Mundane Fantastic

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Don't make it more awkward than it is.

More than the Fantastic Comedy (which is still predominantly normal), the complete mesh of fantastic elements into a universe nonetheless treated as mundane for the most part. It is not ruled by suspension of disbelief since the fantastic elements are presented in a logical fashion; the audience does not demand a plausible explanation.

For a purely artistic standpoint, the Mundane Fantastic is a major reason why a show might be animated instead of done live. On the other end of the spectrum, there's the idea that if a cartoon is to be taken seriously it has to be serious and played straight. A Mundane Fantastic show may Jump the Shark if a new writer comes on board and decides that all the fantastic elements have to be explained to death.

In many cases, this attitude is Justified as more "realistic". In our world, hackers or pilots may be "more noteworthy than usual", but most of us don't feel compelled to talk about them all the time or give detailed explanations of them at the drop of a hat. So the people who know their world has two or three wizards in every town would likely consider this normal too. Not that everyone knows the difference anyway.

Anime uses this very frequently, which probably contributes to the perception of inherent strangeness for that medium.

If the fantastic elements are seldom (if at all) made explicit but strongly indicated, it's Magic Realism. Isolated fantastic elements are typically considered Unusually Uninteresting Sights.

See also Fantastic Comedy.

Examples of Mundane Fantastic include:


Advertising[edit | hide | hide all]

  • A Burger King commercial features a winged pig driving a truck. He explains that yes, he usually flies where he needs to go, but he's in the process of moving out of his mom's basement and needs the truck to carry his stuff.


Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • Loveless features a world full of Cat Girls and their male Spell-Casters who are drawn into magical True Name battles, but no-one bats an eye at their kitty ears.
  • Suzumiya Haruhi: despite all of the things which are spoiled by just being on this page, the narrative focuses mostly on the S.O.S. members normal lives.
  • Gargoyle of the Yoshinagas has it in full. Alchemy has a strong force in the universe, but the lives of the people of the town its set in take precedence over it in the story.
  • Planetes: They live In Space! And it's about... their everyday lives.
  • Karin: She's a vampire! And it's a... love story?
  • Hakobune Hakusho: A young girl who enrolls in a school full of youkai (ahem) and makes friendships with the students there. The entire rest of the series deals with everything you'd find in a normal school, to the point where the ninja club asks its recruits to gather information and spy on others.
  • Aria: A drama about some girls' life as a gondola worker on a Venice replica... In a far future where Mars becomes a water planet after an excavation mentioned in the backstory.
  • Another manga example: Neko Kissa. Omigod it has a werewolf and a vampire and a cat-demon and a skeleton and a dragoness and a giant and they're the main cast and here's a picture of them.
  • Tentai Senshi Sunred. The world is straight out of Sentai shows—evil organizations, monsters running loose, masked heroes of justice. Except all of them are just going about their daily lives with people not caring about whether someone has more arms than they ought to.
  • Spice and Wolf: He is a travelling merchant, she is a Wolf harvest goddess, together they ... trade goods with other people.
  • Itoshi no Kana is about a young man moving in a haunted house, which is haunted by the ghost of a young girl. Within a few pages, they're a couple. The reader is then presented with such exquisite scenes as the girl touching beer to cool it, entering a wall when they have a fight, entering a UFO catcher to assist her boyfriend with the catch and so forth.
  • Patlabor: It's a cop show with giant robots.
  • Kamichu!'s main character is most definitely a goddess. She is worshipped and given full honors wherever she goes and even visits the realm of the gods for official god-functions. However, she has a relatively normal school life for most of the series (even a romance!) and her transition to divinity has remarkably little impact on the rest of the townspeople.
  • Love Hina is an Unwanted Harem Romantic Comedy series about a manager of a girl's dorm studying to get into Tokyo University. This doesn't stop flying turtles, Ki Attacks, Humongous Mecha, and Magical Girls from showing up.
  • Hyper Police is about a Catgirl and her kitsune partner (previously werewolf). They Fight Crime in a Fantasy Kitchen Sink city while competing with a Mega Corp for bounties...and it's a situation comedy.
  • There are a few instances in the Dragon Ball series when it's shown that the general public isn't as desensitized to superhuman powers as our heroes. Krillin doesn't understand why bystanders freak out when he falls out of the sky during the Androids Saga.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Horndog, set on a Funny Animal planet, the comic has both Fantastic elements like zombies and aliens, but also more serious subject matter, particularly in the main storyline's deconstruction of open relationships, racism and interracial relationships, to start; as a result of this combination of storylines, Mundane Fantastic applies.
  • Scott Pilgrim. The setting is a Video Game version of Toronto, and is the trope is in full swing. Examples Include;
  • Most Superhero comics are like this to some degree or another. Sure, if a new alien race or magic being shows up, people will pay attention, but Skrulls and the like are treated as just a part of life.
    • ANAL Skrulls. Though they did give Earth quite the shock there.
    • One Superman comic lampshaded this hilariously when a cabbie yells at someone in front of him about traffic. The person says Supes is fighting a monster. The cabbie retorts that that happens every day.
    • Garth Ennis tends to touch on this with his DC stuff. Mainly it's 'Yes, that monster crossing the street is weird but at least he isn't eating people like popcorn. Count your blessings'.
  • Top Ten is a Police Procedural in a city where everyone from bums to schoolkids, tycoons to hookers has a superpower, or is an alien, a god, a cyborg, an enhanced animal or some other kind of superhero/villain, and they're all just getting on with their lives.
  • Cherry Comics: Alien abduction, vampires, post-apocalyptic societies... no biggie.

