacre. After a blissful after-sex sleep, the settlement is counterattacked by desperate humans coming to save their kin... which are promptly murdered by the half-light half-dark elf paladin of Sharess (Yes, a Mary Sue worshipping a total Baldur's Gate rip-off) who is all high and righteous when she is burning innocent humans who wanted to save their kin from slave traders about to buy the survivors. The protagonist's lesbian empath Drow (yes, with a length of purple hair paint, straight out of Deviantart) friend berates the cornered humans with a lame excuse line of "I feel your pain, why don't you take your survivors and run?!" when the said humans scream in desperation to save their families from the town's locked buildings, die horribly and our "I'm glad my clan Sarghress prevents slavery, let's shake hands and feast on the food we just plundered!" protagonist shakes hands on it. It's not even depressing, it's plain fucking logic diarrhea with enough depressive themes to OD an edgy 13 year old. (considering the authors were that old when they started...)
  • Most of the anti-HFY content in the World of Darkness, especially the unmitigated misanthropy in parts of Werewolf: The Apocalypse. Humans vary from 'Apathetic fools responsible for most of the world's ills' to 'Cackling, moustache-twirling villains', civilization and all its fruits are EVIL!, and the tribe of bestiality-born werewolves that want to exterminate the human race down to pre-Stone Age levels are presented as heroes that're unequivocally morally justified in their actions both in and out of setting. Yeah.
  • The Hearts of Iron IV mod The New Order: Last Days of Europe has numerous dystopian "failstates", but there are a few standouts.
    • The first is the SS Ordenstaat Burgund, also known as Burgundy. Covering northeastern France and Belgium, Burgundy is ruled by Heinrich Himmler and the SS as a giant concentration camp. Its sole purpose is genocide, first on the local and ultimately on the global scale. When it isn't killing its own inhabitants, it's backing SS agents throughout the Third Reich's sphere of influence to further its cause of EEEVIL. Economic minister Oswald Pohl even points out that killing massive swathes of the nation's population just for not being Aryan isn't sustainable, but Himmler regards such criticism as treason. Realistically, Burgundy should have collapsed on itself before the game started, but it can stick around regardless. Playing as it is as difficult and miserable as you'd expect from a Holocaust management sim.
      • Recent updates have focused more on the "derp" than the "grim", apparently as a reaction to Burgundy's pre-rework supervillainy. Unlike before, where it could last into the '80s because the plot would break otherwise, nü-Burgundy experiences Not As Planned moments on a near-FAILbaddon scale. Himmler shooting Oswald Pohl for his "treason" not only tanks the economy but also makes economic management impossible. Over time, the slaves, French and Belgian collaborator legions, and even Burgundy's own ministers will eventually get fed up and rebel. If Himmler purges them, literally everyone else will rise up in an event called the "Burgundian Spring". Even in the rare event that Himmler actually gets his nuclear Holocaust, it ultimately fails; the "pure" Aryans he chose to preserve emerge from their bunkers...and peacefully join post-apocalyptic society without issue. Why? Himmler told them that only true Aryans would survive the nuclear holocaust, so they assume that all the survivors are Aryan by Himmler's definition, even if said survivors are Jewish or black.
    • The next is the entirety of Russia. What-was-once Soviet Russia has collapsed into several warlord states, and many of these are grimdark as fuck. Standouts include All-Russian Black League of Omsk, a hyper-nationalist warlord state led by revenge-mad ex-Soviet generals determined to launch a no-holds-barred genocidal war against Germany called the "Great Trial" (imagine if the Death Korps of Krieg ended up in charge of Russia and you have a pretty good idea); Hyperborea, which is Russia run by batshit-insane neo-pagan Slav supremacists who practice human sacrifice; and the Holy Russian Empire, which... honestly deserves its own section, it's so utterly glorious in its grimdark:
      • Russia is unified by a ultra-right wing Komi government headed by a deranged, self-loathing Jewish antisemite named Sergey Taboritsky who believes that Tsarevich Alexei miraculously survived the massacre of the Romanovs in 1918 and, like a proverbial king under the mountain, will come back to rule once Russia is sufficiently "purified". To this end, Taboritsky implements "Esoteric National Socialism" i.e the "Burgundian System" (an even more extreme ideological offshoot of Nazism emphasizing inflicting horrible state-mandated cruelty on everyone living under it to strengthen the Aryan race) in Russia, creating a theocratic totalitarian dictatorship that purges anyone deemed sufficiently "un-Russian", with an emphasis on the Jews. To this end Taboritsky deploys copious amounts of chemical weapons against dissidents, including one named "Taborite" that melts people's flesh into slurry on contact, to the extent that vast tracts of Russia are ecologically devastated for thousands of years. Murdering the mentally-ill and disabled children, burning priests at the stake, declaring that the idea of innocence doesn't exist and changing laws so that even dropping your tools at work can get you tried and summarily executed; that kind of shit. In a world where Adolf Hitler not only exists but achieved even more of his evil plans to reshape the world than in real life, he is considered a secondary evil to Taboritsky. But eventually Taboritsky has a beautiful vision of Alexei coming back that turns into a vision of a little pile of bones with a bullet hole through the skull, and the old man realizes that Alexei is dead and not coming back and literally dies of despair. This is only the very beginning of Taboritsky's wild ride and subsequent events show the nation's descent into complete insanity that has been affectionately named "Post-Taboritsky Meta-Horror Neo-Warlordism". Because nobody in their right mind would dare confront or question a man who might strangle you thinking you are Cain, everyone settles into default orders through sheer fear. Purification squads just... keep killing, until they lose their minds a la Heart of Darkness; one soldier is so far-gone that he doesn't even recognize his own parents shortly after executing them. Factory workers are made to work themselves to death because the order to let them go home never comes through. Whole towns and swathes of Russia are completely destroyed by the army bombarding them with chemical weapons or abandoned as people begin fleeing west into Nazi Germany just to escape the horror. Eventually the armies, the ministers and even the flag of the Holy Russian Empire disappear, Russia turns into a black borderless DMZ, and the portrait changes to an unlit abandoned shack in the middle of nowhere and the nation gains the "Radio Silence" trait, with only one broadcast leaving the nation's borders, presumably forevermore: "REMAIN CALM. THE REGENT ENDURES. ALEXEI LIVES. THE HOLY RUSSIAN EMPIRE SHALL ENDURE. THERE IS MUCH WORK TO BE DONE". Apparently according to the developers, what Taboritsky does to Russia is so thorough that it's like the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust and the trauma is so great that Russia will never reunify ever again. The sheer number of references to the Imperium of Man in Taboritsky's path is sometimes seen as a message: in literally any setting except Warhammer 40,000's unique circumstances, a theo-fascist state comparable to the Imperium is doomed to auto-genocide. And it only gets worse from there...
      • The After Midnight update adds a post-Taboritsky epilogue and paints a nightmarish picture of what "Post-Taboritsky Meta-Horror Neo-Warlordism" fully entails. After a period of total anarchy where mechanized warbands of radicalized ultranationalist soldiers roam the country killing everyone they encounter, successor states eventually emerge headed by some of the most deranged and unstable people you can imagine. The Black League of Omsk becomes even more insane, expanding the Great Trial, a project of genocidal war against the Germans, to also include any "corrupted" Russians not outside their borders. The once-persecuted Kazakhs are launching genocidal crusades into Russia to wipe the Russian people from the earth as revenge. A band of Shturmoviki stranded in Omsk and driven mad by the revelation that the head of the Holy Russian Empire was a Jew have pledged their allegiance to Satan out of despair and madness, engaging in human sacrifice and inviting nihilistic thugs and serial killers into their ranks. Magadan is a wretched hive of smugglers and ex-fascist thugs. The Eurasian Republic is a megacorp warlord state convinced that explicitly rejects all dreams and ideals beyond sustaining the state, and that Russian national identity is so tainted irrevocably by the HRE that it seeks to create a new "Eurasian" identity in its place. I could go on.

