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"They say, 'Evil prevails when good men fail to act.' What they ought to say is, 'Evil prevails.'"
-Yuri Orlov, Lord of War

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 is an adjective derived from the tagline for Warhammer 40k, which states that "In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war." It is generally used to describe a dilapidated, dystopian "crapsack world" setting which it would really suck to live in, as say Somalia, North Korea, or the setting of Warhammer 40k 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. Unless, of course, we're talking about planets in the Macragge system (Well... you see... about that...). 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 who take it seriously (or 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, their lore can be pretty grimdark in a 1984 sense) than most of the other races and are either loved or absolutely hated for it (when they're not hated for being overpowered as shit). Meanwhile, another sizable percentage instead postulate that Grimdarkness lends greater moral and ethical complexity to a setting, based on the fallacy that darkness always equals depth). Such people usually cite the works of Dan Abnett and many other Warhammer 40K writers to lend credence to such suppositions; these people are clearly ignoring that fact that most writers tone the grimdark WAY down. What, you didn't think 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.

Common grimdark themes[edit]

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).
  • Warhammer Fantasy Battle, but less than you'd think.
  • The World Wars, especially the Western Front of WW1 and Eastern Front of WW2.
  • Dwarf Fortress.
  • End of War.
  • Most of Shakespeare's iconic plays, especially Macbeth and Hamlet.
  • 1984.
  • Paranoia (though used for parodying 1984).
  • The majority of the tragedy genre of stories.
  • RIFTS.
  • Blame!.
  • Berserk.
  • Kingdom Death(Makes 40k's setting seem pleasant and cheerful).
  • Eastenders (especially at Christmas).
  • Grimdark Songwriting.
  • Don't Rest Your Head.
  • SLA Industries.
  • World of Darkness.
  • CthulhuTech.
  • Call of Cthulhu.
  • Everything from H.P Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos.
  • Playing mortals in Exalted.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion. Especially the movie.
  • Midnight setting for D&D.
  • FATAL.
  • Rebecca Black.
  • I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream: The Game (just the title itself should give you a clue on how horrific the game is. The book is even worse).
  • The Medieval Dark Ages that Warhammer 40,000 was originally based on.
  • The Witcher (racism, genocides, dozens of monsters that want to eat Your face whenever You enter the random forest. Or cave. Or ruins. The third installment of 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 outer-dimensional plagues. To add insult to injury, the whole world is doomed due to (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.)
  • Dark Souls (the entire world is dying. That is all you should probably need to know. If you want to be specifics, then in the setting, most of the population are undead, you die constantly, and you have to fight enemies larger and filthier than you are, including a naked bitch with a spider vagina. Also, FAKE TITS. 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 to nobledark and check your mileage).
  • Drakengard and its related franchise: Nier. Basically god hates human so he gave them zombie aids and watch them kill eachother for the lulz. Your only hope is a group of psychopath composed of a fallen mute prince Caim (the player) who enjoys slaughtering any living things, a blind pedophile priest, a baby eating elf witch and a stopped aging shota. The true ending for the game is that everyone except Caim died and he somehow end up moving a magical doomsday device created by god to other world, (our world to be exact), detonate it and doom the human race. It is said that drakengard as a series has fuck tons of timelines for each game's ending, surprisingly the ending mentioned above is consider canon and it is where the sequel Nier took place (after 700 years no less). Drakengard 2 was pretty bright light, it's part of branch timeline but not really canon while Drakngard 3 is the prequel retelling how god tries to destroy the world by stuck a parasite evil flower on some psychopathic girl. There's also dragons but who cares.
  • Gears of War (decades of civil war, genocide and weapons of mass destruction has turned your home planet into a quasi-dead world. The human race is close to extinction, women are reduced to birthing machines, your government is an uncaring fascist scumbag, the weather is often rain consisting of razor sharp ice crystals that could cut you into ribbons, you're fighting a never-ending war with genocidal monsters from the underground and the world is literally dying from super fuel.)
    • To make matters even worse. Even before the Locust War, humanity was locked in a near 80 year war between two rivaling super powers over the aforementioned super fuel. The COG and the UIR. Both governments are ruthless, imperialistic, fascistic, communistic bastards of a government whose war crimes will make the likes of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany look like amateurs. When even the Locust have a point by calling us out for being exactly the same genocidal monsters as they are, you know Gears of War is fucked. Oh and the planet is called Sera, or Ares when said backwards. Yeah, even the planet is named after a god of war.
  • Hellgate London.
  • Most of David Bowie's songs about 1990.
  • 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.
  • The first two Hellraiser movies and also Event Horizon.
  • Cyberpunk 2020.
  • Shadowrun. While not the worst in the grimdark department, Shadowrun definitely has its moments with for instance the oppressive megacorporations reducing people to an identification number; where those people not having one (for... reasons) don't exist legally.