Film[edit | hide]

  • Everything having to do with the Muppets. In all of the films (and all the TV Shows and TV specials), the fact that the main characters are all a bunch of sentient puppets rarely plays into the reactions of the human cast members (and if it does, it's usually treated as "a little odd" at the most, never "oh my god these 3 feet tall felt monstrosities are all walking around and singing").
    • It became extra ridiculous when they hosted an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
    • Partly subverted in Muppets from Space, where Gonzo is captured by a secret government agency because they think he's an alien (he is). This is done by a guy whose assistant is a talking bear.
  • Roxanne Ritchi has been kidnapped by Megamind and rescued by Metro Man so many times that the whole thing bores her to death. Then Tighten kidnaps her and there's no Metro Man to save her. Now she's scared.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Original light novel The Longing of Shiina Ryo has strong elements of this.
  • Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality universe is a successful blending of Discworld-like magic elements and modern science, to the point at which people aren't fazed by the Incarnation of Death materialising to take their loved ones to the great beyond - unless, of course, he turns his attention to them. At one point, Chronos (the Incarnation of Time) causes the entire world to run backwards for several hours - the general public are aware that this is happening, but they treat it as more of a temporary inconvenience than anything out of the ordinary.
  • Discworld is somewhere between this and Low Fantasy, depending on the book. Elephants, turtles, space, geological pizza...it's mentioned at the start of every book but seldom remarked on by characters.
    • The amazing thing is not that there are giant elephants on a giant turtle, it's that there's such a thing as elephants or turtles at all.
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell features a magician who is able to raise the dead and trick the entire French navy into hiding at port yet turns any conversation about magic into an extremely dull history lesson. Government and military officials complain that magic is just as full of setbacks and disappointments as any other field. At times it reaches Magic Realism focusing on the two title magicians' daily life rather than on their magical powers.
  • Naomi Novik's Temeraire series is pretty much historical fiction in the Napoleonic era ... except there's dragons. They are mostly bred by the military for use as flying war vessels.
  • The world of The Dresden Files is like this for a lot of people. There's a Masquerade, but for those in the know, daily life is daily life. Harry advertises in the Yellow Pages under "wizard", writes pamphlets for dabblers in magic, and although we don't see this during the books most of his business seems to come from finding lost items and exorcising frightening-but-not-really-dangerous ghosts.
    • To be fair, a lot of people still doubt Harry's sanity, if only at first.
  • Strugatsky Brothers—all books. You want to travel somewhere very quickly? Find the nearest phone booth... er, Null-T cabin, enter the destination phone number... er, cabin address, press "Go"—that's all you need to know. Mostly because they deeply despised Expospeak (see the quote). Roadside Picnic has rather "humans can get used to anything, even really weird crap" point, but the end result is exactly the same.
  • More of the Harry Potter magic is of this flavor than not. Most apparent from the day-to-day Boarding School goings-on; elixirs, spells, and werewolves become a good bit more mundane when you have to write three essays on them by Monday.
  • Lonely Werewolf Girl ducks into these plot threads half the time. In between politicking between the high clans of werewolves and the plotting of the queen of the fire elementals, you've got college students trying to get cable, a businesswoman trying to get her layabout musician cousins to actually do something, and an overworked sorceress and fashion designer trying to come up with suitable styles for said queen of the fire elementals.
  • Some of the works of Franz Kafka. In The Metamorphosis, for example, the characters have a fairly dull reaction to Gregor's inexplicable transformation into a giant bug. It's treated as a burden rather than a horrific and traumatizing sight that forces them to question reality.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's "Magic Inc".
  • Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series.
  • The Wayside School books have a lot of weird things going on, like dead rats that show up in raincoats posed as school children. Amusingly enough, the final chapter of the first book features the characters learning about an ordinary school and they find that to be strange.
  • Robin McKinley's Sunshine has a lot of this. Sunshine lives on an alternate-reality Earth where vampires, were-animals of all sorts, demons, sorcerers, etc. are simply a fact of life, and in some cases, valued members of society.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • No Heroics: This is the main idea behind this sitcom.
  • An Irish children's show called Roy is about the life of Roy O'Brien, a two-dimensional cartoon boy with all the powers of a cartoon, living in the real world of Ballyfermot, Dublin.
  • The Adventures of Pete and Pete happens to take place in an average suburb which hosts a superhero, ecstasy-inducing slushies, hands driers that can suck people up, an International Adult Conspiracy, and football-obsessed aliens. Oh, and all those weird things you suspected were true, took too seriously, thought were unfair or confused the heck out of you as a kid? Totally Serious Business. No one bats an eye at any of it.

Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • Most comic strips exhibit this to a small degree when you realize how many of them are basically stuck in she kind of time warp where the characters never age.
  • Peanuts (both comic and animated versions) incorporates fantastic elements which don't really seem to faze the characters, such as the never-seen but apparently TARDIS-like interior of Snoopy's doghouse—or Snoopy's sapience, for that matter. In an ironic twist, everyone found it less bizarre that Snoopy was playing on Charlie Brown's baseball team than that Peppermint Patty thought he was just a weird kid with a big nose. (At one point in the comic strip, Marcie finally spells out that Snoopy is a dog, and Patty suffers a Heroic BSOD, spending the next strip repeating "A beagle?!" over and over again.)
    • There's also the kite eating tree.
    • One story arc involved Charlie Brown's baseball-related... uh, hallucinations leading to his short-lived triumph as "Mr. Sack"
  • Get Fuzzy is set in a world where dogs, cats, and various other pets are not quite as intelligent as humans. Occasionally the strip actually addresses this.
    • In the same vein as the above, dogs can converse with humans in Pooch Cafe, and it's no big deal.
    • Don't even get me started on Pearls Before Swine.
  • Dilbert is the King of Mundane Fantastic newspaper comic worlds. Talking animals that run corporations (sadistically, of course), or even the U.N. for a short time, various semi-human personifications of office inhabitant types (from a moth-man attracted by meetings to a parasitic consultant that burrowed through the Pointy-Haired Boss to get to his wallet to an evil Youthful Executive who was killed and possessed), a garbage man who invents time travel and species-changing rays because he hates to see it done wrong, and dinosaurs hiding behind couches instead of going extinct. And nobody bats an eye while the world remains roughly the same as ours, for a given value of "same". According to Adams himself, people keep writing to him to tell him how realistic the strip is. He figures it's because it's impossible to exaggerate selfishness so much it's unrealistic.

Theater[edit | hide]

  • Avenue Q operates by the same principle as The Muppets. There's nothing in the slightest weird about puppets walking around with apparently invisible operators, and interacting with humans, though the spin-off show, Avenue Jew, took it a bit further.
    • "Monster" (as in "cookie monster") is considered a race in the Avenue Q universe.

Music[edit | hide]

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The Sims. Ye gods, The Sims. Between the three games and all their expansions, there's genies, Plant-Sim hybrids, werewolves, various assorted undead, android-things, Bigfoot, levitation, teleportation, Sim-eating plants, alien abductions, half-alien Sims, magic powers, meteors falling from space, time machines, those bloody splines reticulating all over the place... the list goes on.
  • Like above, SimCity seems to live in a Mundane world as well. UFOs, metallic monsters, buildings can be "plopped", let alone it probably has everything that the Sims has in it...
    • "So where's the house made of broccoli?"
  • In the original Zoo Tycoon, use of the right Easter Egg can let you purchase and display unicorns, mermaids, Loch Ness monsters, bigfeet and yeti alongside your mundane animals.
  • Ouendan and Elite Beat Agents have some pretty far out situations alongside the awesomely mundane ones. A werewolf trying to score a date! A salaryman trying to save his daughter by growing 50 feet tall! A Renaissance artist who's not-quote Leonardo da Vinci romancing a look-alike of the Mona Lisa! A washed-up baseball player who makes his comeback by fighting a lava golem! And nobody finds any problem with an elderly Momotaro turning Oni Island into an amusement park.
  • Da Capo II, unlike its predecessor, has robots being openly acknowledged, but no one is really that surprised at their existence or interested. There is, however, a degree of racism against them because the story doesn't take place that far into our future.

Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • Questionable Content is a good example: they have sentient robots, minor superheroes, and one character was born claims to have been raised on a space station.
    • One should also remember Law of Conservation of Normality, though this only seems to crop up when the webcomic starts up being mundane, and then takes a turn for the weird.
  • Pessimistic Sense of Inadequacy has magic as normal, but normally weak, with magic users registered, people crossing over from other worlds, strange characters, characters who know they're characters, ancient artifacts, etc, all in a world with malls, shopping, just an "ordinary day" (name of a story arc), etc.
  • PvP is another good example, with Skull the Troll being treated as any other character in what is supposedly an office drama about a gaming magazine. His super-intelligent cat may or may not also count.
  • So Damn Bright is a comedy about a group of cynical college drop outs. So far, so normal. The catch is, one of the characters is a fairy. As in, she has visible fairy wings growing out of her back. Fairies are entrenched enough in the culture that there are Red Scare-era educational films about their biology, and a dating service asks right after sexual preference whether someone would be comfortable with a fae/"anthro" partner. Several other fairies have also been spotted in the background doing a number of mundane activities such as drinking in a bar.
  • Shortpacked still has the alien invasion backstory from It's Walky! firmly intact, but most of the time it's just semi-real tales out of retail with the weirdness just out of frame. Except for the talking car working in the stockroom. He doesn't fit out of the frame.
    • It's specifically mentioned that most of the Shortpacked employees have no idea about the alien invasion a few years back; Robin doesn't want to spoil their little mundane fantasy world and Mike isn't talking for some reason. Again, Ultra-Car gets a free pass.
    • An infamous senator working at a toy store (Robin) tends to raise a few eyebrows.
      • The one thing in all this madness that doesn't apply to this trope is Reagan, resurrected and working at the titular toy store. Everyone is very aware of how mad it is, and occasionally they have to work at keeping it a secret.
  • Daisy Owl has anthropomorphic bears and owls (among others) living in normal society, wizards that need to listen to death metal to cast spells, baby factories and professional uncooperative service at the DMV. Everyone seems fine with this.
  • Megatokyo has perfect A Is used as dating sim accessories, and a not-so-secret organization that deals with rogue magical girls and Godzilla... Nobody really notices that as strange.
  • Friendly Hostility had this in spades: The Fridge Demon? Worked as a nurse. The Crawling Chaos? Picked up floozies in bars. Satanists? Just your wacky, sex-crazed uncle.
  • Terrifying Monsters is mostly about extraordinary beings doing mundane things.
  • Real Life Comics, though it's been pretty tame for the past year or so, deals with this in the form of the character Tony. He's an evil genius who's conquered the world (and, subsequently, gave it back); he built a WarMech, a time machine, and a portal generator (mostly out of gum and old computer parts); and he spends some time as the Black Pants Samurai. How do Greg and the other characters handle this? "Meh. Business as usual."
  • In Flying Man And Friends, cookies grow on trees, Camembert cheese can crafted from scratch in mere seconds, stuffed toys come equipped with airplane wings and rockets - and no one seems to notice that these things aren't ordinary.
  • Scary Go Round featured a pleasant town somewhere in England that happened to be home to (or drew in) devil-worshippers, Mad Scientists, ghosts, zombies, sentient robots and the like, while the characters included an inventor who made a time machine from a teapot, a sexy spy and a sometime-journalist prone to temporary bouts of gruesome death.
  • Skin Deep is like this half the time with it's plot of "mythical creatures living secret from humanity." The characters that grew up in mythical society act as if there is nothing out of the ordinary about a town populated by mythical creatures, while humans understandably have troubles getting past that fact.
  • Agatha in Girl Genius once was rightfully chastised for being surprised at something as relatively normal as a talking cat.
  • Sequential Art documents the everyday lives of a group of housemates. Said housemates include a normal guy, a cat girl, a squirrel girl, and an anthropomorphic penguin. We see in a flashback that said cat girl and a bunny girl attended school with normal kids, and both girls have regular jobs that involve a lot of interaction with the public. Another cat girl is a published author. No one finds any of that the least bit strange.
  • The FAN aims for this setting. So far, it had a rampaging robot, a witch teaching chemistry and brewing a highly potent healing elixir in a cauldron, a shape shifting Imp, and casual talks of magic and telepathy, all part of everyday life. When the Bobby and his crew all develop magical powers, the most surprising part isn't the magic itself, but the fact that they apparently came out of nowhere.
  • In El Goonish Shive, this is how Elliot and Ellen's parents react to all the weirdness happening around them. They get only a few practical concerns.
  • Copper has a very large tendency to tell all its stories like this, though mostly it seems to be an excuse to draw fantastic settings.
  • In Voodoo Walrus this is a common theme. Cars regularly enter a setting by falling right out of the sky, explosions are often comprised of cats, and a talking cactus was once responsible for driving a Hummer/pirate ship hybrid vehicle.
    • Said cactus also went by the name Captain Thud and was single-handedly responsible for blowing up the entirety of Wichita.
  • The Snail Factory has an entire cast of bizarre creatures and even inanimate objects, but these are usually more or less treated as normal employees.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • The people on That Guy With The Glasses normally live in mundane settings. There are still things like satanic teddy bears, magic guns, and appearances by characters from the things in which they review.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd. Technically, he's just a grouchy guy who plays awful videogames and reviews them, but also: all his light guns happen to function like real weapons, his consoles and game cartridges had been possesed in more than one ocassion by evil forces, he knows the reason the game graphics glitch is a little gremlin that fears Q-tips, characters from his videogames appear in his home, there's a musician living behind his couch for no apparent reason, he's able to summon a robotic version of Jesus, and the list goes on and on...
  • Many characters in Jon Buck's Paradise setting go on with their normal lives as though nothing had happened after changing into funny animals with minor alterations to their routines to compensate animal parts, subverted in that they do this simply because of the Weirdness Censor in place that would out them as "Changed" IF they reacted too much to their transformation.
  • The Notting Cove series is about a One-Gender Race of fairies that can use magic. Their lives are perfectly mundane. The only one who seems surprised is the foreigner