Animation and Comics[edit]

  • Black Tokyo.
  • Jeph Loeb's run on Ultimate Marvel: people dying brutally (most well known being Wasp getting eaten by the Blob) and completely gratuitously (Dr. Strange is killed the one page he shows up on and is completely forgotten afterwards), lore rape worst than anything Ward ever did (the heroic Pyro is now a rapist version of the mainline Marvel Pyro with no explanation; Thor going from new age hippie to mainline-style viking with no explanation... at least that last one is kinda cool). Overall it was so bad it effectively made the Ultimate Marvel universe (with the exception of Spider-Man and his cast) completely unusable. Small wonder that years later, Marvel thought smashing it and the main Marvel universe together would be a good idea.
    • Jeph had lost his 17-year-old son to cancer not long before and apparently was taking his sorrow and anger out on the Ultiverse. It's no excuse, I suppose, but it is actually kind of sad and explains his mindset at the time.
  • Garth Ennis half the time or whenever he does an original work. It often goes so far around the bend it either becomes too bleak to care or becomes compelling or hilarious. Some adaptations and his original works are notorious for drowning in grimderp and pushing his views like he's the Terry Goodkind of comics. Prime examples include:
    • Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe: The title says it all. You want more? A professionally published Hate fic where Garth's favorite Marvel character, the Punisher, kills all of Marvel's superheroes and supervillains to avenge his family, then himself when he learns Daredevil used to be his friend. That's literally it.
    • The Boys: Almost every superhero is an irredeemable sexual deviant and thug or loose cannon, whose only crime fighting accomplishments come from corporate PR lies despite them actually having superpowers. The story's protagonists are little better, including the deuteragonist and author self-insert Billy Butcher, and both sides trample anyone in their way for their agendas. Also, Butcher's pet dog rapes other animals (and people) at his command.
      • Surprisingly averted for the most part with its Amazon Prime adaptation. By actually making most of the heroes less unambiguously rotten, cutting down the childish silliness, making the violence less gratuitous and more justified (superheroes actually fight crime and even kill terrorists), and making the Boys themselves more human, the series actually manages to be WAY darker than the comics while staying far more logical and well-written. Hell, Billy Butcher actually contemplates MURDERING A CHILD in the series, something the way more psychotic Butcher of the comics never did until the end. Though Homelander's worst atrocities from the comics were actually done by Black Noir to gaslight Homelander, while in the series changes it to make Homelander the culprit.
    • Preacher: An edgelord power fantasy against all Christianity, including/especially God. It revolves around a former priest with a reality-warping voice given by the offspring of an angel and a demon, his criminal ex and a heroin addicted Irish vampire with no fangs (yep he has to use normal teeth). It culminates in everybody suffering outrageously and/or dying, every negative stereotype of Christians under the sun (no, he doesn't target any other religion), a strawman portrayal of God that would make Seth Macfarlane blush and one of the author's two self-inserts - a ghost cowboy - killing everyone in Hell then Heaven, culminating in him executing God Himself before sitting on the heavenly throne for some rest.
      • Even worse in the Amazon Prime adaptation. The salvageable parts of the plot were swapped out for even more childish silliness and author agenda, a prime example is dinosaurs being extinct because God killed them all because one ate a turd.
    • Crossed: Most of the world is dead or turned into murder-raping sadists á la the Reavers from Firefly due to a virus with a visible symptom being boils forming a cross pattern on the infectee's face (wonder why he chose that symptom). Showing any courage will get you killed or turned into one of the aforementioned murder-rapists, and there are survivors that are just as fucked up as the infected. Supposedly a dig at armchair survivalists, it's now mostly remembered for being edgy for the sake of edginess and being overall boring as hell.