  • 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? Okay now that's just silly.)
  • Bioshock (as well as Bioshock Infinite, though it comes hidden behind a smiling facade of barbershop singing and the Fourth of July).
  • Anything from the Xeelee Sequence.
    • The Interim Coalition of Governance for example, is such a grim-ridden shit-hole that they make the Imperium of Man look like pussies filled with sun-shine and rainbows in comparison. In fact, they are so Grimdark, that they would make even the Adeptus Custodes shit themselves in collateral fear. In fact, despite achieving time travel, conquering the entire Galaxy Universe through xenocide that would make the Necrons look like children and shooting Neutron Stars at .99c at the speed of light. The ICoG is still a minor nuisance compared to the scale between the Xeelee and their enemies, the Photino Birds. If anything, Stephen Baxter was able to construct the insignificance and petty malevolence of Man in a few books better than GeeDubs more questionable authors did in decades. tl;dr the IoM wishes they would be as cool as the ICoG.
  • North Korea which is essentially "Real Life Oceania".
  • 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).
  • [1]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.
  • 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.
  • Dishonored - Grimdark, and steampunk. Only in the "Kill fucking everyone" ending though.
  • X-Com (The remake, and the original, as a parody of the G.I. Joe Badass stereo type, you're struggling with funding and even your gods in human form, some of whom make certain chapters of Astartes weep, can get fucked over by Sectoids!)
  • Madoka Magica.
  • Adventure Time's backstory.
  • Path of Exile.
  • Space Station 13 : Space paranoia simulator, some might not consider this game as grimdark, but the lore is 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 get killed by either rival corporate operatives, space wizards, cultists, and deathsquads or infiltrated spies posing as your co-workers.
  • LifeWeb : A complex SS13 spinoff taking place in a cave forteress of a neo-medieval world in the far future, combat is more lethal, and it explores subjects like murder, corruption, rape, torture, cultism and general human suffering.
  • Pokemon Tabletop Adventures (optionally).
  • Spec Ops: The Line (Because no one felt like a hero after all this).
  • Original Grimm fairy tales ("Hansel and Gretel", for example).
  • Alien (as in the biomechanical, parasitic, acid-blooded brainchild of Ridley Scott and the late H.R. Giger).
  • Halo (the setting of Halo is one grand scale of a Cosmic Horror Story centered around absolute hopelessness and bleakness of a Universe governed by hyper malevolent gods. Our good guys, the UNSC? Well it's a semi-authoritarian 'Big Brother is Watching You', fascistic style government that have no qualms in dumping a barrage of nukes on a civilian population if rebellion is sighted. The UNSC also have no problems dicking over their only alien 'friends' just so it could benefit humanity, while also being bogged down in a political quagmire. The Covenant are much, much worse, while anything from the Forerunner trilogy is just a high concoction of Nightmare Fuel inside a depressing milkshake.
  • Battletech.
  • Factorio. Subtle, but, 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.
  • 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).
  • Metro series (both the books and games, but mostly in the books, where the last known humans are hiding in underground subway tunnels, and when they're not trying to finish each other off, they are fighting endless hordes of mutants and other, much worse things. Also, let's not forget that 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.(allthough not all the books are written by the same author).
  • Madness combat - no regret, no remorse, no reason, only madness.
  • LISA the RPG.
  • The Darkness videogames.
  • The first two Hyperion books.
  • Elfen Lied (where the next step of the evolution of mankind is a group schizophrenic homicidal mutant girls with invisible tentacle hands and a hair-trigger temper who will either kill you in the worst way possible or else infect you with their gene to increase their numbers.)
  • Most of Stephen King's works.
  • Crossed (Most of the world is dead or turned into murder-raping sadists á la the Reavers from Firefly. 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 infectees.)
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (You travel in a desolate landscape, filled with mutants in all the horrific varieties, failed science projects (courtesy of the secret cabal of scientist settled there after USSR' s dissolution), anomalies that you often can't see and kill you instantly and a lot of renegades/bandits/fanatics/zombies. Your gear breaks all the time, resources are scarce and your goal is to get to the highly dangerous Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Why is the Nuclear Power Plant dangerous? Because it blew the fuck up back in the 80's (in real life, no less) and is protected by lots of fanatics with the best gear you can get. If you make it through that hellish place that is The Zone, you'll most likely get one of the 5 really grimdark endings, and if you payed a lot of attention to certain seemingly useless items along the way, you may get one of the other two endings which are also grimdark. The rest of the world also largely ignores what's happening inside The Zone, aside from a few scientists that study the deadly phenomena and the international military that maintains a cordon around The Zone so the nasty stuff doesn't get out and sometimes send expeditions inside, killing everyone in sight. Yeah, including other humans. Also, A NU CHEEKI BREEKI IV DAMKE.)
  • The Slenderman Mythos (HE ALWAYS WATCHES).
  • The Old Testament.
