Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if, when he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?
JRR Tolkien, "On Fairy-Stories" lecture, 1939

Escapism is basically a mental diversion or "escape" from the perceived unpleasant or banal aspects of daily life. Everything that makes us escape from Real Life can be considered a form of Escapism. This trope is Truth in Television; common forms of Escapism are video games, drugs, Alcohol, Fiction, Facebook games, gambling, movies, and TvTropes.

This trope applies to fictional characters using escapism in order to escape from their problems and/or not having to face Real Life.

For an in-depth analysis of this trope, go to Escapism/Analysis.

Examples of Escapism include:

Anime and Manga

  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Asuka relies on playing video games after her Mind Rape, in order to forget her childhood experiences and her past trauma. To a certain extent, striving to be the best pilot is a way of escaping her past, too.
  • Opposing this trope is pretty much the entire point of Paranoia Agent.


  • The main characters in Bridge to Terabithia create a fantasy world in order to escape their hardships at school.
  • Sidekicks is about a sickly and bullied kid who copes by having vivid daydreams—bordering on hallucinations—about teaming up with Chuck Norris.
  • Basically the underlying premise behind Sucker Punch.


  • In the Silence of the Lambs series it is said that, while in prison, Hannibal Lecter often lives in the memory palace he has built in his mind.

"Memory, Agent Starling, is what I have instead of a view."

Live Action TV

  • In Smallville, it's implied that Clark is just a crazy person that created a fantasy world in order to escape reality. Until that's revealed to be a hallucination by Dr. Hudson (a "zoner").

Video Games

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Gaz of Invader Zim is obsessed with video games. In her world humans are generally stupid, ignorant and repulsive and the world they live in is polluted and unclean. She uses video games and apathy to escape her reality.
  • This is referenced in a Phineas and Ferb commercial were Phineas tells the audience to turn off their computers and enjoy life outside
  • In the South Park episode "Make Love, Not Warcraft", there is a nerd that is depicted as completely obsessed with World of Warcraft and completely out of touch of reality. He is described as having "no life" by the characters.
  • In Chaotic, the heroes' best friend is constantly avoiding Real Life through a trading card game. Then this trope is subverted when Chaotic turns out to be real.
  • Moral Orel: Nurse Bendy's room looks like that of a little girl, full of bright colors and toys. She acts out the role of a mother to a loving family with a teddy bear husband and teddy bear son. She does it to escape from being constantly used, being utterly alone, and having no one who really thinks about her thoughts and feelings and treats her like a real person. However, once she is reunited with her actual son Joe, she throws away her "son" doll, because she finally has a real son who cares about her a lot. Very arguably one of the most positive portrayals of anti-escapism in television.