      • Unlike Jeph above, Garth has no excuse for his Grimderp. He has said of his life "I have no horror stories to tell". By his own admission, there's no bad experiences with Christians - his most targeted religious group by far - or any religious people as an excuse for content like Preacher, nor armchair survivalists for Crossed. His reason for writing The Boys? He thought Captain America glorified war itself and didn't like that; this ignores how Captain America was a product of WWII/set against THE NAZIS, something Garth himself should know considering how often he also targets them. While there could be a beef with fervent US patriotism, given Garth's equally fervent Irish patriotism... (though the "Kitchen Irish" arc he wrote for The Punisher MAX partially undercuts that). Not sure what's worse, the idea that Garth is a bubbling cauldron of hatred, bitterness and insecurity who vents it through his writing, or that he's resigned to the idea that this shit sells so he might as well drop his pants and squat.
  • Koutetsujou no Kabaneri, an anime with a similar premise to the already-grimdark Attack on Titan: It's set in (presumably feudal) Japan, where people are hiding behind walls and communicate with each others using trains to travel from town to town, and trades the giants and horses for guns and zombies. Several of the characters have moments of team-killing ineptitude that end up prolonging the conflict far longer than it should:
    • The samurai don't bother with armor and generally aren't very combat-savvy when it comes to zombies, and their Lawful Stupid tendencies turn any defense against a wall breach into an utter clusterfuck. The antagonist is an absolute failure AND wanted for crimes against humanity, being a pretentious Che Guevara wannabe with pink hair and wielder of an ugly-yet-somewhat effective sabre. He also has a devoted following despite being thoroughly unable to grasp the basics of warfare and its ethics (he thinks children are cowards for not being able to fight monsters that ambush and run through trained adult fighters with ease, and considers destroying one's own resources and castles to be a viable strategy). Meanwhile, the main protagonist has found not one, but TWO miracle solutions that would allow mankind to fight back against the zombie plague, but no one will listen to him, especially not the main antagonist, both because of the above and because of course they wouldn't, it's grimderp GRIMDARK.
    • Ironically, Ancient Shintoism (a main religion of that period) has the only known anti-zombie deities: Kukuri hime no kami, a goddess of purification (despite being rather sado-masochist) whose followers would bind a corpse with ropes, place a big stone on the chest and bury it (coffins are optional). Insane as it was, it was the most common form of burial in the Jomon period, and never went completely out of date through all the medieval period. Despite the rites being a perfect defense against an undead invasion, apparently they didn't take in this setting. Three guesses why.
  • Wanted: The villains won the war against the heroes and completely erased them from reality. Crime is not only rampant but is actually part of the law, enforced by the Fraternity (Justice League for bad guys), and the only way to even have the closest thing to a 'safe and happy life' is by murdering your next door neighbor out of paranoia. Furthermore, as the world is cut up into sections and ruled by different supervillains, you will most likely be born in a country ruled by either a psychotic bastard who shoots children for shits and giggles, a Lex Luthor archetype who hungers for more unrestrained power, a literal Nazi from the future who wants another Holocaust, or a megalomaniac and sociopathic Chinese emperor who makes Mao Zedong like a chump or a completely immortal 'President-for-Life' Mugabe expy that will probably rule for eternity.