  • Dante's Inferno. Put simply short, God is a fucking Sadist. For example: If you suffer from depression/PTSD so much that you commit suicide, God won't give you therapy, but rather, mutate you into an immortal tree that can still feel pain and is constantly torn apart by harpies forever. How merciful. Sins of Greed and Gluttony are punished by being eaten alive by Cerberus, who then proceed in transforming ye corpse into slowly regenerating shit mud ; after being whole again, thou art eaten while trying to flee in despair, and it start anew. For ever. Because some old dude called Minos decided so.
  • The F.E.A.R. series (even the third vanilla-by-comparison game is fucked up).
  • Total War: Attila (Unlike the previous titles in Total War, 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 more or less 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.)
  • Darkest Dungeon. The name speaks for itself. Your ancestor literally awokened some kind of God that is pretty much Chtulu's brother and sent you a letter before killing himself, asking 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.
  • The Day After, and its worse Brit counterpart, Threads.
  • Lord Of War. The worst is that it's based on real events.
  • SCP universe. Why do you ask? because above all: Secure. Contain. Protect. Imagine a semi-totalitarian world power, funded by every world government to capture anomalous entities, objects and locations, contain them, so that the rest of mankind can live in a world that makes sense.We're talking animate statues that move when you blink (I know what you're thinking, but this predates that episode of Doctor Who) and a creature that kills anyone that sees its face (through any means, including photographs). And not all of these threats can be contained or stopped,instead the are roaming free to harm innocents. And some of the captured SCPs are not necessary hostile or evil, but the are still imprisoned in a worse case scenario (witch happens too many times than it should). Oh, and is hinted that the world and humanity is destroyed already sometimes. But still, Secure. Contain. Protect. Just another day at the office.
  • Shisha no Teikoku, the Empire of Corpses. Steampunk, Grimdark, Zombies, Cross-References and Conspiracies everywhere. It has even become possible to ressurect 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.
  • The Eternal War, as the name suggests
  • Dystopian Wars, as the name suggests
  • Clockup Games where you get a firsthand look a sex cult and their destructive side effects.
  • 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 necessitated using weaker weapons that wouldn't guarantee a cave-in due to hazardous gasses everywhere. Russian soldiers rioting over unfair treatment and enforced secrecy were 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 necessitated 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 India nuked each other. And even 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.
  • Armored Trooper Votoms, an old-school mech anime. Basically, 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 practical, they are more industrial and utilitarian than many contempoaries, being repurporsed exo-suits. Also, 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. Take notes, Gros Wotour, take notes...
  • Prototype 1 & 2. A video game series where New York City is infected with a virus created by corporation called GenTek that mutates people into casual mutant zombies to fucking huge deformed beasts. A secret division called Blackwatch is sent to brutally contain the virus. 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 the virus and became superhumans who can shapeshift and gain someone's memories by consuming them (read violent absorbing them into their bodies) and can grow weapons like claws or a blade arm.
  • Saw: I just wanna play a game.
  • Digimon Tamers. (Whilst Digimon as a franchise is noted to be surprisingly dark and adult for a kids anime in the 'Mon' genre, Digimon Tamers is noted to be exceptionally depressing even by the series standard. Tamers includes children attempting suicide, child abuse, attempted murder on a child, multiple on-screen deaths on 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. Then again 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.)
    • Digimon Adventure Tri will take Tamers up a notch in just plain creepyness. Then again Tri is aimed more for adult fans of the original anime series. Adventure Tri is just as dark as Tamers as it showcase 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 are female by the way). Digimon doesn't fuck around.
  • Most good 'Real Robot' anime/video games. Further discussion will result in skub.
  • Full Metal Alchemist: The World is coated by a side of Noblebright at the beginning but morphs into 1984 the more you watch/read. THe world Amestris starts out as fine and dandy (despite being a fascist military Dictatorship.) then it morphs into a world where the Main Country (Amestris.) is at constant war with almost all it's neighbors commits Genocides Left and right and Murder's anyone who finds out the dark truth.
  • Bet On Soldier/Iron Storm: WW1 got extended by 80 years, leading to a world where war is everything (including a televised past time), peace is considered a horrifically dissident ideal and there is a shadowy cabal behind the scenes plotting to make the war last forever.
  • Noir in general, from Raymond Chandler's novels to games like This is the Police.
  • Wanted. (A comic book series which inspired the 2008 action flick. In a nutshell, the villains won the war against the heroes and erased them from reality. Yes, the bad guy wins, there is no longer any power struggle. The world of Wanted is one of the most horrific comic book series as it deconstructs the 'action macho man' of the superhero genre and actually insults the reader (As in break the fourth wall) if they ever felt like trying to root for the 'protagonist'. How bad is Wanted? Well being a world dominated by supervillans, where crime is not only rampant but is actually part of the law, enforced by the Fraternity (Which is essentially the Justice League for bad guys), 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, 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.)