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • In The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy noone seems to think twice about Billy and Mandy having the Grim Reaper as their constant companion or Irwin's mother being a literal mummy, etc.
  • The Simpsons probably owes a lot of its popularity to emulating the Mundane Fantastic into Sitcom format. The actual level of weirdness and whether or not it effects the plot changes Depending on the Writer.
  • Same goes for Family Guy. However, some of the stuff is more commonly an Unusually Uninteresting Sight: no one sees anything too weird in the personification of Death, talking dogs, or evil babies. Seth MacFarlane's other Animated Shows, American Dad and The Cleveland Show, also fall under this trope.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: it's in a world where imaginary friends are real, as in any creature that children imagine springs into existence. Despite this, the world is largely the same as our own, and most of the plots are quite mundane, if odd.
  • Possibly Total Drama Island: it's supposed to be a parody of reality shows, but there are things that wouldn't exist in the real world: animals that are clearly too intelligent/have superpowers, a living Sasquatch-like monster, and just lots of challenges which only cartoon characters could possibly survive. Chris has also demonstrated having some weird technology to run the show, such as a remote-controlled hail cloud and possibly some method of controlling the weather.
    • The Area 51 episode was particularly weird about this—yeah, they've seen some weird stuff before, but at no point does anyone seem the least bit surprised that this challenge involves finding alien artifacts or act surprised when real, living aliens show up and attack them.
  • The world of Kim Possible has a subculture of Easily Forgiven Super Villain with Mad Scientists knocking out robot armies or gene-mashed creatures in a day and trying to take over or destroy the world, superheroes, monsters, kids launching spacecraft in the backyard and juvenile crimefighters skipping school to Save the World as a hobby, but seems to take it all in its stride.
  • This appears to be the entire purpose of Ugly Americans, where demons, zombies and much weirder creatures like in New York as if they were just typical minorities.
  • The Venture Brothers does beyond "mundane" to the point of being vaguely bleak. While Dr. Venture's life is filled with murders dressed like butterflies, dog-Hitler-clones, and exotic death traps, it's all treated by the cast as standard and tiresome. In spite of all the enormous scientific leaps apparently made in the show's universe, the world at large doesn't seem any more futuristic then our own save for the occasional bad guy in a flying car. This might be the point- the creators say that the theme of the show is failure, single out the fact that in the 60s, science was going to usher in a utopia that still has yet to arrive.
    • Several arcs involve the 'Guild', which keep the mad scientists and the regular adventurers from being too much of a bother on every day society. Their main weapon is murder and they're damn good at it.
  • My Gym Partner's a Monkey: The protagonist is a human who attends a school for Talking Zoo Animals. No one seems to find this strange.
  • Rocko's Modern Life, where the things you see on an acid trip are normal.