Films and TV[edit]

  • Anything made by biggest hack in Hollywood, Zack Hack Snyder.
  • Anything written by the largest Nepobaby in Japan, Toshiki Inoue. Whose father worked on the original Kamen Rider. All of his stories rely on the protagonists being utter morons with low IQs even if their day jobs requires over three digits IRL.
  • Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons is 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 (missing the point of Fallout, FiM, and the original Fallout: Equestria) that becoming an hero WOULD ACTUALLY BE the happiest ending, it's the prime example of how to make readers stop giving a fuck about the story at all.


  • The Dothraki of "A Song of Ice and Fire". We are asked to believe that an entire culture can sustain itself by raiding settled people (when the Mongols and Plains Indians they're based on hunted and herded large animals) while not selling or eating the livestock they plunder, eating horses whenever possible despite borderline worshipping them and relying on them as beasts of burden or war steeds, solve literally all their disputes with murder and defeat their enemies with mass charges (despite real nomads having small populations, and winning battles with cavalry skill and/or surprise). At the point where the story says that "a wedding without at least three deaths is considered a dull occasion" and mentions warriors casually raping dancers (the first fight to the death started over two warriors wanting the same dancer), the whole thing just looks like an edgy Magical Realm based on "hordes of eastern savages" clichés.
  • Star Wars: Although Star Wars is 40k's high fantasy older twin, there have been a few grimderp things that came out recently in Canon that has given 40k a run for its money. According to Canon, specifically the novel Ashoka, the Galactic Empire forces farming worlds by gunpoint to harvest a particular breed of crop to be used as rations for their troops. The problem? These crops were specifically designed to soak up every bit of nutrients on the planet until it becomes sterile. Meaning that the particular farming world is only capable of harvesting the crops a few times AT BEST before it becomes a sterile death world. Let's put this in context here, the Galactic Empire is currently fighting a galaxy-wide insurgency and being a galaxy-wide government, the GE NEEDS a sustainable way to produce food in order to keep its giant military well-fed for long-term campaigns. So forcing farming worlds to produce crops that intentionally leave their worlds sterile after a few farming cycles is just fucking STUPID. Because realistically, the GE would have quite literally run out of food in a decade, collapsing due to galaxy-wide famine. This shit is so fucking stupid and retarded that it makes the abovementioned IoM agri-world farming practises look eco-friendly in comparison. Even if they did something somewhat reasonable like restricting this practice to worlds that sided with the Confederacy of Independent Systems during the Clone Wars as a punishment, it's just spiteful beyond all reason.
    • Seriously, this is a level of grimderp surpassing the Yuuzhan Vong; sure, they were be a race of machine-hating, masochistic religious zealots, but even at their worst they had organic technology to compensate, some were capable of pragmatism and they didn't make unsustainable food sources.


  • Hatred: Remember how your family told you that GTA was breeding criminals and that games created "monsters"? Well, Hatred tries to cash in on that by making a game where you do nothing but massacre innocent people and make a "parody" out of those reactions, but fails miserably to do that. This is because not only is our main "hero" a complete asshole with literally nothing redeeming about him, but most of the gameplay consists of you shooting unarmed civilians and members of the police/military that are easy to beat. Coupled with the monochrome colors, the game becomes very boring at a very quick pace. And unlike these old games that caused oh so much controversy, Hatred has nothing to take the edge off its violent, misanthropic nihilism. There's no satire a la Grand Theft Auto, none of the good old orkish humor of the Postal series, no fun and rewarding gameplay like Doom or Mortal Kombat, nor even pretensions to artistry like Six Days in Fallujah. Hatred tries to take everything it does completely seriously, which makes the "Grimdark" aspect come off as very dumb.
  • Kane & Lynch: Dog Days. Serious-face maximum grimdark was particularly popular in its day, but here we have something which overwhelmed even its receptiveness. The first K&L game already bordered on grimderp thanks to having two completely villainous outlaws doing awful things to other villainous outlaws, but avoided it by having an engaging if edgy plot, but the second game? Oh boy, it jumps the shark from grimvile to shitvile. Our "heroes" return, just as horrible as ever, except with the addendum that the game tries to create the most disgusting, creepy atmosphere possible - Kane and Lynch are even more ruthless and reprehensible than they were in the last game, the game uses nonstop shaky camera in order to portray the protagonists' diminishing mental health, there are lens flares that block your victims' blown-up parts, and the game really plays up the blood and filth to showcase the violence as "disturbing". It "succeeds" while making the game completely unplayable: the shaky camera ends up being vomit-inducing, the screen being blocked by blood and trash comes off as more obnoxious than anything else and the lack of heroic or even sympathetic motivation from the main characters makes it impossible for players to empathize with the sociopathic, omnicidal maniacs who by the end of the campaign have ruined the lives of hundreds of innocent people just save their own face. Your "reward" for going through this shit trek? A cliffhanger ending that doesn't promise a single good thing out of it. Imagine all the problems mentioned regarding The Last Of Us 2, swap the zombie apocalypse scenario for a criminal story and slap outdated gameplay and an atmosphere deliberately made as off-putting as possible in it, and you have a game a player will barely endure for a single playthrough - while at the same time not caring for any of the two assholes you are controlling. Or to quote our hate/fuck buddy from Zero Punctuation:

"Much as the visuals succeed too well at being deliberately hideous, the characters succeed too well at being deliberately wankers. There's nothing fun about the game. No light relief, just one nauseating heap of unpleasantness after another, like a roadside café breakfast special by Jeffrey Dahmer."