    • Our 'protagonist' for example, is a sociopathic, violent, sadistic rapist who assassinates people in ridiculous violent manners that makes the Punisher, Konrad Curze and Batman look like Constable Care in comparison. Seriously his first 'character development' was shooting his neighbor in the face because he was too damned nice... yeah... our 'heroes' are literally no different than the villains at all. If you could even call them 'heroes'. At least in universes like WH40K and Gears of War, characters who commit acts of crime, even Chaos, do it because they have a reason, idea or dogma behind their actions. Wanted on the other hand? The villains commit crime (Like shooting at a baby's crib) because they felt like it. Don't even get us started with the supervillains who are so repulsive that they are barely redeemable. Wanted is one of those franchises that just makes you feel like a bastard for even trying to root for anyone. In terms of the moral scale, if DC is the classical Black and White franchise and Marvel is the classical Grey and Gray franchise, than Wanted is the classical Black and Black franchise. Chaos wishes it could be this efficiently evil.
  • Grim Dawn the video game. Basically in a world called Cairn, there are magic, monsters and human using advance mid 19th century colt gunnery. One day, a bunch of stupid mage failed some sort of ritual and called in some kind of ghost spirit thingy called the aetherial that wants nothing but possessed living thing and turn them into killing machines. So the aetherials invaded the world and possessed many creatures and humans for their own world domination plan. This event is called the "Grim Dawn" (roll credits), an apocalyptic event that gave rose other ancient sinister organization like the Cthontic cult (who are like the chaos cult in this universe except they worships some kind of Cthulhu wannabe god Ch'thon) and they had a bone to pick with the aetherial for power struggles, resulting the world in an never ending war and struggle between humans and otherworldly power. As you progress the game, you learned from one of the deity came from the shrine you repaired, it tells you that there are many gods watching this world and none of them gave a shit about their followers (including him) since this is just one of the many realities they observe and the tragic event "Grim Dawn" is nothing more than a daily basis, an unavoidable natural occurrence. So yeah, you had to fight through an undercity full of undead (who are cursed to forever linger in the world, only to get back up as soon as they are defeated), a land corrupt by aetherion's green shit that is about as harmful as the warp itself, and a crimson forest filled with Cthonic cult members and its creatures who likes to blood sacrifice humans in the name of their god. In order to combat the otherworldly power, you have little choice but to side with the two faction, either a necrophilia ice ninja that will enslave the dead or a pretentious templar order type organization who is just another otherworldly power worshiper whose god planned to fucked up the future once again. The only hope lies to the survivors from the aetherion encounters that gave them strange unnatural which may or may not corrupt them in the process, basically you the player, whose memories has been wiped but is not task with rebuild and fighting back the alien entities by using their own power to against them. Even at the end of game where you defeat the major threat, nothing really change since the world now is filled with other horrify creatures, human civilizations are literary nonexistent and most of the survivors end up in the dark side, stealing and robbing the surviving human for their selfish needs other than combating the horror. The aetherion invasion is still going strong despite your effort at the very end of game and other gods are ready to back stab, corrupt, raid and torment every living creature in the world for their own selfish needs.
  • 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|]!


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 abandon 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. So... not that different from the West, really.

  • 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 (and missing the point of Fallout, FiM, and the original Fallout: Equestria) that an heroing seems like WOULD ACTUALLY BE the happiest ending (Assuming it will end, it probably never will as long as there's enough cybernetics to keep rebuilding the constantly-dying protagonist) HOLY SHIT IT ACTUALLY ENDED!), it's the prime example of how to make readers stop giving a fuck about the story at all.
  • 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.
  • 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!"
  • 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...)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Most dark fantasy hentai games and manga like Kuroinu and whatever bargain basement hentai game developer puts the heroines through corrupting debauchery with no way to escape for little more purposes than to degrade and humiliate them.

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 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.
  • A race who was once 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 battle which drives each to idiocy, leaving them hopeless of advancing beyond simple barbarians.
  • An ancient people whom were so envious of their neighbors' power 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: war. And those who still have their personalities are either insane, demented, 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, but 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 hundreds of thousands of years of knowing nothing but only 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 tries to cross over the great void between galaxies, which implies fighting against invincibles foes and fate weathing cheaters unnaturaly empowered by the grief of an evil entity beyond the cosmos. (Well, this lore hint has been dropped a very long time ago in favor of "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.)

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