– Yahtzee
  • The Last of Us: Part 2, the sequel to the critically acclaimed The Last of Us, is grimderp in its purest form. Characters prolong others' suffering simply out of the blue. Basic logic is thrown out as countless characters dive headfirst into a rabbit hole of violence, revenge, suffering, and depression, often to the point of literal edginess.

Grim Tragedy[edit]

Naturally in a universe such as 40k, the grimdarkness of the setting would mean nothing if not tied into the ironic tragedy of the lore. This includes:

  • A species with so much potential, but so afraid of the dauntless perils of Chaos that they will brutally harass and execute entire populations out of mere suspicion, all to stop the spread of ruin while indirectly strengthening those who seek to destroy them (particularly Chaos). They, as a people, have progressed massively in population, technology and power since their species conception, yet they, more than anyone else, have lost one vital element: their humanity.
  • Their long-lost brothers who managed to avoid the calamities that befell their kindred, and kept with them the power they held at their height. They are led by beings smarter than entire planets, and everything they create is designed to be the best it can be. And yet, they refuse to venture outside of their holds, letting the galaxy move on without them. The artificial gods that they've relied upon to run their entire society are beginning to fail or fall into madness, and not only are they unable to fix them, if they could, they would only ask "What's in it for me?"
  • A race who was once at a zenith of civilization and prosperity, capable of bending the very Gods to their will. But by their own hand reduced themselves to scattered isolated fleets and colonies always on the run; their pompous and arrogant leaders hide behind a dwindling sense of security based in superiority over other races who are far more successful and perhaps destined to be greater than they ever were. A number among them, after their unholy and insidious near-demise, continue (with oblivious glee) to empower the very being that brought them to ruin in order to save themselves.
  • A race of creatures who possess the brightest "potential"; with near mastery over the psychic, near-natural physical perfection and almost limitless numbers from their highly successful methods of reproduction... And yet they are genetically restricted by an unquenchable thirst for conflict which drives each to idiocy, leaving them hopeless of advancing beyond simple barbarians.
  • An ancient people who were so envious of their neighbors' lifespans that they were ready to cripple the entire galaxy just for the sake of petty superiority - a superiority neutered by their unwitting transformation into metaphorical and literal automatons. They are now mindless machines who, bar few, care nothing of their past and seek only one thing: Conquest. And those who still have their personalities are either insane, demented, depressed, brooding, psychotic, or any combination of these in various proportions.
  • A newborn race who innocently believes that there can be peace and acknowledgement among each other. Unfortunately the sinister methods they employ hoping that it is for something better is slowly, but steadily driving them into the decadence that plagues the other species. In doing so they become proof, both of the fact that anyone, no matter their intentions, can be corrupted, and also of the kindness that the rest have forsaken for damnation and despair...
  • The fact that, despite tens of thousands of years of knowing nothing but war, these peoples are woefully unprepared for what is to come. No matter how many regiments can be raised or Craftworlds restored, what is out there is all consuming, diabolical and numberless... Unless, they are themselves on the verge of extinction, and as such, desperately trying to cross over the great void between galaxies, which implies fighting against invincibles foes and fate dodging cheaters unnaturally empowered by the grief of an unspeakable Eldritch Abomination beyond the cosmos. The good option is that there are a thousand galaxies worth of the fucking bugs; the bad option is that there are billions upon billions of galaxies worth of the fucking bugs. The worse option is that billions upon billions galaxies worth of what is essentially the perfect organism is running away from something worse.

See also[edit]

External Links[edit]